Category Archives: Opportunity

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

Online Everyone: The Internet for Everyone, a new public/private coalition

internetforeveryone.jpg Google’s Vint Cerf, ZIPcar’s Robin Chase, FCC’s Adelstein: Internet for Everyone, a public/private coalition for getting everyone online:
It’s Google’s involvement in the deal that makes the new coalition something to keep an eye on. The company has expanded its Washington DC lobbying group significantly in the past few years.

“When you have a public interest community up against a massive industrial sector like the cable and telco companies, you’re going to likely fail because of the corrupted political system where money buys influence,” said Silver. “However, if you can align the public interest with major industrial sectors that also have an increasing influence in Washington, then you have something formidable, then you actually can beat the cable and phone cartel, and this is going to how its going to play out.”

Net Neutrality Advocates Call For Fast, Universal Access To The Net, By Sarah Lai Stirland, Wired, June 24, 2008,

Access, choice, openness, innovation: yes, those are the points (plus speed), without being weighed down by the albatross of the clunky “net neutrality” malnym.


PS: Free Press: if you’re going to put a video up front, pick a fluent public speaker such as Robin Chase or Jonathan Zittrain to show first, eh? “Collective hallucination,” yes!

Critics, it’s Time to Stop the Quibbling: Broadband in Other Countries

bio_nate.jpg Ars technica sums it up:
One of the ironies of the current broadband situation in the US is that staunch free marketeers defend the status quo even though the result of their views has been duopoly and high prices. Meanwhile, other countries (including those with a reputation in some quarters for “socialism”) have taken aggressive steps to create a robust, competitive, consumer-friendly marketplace with the help of regulation and national investment.

Critics, it’s time to stop the quibbling: the data collection practices that show the US dropping year-over-year in all sorts of broadband metrics from uptake to price per megabit might not prove solid enough to trust with your life, but we’re out of good reasons to doubt their general meaning.

Broadband: other countries do it better, but how? By Nate Anderson, ars technica, Published: May 11, 2008 – 07:37PM CT

That post includes a table of papers and reports on per-country broadband rankings with corresponding U.S. rankings, from 11 to 24.

Then it gets to lack of political leadership:

Despite the repeated claims of the current administration that our "broadb and policy" is working, the US act ually has no broadband policy and no aggressive and inspiring goals (t hink "moon shot"). The EDUCAUSE model suggests investing $100 billion (a third comes from the feds, a third from the states, and a third from compan ies) to roll out fiber to every home in the country. Whether the particular pro posal has merit or not, it at least has the great virtue of being an ambitious policy that recognizes the broad economic and social benefits from fast broadba nd. 

Here's hoping that the next president, whoever he (or, possibly, she) is, g ives us something more effective—and inspiring—than this. It's telling that the current administration's official page on the President's tech p olicy hasn't had a new speech or press release added since… 2004.

$100 billion may sound like a lot, but the federal government alone spends that much a year on the unnecessary Iraq war. The U.S. needs better priorities.


Users Revolt: Net Neutrality Wins

NodeMagazine.jpg This is the path to net neutrality:
“See-bare-espace… it is everting.”

—Odile Richards, Spook Country by William Gibson, 2007

Long version:
Top Ten Predictions for 2008

1. The Users Revolt. As advertisers focus in on social networking sites, users revolt against this trend, and power shifts in the worlds of Social Networking from owner to user, on issues ranging from Second Life rules and Facebook privacy to Cellphone Billing. Users will gain new leverage.

My Top Ten Predictions for 2008, Mark Anderson, Strategic News Service Blog, 22 December 2007

He picks up on some of many signs of users’ discontent, such as Facebook’s Beacon fiasco: Continue reading

Japanese Broadband Growth: FTTH Pulls Up

jpgrowth.gif Japanese broadband uptake as of March 2007:
14.013 millionaDSL
8.803 millionFTTH
3.609 millionCable
11 thousandWireless
More impressive than raw numbers is the graph, which shows aDSL growing rapidly from 2001 to 2003, after which FTTH suddenly becomes the new growth broadband connection.

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.

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

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

When I invented the Web, I didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission.

timbi.jpg One sentence sums it up:
When I invented the Web, I didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission.

&mdash: Net Neutrality: This is serious by timbl (Tim Berners-Lee), DiG, Wed, 2006-06-21 16:35

That’s Internet freedom. That’s why we need net neutrality.

What is net neutrality?

If I pay to connect to the Net with a certain quality of service, and you pay to connect with that or greater quality of service, then we can communicate at that level.
Where you and I are any pair of participants on the Internet. Continue reading

Twaddle v. a Wonder of the World

goldengate.jpg It’s good to see a newspaper not mince words:
A free-for-all web (after normal monthly broadband charges have been paid) is one of the wonders of the world and a binding force for all communities.

The Federal Communications Commission has just been advised by the US department of justice, under heavy lobbying from the operators who stand to gain from higher data charges, that a neutral net might “prevent, rather than promote” investment and innovation. This is twaddle. An open-access net has produced one of the greatest surges of innovation ever recorded and has given an opportunity for people all over the world to communicate with each other and share knowledge on equal terms. Long may it continue to be so.

In praise of… a freely available internet, Leader, The Guardian, Tuesday September 11, 2007

The Guardian brings up a related point:

It has only become an issue because the US Congress is scrutinising the question of “net neutrality”, though why the US authorities – rather than an international body – should deem themselves to have jurisdiction over the internet is not clear.
The usual answer to that is that a properly constituted international body would do even worse. Although nowadays, it seems the otherwise unlateralist U.S. government is toeing the (pseudo-)capitalist international party line.


Broadband Speed by Country

broadbandspeedchart.jpg Letting a picture tell the story of how Japan, Korea, France, Poland, Portugal, and other countries have faster broadband than the U.S., here’s a graphical illustration of average broadband speeds per country. Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland I would expect, since they’ve long been fast. But Poland?

There seem to be two tiers. Japan and Korea are the top tier. Then Finland, Sweden, and France. Then a third tier starting with the Netherlands. The U.S. is either in that third tier or in a fourth tier, depending on how you look at it.

The source report, Assessing Broadband in America: OECD and ITIF Broadband Rankings, By Daniel K. Correa, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, April 2007, also examines broadband uptake, in which the U.S. is also fifteenth in these OECD rankings.

Maybe it’s time for a change. A change in public policy and the addition of competition.