FryUp: The harder they ComCom

Marginalising local loop unbundling, Microsoft's Morro and Twitter's short and URLies

The harder they ComCom

It’s nigh impossible to figure out how the Commerce Commission reasons. Take the unbundling stuff under Douglas Webb, in 2003: first it was unbundle, then no unbundle. MED said they got it wrong, but the mistake didn’t get sorted out until three years’ later. As part of sorting out that mistake, we now have a determination on sub-local loop unbundling (SLLU), which is an awkward way of saying other ISPs can have access to Telecom’s roadside cabinets. Of course, getting access to cabinets costs, but it’s fascinating to see how the price went up from the draft determination to the final and binding one. “There goes our business cases,” cry the access seekers. They’re right – the Commission admits that the determination for SSL means a quarter higher total cost per customer than for exchange LLU ones. The idea here is that the additional cost can be recouped by ISPs offering “higher value” and “advanced services” over SLLU. Fat chance. LLU and non-regulated broadband is expensive enough, courtesy of an awkward regulatory environment that keeps prices high. There’ll be some takers for VDSL2 service at 30Mbit/s or faster, but it’ll never be a volume seller compared to other forms of DSL. At the same time, the Commission is doing the right thing by protecting Telecom’s investment. While it’s fair to argue that the time has passed for fibre to the node and that it should reach premises instead, Telecom is spending big on building the cabinetised network. This is new investment on a grand scale that’s not being seen from anyone else in NZ. It shouldn’t have surprised the access seekers that the Commission took this into account, and upped the price of SLLU accordingly. That and the fact that the cabinets by their very nature are small and won’t ever offer the same economies of scale as going into exchanges does makes me wonder if there ever was a realistic business case for SLLU. The SLLU determination has been three years’ in the making and while it has the potential of if not killing LLU completely, it could marginalise it to the point of being meaningless. This can’t be news to anyone though. Telecom’s cabinetisation kicked off in 2003/2004 and everyone knew what the consequences would be. Knowing that there’s huge customer demand for affordable broadband and voice, plus seeing Telecom’s cabinetisation plans would seem to shout “do not rely on the vagaries of slow regulation and build your own network(s)”, doesn’t it? Comcom issues sub loop unbundling terms Telecom fibre-to-kerb doesn’t affect DSL plans

More go on Morro

Arise, Morro, the Son of OneCare. Go forth to 75,000 selected customers in the US, Brazil and Israel, for thy beta baptism in blood, slaying viruses and Trojan Horses as they fall upon Windows 7. And do not mention MSAV. Morro

Short and URLies

What’s the biggest problem with Twitter? No, not the spammers or the service breaking down all the time. It’s the shortened Uniform Resource Locators that people use to make hyperlinks less long so that they can squeeze into 140 characters. It’s almost impossible to use Twitter without URL shorteners if you want to point to stuff on the web (which you do, more often than not) but the thing is… you usually have no idea what's being pointed to. Combine that with the change in user behaviour Twitter has caused, namely encouraging people to click on whatever link appears in their timelines, and you have a recipe for a disaster. Twitter could be the vector for the next mass virus infection. Get yourself a Twitter client that expands abbreviated URLs so that you can at least preview them before clicking. Graham Clueley: Cligs short URL service hacked

XKCD Latitude

Cartoon: www.xkcd.com

Robert X Cringely

I've got a hunch you may not like Hunch Web-based decision-making tools like Bing and Hunch are suddenly all the rage. Whatever happened to making up our own minds? In the future, we won't have to make any decisions on our own. All we'll need is a browser and a lot of time on our hands. That's where things seem to be headed, at least. First, of course, there is Bing, which if nothing else has stuffed the term "decision engine" down our gullets whether we wanted it there or not. Now comes Hunch.com. Built by Flickr's Caterina Fake and a bunch of computer geeks from MIT, Hunch apparently exists to help us figure out what we already know, even if we don't know we know it yet. From the site's description: It's a cruel world out there. Coin-flipping, I Ching consultation, closing your eyes and jumping, postponing the inevitable, Rock-Paper-Scissors, and asking your sister are all time-honored means of coming to a decision — and yet we think there's room for one more: Hunch. In 10 questions or less, Hunch will offer you a great solution to your problem, concern or dilemma, on hundreds of topics. Hunch's answers are based on the collective knowledge of the entire Hunch community, narrowed down to people like you, or just enough like you that you might be mistaken for each other in a dark room. Hunch is designed so that every time it's used, it learns something new. That means Hunch's hunches are always getting better. OK, I thought, I'll bite. Hunch starts by asking an endless series of nosy questions trying to find out more about you. (I got through 238 of them before I gave up, exhausted.) The questions range from the mundane (Do you live in a city? Do you rent or own your home?) to the bizarre (Do you sing in the shower? Have you ever used a fake ID?) to the truly bizarre (Do you believe in alien abductions? Do you find clowns scary?) For the record: Of course I believe in alien abductions, and I think anyone who doesn't find clowns scary is either a) related to Ronald McDonald, or b) scary. As for the rest, well, it's none of your beeswax. For all this hard work, Hunch tells me I've earned 559 Banjos. And no, I do not have one friggin' clue what that means, so please don't ask.

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