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FON and BT: Wifi Today; Mobile Tomorrow?

A deal announced today between British Telecom and upstart FON allows BT's Internet customers to share their own broadband connections via WiFi and, in turn, be able to access WiFi free at "thousands" (doesn't say how many) of FON hotspots around the world operated by other Foneros... When you buy home Internet access from BT and opt into this plan, you are also buying roaming access at no extra charge. The technology is supposed to assure that the part of the connection which you share is segregated from your own access so that there are no security problems caused by the sharing. more

Enterprise or Public Sector Investment in National Lambda Rail Presents a Unique Opportunity

Sometimes in our worries about the Duopoly, we fail to recognize that some extraordinary wealth of opportunity sits right underneath our noses. National Lambda Rail (NLR) is one such case. About six months ago I wrote in some detail about NLR and what made this entity different from previous attempts at research networks in the US... NLR runs on a philosophy of a user owned and administered research network. Intrernet2 (I2), during the ten years of its existence, has run on the basis of first a Qwest donated backbone known as Abilene and since November 2006 on the basis of a seven year managed services contract with Level 3 Communications. more

Wireless Net Neutrality

To date, most of the discussion on net neutrality has dealt with the behaviour of conventional wireline ISPs. RCR Wireless News is carrying an opinion piece called "Paying for the bandwidth we consume" by Mark Desautels, VP -- Wireless Internet Development for CTIA -- the trade association for the US wireless industry. His article follows up on reports of Comcast cable moving to discontinue internet access service to so-called "bandwidth hogs"... more

Is Bandwidth Infinite? It All Depends…

On August 23 ( while I was in China) a list member Lee S. Drybrugh wrote in jest: I happened to bump into Peter Cochrane stating, "The good news is -- bandwidth is free -- and we have an infinite supply." Next by sheer accident I bumped into this in relation to Gilder, "Telecosm argues that the world is beginning to realise that bandwidth is not a scarce resource (as was once thought) but is in factinfinite." Can anyone explain this infinite bandwidth as I think I am getting ripped off by my ISP if this is true? Craig Partridge then offered what I think is a very good commentary of a difficult question where the answer depends very much on context... more

This Week in the White Spaces

Every once in a while I look in on the white spaces, to see how things are going. You'll recall that the white spaces are unused, non-contiguous ("swiss cheese" ) frequencies between broadcast stations around the county. Commr. McDowell of the FCC has said that initial rules for the white spaces will be released sometime this fall. If the white spaces are made available on an unlicensed basis for use by opportunistic, "smart," low-power mobile devices, entrepreneurial engineers will think of ways to use this wealth of spectrum (300 MHz wide, if fractured) to provide mobile connections to whatever fiber installations are nearest. more

P2P: Boon, Boondoggle, or Bandwidth Hog? (The Dark Side)

Yesterday's post explained how peer-to-peer (P2P) applications use the processing power, bandwidth, and storage capacity of participants in a service rather than centralized resources. This makes such applications generally less subject to catastrophic failure, much less subject to running out of resources (since each new user brings new capacity as well as new demand), and much cheaper FOR THE PROVIDER of the application in terms of hardware and bandwidth required. It's the FOR THE PROVIDER part that's the rub. Let's consider the case of BBC's iPlayer service... more

CALEA Roundup: 2005-2007

The wrangling around the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) is one of those issues that creeps inexorably forward and is hard to follow unless you're really focusing. So here is a quick, if longish, overview: CALEA is a 1994 statute that requires telephone companies to design their services so that they are easily tappable by law enforcement in need of "call-identifying information." Back in August 2005, following a request from the Dept. of Justice, the Commission moved swiftly to impose CALEA obligations on providers of broadband access services and "interconnected VoIP" services... more

P2P: Boon, Boondoggle, or Bandwidth Hog?

Depending on whom you ask, peer-to-peer (P2P) services may be the best thing that ever happened to the Internet or a diabolical arbitrage scheme which will ruin all ISPs and bring an end to the Internet as we think we know it. Some famous P2P services include ICQ, Skype, Napster, and BitTorrent. Currently a new P2P service called iPlayer from BBC is causing some consternation and eliciting some threatening growls from British ISPs... more

Prediction: Google WILL Bid for 700MHz Spectrum and WILL Win

There is an excellent business case for Google bidding megabucks in the upcoming 700MHz auction and investing even more to get a network up and running. I think Google is well aware of the value to them if they win and the harm they'd suffer if the duopoly wins instead. Google can make big bucks with a nationwide third network AND make things better for all Internet users AND improve the United States' pathetic competitive position in the contest for broadband access. Hope this post doesn't end up post-tagged "wishful thinking"... more

Two Things Happened at the FCC Today

Paul Kaputska has the best wrap-up of the 700 MHz press releases and statements online, with comments from major players. Rick Whitt is polite and welcoming, noting the progress that's been made (who would have thought any move towards unlocking devices from networks was possible?) while saying it would have been better to have included wholesale requirements. But while even mainstream media was (finally) focusing on the moderate, incremental, and possibly hopelessly unenforceable (and ultimately meaningless) steps taken by the FCC today in announcing its auction rules, something else happened. more