Ten Years

Today is the tenth anniversary of writing this blog every day. That equates to 2,527 blogs, and that got me thinking about why I write this blog. It also got me thinking about the things I have gotten right and wrong over the years in my daily musings about the broadband industry.

I give full credit for this blog to my wife Julie. Ten years ago, I told her that I was having trouble keeping up with the rapid changes in the industry. Julie suggested that I start writing a daily blog as a way to force myself to read and think about the industry. Writing a blog every day was incredibly difficult at first. I struggled to find topics, and I struggled to condense my thoughts into 700-word essays. But I stuck with it until writing became a habit. I now can’t imagine not writing a blog, and I usually have a longer list of potential topics than there are days to write about them.

Before writing this blog, I went back and read some of my blogs over the years to see what I got right and wrong. One thing about having a public blog is that you can’t escape what you’ve said in the past – it’s all still out there to read.

One of the first things I got wrong happened in the first year of writing the blog. I was highly skeptical of Tom Wheeler being named Chairman of the FCC. Mr. Wheeler had an interesting career as CEO of several high-tech companies but had also served as the President of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) and the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA). I assumed that his experience in lobbying for the biggest companies in the industry meant that he was going to bring a bias to the FCC strongly in favor of big companies over everybody else. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Tom Wheeler ended up being one of the most even-handed heads of the FCC during my career. He sometimes sided with large corporations, but he also was a champion of consumers and municipal broadband – something that I think surprised everybody in the industry. He was what you want to see in an FCC Chairman – somebody who independently supported what he thought was right instead of what was wanted by corporate lobbyists.

Another thing I got wrong was something I wrote near the end of 2019. By that time, I had heard for years from rural communities that despaired that they had no broadband and were being left behind. I wrote that I sadly didn’t see any real hope on the horizon and that rural communities were on their own to get creative and find a way to fund broadband – even though I knew that the financial lift was beyond most communities. There was no way to know that we were only a few months away from a pandemic that would change everything. We sent students and workers home to somehow cope with school and work without broadband, and the cry for better broadband could no longer be ignored. We’re now awash in broadband grant funding. It’s going to take a few years to see if the grant funding is enough to serve everybody, but broadband solutions are on the way for most rural communities that were unimaginable in 2019.

I also got some things right. From the first time that I heard about the supposed wonders of 5G, I was extremely skeptical because I couldn’t find a business case for the technology. Almost everybody in the country already had a cellphone, and it was hard to imagine that people would be willing to spend more to get the rather obscure benefits promised by 5G. If anything, the trend seemed to be in the opposite direction, with competition driving cellular prices lower. I watched in amazement as the power of large corporate lobbying invented a fervor for 5G out of thin air. The public and politicians were sold on the idea that 5G meant a broadband revolution, and the 5G message was suddenly everywhere. There is still no great business case for 5G and there has been very little actual 5G technology introduced into networks. Yet even today, I keep reading about how 5G will soon change everything.

I also got it right in predicting that broadband demand would continue to grow. Akamai reported in 2013, when this blog started, that the average broadband download speed in the U.S. was 8.6 Mbps. Pew said that 2013 was the year when home broadband connections hit a 70% market penetration. The digital divide was already evident in 2013 when 90% of homes that included a college graduate had broadband compared to only 37% for homes where the adults didn’t have a high school degree. From the beginning of writing my blog, I predicted that home broadband consumption would double every three years – and it has grown even faster. Amazingly, politicians and policymakers still act like broadband demand is static. In 2015, the FCC amazingly handed out $1.5 billion annually for six years of CAF II funding to support the rural DSL provided by the largest telcos. Even today, policymakers are ignoring the broadband growth trends by allowing BEAD grants to be given to technologies as slow as 100/20 Mbps. We embarrassingly still have a national definition of broadband of only 25/3 Mbps at a time when a large majority of folks are able to buy gigabit speeds.

People often ask me how long I’ll keep writing this blog, and my answer is easy. I’ll keep writing for as long as there are interesting topics to talk about – and for as long as it’s fun.

A New Way to Follow This Blog

Many of my readers subscribe to the blog and receive it every day as an email. I also have a few thousand followers on both Twitter and LinkedIn. I appreciate you all and I hope you have a great 2023.

I’m not planning on leaving Twitter, but like many of you, I wonder if it will implode. It felt like the right time to stretch my wings and try something different.

I recently created a presence on Mastodon and can be found at:


If you’re already on Mastodon I’d love to connect. For those who haven’t tried this platform yet, it’s an interesting alternative. I’ve found that the platform leads to longer and more detailed discussions of issues than other sites. Be warned that there is a bit of a learning curve, but nothing that can’t be figured out.

I personally use social media platforms to find new ideas, and the quality of the content on Mastodon is impressive. It’s also nice to have a platform that is not cluttered with the advertising on Twitter or the site self-promotion and other clutter on LinkedIn. At least in the corner of the Mastodon that I’ve joined, the clutter is mostly nerdy, which suits me just fine.



New Member of the CCG Team

I’m happy to announce that Chris Rozycki has joined the CCG team.

Chris’s last position was as the Broadband Projects Administrator for the State of South Carolina. In that positioned Chris created, authored, and implemented a complete broadband grant program and plan that included creating the draft plan, dramatically improving State broadband mapping, creating a grant application process and forms, and a grant scoring methodology. He then worked to implement the grant program that included reviewing and scoring grant applications, refereeing challenges, conducting onsite reviews and approvals, and establishing a broadband demonstration project in an unserved rural black community. The grant program brought faster broadband, mostly fiber, to nearly 25,000 homes and businesses.

Before that, Chris has a long history in telecom policy, planning, and strategy, and worked for ISPs of all sizes. He has extensive experience in testifying with state PUCs and PSCs covering topics like inter-company compensation, industry performance standards, pricing and ratemaking, and interconnection agreement issues

If you think Chris’s talents might be on interest, you can contact him at chris@equitybroadband.com Or reach him through CCG.


I’m Looking to Hire a New Consultant

I’m looking to hire an Associate Consultant. This is a starting consulting position that will work directly with me. I spend interesting days on a wide variety of projects. My primary work is helping communities and ISPs look at opening new broadband markets. I also help ISPs find funding. I work with states and foundations in developing broadband policies. And I work on a number of interesting projects each year that are hard to categorize – I help clients solve problems. I also spend a lot of time responding to RFPs or writing proposals to provide consulting services.

This is a position with big growth potential in both knowledge and earnings. I’m looking for somebody who is willing to learn the intricacies of the broadband industry – you’ll be working with an industry insider and pro who knows a lot about almost all aspects of the industry.

The two traits I value the most are the ability to write clearly and the ability to tackle complex spreadsheets. I realize that’s an uncommon pair of talents for one person, but I run an uncommon business. I promise the right individual an interesting workday.

You’ll find a more detailed job description here.

2,000 Blogs and Counting

Doug Dawson, 2017

I’m taking a short pause from broadband issues because today is blog number 2,000. I look at that number and I have no idea how it happened. I’ve published almost every business day since March 2013 – only missing a few days when I was sick and a few times due to technical snafus. If you told me in 2013 that I’d still be doing this every day in 2021 I would have laughed at such a crazy idea.

I started writing the blog at the urging of my wife Julie. Back in 2013, I told her that I was having trouble keeping up with everything that was going on in the industry. That’s something most people can sympathize with – there are multiple headlines in our industry every day. Julie  knew I was an okay writer and suggested the blog as a way to force myself to keep up with industry events.

In the beginning, I was writing only to myself, and the blog was a resource for me to store my interpretation of industry news as a resource for later use. But somehow, I started to pick up readers. I’ve never advertised the blog other than to refer to it at the end of my emails, but month after month and year after year the daily readers have grown.

Once in a while, a blog goes viral. The most readers I got was over 40,000 in a day when I wrote an article wondering how well Starlink would perform. The blog ended up on Reddit and I got a huge number of comments from Elon Musk fans who made rude references about my lineage. The silly thing about the reader reactions was that most comments were based strictly on the headline and it was clear that few commenters had actually read the blog – I agreed with most of the comments except the parts about my lineage. I pulled that blog down to cut off the nonsense, but it gave me an appreciation of what it must be like to be an actual journalist. My second most popular blog talked about how squirrels and gophers chew through fiber – the comments were a lot nicer!

I still write the blog as a way to force myself to keep up. It’s a busy time to be a broadband consultant and I could easily get lost in work and ignore the industry around me. To some extent I’m still writing to myself, which is why you’ll sometimes see blogs full of statistics – these blogs help me store facts I know I’m going to want to use later.

I think my favorite aspect of the blog is that it has led to meeting some of the most interesting people in the industry. I seem to meet somebody new through the blog almost weekly.

Readers often make my life easier because they often send me links to interesting things that I would never see otherwise. I get links to small-town newspaper articles or whitepapers published overseas that would never otherwise come to my attention.

Another interesting aspect of the blog is that I have readers worldwide. Just yesterday I had readers in India, Canada, the UAE, the UK, South Africa, Oman, Australia, Kenya, the Philippines, South Korea, Germany, Ukraine, Portugal, Turkey, and Mauritius. My blogs on the nuances of US regulations or FCC actions are probably baffling to these readers, but a lot of my blogs talk about the problems suffered by lack of good broadband – a problem all around the globe.

I’m also read by few college students who want to know more about the broadband industry. They often send me great questions, which I try to answer when I can.

Probably the biggest change in the blog is that over time I’ve found a voice. As interesting as the industry is, we have a lot of problems. The pandemic made it clear that there are still far too many people without good broadband. The biggest ISPs could do a lot better and often do more harm than good. Regulators often do puzzling things. I no longer shy away from giving my opinion on such topics. I don’t think for a second that I am moving the meter on any topic, but I hope that it’s valuable for readers to hear a perspective that’s not published in many other places. The things I say in the blog mirror the conversations I have with clients and peers. Mostly I hope that I am helping to inform people who live in places that need better broadband and encouraging them that there are solutions if they keep plugging away.

I don’t know how much longer I will keep writing every day. But I still enjoy the daily break to write a blog, and starting tomorrow I’m aiming at blog number 3,000!

Why I am Thankful – 2019

It’s Thanksgiving again and I pause every year to look at the positive events and trends for the small ISP industry. I found a number of things to be thankful for at the end of 2019.

FCC Finally Admits Its Maps Suck. The FCC has begrudgingly admitted that its broadband mapping sucks and is considering several proposals for improving the mapping. It looks like the proposals will fix the ‘edge’ problem, where today rural customers that live close to cities and towns are lumped in with the broadband available in those places. Sadly, I don’t believe there will ever be a good way to measure and map rural DSL and fixed wireless. But fixing the edge problem will be a great improvement.

FCC Released the CBRS Spectrum. The 3.65 GHz, (Citizens Band Radio Spectrum) should provide a boost to rural fixed broadband. There are some restrictions where there is existing government use and there will be frequency sharing rules, so the frequency is not fully unrestricted. The 80 MHz of free spectrum should prove to be powerful in many parts of the country. The FCC is considering other frequencies like white space, C Band, and 6 GHz that also will be a benefit to rural broadband.

States Are Reversing a Few Draconian Laws. Several states have removed barriers for electric cooperatives to get into the broadband business. Arkansas softened a prohibition against municipal broadband. Local politicians are now telling state legislators that broadband is the top priority in communities that don’t have access to good broadband. It’s been obvious for a long time that the best solutions to fix rural broadband are local – it makes no sense to restrict any entity that wants to invest in rural broadband.

The FCC Has Made it Easier for Indian Tribes to Provide Broadband. Various rule changes have streamlined the process of building and owning broadband infrastructure on tribal lands. Many tribes are exploring their options.

Local Broadband Activists Make a Difference. It seems like every community I visit now has a local broadband committee or group that is pushing local politicians to find a solution for poor broadband coverage. These folks make a difference and are prodding local governments to get serious about finding broadband solutions.

The FCC Announces a Monstrous Grant Program. I hope the RDOF grants that will award over $16 billion next year will make a real dent in the rural digital divide. Ideally, a lot of the grants will fund rural fiber, since any community with fiber has achieved a long-term broadband solution. However, I worry that much of the funding could go to slower technologies, or even to the satellite companies – so we’ll have to wait and see what happens in a massive reverse auction.

States Take the Lead on Net Neutrality. When the US Appeals Court ruled that the FCC had the authority to undo net neutrality, the court also rules that states have the authority to step into that regulatory void. Numerous states have enacted some version of net neutrality, but California and Washington have enacted laws as comprehensive as the old FCC rules. My guess at some point is that the big ISPs will decide that they would rather have one set of federal net neutrality rules than a host of different state ones.

The Proliferation of Online Programming. The riches of programming available online is amazing. I’m a Maryland sports fan and there are only three basketball or football games that I can’t watch this season even though I don’t live in the Maryland market. I don’t understand why there aren’t more cord cutters because there is far more entertainment available online than anybody can possibly watch. A decade ago, I didn’t even own a TV because there was nothing worth watching – today I keep a wish list of programming to watch later.

NC Broadband Matters. Finally, I’m thankful for NC Broadband Matters. This is a non-profit in North Carolina that is working to bring broadband to communities that don’t have it today. The group invited me to join their Board this year and I look forward to working with this talented group of dedicated folks to help find rural broadband solutions in the state.

No Blog Today

I tried to write a blog today, but as you can see my daughter’s kitten Benji, who came home with her from college has other ideas.

Merry Christmas to all!


Happy Birthday CCG Consulting!

Today marks the twentieth anniversary of CCG Consulting. It’s been an interesting ride and I’m glad to still be here. I started the company on this date in 1997, soon to be joined by my partners Bill Tucker and Mike Fox. Those two have gone on to other ventures – Bill to real estate investing and Mike is now teaching college economics and still doing some consulting.

Our firm hit it’s first big challenge a few years after our start when the large CLEC industry imploded in 1999 and 2000. Most of the large CLECs went under at that time and their demise brought down most of the consulting industry with them. But we always had a different philosophy of mostly working with small companies, and that choice made us one of the handful of consultants that made it through those rough years. Over the years we’ve worked with over 800 clients, most of them relatively small.

This past week also marked my 1,000th blog here on PotsandPansbyCCG. It’s hard to believe that I’ve written that much. I continue to add subscribers weekly and will continue to write as long as there is something interesting to say – and it’s hard to picture an industry facing as many concurrent changes as telecommunications right now.

I’d also like to note that I will be speaking twice next Tuesday at the NTCA convention in St. Louis. I will speaking solo on the topic of how new wireless technologies will likely affect rural markets. I’ll also be chairing a panel on the Internet of Things.

Three Years and Counting

2014_Rolling_Sculpture_Car_Show_67_(1969_Porsche_911_S)Today is the three year anniversary of this blog. I started writing this blog as a way to force myself to keep up with industry news. During the first month of writing the blog I worried that I would quickly run out of topics. But I underestimated then how dynamic our industry has become. The changes from just three years ago are amazing. Instead of running out of topics I often have to toss away topics because I can’t get to them fast enough.

I mostly write about the topics in the industry that I find most interesting, but I must be striking a chord because I pick up new readers to the blog daily. I now know that I am the only one writing daily about broadband and related topics and it makes me happy to see that others find these topics to also be of interest. Just since I’ve started this blog we’ve seen the following changes in the industry (and this is a short list):

An Activist FCC. The current FCC has waded into more new topics than any other FCC in my memory. The most significant one is the net neutrality decision that reclassifies broadband as a regulated service. But there have been many other rulings from this FCC. There was a time a few years ago when industry pundits predicted that regulation was dying, but it has done just the opposite.

Exploding Demand for Broadband. The penetration rates for broadband have continued to grow and in urban areas it seems like we are getting close to the time when everybody that can afford broadband has it. But there are still huge numbers of rural homes and businesses without broadband and they are starting to stridently demand it.

Growth of the OTT Industry. While Netflix has been streaming content a little longer than I have been writing this blog, the whole OTT phenomenon has really taken off in the last few years. Netflix now claims over 75 million customers and there is now a growing host of other OTT providers. Online video has completely transformed the Internet and video is by far the majority of online traffic.

New Products from the IoT. There are new products available to carriers for the first time in many years. I have a number of clients who are now successfully selling security and a number of them are getting into home automation and the many other related services associated with the Internet of Things.

Use of WiFi instead of Wires. It’s become recently obvious that the large ISPs have abandoned home wiring for delivering data. They now bring bandwidth into the home to a central WiFi router and don’t install wires to anything else. But a single WiFi router is already not sufficient for high-bandwidth homes and the next trend in this area is going to be the networking of multiple WiFi routers.

Services in the Cloud. More and more services are moving to the cloud. Carriers can buy voice and cable TV programming from the cloud today, something that was unimaginable just a few years ago. It was always assumed that expansive bandwidth made cloud cable TV impractical, but as bandwidth prices continue to tumble it makes more sense to buy programming from the cloud instead of building or maintaining a cable headend.

Public Private Partnerships. There were very few Public Private Partnerships a few years ago and now it’s something that everybody talks about. This is particularly relevant in rural America where communities are willing to kick in money to find a broadband solution. But we are even seeing this in urban areas, such as the deal just announced between Google Fiber and Huntsville.

Erosion of Landline and Cable Customers. Landline penetration rates are now under 50% nationwide and we are starting to see the erosion of traditional cable customers. The challenge for the next few years will be for triple play providers to find ways to replace these shrinking revenues and margins.

Massive Realignment of Rural Subsidies. We’ve seen subsidies shrink for small telcos. Access charges are being phased lower and the Universal Service Fund is being redirected from telephone to broadband. This has put a lot of pressure on some small carriers, but anybody who survives the end of this shift will probably be ready to succeed in the long run.

I will be speaking this Sunday

NTCAat the NTCA Convention at Lake Buena Vista here in Florida. I’ll be part of a panel with two sessions on Sunday talking about Public Private Partnerships.  If you’ll be there give me a yell. I’m open to chat on Monday and you can reach me on my cell phone at 202 255-7689.