Broadband Lite Blossoms:

Once upon a time broadband meant a cornucopia of services delivered via telecommunications, from frivolities like online video games to vital services like telemedicine, which enables prevention, and remote diagnosis, of disease. Computer science polymath David Gelernter looked towards “the day software puts the universe in a shoebox”— “mirror worlds” in which multi-dimensional virtual space becomes available over vast networks to all users. Read More ›

Networks for Nothing, Inc.

Faced with the largest financial fraud in history, what should the feds do? Like Godzilla risen anew from the depths, WorldCom – soon be to rechristened MCI – is poised to emerge from bankruptcy blessed by the federal government. Read More ›

Cyber-Safe Meets Fail-Safe

This February the Bush Administration released The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, a long-awaited document spelling out the nation’s cyber-security strategy, a crucial element falling into the homeland security portfolio. Heightening cyber-fears is the military’s concern about battlefield e-mails sent home, which travel through the public networks at the end of their cyber-journey; the military has its own Secret Internet Protocol Network for war messages Read More ›

The 3-Wire World

Washington has often bedeviled captains of industry, as the telecom industry learned in its infancy. Trans-Atlantic cable entrepreneur Cyrus Field’s brother Henry said of the time he and his brother spent lobbying Congress to match the British investment share (4 percent) in the first cable: “Those few weeks in Washington were worse than being among the icebergs off the coast of Newfoundland. The Atlantic Cable has many a kink since, but never did it seem to be entangled in such a hopeless twist as when it got among the politicians.” Read More ›

Dumber than “Dumb and Dumber”

Near the end of his tenure as WorldCom CEO, John Sidgmore told a trade association audience: “If you get away from the debt and fraud, this is a tremendous company with tremendous asset [sic]. It needs to be saved and it will be.” And if you get away from the terrorism and mass murder, al- Qai’da is a transnational affinity group, right? Read More ›

9-11 Plus One

The year since “the world changed” has been marked by many changes in American life. By solid margins, both houses of Congress have just voted to authorize the President to use preemptive force against an adversary, based upon apprehension of a threat of mass terror whose imminence is the subject of sharp disagreement. Read More ›

Local and Long Distance

WorldCom’s spectacular implosion seems to have caught many regulators by surprise. They missed it partly because they were unable to see that the core voice business of the long distance industry was collapsing. Long distance managements were loudly trumpeting the Internet Age, when data revenues would rise so steeply that voice could be free. That vision likely will come true — eventually. But data revenues in recent years did not grow fast enough to replace losses in voice revenues; this made inevitable WorldCom’s bankruptcy. Read More ›

Tsar of Telephony

The Supreme Court recently considered the future of telecommunications regulatory policy, and responded by resurrecting a ghost from the bygone era of monopoly telephony. This threatens the growth of robust facilities-based telecommunications market competition — most notably, that for emerging broadband data and video services. Read More ›

FCC Reform

It seems almost churlish to suggest reforms for an agency whose current commissioners have shown signs of a welcome shift away from harmful policies of the past. It amounts to penalizing those doing pretty well now for acts of predecessors who did great damage. But there is no assurance that some future constellation of commissioners will retain good judgment, and there is ever the problem of attitudes among longtime staff. Thus, certain reforms are appropriate notwithstanding today’s solid cast at the agency. Read More ›

The Enron Network

It has been widely predicted that the collapse of Enron and its politically explosive aftermath will not spur much in the way of regulatory changes, save those pertaining to accounting, executive compensation and corporate governance. These, of course, may well prove far-reaching. But in another way Enron’s impact will reverberate far beyond specific regulatory changes. Enron will, by revaluing specific companies, radically transform industry structures in the telecommunications industry Read More ›