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March 2009

Google has 97.5% mobile search engine share -- per survey's latest survey of mobile search engine market share has the following market shares:

  • 97.50% Google Global
  •  2.03%  Yahoo Global
  •  0.21%  Ask Global
  •  0.09%  Microsoft MSN/Live Global
  •  0.04%  AltaVista Global
  •  0.03%  AOL Global

NetApplications noted that "Microsoft recently partnered with Verizon to make Live Search the default search engine of all Verizon devices in the next few months."




The Flawed Economics of Broadband Open Access in the U.S.

A post by a Google policy analyst yesterday attempted to make the economic case for open access in the U.S. and suggested reasons why American infrastructure providers should embrace a mandated open network model. This proposed theory warrants a strong practical rebuttal. This proposed case for the economics of open access does not hold up to close scrutiny, because it has fatal flaws in both logic and economics.


I.                   The fatal flaw in logic in the case for the economics of open access:


Since the post assumes broadband markets everywhere are basically the same, it concludes that the open access experience in some European countries is relevant and applicable to the U.S. situation. The fatal flaw in logic here is the core assumption that European and U.S. markets are factually analogous. They are not. They are substantially different factually and structurally as I will explain in detail.

The Costs of Free on the Internet

How can free have a cost? Well a lot of different things are converging in Washington that could bring much more focus to -- "the costs of free" on the Internet.

  • Last month's Revised Behavioral Advertising Principles from FTC Staff are largely about making more transparent the privacy "costs" of "free" Internet products and services funded by online behavioral advertising.
  • This month's NYT news that House Internet Subcommittee Chairman Boucher now supports passage of new Internet privacy legislation requiring consumer "opt-in" permission in order to exploit consumer information, implicitly recognizes the substantial hidden privacy "cost" of behavioral advertising.
  • This week's privacy and security-related complaint to the FTC filed by EPIC against Google's free cloud computing services, further brings to the forefront the hidden "costs" of free on the Internet.

Chairman Rockefeller elevates cybersecurity to a major priority -- Protecting the cybrastructure

The cybrastructure is everything that can be digitally connected to the Internet, and the cybrastructure is increasingly vulnerable to cyber attack from hackers, criminals, terrorists and other bad actors. The exploding growth in people, devices, information, and systems connected to the Internet, naturally creates an exponential increase in vulnerabilities that bad actors can exploit.  This makes cybersecurity an increasingly urgent priority. 

  • Many think of cybersecurity as protecting users, organizations, computers, devices, and private/sensitive information, but it is much more. More and more, cybersecurity is about protecting critical systems too; our banking, capital markets, and e-payment systems; our electrical grid and utilities; our health care infrastructure; our public safety and military systems; etc. -- that all can be accessed or hacked by a wide variety users, organizations, computers, and devices. 
  • The cybrastructure now is the vulnerable soft underbelly of our economy and society.   

Fortunately, the security and safety of the cybrastructure is finally getting the priority attention it deserves.   

The Post Office Does "Deep Package Inspections" Without Privacy or Free Speech Problems

Free Press in its latest report: "Deep Packet Inspection: The end of the Internet as we know it?" continues to mischaracterize "reasonable network management" practices (that ensure quality of service and filter out harmful traffic like spam, viruses, and other malware) as bad practices and misuse of technology that threatens users' privacy and freedom of speech.   

It is inaccurate and unfair to mischaracterize reasonable network management this way.

The Free Press report uses a common analogy about "deep packet inspection" (DPI) technology. It analogizes that use of DPI technology by an ISP would be like the post office going beyond reading the address of a letter and looking inside the letter to read the private contents.

  • This partial analogy is designed to lead people to believe that DPI is only a privacy-invading technology without any merit or useful function. 

Let's explore the letter and post office analogy more fairly and accurately.

The Open Internet's Growing Security Problem -- Part V in a Series

Evidence continues to mount that the real problem on the Internet is that it is not as safe and secure as it needs to be -- not that it is not open enough. (Parts: I, II, III, IV

"Cyber Security: The Achilles Heel of U.S. Might?" Washington Post

  • "...the fact that the nation's cyber vulnerabilities continue to grow, and fast."
  • "Both the high-profile attacks and more routine infiltrations have shed light on the vulnerability of critical information infrastructures. For example, the Defense Science Board noted that the U.S. military's information infrastructure is the "Achilles' heel of our otherwise overwhelming military might."

"Smart Grid May be Vulnerable to Hackers" CNN

  • "A hacker also might be able to dramatically increase or decrease the demand for power, disrupting the load balance on the local power grid and causing a blackout. These experts said such a localized power outage would cascade to other parts of the grid, expanding the blackout."

'Website-infecting SQL injection hitting 450,000 a day" USA Today

Must read piece: "The Wireless Way Out" by Tom Wheeler

Tom Wheeler, of Core Capital partners, has a must read piece today: "The Wireless Way Out" on TMCNet. It highlights:

  • How U.S. wireless broadband competitors are heavily investing in infrastructure despite the recession; 
  • That U.S. private wireless infrastructure investments dwarf the public investment in broadband in the stimulus pakage; and
  • That wireless broadband produces huge productivity benefits for the economy.

The big takeaway from this piece is that the fastest growing part of the U.S. broadband market, wireless, is strong, competitive and investing heavily -- which is very different than the state of non-communications industries in this economy. 

For those who don't know Tom's impressive background... he most recently was one of the most senior advisors for Technology on President Obama's Transition Team, and he also is a past head of both the CTIA and the NCTA.




Building upon a Strong Broadband Foundation -- Part I in America’s Broadband Strengths Series

The combination of the severe recession and Congress’ requirement for the FCC to devise a National Broadband Strategy provides an excellent opportunity to inventory not only weaknesses, but also the many strengths, of the broadband sector and economy. Comprehensive analysis shows much that is going well that mustn’t be taken for granted in any new broadband plans. Unlike many other sectors of the economy, the American broadband sector is:

  • An exceptionally strong foundation to build upon;
  • On the right track with much positive momentum; and
  • Partnering to solve many of society’s most pressing problems.


I.          Strong Foundation to Build Upon


America’s competitive broadband market has an exceptionally strong foundation of positives on which to build upon, enhance, expand and supplement.


House Chairman Boucher on Net Neutrality

House Internet Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher had the following to say about the net neutrality issue in an informative interview with Broadcasting & Cable:

  • "Do you believe there still needs to be a network neutrality law?

    • There has to be a firm principle of Internet openness that is abided by all. We do not have a legislative emergency at this moment that requires that as a priority today—in the top rank of priorities for action in the next several months—that we pass legislation such as was considered a couple years ago. I think because we elevated the issue, we showed the depth of concern for that business model. The plans to do that were effectively chilled, and so that hasn’t happened and the Internet has remained open.
    • And in those instances where there have been some eruptions of bad behavior, the FCC has acted very effectively to prevent that activity and keep the Internet open. The status quo is working."  






Why All Innovation Is Not Good

My point here is not at all anti-innovation, but simply that all innovation is not good, because innovation is a means not an end. People can innovate for both good, and bad, purposes. 

  • Cyber-criminals, hackers, predators, terrorists and other malfactors, constantly innovate on the open Internet with malware, viruses, spam, botnets, p2p piracy and phishing, denial of service attacks, etc.
  • Cyber-security experts marvel at the innovation and ingenuity of these multiplying malfactors.    

My big point here is that the push for the Government to maximize innovation by mandating an "open Internet" is a knife that can cut both ways. Just like an open Internet enables well-intentioned innovators, it also can enable innovative cyber-crooks and bad actors. 

Anything good can become bad or a problem, if it is taken to excess.


Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths