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Comcast's Network Management Practices: A Brief Analysis

Late last week, Comcast officially disclosed to the FCC details of its network management practices which have been a subject of considerable discussion here on CircleID. (My thanks to Threat Level from Wired.com for providing a convenient copy of Comcast's "Attachment A" in which this disclosure is made.) There's not a lot of startling disclosure in this document, but it does provide some useful concrete facts and figures. I'll quote the more interesting parts of the document here, and offer comment on it. more

FCC's Comcast Ruling Inconsistent and Incoherent

After voting on the Comcast order today, Kevin Martin and his Democratic Party colleagues issued press releases telling us how they saved the Internet from Comcast's discriminatory practices, but they've failed to release the actual order they adopted and subsequently re-wrote. Commissioner McDowell wasn't allowed to see the revised order until 7:00 PM the night before the meeting. Rumor has it that high-level spin doctors are still trying to remove all the rough edges, inconsistencies, and factual errors. more

Another Wrong-Headed WSJ Editorial

Those wacky editorial writers at the Wall Street Journal just cannot seem to get the facts straight about network neutrality and what the FCC has done or can do on this matter. In the July 30, 2008 edition (Review and Outlook A14), the Journal vilifies FCC Chairman Kevin Martin for starting along the slippery slope of regulating Internet content. The Journal writers just seem to love hyperbole, and are not beyond ignoring the facts when they do not support a party line. Here are a few examples from the editorial... more

No Fines for Comcast

Note: this is an update on my earlier story, which incorrectly said that the AP reported that Chairman Martin was seeking to impose "fines" on Comcast. In fact, the story used the word "punish" rather than "fine," and a headline writer at the New York Times added "penalty" to it "F.C.C. Chairman Favors Penalty on Comcast" (I won't quote the story because I'm a blogger and the AP is the AP, so click through.) Much of the initial reaction to the story was obviously colored by the headline. more

FCC and Comcast: Reasonably Vague

So, the FCC will recommend that Comcast be "punished" or receive "sanctions" for its peer-to-peer throttling practice. And the network neutrality debate goes on, as does its ambiguities and vagueness. Even if you hate Comcast and agree with the net neutrality argument and the FCC's decision, one thing Comcast is correct in saying is that "reasonable network management" specified by the FCC in network neutrality policy set in 2005 is vague. Actually, the term "network management" by itself is broad before you even try to interpret what is meant by "reasonable", and it is not exactly correct in its application here... more

Introductory Remarks from Innovation '08

Here's my opening remarks from Media Access Project's Innovation '08 in Santa Clara this morning. A DVD will be available shortly. This was a lively discussion, with Google and Vuze on the case. Good morning and welcome. My name is Richard Bennett and I'm a network engineer. I've built networking products for 30 years and contributed to a dozen networking standards, including Ethernet and Wi-Fi... I'm opposed to net neutrality regulations because they foreclose some engineering options that we're going to need for the Internet to become the one true general-purpose network that links all of us to each other, connects all our devices to all our information, and makes the world a better place. Let me explain. more

Revision3 and Media Defender

Lots of coverage in the last two days about a Memorial Day weekend attack that took down the servers of Revision3, an Internet video network. This story has a lot of ingredients -- P2P maneuvering, DDoS attack, copyright vs. piracy, talk of laws broken and the FBI investigating.  more

Will Technology Solve Network Neutrality?

When I first read this post about Predictable Network Solutions on the excellent Telco 2.0 blog, I thought it was an April Fool's Day hoax. Then I remembered that it's a UK site, and some Googling confirmed that it's a real company. So my question is, will this technology -- or something like it -- eventually make network neutrality a non-issue? Or will it be the means for network operators to implement the discrimination that everyone is worried about? more

Telcos Must Become Major Destination Websites, Says Sun Chairman

Telecommunication companies need to go beyond just providing bandwidth and look into acquiring Internet destination sites that are heavily trafficked, Sun Chairman Scott McNealy said on Friday. "I have explained to every telco that either you become a destination site, or the destination site will become a telco," McNealy said at a news conference at Sun's Worldwide Education and Research Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday... more

On Comcast and Net Neutrality: Shouting Fire in a Theater

The Comcast traffic shaping case has stirred up passionate debate. Net neutrality proponents are calling for Comcast's head on a platter. The common argument is that Comcast's policy may stifle innovation and competition. If a service provider is allowed to exercise unregulated discretion in how it treats subscriber traffic, it is a slippery slope toward anti-competitive practices. Net neutrality says keep your hands off. Some are preaching net neutrality as if it were an inalienable human right like freedom of speech... more

Why Regulate Cable Internet Access

The cable guys have their way of saying it: "What do you want to do, nationalize our businesses?" Another way of seeing this issue is: We have a very few very large providers of highspeed internet access in U.S. They have sufficient market power to decide how and when to prioritize internet communications. And all of these providers are competing with the internet in some way -- they are all (or are becoming) old media and old telecom companies that want to maintain control over their distribution channels. more

Call for Telecom Industry Wake-Up

As many of you know, I'm launching the Emerging Communications (eComm) conference -- taking place next month in Silicon Valley, at the Computer History Museum. Communications innovation has been stagnant, in my opinion, for nearly a decade. Telecommunications and Internet communications both seem to be at somewhat of an impasse. The communications industry needs a forum to help break through the stagnancy and highlight the huge opportunity space that is emerging. The stagnancy has been strikingly more so in telecommunications... more

Is China Preparing to Go its Own Way with its Own Internet Root?

Interesting things happening in China. An article in the English edition of the People's Daily on line is headlined, Decimal network security address begins operation: "China's decimal network security address was officially launched. China has made a fundamental breakthrough in its Internet development; and actual use has been successful. The birth of decimal network technology makes China the only country able to unify domain names, IP addresses and MAC addresses into the text of a metric system..." Someone asked whether this was a rumored IPv9? It appears IPv9 is a project name, not a new protocol. It lumps together several activities, including at least... more

More on 700 MHz Block C Hits Reserve Price

This is big... For the upper band C Block, the FCC mandated that any winning licensee have in place "no locking" and "no blocking" provisions conditioning its use of this spectrum: "Licensees offering service on spectrum subject to this section shall not deny, limit, or restrict the ability of their customers to use the devices and applications of their choice on the licensee..." The no-locking, no-blocking requirements were hedged in by substantial limitations... But it's still important... Particularly if Google is the winning bidder, something we may not know for a month or so. more

Walks Like a Telco, Yalks Like a Telco… Must be a Telco

Vonage's latest woes are written up by Om Malik in Vonage: How Low Can You Go. More interesting than Om's reportage (Sprint wins case, Vonage ordered to pay damages, stock drops to $1.30) is the commentary afterward, in which one reader takes Om to task for the "gleeful" way in which he reports the demise of the VoIP companies... Boosters made the argument that VoIP was fundamentally cheaper than the TDM systems that phone companies deploy, and so therefore they enjoyed a price advantage in the market place. Anyone in the business of supplying telecom equipment, however, will tell you that the argument is flawed... more