Category Archives: Monopoly

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

Jettisoned: 8 Centuries of Common Carriage Law

puzzle-grey-data-header.jpg Someone at CAIDA (presumably kc Claffy by the writing style), went to
an invitation-only intensely interactive workshop on the topic of Internet infrastructure economics. participants included economists, network engineers, infrastructure providers, network service providers, regulatory experts, investment analysts, application designers, academic researchers/professors, entrepreneurs/inventors, biologists, oceanographers. almost everyone in more than one category.

internet infrastructure economics: top ten things i have learned so far, by webmaster, according to the best available data, October 7th, 2007

and wrote up a report including this summary of the political situation:
…and it turns out that in the last 5 years the United States — home of the creativity, inspiration and enlightened government forces (across several different agencies) that gave rise to the Internet in the first place — has thoroughly jettisoned 8 centuries of common carriage law that we critically relied on to guide public policy in equitably provisioning this kind of good in society, including jurisprudence and experience in determining ‘unreasonable discrimination’.

and our justification for this abandonment of eight centuries of common law is that our “government” — and it turns out most of our underinformed population (see (1) above) — believes that market forces will create an open network on their own. which is a particularly suspicious prediction given how the Internet got to where it is today:in the 1960s the US government funded people like vint cerf and steve crocker to build an open network architected around the ‘end to end principle’, the primary intended use of which was CPU and file sharing among government funded researchers. [yes, the U.S. government fully intended to design, build, and maintain a peer-to-peer file-sharing network!]

That’s right folks: “resource sharing” was the buzzword back then, and every node was supposed to be potentially a peer to every other. Continue reading

Mergers + Bad Regulation = Higher Prices

TeleTruth.gif What hath mergers wrought?
AT&T and MCI long distance increased over 200+% since 2000 for low volume users, 80% increase in Verizon local service in New York City since 2000, 472% since 1984, new bogus late fees or ‘shortfall’ fees, a 29% increase of the Universal Service Fee since 2006, and increases to every service, from packages, toll calls, and calling features to inside wire maintenance — it goes on and on. Worse, plans are being made to increase the FCC Line Charge to $10.00, increase Universal Service and even add new fees.

Competition was supposed to lower prices. Instead, America’s phone customers have been taken advantage of, especially low income, low volume users, and seniors. Teletruth has received multiple AT&T and Verizon bills ALL showing major increases, new charges, and new problems. If competition did exist for local, long distance, packages, etc. then all of these increases would not have happened.

AT&T and Verizon Local and Long Distance NJ and NY Phone Bills Show Massive Price Increases. Phone Mergers and a Lack of Competition Are to Blame. FCC Phone Rate Data Are Hiding the Problems. TeleTruth News Alert, 25 July 2007

Mergers and bad regulation, that is.

The Martin 700Mhz wireless acution plan leaves the same two big incumbents, AT&T and Verizon, in place. And Verizon is probably going to be a bit bigger soon, once it absorbs RCCC. Should we expect a different outcome this time?


Market Failure?

bruegel_babel2_grt.jpg Here’s an interesting directive from the White House:
The order requires federal officials to show that private companies, people or institutions failed to address a problem before agencies can write regulations to tackle it. It also gives political appointees greater authority over how the regulations are written.

House Balks at Bush Order for New Powers, By Jim Abrams, The Associated Press Tuesday, July 3, 2007; 8:16 PM

How does this work?

Continue reading

Monopoly Municipal Internet

fiberoptic.jpg Monopolies sometimes come in small sizes:
Seven years ago, the neighborhood’s homeowners association, set up by the developer Van Metre Homes, inked an exclusive deal with OpenBand, a small Dulles firm, to provide Internet, cable and phone service to all 1,100 homes. Residents say they are now locked into an expensive, decades-long contract for second-rate services.

Erika Hodell-Cotti, who lives on Sunstone Court, says she cannot work from home because her Internet connection frequently fizzles out. The teenagers who live next door play online Xbox games at friends’ houses where speeds are faster. Dozens of neighbors have installed satellite dishes on their roofs and backyard decks, fed up with cable channels that sometimes dissolve into snowy static.

In Suburbs, Locked Into a High-Tech Lure, Fiber-Optic Service Disappoints Many, but Contracts Span Decades, By Kim Hart, Washington Post Staff Writer Monday, May 21, 2007; Page A01

The problem appears to be that the provider used a single technology and now has no incentive to upgrade. I suppose this is another example of how what Internet participants actually want is the Internet, not a specific delivery technology. A better contract, requiring the provider to at least keep up with prevailing standards, would have helped a lot.


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

Communications Monopoly

Adm. Elizabeth A. Hight Here’s what happens when you have a communications monopoly:
The Defense Department isn’t trying to “muzzle” troops by banning YouTube and MySpace on their networks, a top military information technology officer tells DANGER ROOM. Rear Admiral Elizabeth Hight, Deputy Commander of Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations, says that the decision to block access to social networking, video-sharing, and other “recreational” sites is purely at attempt to “preserve military bandwidth for operational missions.”

Computer_center_400x Not that the 11 blocked sites are clogging networks all that much today, she adds. But YouTube, MySpace, and the like “could present a potential problem,” at some point in the future. So the military wanted to “get ahead of the problem before it became a problem.”

Military Defends MySpace Ban (Updated Yet Again), Noah Schachtman, DangerRoom, 18 May 2007

How much bandwidth is it using? We don’t know; the Admiral won’t say.

Now if the U.S. military’s real reason is to keep the troops from posting information that could get some of them killed, I could understand that. But if so, why are they trotting out this lame excuse? And for that matter, why is the U.S. commander in Iraq saying military blogs are providing good accurate descriptions of the situation on the ground? Continue reading