Why wait for a boring FCC meeting that no one will watch to announce a major policy, when you can talk to a New York Times reporter instead? Days before the official FCC meeting at which the issue will be discussed, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has just told the newspaper that his agency is ready to strike down the exclusive contracts that cable operators have signed with apartment managers and homeowners’ associations across the country.Ars technica indicates that Martin sounds like he’s serious on this one. Of course, Martin sounded serious about open access rules for 700Mhz spectrum, too, yet watered them down until they don’t mean much. However, ars technica points out the biggest backers of this apartment rule change are telcos, so maybe he really means it this time. Hm, and I wonder who will sue this time? Continue reading
— FCC to strike down exclusive apartment complex cable deals, By Nate Anderson, ars technica, October 29, 2007 – 01:45PM CT
Two Senators on Friday called for a congressional hearing to investigate reports that phone and cable companies are unfairly stifling communications over the Internet and on cell phones.While the Senate doesn’t have much of a track record of actually doing anything about problems, at least this bipartisan pair of Senators sees there’s a problem.
Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said the incidents involving several companies, including Comcast Corp., Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc., have raised serious concerns over the companies'”power to discriminate against content.”
They want the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to investigate whether such incidents were based on legitimate business policies or unfair and anticompetitive practices and if more federal regulation is needed.
— Senators Want Probe on Content Blocking, AP, finance.MyWay.com, Saturday October 27, 5:59 AM EDT
In an apparent reference to the ongoing Comcast stifling or perhaps even to Verizon’s own admission of deceptive marketing of “unlimited” wireless telephone access:
Many FTTH providers also cap their symmetrical service, and whether the 20/20 tier would be capped was the first question fired at Verizon on the conference call.Well, the bandwidth people expect in Japan is 50 to 100 Mbps, and only 30Mbps and above is considered actually fast, as in ultra-highspeed broadband. Here in the U.S., where the media don’t report on other countries much, perhaps expectations are lower.
“We don’t impose caps upon our subscribers,” insisted Susan Retta, Vice President of broadband solutions for Verizon. “We expect customers who order this 20/20 service will want to use it frequently, and we intend to give them the bandwidth that they ordered and they expect.”
— Verizon Unveils Symmetrical 20Mbps FiOS, So far only in NY, NJ and CT… by Karl, BroadbandReports.com, 02:34PM Tuesday Oct 23 2007
Interesting admission here: Continue reading
When George Linardos was ordered to clear his diary to help dream up new business for Nokia (NOK1V.HE: Quote, Profile , Research), he imagined six weeks brainstorming on the terrace of a five-star hotel in the Caribbean.Not only invented something, but something the inventor personally wants to use! This is the way Unix got invented, and Linux, by that other Finn, Linus Torvalds. I don’t know how successful Mosh will be, but that’s not the point, no more than how well a talking dog talks. And it’s also beside the point that the invention simply crosses two existing ideas: mobile phones and social networking web sites. Many inventions are like that. A telephone company invented something!
What he got was a pot of porridge every morning at a Spartan hotel hours from Finnish capital Helsinki, with forests and snow all around.
Seeing the same half a dozen faces for 45 days and craving greater social interaction, Linardos and his team came up with a site aimed at making informal networking easier, especially for people without access to a PC.
The result, Mosh (http://mosh.nokia.com/), a social networking site that is accessible from mobile phones, is the latest piece in the puzzle for Nokia as it tries to build an Internet stronghold to balance a maturing cellphone business.
— Nokia’s Mosh marries mobile with social networking, by Tarmo Virki, Reuters, 23 October 2007
Of course, it wasn’t a U.S. telephone company.
Former Qwest CEO Joseph P. Nacchio, who has been convicted of insider trading for selling stock while Qwest’s stock price was tanking, claims he had reason to believe Qwest would get lucrative government contracts, and that Qwest was denied them because he refused to participate in an illegal program. When this happened is very interesting:
The phone company Qwest Communications refused a proposal from the National Security Agency that the company’s lawyers considered illegal in February 2001, nearly seven months before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, the former head of the company contends in newly unsealed court filings.So if Nacchio is right, massive wiretapping by the current U.S. administration didn’t start as part of the “War on Terror”; it must have started for some other reason.
— Former Phone Chief Says Spy Agency Sought Surveillance Help Before 9/11, By Scott Shane, October 14, 2007
The best the prosecution has been able to come up with is: Continue reading
Today, the presidents of NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Christian Coalition co-authored a Washington Post op-ed calling on Congress to address the censorship policies of phone companies like Verizon and AT&T. Last month, Verizon arbitrarily banned text messages from NARAL, deeming the lawful political speech too “controversial and unsavory” to send.Most of the U.S. political spectrum seems to be against censorship by telcos and cablecos. The next question is whether this opposition will have any effect, or will the telcos get the FCC to lay off anyway, or will telco and cableco political contributions and lobbying convince Congress to turn a blind eye.
“We are on opposite sides of almost every issue,” wrote NARAL President Nancy Keenan and Christian Coalition President Roberta Combs. “But when it comes to the fundamental right of citizens to participate in the political process, we’re united — and very worried. Whatever your political views — conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, pro-choice or pro-life — it shouldn’t be up to Verizon to determine whether you receive the information you requested.”
— Groups Fight Cell Censorship, Unstrung, 17 October 2007
Such activity apparently includes moving large files, which is ironic for users who have paid for unlimited access. Perhaps more than ironic; I wonder if anybody has tried suing yet.Well, I don’t know about Comcast, but somebody has tried suing Verizon, and won:
Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that Verizon Wireless has agreed to halt the deceptive marketing of its internet usage plans and reimburse $1 million to customers for wrongful account termination nationwide.And Cuomo goes out of his way to say he wants this to affect not just Verizon:
The settlement follows a nine-month investigation into the marketing of NationalAccess and BroadbandAccess plans for wireless access to the internet for laptop computer users. Attorney General’s investigation found that Verizon Wireless prominently marketed these plans as “’Unlimited,” without disclosing that common usages such as downloading movies or playing games online were prohibited. The company also cut off heavy internet users for exceeding an undisclosed cap of usage per month. As a result, customers misled by the company’s claims, enrolled in its Unlimited plans, only to have their accounts abruptly terminated for excessive use, leaving them without internet services and unable to obtain refunds.
— VERIZON WIRELESS AGREES TO SETTLE DECEPTIVE MARKETING INVESTIGATION, “UNLIMITED” INTERNET PLANS WERE ACTUALLY LIMITED, COMPANY AGREES TO CHANGE PRACTICES AND REIMBURSE CUSTOMERS, Press Release, Office of the New York State Attorney General, 23 October 2007
“This settlement sends a message to companies large and small answering the growing consumer demand for wireless services. When consumers are promised an ‘unlimited’ service, they do not expect the promise to be broken by hidden limitations,” said Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. “Consumers must be treated fairly and honestly. Delivering a product is simply not enough – the promises must be delivered as well.”Hear that, Comcast?
The EFF found that not just Gnutella—another file sharing app—was being blocked, but Lotus Notes, an app businesses use to share calendars, emails and files over the net had its traffic interfered with as well. It’s fine to piss off a bunch of file sharers, but when Comcast starts making sure that a CTO can’t get the files off his work machine, that’s a different story altogether. Net Neutrality, we need you!Nevermind the CTO. Think of the CFO and CEO:
— Comcast Blocking Gnutella and Lotus Notes Traffic? Gizmodo, 22 October 2007
Lotus Notes! As in, corporate enterpriseware that suits use to synchronize their projects.Meanwhile, over in Japan, everybody from the national and local governments to broadband providers to application writers to Internet participants are concentrating on fast speeds, ubiquitous use, and new applications, not to mention international competitiveness.
—Comcast also screwing with Gnutella and Lotus Notes (!?!) by Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing, October 22, 2007 1:43 PM
As of March 2007, merely 95% of all Japanese households had broadband, and 84% had ultra-highspeed broadband. Japanese government goals for 2010 are 100% and 90%, respectively. Ultra-highspeed seems to be defined as both up and down over 30Mbps.
Until now, FTTH has been the mainstream in terms of ultra-highspeed broadband, with upload and download speeds of over 30Mbps, but other wired and wireless technologies are aiming for technologies that will match if not overtake FTTH, and there will be a need for ongoing developments in broadband technology in terms of higher speed and larger volume to meet user needs.Higher speed services in testing now include speeds faster than 1 Gbps, which would be around 300 times faster than what passes for broadband in the U.S. Continue reading
— Study Group Report: Moving towards Establishing a Usage Environment for Next-Generation Broadband Technology, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), MIC Communications News, Vol. 18, No.13, 12 October 2007
Major AT&T recipients include Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-WV who is a big supporter of retroactive immunity for telco spying, and who recently (spring 2007, just as the telcos started pushing for that immunity) got a big spike in Verizon employee contributions, as well.
Also Sen. Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, gets significant AT&T contributions. This is the same Harry Reid who won’t honor Sen. Chris Dodd’s hold on the bill containing that amnesty.