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FCC Chairman Martin a Tireless Consumer Advocate - Who Knew?

In a counter-intuitive move for a Republican free marketeer, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has sought to impose substantial additional regulations on cable television. Chairman Martin ostensibly can retain his credentials by claiming that a 1984 law requires the FCC to act when cable television systems serve 70% or more of the U.S. population and 70% who can subscribe do so. more

Unbridled Discretion and Prior Restraint: The Verizon and Comcast Stories

Let's say that providing communications infrastructure is an inherent function of a state. Most people think of the internet as a telephone system, and most people think the telephone companies aren't supposed to choose which calls will go through based on their content. People think that because they think internet access, like telephone access, is a utility -- like electricity conduit, water pipes, etc. -- that has something to do with the government, and the government isn't supposed to discriminate. more

Financial Times on Telecoms Separation

I've written that a Network Neutrality law needs a Network Management Exception, and I've laid out how this exception is likely to become a giant vacuum-cleaner-fish loophole. The way out is the separation of infrastructure from service, so infrastructure operators can have no financial interests in the services they carry, hence no motive to discriminate in anti-competitive ways. Now today's Financial Times has an editorial on the EC telecom regulator, Viviane Reding's proposal to beef up national telecom regulatory authority within European countries and create a Europe-wide so-called super-regulator. more

Google Preparing to Bid 4.6 Billion on 700MHz Wireless Spectrum

Google made a big splash last week with its new software for cellphones. But that's far from the limit of the Internet giant's wireless ambitions --- which could include running its own mobile network. more

Leading a Horse to Water

It is one thing to bring broadband internet to the masses, but how do we make them drink from the fountain of knowledge? One of the challenges, of course, is that the industry has not yet sold turn-key applications that capture the imaginations of the unconnected. Surprising as it seems, email, Facebook, file swapping and web surfing have not yet attracted 100% of the population. Are there some applications that might lend themselves to a toll-free model in order to reach the rest of the market? more

Europe's Telecommunications Infrastructure Dramatically Shaken Up

The European Commission has adopted a raft of proposals that will see Europe's telecommunications infrastructure dramatically shaken up. At the heart of the proposals, which represent the biggest change in telecommunications regulation in five years, is the Commission's desire to see the European telecommunications market made into a more level playing field. The existing framework was set in place by the Commission in 2002. more

IGF on Connecting Another Billion Users to the Internet

Now that more than 1 billion people use the Internet, international policymakers and computing experts are struggling with how to link the world's other 5 billion to the increasingly crucial network. "Ten years ago, to talk about 1 billion Internet users sounded exaggerated, unthinkable, but now we talk about the next billion," said Markus Kummer, the official heading the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Brazil. "It is clear sooner or later we will reach that number. It is also clear that next billion will be poorer than the first." more

Google Acquiring Sprint?

Rich Tehrani of TMC discusses the possibility of Google buying Sprint Nextel: "Recent news that Sprint is not going to work with Clearwire to build out a WiMAX network only added to the rumors I have been hearing about Google acquiring Sprint Nextel. On the surface it seems like this would be a bad move for Google but in reality the world’s leading search engine has become so much more than just a website to go to when you want to find a trinket of information... The company now needs a wireless network to allow it to grow in the mobile search and related spaces such as watching YouTube videos on the subway." more

Making the Wireless World More Web-Friendly

Your wireless carrier (in the U.S., probably AT&T or Verizon Wireless) has a lot of control over the handset you can use and the applications that can run on that device. In fact, wireless carriers routinely ask for (and get) an enormous slice of the revenue from applications that work on their networks, and they force handset manufacturers to jump through all kinds of hoops in order to be allowed to sell devices that can connect to these networks... This has had bad effects on the ecosystem of the wireless world. more

How the Internet On Cable Became the Internet As Cable

When Rogers Communications began promoting its Rogers@Home high-speed Internet service nearly a decade ago, the company branded it "the Internet on Cable." Years later, their service, as well as those of their competitors, is gradually morphing into "the Internet as Cable" as broadcasters, Internet service providers, and cultural groups steadily move toward the delivery of content online that bears a striking resemblance to the conventional cable model. more

White Space in the Great White North

There is growing interest in the US for the FCC to look at White Space to enable more options for broadband wireless in rural areas. What is White Space? Last weekend, the Sunday NY Times published an article about wireless services that included this description: "In many areas, not all broadcast [television] channels are in use. The unused channels are "white spaces" of high-quality spectrum that could be made available to local Internet service providers. Unlike the much higher frequency of Wi-Fi, television broadcast frequencies can travel for miles and penetrate walls, providing a much broader range for Internet service." There is a coalition of eight technology companies driving the discussion in the US... more

A Packet of Lies

I've been reading the kerfuffle around Comcast's blocking of various random network protocols with interest. Whilst I remain convinced that blanket "network neutrality" legislation remains just a form of digital gripe water (cures colic for cybernauts), there's clearly a problem. As I previously alluded there's a definite consumer protection issue over what you buy when it says 'Internet' on the tin. So here's tuppence worth of additional input... more

Why a Net Neutrality Law is Not Enough

Once we decide that Network Neutrality is a good thing to (re)enshrine in law, then we need to ask how to do that effectively. One way would be to pass a law saying, "Thou shalt not discriminate." That's the current approach. But network operators will say that they must manage their network, and if, in the course of network management, they were to disadvantage some source, destination, application, service or content, they might be accused of violating the law. So any Network Neutrality law must have a Network Management Exception... more

Comcast Caught Blocking File Sharing

Comcast Corp. actively interferes with attempts by some of its high-speed Internet subscribers to share files online, a move that runs counter to the tradition of treating all types of Net traffic equally. The interference, which The Associated Press confirmed through nationwide tests, is the most drastic example yet of data discrimination by a U.S. Internet service provider. It involves company computers masquerading as those of its users. more

What Did the Bush Admin Promise the Telco's in Early 2001?

I have a hypothesis: The Bush administration came to power in December 2000. American telcos were on the precipice about to go into Free fall. We have seen how Bush politicized the Justice Department and are much more aware thanks to John Dean's Broken Government and Charlie Savage's Take Over of the intense desire to aggregate executive power to feed the Addingtons belief in the Unitary Executive. We now know that Cheney was meeting with the energy industry in early 2001 promising them whatever they wanted. We may begin to ask what the domestic telecoms industry was being promised? more