Tuesday, June 26, 2007

USA Today story on connection speeds in the US might argue against net neutrality


Today, June 26, 2007, Leslie Cauley of USA Today provided a story that Internet access in the United States is much slower than in many other countries. The median US download speed was report to be 1.97 megabits per second, compared to 61 megabits per second in Japan.

A 10 megabit file will download in 15 seconds on a 5 megabit connection.

The article also compared states, with Rhode Island the best, and Iowa one of the worst.

Generally, I find that most downloads on Comcast cable are efficient. But it took 1.5 hours a year ago to download all of Microsoft Visual Studio Express, which measured in the hundreds of megabits. It would run quickly then slowly in bursts, at mid afternoon on a weekday. I have noticed that access in northern Virginia tends to slow in the late morning on weekdays, and sometimes stalls. This may be related to adding more customers without sufficient infrastructure. Verizon is now installing fiber-optic in my area.

The article would tend to argue against Network Neutrality legislation, if it gets in the way of offering improved connection speeds to clients (maybe like hospitals or law enforcement agencies, or large retailers) that have a real justification for them.

The recent book by Andrew Keen, The Cult of the Amateur, review here, tends to suggest that more established corporate interests ought to have higher connection speeds if they can show a concrete economic justification.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

June 15 deadline for public comments on network neutrality bills or rules to FCC


I got an email this morning from Freedom Works, with a message that the deadline for public comments to the Federal Communications Commission is Friday, June 15, 2007. The link is here: There is a 500 word maximum for the individual's own public comment in the script box.

The email and associated links do point out that network neutrality legislation could interfere with setting up networks and communications services for specialized services (like health care and medical records) where they may be economic justification for preferred communications channels.

The email also says, “take action to stop moveon.org”. It is signed by Dick Armey

Monday, June 11, 2007

National Grange is concerned about wireless access in rural areas


The Washington Times has an op-ed by Bill Steel (president of National Grange) “Limiting wireless access: Proposal threatens rural areas” on page A17 of the Monday June 11, 2007 paper.

Steel writes about a recommendation to the Federal Communications Commission by the Joint Board that the USF, or Universal Service Fund, provide much less assistance than before to providing wireless services in rural and remote areas. Here is the applicable reference at the NG site on FCC testimony. Another good summary is here.

The availability of technology infrastructure in rural areas, going back to rural electricification decades ago, has always been an issue. But, besides of the value of wireless to ranchers and farmers (especially after emergency situations like floods and tornadoes) the issue can become important to retirees, who might move to rural areas for lower housing costs but might need wireless in order to build their own Internet-related businesses.

Moving to the country is not always the personal and cultural change it was in the past, even though I remember the trips to Ohio in the early 1950s and noticing the difference in living standards, using well water instead of city water, and the like.

I put this on the network neutrality blog, even though it does not directly deal with the proposed net neutrality bills, because the underlying problem is the same—equal access to telecommunications services, which Al Gore discussed in detail toward the end of his recent book “The Assault on Reason.” The presidential candidates would do well to pay attention to this issue.