10 Nov

American Civil Liberties Union – It Was Close, But We Won: Viva Net Neutrality!

Today in the Senate there was a major win for freedom of speech and the Internet. In a largely partisan vote Senate Democrats defeated a resolution introduced by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) which would have overturned the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) open Internet rules that are set to go into effect this month.

Though the FCC’s rules are not great, they do offer some protections for net neutrality on the wired Internet and overturning them would have been a huge setback for free speech on the web. During debate on the Senate floor yesterday supporters of the resolution railed against government regulation while opponents defended the rules saying they were necessary to maintain the openness and innovation that has allowed the Internet to thrive.

via American Civil Liberties Union – It Was Close, But We Won: Viva Net Neutrality!. Yeah for Net Neutrality, boo for my State Senator being the one who introduced this resolution.

02 Oct

Ars Technica – Verizon sues to halt FCC’s net neutrality rules

On Friday afternoon, Verizon filed its expected challenge to the FCC’s network neutrality rules, suing in federal court to stop them. Verizon claims that the agency has no authority to issue rules affecting the Internet.

“Verizon is fully committed to an open Internet," said Verizon senior vice president Michael Glover in a statement. "We are deeply concerned by the FCC’s assertion of broad authority to impose potentially sweeping and unneeded regulations on broadband networks and services and on the Internet itself. We believe this assertion of authority is inconsistent with the statute and will create uncertainty for the communications industry, innovators, investors and consumers.”

Verizon’s lawsuit claims the rules, which largely exempt wireless networks, are "arbitrary" and "capricious"—the same charges recently brought by net neutrality supporters arguing that the FCC improperly let the wireless industry off the hook.

via Ars Technica – Verizon sues to halt FCC’s net neutrality rules. How about the uncertainty for businesses to know if next month they’ll have to pay fees to not have their sites arbitrarily slowed down? Net Neutrality is a framework of rules to prevent businesses and services from being treated differently from everything else served via the Internet.

10 Apr

Huffington Post – U.S. House Ignores Internet Reality, Again

The U.S. House of Representatives resumed its flight from reality earlier today (April 8th) when it voted to repeal the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules to mandate an open and non-discriminatory Internet.

What was remarkable about the vote was how the Republicans pushing the legislation managed to at once speak in favor of the legislation as helping small business and innovation, while ignoring the testimony and other advocacy from those very businesses that opposed it.

House Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), for example, cited the success of companies from Apple to Zipcar because of the absence of government regulation. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) questioned the future of startups in an environment without government regulation.

It appears that Upton, Scalise and their colleagues missed the article published earlier in the week by Robin Chase, who founded Zipcar. She wrote a well-received article for Politico on how that company wouldn’t exist without an open Internet. None of it mattered to those on an ideological mission to protect the large Internet providers. Other companies have said much the same thing. They similarly ignored the experience of their colleague, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), who made his fortune as an Internet entrepreneur, and who earlier in the week opposed the GOP bill during debate on a procedural motion.

And when Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) said that the FCC had taken control over business plans of big Internet Service Providers, he was partially right. If the business plan’s goal was to drive competitors out of business, he was right. Terry, ironically, said it was the open Internet that allowed Netflix to develop.

His statement was ironic because Netflix sent one of the strongest letters ever seen from the corporate sector to the Congress opposing what Terry wanted to do. As senior Commerce Committee Democrat Henry Waxman (D-CA) pointed out, a cable or telephone company could stop Netflix simply for competitive reasons without it being an antitrust violation. Without Net Neutrality, there would be no stopping phone companies from controlling Netflix’s access to its customers.

Through it all, the Republicans argued that the FCC wanted to take control of the Internet, much as totalitarian governments wanted to do. That argument is so tiresome. The purpose of Net Neutrality is to make sure no one can take control of what’s online — not the government, not the big businesses that control Internet traffic on a day-to-day basis and have the incentive and opportunity to harm competition.

via Huffington Post – U.S. House Ignores Internet Reality, Again. If it wasn’t so frustrating you have to almost admire Republicans ability to ignore their own experts or examples when legislating.

22 Jan

NYTimes.com – F.C.C. Seeks Mandatory Alerts of Cellphone Overage Charges

Last October, the Federal Communications Commission proposed requiring wireless carriers to alert consumers when they’re about to reach their plans’ limits — in call minutes, text messages or data use — so they won’t be shocked at billing time. It conducted its own survey of cellphone users last spring and found that 17 percent had experienced a sudden increase in their bill at some point. That’s 30 million people, the F.C.C. says.

The F.C.C.’s proposals are modest, calling only for alerts when use limits are approached and again when they are reached. Requiring alerts would be the least restrictive way for the industry to address the problem. Groups including Consumers Union (publisher of Consumer Reports), the Consumer Federation of America and the New America Foundation are urging the F.C.C. to go further, by requiring wireless carriers to get a customer’s permission to continue service when use limits have been reached. Unless the consumer expresses his or her willingness to continue, the service would be suspended, removing any possibility of bill shock.

Rather than embracing the F.C.C.’s alerts-only proposal as a less costly solution than one that would suspend service, the wireless industry is fighting regulation of any kind. This month, the carriers and their allied trade groups have filed formal objections to the F.C.C.’s proposed alerts.

via NYTimes.com – F.C.C. Seeks Mandatory Alerts of Cellphone Overage Charges. Remembers kids we can’t have the carriers implement a solution that might make them less money.

22 Dec

A Guide to the Open Internet

Network neutrality is the idea that your cellular, cable, or phone internet connection should treat all websites and services the same. Big companies like AT&T, Verion, and Comcast want to treat them differently so they can charge you more depending on what you use.

The Federal Communications Commision (FCC) is currently debating legislation to define limits for internet service providers (ISPs). The hope is that they will keep the internet open and prevent companies from discriminating against different kinds of websites and services.

via A Guide to the Open Internet. Just in case you need a good solid pointer to over the holiday breaks as to why Net Neutrality is important and what it really means.

11 Dec

DSLReports.com – FCC: 68% Of U.S. Connections Slower than 3 Mbps Down, 768kbps Up

New data (pdf) from the FCC suggests that most consumers aren’t getting speeds that technically adhere to the agency’s new definition of broadband, which was recently changed to 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream. According to the study, more than two-thirds (68%) of the 90,963,000 U.S. broadband connections tracked were too slow down or upstream (or both) to technically qualify as high-speed service — not even meeting 3Mbps/768 kbps. 58% of connections measured (76,594,000 connections) were slower than 3 Mbps downstream. 49% of connections (65,942,000 connections) featured upstream speeds slower than 768kbps.

via DSLReports.com – FCC: 68% Of U.S. Connections Slower than 3 Mbps Down, 768kbps Up. Good job internet providers.

11 Feb

Think big with a gig: Our experimental fiber network – Official Google Blog

We're planning to build and test ultra high-speed broadband networks in a small number of trial locations across the United States. We'll deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today with 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections. We plan to offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.

via Official Google Blog: Think big with a gig: Our experimental fiber network. More awesomeness then I can possibly imagine about this.

A few major thoughts however:

  1. Google as an ISP would retain a ton more data than they already do, in fact everything that I do via the web or an internet based service they could harvest and collect.
  2. It also gives them a lot of power over my ability to surf the web. This is both a good and bad thing, they say they will make the web truly neutral, but they could also insert advertising on top of every page that I see.
  3. 1GB internet speed changes the idea of what you can do with the internet and makes the idea of real cloud-computing (dumb terminals with just a monitor, keyboard, mouse and an internet connection) a viable thought for most people.