Thursday, January 21, 2010

Network Neutrality rules already would exlude "protection" of copyright infringement

Fed von Lohman of Electronic Frontier Foundation has an important piece Jan. 20 about the MPAA and RIAA proposals to incorporate “exceptions” to network neutrality rules so that ISP’s could police copyright infringers. The link for the story is here.

Network neutrality rules would not apply “neutrality” provisions to illegal content, including copyright infringement. Therefore what the MPAA and RIAA want is a broader net that would allow them to interfere with lawful user behavior in order to catch a few more infringers. To some extent we see this already with the way the DMCA safe harbor provision works in practice: non-infringing content is often mistakenly taken down first, and the speaker has the responsibility to prove that his content does not infringe. As the article says, it’s hard to catch fish without catching whales and dolphins.

Isn't some of this a ploy by the RIAA and MPAA to protect "old business models" from upstart, low budget, "do it yourself" competition?

See my main blog for a coordinated post today.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Visit "Broadband for America"

There is an advocacy group called “Broadband for America” (not to be confused with “Broadband America” ) which promotes the extension of broadband to all of the United States as a fundamental utility like electricity and phone. The website is here. The site encourages visitors to tell their broadband stories in Twitter fashion (130 characters or less) and provides material to show that improved broadband can provide jobs and reduce unemployment.

One job “opportunity” sticks in my mind back from about 2002, when I was still in Minneapolis. Time Warner was looking for people to go door-to-door to sell cable service, probably in new exurban developments (this was long before the housing “bust”, which seems to be easing anyway now).

Friday, January 08, 2010

A technical oddity about a Cable TV remote

Here’s just a mini story about Cable. In 2007, I bought a Dynex flat screen TV for the basement at Best Buy, and took home a demonstration unit and Remote Control Panel.

The unit never had the ability to set the channel to “3” with the controls without remote control. The available channels are “4”, “65.3” and “65.1”. With effort, the “3” gets set up by pressing the channel only on the Remote.

The unit gets hosed if you press the wrong button in haste. And eventually the Remote, always touchy, stopped working. And it appears that the Remote supplied by the store may not be the correct one for the unit (look here). AAA battery replacement made no difference.

But here was a trick. Hold the remote right in front of the screen, turn the unit off with the remote, and turn it back on with the remote. Then, all the sudden, it starts responding again to the Channel 3 from the remote. Don’t know why it works this way.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Obama wants wireless to get more attention, says it can force more competition among all of broadband and reach remote areas more cheaply

Cecilia Kang ran an important story on p A10 of the Washington Post Tuesday Sept 5, “White House urges more wireless Internet access; Plan would increase competition, broaden service, proponents say,” link here.

Ironically, I saw this yesterday while in a hospital waiting room about to undergo outpatient surgery (see my main blog). Obama believes that wireless should get more “spectrum” because ultimately it is probably cheaper than land line service.

One problem is that cable and even FIOS providers tend to lock in home customers at high rates, upped by special taxes and fees, after introductory offers. Another is that many companies will not allow associates to work from home with wireless; they insist on land line arrangements (especially catalogue companies that hire home-based customer service agents). But wireless is becoming more robust and can be made more secure, so these policies could change. There is an impression that wireless security is a liability for drive by attacks, especially with the Windows Firewall alone; but some (such as Geek Squad) say these concerns are overblown, as long as a subscription service (which has security) is paid for, rather than depending on free local service.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

There's plenty of free digital TV available, through antennas!

Here’s a secret hiding in the open – free digital TV by antenna, becoming more conspicuous since the June 2009 mandatory conversion. Cable TV at one time offered many more stations without commercials (particularly for movies) but that trend is reversing. There are about 60 “free” channels, many of which used to be on UHF. If cable companies were forced to identity their “free” channels, their business model would be hit.

There’s a website c alled “Denny’s antenna service that goes into this, here.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Where does DOCSIS3.0 fit into broadband growth

Can traditional cable Internet compete with FIOS with technologies like DOCSIS3.0? Internet magazine CED has a piece by Mike Roebuck from May 2008 describing how some cable companies, including Comcast, had implemented it in some areas to improve downstream speeds for home and small business operators, but the cost sounds high. The article is here.

More current is an article by Laura Hamilton in “Broadband Gear” dated Dec. 10, 2009, “Cable Engineering Outlet 2010 Part I”, that indicates DOCSIS3.0 is moving ahead, link here.

DOCSIS refers to the acronym “Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification”, Wki article here.

But how does this relate to the problem of extending broadband to remote areas?

Here's an older FTC Broadband Connectivity Competition Policy, Staff Report, link here.