Wednesday, July 28, 2010

AT&T and network neutrality (and wireless TOS)

I noticed some news stories and blog entries about AT&T’s claim that network neutrality doesn’t work for wireless. Back around April 1, 2009 there had been a spat about AT&T’s TOS for wireless that forbad downloading movies or video by P2P or some other forms of customer initiation (maybe Netlfix or Logo or even YouTube rentals) unless authorized specifically by AT&T.

Rob Topolsk had written this explanation on the “Public Knowledge” blog here

and NewTeeVee had a story “AT&T Changes TOS to limit mobile video”, link here.

Of course, generally speaking, national wireless plans don’t provide the same robust high volume transfer capacity that landbased broadband cable or FIOS can. Just look at the typical rates for a national Verizon Wireless plan for your Blackberry, if you want to use it when your cable broadband is down or when you’re on the road. It works, but it is slower, and not very suitable for movies. To me, this says, that a really effective broadband policy needs to bring land-based cable to all areas, or very robust wireless or satellite. (Verizon now says it can serve 92% of the country with its national wireless subscription.)

AT&T issued a statement in September 2009 on Net Neutrality, and talks about “common carriage” and says that ignoring it is an “intellectual contradiction” and that content providers and facilitators must play by the same rules as trunk telecommunications providers. The line is fuzzy indeed

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Use Universal Service Fund for wireless broadband, FCC and telecomms say

FCC and telecomunnications companies are simultaneously calling for reforms in the Universal Service Fund, which pays for landline phone service in remote areas. Recently, in interior (“inland empire”) Washington State, over $17000 a piece was spent on each of 17 people for conventional service.

There is a legitimate debate as to using the fund to set up wireless and/or satellite networks that could provide complete phone and broadband service much more cheaply, but would have to be carefully vetted as to the number of companies and amount of competition involved.

The story appears on p A17 of the July 20 Washington Post, “Reforms urged in federal funding for phone lines”, by Cecilia Kang, here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Videos on FCC meetings on NN, and Wash. Post interviews former FCC officials

The Washington Post has an interview with Reed Hundt and Michael K. Powell, former chairmen of the Federal Communications Commission, 20 minutes, in a debate about Network Neutrality and whether this is necessary to provide broadband reasonably for everyone and keep the playing field level for all speakers. Here is the (web url) link.

The post has an “Embed link” tag here that does not seem to work.

There is the sentiment that where you have competition, you don’t need regulation. But that is seen to be a uniquely “American” view.

Here is a YouTube video (1 hour 29 minutes) of the FCC Open Agenda Meeting at Troy University Oct. 22, 2009

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Will metered broadband prevent Internet "brownouts"? 2012 can come too soon

Time Warner Cable has been saying that metered broadband Internet use will prevent “Internet brownouts” that will start to occur by 2012, if there are not some action taken to charge for unreasonable use.

Brownouts would probably cause intermittent loss of connectivity that would cause video loads to stall repeatedly.

On the other hand, some businesses like Netflix (and YouTube) feel that their business model of streaming new indepndent films legally over the Internet for rental could be affected.

The article by Martin Bosworth appeared in Consumer Affairs in April 2009, link here.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

How good is customer service for land lines (Verizon especially?)

Recently I got a notice in the mail that the area had been wired for Verizon FIOS, but that I was still “unactivated” – as if it were that simple. I have Comcast for cable and Internet, and it keeps getting more expensive, and yes the new deal for Verizon looks attractive.

About four years ago, in the winter, after a minor ice storm a tree limb fell on a Friday morning and knocked out the landline phone and not the cable. The local service was with AT&T but the lines belonged to Verizon. It took until Monday afternoon to get the line restored. But maybe that was inter-company (and intra-company) red tape.

Practically all local phone service contracts come with maintenance provisions, which allow the company to bill for labor and materials for repairs. Most apartment buildings and neighborhoods have residents with a mix of local services, so an outage from a storm doesn’t always affect everyone consistently. There are reports of Verizon and some other companies taking unreasonably long to provide repairs for land service.

Some of the stories are at this site.

In its defense, it must be admitted that Verizon says it connects billions of calls a day without incident.

I must add something else.  AOL went to free email a few years ago, but I still get a $25 bill from them on my card. I'm not sure what for unless its for their web content. It's OK, but Yahoo!, MSN, CNN, etc. is "free"!