Thursday, February 28, 2008

AT&T Samples cable modems

AT&T sampled the advertised vs the realised download speeds in a market. John Stankey discusses this at the following audio/slide presentation.

Thanks to Cynthia Brumfield for calling attention to this presentation

Wouldn't it be nice?

As I read the reports from varying blogs about the recent FCC meeting at Harvard, I tend to become jealous. Of the recent past, most important policy matters and open hearings take place on either one of the coasts. Rarely does the government solicit input from the rest of the country. You know the "fly over" states.

This comes to my mind after reading the reports that Comcast paid for people to attend the FCC meeting. Yes, I agree completely that paying for a person to attend a government policy event is akin to voter fraud. However, at least someone got to attend the meeting while the rest of us are left out. Out in the middle of the nation.

The point that I am attempting to pice together is that policy meetings such as these should not have limits to those that may attend. If a room fills, move to another facility. The University of Oklahoma has learned this lesson really well, when a visitor such as Al Gore and his global warming speech come to campus. The other real question to ask is why did the FCC only have one meeting? Why were there only a limited number of people allowed?

I am not convinced Comcast destroyed the democratic process of this meeting, I was not there and have not seen the proverbial smoking gun. Maybe the FCC destroyed the democratic process by excluding those that showed up at Harvard or those of us who live in the rest of the nation. Maybe the FCC should go to the people in more than one instance.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Undersea Middle East and Asia Cables cut

Saboteurs may have cut Mideast telecom cables

The article suggests that foul play may have been involved in the recent telecommunications issues of the Middle East and parts of Asia. Of lesser importance is the need to know how the cables were discovered in deep waters to have been purportedly sabotaged?

Over the years countries have tried to secure telecommunications with increasing layers of security. Internet backbone maps are even difficult to find at present. So how were the cables found? However why was sabotage used instead of terrorism? Is it believed a disgruntled employee did the act?

More questions than answers come from this announcement by the ITU. I think many supposed the line failures were more than just failures.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Managed Networks

Earlier this week the FCC announced that a hearing would be held to gather input on managed networks. If you are unaware, Comcast has recently been derided by ISP subscribers and others for their network management practices. At issue is the delay of data, falsification of computers, and disruption of certain protocols.

After some time, the FCC has finally become involved in the ongoing debate of whether ISPs should be allowed to manage their own networks.

The basic point of view of a user, at least the vocal users on blogs etc, is that network management is bad. That the management of a network can lead to other 'management' methods like filtering information or 'snooping', looking into, data packets running across a network.

On the other hand the ISPs are, surprisingly (sarcasm), for network management. It would allow for the ISP to better maintain, secure, and guarantee service to its customers.

My point of view is this. If the ISPs can agree to oversight of their 'managemenet' then I do not see much of a problem. However, I mean oversight based not on political appointees or government employees, but by everyday users. Don't hold my breath I know.

The next guarantee that I would like ISPs to agree to is the improvement of customer service. My ISP advertises and I pay for the top tier of service. Supposedly I receive 15Mbps. From the test I have run, even the test my ISP provides, I am lucky to break 9Mbps. If network management is allowed on the basis for improved customer service, there should be a way to show that customer service is increasing.

The issue is not as complicated as we might think. The complications enter to make sure customers are protected against possible negative actions and ISP might take.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Pay Per Use/Unit

Over the past few months I have been looking into the pay per use/unit system that Internet service providers in other nations have adopted. Recently, Time Warner Cable in Beaumont, Tx will begin charging users a flat rate for access that includes certain levels of upload and download amounts. However, it will also start charging subscribers a fee for every unit they exceed their base amount. (This is an pilot program.)

The positive side, as some point out, is that those users that download heavily will be able to stay connected to the Internet and not just be cut off. Additionally, the ISP network may operate better.

The negative side, those users that are not cut off are now subjected to perhaps a higher bill, if they exceed their limits. Networks may not operate any better than current levels.

My questions:

-How will such a pricing scheme affect streaming media and online games?

-Why would a cable company, Time Warner, start per unit pricing when it is also providing such television stations as HBO, owned by Time Warner, to its own Internet subscribers?

-How will users know the amount of data they have downloaded?

-Will bandwidth be increased to subscribers?

-Subscribers are moving from unlimited to limited download amounts, what benefit(s) do subscribers obtain for this switch?

These are a few questions that I have come up with over the past few days. Hopefully, after the Beaumont, TX experiment we will be able to see answers to these questions, at least on a small scale.