Blog - Page 67

George v. Joy

George Gilder and Bill Joy just finished their panel on “Is Technology Making Us Safer?” at the Always-On conference at Stanford University. Joy, once a co-founder of Sun Microsystems and now a new partner at Kleiner Perkins ventures, seems to have somewhat moderated his views on the “relinquishment” of technology — for example, saying biologists should have a sort of Hippocratic oath to help prevent the spread of dangerous bio-information rather than a bureaucratic government response as he previously suggested — but he is still just as worried about global warming as ever. He asked George, “Don’t you read Nature magazine?” as if the climatologists published there are dispositive. Joy said there is a consensus about global warming, and asked Read More ›

Municipal madness

There may be remote, isolated parts of the country where it makes some sense for local officials to spend tax dollars on wireless broadband networks. But for most of America, it is a bad idea. Here is the number one problem that municipalities who want to get into the telecom business face: The technology is improving so rapidly that they are either digging a bottomless pit or they will be stuck with something that belongs in a museum before they retire the bonds that paid for it. Philadelphia wants to be the “number one wireless city in the world.” Years ago, France wanted to be number one in computers. Remember the Minitel? The government of France distributed free terminals to Read More ›

Protectionist Irony Alert

A terrific young economist named Mike Darda notes a particular irony in the China money move: “[P]rotectionists in Congress thought they could jawbone China into dramatically appreciating the Yuan against the dollar to the benefit of U.S. exporters and to the detriment of U.S. consumers and importers. Dropping the dollar peg at a time when the dollar is rallying accomplishes just the opposite.”

China’s Clever Money Move

China today dealt a blow to the protectionist sentiments building in the the U.S. Congress and thus did a great favor to the global economy, especially American technology companies. China slightly changed it currency’s (the yuan) value against the U.S. dollar, from 8.3/US$ to 8.1/US$. The move is immaterial economically but allows China to claim it has “revalued.” The large revaluation so many U.S. politicians were seeking, but did not get, would have been bad for both China and the U.S. China has fixed the yuan to the dollar since 1994, a brilliant move by then-economic minister Zhu Rongji. The peg created a single economic fabric stretching across the Pacific, kept China from catching the Asian flu of 1997-98, helped Read More ›

John Roberts

I’m stunned the pundits aren’t discussing John Roberts’ potential impact on communications law! Seriously, I was surprised to learn he grew up in my home county in Indiana and attended a small, private, country school outside my hometown of La Porte. La Lumiere School’s other famous alum was a genius of another sort — the late comedian Chris Farley. The Wall Street Journal did report that when Roberts listed his personal investments when he became an appellate judge, among his stock holdings were Time Warner Inc. (TWX), Dell Inc. (DELL), Texas Instruments Inc. (TXN), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), and Intel Corp. (INTC). Maybe this is standard fair, but it could reflect a mild interest in technology. Also, his father was an Read More ›

Oil and Water: Lessons from the Past

Last week’s Senate Commerce Committee hearings on the digital TV spectrum transition were important in their own right. But they also got me thinking about a related telecom issue: municipal telecom networks. It now seems most parties are satisfied with a “hard date” transition of the 700 MHz band (UHF TV channels 52-69) in 2008. This means broadcasters will go all digital in a smaller spectrum band, and the vast and mostly vacant 700 MHz space will be opened up for all sorts of new technologies and services. This is a good thing, but by the time it happens, it will have been almost 20 years — twenty! — since this process began. Huge amounts of great spectrum have been Read More ›

Broadband Lite Blooms, But Asia Zooms

The latest broadband deployment report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a 34% jump in total high-speed (broadband downstream, narrow-or broadband upstream) lines, from 28.2 to 37.9 million at year-end 2004. 35.3 million of these lines (93%) were to residential and small business users. DSL jumped 45%, from 9.5 to 13.8 million lines; cable modem lines rose less sharply, 30%, from 16.4 to 21.4 million lines. The remaining 2.7 million lines were for miscellaneous access modes, with 700,0000 fiber or powerline and 500,000 satellite. Advanced service (two-way broadband) lines rose 42%, from 23.5 to 28.2 million lines, with 26.4 million of the 28.9 million total (94%) representing residential and small business users. Advanced service thus represented 76% of all Read More ›

Hands off the Internet backbone

New York regulators issued a white paper last week examining possible “remedies” in connection with the proposed Verizon-MCI and SBC-AT&T mergers. The white paper appropriately concludes that issues associated with the Internet backbone should be addressed at the national level. The Internet is an interstate network that cannot be subject to micromanagement by the public service commissions of 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and other territories and possessions.
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Policy Drives Stocks

It’s impossible to model the stock market with absolute certainty. But is it a coincidence that since the FCC announced a week ago it would seek some measure of deregulation for telecom companies, the technology heavy Nasdaq has risen over 4 percent? Before the Supreme Court Brand X decision and the related FCC statements, the Nasdaq had been down year-to-date about 6 percent. Now we’re close to even for the year. Our Gilder Technology Index, which is even more concentrated in technology, is up almost 6 percent in the last week. Several of my Discovery colleagues have voiced valid concerns that the Brand X case confirms and centralizes the FCC’s powers — often an ominous thing, to be sure — Read More ›