Russian 4,000 villages34,000 kilometers of fiber to towns of 250-500 people. The government program, managed by Rostelecom, offers basic service at 10 megabits for less than $1/month to about a million Russians. Complete universal service coverage of Russia will require 215,000 kilometers and is scheduled to be finished by the end of 2018. 

Let's hope the Russians do better than the Indians, whose similar "fiber to the village" program is the better part of a decade late. India's telecom programs are world-class examples of inefficient government work. Less reported is the equally incompetent American "public-private partnership."

Obama in 2008 promised "affordable broadband for all Americans," echoing a similar promise by George Bush in 2004. After spending  $7B in the Broadband Stimulus and $billions more in USF, by most measures the U.S. has the highest % of "unserved" of any developed country except perhaps Canada. Pai and Trump are now spending $billions more in CAF and a likely $billion additional in the infrastructure plan that will mostly be waste or a giveaway to the telcos.

The U.S. programs are run by the companies, who naturally put making money for their shareholders first. The regulators, including Obama progressives, have been world-class examples of how inefficiently pure capitalist ideology can run. The heads of companies including Century & Frontier have come to Wall Street gloating about how the CAF program is contributing to their cash flow even before any customers are signed up. I infer from this they are being subsidized more than the total cost. They also see strong cash flow coming as they acquire customers. If so, any sensible businessman would have been willing to pay part of the cost or more. The program for the large companies was put together in close coordination with the companies. No one has exact data except the companies, but I'd guess CAF is spending about twice what is necessary. I haven't confirmed, but believe some if not most of the $billions going to AT&T in CAF is being spent on wireless upgrades they almost certainly would have made with little or no subsidy. The companies shaped everything in their own favor. Carol Mattey made a valiant effort to cut waste but the FCC wouldn't stand up to the telcos.

Russia, to almost everyone's amazement, offers some of the best Internet deals on earth, $6/month for faster speeds than England.   


From the Russian Ministry, 

Nearly four thousand of settlements connected to the Internet as part of the reform of NCU



The reform of universal service (ACS) is provided by the federal law "On Telecommunications", according to which all residents are guaranteed equal access to communication services. However, in Russia there are still many towns and villages, where there is a problem with modern telecommunications. To solve the problem of the digital divide Russian Ministry of Communications has prepared a reform of the ACS Foundation - provision of universal service. providing NCU system was designed according to the requirements of Chapter 8 of the Federal Law №126-FZ "On Telecommunications".According to the law in the list of universal telecommunications services include pay phones, access points (VRM) and access points (APs).

Provision of universal service was created in 2005. It is formed from the contributions of all operators - 1.2% of the proceeds from the provided telecommunications services. Thus, it is consolidating about 14 billion rubles a year. 

With funding of universal service provision an extensive network of payphones was built, consisting of almost 148,000 vehicles. From street phones using a special payment card Russian citizens can make a call anywhere in the country, free of charge to call the special services - ambulance, police, gas service. Also, to provide data services and provide access to the Internet was organized about 20 thousand PKD, 15 thousand of which are located in the offices of "Russian Post".

Since 2005, the technology and the penetration of telecommunication services have changed, while the principles and universal service technologies have not changed. Therefore there is a need to reform the telecommunications services, improve their performance, and provide new services to the population.

Previously, the universal service reserve were solely on the fact that in our country all working payphones. Under the proposed reforms without changing the size of the reserve fund will be able not only to maintain the existing network of payphones and VRM, and build about 200 thousand kilometers of fiber-optic communication lines (FOCL).

February 3, 2014 President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin signed the Federal Law №9-FZ "On Amendments to the Federal Law" On Communications "," aimed at reforming the universal service system, and designed to ensure the population equal access to modern infrastructure of telecommunications services. The law provides for the creation of access points in the settlements numbering 250-500 people and providing public access to the Internet at a speed of 10 Mbit / s without limiting the number of consumed traffic, with access fee of 45 rubles per month.

In accordance with the Russian Federation Government №437 from March 26, 2014 the sole operator of universal service defined by PJSC "Rostelecom".

May 13, 2014 signed a ten-year contract with the PJSC "Rostelecom" on the conditions of the provision of NCU. The concentration of responsibility in one statement will reduce costs and ensure the development of communication networks. As part of the project PJSC "Rostelecom" pave over 200 thousand kilometers of fiber optic links in almost 14 thousand settlements, which are home to more than five million people. Towards the construction of the most ambitious construction projects in the world are more than 18 thousand of larger settlements, where about 30 million people. Construction of FOCL will allow to develop modern communications networks and ensure access for all citizens of Russia to modern communication services. Construction is due to end in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Simultaneously PJSC "Rostelecom" provides for the establishment of modern communications networks in settlements of between 500 and 10 thousand people at the expense of own funds without attracting budget financing.

As part of the contract for NCU prepared a schedule of construction of access points in the Russian Federation.

In 2016 it was introduced the AP in the Amur, Arkhangelsk, Astrakhan, Belgorod, Bryansk, Vladimir, Volgograd, Vologda, Voronezh, Ivanovo, Irkutsk, Kaluga, Kemerovo, Kirov, Kostroma, Kurgan, Kursk, Leningrad, Lipetsk, Moscow, Murmansk , Nizhny Novgorod, Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Orenburg, Orel, Penza, Pskov, Rostov, Ryazan, Samara, Saratov and Sakhalin, Sverdlovsk, Smolensk, Tambov, Tver, Tomsk, Tula, Tyumen, Ulyanovsk, Chelyabinsk, Yaroslavl regions, the Altai, the Transbaikal , Krasnodar, Perm, Primorye and Stavropol Territory, the Jewish, the Nenets and Yamal-Nenets autonomous District, Moscow, the Republic of Altai, Bashkortostan, Buryatia, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Kalmykia, Karachay-Cherkessia, Karelia, Komi, Mari El, Mordovia, North Ossetia-Alania, Tuva, Udmurtia and Chuvashia. The settlements on the territory of which the installed access points, located about 400 thousand households.


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,