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The Internet's Gilded Age

The rise of the Internet has heralded rapid changes in our society. The opportunities presented by a capable and ubiquitous communications system and a global transportation network have taken some corporations from the multinational to the status of truly global mega-corporation. Good examples of these new corporations include Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook. There are a handful of large-scale winners in this space and many losers. But this is not the first time we've witnessed a period of rapid technological and social change. more

Comcast Sneaks in Another Billing Line Item and "Earns" an Additional $1 Billion

My Comcast bill arrived today with a sneaky new $2.68 charge, $2.50 for leasing one (and only one) set-top box and $0.18 for the remote. This new billing line item, like the many others Comcast has introduced, adds to its bottom line with no additional capital expenditure. It shows how resisting the obligation to return to accepting set-top box free, "cable ready" sets was a smart strategy. more

Transition of the Telecoms Industry Is Overdue

It is interesting to observe the changes in the telecommunications environment over the last few decades. Before videotex (the predecessor of the internet) arrived in the late 1970s early 1980s, 90% of telecommunications revolved around telephone calls. And at that time telephony was still a luxury for many, as making calls were expensive. I remember that in 1972 a telephone call between London and Amsterdam cost one pound per minute. Local telephone calls were timed... more

Net Neutrality Not a Serious Issue Outside America

Most countries, don't have to fear internet quality problems in the same way as would be possible in the USA. The US competition watchdog has little power to hold telcos accountable to the nature of their broadband services. Back in 1996 broadband was classified as a content service and not a telecom service. So, for example, if a telco wants to provide preferred access to Google, it can sell them a superior broadband services which could create a two speed internet service... more

Google Now a Target for Regulation

The time was - way back around the turn of the century - when all Internet companies believed that the Internet should be free from government regulation. I lobbied along with Google and Amazon to that end (there were no Twitter and Facebook then); we were successful over the objection of traditional telcos who wanted the protection of regulation. The FCC under both Democrats and Republicans agreed to forbear from regulating the Internet the way they regulate the telephone network; the Internet flourished, to put it mildly. more

The FCC Robocall Proceeding: International Insularity

In March of this year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted an initial Notice of Inquiry (CG No. 17-59) to mitigate robocalls. In July, it adopted a Second Notice. Mitigating spoofed telephone calls is a global problem which every country in the world has been addressing as part of a global ecosystem for many years in intergovernmental and industry bodies, in academic R&D and patent filings, and industry products with ongoing activity continuing today. more

Net Neutrality 101: Why 'Title II' Doesn't Apply to Internet Transmissions

No baby boomers had been born when Congress enacted Title II of the Communications Act in 1934 as a means of regulating the Bell telephone monopoly, and the first Millennials were in elementary school when that monopoly was broken up in 1983. Title II was set to die along with plain old telephone service until the Obama administration decided Title II should be used to implement net neutrality -- the principle that consumers should have reasonable access to internet functionality. more

Legal Controls on Extreme End-to-End Encryption (ee2ee)

One of the most profoundly disruptive developments occurring in the cyber security arena today is the headlong rush by a set of parties to ubiquitously implement extreme End-to-End (e2e) encryption for communication networks using essentially unbreakable encryption technology. A notable example is a new version of Transport Layer Security (TLS) known as version 1.3. The activity ensues largely in a single venue... more

The Internet is Dead - Long Live the Internet

Back in the early 2000s, several notable Internet researchers were predicting the death of the Internet. Based on the narrative, the Internet infrastructure had not been designed for the scale that was being projected at the time, supposedly leading to fatal security and scalability issues. Yet somehow the Internet industry has always found a way to dodge the bullet at the very last minute. more

Cloud Leak Exposes at least 14 Million Verizon Subscribers, Phone Numbers and Account PINs Included

A Verizon partner is reported to have exposed millions of Verizon customer accounts due to a misconfigured cloud-based file. more

Is the Passion Over Net Neutrality Misguided? A New Paper Offers a Fresh Technical Approach

"Net neutrality" is implicitly framed as a debate over how to deliver an equitable ration of quality to each broadband user and application. This is the wrong debate to have, since it is both technically impossible and economically unfair. We should instead be discussing how to create a transparent market for quality that is both achievable and fair. In this paper I propose an alternative approach that (potentially) meets the needs of both consumer advocates and free market proponents. more

Hidden in Plain Sight: FCC Chairman Pai's Strategy to Consolidate the U.S. Wireless Marketplace

While couched in noble terms of promoting competition, innovation and freedom, the FCC soon will combine two initiatives that will enhance the likelihood that Sprint and T-Mobile will stop operating as separate companies within 18 months. In the same manner at the regulatory approval of airline mergers, the FCC will make all sorts of conclusions sorely lacking empirical evidence and common sense. more

IoT Devices Will Never Be Secure - Enter the Programmable Networks

Harvard Business Review just ran an interesting article on the information security aspects of Internet of Things (IoT). Based on the storyline, the smart city initiatives are doomed to fail unless the security of the IoT devices and the systems will be improved. While security of the digital society is obviously a key concern, I am not entirely convinced that relying on the security of individual devices and systems is the best course of action. more

Canada's Telecom Regulator to Uphold and Strengthen Commitment to Net Neutrality

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today announced that it will strengthened its commitment to net neutrality. more

Is Call Forwarding an "Information Service" and Why It Matters for FTC Jurisdiction

Time to brush the dust off your Computer II notebooks. Are voicemail, electronic fax, and call forwarding enhanced services or telecom services? Today's case: FTC v. American eVoice, Ltd... The FTC brought an action against Defendants claiming that they were engaged in cramming, adding unwanted voicemail, electronic fax, and call forwarding services to consumers bills to the tune of $70 million. more