Broadband Bytes: Weekend Edition

  • Qwest announced key leadership changes in Sales and IT. The link includes some background about each of the new executives that have been chosen. I’m hoping the new leaders will realize the importance of bringing telecommunications into the 21st century by investing in infrastructure like Verizon has been doing and understand the increasing importance of upload speeds.
  • Recently, it has come to light that Comcast has been throttling bandwidth for various applications with little or no disclosure. In a 67 page order, the FCC has said that “Comcast has 30 days to fess up about P2P throttling”. On Wednesday, there were also reports that Comcast would slow traffic for heavy users, but today in the NYTimes Comcast claims that no final decisions have been made about managing network traffic.
  • Qwest and Comcast are battling it out here in Utah over property taxes and whether they should be assessed by the state or local tax entities. Qwest claims that Comcast isn’t being fairly taxed today.
  • Another city, Sacramento, is discontinuing their effort to bring free WiFi Internet to the city (joining San Francisco and others that have discontinued their service). But in other news, Houston just announced a new project that will to give free WiFi Internet access in some downtown areas using excess network capacity from their parking meters. There’s lots of talk about free WiFi, it’s almost as if people are starting to consider it an inalienable right.
  • More information on in-flight broadband. Looks like Jet Blue and others are working on it.
  • What about those new technologies that could be deployed over high speed networks like UTOPIA? Intel and Yahoo are going to try again to combine Internet and TV.
  • There is a looming problem on the Internet, IP addresses are running out. There is a finite number of addresses and experts keep telling us we are close to exhaustion. The solution is IPV6, but according to reports, it is failing to gain traction.
  • Internet traffic is on the rise and consumers are using more and more bandwidth:
    • “As cable and phone companies race to upgrade services or offer video for the first time, they’re doing it by installing equipment in boxes on lawns, easements and curbs all over American neighborhoods. Telecommunications rollouts have always been messy, but several towns and residents are fighting back…”
    • Some ISP’s have responded to increased bandwidth usage by some of their customers with announcements of new bandwidth caps.
    • P2P data is a big bandwidth user, apparently accounting for 40%-60% of all the traffic used on the Internet. Some researchers have a novel idea for cutting bandwidth usage. In a paper to be released next week, researchers found a way to lessen the load of P2P with an algorithm they dub “P4P”. Though the P4P article is scant on technical details, it involves finding shorter routes between users thereby making the traffic traverse fewer networks.
  • 100 Mbps Wireless Broadband in two years? Theoretically possible but color me skeptical that we’ll see this anytime in the next decade. I still can’t get 3G with T-Mobile.
  • An analyst at a major investment firm says that broadband competition is today as good as it is going to get and that there aren’t going to be any major disruptive technologies in broadband in the future. All the more reason UTOPIA is so important: it provides an open infrastructure that fosters provider competition.
  • Taxes and the Internet. Yuck. We already know Amazon has been fighting New York’s new effort to try to tax out-of-state Internet sales. They’re getting a new ally: Newegg announced today they will no longer collect taxes for New York. The effects of this case could be profound because both congress and other states are trying to find ways to tax Internet sales as well. Haven’t they read the studies that show that 50% of consumers would buy less online if charged sales tax? Of course in Utah, we’re already supposed to voluntarily report online purchases on our tax returns if we didn’t pay tax on them (use tax), so anything we buy on Amazon or Newegg would get taxed.
  • Speaking of politics, this article has an interesting look at the Internet policy in the 2008 Democratic platform. I couldn’t find any info yet about the 2008 Republican platform (it hasn’t been released yet). In 2004, the Republican platform stated: “Broadband provides Americans with high-speed Internet access connections that improve the nation’s economic productivity and offer life-enhancing applications, such as distance learning, remote medical diagnostics, and the ability to work from home more effectively…Broadband technology will enhance our nation’s economic competitiveness and will improve education and health care for all Americans.” It’s nice to see that both major parties acknowledge the importance of broadband for the future of this country.

We’ll see you at the Layton U-CAN meeting on Saturday at Noon at the Davis Library.

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4 Responses to Broadband Bytes: Weekend Edition

  1. Capt. Video says:

    On your taxes and Internet item:

    I love shopping on-line as it’s so easy to find items and typically they ship quickly. Not to mention that they are often cheaper than I can find locally.

    However I will play the devils advocate (a position I enjoy) and suggest that there would be some upside to the internet being taxed. As you mention, most shopper say they would buy less if they were taxed on their purchase (ignoring the fact that we are all self reporting and paying the tax now…lol). So people would purchase less on the internet and likely make some of those purchases LOCALLY.

    It’s the revenue like that sales tax revenue that will help most UTOPIA cities make their bond payment less painful. As sales tax revenue increases it’s a little easier to move from just being able to afford the must have’s a city has to moving to be able to also pay for the “nice to have”.

    An increase in sale tax revenue will make cities contributing to the UTOPIA bond payment a little less painful. If those same payments are made in a “tight budget ” year the stink you will hear will raise to high heaven.

    It really, really does matter if you shop locally. While you may be paying more, that money turns over many times before leaving the community and helps keep the local economy strong. It could even help pay off the UTOPIA bonds!

  2. Mike Taylor says:

    One big problem, of course, with the taxes heading in the direction New York wants is that if you are trying to sell things online, suddenly you might have to comply with thousands of separate tax districts all over the country. For the most part, when you sell things online, businesses don’t have to worry about complicated tax rules except for people they sell to in their own state. (Which is already onerous in Utah because each city has it’s own tax rules). Imagine compounding that over the whole United States.

    Big businesses have big accounting systems to deal with that already, but for the small-time seller, it’s not worth it. Hence, it would hinder commerce, and that’s why states can’t generally do that (according to current federal legislation). Many states have done what Utah has done, the “use tax”. Unfortunately, what this has ended up doing is turning most citizens into tax cheats. I bet that today most Utahns are not in compliance with this law. There is tons of pressure in the national congress to change this, of course. But the question is, how do you do it without being a big burden on smaller businesses?

  3. Mike Taylor says:

    If the states are going to insist on ways to start taxing sales that are by and large today purchased by customers tax-free, then I would say they should lower the overall sales tax rate to compensate for all the increased revenue they would gain by capturing the tax. But our government almost never seems to relinquish a tax or budget once it’s in place, so THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN! As Benjamin Franklin wisely said, “Only two things in life are certain; death and taxes.”

  4. luminous says:

    sales tax on the internet is an interesting subject, where is the tax taken in the buyers, or in the sellers state, maybe we split the rate between the 2? How do we track the 40zillion different sales tax districts? some city’s have a sales tax how many city’s are in the USA, most county’s have a sales tax, and of course nearly every state has a sales tax. And assuming we can figure out what the sales tax’s are how do these tax’s get redistributed back to the proper places of collection, do we send a check to every city/town/county/state in America at the end of each month? that sounds expensive, the online vendors of course will have to change a tax distribution fee or simple increase their prices in order to handle this new undue burden.

    Internet sales tax’s are hardly possible and are likely going to be at the root of a lot of tax fraud/evasion. The corporate income tax’s encourage enough fraud/tax evasion as it is, lets not make it worse.

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