Telecom / Most Commented

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»

No Spectrum Shortage, Just an Allocation Problem

As a new study from Citi Investment Research & Analysis make clear, the US does not have a spectrum shortage. We've just allowed a relatively small number of carriers to control the spectrum. ... Perhaps if we had an effective "use it or lose it" policy in place, or a heavy tax on unused spectrum a more vibrant market for this spectrum would emerge. more»

Network Neutrality in the Wireless Space

There's been a tremendous amount written about the Google-Verizon joint proposal for network neutrality regulation. Our commentary at the EFF offers some legal analysis of the good and bad in this proposal. A lot of commentary has put a big focus on the exemption for wireless networks, since many feel wireless is the real "where it's gonna be," if not the "where it's at" for the internet. more»

Comcast vs the FCC - A Reply to Susan Crawford's Article

This is a reply to Susan Crawford's circleid article "Comcast v. FCC - "Ancillary Jurisdiction" Has to Be Ancillary to Something". I started writing a reply to her article, adding some comments I had and also reminding her that she'd predicted this herself, in an earlier circleid article, but it turned out long enough that I decided to submit it as a circleid post instead. On the whole, the facts agree with this CNET article. This court decision was correct, and expected... more»

The Greatest Free Riders of Our Time

Former Southwestern Bell CEO, now General Motors CEO Ed Whitacre famously accused Google of free-riding his network, despite the obvious truth that Google pays for traffic delivery to peering points and ISPs gladly enter into reciprocal peering agreements in lieu of cash transactions that would likely result in a near zero payment as roughly equivalent traffic balances out. Mr. Whitacre did raise a legitimate question whether there are free riders and I'm seeing one darling and one unexpected group flying below the radar. more»

To What Extent Will the US Broadband Stimulus Package Provide a… Stimulus?

The story of America's lacklustre broadband performance is relatively well known. Part of that story relates to its low broadband penetration levels when compared with other developed economies... Another aspect of the story relates to broadband speeds... in terms of broadband technology levels, the USA still trails behind leading countries such as Japan and Korea, and some European countries such as France and Italy, by a full generation. more»

Old New Telco Thinking

Ahh, so the telecom incumbents have come up with a "new" idea for the Internet -- usage-based pricing. That's right, more usage (for things like VOIP and video especially) means more costs to operate the network, so users should pay by the bit, or some similar metric. It's all so logical! But wait a minute. I thought what sparked the consumer Internet revolution was the fact that ISPs didn't charge by the minute, but offered flat-rate monthly fees. And what catalyzed the boom in cellular usage here in the US was the shift from heavily usage-based pricing to the largely flat rates we see today... more»

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 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»

Canadians Aren't Buying Into Net Neutrality

The Tyee, an independent on-line magazine based in BC wrote a story about net neutrality more than a year ago, noting that most Canadians are sleeping through the debate. They followed up again last week. Despite what is called a "perfect storm of events that may crystallize the issue for consumers, businesses, politicians, and regulators," there hasn't been an overwhelming outcry, despite extensive press coverage of the most recent network activities. There are a number of voices who present a conspiracy theory on traffic shaping in Canada... more»

Network Neutrality

In January of this year, a frontpage article on WSJ quoted Verizon Chief Executive Ivan Seidenberg "We have to make sure they (Google) don't sit on our network and chew up our capacity". Both AT&T and Bellsouth also made similar statements in the same article. A few days ago, Verizon repeat their call to "End Google's Free Lunch": "A Verizon Communications Inc. executive yesterday accused Google Inc. of freeloading for gaining access to people's homes using a network of lines and cables the phone company spent billions of dollars to build." is no surprise that Network Neutrality, a concept where broadband providers are not to discriminate rivals when they charge tolls or prioritize traffic, is now on the agenda of the US Congress. more»

Bandwidth: Why Fast is Important in a Global Economy

Bandwidth is the basic foundation for Internet traffic as a connector to everything important in our lives. Whether it is basic bandwidth for connecting to family and friends, or a super fast highway for global reach and competitiveness in the business world, bandwidth constitutes the speed at which we connect as a global presence within the expanding sphere of Internet communication. ... To understand why bandwidth is important to all Americans, including personal and business uses, we must understand the different types Internet traffic. more»

Crawford Likes Aussie Utility Network

Susan Crawford, special assistant to the president for science, technology and innovation policy and a member of the National Economic Council, is reported to be favorably inclined towards a U.S. network much like Australia's recently announced $33B broadband plan. Of course, the U.S. is some 15 times bigger than Australia, and that'd make the price tag closer to $500B by straight multiplication. But the U.S. would get a fiber network done right... more»

Net Neutrality an 'American Problem', Australians Suggest Alternatives

Head of leading ISP's in Australia believe Net Neutrality is a U.S. problem and the country should take a look at the Australian market for better ideas on how to address bandwidth issues. Brett Winterford and Julian Hill of ZDNet Australia reporting from London: The debate was sparked after several American and British service providers offered to charge a premium to prioritize traffic connecting with some sites over others. "The U.S. have got a problem," weighed in Justin Milne, group managing director for Telstra Media and former chief of Australia's largest ISP, BigPond. "Their problem is that unlike Australia, they (offer) truly unlimited plans." more»

Deep Packet Inspection: When the Man-In-The-Middle Wants Money

Say you're walking down the sidewalk having a talk with your best friend about all kinds of things. What if you found out later that the sidewalk you were using wasn't really a sidewalk -- but instead a kind of false-front giant copying machine, unobstrusively vacuuming up what you were saying and adding to its database of information about you? Or, say you send a letter to a client of yours (to the extent you still do this), and it turns out later that your letter was intercepted, steamed open, and the contents were read... more»

Note to John McCain: Technology Matters

One would think that, in 2008, the significance of the Internet and information technology would be universally acknowledged. That makes the recent news from the Presidential campaign a bit shocking. After ignoring technology issues for the past year, John McCain is poised to announce his great insight: tech policy isn't worthy of attention from the President of the United States. This is what I draw from the announcement that former FCC Chairman Michael Powell is drafting a technology plan for McCain, to be released shortly... What concerns me most is what the McCain plan apparently leaves out... more»