Re: [gaia] [hrpc] Fibre Feudalism

Jane Coffin <coffin@isoc.org> Mon, 29 October 2018 11:08 UTC

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From: Jane Coffin <coffin@isoc.org>
To: Sonia Jorge <sonia.jorge@webfoundation.org>
CC: gaia <gaia@irtf.org>, Shaddy Shadrach <shaddy.shadrach@webfoundation.org>
Thread-Topic: [gaia] [hrpc] Fibre Feudalism
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Date: Mon, 29 Oct 2018 11:07:54 +0000
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Archived-At: <https://mailarchive.ietf.org/arch/msg/gaia/t_l7MfXTqrp6I_HJFgTp12HQf5o>
Subject: Re: [gaia] [hrpc] Fibre Feudalism
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Hi Sonia –

 

Excellent.  We will coordinate with Shaddy off-list.


Best,

Jane

 

 

Internet Society | www.internetsociety.org

Skype:  janercoffin

Mobile/WhatsApp:  +1.202.247.8429

 

From: Sonia Jorge <sonia.jorge@webfoundation.org>
Date: Monday, October 29, 2018 at 2:52 PM
To: Jane Coffin <coffin@isoc.org>
Cc: "gaia@irtf.org" <gaia@irtf.org>rg>, Shaddy Shadrach <shaddy.shadrach@webfoundation.org>
Subject: Re: [gaia] [hrpc] Fibre Feudalism

 

Hi Jane, 

 

Just to confirm that my colleague Shaddy Shadrach, A4AI Head for Asia, is available to join your session remotely and speak to A4AI's work on USFs.

 

Copying Shaddy here, and feel free to write to him directly for details of the session.

 

Thanks!
Sonia Jorge
Executive Director, Alliance for Affordable Internet

Head of Digital Inclusion Program, Web Foundation

a4ai.org Twitter: @A4A_internet

+1-617-905-7819 (USA)

PGP: 8B995609B48715A3 

 

World Wide Web Foundation | 1110 Vermont Ave NW, Suite 500, Washington DC 20005, USA | www.webfoundation.org | Twitter: @webfoundation

 

 

On Thu, Oct 25, 2018 at 5:06 PM Jane Coffin <coffin@isoc.org> wrote:

Hi Sonia –

 

Thank you for checking with your team. We would welcome an A4AI colleague to present at GAIA.  

Challenges with USF are part of the web of policy/regulatory issues that need rebooting in general to connect more people/improve connectivity.

 

Best,
Jane

 

Internet Society | www.internetsociety.org

Skype:  janercoffin

Mobile/WhatsApp:  +1.202.247.8429

 

From: Sonia Jorge <sonia.jorge@webfoundation.org>
Date: Wednesday, October 24, 2018 at 2:29 PM
To: Jane Coffin <coffin@isoc.org>
Cc: "director@ipop.org.pk" <director@ipop.org.pk>pk>, "gaia@irtf.org" <gaia@irtf.org>rg>, Carlos Rey-Moreno <carlos.reymoreno@gmail.com>om>, Leandro Navarro <leandro@ac.upc.edu>du>, Steve Song <stevesong@nsrc.org>rg>, "hrpc@irtf.org" <hrpc@irtf.org>rg>, "vint=40google.com@dmarc.ietf.org" <vint=40google.com@dmarc.ietf.org>rg>, Kurtis Heimerl <kheimerl@cs.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: [gaia] [hrpc] Fibre Feudalism

 

Hi Jane, 

 

As you know, A4AI has put a lot of thought into USFs across the regions, with a focus on making them effective and accountable mechanisms to deliver universal access through multiple options (including community access, networks, public wifi support, etc.), but also focusing on targeted groups, e.g., women and girls.

 

Not sure if anyone on our team is available to support the Bangkok discussion but will check and let you know.

 

As for your very good questions, I am not sure I have an answer. I can tell you that we are certainly trying and have had some interest, but takes time to do this at a scale that you can see impact. As I believe I shared earlier, we are planning to do this in the ECOWAS countries and are currently doing it in Mozambique.

 

Happy to discuss further!

Best,

Sonia Jorge
Executive Director, Alliance for Affordable Internet

Head of Digital Inclusion Program, Web Foundation

a4ai.org Twitter: @A4A_internet

+1-617-905-7819 (USA)

PGP: 8B995609B48715A3 

 

World Wide Web Foundation | 1110 Vermont Ave NW, Suite 500, Washington DC 20005, USA | www.webfoundation.org | Twitter: @webfoundation

 

 

On Wed, Oct 24, 2018 at 8:28 AM Jane Coffin <coffin@isoc.org> wrote:

Arzak –

 

Spot on.  I have seen this as well in many countries.

We also know of a story (all too common) where a small island nation adopted an USF Regulation, and did not develop procedures or rules/sub-regulations to implement the regulation.  When a small networking project applied for funds, the process took a year due to the need to establish regs and to wrangle the funds out of the regulator.  

 

I have 2 asks from the GAIA community:  

ASK 1:  Would any of you like to speak at the upcoming GAIA session on this topic (remotely or in person in Bangkok)?

GAIA @IETF103 will be Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Afternoon Session I 1350-1550 (=0630 UTC, Tuesday, 6 Nov).

ASK 2:  Carlos suggested we include more about USF/USO in a GAIA output.  Note Leandro’s email from a few weeks ago about putting a document together.  

 

USF/USO also begs these other questions:

-Should governments start new funds that are more flexible to support the development of IXPs and Community Networks/Muni networks? Given that it could take years for some governments to change USF and other rules/procedures/regs/processes?

-How can we light a fire under the toes of big funders to urge them to support funding smaller projects where we provide business/management and fin/management training (Many of our organizations could help them develop this ancillary training).  

 

Best,

Jane

 

 

Internet Society | www.internetsociety.org

Skype:  janercoffin

Mobile/WhatsApp:  +1.202.247.8429

 

From: gaia <gaia-bounces@irtf.org> on behalf of Arzak Khan <director@ipop.org.pk>
Date: Wednesday, October 24, 2018 at 5:17 AM
To: Kurtis Heimerl <kheimerl@cs.washington.edu>du>, Carlos Rey-Moreno <carlos.reymoreno@gmail.com>
Cc: "gaia@irtf.org" <gaia@irtf.org>rg>, "vint=40google.com@dmarc.ietf.org" <vint=40google.com@dmarc.ietf.org>rg>, Steve Song <stevesong@nsrc.org>rg>, "hrpc@irtf.org" <hrpc@irtf.org>rg>, Leandro Navarro <leandro@ac.upc.edu>
Subject: Re: [gaia] [hrpc] Fibre Feudalism

 

The utilization of USF funds has been an issue in Pakistan where Ministry of IT and Telecoms has used the fund for building cricket stadiums, distributing smartphones to government employees and many other projects which has not impacted greatly on provisioning of broadband services in most of rural Pakistan. Building out fiber networks still remain a challenge and limited to few players only without promoting any competition.

 

 

Arzak 

 

From: hrpc <hrpc-bounces@irtf.org> on behalf of Kurtis Heimerl <kheimerl@cs.washington.edu>
Sent: Monday, October 22, 2018 6:44 AM
To: Carlos Rey-Moreno
Cc: gaia; vint=40google.com@dmarc.ietf.org; Steve Song; hrpc@irtf.org; Leandro Navarro
Subject: Re: [hrpc] [gaia] Fibre Feudalism 

 

I thought it worth noting that some of my experiences have been different than Carlos's; for example in an unnamed central asian country the regulator mentioned that the USF distribution is set in policy and they must, by law, return the money to the telecoms. Even in those with the ability to put the money elsewhere, there were occasionally structures that push the regulator to fund "related" but non-competitive services like computer or internet literacy. Tricky space with a lot of moving pieces. 

 

On Sun, Oct 21, 2018 at 10:58 PM Carlos Rey-Moreno <carlos.reymoreno@gmail..com> wrote:

Hi all, interesting debate indeed, and happy to join a further call on this, or even work in a document where we can consolidate these discussions. 

 

After having engaged with several regulators, and managers/officials from universal access agencies in Africa this year, my main take away is that they keep on using USO to incentivize incumbents to go to rural areas because that's the only way they know. Once they are presented with alternative models like the ones mentioned by Leandro, they are very open, in principle, to explore them. They are the ones who know how ineffective the current models are, but in most cases they are, as Steve points out, constrained by frameworks that only allow to use the fund to those who contribute to it. 

 

I think, at least in Africa, there is a very interesting opportunity to work together with USAF managers/officials to discuss an potentially implement innovative ways of using them. Consolidating the knowledge in this discussion and others in a working document, with the different advocates in the region speaking proposing the same thing, could contribute a lot in this direction.

 

best, 

 

carlos

 

On Sun, 21 Oct 2018 at 19:29, Leandro Navarro <leandro@ac.upc.edu> wrote:

Agreed, but the sad thing is that practice (country policy) goes in the opposite way in the few cases I know where USO is a form of subsidy or tax deduction to benefit the incumbent only, before a legal monopoly. The typical government argument is that USO is paid by industry, that reflects this privilege or new form of monopoly/subsidy in favour of the incumbent only (everyone pays the king operator in the feudal metaphor). In consequence, the incumbent does the minimum required to justify receiving the funds to preserve the pool of unconnected as a source of future USO income (the serfs of the feudal system). 

For example, one fibre community network but can be any alternative operator to the incumbent, fears the effect of that: https://www.ispreview.co..uk/index.php/2017/11/b4rn-fear-10mbps-uk-broadband-uso-may-hamper-rural-ftth-rollout.html

That’s why USO as implemented can be counter effective. Alternative models of distribution, radically different, are needed, where all the funds are not given to a single operator (and deter investment by others), but to every citizen that qualifies (to free the serfs). Bottom-up (people centred) instead of top-down (incumbent centred). Something along those lines may contribute to increase alternatives and not just be used to mainly reinforce the de-facto monopoly of largest operators (for example: https://b4rn.org.uk/b4rn-service/gbvs/ ) Otherwise USO policies are mainly a form of public subsidy, a form of monopoly, to reinforce the incumbent, with the excuse of the underserved and unconnected.

Leandro.

 

On 21 Oct 2018, at 18:15, Vint Cerf <vint=40google.com@dmarc.ietf.org> wrote:

 

Steve is spot on. 

V

 

On Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 09:53 Steve Song <stevesong@nsrc.org> wrote:

Hi Amelia, Sonia, 

 

I agree this is a very interesting and timely debate and I would be happy to participate in a discussion on this.  

 

Universal service funds that involve (or in many cases are legally restricted to) giving money back to the incumbents to build out infrastructure has proven (over and over and over again) to be a terrible idea.  I hope we can agree that we should stop doing that.  For me the issue is about power and control and the way it is used to impede competition.  The cost of technology has plummeted in both fibre and wireless technologies.  In theory that should have been a boon for competition but high spectrum auction fees and licenses along with exclusive control of fibre backbones has created an almost impenetrable barrier to market entry.  Any government intervention in universal service should obliged to address the issue of market permeability as well as ownership of and access to core networks.

 

Cheers... Steve

 

On Sat, 20 Oct 2018 at 07:07, Sonia Jorge <sonia.jorge@webfoundation.org> wrote:

Hi All, 

 

Interesting discussion here. One that might warrant a webinar/conference call among interested people? Steve, what do you think? I would be happy to join a stimulating discussion on the topic, starting with your blog and the Access Model. 

 

Amelia, can you point me to some evidence or a paper (anything you may have) that shows that relationship between USO and quality of infrastructure? I find that very difficult to believe but open to be proven wrong. 

 

Something important to keep in mind is that countries where USO have been more instrumental are also countries that have traditionally been poorer and behind in terms of infrastructure development; this is certainly the case in some Southern European countries and maybe Eastern European ones as well. So the level of economic development overall is a key variable. 

As for Africa and/or infrastructure investments, I could share a lot here, but for now let me call your attention to some reports we produced and that can add to the discussion. 

- A4AI’s annual Affordability Report: https://a4ai.org/affordability-report/report/2017/. Note that the 2018 report will be launched and published on Tuesday and addresses key questions relevant to this discussion, specially on costs associated with infrastructure investment

- a recent blog on infrastructure costs and challenges: https://a4ai..org/affordable-internet-access-the-cost-challenge/

- For those interested in USFs in Africa, see https://a4ai.org/universal-service-and-access-funds-an-untapped-resource-to-close-the-gender-digital-divide/

 

Best,

Sonia Jorge 

Executive Director, A4AI

Head of Digital Inclusion, Web Foundation

1-617-905-7819


On Oct 20, 2018, at 05:33, Amelia Andersdotter <amelia@article19..org> wrote:

Hi all,

It might be helpful to know that EU countries where Universal Service
Obligations have been extensively used and applied, also typically have
worse infrastructure than EU countries where USO wasn't well applied.
Applying USO means you put the government in a position where it faces
off with the service provider under USO in a negotiation. The service
provider has information advantage and typically a better relationship
to its consumers than the government has to its citizens (so a
communications advantage too). I lack experience of the African markets
and their regulators, but in broad strokes those are the issues faced in
various European jurisdictions with USO and I'm assuming similar
difficulties would arise in the African setting. This is a bit
theoretical, and I'm just curious how to avoid these information
asymmetries?

As it is described by Steven, the current feudalism (operators A, B and
C all collaborate as soon as they own physical fibre networks) also
incentivises many actors to get into the infrastructure market. That's
fundamentally a good thing: it means not all the last-mile is owned by a
few big actors who need to be regulated by a regulator who is
fundamentally at a disadvantage compared to the big actors. It's the
main criticism targetting the Local Loop Unbundling reform of 1999 in
the EU as well - challengers don't invest enough in last-mile
infrastructure (except in those EU markets where many different actors
have had regulatory incentives to build their own networks, or where
there has been purposeful public investment in last-mile). Or am I
misunderstanding something?

best regards,

Amelia



On 2018-10-04 20:52, Steve Song wrote:

Hi Mallory,

 

Thanks for that!  I think you are on exactly the right track in terms

of thinking about economic models.  Thanks to Erick Huerta of

Rhizomatica, I am very taken with the thinking of French economic

historian, Fernand Braudel..  Braudel argues that the world has three

economies not one.  A global economy which is the well-known

capitalist economic model where monopoly is the perfect end-game in

theory for every player.  Google, Colgate, Coca-Cola, all the usual

suspects form part of this economy.  The second economy is the Local

Economy where services are specific to the city/community where you

live.  This might be your local butcher, baker, plumbers or even

larger service provider which offers services that grow out of local

demand and which serve local needs in more unique ways than the Global

Economy.  The third economy is the Subsistence economy where market

forces may not operate because there is not sufficient traditional

capital to make it work..  This is the world of the informal economy

with barters, cooperatives, community initiatives that directly

contribute to the overall economy but are largely unmeasured by

traditional statistics.  And woven among these are both commercial and

commons models, which can operate with varying success at the

different levels.  

 

When viewed through this lens, it is easy to see how regulation has

only enabled the global economy in telecommunication and that there is

a need for enabling regulations to nurture telecom initiatives in the

Local and Subsistence economies.  

 

For me this also highlights a key flaw in models like the World Bank's

Access Gap model

<http://blogs.worldbank.org/ic4d/the-gaps-model-and-universal-access>. It

is not so much that the model is wrong, it is just one-dimensional;

assuming that successful global capitalism is the best of all possible

outcomes.

 

Writing more about this shortly.

 

Cheers... Steve

 

 

On Thu, 4 Oct 2018 at 10:57, Mallory Knodel <mallory@article19.org

<mailto:mallory@article19.org>> wrote:

 

   Hi Steve,

 

   Thanks for sharing. I read it last night and I really enjoyed it.. I

   think the metaphor is solid economically. And politically, well, that

   could be another post in and of itself..

 

   The agrarian commons would of course be ideal, but what we have is a

   sort of old-world economic structure that politically controls and

   profits from (what should be) the commons. This sets you up nicely to

   call for modern economic models ranging from squarely capitalist to

   socialist, and even (back to) the commons!

 

   I'm CCing HRPC because it might be of interest to those who have

   raised

   issues of centralisation on the list in the past.

 

   -Mallory

 

   On 04/10/2018 15:30, Steve Song wrote:

Hi all,

 

This is a reflection on the current state of terrestrial fibre

infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa (but I think applies just about

everywhere).  

 

https://manypossibilities..net/2018/10/fibre-feudalism/

 

Curious to know how apt you feel the metaphor is or any other

   reactions

you may have. 

 

Thanks..... Steve Song

 

 

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