SMART Letter #52
February 16, 2001
SMART Letter #52 -- February 16, 2001
Copyright 2001 by David S. Isenberg
isen.com -- "truth in labeling"
email@example.com -- http://isen.com/ -- 1-888-isen-com
> Quote of Note: George Gilder
> Accenture? Bullshient!
> Quote of Note: Columbia Records' Don Ienner
> More on "100 Mbit/s for $100"
> Site for Sore Eyes -- retrofuture.com
> Quote of Note -- Zigurd Mednieks
> Quote of Note -- FCC Chairman Mike Powell
> The isen.com 2001 World Tour
> Copyright Notice, Administrivia
QUOTE OF NOTE: GEORGE GILDER
"The fastest way to spread broadband is to deregulate
the local loop and halt the effort to impose the
kind of 'open' administered competition in which no
one is allowed to win or make any money except the
communications bar and the politicians. Yes, that
means to free the regional bells and the cable
vendors to compete any broadband way they like."
George Gilder & Charles Burger in the Gilder Technology
Report, January 2001.
[Geooorrge!!! Who are these poor repressed Bells going to
compete **against**?? Each other? "Freed to compete" they'll
buy each other. ILEC senior managers were selected by
patrimonial bureaucracy, not business acumen. The "freed"
Bells will lead us back to the copper age when cellular costed
two bucks a minute, when ISDN took two decades to fail and DSL
would be available in your neighborhood -- but only until you
tried to order it.
Granted, the current system (Telecom Act, FCC, congress,
courts, PTT-like local monopolies, and all 50 state PUCs) is a
stagnant and polluted environment for innovation.
Nevertheless, there has to be a *market* before competition
Maybe you were expecting the "freed" Bells would tune into the
Telecosm? Fuggedaboudit! Clayton Christensen (You called him
'the next Peter Drucker', remember?) showed that incumbents
never lead the disruption parade. I think you've been
listening to your buddies Henry Nicholas (smart engineer with
big Bell-shaped customers) and Peter Huber (smart lawyer with
big Bell-shaped clients) too much. But if you "listen to the
technology," you'll hear deathly quiet in telcoland.
If the freed Bells are such repressed dynamos of telecosmic
competition, why aren't any of them on your Telecosm list?
George? -- David I]
ACCENTURE? BULLSHIENT! -- NAME KONSULTANTS IN KORPORATE
AMERIKA, by David S. Isenberg
I don't know where to begin if I don't know your name. Even
when I'm writing to a faceless, bodiless entity on the other
side of the Internet, it helps me break writer's block if I
can begin with 'Dear Joe' (Sunil, Miko, Prashanta, Jane, . .
..). I may be writing to a bot or a list or a board, but it
helps immeasurably to have a name.
Furthermore, my name is Isenberg. I get irrational dry
puckers when somebody spells my name Isenburg or Eisenberg,
even when it is perfectly clear they're writing about me. I
identify with my name. David S. Isenberg, that's me. A name
is just a label. But if you're going to label me, then spell
that sucker right.
Back in '78, when bits were a lot scarcer, I needed a unix
login. Somebody suggested isen. It stuck. I've been isen on
line ever since. Made sense to name my business isen.com. It
was only the second dot.com I ever heard of (after
Other business names march to a different drummer, but to me
it sounds like an amateur trombone. An employee of Avaya, the
Lucent PBX spinoff, told me, "I don't know what Avaya means.
I think they paid somebody a lot of money to find a word that
means nothing in as many languages as possible." Eeeeeyuck!!
I like names that mean something. TeleGlobe, Network Engines,
Packeteer, LinkSys, SS8, Global Crossing, Worldwide Packets --
these names I can dig. If Lucent's managers had groked their
semantic roots, they might have caught the OC-192 wave. But
Lucent's naming agency didn't know optics from emetics. They
didn't design Lucent to mean anything, and now it doesn't.
Accenture is the silliest. You can't even type it right -- it
has a little sideways caret right above the 't' that is not
represented on anybody's keyboard. Accenture used to be
Andersen consulting. I imagine Andersen was a wise, gray-
haired Norwegian gent with a pipe and a tweed jacket at a
blackboard. He's the kind of guy I might want to ask for
advice. But Accenture?
Maybe the reason that Accenture is in and Andersen is out is
that consultants can't afford to stand for anything. If their
client has a billable job, they want it. They'll even spend
the client's time and money telling it why outsourcing to
consultants is a strategic necessity. The client then
outsources its most precious jewels -- often including
strategic thinking, operational technology, customer support,
marketing information and communication up and down the
management hierarchy. Client companies become pathologically
codependent drools -- and the consultant loves every dripping
Then client fail, turn to consultant and say, "What we do
now?" Consultant say, "What you mean *we*, boss-man?"
Consultant ride off to 'help' next client.
So here are some names-that-mean-something for consulting
firms: Arrogantrix, BillableHours Inc., Bullshient,
Embezzalon, Fucturanus, MyopX, Outsorx2us, Stupiture and
XpenZV. By the way, isen.com, inc. is changing its name to
ChainJyrx. At least it means something, Accenture.
QUOTE OF NOTE: Don Ienner
"Remember all those articles about how the Web was
going to free artists from the chains of record
companies and allow them to rule their own creative
destiny? How many new acts have broken on the Internet
so far? I'll tell you how many, zero. Thousands of
sites and not a single hit. . . . People on the Internet
don't have a clue what goes into marketing and promoting
a hit record. They have no idea how hard it is to get
people to pay attention."
Columbia Records Chairman Don Ienner in the Los Angeles Times,
1/29/01 [In Ienner's world, there's no music but hit music.
Pass the bubble gum. -- David I]
MORE ON "100 MEGABITS FOR $100 A MONTH"
by David S. Isenberg
I *never* take red-eye flights, but I made an exception
earlier this week to visit Brian Andrew, co-founder of e-
xpedient in Orlando, Florida. My sleep pattern is still out
of kilter and my eyes are still red but it hurts so good.
In SMART Letter #51, I was enthusiastic but skeptical about e-
xpedient's claim that it could make money delivering 100
megabit access for $100/mo using fixed-wireless technology.
After this week's visit I am more enthusiastic and less
skeptical, and I'm hoping that Brian and I can find ways to
work together, because he's a rooftop guerilla fighting on the
right side of the communications revolution. He's selling
honest connectivity, not trying to compete against potential
customers by climbing a value-added revenue chain.
One of my big concerns in SMART Letter #51 was about the bit
budget. Here's the scoop. For $100 a month you get one
gigabyte of e-xpedient throughput a month. SMART People like
to talk about gigabits per *second* (terabits and petabits
too) so a gigabyte a *month* didn't seem like much to me -- at
first. But I just looked at my last year of email. (I'm a
heavy email user, and I save everything.) I've received about
0.06 gigabytes of email and 0.12 gigabytes of attachments in
the last 12 months. Maybe I've done an equivalent amount of
email sending and web browsing. Then there's the SMART Letter
-- I estimate that I've sent about 0.10 gigabytes of SMART
Mail. That'd put me at 50% of e-xpedient's low-tier quota.
So my one-man multinational corporation has headroom at e-
xpedient's first tier. Not bad.
I also saw the e-xpedient self-provisioning demo. You plug in
your laptop Ethernet card, set the IP address, plug your RJ-45
into the e-xpedient customer interface unit in the wiring
closet and fire up your web browser. Up comes the sign-up
page with a simple form, including credit card. Ba-da-bing,
your credit card gets hit for $100 and you've got 100 instant,
pulsating megabits dancing on your screen.
Now, $100 a month is a way-lower barrier than $1000. Last
month I got a call from an on-the-ball Cogent salesman who
noticed that I was an advisor to a company in a building
Cogent was entering. Cogent sells 100-megabit fiber service
(with *no* bit budget) for $1000 a month. They wanted to sell
to my advisee, an investment group. I dig fat pipes, so I
stepped into the breech, but my advisee does dial-up. The
advisee asked me, "What would we do with 100 megabits?" In
other words, "Why should we spend $1000 a month?" I didn't
have a good answer for them. Selling e-xpedient service
would've been ten times easier.
E-xpedient CEO Brian Andrew has learned from the evolution of
the computer industry. For years PCs cost $3000. Every year
you got more PC for your $3000, but nobody asked PC owners to
spend $10,000. Andrew thinks the same principles apply to
connectivity; you can't ask the customer to spend radically
more than they're already spending for connectivity. So he
charges $100 a month. He's hoping to get 60% to 80% of the
customers in each building he enters. I didn't see that take
rate in Orlando, but they've only been up a few weeks.
My biggest remaining concern with e-xpedient service is how
they can provision buildings cost-effectively enough to make
money at such low price points. I saw an efficient,
centralized provisioning operation in an Orlando warehouse.
All the specs for a building -- radio transcievers, wire
lengths, cabinets, routers, power supplies, cable ties,
mounting bolts -- are reduced to a parts list. The parts are
put on a pallet, shrink-wrapped and dropped at the to-be-
provisioned building. They call it POP-on-a-pallet.
Installation, the e-xpedient folks say, takes five days. I
have not seen the numbers, but I remain skeptical on this one.
Here's the bottom line: if they build it, will the customers
come? We shall see. From what I've seen so far, e-xpedient
is a name that actually means something.
SITE FOR SORE EYES
Picturephone -- if listening is so profitable, then looking
and listening must be better. It is so obvious. Why test it
in the market? 40 years later the Picturephone is still a
flagrant example of soviet-style assumption-laden top-down
telco market ignorance. (Oh sorry, George, I meant good clean
Bell-headed competition.) Objectively, Picturephone is a
leading candidate for the longest product development mistake
ever made. Check out "Picturephone: the Billion Dollar Hang
Up" at http://retrofuture.com/picturephone.html.
While you're there, check out the sounds of Voder, the world's
first voice synthesizer http://retrofuture.com/vocoder.html
and get the skinny on zero-G sex in space
http://retrofuture.com/sex.html. -- David I
QUOTE OF NOTE -- Zigurd Mednieks
[The Telirati Newsletter is one of the more literate,
gliterate, and digerate reads around, but its perpetrator is
anything but anti-Microsoft. So when Zigurd criticizes
Redmond, it is not light reading. -- David I]
"Phrases like 'rights management' and 'trusted systems'
are weasel words that . . . are easy to read for what
they really mean: You get less rights, we don't trust
you, and forget about trusting your computer - we are in
control. DRM [Digital Rights Management]
technologies are inherently in conflict with security
because they enable software to live in your system
outside of your control. OK for an appliance you can buy
or avoid as you choose, but entirely at odds with the
definition of a personal computer, and fundamentally
threatening to the value proposition of personal
computing. Microsoft has long toiled, since the
beginning of development of Windows NT, to build a
secure operating system. [Microsoft] will have to
convince .NET users that they are secure [when] their
computers are constantly chattering over the Internet
with other computers . . . Perhaps more importantly,
[Microsoft] will have to convince the opinion leaders
that are the foundation of the personal computing
culture that Microsoft has not abandoned truly personal
computing, leaving the fundamental characteristics of
personal computing to Linux.
"DRM is going nowhere in [the] open source [community]
not because open source enthusiasts are a bunch of
pirates. DRM is going nowhere . . . because
open source supporters are deeply concerned with system
integrity, and DRM is just too dicey to apply to
situations where open source review of the soundness of
security is an important factor.
Zigurd Mednieks in Telerati Newsletter #61, 2/9/01 -- To
subscribe to Telirati (it's free) contact
QUOTE OF NOTE: Michael Powell
"I think there is a Mercedes divide . . . I'd like to
have one; I can't afford one. I'm not meaning to be
completely flip about this. I think it's an important
social issue. But it shouldn't be used to justify the
notion of essentially the socialization of the
deployment of the infrastructure."
FCC Chairman Michael Powell, quoted in the New York Times,
February 7, 2001. [This raises an important question: is
broadband communications a luxury or a necessity? If Chairman
Powell had referred to a "food divide" instead of a Mercedes
divide, he'd have conveyed a different message. -- David I]
THE ISEN.COM 2001 WORLD TOUR
If the world is, indeed, round, I should be able to travel
west constantly and return to the same spot I left. I'll test
this hypothesis beginning Monday 2/16, returning to the World
Headquarters of isen.com, inc. on Thursday March 8. Here's
February 21-25, I'll be in New Zealand helping United Networks
(heretofore an electricity and gas company) launch fiber optic
services (Feb 22) in Auckland and Wellington. I'm hoping to
meet SMART Kiwis on Feb 23-24, tba. If interested, please
email, Subject: SMART KIWI.
February 25 - March 1, I'll be keynoting APRICOT (Feb 28), the
Asia Pacific Regional Internet Conference on Operating
Technologies, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. See
http://www.apricot2001.net. Happy to meet with SMART people
from any continent on Feb 27-28. If you're interested, please
email, Subject: SMART APRICOT
March 2-4, I'll be in Israel for a family bar mitzvah. I'm
hoping to meet with SMART Israelis on the afternoon of March 4
in my brother's Triangle Technologies offices in Ramat Gan.
If you're interested, please email, Subject: SMART ISRAELI.
March 5-7, I'll be in Europe with a client, unfortunately no
time to meet. I'll be doing travel notes -- look for them in
SMART Letter #53 and following. (On the other hand, if this
SMART Letter is the last one you get, it will be evidence that
the world is flat. After all, "round world" is just a
hypothesis, and SMART People will remain open to contrary
COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Redistribution of this document, or any
part of it, is permitted for non-commercial purposes,
provided that the two lines below are reproduced with it:
Copyright 2001 by David S. Isenberg
firstname.lastname@example.org -- http://www.isen.com/ -- 1-888-isen-com
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David S. Isenberg email@example.com
isen.com, inc. 888-isen-com
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