Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Friday, March 8, 2013

My View Of Municipal Funded Broadband

CBS Atlanta 46
There is a fundamental debate based on principles.

On the one hand I am averse to "government going into business".

We have seen several government based telecommunications initiatives that start off with great fanfare (ie: one government in Georgia laid a fiber ring for sale of access to local businesses - only to fall behind as the incumbent telecom carriers offered "Carrier Ethernet").    The (local) government is not able to draw upon the capital markets to fund expansion and updates like a publicly traded telecommunications company can.

On the other had - there are small to mid-sized cities around Georgia that are "islands".   While AT&T (formerly BellSouth) covers the majority of the state - there are some areas in the corners of the state that don't have the population density to justify the business case for installing fiber facilities.

If the local residents put forth an initiative to leverage their collective resources to install telecommunications facilities that will bring them faster Internet - there should be no blanket barrier to their doing so.

I think that the best way to handle this is to force the municipality to create an "Authority" - separate from the city but which receives funds from the local government - if they chose to do so.

In the world of telecommunications there are:

  • Access Circuits  - to the house
  • Distribution Circuits - which aggregate a community's "access circuits" and carry it to the central office
  • Trunk Circuits - which carry the traffic back to the large city (likely Atlanta) for access to the larger realm of the Internet
The municipal authority is likely to have to link up with the incumbent AT&T (or Comcast which has cable television & Internet trunks and distribution circuits or even Verizon which may have its own fiber in Georgia to carry its cellphone traffic) in order to carry its Internet traffic to the greater Internet - it is in both party's best interests to negotiate some type of interchange agreement.

In the case of the local carrier - in this case AT&T - that same city which did not have enough customers to justify investment in a state of the art copper/fiber hybrid network - just became even less attractive as the municipal competition threatens to reduce its "take rate" for subscribers even further.   

For the municipal system - again - what gets installed as a state of the art network must be maintained and upgraded.  Over time, many times, they are not able to keep up.   

I believe that it is reasonable for the state of Georgia to lean on AT&T to take some of the revenues it obtains from the Atlanta/Savannah / Augusta markets and invest in resources in other places that are less viable from the perspective of population density.   

Install the high speed trunk lines and distribution lines.  
Initially allow the municipal authority to install the access circuits - AND - consider LOCAL WIRELESS ACCESS as a more efficient means of providing coverage than "copper / fiber to the house".

Over time - it might be in both party's advantage to have the "mega telco" purchase the assets of the municipal system outright in order to manage and upgrade the system sufficiently. 


Monday, December 3, 2012

Police "Automated License Plate Readers" - A Balance Between Police Intelligence And Privacy

Are automatic license plate readers a violation of privacy?

Technologically - "You ain't seen nothing yet" in regards to computer aided surveillance in the hands of law enforcement.

Take the modern day hand-held laser gun that the police must hold in hand by the side of the highway and connect it to a system with "Computer Vision" that captures a picture of ALL of the cars in the view of the camera and renders an individual speed measure upon the screen for the police officer to cheery pick his target.   Don't bother slowing down.  By the time you realize that your speed has been captured - it will be too late.  Prepare to pay your speeding ticket.

The pervasive scanning done by the actual subject of the story at the link above - Automated License Plate Reader - is a matter of strict policy.

The same police car that could scan for a car that has a driver with outstanding warrants (a good thing) is the same platform that could be mounted in various places around a city or highway system and monitor the movement of virtually ever single car on the road - for no other reason than the creation of a 'Big Brother' Tracking System.

The data handling policies associated with this movement toward ALPRs are key.
The police agencies should not be allowed to retain their data for more than a few days.   They should not be allowed to "sell" the data.  There should not be a massive national "data warehouse" where all of this data is aggregated.

Failing these policies the conditions in the movie "Gattaca" will be upon us.