Milo MedinMatthias Kurth, Robert Pepper, Craig Moffett and other true experts. (Those links take you to comments about who these guys are and what good questions to ask them.) Eli Noam, world-leading public intellectual, and partner Robert Atkinson's annual State of Telecom will be followed the next day by a remarkable conference on Media Concentration. Events like Columbia's become even more important as the lobbyists control almost all the D.C. events. (Five of the first six speakers at the U.S. IGF planning meeting were current or former lobbyists, most from giant multinationals.)

The free Livestream is at Thanks to Joly McFie and the Internet Society for the stream. Tickets to the live event oost from $25-$150. I'm sure no one will be turned away because of inability to pay.

Tuesday the 20th will be a remarkable event with Eli bringing together more than two dozen scholars from around the world to discuss media concentration.

A few years ago, Eli had the courage to follow his data. The data showed a significant increase in concentration in the U.S., contrary to what Eli and other scholars had previously believed. With the help of George Soros' Open Society Foundation, Eli has led a remarkable group of peers compiling data around the world. Despite the Internet, concentration is increasing by most measures. I've learned a great deal from Eli, including the importance of following the money to understand what's really going on in policy.

Live tickets for Media Concentration are here. Joly will again be recording for the Internet Society and the recording will be available afterwards. The Internet Society is using the live link to webcast the Marconi Symposium from London.  

Here are a few speakers of special interest and an interesting question to ask each one.

Milo Medin manages Google Fiber and much more.  Twenty years ago as CTO of @Home, Milo was instrumental in building the cable networks that delivered 10 megabits in 1999 to most of the U.S. He was part of the President's Council on Science and Technology and worked on the PCAST Report that made sharing spectrum official U.S. policy. 

Question for Milo: What are people doing with a gigabit they couldn't do quite well with 100-200 megabits? I asked Milo that a while back and his answer was, "A gigabit connection is as fast as many people's home networks. People are moving everything to the cloud, including video and music. That's new and different." I ask the same question to several Koreans when I went to the ITU meeting. The only practical benefit anyone could think of today was "People think it's cool. They get to brag about how fast their Internet connection is."

Robert Pepper was the world's most respected regulator when I began DSL Prime, virtually running the FCC from behind the scenes. Working for Cisco, he's still in the middle of things around the world.k

Doctor Pepper is chairing what should be the most interesting panel: 5:00-5:40pm - The Google/Facebook/Netflix Problem, and Regulatory Approaches to Market Power in the Information Economy. Facebook and Google are efficiently doing what almost any company would like to: Dominate the World. The World hates that, even as many love Google and Facebook.A million Indians have signed a petition against Facebook's attempt to dominate through the deceptively named 

Questions: Should major multinationals pay a proportionate tax in the countries in which they do business? Should they employ people in those countries? Should they obey local law? What should the U.S. government do to avoid being embarrassed by our multi-national giants? 

Those are comparatively easy questions. One worth asking is the flow of funds on the Internet. How much money is moving from poor countries to wealthier ones because of the Internet changes? The truth is "a lot and even more in the future." No one dares to study that question, however. 

Craig Moffett is the most original analyst on Wall Street, one of the few with enough confidence to say "I've been wrong before… but rarely this wrong." He is right far more often than he is wrong. Craig had calculated the value of Cablevision at about $8/share. Altice bid $34 to take over. I believe Moffett may still prove right - Altice's $17B for Cablevision is over $5,000/customer. It's paying 7.5% on $14B in debt. To earn a modest return on that investment, Altice will need $50/month in profit over and above all costs of programming and operations. The payment on the new $8B in bonds is $600,000,000/year. more than 50% higher than the company's earnings the last three years. Patrick Drahi will fire a lot of people from a company whose service is not great. Essentially, Drahi's betting that Verizon will collaborate with him to raise prices. New York State regulators are weak so Drahi could win his bet. 

Question for Craig: Interest rates are at historic lows and liable to go up substantially. What's the likely effect on telcos, conservative giants and junk bond upstarts? 

A related question: Altice and Charter are taking on large debt for the Time Warner and Cablevision deals. Will that make it harder for them to give their territories the best service at a competitive price? Craig will probably give a diplomatic answer.

Mathias Kurth brought broadband to the smallest towns in Germany, at almost no public cost. After he retired as the regulator, he became Chair of the European cable association. 

Question for Matthias: In the latest U.S. CAF program, the level of subsidy is about twice the total cost of delivering broadband to rural areas. How can we prevent the ripoff and still serve rural homes? He did it in germany by requiring companies buying spectrum to first serve the most rural areas before they could go to the more profitable cities. Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom, spending their own money, covered those territories for a small fraction of what French and British companies demand as a subsidy. The respected consulting outfit WIK believed the companies barely lowered their bids in the spectrum auction to cover taking on those costs.

Another question for Kurth would be about the emerging Deutsche Telekom monopoly in a third of the country. DT wants to upgrade to a faster version of DSL, (vectoring), which is difficult to unbundle. His successor Jochen Homann, has agreed in principle after DT seemed to make a deal with competitors. That's having problems now. What should the Germans do to mitigate monopoly & duopoly power?

In particular, should Europe return to the previous cost-based unbundling rules, recently changed in the EU?  Cost-based pricing is particularly attractive because the result would be a faster Internet for most Germans. Some of us think a better Internet is a good thing.


 Here are the latest programs for the two days.


Annual Conference on the State of Telecom

Building the Next Generation of Media: Online

Platforms and Cloud Content

Monday, October 19th 2015

Columbia University Campus
Faculty House
64 Morningside Drive
(West 116th Street)
New York, NY 10027


8:30-9:00am Registration and Breakfast

9:00-9:15am Welcome, Introduction of Topic, and Report on CITI's 
Project on Cloud-TV

  • Eli Noam, Professor, Columbia Business School and Director, Columbia Institute for Tele-Information

9:15-10:30am Session 1 - Future Content
Distinguished experts from industry and academia will address several questions: As technology and delivery methods evolve, in what ways will they generate interactivity, immersion, individualization, and virtual reality participation? What new types of content are emerging? What will be the roles of sports and of UGC?

  • Terry Denson, VP- Content Strategy & Acquisition, Verizon Communication
  • Coleman Breland, President, Turner Network Sales
  • John Pavlik, Professor, School of Communications and Information, Rutgers University
  • Evangeline Morphos, Professor, School of the Arts-Film, Columbia University

10:30-10:45am Coffee Break

10:45-12:00pm Session 2 - Concentration and Industry Structure in Video and Platform Industries: a Problem?
A global panel of renowned professors will discuss market concentration and competition in the OTT and online network platform industries around the world, as well as the business drivers, the consumer interests, and policy issues. What are the impacts on vertical integration? On globalization? What are constraints on innovation and investment?

  • Daeho Kim, Professor of Media and IT, Inha University, Korea
  • Nagla Rizk, Professor of Economics, American University of Cairo
  • Dwayne Winseck, Professor, School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University, Canada
  • Sonia Virginia Moreira, Professor, Rio de Janeiro State University

12:00pm-1:00pm Lunch

1:00-02:15pm Session 3 - Policy and Regulation
A panel of distinguished current and former policy makers and analysts will discuss the following issues: What legacy rules will survive or vanish, and which new rules will likely emerge? What might be the rules on interoperability, privacy, consumer protection? Is there a role for supranational harmonization and what should be its limits? In a world with different laws on content, how will providers of new types of content comply? How does 'net neutrality' affect cloud providers? What are the copyright and licensing issues associated with global online video? What is the role of public service broadcasters in an online video world?

  • Matthias Kurth, Executive Chairman, Cable Europe
  • Christopher Yoo, Professor, and Director of the Center for Technology, Innovation, and Competition, University of Pennsylvania
  • Amit Schejter, Professor, Ben Gurion University and Penn State University, and Head of Government Committee on Online Media
  • Alison Neplokh, Deputy Chief Technologist, Federal Communications Commission

2:15-2:30pm Coffee Break

2:30-3:45pm Session 4 - Infrastructure and Technology
Noted innovators and implementers in technology and technology policy will discuss technology topics, including: What are the technology building blocks for Cloud-TV? What are the infrastructure needs? Are technologies like 4K likely to be successful?

  • Milo Medin, VP of Access Services, Google
  • Greg Harper, President, Harpervision
  • Robert Pepper, VP-Global Technology Policy, Cisco
  • Andrew McLaughlin, Partner, betaworks

3:45-5:00 pm Session 5 - Business Models and Industry
Leading financial and corporate analysts and investors will discuss the business dimensions of the emerging media and telecom environment. What are the investment and cost issues for next-generation video content and infrastructure platforms? For consumer prices and market penetration? Will the current flat-rate and bundled model continue to be dominant? What are the licensing, and monetization issues of multi-platform distribution video? What are the factors that explain the high market shares of leading firms? What is the business potential for peer-to-peer and user-generated for-profit video? Who are the likely big players?

  • Brent Olsen, VP - Public Policy, AT&T
  • Tuna Amobi, Senior Media & Entertainment Analyst, Standard & Poor’s
  • Craig Moffett, Principal, MoffettNathanson
  • Harold Vogel, Principal, Vogel Capital Management
  • Gordon Goldstein, Managing Director - Head of External Affairs, Silver Lake

5:00pm Conclusions and Reception

Columbia Institute for Tele-Information

Who Owns the World's Media? Ownership and Concentration 

Around the World

Tuesday, October 20th 2015

Columbia University Campus
Uris Hall 301
3022 Broadway and 116th St.
New York, NY 10027


Register at

Media concentration has been an issue around the world. To some observers, the power of large media conglomerates has never been greater. To others, the Internet has brought openness and diversity. Which perspective is correct? The answer has significant policy and business implications.


The answer to the empirical question is not as obvious as many sincerely believe. Although numerous large-scale mergers have taken place, the sector itself has grown rapidly. Also, de-mergers have taken place. And with digital convergence and globalization, firms have been crossing industry and national lines.


Why extend the analysis to the world at large? Because if we can identify common trends, we can seek the drivers, whether technological, economic, or political. This has policy implications. When drivers are fundamental in nature it is difficult to deal with them through regulatory policy. But when a country or a region is an outlier, with a media market that is different from similarly positioned countries, a corrective policy might be more effective.


To address this question, this conference analyzes the media sector, across countries and across time, and identifies its dynamics, concentration, and ownership trends. The conference will discuss the findings and implications of a CITI-led study on international media concentration. This project brought together author teams from 30 countries examining 13 media industries in the platform, distribution, and content sectors. The result is a book published by Oxford University Press, to be unveiled at the conference. The book is 1300 pages in length and includes 800 figures and tables. It aims to provide a serious data analysis of questions of media concentration trends, their drivers, the impact of technology, and variations across countries and industries.


Draft Agenda

8:30-9:00am Registration and Breakfast

9:00-9:10am Welcome

Introduction of Topic, Project, and of the International Collaboration on Media Concentration

  • Eli Noam, Columbia University

9:10-9:20am Media Concentration and the OSI

  • Marius Dragomir, Open Society Foundations, London.



The conference format is a series of short panels on overarching themes, including reference to specific countries and to the report's findings, provided by the authors of country chapters and members of the International Collaboration on Media Concentration.

9:20-10:00am - Trends of Concentration in Content Industries: a Problem? What are Policy Approaches?

  • Jo Groebel, Germany/Belgium
  • Kiyoshi Nakamura, Japan
  • Paulo Faustino, Portugal
  • Dwayne Winseck, Canada
  • Moderator: Eli Noam


10:00-10:40am - Media Concentration in the BRICs and Developing Countries, and what do about it?

  • Min Hang, China
  • Anuradha Bhattacharjee, India
  • Moderator: Raul Katz


10:40-11:20pm Is Concentration an Effective Tool for Industrial Policy?

  • Raul Katz,CITI, United States
  • Joost van Dreunen,Netherlands
  • Moderator:Eli Noam


11:20-11:35am Coffee Break

11:35-12:15pm - High Concentration and Democracy: What is the Interaction?

  • Jo Grobel, Germany/Belgium
  • Paschal Preston, Ireland
  • Juan Enrique Huerta, Mexico
  • Moderator: Jason Buckweitz, Columbia Institute for Tele-Information


12:15-12:55pm - A The Role of State Ownership in Media Concentration: Pro and Con

  • Huseyin Bayazit, Turkey
  • Min Hang, China
  • Ben Compaine,CITI, United States
  • Marius Dragomir, Senior Manager, Open Society Foundations, London


01:00-1:40pm - Lunch

01:40-2:00pm - Lunch Speaker

  • Alfonso Sánchez-Tabernero, Rector, University of Navarra


2:10-2:50pm - Media Concentration in Authoritarian Countries, and how should others respond?

  • Huseyin Bayazit, Turkey
  • Sergio Godoy Etcheverry, Chile
  • Marius Dragomir, Senior Manager, Open Society Foundations, London


2:50-3:30pm - The Impact of Globalization on Concentration: Pros and Cons

  • Kiyoshi Nakamura, Japan
  • Anaruda Bhattacharjee, India
  • Juan Enrique Huerta, Mexico
  • Moderator: Ben Compaine


3:30-4:10pm - Is the Internet the Solution to Market Concentration, or the Problem?

  • Dwayne Winseck, Canada
  • Moran Yemini, Israel
  • Daeho Kim, South Korea
  • Moderator:Robert Pepper, VP Public Policy, Cisco, United States


4:10-4:20pm Coffee Break

4:20-5:00am - Institutional Ownership: a Problem?

  • Paulo Faustino, Portugal
  • Sergio Godoy Etcheverry, Chile
  • Ben Compaine, CITI, United States
  • Moderator: Jason Buckweitz, Columbia Institute for Tele-Information


5:00-5:40pm - The Google/Facebook/Netflix Problem, and Regulatory Approaches to Market Power in the Information Economy

  • Joost van Dreunen, Netherlands
  • Moran Yemini, Israel
  • Paschal Preston, Ireland
  • Moderator:Robert Pepper, VP, Cisco, United States


5:40-6:00pm - Group Discussion: What have we learned? What should be done next in academia and policy?


5:00-5:40pm - The Google/Facebook/Netflix Problem, and Regulatory Approaches to Market Power in the Information Economy

The world needs a good news source on Internet and telecom policy. I hope to create one. Catch a mistake? Email me please.  Dave Burstein


Professor Noam's "Many Internets"

Until about 2010, everyone agreed the Net was a "network of networks," not a monolithic entity. There was a central authority, ICANN, keeping track of domain names, but that was a minor administrative function.
Columbia Professor Noam suggests we might be better off accepting that some nations or groups might want to organize their networks differently. It's easy to see demand for an Internet with much more effective filters against material some think harmful to children. (Any 10 year old can easily find porn today. Many do.)
Internet translation is getting better very quickly. You might want an "Internet" that translates everything into your language. Google Chrome translation isn't perfect but I was able to research most of this story on Russian language sites. With a few more years progress, I might welcome an alternate that brings me everything in English, including caching for better performance.
De facto, Internet news is already split, as hundreds of millions only get their news from Facebook. Google AMP pages, including for news, also favor selected parts of the net
Centralizing the DNS doesn't prevent censorship, as the Chinese have demonstrated. There are many Jewish and Muslim fundamentalists who want to block what they consider blasphemy and limit free speech. See . More from Noam

Russia Orders Alternate Root Internet System
It's actually practical and not necessarily a problem.The Security Council of the Russian Federation, headed by Vladimir Putin, has ordered the "government to develop an independent internet infrastructure for BRICS nations, which would continue to work in the event of global internet malfunctions ... This system would be used by countries of the BRICS bloc – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa." RT
Columbia University Professor Eli Noam and then ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé have both said such a system is perfectly practical as long as there is robust interconnection.
Actually, the battle over ICANN and domain names is essentially symbolic. Managing the DNS is a relatively insignificant task, more clerical than governing. ICANN Chair Steve Crocker pointed out they had very little to do with policy.
Some will claim this is about blocking free speech but that's rhetoric. Russia doesn't need to fiddle with the DNS for censorship, as the Chinese have demonstrated. The wonders of the Internet will continue so long as the resulting nets" are robustly connected. The ICANN and U.S. policy goal should be to help create that system for interconnection.
I expect contentions that “The Russians are taking over our Internet” and “They are splitting the Internet.” The Internet is a “Network of Networks.” It is not a monolith so what would “splitting” it mean or do?
After the WCIT, China realized that ICANN and the DNS are side issues not worth bothering about. They have been building alternate institutions including the World Internet Summit in Wuzhan and the BRICs conferences.  The Chinese have put their main work where decisions that matter are made. Wireless standards are set by 3GPP, where nothing can be approved without China's consent.
The American battle at ITU is proving to be a historic mistake.
Why does Russia want an independent Internet?
They fear that Western sanctions on Russia could cripple the Russian Net. Communications minister, Nikolay Nikiforov, worries about, "a scenario where our esteemed partners would suddenly decide to disconnect us from the internet." I think that's highly unlikely but Nikiforov points out, “Recently, Russia is being addressed in a language of unilateral sanctions: first, our credit cards are being cut off; then the European Parliament says that they’ll disconnect us from SWIFT."
It makes sense for the Russians to be prepared for such a contingency as the Cold War has been warming up on both sides. "Britain's top military chief Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach just made headlines warning Russian subs "could CRIPPLE Britain by cutting undefended undersea internet cables." Much more

ICANN Continues Excluding Russia & China From the Board
No wonder Russia wants an alternate root. Three years ago, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé promised "a seat at the table" to Chinese Premier Li. ICANN welched and this year added two more Americans.
Almost all the ICANN board is from the U.S. and close allies; only about 4 of the 18 board members are from countries on the other side of the North/South divide in Internet policy.  Claiming ICANN represents the Global Internet is inappropriate. China is 1/3rd of the Internet but has no representation on the board.
I know many of the board members. They are all basically honorable but generally share a strong opinion on North-South issues.
Larry Strickling of the U.S. government knew just what he was doing with the IANA transition. He handed over to a board with similar positions as the U.S. government.
"The system is unsustainable while it excludes half the world," I have been saying since 2012. More, including the transcript of Fadi's statements,

Sorry, Ajit Pai: Smaller Telcos Did Not Reduce Investment After NN Ruling
Pai justifies his NN choice with the claim, "The impact has been particularly serious for smaller Internet service providers." #wrong (Actually, NN has minimal effects on investment, up or down, I’m convinced. Competition, new technology, customer demand and similar are far more important.)
The two largest suppliers to “smaller ISPs” saw sales go up. Adtran's sales the most recent nine months were $540M, up from $473M the year before. 2016 was $636M, 2015 $600M. Calix the last nine months sold $372M, up from $327M. The full year 2016 was $459M, up from $407M in 2015. Clearfield, a supplier of fiber optic gear, was up 8% in sales in the smaller ISPs.
There is nothing in the data from others that suggests an alternate trend. Anyone could have found this data in a few minutes from the company quarterly reports.
The results in larger companies are ambiguous. I can "prove" capex went up or went down by selecting the right data. The four largest companies' capex - two/thirds of the total - went up from $52.7B in 2015 to $55.7B in 2016. The result remains positive after making sensible adjustments for mergers and acquisitions. That's as close to "proving" that NN led to increased spending as the facts chosen to prove the opposite.
Actually, whether capex went up or down in 2016 tells us almost nothing about the choice on neutrality. Everyone knows a single datapoint could be random or due to other causes. Much more, including the source of the errors

Elders Bearing Witness: Vint, Timbl, & Many More
Vint Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee, Steve Wozniak and more than a dozen true Internet pioneers wrote Congress to protect Neutrality. The best Congress money can buy didn't listen but I wanted to reproduce their letter.
I hope they are wrong believing "is an imminent threat to the Internet we worked so hard to create." My take is the impact will be moderate in the short run.
From the letter:
We are the pioneers and technologists who created and now operate the Internet, and some of the innovators and business people who, like many others, depend on it for our livelihood. ... The FCC’s proposed Order is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology. These flaws and inaccuracies were documented in detail in a 43-page-long joint comment signed by over 200 of the most prominent Internet pioneers and engineers and submitted to the FCC on July 17, 2017.
Despite this comment, the FCC did not correct its misunderstandings, but instead premised the proposed Order on the very technical flaws the comment explained. The technically-incorrect proposed Order ... More, including the full list,