Case Study | Susan Crawford "Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution and Why America Might Miss It"

Harvard Law School Book Series presentation.  7:00 to 24:25 "meat and potatoes" portion of presentation, remainder is Q&A.

Key takeaways:

  • The problem is that policymakers in the US see high-capacity communications as luxury goods, to be provided only where there is both demand and a high-margin business case.
  • Asians pay about $25 - $40 a month, 100% fiber penetration in nations like Korea, Signapore, Japan.  Similar to Nordic nations.
  • China has a national strategy. Their "Digital Silk Road", as part of the "Belt and Road Initiative" will connect 65% of the global population, representing 40% of the global GDP, providing a fiber backhaul for 5G (using Huawei products). This should be America's Sputnik moment.
  • Every day, China moves closer to its goal of having 200 million new fiber optic connections to homes and businesses — at a time when the US has somewhere between 11 and 14 million such connections.
  • What all this means is that China, and not the US, will be the sandbox for new applications that require very-high-capacity network connections.

Hardcover (published )

Amazon reviews:

  • "South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore have virtually 100 percent fiber adoption at low prices…" And that is one key factor – low prices. The problem does not lie with the Asian countries but with America’s own big businesses and telcos. Some seem to be deliberately ignoring the importance of fibre optics by repeating the claim that eventually, everything will be wireless...
  • Dispels some of the myths surrounding much less reliable, lower-performing, shared bandwidth wireless tech being forced on our communities by the FCC on behalf of big wireless like Verizon, AT&T, etc, that has to be backed up by fiber anyway. In short, "whoever controls the fiber controls how communications will happen, how good they will be, how cheap they will be, and if they will honor our 1st Amendment."
  • This book explains how America is hamstrung by current national and state policies impeding progress on modernizing its outdated metallic telecom infrastructure to fiber – an urgent task already a generation tardy well into the digital 21st century.
  • We are frighteningly behind the curve on the technology revolution that is fueling innovation and economic competitiveness in Asia and Scandinavia (USA around low 20s in the world in connectivity, etc.).
  • Link between bridging the digital divide and open access fiber which is treated as a public utility.
  • Cities can save us from the cable monopolies.
  • Politicians should read this book, so should the rest of us... Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast have paid politicians to ban competition in the fiber-optic industry.