Reinventing Wires Event, Feb 5, 2018

The Future of Landlines & Wireline Broadband Networks

A new report to be issued by the National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy (NISLAPP), Re-Inventing Wires: The Future of Landlines and Networks, concludes that blanketing the nation’s residential neighborhoods with densified so-called “Small Cell” cell towers is technologically unsound, unsustainable and will not meet the nation’s immediate or long-term communications needs.

JOIN US at the Commonwealth Club Feb 5, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

  • 110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105
  • Registration begins at 5:00 p.m.
  • Reception with panelists following the program until 7:45 p.m.
  • $8.00 members, $20.00 non-members, $7.00 students

Panelists biographies listed here:

  • Timothy Schoechle, PhD; more info here
  • Martin L. Pall, PhD; more info here
  • Duncan A. Campbell, Esq.; more info here
  • James S. Turner, Esq.; more info here
  • Camilla Rees, Panel Co-Chair; more info here
  • Ellen Marks, Panel Co-Chair; more info here

Dr. Timothy Schoechle:

Government officials have been misled about the adequacy of wireless communications. Legislators should stop enabling the wireless industry’s plans for massive new deployments of 4G LTE and soon 5G millimeter wave antennas throughout American neighborhoods, and instead commit to supporting reliable, energy-efficient and enduring hard-wired telecommunications infrastructure that meets the nation’s immediate and long-term needs.

Background for Schoechle’s Paper Presentation:

  • The Telecommunications Act of 1996 has resulted in the reconsolidation of communications monopoly providers dominated now by a “triopoly” that has come to be even more limiting and detrimental than the original AT&T Bell System monopoly.
  • The privatized wireless market has failed to deliver adequate and sustainable connectivity, resulting in the U.S. falling in rank to #17 of 20 among developed countries in fixed broadband penetration as a percentage of the population.
  • Only a fiber-based broadband system can overcome the access inequality and second-rate connectivity currently impeding our nation in a myriad of ways. Optical fiber technology, comprised of wires that carry data encoded on light beams, is easily capable of delivering data rates that are orders of magnitude greater than cable, DSL and wireless. Wireline stays roughly two orders of magnitude ahead, i.e. about 100 times as fast, as wireless.
  • Wireless technologies are unreliable, vulnerable to security and privacy problems and prone to both latency and delay issues. Wireless provides poorer voice quality, artificial scarcity of service, unnecessarily high costs to the public, and, importantly, negative economies for speed. Due to collusion among dominant incumbent providers, the nation is now left with expensive, second-rate wired services for the rich, expensive, second-rate wireless services (or no service at all) for those who cannot afford wires, and no national effort to pursue advanced fiber networks that are being readily adopted by the rest of the world.
  • Local communities must build and finance broadband fiber networks, in the same way that state and local governments provide schools, streets, bridges, water systems, sewers and libraries. Fast, reliable internet access has taken on the same importance as other basic needs. States and cities must lead the way to a reliable, safe, resilient, energy efficient and affordable “information highway”. High-speed fiber networks should be funded by public funds, taxes, municipal bonds and grants from governments and foundations, not by private business with commercial conflicts of interest.
  • Copper wires have a very important role to play in extending fiber optic networks to the home, and tax-payer funded copper wire infrastructure should not be dismantled. The rhetoric about copper being “obsolete” is propaganda promoted by wireless carriers. New technologies such as VDSL and allow the older copper phone wires to outperform wireless and deliver fast gigabit data and also DC power, as well as in some cases achieving capabilities comparable to, or surpassing in some respects, optical fiber. Dismantling decades of investment in copper wires in the U.S. only serves the ambitions of the wireless companies, and should be prohibited.
  • The price of fiber buildout in the U.S. may not be as high as represented when the performance improvements in both new and legacy copper and fiber are considered. A hybrid solution may be possible based on a fiber backbone with tails of copper, coax, and fixed wireless, especially if synergies with electric power system upgrades are factored in.
  • The National Broadband Plan (NBP) (FCC, 2010), an exhaustive report by the FCC that was to lay out a path to national broadband access, overstated the costs for fiber using the assumption of 100% penetration by new fiber, and then tried to justify a cheaper approach using wireless.
  • Investing for the future in fiber based internet access for communities pays off, such as in Chattanooga’s cutting-edge fiber network, where the municipal broadband system cost $220 million to develop, and thus far has translated into $865 million in economic growth for the city. Longmont, Colorado’s NextLight™ municipal broadband system is barely a year old but the availability of cheap ($49/month), symmetrical, neutral and fast broadband is already proving to be a magnet for business relative to neighboring communities.
  • Deployment of wired systems is being suppressed by regulatory politics and corporate business strategies that enrich the “triopoly” players Verizon, AT&T and Comcast. The triopoly has deliberately obstructed community and municipal broadband networks by sponsoring the adoption of state laws that preempt wireline competition from public municipalities.
  • The cost of internet access can be significantly reduced with fiber networks. Presently, by blocking municipal fiber, but at the same time declining to build it out themselves, the dominant carriers are able to “cherry-pick” the most profitable customers and maintain artificial scarcity and high prices—while rural communities and the urban poor languish on the wrong side of the “digital divide.” Community-based fiber networks can provide lower cost, affordable services to all.
  • Net Neutrality is essential. Business priorities and market power must not be permitted to preempt the public interest in the design and implementation of important basic infrastructure, thereby jeopardizing fair, equal and affordable information access for all citizens. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a former Verizon executive, is now calling the previous administration’s Net Neutrality common carrier policy “last century telecom regulation”. However, what he is advocating for is actually backward-looking 19th century “robber baron” monopoly deregulation.
  • Wireless networks are energy guzzling and not sustainable. A wired connection (copper, DSL, cable, fiber) is the most energy efficient method to access the internet. An “explosion” in energy consumption, approaching 5–10% of world electricity supply, is now needed for the operation and manufacture of wireless infrastructure. The average iPhone, for example, uses more energy than a mid-size ENERGY STAR® compliant refrigerator, or about 361 kW-h counting wireless connections, data usage and battery charging. In the 3 years between 2012-2015 the wireless cloud increased its carbon footprint by the equivalent of adding 4.9 million cars to the road. Ironically, the global internet system is almost entirely dependent on an inefficient, polluting, and archaic energy source—coal. This irresponsible trajectory is entirely avoidable using fiber communications networks to the home.
  • Universal dependence on wireless systems leave people vulnerable in the event of power grid failure. In the event of a prolonged power outage, mobile devices leave people with no service, compared to landlines with independent power sources. These can offer reliable communication even when the grid is down.
  • The millions of planned 4G LTE antennas and experimental 5G millimeter wave antennas planned to be placed densely throughout metropolitan and rural neighborhoods by wireless companies in coming years, with all of the attendant risks, are not needed.
  • 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT) are engines of forced obsolescence, intended to create lucrative public demand for more millions of new chips, apps, wireless devices and appliances. The Internet of Things (IoT) will also enable commercial interests to collect huge troves of data about the most intimate details of our lives, details that can be sold and/or captured by botnets. When critical systems are linked to remote actuators and/or cloud-based software, those links can become vulnerable, inadequate or inappropriate. IoT also raises many health and safety issues, such as what if a stove or oven is activated by a cell phone when something flammable is nearby? Or a hacker in China finds a way to control door locks, furnaces or the national grid system? The very concept of a wireless Internet of Things must be considered for what it is—in large part an unnecessary technology looking for a market and wireless industry cash cow.
  • New USB and premises wiring and cabling technologies for inside homes and buildings provide a secure and reliable alternative to Wi-Fi and other wireless access platforms. The ideal model for a national fiber system is fiber-to-the-curb (FTTC) or fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) whereby a fiber terminates on a gateway modem box at the curb or premises where digital data is then converted to Ethernet over copper wire. This gateway can efficiently separate out and deliver TV, voice telephone and Internet service within the home. New building wiring standards eliminate the need for both millimeter wave backhaul and wasteful 5G wireless systems.
  • Fiber and Energy Management Work Well in Tandem. Combining fiber access networks with local electric power distribution grids where possible enables sharing of poles and wires, and it enables control of community solar and premises solar-plus-storage. Fiber can greatly facilitate real-time energy management and it can help eliminate the high costs and reported health dangers of separate smart metering networks. Communities that already own their electric utilities will have great advantages and opportunities.
  • The proliferation of frivolous wireless uses, such as gaming, entertainment-streaming and advertising is currently causing serious spectrum deficiencies. As wireless spectrum deficiencies become a greater problem, wireless providers ramp up the fight over less-desirable frequency bands. No one yet knows what will happen to wireless spectrum requirements when 50 billion IoT consumer devices are Internet-connected. The greater the battles over spectrum, the more cell sites and DAS (small cell) wireless antennas are needed to stretch the spectrum and accommodate inefficient, energy guzzling wireless services. For this reason, as well, the hard wiring alternative to wireless must be pursued.
  • Wireless technologies may pose a lurking health ‘time bomb’ with wide-scale ramifications and costs, like tobacco, lead and asbestos. Presently, there are over 150 published scientific review studies, comprising thousands of studies, showing biological and health effects from electromagnetic fields. There has been little research on the biological and health effects of the planned 5G millimeter wave frequencies, and no testing of the 5G systems to be deployed, and scientists are weighing. Hard-wired internet access would eliminate these potential health effects and the associated health care costs.
  • Under the influence of the wireless industry, citizens have become entangled in a perpetual quagmire of voracious advertising. The World Wide Web has become dysfunctional, vulnerable, inefficient and wasteful. Customers are inundated with “apps” that continually nudge consumers to the newest wireless thing, encourage dependence on the energy-wasting ‘cloud’ and force rapid obsolescence of both hardware and software services. There is increasing alarm over the near and long term social, cultural, and mental effects of smartphones. These risks need to be better understood before diving into massive new deployments of wireless networks and devices.