Category Archives: Capacity

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

ATCA Again: Duopoly Against VoIP Long Before Video

TinCanPhone-726651.jpg Back in 1995, an organization calling itself AMERICA’S CARRIERS TELECOMMUNICATION ASSOCIATION (“ACTA”), petitioned the FCC to regulate Voice over IP (VoIP) services. The gist of the matter was:
Permitting long distance service to be given away is not in the public interest.
In other words, if the telcos couldn’t make money off of it, nobody should.

A usually reliable source says:

The ACTA petition was the first time that the FCC confronted VoIP as a policy issue. The FCC, however, never acted on the ACTA petition, and ACTA, the moving party, no longer exists. The question presented by the ACTA petition was whether the FCC had regulatory authority to regulate VoIP Internet software used by individuals to do telephony with each other, with no service provider in the middle.

VoIP: ACTA Petition, Cybertelecom

It’s interesting that the same telcos that now rail against regulation were happy to try to use it back in 1995 when it suit their purposes.

So ATCA failed to control VoIP via FCC regulation. But they can use volume charging to eliminate both VoIP and video they don’t provide themselves.

The duopoly’s claims of a few people using too much traffic are a smokescreen. The real issue is control: they want to control what passes through “their” networks so they can profit by as much of it as possible. I have no objection to telcos and cablecos making a profit. I do object to them squelching everybody else to do so. On the Internet you can connect any two tin cans, unless the duopoly can cut your string.


Verizon Does Something Right: No Hollywood Policing

tauke.190.jpg Verizon talks sense:
We see substantial increases in the volume of traffic. Generally we see that as a good thing. We have more customers paying for more services we provide.

—Tom Tauke, executive vice president for public affairs, Verizon, quoted in Verizon Rejects Hollywood’s Call to Aid Piracy Fight, By Saul Hansell, Bits, New York Times, February 5, 2008, 3:56 pm

He’s specifically responding to requests from Hollywood to police copyright. Tauke lists at least three good reasons not to:
  1. Slippery slope. What else? Pornography? Gambling?
  2. Liability. Especially for a deep-pockets company like Verizon.
  3. Privacy:
    Anything we do has to balance the need of copyright protection with the desire of customers for privacy.
A telco concerned with its customers’ privacy? I’d call that a good thing!

There is, nonetheless, a downside. Continue reading

Time Warner Volume Charging

leaky_pipe.jpg Transparency via memo leak?
Metered Internet access is a fact of life for many broadband users around the world, but has been largely a nonfactor when it comes to wired broadband in the US. That may change, according to a memo leaked to the Broadband Reports forums. If the memo is to be believed, Time Warner Cable will be rolling out what it calls "Consumption Based Billing" on a trial basis in the Beaumont, Texas area.

Under the proposed scheme, new customers will be able to choose from a couple of different plans with varying bandwidth caps. They'll be given online tools to monitor usage and will be able to upgrade to the next higher tier of service to avoid charges for exceeding their monthly bandwidth limit. If the trial works well, Time Warner would then roll out bandwidth caps to current customers: "We will use the results of the trial to evaluate results for possible future nationwide rollouts," reads the memo.

Bandwidth caps have been a sore subject for some users who have found themselves bumping into mysterious, undefined limits. This past fall, a number of Comcast subscribers complained that their service was cut off after having reached Comcast's bandwidth limit.

Leaked memo: Time Warner Cable to trial hard bandwidth caps, By Eric Bangeman, ars technica, January 16, 2008 – 04:12PM CT

If the memo is legitimate, it’s good that Time Warner is going for more transparency. Although if they want transparency, why don’t they just come out and announce what they’re doing? Continue reading

Google Planning Fast Trans-Pacific Cable?

pacificcable.jpg Google may be getting into international infrastructure as well as domestic:
Google is planning a multi-terabit undersea communications cable across the Pacific Ocean for launch in 2009, Communications Day has learned.

The Unity cable has been under development for several months, with a group of carriers and Google meeting for high-level talks on the plan in Sydney last week.

Google would not strictly confirm or deny the existence of the Unity plan today, with spokesman Barry Schnitt telling our North American correspondent Patrick Neighly that “Additional infrastructure for the Internet is good for users and there are a number of proposals to add a Pacific submarine cable. We’re not commenting on any of these plans.”

However, Communications Day understands that Unity would see Google join with other carriers to build a new multi-terabit cable. Google would get access to a fibre pair at build cost handing it a tremendous cost advantage over rivals such as MSN and Yahoo, and also potentially enabling it to peer with Asia ISPs behind their international gateways – considerably improving the affordability of Internet services across Asia Pacific.

Google plans new undersea “Unity” cable across Pacific by Grahame Lynch, CommsDay ASEAN, September 21st, 2007

Coyly refusing to confirm nor deny, Google has nonetheless left bread crumbs along trail of its ambition: Continue reading

Comcast’s Secret Bandwidth Limits

salmon.jpg Just when you think it’s all telcos doing things dire for Internet freedom:
Comcast has warned broadband Internet customers across the country to curb their downloading or wind up on the curb.

The company has a bandwidth limitation that, if broken, can result in a 12-month suspension of service. The problem, according to customer complaints, is that the telecom giant refuses to reveal how much downloading is too much.

The company, which a few years ago advertised the service as “unlimited” has an “acceptable use policy” which enforces the invisible download limit.

The 23-part policy, states that it is a breach of contract to generate “levels of traffic sufficient to impede others’ ability to send or retrieve information.” But nowhere does it detail what levels of traffic will impede others.

Comcast Cuts Off Heavy Internet Users, Customers complain bandwidth limits are secret, By Joseph S. Enoch ConsumerAffairs.Com, August 24, 2007

And you have to wonder how long that AUP said that while Comcast was advertising “unlimited”.

This part is especially enlightening:

Douglas said the company shuts off people’s Internet if it affects the performance of their neighbors because often many people will share a connection on one data pipe.
So instead of fixing their bad topology, they penalize customers for using it.

Well, it’s a free market, right? Comcast users who don’t like it can switch to, er, if they’re lucky and have any choice at all, probably to whichever of Verizon or AT&T happens to be in their area. There couldn’t be any problems with those providers, could there?

Meanwhile, if you want to follow this Comcast controversy, here’s the Comcast Broadband dispute blog that one of the cast-offs started, presumably using his new DSL connection.It’s kind of like salmon organizing against a dam upstream.


Eerily Familiar

Office of the Army Chief Information Officer The Pentagon video and blogging ban is circumventable primarily due to multiple Internet providers in Iraq:
Deployed troops can still post their videos to YouTube, despite the recently announced Pentagon ban against accessing that site and ten others from government computers. The trick, says Rear Admiral Elizabeth Hight, is to use your own internet access or visit one of the rec center internet cafes, which plug into separate, commercial networks. The ban, she says, applies only to the 5 million computers worldwide connected to the official Department of Defense intranet.

Getting Around the YouTube Blockade, David Axe, DangerRoom, 17 May 2007

I suppose we could resort to going to the local Internet cafe to get around such bans if they occur stateside. Continue reading