Joined on April 25, 2007
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Tom Evslin's career has taken him from nerd to CEO to novelist and consultant with a brief stop as Transportation Secretary for the State of Vermont.
His novel hackoff.com: an historic murder mystery set in the Internet bubble and rubble is available free online and for purchase from Amazon and other outlets. A short story "The Interpreter's Tale" can be downloaded as an Amazon Short. His popular blog Fractals of Change is at blog.tomevslin.com.
Evslin was cofounder (with wife Mary), Chairman and CEO of ITXC Corp. The NASDAQ-listed company grew from startup in 1997 to the world's leading provider of wholesale VoIP and one of largest carriers of international voice minutes of any kind by 2004 when it was acquired.
Evslin conceived, launched, and ran AT&T's first ISP, AT&T WorldNet Service. WorldNet popularized all-you-can-eat flatrate monthly pricing for Internet access and forced the rest of the industry, including AOL and MSN, to follow suit. Evslin has been blamed and praised for this ever since. He is unrepentant.
At Microsoft, Evslin was responsible for the server products now in Microsoft BackOffice including Microsoft Exchange and for Exchange's predecessor Microsoft Mail.
Evslin came to Microsoft when key assets of Solutions, Inc. (a software company he founded and he and Mary ran) were sold to Microsoft. In the 1970s Solutions developed the first commercial EFT software for banks. In the 1980s Solutions was the first developer of commercial communications software for the Macintosh.
For many years Evslin was Policy Chairman of the Voice on the Net Coalition and a member of the organization's Board of Directors.
Evslin is an inventor on six granted US patents.
This week I'm going to Washington to argue against regulating Internet access as if it were phone service. Twenty years ago I was there for the same reason. My concern now as it was then is that such regulation will damage the economy and reduce opportunity by stifling innovation and protecting the current dominant players from the startups which would otherwise threaten them. more»
Google is deploying fiber at its own expense in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri to demonstrate the value of one gigabit (a gigabit is a billion bits -- a lot) per second residential Internet connections and perhaps to show at&t and Verizon and the cable companies how the search giant might fight back if its growth is restricted by their restrictions or limitations. ... Whoops. Google just learned the same lesson that President Obama learned in Stimulus 1 more»
"As flood waters from Tropical Storm Irene swamped the Waterbury state office complex, seven employees from the Vermont Agency of Human Services rushed inside to rescue computer servers that are critical for processing welfare checks and keeping track of paroled prisoners living around the state," according to a story by Shay Totten on the 7days blog Blurt. Two of the employees - network administrator Andrew Matt and deputy chief information officer Darin Prail - lost their cars in the parking lot as the river rose but kept on working to assure that our servers were not lost. "We didn't know how much time we had," Matt said, "and our job was to save the servers." more»
"Is Google Turning Into a Mobile Phone Company?" asks the headline in Andrew Ross Sorkin's New York Times story. Wrong question, IMHO. But is Google doing the deal at least partly to give it leverage over wireless providers? I think so. The biggest threat to the growth of Smart Phones and tablets and other Google businesses like YouTube is the imposition of data caps and metered pricing by wireless providers like at&t and Verizon Wireless. more»
After a more than 100 year run, the end is nigh for plain old telephone service (POTS). Through most of recent history POTS was provided by monopolies, which were regulated at both the federal and state level. The new world is much more competitive; we can talk via cell phones, computers, traditional phones hooked to a variety of devices instead of the old phone line, and a plethora of new gadgets like tablets. Voice service no longer has to be vertically integrated. more»
Once upon a time in a universe not very long ago phone service in the US was provided by regulated monopolies. AT&T was the big one and there were (and are) hundreds of small ILECs (Independent Local Exchange Carriers) around the country. These monopolies were regulated both at the federal and state level. Then we began on the long road toward competition and deregulation. more»
Consumers who have a choice are quickly deciding they don't need the old copper-based phone network, often known as POTS for Plain Old Telephone Service. We use our cellphones for talking even when we're not mobile. The cell phones have built in phone directories, easy ways to return calls, the ability to call a number on a web page; and we don't share them with our parents or children... It's a good year for traditional phone companies when they don't lose more than 10% of their POTS lines. more»
I was a little early. "By the end of President Obama's first term, there won't be any more copper landlines left in the country, I blogged just after Obama had been elected. Before that I'd prophesized the end of POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) by 2010. Nevertheless, the end is nigh. And it's gonna be ugly without some planning. more»
The trouble with planning way ahead is that the world changes before you execute. The major wireless carriers have been planning their 4th generation LTE (Long Term Evolution) rollouts for a long time -- that's how they do things. Now, even as Verizon Wireless is doing an aggressive rollout of LTE, it's becoming clear that LTE networks will not be able to slake the data thirst of a world full of smart phones and tablets. Whoops. more»
Moore's Law explains why the price of everything electronic keeps going down; but now Moore's Law is starting to have an effect on much more than technology prices. The costs of energy, medicine, law, education, financial transactions, and government itself are falling because of Moore's Law's relentless progress. But these cost decreases are not being fully reflected in the prices we pay for all these things. more»
Announcement of the Verizon Wireless (VZW) iPhone and last week's announcements of Androids for AT&T mean that we're going to have better mobile data networks at lower prices. That's the most important consequence of being able to choose your phone and your network separately. We in North America have a long way to go to have the mix and match choices of phones and service that most of the world has... more»
Unfortunately, no matter what else the stimulus bill may or may not have done, it's slowed down the rate of broadband deployment in the US over the last year. The Rural Utility Service (part of the US Agriculture Department) and NTIA (part of the US Commerce Department) have awarded only 15% of the first round money they promised to make available. To be blunt, they failed in their mission. more»
The telecom industry five years from now will be unrecognizable. The creative destruction of the Internet broadly writ will be even greater than it has been in the last decade. The major telcos, the major television networks, and the major cablecos -- if they still exist at all -- will have very different revenue models than they have today. That's the good scenario... more»
Julius Genachowski, Obama's nominee to head the FCC, is a friend of Fred Wilson. Fred gives ten reasons why he likes the nominee on his blog. Genachowski was a top technology advisor to Obama during his campaign and reportedly advised the campaign on its superb use of the Internet. He is also a supporter of "net neutrality" although the devil is in the details on that issue. Even though the nominee is a lawyer, he has business experience as a VC, as an Internet executive, and as a board member of various Internet companies -- all good reasons to be hopeful about this very important policy post. That's the good news. The bad news from several days ago... more»
Bobbie Johnson, technology correspondent for The Guardian, was kind enough to quote me along with Vint Cerf (nice to be in good company) on the importance of building an online economy and an online government. Vint said: "You know how they say opportunity lies on the edge of chaos? Maybe that's going to be true here too." So far our telecommunications infrastructure has largely been privately built and financed. Why should that change now? It's unusual for government to do anything as well as the private sector. more»
Virgin Media announced its intention of restricting BitTorrent traffic on its new 50Mbps service according to an article by Chris Williams in The Register. Does this mean that net neutrality is endangered in the UK? The question is important because advocates of an open Internet like me hold the UK up as a positive example of net neutrality achieved through competition rather than through regulation. more»
As long as US telecom is duopoly dominated, a neutral Internet is endangered if not impossible; regulation of this kind of concentrated power is necessary but is unlikely to be sufficient. The solution, IMHO, is to dilute the power of the duopoly so that consumers can buy whatever kind of Internet access they want. Countries like the UK with a competitive ISP market do not seem to have net neutrality problems nor require net neutrality regulation and have better Internet access than we do at lower prices. more»
The FCC is looking for an organization to provide free, slow, and censored Internet access. The censorship apparently would include email as well as websites. According to an article in today's Wall Street Journal: "Outgoing Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin is pushing for action in December on a plan to offer free, pornography-free wireless Internet service to all Americans, despite objections from the wireless industry and some consumer groups [nb. and from me]... The winning bidder would be required to set aside a quarter of the airwaves for a free Internet service [nb. the WSJ hasn't got that part quite right]." more»
My prediction is that LTE and WiMAX are toast. The new great thing will be WRANs (wireless regional area networks). WRAN's will extend and eventually subsume WiFi. The detailed regulations which implement the FCC decision to free the spectrum formerly known as TV white spaces have now been released. They look pretty good from the point of view of someone who believes the unlicensed use of this spectrum has the potential to make a huge difference in the way the world communicates. more»
"80% of Web users will choose mobile broadband over fixed by 2013" is the headline of a Total Telecom interview with John Cunliffe of Ericsson. I agree with the conclusion although I think Ericsson will be unpleasantly surprised to find that LTE is NOT the technology which leads to this revolution. Mobile access at speeds at least equal to what cable offers and at a price lower than today's cable broadband will be available both in the home and on the road within a year or two at the most. more»
My friend Om Malik, dean of the telecom bloggers, posted on the importance of the Federal Communications Commission Chair appointment Obama will make as President... Om is dead on about the importance of this appointment. Decisions made by the five member FCC commission have had and will have an enormous effect not only on the tech sector but on the entire US and even the global economy. more»
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has just voted to open up the so called TV Whitespaces for UNLICENSED use. This is incredibly good news for rural America in particular but actually for all of America. It's not as important as the election the rest of us in the US voted in today -- but this action is a very, very big deal. Just a few of the benefits... more»
The vote that Federal Communications Commissioners are planning for November 4 is not as important as the voting we'll do on that day, but it does matter a lot to the future of the United States. Unless the forces opposed to progress manage to postpone FCC action (which they are trying very hard to do), the FCC could decide to set the stage for another generation of innovative products with which the US will strengthen its competitive position in global markets... more»
According to The Wall Street Journal, a company called O3b Networks LTD Traditional is planning to launch up to 16 satellites by the end of 2010 to provide Internet access in Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Latin America. This satellite plan, unlike many others, could be good. These are low earth orbit satellites or LEOs so they will be able to avoid the latency problems which are unavoidable with the geostationary satellites used by companies like WildBlue and Hughes to provide "last resort" Internet access in the US. more»
Historically there has been nothing which gets Microsoft's attention as fast as a platform for applications which threatens Windows dominance. Google's Chrome is obviously such a platform; Google can afford to challenge Microsoft; it's healthy for innovation that it does. Can Microsoft still rise to the challenge? Way back when I was at Microsoft -- 1991 to 1994, Lotus Notes was the threat du jour... Since I was responsible for the development of what was to become Microsoft Exchange, I was in charge of that war for a while... more»
The Wall Street Journal is reporting the terms of a yet unannounced deal which will finance a massive rollout of WiMax by a Sprint-Clearwire joint venture. Outside funding is to be provided by Intel, Google, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable as well as Bright House, a small cable company. Assuming the deal is for real, this is good news for US users of broadband and, indirectly, other users around the world. more»
Want a gig (1000 megabits per second) of Internet access bandwidth? Google says you could have it by the end of next year "from Manhattan to rural North Dakota (sic, I think they meant Vermont)" if their proposal to the FCC is accepted forthwith according to CNET's newsblog. Not only a gig but a mobile gig, accessible by cellphone or roaming computer -- no fiber required. Sound too good to be true? -- it isn't, IMHO! Engineering is not the problem... more»
In fact WiFi (technically standard 802.11) and WiMAX (802.16) don't compete for broadband users or applications today. That's partly because WiFi is widely deployed and WiMAX is still largely an unfulfilled promise and partly because the two protocols were designed for very different situations. However, if WiMAX is eventually widely deployed, there will be competition between them as last mile technologies. Some people describe the difference between WiFi and WiMAX as analogous to the difference between a cordless phone and a mobile phone... more»
Very surprising and welcome announcement from Verizon Wireless yesterday announcing that "it will provide customers the option to use, on its nationwide wireless network, wireless devices, software and applications not offered by the company. Verizon Wireless plans to have this new choice available to customers throughout the country by the end of 2008..." And Verizon Wireless is right to open up. There's plenty of room to be cynical about this; after all, Verizon Wireless is trying to STOP the FCC from putting an openness requirement on the 700Mhz spectrum to be auctioned... more»
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have to do a lot more than just provide a pipe from your residence to their facilities to assure that you have a good Internet experience. There is a raging debate, inextricable from the debate on Network Neutrality, both on what the proper responsibilities of an ISP are AND what methods are proper for carrying out those responsibilities. more»
Ten years ago was the dawn of Voice over IP (VoIP). The pioneering Israeli company VocalTec had just released its VoIP software for PCs (it was named iPhone, BTW). Industry guru Jeff Pulver (whom I now partner with in FWD) had begun to hold his Voice on the Net (VON) shows. As the founder of VoIP startup ITXC, I was invited to give a keynote at VON in Boston. The evolution of VoIP, I opined with the requisite PowerPoint slides, will be like a three stage rocket. I was right about the first two stages and dead wrong about the third... more»
A deal announced today between British Telecom and upstart FON allows BT's Internet customers to share their own broadband connections via WiFi and, in turn, be able to access WiFi free at "thousands" (doesn't say how many) of FON hotspots around the world operated by other Foneros... When you buy home Internet access from BT and opt into this plan, you are also buying roaming access at no extra charge. The technology is supposed to assure that the part of the connection which you share is segregated from your own access so that there are no security problems caused by the sharing. more»
We the people like to own stuff and not pay rent to use it (BTW, rent includes taxes but that's another story). They the oligarchs like to own the stuff and charge us rent to use it. The rise of a middle class has historically meant the rise of a property-owning class. The underclass pays exorbitant rents. The telecommunications world -- or at least the US part of it -- is a battle of rent vs. buy. Economics says that ownership or rentership is all based on access to capital. Certainly capital is a huge part of the equation -- can you spell "home loan"?; but it's not the whole story... more»
Yesterday's post explained how peer-to-peer (P2P) applications use the processing power, bandwidth, and storage capacity of participants in a service rather than centralized resources. This makes such applications generally less subject to catastrophic failure, much less subject to running out of resources (since each new user brings new capacity as well as new demand), and much cheaper FOR THE PROVIDER of the application in terms of hardware and bandwidth required. It's the FOR THE PROVIDER part that's the rub. Let's consider the case of BBC's iPlayer service... more»
Depending on whom you ask, peer-to-peer (P2P) services may be the best thing that ever happened to the Internet or a diabolical arbitrage scheme which will ruin all ISPs and bring an end to the Internet as we think we know it. Some famous P2P services include ICQ, Skype, Napster, and BitTorrent. Currently a new P2P service called iPlayer from BBC is causing some consternation and eliciting some threatening growls from British ISPs... more»
There is an excellent business case for Google bidding megabucks in the upcoming 700MHz auction and investing even more to get a network up and running. I think Google is well aware of the value to them if they win and the harm they'd suffer if the duopoly wins instead. Google can make big bucks with a nationwide third network AND make things better for all Internet users AND improve the United States' pathetic competitive position in the contest for broadband access. Hope this post doesn't end up post-tagged "wishful thinking"... more»
The FCC has issued rules which will govern the auction of valuable radio spectrum which could make a huge difference in the price and quality of communications in America. The glass is definitely half something: I'd say closer to empty than full but there are some things to like and some hope for competition. The decision is a compromise. Republican Chairman Martin was joined by Democrat Commissioners Adelstein and Copps in setting some open access conditions for 22MHz out of the 62MHz which will be auctioned. Republican Commissioner Tate reluctantly went along with these conditions and Republican McDowell voted against them. more»
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt has made the FCC an offer it shouldn't refuse. At this point it's unlikely that the FCC will accept but it would be good for the United States if it did -- and good for Google, of course. Two problems with the Google offer: at&t and Verizon hate it and it probably would result in the 700MHz auction bringing in somewhat less money (immediately) for the treasury than an alternative which would encourage the telcos to bid. more»