Friday, August 16, 2013

Obama wants FCC to hike cell phone user fees more to fund public school broadband everywhere

Conservatives are berating President Obama about a plan to get the FCC to prod for a new cell phone tax to help fund broadband for all public schools, New American story here

The FCC would hike the E-rate fee, which would add about $12 per cell phone user over three years.  Playing Robin Hood?  There is plenty of socialism in the telecommunications fee tax structure already, but at the local level it adds up, affecting low income consumers. 
I was a substitute teacher a few years ago, and even then, the upper income school districts had quite advanced technology.  I remember playing with Google Earth in a school library before I got it myself. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

ISP "server bans" seem to be controversial; maybe they just want "businesses" to pay more

It may not be particularly well known that standard ISP terms of service with major telecomm companies, at least when they are residential contracts, ban the customer’s use of his service to run “servers”.

It’s a little bit soft and ambiguous.  Would ordinary P2P be banned (a computer will run both client-side and server-side methods)?  What about a tinkerer who is just curious and wants to learn how to do it?  (A coworker ran a server on a 386 machine in his apartment around 1994 and taught himself OOP and Java, rode the job market and now rolls in multiple six figure incomes.  He used to berate me for “astonishing lack of curiosity”.

My first site ( was hosted from 1997-2001 on a small server farm in a man’s home in Maryland;  I don’t know whether it could have violated such a ban.

Electronic Frontier Foundation, in an article by Dan Auerbach about Google Fiber’s ban, which is prettu standard on the industry.  EFF calls it a violation of the spirit of network neutrality. 

Actually, though, my experience is that companies offer “business plans” that would allow servers (and perhaps more prompt customer service in case of outages.  And shared hosting companies often offer dedicated server hosting, with the understanding that the customer may be serving applications to customers himself.  

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Broadband-only plans become popular, may deliver enough streaming video to replace cable in many areas

Various media sources are reporting that telecommunications providers are selling broadband-only packages more often in some areas (especially California) and encounter younger customers who prefer that. A typical story on FierceCable (related to Fierce Markets?) is here
A basic package a just 1 mbps typically costs around $20.  But meaningful video experience (movies and major TV episodes) probably needs 30-50 mbps, which could run up to $75 or so for the best service.  Still, it is cheaper than full cable and smartphone and everything now. 

Data-only plans seem to offer higher profit margins.  Is the old cable TV model (known since the 1970s) in trouble.  

Monday, August 05, 2013

WSJ points out that American-style competition in telecomm probably gets better results in bandwidth than does "neutrality" regulation in Europe

Take a look at the article in the Wall Street Journal Monday August 5, 2013, p A13 by Ev Ehrlich, “The Myth of America’s Inferior Broadband”, link here

Ehrlich argues that competition has served American consumers relatively well, compared to some of Europe where service is often only around 20mbps and is regulated (the exception is Finland).  America and South Korea are similar in their approach, he writes, offering a choice between DSL, cable, fiber optic and Wireless LTE.  The latter typically functions around 20 mbps (as on my iPad when I’m out) in 4G mode, and could stand some improvement if one wants a lot of video (data transmission seems to cost  lot more in LTE than cable in my own experience).  I’m not sure what my Comcast Xfinity usually runs, around 50 maybe? Amazon Instant play and Netflix instant usually run without any stalls, as do private Vimeo screenings from movie distributors – because somebody paid for the better rate, where as YouTube “free films” do tend to stall more.  Not an argument for legal “net neutrality”. 

Ken Cuccinelli argues similarly toward the end of his book "The Last Line of Defense" (books blog, Aug. 1).