papaRandall, with the $85B Time Warner merger pending, is unlikely to disavow his very visible friendship with Donald Trump although I'm pretty sure he despises much of what the President is saying. Brian Krzanich of Intel, Kenneth Frazier of Merck, Elon Musk of Tesla, Inge Thulin of 3M, and even Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup have resigned. 

Donald Trump called the merger, "a deal we will not approve in my administration because it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few." However, WSJ reports the fix is in.  "An approval could underscore the administration's pro-business credentials at a time when Mr. Trump's ties with America's CEOs are under unprecedented stress," Flint and Fitzgerald point out. 

Steve Schwarzman, one of Trump's strongest and richest supporters, secured a $20B investment from the Saudis. It was "announced at the royal palace in Riyadh as Mr. Trump and Mr. Kushner looked on," NYT noted in a devastating article, The Benefits of Standing by the President

Trump supports his friends and threatens to destroy his opponents.  (Which doesn't mean he's wrong about everything, but readers can easily guess my opinion of him.)

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor of management at the Yale School of Management, said he’d spoken to 26 chief executives over the last three days, and they largely expressed the feeling that “they had a moral compulsion to act,” he said.

Profiles in Courage is a history book authored by Jack Kennedy but mostly written by Ted Sorensen. John Kennedy jr has put his recording in the public domain. It's about eight men who took unpopular and sometimes career-killing stands on principle. 

Randall is probably the most effective telecom executive over the last decade. He has "done what was necessary" to rise in business, but he's taken many courageous stands in both business and personal choices. His thoughtful,

and worth 12 minutes of your time. He led the way ending discrimination against gays by the Boy Scouts, where he became President.  

In business, in 2004 he went against almost every expert in the business and did not build a network like Verizon's. AT&T results continued to match Verizon. In 2007, when most thought AT&T was a phone company, his first speech as CEO proclaimed "We are a wireless company," years before most people recognized that. (I didn't at the time.) He supported Ralph de la Vega, who bought the iPhone to America. By 2015, the pundits believed fiber home was unsupportable. Citing cost reductions, he began adding 3M fiber homes a year. The 5.5M homes fibered look to be an outstanding investment. 

I'm pretty sure Randall would like to condemn Trump for all the reasons readers know. A mutual friend writes, "I can't speak to what Randall is thinking but I know that he has been a very strong supporter of all forms of inclusion.  Your reference to his employee speech is spot on.

If that kills the TW merger, his board will be asking questions. He's only 57 and gives no evidence he wants to retire early. If he takes a courageous stanch and Trump retaliates, the rest of his career could disappear. 

Courage, Randall.

Ilse Meitner as a German scientist was a discoverer of nuclear fission. Her story is one of the many told in a remarkable new book, The Pope of Physics, by Gino Segrè, a physicist and also a fine, clear writer. His uncle Emilio was a close colleagues of Fermi both in Italy and Los Alamos. He has included personal accounts of Enrico Fermi, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, and other remarkable creators of modern physics. It includes the best short introduction of the miraculous era of 1920's physics I've ever read. Highly recommended.

(I was disappointed to discover Marconi was a dedicated fascist and close to Mussolini.) 





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,