Category Archives: Cable

Woz to FCC: Save the Internet

Wozniak to the FCC on net neutrality:
Imagine that when we started Apple we set things up so that we could charge purchasers of our computers by the number of bits they use. The personal computer revolution would have been delayed a decade or more. If I had to pay for each bit I used on my 6502 microprocessor, I would not have been able to build my own computers anyway.
He also details examples of how difficult it was to start a new service the way the telephone system used to be, how radio used to all be freely receivable, and how cable TV is mis-regulated. He summarizes his case:
I frequently speak to different types of audiences all over the country. When I’m asked my feeling on Net Neutrality I tell the open truth. When I was first asked to “sign on” with some good people interested in Net Neutrality my initial thought was that the economic system works better with tiered pricing for various customers. On the other hand, I’m a founder of the EFF and I care a lot about individuals and their own importance. Finally, the thought hit me that every time and in every way that the telecommunications careers have had power or control, we the people wind up getting screwed. Every audience that I speak this statement and phrase to bursts into applause.
Then he asks for all that not to happen to the Internet:
We have very few government agencies that the populace views as looking out for them, the people. The FCC is one of these agencies that is still wearing a white hat. Not only is current action on Net Neutrality one of the most important times ever for the FCC, it’s probably the most momentous and watched action of any government agency in memorable times in terms of setting our perception of whether the government represents the wealthy powers or the average citizen, of whether the government is good or is bad. This decision is important far beyond the domain of the FCC itself.
Ain’t that the truth.


Duopoly Cons Congress Members

73 Democratic members of Congress signed a letter drafted by telco and cableco lobbyists against net neutrality. Save the Internet has sufficiently fisked it. My favorite point is that when AT&T was required as a condition of acquiring Bellsouth in 2006 to abide by net neutrality, it increased its infrastructure investments. As soon as that two year requirement was up, so were the investments. (And they didn’t even honor all the requirements, such as a low-end $10/month service.)

The simple fact is that net neutrality was the condition under which the Internet grew to be what it is today, which is the last bastion of free speech and a free press in much of the world, especially in the United States. The only reason net neutrality is an issue is that the duopoly (telcos and cablecos) succeeded in their regulatory capture of the FCC during Kevin Martin’s term as chairman and did away with much it. The U.S. used to have among the fastest Internet speeds in the world. Since the duopoly got their way, the U.S. has fallen far behind dozens of other countries in connection speeds, availability, and update. While the U.S. NTIA claimed at least one user per ZIP code counted as real service.

We can let the telcos and cablecos continue to turn the Internet into cable TV, as they have said they want to do. Under the conditions they want, we never would have had the world wide web, google, YouTube, flickr, facebook, etc.

And left to their plan, the duopoly will continue cherry-picking densely-populated areas and leaving rural areas, such as south Georgia, where I live, to sink or swim. Most of the white area in the Georgia map never had anybody even try a speed test. Most of the rest of south Georgia had really slow access. Which maybe wouldn’t be a problem if we had competitive newspapers (we don’t) or competing TV stations (we don’t). Or if we didn’t need to publish public information like health care details online, as Sanford Bishop (D GA-02) says he plans to do. How many people in his district can even get to it? How many won’t because their link is too slow? How many could but won’t because it costs too much?

John Barrow (D GA-12) has a fancy flashy home page that most people in his district probably can’t get to. Yet he signed the letter against net neutrality.

I prefer an open Internet. How about you?

Why did the 73 Democrats sign the letter? Could it have to do with the duopoly making massive campaign contributions to the same Democrats and holding fancy parties for them?

The same lobbyists are after Republican members of Congress next.

Call your member of Congress and insist on giving the FCC power to enforce net neutrality rules.


NPRM Diagram 2: scope of rules

Here’s the diagram from the NPRM that the FCC folks mentioned frequently at the NANOG panel (The Regulators Meet the Operators, at NANOG 48, Austin, Texas, 22 Feb 2010) regarding scope of net neutrality rule making:


It does seem to clarify some of the points made by the panelists.

More Liveblogging from NANOG Net Neutrality Panel

The Regulators Meet the Operators, at NANOG 48, Austin, Texas, 22 Feb 2010. Notes continued from the previous post. See the pages 37-51 of the NPRM.

Question from a provider: VoIP traffic prioritization from essentially our own service?

Moderator: One thing that won’t be allowed is prioritizing your own service over someone else’s similar service; that’s almost the whole point. FCC person: This is contemplated in the document. Existing services wouldn’t have to be reworked rapidly. Seeking input. Reasons to be concerned. Monopoly over last mile has a position to differentially treat such a service. This is one of the core concerns.

Q: Giving the same priority to somebody else’s similar VoIP service is essentially creating a trust relationship; how much traffic will the other service provider send? Continue reading

Liveblogging from NANOG Net Neutrality Panel

The subtitle is The Regulators Meet the Operators, at NANOG 48, Austin, Texas, 22 Feb 2010. The ground rules of the panel are that it’s not about politics or policy. It assumes there will be net neutrality, and it’s about getting actual network engineers and architects involved in implementing it. Prior reading: pages 41-51 of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). I’d actually recommend starting at page 37, which is where the NPRM discusses codifying the existing four Internet principles (see below).

A huge number of comments have been received already, by Jan 15 deadline. More comments are solicited. See also

The general idea is to take six proposed principles and turn them into rules that are enforceable and not unreasonable:

Proposed Rules: 6 Principles

  • Access to Content
  • Access to Applications and Services
  • Connect Devices to the Internet
  • Access to Competition
  • Nondiscrimination
  • Transparency
The first four principles have been around for several years. The last two, nondiscrimination and transparency, are the same as the ones Scott Bradner’s petition recommended back in June 2009. Back then I mentioned as I always do that the FCC could also stop talking about consumers and talk about participants. Interestingly, their slide at this talk did not use the word “consumer”, so maybe they’ve gotten to that point, too.

The FCC is also making a distinction between broadband and Internet. There are existing rules regarding “managed” vs. “specialized services” for broadband Internet access, but for net neutrality in general, maybe different rules are needed. Continue reading

Japan Still Far Ahead of US in Internet Connection Speeds

While the U.S. still hopes to get up to 10Mbps Internet connection speeds by 2012, Japan already has such speeds for cable Internet service almost everywhere. And yes, I mean Internet connections, not just broadband.


But in Japan cable Internet service is of declining popularity, because 30 or 40 Mbps for $50 or $60 per month is not really fast there.

DSL in Japan goes up to 50 Mbps for also around $50-$60/month.


But for actual fast, cheap, Internet connections, people in Japan buy Fiber to the Home (FTTH), which actually costs less and delivers from 100Mbps to 1Gbps.


Meanwhile, back in the U.S.A., EDUCAUSE has proposed 100Mbps national broadband using a funding method that already failed in Texas.

Japan didn’t get to 100Mbps by a single government-funded network. It did it by actually enforcing competition among broadband providers. Why did it do this? Because a private entrepreneur, Masayoshi Son, and his company Softbank, pestered the Japanese government until it did so.

Thus it’s refreshing that these graphs laying out how far ahead of the U.S. Japan is come from the New America Foundation. Chair? Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google.

Sensing History: Yoo Re Cherry

tortoise_and_hare.jpg Dave Farber posted a response by Chris Yoo to Barb Cherry’s post about myths and historical errors. Here’s Chris’s reponse in full. To me, it seems that he is conceding that she’s right about the history, that antitrust says nothing about ISP competition, and that a few ISPs control most of the Internet in the U.S. But read it for yourself:
From: Christopher S. Yoo []

I don’t pretend to be an expert on the history of common carriage regulation. Barbara has spent far more time thinking about this than I have, so I always appreciate hearing her reactions and learn from reading her work. That said, here are a few thoughts.

It is true that common carriage long predates both the Granger Movement and the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887. That said, one of the central problems is that the historic justifications for common carriage have not aged very well. Often times the common carriage obligations were regarded as a quid pro quo for a government grant of some economic privilege. Other times they were justified because the industry was “affected with a public interest,” a concept that is usually traced to the landmark Supreme Court case Munn v. Illinois (1876). The Supreme Court struggled to imbue that standard with content (along with a number of early treatises trying to make sense of the concept) and would ultimately abandon it as analytically empty in Nebbia v. New York (1934). Legal scholars, such as Thomas Nachbar and James Speta in addition to Barbara, have attempted to recover lessons from this era. I have never spoken to Barbara about this in particular, but both Tom and Jim have noted the difficulty in extracting any useful lessons from the history.

The rest after the jump. Continue reading

Social Welfare: Reed Asks Yoo

DPRPhotoSmall.jpg David P. Reed asks a question and Christopher S. Yoo responds on Farber’s Interesting People list. I’m posting both in full here, with my thoughts at the end; basically, law isn’t a science, and anecdotes can turn into legal cases; some have already regarding net neutrality.
From: David P. Reed []
Sent: Saturday, May 10, 2008 11:50 AM
To: David Farber
Cc: ip
Subject: Re: [IP] re-distribution of op-ed on Net Neutrality — a reaction and a reply from one of the authors

I read through the long comment by Chris Yoo below, and as a non-lawyer interested in policy, I ask the following simple question:

Is there a well-regarded (one might ask for scientifically reasoned) argument that antitrust law as currently interpreted and practiced has a substantial impact measured in some currency like $ on social welfare?

Otherwise this entire argument is about nothing more than vaporware proceeding from a faith that competition (however loosely defined) creates social welfare best. AFAIK, this is largely an article of faith, just as the “End of History” was a grand article of faith posited by many of the same people as “truth”.

It is just not fair to imply that the core of “today’s settled antitrust law” carries even the level of weight as Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. There have been no replicable studies of its practice.

Law professors and lawyers who don’t challenge its truthiness squarely are merely behaving as dogmatic mandarins always do – asserting authority of professional status, rather than rigor of reasoning, experiment, or argument.

I say this not as FOX News or Hillary Clinton would call an elitist, but as a person who genuinely is unconvinced by magical faith in authorities.

That’s Reed’s question. Yoo’s response, and my thoughts, after the jump. Continue reading

ISPs Escalate Ignoring FCC

comcast.jpg Fox started the trend of ignoring the FCC when it does something they don’t like. Now the duopoly has gotten up to the same trick:
Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and cable research company CableLabs were all invited to participate several weeks ago, but declined, Martin said. The commission again reached out to Comcast after the announcement this week that it would develop a P2P bill of rights with Pando Networks, but they again sent their regrets, he said.

ISPs Give FCC Cold Shoulder at Internet Hearing, by Chloe Albanesius,, 04.17.08

You may recall at the previous hearing, at Harvard, FCC chair Kevin Martin couldn’t hear the difference between participant and consumer, while Comcast hired shills off the street to take up seats so people with things to say couldn’t. Now the duopoly is painting the FCC as unduly critical of themselves, and the press is going along with that, including the hometown Silicon Valley newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News, which should know better: Continue reading

Subpoena for Comcast from NY State

New_York_state_seal.png As I’ve been predicting since October:
“We have requested information from the company via subpoena,” Jeffrey Lerner, a spokesman for Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, said Tuesday.

Comcast said it was co-operating with the AG’s office.

New York subpoenas Comcast on traffic shaping, Associated Press, February 26, 2008 at 4:08 PM EST

So far it’s just a subpoena. We’ll see if it turns into a full-fledged lawsuit. And maybe Comcast could start cooperating with its own customers….


PS: Why did the New York Times pick up this story only a day after the Canadian Globe and Mail?