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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»

Has the FCC Created a Stone Too Heavy for It to Lift?

After five years of bickering, the FCC passed an Open Internet Report & Order on a partisan 3-2 vote this week. The order is meant to guarantee that the Internet of the future will be just as free and open as the Internet of the past. Its success depends on how fast the Commission can transform itself from an old school telecom regulator wired to resist change into an innovation stimulator embracing opportunity. One thing we can be sure about is that the order hasn't tamped down the hyperbole that's fueled the fight to control the Internet's constituent parts for all these years. more»

Internet Governance: An Antispam Perspective

All those Internet Governance pundits who track ICANN the way paparazzi track Paris Hilton are barking up the wrong tree. They've mistaken the Department of Street Signs for the whole of the state. The real action involves words like rbldnsd, content filtering, and webs of trust. Welcome to the Internet! What's on the menu today? Spam, with some phish on the side! We've got email spam, Usenet spam, IRC spam, IM spam, Jabber spam, Web spam, blogs spam, and spam splogs. And next week we'll have some brand new VoIP spam for you. Now that we're a few years into the Cambrian explosion of messaging protocols, I'd like to present a few observations around a theme and offer some suggestions. more»

New Mobile Domain Another Bad Idea

You may have seen a new proposal for a "mobile" top-level domain name for use by something called "mobile users" whatever they are. (The domain will not actually be named .mobile, rumours are they are hoping for a coveted one-letter TLD like .m "to make it easier to type on a mobile phone.) Centuries ago, as trademark law began its evolution, we learned one pretty strong rule about building rules for a name system for commerce, and even for non-commerce.
Nobody should be given ownership of generic terms. Nobody should have ownership rights in a generic word like "apple" -- not Apple Computer, not Apple Records, not the Washington State Apple Growers, not a man named John Apple. more»

DPI is Not a Four-Letter Word!

As founder and CTO of Ellacoya Networks, a pioneer in Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), and now having spent the last year at Arbor Networks, a pioneer in network-based security, I have witnessed first hand the evolution of DPI. It has evolved from a niche traffic management technology to an integrated service delivery platform. Once relegated to the dark corners of the central office, DPI has become the network element that enables subscriber opt-in for new services, transparency of traffic usage and quotas, fairness during peak busy hours and protection from denial of service attacks, all the while protecting and maintaining the privacy of broadband users. Yet, DPI still gets a bad rap... more»

Comcast is Right, the FCC is Wrong

A fellow named Paul Korzeniowski has written a very good, concise piece on the Comcast action at the FCC for Forbes, Feds And Internet Service Providers Don't Mix. He manages to describe the controversy in clear and unemotional language, which contrasts sharply with the neutralists who constantly use emotionally-charged terms such as "blocking," "Deep Packet Inspection," "forgery," and "monopoly" to describe their discomfort. more»

Hunting Unicorns: Myths and Realities of the Net Neutrality Debate

In many ways, the emotionally charged debate on Network Neutrality (NN) has been a lot like hunting Unicorns. While hunting the mythical horse could be filled with adrenalin, emotion, and likely be quite entertaining, the prize would ultimately prove to be elusive. As a myth, entertaining; but when myths become reality, then all bets are off. The Network Neutrality public and private debate has been filled with more emotion than rational discussion, and in its wake a number of myths have become accepted as reality. Unfortunately, public policy, consumer broadband services, and service provider business survival hang in the balance. more»

IPv6: Extinction, Evolution or Revolution?

For some years now the general uptake of IPv6 has appeared to be "just around the corner". Yet the Internet industry has so far failed to pick up and run with this message, and it continues to be strongly reluctant to make any substantial widespread commitment to deploy IPv6. Some carriers are now making some initial moves in terms of migrating their internet infrastructure over to a dual protocol network, but for many others it's a case of still watching and waiting for what they think is the optimum time to make a move. So when should we be deploying IPv6 services? At what point will the business case for IPv6 have a positive bottom line? It's a tough question to answer, and while advice of "sometime, probably sooner than later" is certainly not wrong, it's also entirely unhelpful as well! more»

Whither DNS?

The Domain Name System is often though of as an integral part of the Internet. Without it, how can you ever locate anything? Well, quite easily, thank you very much. DNS is used implicitly for many services, such as web browsing. It also includes explicit extensions for a few applications such as e-mail. (I'm talking here about DNS the system, not DNS the technology that can be re-purposed to things like ENUM.) But the most notable thing about DNS is its receding importance... more»

DNSSEC: Once More, With Feeling!

After looking at the state of DNSSEC in some detail a little over a year ago in 2006, I've been intending to come back to DNSSEC to see if anything has changed, for better or worse, in the intervening period... To recap, DNSSEC is an approach to adding some "security" into the DNS. The underlying motivation here is that the DNS represents a rather obvious gaping hole in the overall security picture of the Internet, although it is by no means the only rather significant vulnerability in the entire system. One of the more effective methods of a convert attack in this space is to attack at the level of the DNS by inserting fake responses in place of the actual DNS response. more»

ICANN Confirms: Tiered Pricing Not Forbidden in New .BIZ, .INFO and .ORG Contracts

I finally got the "official" word from Vint Cerf of ICANN, "on the record", who confirmed that my interpretation is correct, that differential/tiered pricing on a domain-by-domain basis would not be forbidden under the .biz/info/org proposed contracts. This means that the registries could charge $100,000/yr for sex.biz, $25,000/yr for movies.org, etc. if they wanted to -- it would not be forbidden the way the proposed contracts are currently written. This would represent a powerful pricing weapon for registries, and a fundamental shift in possible domain name pricing, that could lead them to emulate .tv-style price schedules. It doesn't mean they will necessarily do it, but it's not forbidden. When a contract doesn't forbid something bad, it implicitly allows it... 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»

In Praise of Relatively Dumb Pipes

Comcast's furtive and undisclosed traffic manipulation reminds me of a curious, red herring asserted by some incumbent carriers and their sponsored researchers: that without complete freedom to vertically and horizontally integrate the carriers would lose synergies, efficiencies and be relegated to operating "dumb pipes."... Constructing and operating the pipes instead of creating the stuff that traverses them gets a bad rap. It may not be sexy, but it probably has less risk. But of course with less risk comes less reward, and suddenly no one in the telecommunications business is content with that. So incumbent carriers assert that convergence and competitive necessity requires them to add "value" to the pipes. more»

A Balkanized Internet Future?

Joi Ito has an important post [also featured on CircleID] on how the internet is in danger of becoming balkanized into separate "internets". He's not the only person who's concerned. Greg Walton worries about Regime Change on the Internet. My friend Tim Wu, a law professor specializing in international trade and intellectual property, has written an article for Slate: The Filtered Future: China's bid to divide the Internet... more»

Let American Telcos and Cablecos Merge - But Declare Infrastructure a Utility

While there is much discussion in the United States about the mergers of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, and of AT&T and DirectTV, issues such as this are generally discussed from a very narrow perspective and, we maintain, from the wrong underlying telecoms regime operating in that country - one that has stifled competition in the telecoms for nearly two decades. The same wrong parameters apply to the endless debates on net neutrality an issue that is, by the way, largely of significance to the US market alone. more»