Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10
XI – The Calm Before the Storm
October 1st finally arrived and with it came cooler weather. Like a babysitter who shows up painfully late on a night when you have dinner plans, it was welcomed with open arms, but not without some grumbling. That summer had produced some of the hottest temperatures in Coles Creek’s history, which was quite a feat considering it was founded in the early 1800’s; it was certainly no spring chicken. The general consensus was that we had been due at least a couple cool September days on account of the harlot-in-heat that June and July had been. Maybe God was trying to tell us something. Similar records were being set all over the United States though, so it wasn’t like anyone could argue that we were being singled out and punished. But it sure felt like it.
It wasn’t quite
time for it yet, but now that October was here the leaves would be changing soon. Fall was always Rachel’s favorite time of year. She had a college English professor that described the falling leaves as the trees’ “last dry lamentations in anticipation of winter”. She had written it down in her notebook and for some reason had always remembered it. Maybe the bareness of the trees did signify sadness, but I had always considered it as just part of another cycle. Birth, death, then rebirth; that’s how it always went and always would, on and on and on, until the last ding-dong of creation faded soundlessly into the blackness of the universe.
When I thought about it, I supposed I was at the end of my own sort of cycle. Sarah was gone. Sarah was in reach. Sarah was gone again. I was right back where I started from – at least, that’s how I felt. I can’t really explain that feeling. I said before that it felt like my emotions had been cauterized, but it was really more than that, almost like a pervasive sense of betrayal without really understanding who the betrayer was. After all, it had been far from a given that I would find Sarah on my own. I took that upon myself, outside of what Lester had promised me.
When I had done all of the second-guessing that I could handle, I put the burnt ends of my feelings aside and focused on what I could
control: the outcome of Lester’s case. I hoped that when the cycle repeated this time, it would bring me Sarah Anne back.
On the afternoon of the 2nd of October, I was sitting at my desk when I heard my fax machine spring to life. It beeped and hissed for a moment and then began to spit out page after page of phone numbers. It was Amanda Dunbar’s phone records.
I scanned the records, not really sure what I was looking for at first. They appeared to cover the time period between July 1st and August 1st, ending on the day she was attacked at Lake Baldwin. After flipping through the entire document, I realized the carrier had sent all of the incoming and outgoing phone calls, but no text messages. Idiots! I felt the familiar burn of frustration creep into my cheeks and the sleeves of my white dress shirt began to cling to my forearms. I picked up the phone to try and call someone at the company while I flipped to the first page of the document to find the phone number. That’s when I noticed the letter attached the records, which I had overlooked in my haste. It apologized for the incompleteness of the records and stated the text messages could not be retrieved due to an error on the company’s end. In a painful stroke of cosmic bad luck, they could not access the text messages.
I slammed the receiver down and tossed the document onto the mountain of paper already covering the desk. How was I supposed to do my job if the carrier couldn’t do theirs correctly? It wasn’t like I was surprised – I had been on both the winning and losing end of screw-ups like that in the past – but it still made me furious. Those text messages would have likely showed exactly who Amanda was talking to that day. Even though I doubted she would have spoken openly about her drug use in those messages, I had learned never to underestimate the naiveté of teenagers.
I considered filing a motion asking the court to compel them to send the information, just out of spite, but knew it would be a waste of time. You can’t compel someone to do something they claim is technically impossible. Grudgingly, I picked up the records again.
The kids that found Amanda had made the 911 call at 9:37 p.m. on the night of the 1st, meaning she was likely attacked sometime earlier that evening, assuming they had called as soon as they found her. It was a miracle that Amanda survived the attack, but it had made the determination of the exact time it happened much more difficult. If she had died immediately, the medical examiner could have speculated as to the time of death based on several generally recognized indicators such as rigor mortis, body temperature, and the state of decomposition. As it stood, we could only guess as to when it had happened.
I started at the beginning of that day and began to comb through the numbers. On a separate legal pad, I made a note of each unique number I came across. When I was finished, there were ten separate numbers that Amanda had either dialed or had received a call from that day.
Out of those ten numbers, I was able to eliminate four immediately. I recognized two of the numbers as her parents’ and the other two as marketing/robo-call type numbers. Just to be sure, I cross referenced those two numbers with the rest of document and found they had not shown up previously.
That left me with six numbers. If Amanda had
gone out to Lake Baldwin to meet someone, there was a good chance that person’s number was one of the six.
Out of the remaining six, there was one number I became especially interested in. My finger slid down the page until it reached the final outgoing call, which had occurred at 7:24 p.m. The notation beside the entry indicated it had only lasted for three seconds, which meant the person on the other end most likely didn’t pick up. Six minutes later, at 7:30 p.m., the same number called her back. The call lasted for a little less than two minutes. Whoever it was had been the last person to speak to Amanda Dunbar alive.
I didn’t remember anyone coming forward who had spoken to her that late in the day, but I double-checked the discovery anyway. I was correct. If that person she had spoken with at 7:30 had nothing to hide, why wouldn’t they have let the investigators know about the call? I knew exactly what the State would argue if I mentioned this at trial: if the person who called her on the day she died was in fact her drug dealer, of course he didn’t come forward. He didn’t want anyone to know he was dealing drugs to a teenager! It doesn’t mean he killer her!
I looked back through the records to see if that number appeared again. And it did. In the last thirty days, Amanda had called the number a total of six times. Never two days in a row, either. The calls were always spaced apart by at least four days. Then I noticed something that send a chill down my back. Just like the call on the day she died, not a single one of Amanda’s calls to the number were over four seconds. Even more strange, whoever was on the other end called her back within fifteen minutes each time. Once or twice could have been a coincidence, but the same pattern repeated all six times meant something else was going on.
I put the document down and thought for a moment. If I were on the other end, why wouldn’t I answer the phone? The possible explanation that fit with my theory was that the person on the other end was her drug dealer and was in a place where it was inconvenient to talk about drugs. Like work.
I went back to the records to find out what times the calls had been made. What I found seemed to call my initial theory into question. Each of the six calls had been made after five o’clock. Sure, some people work longer than nine to five, but that didn’t seem to be the case here; she was obviously waiting to call after a certain time. What type of person would have a good reason not to answer even if they weren’t at work?
And then it hit me: a married man. A married man who wasn’t allowed to use or didn’t have access to his phone at work and who had to sneak away to some place private to call Amanda back once he was off. If that was the case, it was no wonder he hadn’t come forward; not only was he cheating, but he was doing it with a teenager, which was highly illegal. The first year we lived in Coles Creek there was a similar scandal involving a thirty-something high school basketball coach and one of his female players. In small towns, things like that happened much more often than people liked to admit.
The million-dollar question was: if he killed her, why did he do it? Did she threaten to tell his wife or the authorities about the relationship? Did he get angry at something and snap? Or was he simply a deranged individual just waiting for the opportunity to hurt someone?
All were plausible, yet I didn’t have the solid evidence to back them up. The State could just as easily argue that Amanda was calling her grandmother who was hard of hearing. There was no way I could refute that with the limited information I had. I needed to find out if Amanda was seeing someone else behind Brad’s back. That’s something that typically doesn’t go unnoticed, no matter how hard the parties try to cover it up. Lester’s trial was in five weeks, so whatever I did, I’d have to do it fast.
Before I forgot, I stuck the phone records in my fax machine and sent them to the District Attorney’s office. Just like the State had to share all of their information with me, I had to return the favor. Once Paul Maxwell saw the phone records and the subpoena I was about to file, he’d understand immediately what I was trying to do. There was no such thing as trial by ambush – each side had a right to know what the other was expecting to show at trial.
I grabbed my phone and sent a text to Marcus. I needed to talk to Brad Bailey again. He texted me back a couple of minutes later: prob not gonna happen. Brad told Kim that Will let you talk to him. Brad’s on the couch and Kim’s not talking to him. Great
, I thought. I texted back: why did he let me do it in the first place if he knew she'd be pissed???
Marcus: Will’s a good guy I’ve known him since college. Think he just wanted to do the right thing. They’ve had issues for a while so don’t feel bad
. I sent him back two thumbs-up emoticons.
Well, that bridge was burned, at least for the time being, but there was another way to go about it. I had found the owners of certain numbers by using reverse-lookup sites on the internet, but they weren’t very reliable. Typically, they got the carrier information right, but because people often changed phone numbers, the actual owner information was rarely up to date. I pulled up one such site and typed the number in. The record came up immediately, giving me the carrier information and telling me I could find out the owner’s name for a fee. I declined. I would need that directly from the carrier. Luckily, the records showed the number was a Coles Creek number and I was pretty sure Amanda’s grandmother didn’t live in town.
I pulled up a Word document and began drafting another subpoena for the account information for the number I was seeking. There was another problem, though. Attorneys have two options when they ask for a subpoena: they can have the requested information returned to their office with the court’s permission or to the court on the date and time of trial without the court’s permission. The rule is in place to stop attorneys from using the court’s subpoena power to gain access to information they don’t have the right to subpoena. I had gotten the court’s permission on my first subpoena for the phone records, which is why I was able to have them faxed directly to me. I couldn’t do that for this subpoena.
The Judge’s docket was full and he had already made it clear that he wouldn’t hear from either of the attorneys in Lester’s case until the pre-trial hearing, which was set for November 4th – one week before trial. By then, it would be too late to send a subpoena. Hell,five weeks
was short as it was. The bottom line is that I wouldn’t know the name of the person that possibly killed Amanda Dunbar until the morning of trial.
When the subpoena was complete, I made a couple copies and left my office headed towards the courthouse, which was only two blocks away.
“Hello, Evelyn,” I said to the deputy clerk once I was inside the Circuit Clerk’s office.
“Hey Jack. You have some motions to file?” She smiled as she walked over to the counter.
“Just a subpoena,” I replied. “I should have some more pre-trial motions before the 4th.”
“Is this for Crowe?” she asked, looking over the document.
“It is,” I said. “Have you heard anything about it?” Evelyn made it a point to know everything that was happening in the community, and that was putting it nicely.
“People ain’t sayin’ much, Jack,” she said coyly. “Other than that Lester fella musta did it on account of him having that poor girl’s phone.”
“Is that right?”
“That’s right. But I don’t know him from Adam so I couldn’t tell you what he did.” She winked at me.
“Yeah, he’s not from around here. I guess that helps him and hurts him. Thanks for letting me know. Are these my copies?”
“These here,” she said as she slid two stapled copies towards me. “Now Jack, are you getting enough sleep? You look a little tired.”
I tried to play it off. ”Oh, yeah, everything’s fine Evelyn. Thanks for asking.”
“Well you let me know if you need anything. And I’ll see you on the 4th.”
“Thanks,” I said quickly, grabbing my copies and heading out the door.
The truth was, I wasn’t sleeping that well. I had even slept on the couch for several nights because I was keeping Rachel up with my tossing and turning. Rachel suggested that I talk to my doctor about prescribing something to help me sleep, but I refused. Sleeping pills made me groggy the next day and I couldn’t risk not being at the top of my game. I had a lot of important work to do over the next four weeks.
Those four weeks went by in a flash.
I spent most of it at my office, preparing. There is always a never-ending list of things to do in the weeks that lead up to a trial. I read and re-read pertinent case law, requested subpoenas for the witnesses I intended to call at trial, and worked on the pre-trial motions that I would present on the 4th. When you feel like you’ve completed them all, ten more pop up.
As soon as Paul received Amanda’s phone records, he quickly filed a motion seeking to exclude them as not being relevant or admissible. I spent a great deal of time on my response, knowing it would be an important motion to win. Without the phone records to back it up, my argument that Amanda had been meeting someone at Lake Baldwin – someone who wasn't Lester Crowe – would likely fall flat for the jury. Not to mention that by the day of trial, I’d have a name to go along with that argument. As long as I could get the records in.
I filed motions seeking to exclude hearsay statements from Tangela Dearing and Albert Singleton, the two eye-witnesses who had seen Lester near Lake Baldwin and leaving town, respectively. I also sought to exclude the soil report and any testimony comparing the size of the shoe print with the shoe Lester was wearing. I’d win the first motion, but it’s not like it would help much. The State could still testify as to what they learned from Ms. Dearing’s and Mr. Singleton’s statements, even if they couldn’t tell the jury their exact words. And of course, the State could call the witnesses themselves to testify. The State would also admit into evidence the sketch that was made as a result of Ms. Dearing’s call, which was a dead ringer for Lester.
The other two motions I had already chalked up as losses. The soil report and footprint information were obviously relevant to the case; there was no way for me to get around that. I’d have to settle for trying to somehow discredit the lab technician’s testimony on cross-examination.
The only other major issue that remained was Amanda’s phone. I wanted to see if for myself, so one afternoon I walked over to the Sheriff’s department and met one of the investigators at the evidence lockers. He unlocked the one that contained the phone, reached inside, and then handed me a clear plastic bag, unsealed, that had the phone inside.
I recognized the bright green case immediately. I woke the phone up and was greeted by a picture on the lock screen of Amanda and several of her friends in their cheerleading uniforms. I swiped my finger across the screen and found that it was locked with a passcode, just as the investigator had explained to me over the phone. I began trying several random combinations of numbers, but none of them worked. After several tries, the phone indicated that too many failed attempts had been made and to try again in five minutes. I handed the phone back to the investigator and ignored the look he gave me, - the one that meant you just wasted my time, asshole.
On the 23rd of October, I left work early. When I got home, I found Rachel waiting for me in the kitchen. The look on her face was equal parts joy and sadness, like if two of those iconic Greek theatre masks with the smiling and frowning faces were combined into one. A chocolate cake with a large candle in the shape of a “12” was sitting in front of her on the counter. It was Sarah Anne’s birthday.
We had celebrated it every year since she had gone missing, without fail. Even though those four years had been the toughest of our marriage, we had always been able to come together for her. This year, Rachel had gotten her a card and we had both signed it. The front had a sign post with four wooden signs that read: Wherever you go, whatever you do, always remember, there’s only one you!
On the inside Rachel had written “We love you” in her flowing cursive script. We blew out the candle and ate the cake before dinner, because that’s what Sarah would have wanted to do.
After dinner we lied on the couch and watched one of her favorite movies: Ice Age
. Scrat, of course, was her favorite. I couldn’t bear to watch the other one, not after what Lester had done to ruin it for me. I hoped it would be the last time we had to celebrate our daughter’s birthday without her.
On November 4th, I walked into the Circuit Courtroom about fifteen minutes before the pre-trial hearing was supposed to begin and found Lester already seated at the defense table.
He looked as dirty as I’ve ever seen him. His beard was long and tangled and I noticed several pieces of food which I hoped had only been stuck there since breakfast. His hair, long and greasy, now curled behind his ears. He reminded me of a stray dog that had been chained out in the rain for far too long.
His eyes, though, stood out against their filthy surroundings like embers amongst ashes, smoldering.
“Hello, Jack,” he said confidently. I hadn’t seen him for over a month and figured he would be angry with me, but his face was calm and serene.
“Hello, Lester. I see you decided to look your best for today.”
He chuckled a bit. “Just playing my part.” He stroked his fingers across the table. Then, he whispered, “Just like Amanda played hers.”
I glared at him. “Just promise me you won’t say anything like that in front of the Judge. The Court doesn’t need any of your pearls of wisdom
“Aye,” Lester growled. “Lest they trample them underfoot and then turn and tear you to pieces.” I didn’t grace him with a response. “Just do your job, Jackie boy. And I’ll do mine.”
I heard the large doors open and Paul Maxwell and one of the assistant district attorneys walked in, accordion files in hand. They sat down at the prosecution table, refusing to even look in our direction. Then, the bailiff walked out of the Judge’s chambers and spoke.
“All rise. The Honorable Judge William A. Stone, presiding.”
Everyone stood, except Lester. I grabbed his arm and coaxed him into a standing position.
“You may be seated,” the Judge intoned when he made it to the bench. “Court calls case KR-0065-S, State v. Lester Crowe.” He opened the court file and began flipping through it. “I’ve got a heavy docket today, gentlemen, so this will be brief. I’ve already made my decisions based on your motions, so I won’t be hearing arguments from either side.”
I felt Lester tense beside me. He leaned over quickly and said, “What’s that now? We don’t say anything?”
“Looks like it,” I whispered, then realized why Lester was upset. He thought we would be able to argue our motions and convince
Judge Stone as we had Judge Evans. Most judges, especially the less experienced ones, did usually allow arguments. For one, it made things appear fair for the court record. Two, sometimes those judges were open to changing their opinions. Not Judge Stone. He had been on the bench for over three decades and when he came into court for motion hearings, he typically had his mind made up.
“Mr. Maxwell, it looks like the State only has one motion before the court, seeking to exclude some phone records. This Amanda Dunbar, that’s the victim here, right?”
“Yes, your honor,” Paul replied.
“Okay, well those aren’t going to be excluded. The Defendant has the right to whatever defense he chooses as long as it's reasonably supported by the facts. It appears his defense will be that someone else killed Ms. Dunbar, and he expects these records to help show that. He has a right to do that.”
“Thank you, your honor,” Paul said, sounding a bit defeated. He took his seat.
“Mr. Price, you have several motions. There’s one about this soil report and testimony about a shoe print – “
“Yes, Judge, I’d like to –“
“ – those are denied. Both are relevant and admissible, as long as the experts qualify themselves. And then you filed one about some hearsay statements. Those are granted. Mr. Maxwell, you can’t ask your officers to testify about what these eye-witnesses said. I assume the eye-witnesses are subpoenaed, so they can testify to what they said themselves.”
“That’s no problem,” Paul said.
“Okay, gentlemen, is there anything else?”
I stood. “One thing, Judge. I have a second subpoena out for the name and account information concerning one of those phone numbers from the phone records. It may have been delivered to the court already.”
Judge’s stones clerk got up from her seat and then leaned over and whispered something to the Judge.
“That's not in, yet,” Judge Stone announced.
“Okay, well, I wanted to confirm that because the victim’s phone records are admissible, that the account information is also admissible.”
“Yes, that’s admissible,” Judge Stone replied. I clenched my fist beneath the table, but didn’t dare look over at Paul. “Before we start voir dire next week, you can look at those records, assuming they get here, and Mr. Maxwell you can get copies as well. Then we’ll go over any remaining issues. See you both at trial. You’re excused. Next up?”
One of the deputies standing against the wall walked over and motioned for Lester to stand up.
“When will I see you?” Lester asked as I stood up.
“Trial,” I said shortly.
He grabbed my arm and squeezed. I felt the heat radiating from his hand, even through my suit jacket. “Jack, I’m counting on you,” he said before the deputy took him away. “And so is your daughter.” Part 12
As some of you may recall, I wrote a post
about the Google Fiber jerk about 5 months ago.
Since then, I've become more and more disgusted with /technology
's fascination of Google and condemnation of all other ISPs.
I've noticed that the jerk has become so bad that anyone who doesn't accept Google as their lord and savior gets downvoted to hell and back. Google Fiber threads are full
of people spouting bullshit and projections about the service.
My last post was focused on debunking some common claims as well as showing off the jerk. This one is intended to be a bit of an expansion of the last one, but this time I'll be covering more subjects. This post will primarily cover the jerk itself and debunk common myths instead of primarily focusing on mocking individual comments like most submissions in here do.
I wrote about a third of this before remembering to disable automatic spellchecking, so if you notice some weird words that don't seem quite right, leave a comment pointing them out and I'll fix it.
So let's get started!
Wall of text warning: This post is roughly 4000 words long, there is NO Tl;Dr, either read it or don't read it, your call.
It's clear that Google is popular in /technology
. It's pretty much guaranteed that you'll see an article about them at least once a week, and articles bashing other ISPs are also upvoted quite a bit. Submitting an article about Google Fiber? As long as the headline is in their favor, it's pretty much guaranteed karma. I have abused this to gain several thousand points of link karma. If you average out the 5 major articles I've submitted about the subject, the actual average amount of upvotes is around 1581. I'd even go as far as saying that this is the biggest circlejerk on the site. Unfortunately, very few people seem to understand anything about
the whole project. They just get excited at the prospect of 1Gbps without bothering to fact-check or think things through.
Articles bashing other ISPs also see a disproportionate amount of upvotes. The number one link of all time on /technology
has the title "Dear Google Fiber: Please, please, please rescue me from Comcast". Now I can't resist dissecting this article, so let's take a quick look inside.
The author starts off by mentioning that he has network issues. Instead of calling his ISP to get them fixed, he decides that whining about his ISP is a better idea. He then compares his ISP to a girlfriend. It's already a terrible article. But then he starts talking about Google Fiber — praising them, whining about his service (which, ironically, is $66/mo and has both internet and basic cable, while Google Fiber with TV would be $120/mo plus fees — it seems that he isn't willing to pay for better TV unless it comes from Google). The entire article is nothing more than a poorly written blurb about Google Fiber and the author's personal wishes. And yet, redditors decided that it's worthy of being the number one post of all time on their technology subreddit — voted higher than articles like "397-0. House approves resolution to keep Internet control out of UN hands.", "Syria has disconnected from the Internet. All 84 of Syria's IP address blocks have become unreachable, effectively removing the country from the Internet.", and "EFF wins renewal of exemptions to the DMCA for smartphone jailbreaking rights plus new legal protections for video remixing; "If you bought your gadget, you own it, and you should be able to install whatever software you please without facing potential legal threats"".
Even as I write this post, the number one submission on /technology
is bashing TWC for saying that people don't really need 1Gbps. And this brings me onto the next topic of discussion…
People don't really need 1Gbps
Say that phrase in /technology
and you've just pissed off a sizable portion of the 2.6 million subscribers. It's like committing internet suicide. For some odd reason, redditors are obsessed with 1Gbps. Why?
Well, it's cool. There's no denying that. Do you know what else is cool? A Ferrari. Let's use the Ferrari analogy to explain why 1Gbps is useless! You see, you've just bought this Ferrari. It's fast. Very fast. But the speed limit is 55MPH. It's cool to show off to your friends, but uselessly overpowered for the task at hand.
If that wasn't clear enough, go read my previous post. Most servers can't even serve 100Mbps clients. Even torrents can have issues saturating that fast of a line. And, despite many projects intended to find a use for it, nobody has found a consumer use for gigabit internet beyond "lol it's fast". Of course, reddit finds a way around that argument… http://www.reddit.com/technology/comments/19fo5k/you_dont_want_superhighspeed_internetsays_time/c8nmh81
Time warner is lying through it's teeth, because it KNOWS we DO, but it doesn't want to provide it when it can make so much on it's customers now.
I think most of you can see the issue here. As I've already shown, 1Gbps is pretty much worthless right now. It's for bragging rights, not utility. But for some reason, redditors seem to think that it's essential.
Just for fun, let's look at ways that we could use 1Gbps with a 5-person family. Let's say Netflix suddenly starts offering 4k streams. Assuming they use the same compression that YouTube used to use before they pulled 4k support, that's a bitrate of 30Mbps per stream. Even with six streams running, that's only 180Mbps — you don't even need fiber for those speeds! DOCSIS 3.0 Cable systems can support up to 300Mbps with channel bonding, and DOCSIS 3.1 will support even higher. And again, we're looking at 4k — realistically, everyone would be streaming 1080p (roughly 7Mbps bitrate with Netflix's "SuperHD" option), so that's only 35Mbps.
And on a related note, h.265 will bring that number down to around 20Mbps per 4k stream. You'll be seeing mass adoption of h.265 within a few years.
You can argue all day about ways to saturate 1Gbps, but it's incredibly difficult to do. Torrents can saturate a nice chunk of it, but only if they're well seeded, and how much (LEGAL) torrent traffic does the average person use anyways? Most people are streaming and browsing the web, not downloading Linux ISOs, WoW, and the small amount of software with Torrent downloads as an option.
So really, the entire argument for 1Gbps boils down to "I want fast speeds, even though I can't use them for most of what I do online".
Of course, redditors are never happy with this quick of a conclusion, so they dredge out the "ram argument". See, someone may or may not have said something about 640k or 64k of RAM being all you'd ever need, way back at some point in the 90s. Nowadays, this (possibly completely made up) quote is used to justify gigabit fiber. But what these people don't seem to understand is that if this was true to the extent they're claiming it's true, you'd have never
innovation in technology. Nada. Zilch. If you actually had to have widespread adoption for a use, nothing would ever be invented. Let's look at electricity. It was useful far before widespread adoption. What about internet? That didn't require widespread adoption to come up with uses for it. And cars? Those were developed when roads were usually gravel paths or dirt, maybe cobblestone if you were lucky. So like all the other "justifications", it doesn't really justify anything.
…on the other hand, even this isn't enough to convince everyone. http://www.reddit.com/technology/comments/19h044/time_warner_cables_arrogance_perfectly/c8nykef
I think the fact that people in Kansas City can rent out their houses just on the fact that they have google fiber shows that many people don't just want it, but are willing to go out of their way to get it.
Ah yes, I remember reading about that. Except as usual, the facts are exaggerated beyond belief. http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2012/12/google-hacker-house/
So one room being rented out suddenly equals "people in Kansas City can rent out their homes"? Hah.
The shady side of Google's deal
Something a lot of people don't realize about Google Fiber is that their deal with Kansas City is shady in many ways. Here's a few quotes from the Google-KCMO agreement
In consultation with City, Google will decide where to build the initial locations of the Project
Oh boy. Now this is a big one. Did you catch that?
Google will decide where to build
Yeah. They get to choose where to build out the fiber. Now I don't have the Kansas City cable franchise agreement, and can't find it anywhere online, so let's use my city's franchise agreement as an example, as this type of agreement is pretty generic. http://www.ci.carbondale.il.us/sites/default/files/pdf/FranchiseAgreementRevision22006.pdf
5.3 Operator shall extend service to all residences within an annexed area adjacent to any portion of the City then currently served by Operator in which the density of homes is at least six (6) residences per 1320 cable-bearing feet (one-quarter cable mile) measured from Operator’s existing distribution system (excluding homes subscribing to direct satellite) within twelve (12) months of a request by residents of such area for service. In the event that such annexed area is served by another cable operator or its technically or financially infeasible at the time of such request, Operator will have the option but not the obligation to provide service.
Now one city is obviously not proof of anything, so here's New York's cable franchise agreement. http://www.nyc.gov/html/doitt/downloads/pdf/time_warner_cable_franchise_agreement_brooklyn.pdf
5.3 Provision of Service: Subject to the exceptions set forth in Subsection 5.4 hereof, Franchisee shall make Cable Service available to all households in the Initial Service Area. Franchisee agrees that it shall not discriminate between or among any individuals in the availability of Cable Service or based upon the income of residents in a local area.
Damn! That's a hell of a lot different from Google's agreement! So there you have it — Google gets to deploy wherever they want, while, if the KCKS/KCMO Franchise Agreements are the same as the examples here, TWC is forced into covering the entire city. How again is TWC being "beaten" by Google when Google isn't even following the same rules?
But wait! There's more!
City will make space available to Google in City facilities for the installation of Google’s Central Office (“CO”) equipment and for additional network facilities, in locations to be determined as part of the design. In addition, City will provide power necessary for Google’s equipment at City locations. Google will install all equipment necessary for operation of its facilities. City will cooperate with Google in connection with all equipment matters under this Agreement, and will not charge Google for such space, power or related services.
Subject to City’s reasonable security measures and escort procedures, City will provide to Google and its contractors 24 x 7 access to Google’s network in City facilities so that Google may perform installation, operation, maintenance, replacement and repair functions. City will secure City locations via locked doors that trigger alarms in the event of unauthorized entry.
The parties will determine the timing for delivery of the necessary space for the Google equipment cooperatively as part of the Project planning. Location may be changed at the discretion of City to locations at least as suitable. In the event of such a change, City will cooperate with Google to allow for any necessary reconfiguration of Google’s network and the necessary move of any Google equipment. Any such change will be undertaken in a manner that is as least disruptive to Google’s operations as possible. The parties will negotiate in good faith to determine the appropriate cost responsibility.
City will not charge Google for access to City’s assets and infrastructure.
City will provide Google with access to assets and infrastructure of City, to the extent such assets or infrastructure are available and are needed for Google’s deployment of the fiber network. City will use its best efforts to make such assets available to Google upon request, on commercially reasonable terms. Such infrastructure may include, but will not be limited to, conduit, fiber, poles, rack space, nodes, buildings, facilities, CO locations, available land, and others (TBD).
City will not impose any charges for access to or use of any City facilities provided under this Agreement, nor will it impose any permit and inspection fees.
City will cooperate with Google in efforts to allow Google to gain access to poles and rights-of-way owned or controlled by third parties.
Additional notable obligations under the contract:
(c) Create a City team dedicated to the Project and allow Google to place Project employees in City office locations, working side-by-side with the dedicated City team.
(e) Provide access to assets and infrastructure, with no charges for such access.
(h) Use the dedicated City Project team to provide on-the-spot exception management where necessary to avoid delays in the Project.
(i) Provide a dedicated inspection team as part of the City Project team for inspection of all work performed on the Project. As part of this process, City will permit Google to use an approved third-party inspection firm to assist the City in completing necessary inspections in a rapid, timely manner.
(j) Allow Google to attach fiber on City poles, to the extent such poles are technically suitable and mutually agreeable for attaching a fiber optic cable.
(k) Provide Google with access to detailed GIS data and computer tools, including location information on all facilities owned by City and, to the extent available, those of third parties, with no charges for such access.
(l) Provide consulting assistance to Google on planning and build of the Project, as requested by Google. Such requests will be responded to in a timely manner sufficient to meet Google’s design and build requirements.
(o) Cooperate with Google on all publicity and public relations for the Project, including the obligation to obtain Google’s approval for all public statements or announcements related to the Project.
Holy shit! I don't see those provisions in New York's or Carbondale's franchise agreements! Google gets free from the government? Google gets to censor the government's words?
What was that argument I keep on hearing?
Braindead corporate greed strikes again. http://www.reddit.com/technology/comments/157lgs/i_guess_google_fiber_has_forced_time_warnec7k2ztp
Let's get rid of these disgusting internet monopolies, then we would see real internet development.
I have no doubt in my mind that Google will become the majority provider if they continue expanding their service in the states. Other companies can't keep up. http://www.reddit.com/technology/comments/17pdvn/report_google_fiber_putting_pressure_on_time/c87yyhb
There's no demand for TWC to provide 1Gb because the price would be insane. Google is showing that yes, it is possible, and yes, it can be affordable. http://www.reddit.com/technology/comments/134vf0/google_fiber_starts_rolling_out_in_kansas/c711kg4
Free market at its finest. I hope Google destroys current ISPs. http://www.reddit.com/technology/comments/zvpab/how_google_fiber_is_trying_embarrass_the_cable/c689orj
[this one is extremely long, so here's a tiny snippet]
Google is giving me a hard on for capitalism. http://www.reddit.com/technology/comments/yoyej/googles_audacious_bet_on_fiber_and_why_it_could/c5xnjp9
You want competition? You want CAPITALISM? This is what we need. Someone willing to SPEND money to flip the fucking table over and laugh. http://www.reddit.com/technology/comments/14gbzk/time_warner_cable_demand_not_there_for_google/c7ct6r3
I demand they sell me 1Gbps for $70/month with no cap. http://www.reddit.com/technology/comments/14gbzk/time_warner_cable_demand_not_there_for_google/c7cv802
God I hate cable tv/internet companies. So they admit they can provide faster speeds but the "demand isn't there." NO, the demand is there, just not at ABSURD prices. They won't even tell you the real prices on their website they are so bad. I was paying $60 a month for 25 mb/s. That's $10 less than Google fiber which gives 1 gb/s and other perks. Just a complete joke. http://www.reddit.com/technology/comments/18b0wz/why_us_internet_access_is_slow_and_expensive_how/c8da1yc
Google Fiber is the monkey wrench in the system that proves that their prices and speeds aren't derived from real, vigorous competition. GF comes into the picture and suddenly they're offering higher speeds at lower prices in the same areas? Why didn't one of them do it earlier? Surely one of them wanted to compete with the other because free market. Surely they wouldn't have colluded and made at least a tacit agreement to only compete with each other at the low end of technically available service possibilities while squashing competition from the high end until someone came along with so much money and influence that it couldn't be stopped. No, that's crazy. http://www.reddit.com/technology/comments/18b0wz/why_us_internet_access_is_slow_and_expensive_how/c8dhs4x
Google Fiber is a beacon of hope in these shitty times. Hmmm. This doesn't quite look like much of a free market success, and I'm not surprised that national ISPs with 8.7 million internet customers are reluctant to destroy their current infrastructure, build everything with fiber, and somehow get the obscene city benefits that Google got from Kansas City in all the cities these ISPs serve.
So, yet again, Google's little success story is nothing more than a misleading lie.
I could go into further detail on this, but there's lots to talk about!
The 97% myth Anyone remember this article? It's been quoted over and over again. People are convinced that all the big cable companies are raking in the cash.
Now I'm pretty sure that everyone on this subreddit can already see some flaws, but there's a simple and very big one that should be noted — if margins were this high, everyone would own an ISP!
We might already know that it's bullshit, but gullible redditors latched onto it and started quoting it wherever they can.
Search for the phrase "cable distribution giants like Time Warner Cable and Comcast are already making a 97 percent margin on their ‘almost comically profitable’ Internet services" (with quotes) in Google and you'll see an impressive 1200 results. Quite high for a 27 day old article, and this is just direct quotes!
The source for all this bullshit is MIT's David Talbot. On February 4th he published an article entitled "When Will the Rest of Us Get Google Fiber?" link.
In parts of the country, slower-speed copper, fast-download cable, and a few fiber networks are already built out. The cable distribution giants like Time Warner Cable and Comcast are already making a 97 percent margin on their “almost comically profitable” Internet services, according to Craig Moffet, an analyst at the Wall Street firm Bernstein Research. As Levin points out, “If you are making that kind of margin, it’s hard to improve it.” And most Americans have no choice but to deal with their local cable company. Full halt!
according to Craig Moffet, an analyst at the Wall Street firm Bernstein Research. Hmmm. I wonder where I might find information on this report of his.
Aha! Talbot is a lying sack of shit who misquoted Moffet so that Talbot's article is nice and controversial. Case closed, party's over.
The 140 billion dollar question Another thing redditors like is the prospect of universal broadband. For some reason, they seem to think that everyone is entitled to 1Gbps broadband at $70/mo, so lots of people are suddenly in favor of a government-funded fiber rollout. As such, when an article claimed a nationwide rollout would cost $140 billion, redditors jumped on the bandwagon and started blindly citing the figure.
Building out the infrastructure will be expensive. In his September 17 report Still Bullish on Cable, although not blind to the risks, Goldman Sachs Telco analyst Jason Armstrong noted that if Google devoted 25% of its $4.5bn annual capex to this project, it could equip 830K homes per year, or 0.7% of US households. As such, even a 50mn household build out, which would represent less than half of all US homes, could cost as much as $70bn. We note that Jason Armstrong estimates Verizon has spent roughly $15bn to date building out its FiOS fiber network covering an area of approximately 17mn homes. The cost of ongoing test cases like this and the potential for significant cap ex investments also likely contributed to the company’s recent decision to issue non-voting class C shares in an effective stock split, in our view. Moreover, in the same note, Jason Armstrong also pointed out that Google’s TV offering represents the fifth (or higher) competitor in an already competitive market. All that said, while this initiative is clearly still in very early days, going direct to consumers with internet connectivity and video distribution could give Google the potential to become the end users sole channel for media consumption. I see no 140 billion figure there. What's more, Verizon's costs for deploying FiOS are around $23 billion , not 17 billion. 23000000000/17000000 = average of $1350 per home. 17000000000/17000000 = inaccurate average of $1000 per home.
Now we're looking at averages in Verizon's footprint here, not all over the country. Rural areas cost much more money than the cities and suburbs that FiOS tends to be deployed in. And, what's more, these per-home numbers are averages of Verizon's costs to pass 17m homes with only 5.4m hooked up internet customers. The much higher hookup rates for a national networks would drive costs up even further than $1350 per home.
Still, for the sake of debate, let's assume the economies of scale would make the average cost per home $1000. There are 115 million households in the United States. Roughly 20% are rural. 80% of 115000000 is 92000000. 92000000 * $1000 is 92 billion dollars. That's just to cover all non-rural households, using the lowest possible per-home cost figures. In reality, per-home costs for 80% of the United States with realistic uptake numbers would probably be at least $1500 per home, meaning that 80% would cost 138 billion dollars. And that other 20%? The average cost per home for rural areas could be anywhere from $3000 to $10000 (ignoring the extremely hard to reach areas since those could cost hundreds of thousands each and would skew the numbers too far up). Even if it's $5000, that's 115 billion dollars right there. These numbers don't scale linearly, you can't lump rural and residential together under the residential rate.
So basically, incompetent reporters have manufactured a story of the 140 billion dollar fiber upgrade, an upgrade that would never be anywhere near that cheap to cover 100% of the nation. And, as usual, without even bothering to fact-check, redditors seized the story and used it to promote their wishful dream of 1Gbps fiber for everybody.
(on a side note, I find it hilarious that redditors think that universal fiber is more important than America's power infrastructure, roads, bridges, education, college, debt, financial crisis, etc)
The international community Ah yes, other countries. Here on /circlebroke there are many articles discussing the "sweden" jerk. On /technology, people like other countries for other reasons — they can compare them to the US and bash us for not being as fast on fiber uptake! Yay!
..and every single one of these people ignores the government-funded infrastructure projects that paid for the infrastructures used by those other countries, the censorship (china, korea), the terrible international speeds (effectively making many of these networks nothing more than a superfast country-wide LAN), the larger population density (gigabit may be $20/mo in Hong Kong, but a 40-square foot apartment is the hidden cost), the late adoption of the internet (it's easy to build out fiber when you don't have existing copper and coax), the smaller country size, and other inconvenient facts.
The Dark Fiber Myth What's that? Fiber is expensive to build out? Then why do we have all this dark fiber? I saw a news article a while ago about Google buying it, I bet they're using it for Google Fiber!
Nope. Nope nope nope nope. First of all, the vast majority of the dark fiber they bought was backbone fiber. It's not very useful for deploying residential FTTH. The primary reason they bought so much of it was for datacenter-to-datacenter private transport and for Google's CDN / free peering. Google themselves have confirmed this.
Netflix's PR stunt Way back in November 2012, Netflix published rankings on ISP speeds. As usual, they included all major US ISPs. But this time, they included… Wait for it… Google Fiber!
It's a blantant PR stunt. Google has very few customers, if they're ranking Google then they should rank muni networks like EPB as well as private companies like Paxio and Sonic.net, but instead they decided to only included Google. Of course, this thread took off a bit too fast on reddit, spawning a few highly amusing comments.
I hope they start rolling out Google Fiber in more cities soon. This has the potential to finally restore some genuine competition to the broadband market. "I hope Porche gives me a free car soon. This has the potential to make luxury car prices lower. Oh and I'll also be paying more taxes. The IRS guy said something about a grant to Porche to bring cheap luxury cars to the American public, but that's unrelated to my car, right?"
Shills "I disagree with you and have no way of matching your arguments, therefore you are a SHILL!"
I would leave comcst in a ny minute.... those comments at the bottom of the article musta been shills for the cable companies http://www.reddit.com/technology/comments/18b0wz/why_us_internet_access_is_slow_and_expensive_how/c8d91ea
Well, I submitted a short 5 star review. ^ They find some (possible) shills (who quite clearly read the book), get outraged at them (lol) and decide to do..exactly the same thing. Except without a well-written response, without reading the book, without even bothering to write a proper review. Good job?
I also just got called a shill in /circlebroke :D
You're clearly insane, or joking or lying or SHILLING.
(being the shill or contractor you clearly are)
But what happened to open access? http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/02/think-big-with-gig-our-experimental.html
Openness and choice: We'll operate an "open access" network, giving users the choice of multiple service providers. And consistent with our past advocacy, we'll manage our network in an open, non-discriminatory and transparent way. Funny how they conveniently forgot about that when it came to actually rolling out their service.