Category Archives: IPTV

Vigilantes Against BitTorrent? Revision3 Taken Down by SYN Floods

revision3_f5_dos.jpg Revision3 uses BitTorrent to distribute legal Internet television. It turns out using BitTorrent may be enough to subject a company to crippling online attack.
On the internet, computers say hi with a special type of packet, called “SYN”. A conversation between devices typically requires just one short SYN packet exchange, before moving on to larger messages containing real data. And most of the traffic cops on the internet – routers, firewalls and load balancers – are designed to mostly handle those larger messages. So a flood of SYN packets, just like a room full of hyperactive screaming toddlers, can cause all sorts of problems.

That’s what happened to us. Another device on the internet flooded one of our servers with an overdose of SYN packets, and it shut down – bringing the rest of Revision3 with it. In webspeak it’s called a Denial of Service attack – aka DoS – and it happens when one machine overwhelms another with too many packets, or messages, too quickly. The receiving machine attempts to deal with all that traffic, but in the end just gives up.

A bit of address translation, and we’d discovered our nemesis. But instead of some shadowy underground criminal syndicate, the packets were coming from right in our home state of California. In fact, we traced the vast majority of those packets to a public company called Artistdirect (ARTD.OB). Once we were able to get their internet provider on the line, they verified that yes, indeed, that internet address belonged to a subsidiary of Artist Direct, called MediaDefender.

Inside the Attack that Crippled Revision3, by Jim Louderback in Polemics, on May 29th, 2008 at 07:49 am

The plot thickens from there. Well worth reading. I bet the legal proceedings will be even more interesting.


Popular: Bell Canada Throttling Story in Canada’s Biggest Newspaper

logo_torontostar.gif This article was for a bit the most popular on, the online edition of Canada’s largest newspaper, and is still number 5 on most emailed as I type:
The Toronto Star has learned that John Sweeney, Bell’s senior vice-president of carrier services, sent a letter to the independent ISPs last Friday acknowledging that Bell has implemented bandwidth management from 4:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. for its wholesale customers. Sweeney admitted that peer-to-peer applications will not work as fast during this period, but argued that “a majority of end users will experience an increased level of satisfaction.”

While much of the initial commentary has focused on the implications for consumer rights, that discussion misses the more important aspect of this story, namely that Bell’s plans undermine the Internet’s competitive landscape by raising three concerns.

Bell throttles its Internet competitors, Michael Geist, The Star, Apr 01, 2008 04:30 AM

It seems Bell Canada has handed net neutrality advocates proof of their concerns , and that the public is watching. This article isn’t some emotional scare piece, either. Continue reading

The Amazon Channel

packages.gif It’s all very well to talk about net neutrality or Internet freedom and how it affects 700Mhz spectrum sales or freedom of the press. But what does all this have to do with the average Internet user?

Suppose the telcos and cablecos get everything they want.

To buy a BBQ grill on eBay, you’ll have to pay for the eBay channel. This is above whatever you pay the seller for the grill or eBay for your membership. You’ll have to pay your local Internet access company just to let you get to eBay to participate in the auction. Oh, maybe you’ll be able to get there anyway, but your access may be so slow that you’ll pay for the eBay channel out of frustration.

If you want to buy a book from Amazon, you’ll have to pay for the Amazon channel. For search you’ll need the Yahoo channel or the channel or the google channel. Assuming your favorite search engine is even offered as a channel. Many smaller services probably won’t be.

Maybe it won’t be quite this bad. Continue reading

AT&T U-Verse Considered as Cable TV

jbarterton.jpg In case it wasn’t obvious why the telcos want local TV franchise laws repealed:
A federal judge has thrown up a roadblock in front of AT&T as it attempts to roll out its new U-Verse IPTV service in the state of Connecticut. In an opinion issued yesterday, Judge Janet Bond Arterton ruled that AT&T’s U-Verse IPTV service is a cable television service like any other and is therefore subject to local franchising agreements.

Federal judge: AT&T U-Verse == cable TV, By Eric Bangeman, ars technica, Published: July 27, 2007 – 10:44AM CT

But isn’t it different from cable if it’s carried over IP? Continue reading

The Internet As a Market: Al Gore and Reasoned Discourse

al-gore.jpg So I’ve been wondering what to say about Al Gore’s book, The Assault on Reason. A story in The Economist helped me out. After lauding Gore for calling Mr. Bush’s risky schemes well before most people, for denouncing the invasion of Iraq back in 2002, for his Oscar, and for being “the man who changed the climate of opinion climate change”, it then ridicules the book’s core thesis:
But he does not stop there. He worries about America’s money-saturated politics. He lambasts television for infantilising the electorate.

He sometimes comes across as eccentric—as when he lambasts television for killing public discourse, then celebrates the internet as its potential saviour. A few minutes online, reading the zealots on either the right or the left, should have been enough to explode that illusion.

Gore in the balance, From The Economist print edition, May 31st 2007

That last would appear to be the sort of trivialized, perhaps even infantilized, reaction Gore is lamenting. The big advantage of the Internet is you get not just a few zealots at extreme ends of an arbitrary spectrum: you get all the shadings and colors and depth you can absorb. And you can weave your own strands in this home-made tapestry. Continue reading

Global Media Consolidation

mediabrands.jpg In case you thought media ownership in increasingly fewer hands was a uniquely U.S. problem, here’s a handy graphic illustrating its worldwide scope. There are links to the research behind it.


AT&T’s Striped Bass

ph_striped_bass.jpg You may recall that the FCC at the last minute in 2006, after the elections and before the electees took office, agreed to some conditions on the merger of Bellsouth with AT&T. Among them was a $10/month DSL plan.
The merger commitment specifies that the plan had to be offered. That means to me that it has to be put forth as an option!!! (If there’s a fifty pound striped bass somewhere out there in the ocean, that’s not an offer of fish!)

So I don’t think AT&T is honoring its $10/month commitment.

Is AT&T Honoring its Merger Commitments? David Isenberg,, Friday, July 06, 2007

This is the same $10/month service USA Today announced AT&T was developing back in January. Maybe they’ll just keep “developing” it until the 48 month time limit expires, or make it available to a few people and claim they’ve honored their commitment.This is what SBC used to do: claim availability if one person per ZIP code could get a service, and the FCC let them get away with that.

Isenberg asks:

Do you think the FCC will investigate?
Continue reading

e911 vs. Net Neutrality

bob_cringely.jpg I don’t usually blog the same article twice, but Cringely said something else important (the all-caps emphases are his):
Now let’s look at this in the context of net neutrality. For the cable companies, at least, it probably doesn’t matter. That’s because while cable Internet service and cable VoIP service both use the CMTS, it is easy for the cable company to configure its VoIP product as completely separate from its Internet product. IF YOUR CABLE OPERATOR WILL SELL YOU VOIP SERVICE WITHOUT INTERNET SERVICE, THEN NET NEUTRALITY DOES NOT APPLY.

If excess Internet traffic causes problems for the VoIP services of these cable companies, they can prioritize their own VoIP packets with impunity because VoIP isn’t defined as an Internet service. And for that very reason, packet prioritization can — and will — occur even if the broadband ISP has signed an agreement promising net neutrality.

The next level of this ploy is to validate the un-Internetiness of the VoIP system through public service interconnects like 911. “Should calling the police get priority treatment?” will be the question and most courts won’t say “no.”

Beyond Net Neutrality: If at first you don’t succeed, change the game. Robert X. Cringely, I, Cringely, April 6, 2007

The various VoIP companies better be worried about this trick, because it’s all the incumbent duopoly really needs to say their own VoIP is an essential public service and any others are interfering with public safety. Continue reading

AT&T Attacks Content

Copyright is not just for Internet radio anymore:
AT&T Inc. has joined Hollywood studios and recording companies in trying to keep pirated films, music and other content off its network — the first major carrier of Internet traffic to do so.

As AT&T has begun selling pay-television services, the company has realized that its interests are more closely aligned with Hollywood, Cicconi said in an interview Tuesday. The company’s top leaders recently decided to help Hollywood protect the digital copyrights to that content.

“We do recognize that a lot of our future business depends on exciting and interesting content,” he said.

AT&T to target pirated content, It joins Hollywood in trying to keep bootleg material off its network. By James S. Granelli, L.A. Times, June 13, 2007

Now it’s for Internet video. Which is what “James W. Cicconi, an AT&T senior vice president,” meant by “exciting and interesting content.” Nevermind participatory customer-generated content, or that customers might not want AT&T monitoring their content. Continue reading

Speed Is Trivial

Sometimes Bob Frankston makes me shake my head in wonder:
Speed is trivial — the dial up modem completely trounced the entire Interactive TV industry thanks to the web which gave people a reason to find their own solutions without waiting for a service provider to deign to provision a path. As long as you don’t over-defined the solution you’ll get speed — it’s hard not to.

Re: We’re Stuck In The Slow Lane Of The Information Trollway — it’s all about the billing relationship, Bob Frankston, Interesting People, Sat, 12 May 2007 20:13:50 -0400

Yes, back in the 1990s, video on demand and interactive TV were the big plans of the cablecos and telcos. They tried it. Users didn’t buy it. Instead, participants bought modems and the web boomed. Continue reading