Happy New Year [telecom]

Happy New Year! It's 2018!

As in years past, I'd like to have the readers' opinions on ways to make The Telecom Digest a better publication and a better source for information and telecom advice. Please write to me here at the usual digest address, or at my private email address, which is "bill at horne dot net." If you write to the digest address, but would rather not have your remarks posted, add the Not For Publication glyph to your Subject line - [nfp] - instead of the usual [telecom].

The first question I'll ask is this: "What future do you see for The Telecom Digest?" This isn't a rhetorical question, because the Network Neutrality rules have been sacked and that will mean dramatic changes for *ALL* non-profit outlets, not just the Digest. Consider the players and the pressures:

  • ISP's might limit Access to Usenet servers, either by demanding tribute from places like eternal-september.org, or by gouging their subscribers for more money. Some will do both, but few are likely to do neither.

  • Universities have already set up "Internet 2" connections to carry their traffic without censorship or pay-per-byte charges, but the Internet's "ordinary" users aren't likely to be offered such options unless they have the means to buy them wholesale.

  • Other bypass networks will be rare: the orginal idea of FidoNet was to allow wide-area message transport without requiring long-distance call from one Bulletin Board to another, and although I'd like to see the paradigm revivied, it's unlikely that the ILECs or CLECs would tolerate modem traffic again: they only allow '14.4' traffic now because it's almost always between fax machines, and not even a Republican Congress would dare to order every business to abandon fax machines.

  • Usenet seems to be in a death spiral, and the changes I suggested while I was on the Big-8 Board aren't likely to come about. At some point, comp.dcom.telecom might cease to exist: that would leave the mailing list, of course, but only a fraction of my readers subscribe to it.

  • The ISPs - and the backbone providers - will all want a lot more of the advertising revenue that sites like facebook now receive, and they will take the easy route and demand extra fees for "social media" tiers of service, plus the ability to substitute their own ads for the ones users would normally receive. There will be a wild-west game for a few months or even years, but then the advertisers will demand better control and accounting, and there will be a new compromise that leaves the ISPs with a lot more money - and the ISPs' users will a lot more hidden charges on their bills.

It's a dreary world I'm forecasting, isn't it? Nothing lasts forever, including the innocence and community spirit of Usenet or the Internet outside of the "point and drool" world of the big web-based providers. In a way, I hope they get bigger, or at least big enough that Verizontal and Comcrap and the other petty dictators will leave Usenet alone in their rush to squeeze FaceYaGoogTube for more and more.

The second qustion is even more important: What are *YOUR* feelings, and what do *YOU* forecast?


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Bill Horne
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