Tag: "bob frankston"

Posted November 3, 2014 by christopher

Thanks to Jeff Hoel for providing the transcript for Episode 122 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast with Bob Frankston. Listen to this episode here.

00:05:

Bob Frankston: The Internet is basically a discontinuity from the tradition of communications as a service. It's something we can do ourselves. And that's very empowering. And that's the future we need to look towards.

00:16:

Lisa Gonzalez: Hello there. Welcome to the Community Broadband Bits Podcast, from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. This is Lisa Gonzalez.

Today we have another visit from Bob Frankston. Bob and Chris have talked together in a couple of other Community Broadband Bits Podcasts, and we always enjoy having him back again. Many of our discussions focus on communities that have done interesting things with connectivity. But when Bob visits, he always makes us look at the definition of connectivity. In this discussion, Bob and Chris get into the economics of bringing ubiquitous access to the U.S., among other things. Policy makers often draw parallels between the Internet and our extensive systems of roads, or our efforts to electrify the entire country. Bob and Chris look a little deeper into these comparisons. They take a hard look at the economics of fiber networks, and how current practices need to change to take full advantage of its possibilities. Bob has an extensive library of writings at frankson.com . So if this conversation piques your interest, be sure to check out his work. Here are Chris and Bob for an interesting conversation.

01:22:

Chris Mitchell: Welcome to another edition of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. I'm Chris Mitchell. And today I'm speaking with Bob Frankston. Welcome back to the show, Bob.

01:31:

Bob Frankston: Well, thank you. Glad to be here again.

01:34:

Chris: You and I spoke in -- I believe it was the single digits, one of the earliest episodes of the Community Broadband Bits. And there, I think we went a little bit more over your background. But you've been programming for over half a century. And you've been an entrepreneur. And, for our purposes, you've done a lot of writing about telecommunications networks, and people can find that at frankston.com . And I encourage them to go check it out. Now, is there...

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Posted October 28, 2014 by christopher

For this week's Community Broadband Bits podcast, we are excited to have Bob Frankston back on the show. Frankston has spent a long time thinking about connectivity and we previously explored his thoughts on episode 14.

In this episode, we talk a lot about how to think about what he terms "connectivity" rather than telecommunications. Telecommunications are a train track - the network owner determines when to move the trains and at what capacity. Our goal for networks is more akin to the roads, where we have more capacity to move around and pick our own routes on our own schedule.

Frankston has persistently argued that community networks are reproducing the centralized model of the telephone and cable companies when they build networks. While I have argued that the community fiber approach is more open than he believes, it is clear that his vision is substantially different from what most local governments have in mind and quite possibly, more libertarian than most local governments are ready to encourage. Feel free to share your thoughts below.

He is looking for more examples of very local grassroots network building - where apartment builders create and operate their own network. Ideally, these will scale up as they connect with each other and offer alternatives to more centrally controlled networks.

For some of his recent writings, check out Beyond Neutrality and Connected Things.

Read a transcript of our discussion here.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show - please e-mail us or leave a comment below. Also, feel free to suggest other guests, topics, or questions you want us to address.

This show is 33 minutes long and can be played below on this page or via iTunes or via the tool of your choice using this feed.

Listen to previous episodes here. You can can...

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Posted December 24, 2013 by christopher

For those looking for our weekly podcast over the holiday break, we decided to recut one of our early interviews with Bob Frankston, a favorite of Lisa's, and put it back in the feed. We ran the original interview for episode 14 of our Community Broadband Bits podcast and again now for episode 78.

Frankston continues to write about the Internet and encouraging more networks that have a primary objective of exchanging bits rather than generating profits for a few massive firms who design their networks primarily to maximize billable events. He describes himself this way:

My current interest is moving beyond the 19th century concept of telecom to community owned infrastructure. This would add hundreds of billions of dollars to the US and much more value by creating opportunity for what we can't imagine.

Read the transcript of this episode here.

Enjoy the holidays!

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show - please e-mail us or leave a comment below. Also, feel free to suggest other guests, topics, or questions you want us to address.

This show is 15 minutes long and can be played below on this page or via iTunes or via the tool of your choice using this feed.

Listen to previous episodes here. You can can download this Mp3 file directly from here.

Find more episodes in our podcast index.

Thanks to Haggard Beat for the music, licensed using Creative Commons.

Posted September 26, 2012 by christopher

Our fourteenth episode of Community Broadband Bits is an interview with Bob Frankston, who has made many important contributions to the development of both computers an telecommunications. His bio is here, but this is his present passion:

My current interest is moving beyond the 19th century concept of telecom to community owned infrastructure. This would add hundreds of billions of dollars to the US and much more value by creating opportunity for what we can't imagine.

Our interview discusses how the Internet is much more than something you connect to via a cable or telephone company. Fundamentally, we should be building networks that allow ubiquitous access to communications, not designing networks around billing relationships. Confused about what that means? Listen to our interview below and read some of his writings.

He also talks about community broadband in an interview we previously noted. You can find our other stories that involve him here.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show - please e-mail us or leave a comment below. Also, feel free to suggest other guests, topics, or questions you want us to address.

This show is 30 minutes long and can be played below on this page or subscribe via iTunes or via the tool of your choice using this feed. Search for us in iTunes and leave a positive comment!

Listen to previous episodes here. You can download the Mp3 file directly from here.

Read the transcript of this episode here.

Find more episodes in our podcast index.

Thanks to Fit and the...

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Posted December 13, 2011 by christopher

I encourage readers to visit Doc Searls post "Broadband vs. Internet" for a discussion about things that matter regarding the future of Internet access for most Americans.

The Internet is no more capable than the infrastructures that carry it. Here in the U.S. most of the infrastructures that carry the Internet to our homes are owned by telephone and cable companies. Those companies are not only in a position to limit use of the Internet for purposes other than those they favor, but to reduce the Net itself to something less, called “broadband.” In fact, they’ve been working hard on both.

There is a difference between the Internet and "broadband." Broadband is a connection that is always on and tends to be somewhat faster than the dial-up speeds of 56kbps. Broadband could connect you to anything... could be the Internet or to an AOL like service where some company decides what you can see, who you can talk to, and the rules for doing anything.

The Internet is something different. It is anarchic, in the textbook definitional sense of being leaderless. It is a commons. As Doc says,

The Internet’s protocols are NEA:

  • Nobody owns them.*
  • Everybody can use them, and
  • Anybody can improve them.

Because no one owns it, few promote it or defend. Sure, major companies promote their connections to it (and when you connect to it, you are part of it) but they are promoting the broadband connection. And the biggest ones (Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner Cable, etc) will do anything to increase the profits they make by being one of the few means of connecting to the Internet -- including charging much more and limiting what people can do over their connection, etc.

This is one reason the connections from major corporations are so heavily tilted toward download speeds -- they want consumers to consume content. Just about every community network built in the last 3-4 years offers symmetrical connections by contrast.

Last I heard, the fastest cable offering in the upstream direction was 12Mbps. Cox, our cable provider in Santa Barbara, gives us about 25Mbps down, but only 4Mbps up. Last time I talked to them (in June 2009), their plan was to deliver up to 100Mbps down eventually, but still only about 5Mbps up. That’s...

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Posted January 23, 2011 by christopher

Big cable and phone carriers want to take credit for what the Internet has become -- but they never wanted it to be open.  Smart decisions behind the scenes by people like Bob Frankston have allowed the open Internet to flourish despite the big carriers.  In Frankston's case, it was creating the router that allowed home users to put any device, and number of devices they wanted, on their network connections when the carriers wanted to charge for every device.

 

Posted January 7, 2011 by christopher

Bob Frankston has long been critical of both telecommunications companies and the regulators who are supposed to oversee them (but instead are often captured).

Bob has published a lengthy explanation of what is wrong with the US approach to expanding access to the Internet and the beginnings of an alternate approach. This paragraph from his conclusion is where I'll start:

We have a right to communicate. If we fund infrastructure instead of charging for services we can realize that right.

A number of thoughtful people have made the same comments and I believe we will ultimately build access to the Internet as infrastructure (rather than as discrete services arising from the history of telecommunications), but I'm not sure how we will get there.

Perhaps it helps for some to remember just how far we have some. Most of the people pushing for the government to stop regulating the gatekeepers to the Internet seem not to understand why government regulates telecommunications providers. Simply put, when telecommunications was largely unregulated, they screwed their subscribers.

The FCC defines a “completed call” as one that merely rings. It’s a perfect example of naïve indifference to the larger question of why we are using the phone. To a user (a word that makes us forget we are talking about people) a call is complete when you reach a person or, at least, leave message. Yet the phone companies didn’t allow answering machines until the Supreme Court overruled them in the 1968 Carterfone decision.

This story is repeated again and again because it is at the very heart of the concept of telephony. In 1956 they lost the Hush-A-Phone decision. They tried to prohibit people from putting a box around their phone! That was the extent to which the providers went to preserve control and dictate how you were supposed to use their network.

As Frankston rightly points out (here and elsewhere), the best one can say about regulation is that it has been imperfect. This is one reason we encourage public ownership rather than regulation from an authority closer to those regulated than the people...

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