Monday, December 21, 2015

Consumers moving away from high-speed Internet to wireless smartphone use, which tends to be more "transient"


Fewer Americans have land-based Internet at home than they did in 2013, according to a CNN Money story by Hope King.
 
The reason is that cable or FIOS broadband is relatively expensive, and many consumers feel they get all the Internet the need on smartphones and tablets.  However, wireless Internet tends to have data limits, and tablets are not as effectively for business work or for publishing or higher-end media work or journalism.  
 
The trend comports with Google claims that websites need to pay more attention to mobile-friendliness than in the past.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Comcast to customers: No, "It's NOT Free"


Ariel Stuhlberg has an article on Vox, “Comcast CEO to customers: It’s not me, it’s you”.  That has to do with consumer complaints about hefty cable and Internet bills for some plans.  That is, there’s no way that “It’s Free” can work forever.

One problem is that simpler online streaming services cost less, and offer a lot of content.
Another is that in some markets, Comcast doesn’t have all channels that may preview less common or more niche-specific festival films, a problem I have run into.

Recently Comcast ungraded most home routers and modems with a self-install package.  It worked, although as usual, I had some problems in that the device did not behave exactly as described in the directions;  the whole procedure took about 90 minutes, including activation, that had several steps.  By the way, Kaspersky is still telling me that the router is not secure, but Apple is telling me that it meets the WPA2 standard, so I don’t know what the truth is yet.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Small businesses hit by phone slamming


Kimberly Suiters of WJLA Channel 7 (ABC-affiliate) in Washington DC discussed the practice of landline phone “slamming” which can be very disruptive to businesses, link here    Business find their line suddenly moved to another (long distance) provider without authorization, and then , due to a catch-22, they can’t get an answer from the original provider.  There is a link to an FCC page on the problem.  I think I've heard the word "cramming" too for this.

The issue became more common in the 90s as people began to switch providers for “deals” before cell service became so popular.

It’s not “cramming for an exam”.

Monday, December 07, 2015

FCC's Net Neutrality rules now before the DC Circuit, with a lot at stake


The federal circuit in Washington DC has recently heard a case where telecomm companies appealed new rules from the Federal Communications Commission.  The federal circuit is often where issues of patent, trademark, and administrative regulation of technology goes.

Brian Fung has a story in the Washington Post Friday.

There is a still a concern that if the FCC “loses” (and doesn’t successfully appeal to the Supreme Court), technology companies could have a much bigger handle in controlling what users see, with fast lane rates, and possibly with reasonable access to amateur material.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Home WiFi can be affected by Christmas lights, toys


Tech gurus are telling homeowners to watch the placement of Christmas lights and toys, as some of them can affect wifi signals within a home.  They also advise placing a router in a central portion of a home.  That means that cables (conventional or fiber-optic) need to properly located in a home when installed.  CNN money has a story here.

I’m planning to move my model train downstairs (to get it working properly, and enlarge the amount of physical area available) in early 2016.  I hope that won’t affect the new Xfinity router, which is combined with the Arris modem as one unit.


Monday, November 16, 2015

"It's free" for some low-income plans with data usage from certain sites


The New York Times has a major editorial Sunday, November 15, 2015 in the Review section, p. 10, “Free Can Be a Problem on the Internet”, link here.  The online version inserts the word “why” in front of the title.

FCC rules prohibit large companies from paying telecomm providers to deliver their content faster than that of other companies.  (My own experience is that Netflix seems a little faster than the rest on Xfinity.)

But it is not illegal to offer telecommunication plans where some stripped down versions of some sites (like a stripped down Facebook) are offered without counting in data usage.  This is all part of a service called “Free Basics”. The NYTimes says that these ideas could distort how lower income consumers or especially those in developing countries perceive content on the Internet, with social and political consequences.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Controversy over Hurricane LTE-U; radio interference with home electronics



Dave Maass and Jeremy Gulila have an interesting story today about proposals to allow entrepreneurs to access the “unlicensed spectrum” for devices in a technology called Hurricane LTE-U (where LTE means the familiar “Long Term Evolution”, link here.  The concern is that US companies will ignore the “Listen Before Talk” protocol, and that ordinary WiFi for data will face interference.



This reminds me of an issue I am sometimes having with my Casio piano late at night;  it sometimes picks up radio conversations.  There’s a discussion here.   Probably a totally separate issue.

Picture (first):  A fracking tower in Pennsylvania (day trip last week).  They are usually smaller and thinner than cell phone or transmission towers.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

In Syria, Virginia, a sign advertising rural satellite Internet


A little day trip found me in Syria, Virginia, about 10 miles from Old Rag Mountain on the east side of the Blue Ridge, and seeming rather like another world, even with men’s dorm.  There was also a fall mountain festival and an inn nearby. 

But there seemed to be no service from Verizon, at least on my iPhone.  And I saw the sign above advertising rural satellite Internet from Exede
  
In Sperryville (20 miles to the north, still just east of Shenandoah and the Blue Ridge), Verizon comes back at the 3G level. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

New York City highrise landlords have to scramble to keep tenants wired for good cell service

   
Yes, I have thought about the possibility (from mid-2016 on) of living in New York City again (see main blog, June 9, 2015, where I whimsically talk about the New York Mets, with some prescience, it turns out).  But one big problem, particularly in the more “affordable” outer boroughs, would be making sure that full cable, high speed Internet, and cell service (and backup hotspot) all work well.

 This may be a bigger issue than I would have expected, and I will have to be careful before signing anything.

The Real Estate section of the Sunday New York Times “Sunday Business”, p. 8, offers a long article by Michelle Higgins, “The Message: Loud and Clear: High-rises ad cellphones don’t mix. But no service, no tenant. The fix? New wireless systems”.  Online, the title is “The Cellphone Imperative: If I can’t text, I’, moving”, link here

I would presume that Donald Trump, with his background in air rights, has taken care of this in all his new condo buildings. (Yes, it would be fun to live near Columbus Circle and Lincoln Center in his building if I could afford it --m and that's Yankee territory.) 
      
I do have some tech-and-music friends, mainly in Brooklyn, who don’t report any problems, but they may be living in brownstones in less-tall buildings.  (Yes, they love the Mets.)

In hotels in Manhattan, I usually don’t have a problem.  (However, at the Hotel Pennsylvania, I think in 2012, I had reserved a room that offered free Internet but had to ask for a room change to get it. )  Usually, the iPad or the iPhone hotspot works OK deep inside the hotel, so the hotels do seem to have wired themselves for good cell service (at least from Verizon, my carrier).  (One smaller midtown hotel gave me exactly the same room both times I was there!)
  
Cell phones usually don’t work well in most sections of the NYC subway (as of December 2014, but check this WSJ story) , and are starting to work better in many lines of the Washington DC Metro (usually in stations when stopped and in some of the tunnels).

 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Verizon seems aggressive in charging wireless Internet customers for large amounts of data use -- why?


Verizon, which still seems to have the largest wireless Internet coverage network across the country, is doing everything it can to discourage unlimited data transfer access, charging more now for the remaining consumers on it.  And generous data limits tend to be expensive, with additional charges for hotspot use and additional tablet or iPad use.  Brian Fung explains in an Oct. 8 article in the Washington Post here.

Why is data transfer so much more expensive with wireless than with cable or Fios Internet?  The question is significant because I use hotspot a lot on the road (hotel networks are less secure and sometimes don’t work – the “Ovation” network didn’t work in a stay in Columbia SC at a Quality Inn near Fort Jackson a few weeks ago – just before the storms and floods – and I was told to try moving the laptop around, it might work in other places on the property.  I didn’t get around to trying that (I’m willing to believe it would have worked), as I just simply used iPhone hotspot – and was warned I had gotten up to 75% of my plan.
  
My experience is that Internet that doesn’t require a physical land connection is simply more reliable, or more likely to be available in a pinch.  Comcast Xfinity actually does stay up during thunderstorms, but on weekdays there are sometimes annoying stops (with the Cable saying simultaneously “This channel will be available shortly” on its own BSOD) – which I can only attribute to maintenance work in the area causing signal drop-offs and short outages.  I have a smaller digital TV which simply gets the 2009 broadcast signal to an antenna placed near a picture window, to have TV during long outages – but that doesn’t help with some channels like CNN or ESPN.

 

Friday, October 02, 2015

Mobile emergency location has not been as good as it needs to be


I wasn’t aware of the fact that location services with smart phone technology in emergencies still has left something to be desired.

In the Entrepreneurhip section (p. B9) of the New York Times Business Section Thursday Oct. 1, Glenn Rifkin covers “a lifesaving phone app inspired by a brush with tragedy” here.  It’s called RapidSOS, and it deals with the way emergency cell phone calls are routed among towers, to a response center that may not be as close as with a landline call. 

The precipitating incident was a wintertime outdoor fall in Indiana. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

British farmer sets up own 4G mast for rural broadband simulation


A farmer, Richard Guy in rural England has tackled the problem of rural broadband by setting up his own rig, a 4G mast, as documented here .

By the way, here is a discussion defining 4G LTE (“4th generation Long Term Evolution) v. 3G, link .  
    
 In many remote areas, or deep within many buildings or subways, I often still see 1X, which generally means voice calls only.  
  
My impression is that Verizon has the most 4G LTE coverage in the US, although there are some blind spots (like most of West Virginia). 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Comcast promises to outperform Google, Verizon Fios in select markets (starting with Atlanta)



CNN Connect reports that Comcast plans a superfast cable Internet that will be faster than Google’s experimental service in some cities, or Verion FIOS – at two gigabits per second, story here.

The first city to get such a service is Atlanta. Maybe the Braves will get out of their funk at the same time (with a new stadium soon).

Netflix seems to have one of the fastest deliveries right now.  But many websites are a long way from delivering content at speeds to take advantage of it.

Right now, in my own experience, on Xfinity, Netflix runs faster (with fewer or no stops) than Amazon Prime or YouTube.

 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Will Verizon make FIOS available to everyone in New York City?


The availability of Verizon Fios in many parts of New York City is still an issue, according to a detailed story by Patrick McGeehan today in the New York Times, link here

There seems to be a big disagreement with the City over what Verizon had promised in 2008, and what having the service “pass” means.

On the other hand, some companies, especially Google, are aggressively marketing super broadband in a few select, often smaller cities in the South and Midwest.
  
The question is important if someone intends to move into the City, something I have contemplated in order to have more contacts for my music and other media, at some point in the future, but it would have to be in an outer borough (Yankees, or Mets). 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Comcast envisions a new streaming service, "Watchable".


Comcast is reported to be planning to develop a video platform called “Watchable” that will rival YouTube and Facebook.  It will partner with some innovative digital publishers, including Vox Media, for content, and the arrangement would save licensing costs.  Business Insider has a story here.
  
The platform would eventually require consumers switching cable boxes if they use "Internet TV", but some of it might be direct streaming.  But box-related content might be available only in areas serviced by Comcast (v Cox). 
   
It wasn’t clear yet whether “amateurs” would be able to post on the platform, or to what extent the platform could “replace” cable (Xfinity) rather than supplement it, or whether Comcast-Universal-NBC could sponsor more series in a manner similar to Netflix. Possibly, a platform like this could host a series like “Imajica” (Clive Barker’s big fantasy novel, said to be in development under Kevin Smith).

 

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Verizon Wireless to do away with contracts, phone discounts and subsidies; more expensive for consumers?


Verizon Wireless is apparently ending subsidies and contracts, and discounts, for new phone subsidies. 

Apparently it will offer new phones at the regular price, which can be broken into installments added to the bill, without contracts, starting in mid August of this year.

Ars Technica seems to have the scoop in a story by Jon Brodkin here

This would seem to make phones more expensive, but would allow customers with existing phones to switch to other plans or companies. 
  
Again, it seems important to me that a company offer phone and wireless Internet coverage everywhere.  Why Verizon has such a blind spot in most of West Virginia is a mystery.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Northern Virginia governments want to develop their own backbones, saying that telecomm companies are lagging on customer service


Both Arlington County and the City of Alexandria in northern Virginia are working on plans to offer corporations or public organizations ultra high-speed backbone Internet, believing that telecomm companies are dragging their feet.  Patricia Sullivan has a Metro Section story here.
  
The article results that Verizon FIOS fiber optic is still not available to all residents. It also claims that the best fiber-optic is 200 times faster than Comcast’s normal cable Internet. 
   
But Google networks in a few cities (like around Kansas City and in North Carolina) seem to be of that speed.  

Monday, July 20, 2015

CU compares cable, fiber-optical, dish, Internet streaming services for most families


The Aug. 2015 issue of Consumer Reports has a valuable piece on p. 56, “How to win at TV”, comparing cable companies, direct TV and bundled Internet, link here
  
Direct TV may work better in areas subject to frequent storms, where maintaining a hard-wired connection is more labor intensive.
  
The report gives higher marks to some or regional local cable companies, like WOW in the Great Lakes states. Verizon FIOS does well, but Comcast XFinity got lower marks.
  
The report recognizes that many bundled services gives consumers many specialized channels they never watch.
  
It discusses Amazon Prime and Netflix streaming (both of which I have). They may not work as well if multiple streams run at the same time within a family.  It also notes that some major movies are not available for streaming or DVD for months, and some films disappear from streaming.  A large number of films can be rented legally on YouTube for $1.99 to $3.99.

 

Thursday, July 02, 2015

"Motley Fool" video predicts the demise of cable


I’ll pass along this video from “The Motley Fool”, “Dear Comcast: It’s Over”, link here.  The link appeared on AOL’s homepage today. 

True, I see Facebook posts from friends who want to cut cable altogether and go to video on demand. But you usually need a "paywall" Cable subscription to see a lot of episodes from TV presented in VOD format. 
  
It promises stock tips related to the idea that the traditional cable TV business will vanish to video on demand.
   
I have to admit some annoyance to cheesy techniques.  It doesn’t tell you how long the video is, and it does that pop-up “leave this page?” when you cut it off.  That’s rather tacky and rude.

 

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Apple and Showtime, and others, try to shortcircuit big telecomm cable providers


Yahoo! and Apple are trying to develop streaming opportunities for cable “cord cutters”, as reported in the New York Times (link) and Washington Post (Cecilia Kang) story 

Yahoo! will stream an NFL game between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars next fall.  Apple will offer a standalone Showtime service, and a slightly more expensive one with HBO.


Mainstream cable companies are still locked into bloated business models.  Yet why can’t Xfinity offer everything, like Epix, which sponsors some innovative indie film?  (May 10)

 

Friday, May 29, 2015

FCC may be hindering hardware investment with its Network Neutrality rules, but wants phone subsidies to cover broadband for poor


Chrisopher D. Coursen, with an op-ed in the Conservative Washington Times, argues that FCC neutrality rules, treating telecomm companies as utilities, will hinder investment by companies like Verizon in new FIOS hardware.  Coursen points to the Verizon purchase of AOL as non-productive by comparison, in this op-ed. He also compares today’s world to that of a few decades ago when ATT was a “regulated monopoly”. 

The Dallas Morning News reports that the FCC wants to expand Reagan-era phone subsidies to poor to broadband (apparently ground) Internet, story here.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Epix network seems not to be available with some cable companies, making content inaccessible to some viewers (film "Deep Web")


An important independent film, “Deep Web”, by Alex Winter, which will deal with topics like bitcoin and the “Silk Road” (as well as, I hope, some aspects of the online reputation issue) is produced and distributed in part by the Epix network.
  
I checked and it seem that Comast XFinity doesn’t carry it.  Cox apparently does, as does Verizon FIOS and mainly dish (DirectTV).  Epix came about, I understand, as a result of a past business dispute resulting in restructuring and spinoff.  But the end result seems to be that Comcast apparently believes the channel is redundant.
  
But Comcast customers do need it if Epix carries content not on any other cable or satellite network.  It’s not practical to switch over one channel, but it seems Xfinity is not being considerate of customer service needs, putting business politics ahead of customers.  Indeed, I just checked and I don’t find Comcast or Xfinity on the “Get Epix” list here.  Also, look at this user forum link.  I do see Time Warner on the Epix list, so if the merger had gone through with Comcast, maybe I could get the movie, to be shown May 31. 
    
I emailed the film distributor Bond360 to ask about alternate availability (like DVD, for openers).  In the meantime, the best I can to for visitors want to learn about this important film is to link to a Hollywood Reporter review (from SXSW in Austin TX), here. Sorry, I didn't see that it was at the Maryland Film Festival in Baltimore (just concluded) in time.  I just missed it.  


Monday, May 04, 2015

Mark Zuckerberg defends Internet.org, says he promotes net neutrality


Today, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook has a video in which he supports network neutrality as essential to allow the 4 billion people around the world who do not yet have Internet access to acquire it.
   
I could not find a way to embed his video, so the URL is the best I could do, here
  
Zuckerberg talked about Facebook’s internet.org   The “likes” outnumbered the “unlikes” by about 7 to 1.  
  
   

Note: I found the headquarters for CTIA, the Wireless Association, on 16th St in Washington DC, near the First Baptist Church in which I grew up, and also near HRC.  It's curious that I stumbled across this after going to the marriage equality gathering at the Supreme Court. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Consumers shouldn't gloat over Comcast capitulation in Time Warner deal


Forbes, in an article by Antoinie Gara, says this morning that consumers should not gloat over the decision by Comcast to abandon its takeover of Time Warner, link here, apparently over fear of regulatory pressures given FCC signals. 
   
  
There are many basic news stories about the Comcast decision, like here.   Vox has a straightforward discussion of what was wrong with the deal here
  
At the same time, I personally see more Facebook posts from friends who want to pick and choose their programs without bundling, in many cases with Internet TV only.  I personally need to have access to everything right now, all the time, given my own “business model”.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Publication of FCC rules in Federal Register to happen soon.


The new rules for network neutrality promulgated by the Federal Communications Commission have now sent to the Federal Register.  However, I found the proposed rule had already been published July 1, 2014,  “Promoting and Protecting the Open Internet”, here.  There is a Broadband Policy page where I would expect the latest updated publication to appear, here
  
The New York Times reported on the publication event in a story by Rebecca Ruiz, on Monday, p. A3, here. There is a history of how Tim We popularized the term “net neutrality”. 
   
Fierce Telecom (is this “Fierce Markets”, where I know some people?) says it takes some time for the formal republication, before trade groups will sue, link here. The new rules are based on the classification of telecomm companies as "utilities"..  

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Can you get by on free WiFi? Not a good idea


Ryan Knutson writes about his experiences doing without normal cellular service (he put the phone on airplane mode) and piggybacking on free WiFi wherever he could find it, in New York City and on a trip to Dallas, notes in the Wall Street Journal here.   ("It's free."....)  

I don’t see how he gets by at home without paying for something.  Is it legal to piggyback onto someone else’s?  It shouldn’t be possible or easy if password protected.  I don’t think that private routers are really for public consumption, and that seems dangerous.
   
I did test my own, and I found that the router signal drops before I get to the end of the driveway, and the phone switches to Verizon LTE (which I pay for).  It’s a good thing for anyone to test on his own setup this while walking in the neighborhood, maybe to breakfast.   So no one could get it even from the street very easily.  Oh, the NSA could, somehow.  
   
In rare cases, people have been arrested for "poaching" on WiFi in businesses by sitting outside and not purchasing anything as customers.  

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Social media companies "free ride" on telecoms with messaging services


The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Mark Zuckberberg, who looks particularly physical and handsome in the story picture, is trying to mend relations will all the major telecom companies, who believe Facebook gets a free ride on their services.  Facebook and Google are end-rounding the telecom companies to send messages and make calls in an “it’s free” mode. 
  
Twitter and Facebook both offer direct message apps to contact other people “privately”, and in current situations, it may be more convenient to receive messages this way than through conventional texts or emails.  Often, a Facebook or Twitter ID is easier to get, especially for a celebrity.  Some younger celebrities seem to be approachable this way, and it seems to be better etiquette than other contact means.
  
I prefer getting tweets with an invitation to call, or getting direct cell calls with messages (my cell number is public, landline is not).  It seems easier this way to filter out the spam.  Maybe that’s what Facebook, Google+, Linked-In and Twitter count on. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

FCC "reclassifies" telecom providers, but it isn't over


Practically everyone has heard the “big news” today, that the FCC is using its legal authority to regulate cable providers by “reclassification” (as "utilities").  Verizon sarcastically wrote a press release on a 1934 typewriter (like one in my family for generations).  But, as Timothy B. Lee argues on Vox, conservatives are probably winning the broader broadband debate, link here.  The detail he gives, comparing today’s world to that around 2000 when DSL was new and 56K modem dialup was common and AOL was prominent, is interesting.
  
  
The libertarian Cato Institute still calls net neutrality as the FCC’s “nuclear option” here.  CNN has a balanced perspective that is more libertarian-conservative than usual for the news company, and recommends that Congress get to work – under GOP leadership – to balance small business and innovation against shareholders of large telecoms, that seem to enjoy quasi-monopoly. Regulation could have unintended consequences, like hindering upgrading 911 service discussed earlier this week. 
     
I don’t think I had cable Internet until early 2002, in Minneapolis, which I used at the time only on the Imac.  I got it from Time Warner and sometimes it went down.  But I kept my main Sony Vaio PC connected to a second phone line.  It was amazing how much I got done that way in those days, but that we the Web 1.0 world.

As for Verizon’s typewriter, I used to turn in my own typewriter for repair when I went on vacation, back in the 1970s.  In 1981, while living in Dallas, I actually took it with me on vacation (carryon) and worked on one of my book manuscripts in Utah motels.  

Monday, February 23, 2015

911 systems often use outmoded technology, cannot accurately located emergency callers, under FCC regulation


This may sound more like a post for the issues, Internet safety, or even main blog, but a lot of this problem has to do with the way communications technology is deployed under FCC regulation, so I’ll put it under “network neutrality” first. 
  
Tonight NBC News reported that most 911 operators can’t immediately locate someone from a cell phone call, because somehow cell phone routing isn’t precise enough.  Satellite technology, used by Garmin in your car route-planning software, is more accurate.  But the goal for the FCC is just 40% accuracy by 2017. 
   
The story by Jeff Rossen and Neil Mclravy is here.  The news report did a test in a 911 call center that appeared to be in Ashburn, VA and was off by a quarter mile.  It also reported that a young woman delivering newspapers at night drove into a pond and drowned because it too responders too long to find her, and the 911 operator could not locate the road she gave her. 
  
On the other hand, in the dropped 911 incident in New Jersey that starts the story of Brian Aitken (Books blog, Dec. 24, 2014) seemed to be tracked very accurately.
   
Accurate 911 tracking would be very critical in stopping home invasions and kidnappings and could be a real national security issue.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

An unintended consequence to FCC-imposed net neutrality: fees for senders?


An overzealous FCC, using its powers to reclassify Internet ISP’s as essentially utility telephone carriers, could compromise USS flexibility in dealing with authoritarian governments, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal Wednesday February 18, 2015, p. A15, by Robert M. McDowell and Gordon M. Goldstein, link here. “Debtors love FCC’s plan to regulate the Internet”.
  
This could lead to an environment where user-generated content on the Web is no longer free for posters, especially for content to be viewed overseas.  I’m not sure how significant that would be in practice because dictators tend to block content anyway – but the blocking isn’t always effective.  I have a little trouble how it would actually happen, but there are precedents for senders’ fees (at least internationally) in traditional telephone.  And that certainly is the case with mail and shipping.
   
Of course, there have been proposals to make microcharges for sending email, to combat spam, and that sounds like a good idea.  But could the same idea apply to tweets? Blog posts (which can be spammed)?  It could be interesting. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Local DC station offers advice on how to lower cable, Internet bills


WJLA7, ABC Affiliate in Washington DC (actually, Rosslyn in Arlington VA) aired a nice report last week on how existing cable customers can negotiate with their providers for lower rates on cable and high speed Internet, link here.
   
Rates tend to go up quickly for existing customers, especially those who want all the channels.  One technique is to ask to talk to the “retention” department. 
   
Some people give up cable entirely and rely on Internet streaming, but most television series distributors require you to log on to you cable account to watch their “free” series episodes.
   
   

Some people find satellite and Direct TV better.  In the past, it had a reputation of not being as reliable; that could have changed.  But you need good reception, and possibly the ability to climb onto a roof yourself to make repairs.  Some apartments might not allow it (on balconies).  Satellite as a big advantage in not requiring a land-wired connection that can be broken by storms and require waiting for company technicians to come and repair, with window appointments that require you to be home.  (But don’t put your dish where a tree branch could fall on it.) 

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

GOP may offer net neutrality "deal" to Obama and FCC


While ABC News reports that the FCC will consider “who the Internet belongs to”, here Vox reports (story by Tim Lee ) that the GOP-controlled Congress wants to offer a “deal”:  If the FCC will back off considering ISP’s as ordinary communications carriers, the GOP will consider reasonable regulation to ensure that all users get access to the Internet for their content at reasonable speeds and cost. 
  
Off hand, I like the idea of a deal better than just administrative or judicial regulation.

The Wall Street Journal, on Feb.3, however, in an article by Gautham Nagesh, reported "FCC ready to ratchet-up regulation of Internet", link here

Monday, February 02, 2015

FCC may overrule state laws in NC, TN that hinder municipal broadband


The Federal Communications Commission will move to pre-empt state broadband limits, accorsing to a story by Brian Fung Monday in the Washington Post, here

Particularly, state laws in Tennessee have hindered the cities of Chattanooga, TN and Wilson, NC in setting up services that would compete successfully (with lower prices) than what is available from large commercial carriers.

The FCC may have the legal authority to do this, but some Republicans object to municipalities getting into the broadband business.  The story seems ironic in that Google seems to be focusing on the South in bringing ultra high speed fiber optic broadband to several large cities in the region (Jam/ 29). 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Big cities in South getting edge on ultra-high speed broadband




Vox Media reports that Google is bringing ultra-fast broadband to four more cities:  Raleigh-Durham (and probably UNC-Chapel Hill), Charlotte, Nashville, and Atlanta, in addition to Austin, TX, Kansas City, and Provo UT.  It’s interesting two of the cities are the two largest metros in North Carolina (because of the large number of tech companies and major server facilities) as well as two other big cities in the mid South.  I guess the Atlanta Braves will be back this year (a new stadium being built).
  
For someone like me, in the future, if I relocate, the availability of broadband if this quality is a consideration.  I have film scripts to develop and North Carolina is one of the most important centers of independent filmmaking.
   
Vox argues that companies like Verizon and Comcast-Time Warner need to get hustling (Vox uses the word "terrified"), and suggests they have been guilty of crony capitalism in the past.  But they could do the same thing in most other cities.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

FCC warns Marriott not to block 3rd party WiFi


FCC has warned Marriott hotels never to block WiFi signals from other carriers for guests in its hotels. 
  
When I stay at a hotel, I usually will use my Verizon iPad hotspot if possible.  It’s a little safer.  Hotel WiFi is probably not as risky for security as pundits say, but it isn’t always reliable.
  
CNN has a story by David Goldman here. Marriott said that it blocked third party WiFi in its conference centers to prevent hacking.  The FCC didn’t buy it. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

GOP controlled Congress may become more amendable to Net Neutrality, preferring not to let FCC have too much power in other areas (like political content)


Two prominent Republicans (Senator John Thune, R-SD and Representative Red Upton (R-MI) are calling for bipartisan support of network neutrality, as in an op-ed in Reuters here that also addresses mobile broadband as well as ground. 
  
Tim Lee, of Vox, reported this development with a commentary noting that, while FCC can implement rules in February by reclassifying itself, it would be better for Congress to act, because the FCC could act in a number of other undesirable ways more connected to phone service in the past, link here.  One possibility, noted by the Washington Times recently (my main blog, Jan. 12) is the idea that the FCC could give into new political pressures associated with the FEC to regulate blogs with partisan political content. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Washington Times maintains that FCC's net neutrality rules (TBA in February) will play favorites, especially with MPEG


The Washington Times, on Monday, not unpredictably (double negative!) criticized what it sees as FCC’s plan to impose “network neutrality” on its own, link here.    The title of the editorial “Blunting a radical agenda at the FCC: Congress can’t allow the commission to usurp congressional authority”.  It ties in to another op-ed column that I discussed yesterday on my main blog, claiming that the FEC was likely to try to start acting as “gatekeeper” for free political blogs, a possibility that was vetted ten years ago but that then the FEC backed down on, despite court sanctions that it could do so. 

TWT makes the valuable point that the FCC, despite its claim of neutrality, is still playing favorites, particularly for MPEG LA in Denver, which holds enormous licensing authority. I don’t recall seeing EFF mention this company. In the meantime, Comcast tells customers that it follows network neutrality, doesn't have paid fast lanes, and doesn't filter content.  

Saturday, January 03, 2015

FCC will go ahead with "stricter" net neutrality rules in February, but GOP-controlled Congress will contest it


Brian Fung reports in the Washington Post that the FCC will introduce and vote on its own “final” network neutrality rules in February.  The FCC is believed to be prepared to liberally interpret its regulatory power and will use Title II of the Telecommunications Act to treat ISP’s as “telephone companies”.  The link is here  for the story on p A16 in Economy and Business. 
  
But the GOP is likely to introduce legislation in Congress hindering such legislation and making it easier to ISP’s to maintain paid “fast lanes”. 

Think Progress has reported the story in social media as "The future of the Internet is on the line", here
     
My own experience with Xfinity is that Netflix downloads faster than either Amazon or YouTube.  Comcast offers a web tool to measure normal upload and download speed.