FryUp: The Emperor's broadband clothes

All hail the new era of regulatory disappointment

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* The Emperor's broadband clothes *

* Microsoft: do yourself a favour *

The Emperor's broadband clothes

Is the "naked DSL" or Unbundled Bitstream Access draft determination the first in a series of new regulatory disappointments? I'm betting it will be.

The new telco commissioner, Dr Ross Patterson, ruled that DSL without the voice component will be costly. The reason for that is:

"Where Naked DSL is acquired, the access seeker must also meet the costs of Telecom's local loop network."

.. meaning customers can pretty much forget about lower broadband costs and ISPs about making money on reselling the service. What the above also means is that ISPs are expected to compensate Telecom for no longer being able to sweat its local loop asset, which was paid for ages ago and is not receiving much investment. Telecom doesn't make anywhere near as much money on broadband as it does on the line rental, you know, the one that gives us "free local calling", or even toll calls.

Of course, it's good to see that all of a sudden, Telecom is now able to guarantee 40 and 90kbit/s UBA service whereas before it could only muster a "best-effort" without any real guarantees of performance. The draft determination doesn't however appear to say that there will be service level agreements for end users guaranteeing that the allocated monthly bandwidth figures will be adhered to.

What's worrying too is that the regulator is following Telecom, and talking about the Unbundled Copper Local Loop, or UCCL, only. This presumably rules out extending the regulation to fibre of any kind.

It is starting to look like the new regulation will result in plenty of bureaucratic action and a few token enhancements to DSL, and that's it.

I've said it before and say it again: trying to build a business by leeching a margin off Telecom's network is a folly. The regulator will not allow it, not in the past, not now, not in the future. There's only one way forward, and that's building your own networks, bypassing Telecom entirely.

- Broadband ruling will 'stifle competition'

Microsoft: do yourself a favour

.. and stay out of Standards processes. Nobody believes your intentions or aims are true; quite the opposite. There's no way you can win, not without arm-twisting of some kind.

If you can't stay out, at least play clean, because nobody trusts you, and you have no capital left to burn in that area.

Microsoft's OpenXML format was making the rounds through various standards bodies around the world this week, and the stories that came out of that aren't pretty. So much so in fact that there's plenty of reason for companies wanting to remain independent from Microsoft not to embrace OpenXML.

As for us, New Zealand said "no" to OpenXML, presumably in the face of Microsoft lobbying. I believe that's a wise decision in the long run.

- OpenXML proposal gets thumbs-down

- OpenXML buying a 'pig in a poke'

- Microsoft bashed in OOXML shens (and comparing loos)

- Standard needed for Standards voting

XKCD: Shopping Teams


Robert X Cringely Vista SP1: You oughta know beta “At Microsoft, quality is job SP1.” Cringester and book author John Hedtke came up with that little gem, as pithy as any real Microsoft slogan and far more accurate. We may finally have a chance to test it out, now that Microsoft has released the schedule for Vista's Service Pack 1. (What does it say about a company when it takes six months for it to release the schedule of when it will release the beta of the fix to the operating system it took more than five years to build? More and more, new Microsoft operating systems resemble massive public works projects, with endless schedule setbacks, cost overruns, and diminished expectations. The Big Dig, Part Deux.) Unlike the Vista beta program, which involved literally millions of guinea—err, volunteer testers, the SP1 beta distribution will be more limited. Even Microsoft Press author Ed Bott can't get his hands on one, though he has a thorough inventory of what's in it on his blog. The rest of us mere mortals will have to wait til some time in the new year. And what exactly will be in it? Lots of bug fixes and performance tweaks, a few adjustments to its desktop search app to assuage Google, but no breathtaking new features. Here's my favorite bit from the IDG news story about the release: Vista SP1 will not break any applications already running on the OS. "Anything that works on Vista is going to keep on working on SP1," says David Zipkin, senior product manager for Microsoft. Terrific. Now how about all the apps and drivers that don't work on Vista? There are thousands of businesses still buying machines with XP installed (or downgrading their Vista machines after purchase). That's what they're waiting for. And they're all going to have to wait a little longer -- sometime in Q1 2008, if Microsoft holds to this schedule. But I wouldn't beta on it.

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