by Mike Masnick
Mon, Apr 9th 2012 9:06pm
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Mar 27th 2012 7:26pm
from the sure-seems-that-way dept
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jan 5th 2012 3:22pm
from the it's-a-challenge dept
The 550 Challenge - the world borderless by February 3, 2018 - promotes the expansion of Internet access to include everyone on earth by the 550th anniversary of Johannes Guttenberg's death. Gutenberg died on February 3, 1468 in relative obscurity before the printing press got credit for ending the Dark Age and setting in motion 200 years of accelerated progress in art, literature, and learning known as the Renaissance. The 550 Challenge seeks to realize the promise of the Internet as the basis for a new Communication Renaissance.With economic turmoil around the globe, and various governments putting together all sorts of "make work" projects to try to boost the economy, Berninger (and those of us who have signed on) argue that nothing can help the economy like increasing communication among everyone on the planet:
A dramatic expansion of communication seems likely to prove more affordable than infrastructure projects, energy related interventions, and war. The nature of communication technology tends to shape the course of human affairs, because communication represents a key input to the global economy. Half of all energy gets consumed by moving people from one place to another, so improving communication can help addresss global warming and geo-political tensions generated by energy consumption.It's an ambitious program, but the world needs ambitious programs, and this is one that seems worth supporting and doing anything we can to help it achieve its goals.
A telephone call does not require a Green Card or engage the TSA, so communication technologies can lessen the dislocations associated with immigration, emigration, and the arbitrary power of birthplace over opportunity. The Arab Spring illustrates the threat communication poses to tyranny and utility for linking people across lines of conflict. Risks exist with any technology just as roads benefit people seeking to rob banks as well as the general public. The 550 Challenge merely asserts connecting everyone offers less downside risk than the disconnected status quo.
Connecting everyone on earth within six years seems ambitious, but it requires merely sustaining the existing pace of cell phone and Internet expansion. The process of connecting people may require first finding sources for food, water, and shelter as well as navigating dangerous conflict over borders, but the challenges nonetheless do not compare to the World War's of the 20th century both of which played out in less than six years.
by Tim Cushing
Wed, Dec 7th 2011 10:04am
from the and-data-caps-are-improving-infrastructure-how? dept
Karl Bode at DSL Reports has finally obtained some data which confirms what many of us had suspected all along: the Bandwidth Hog is a convenient bogeyman rather than an actual being. Analysts Benoit Felton and Herman Wagter managed to talk an "anonymous mid size DSL company from North America" into sharing its data on customer usage. Not surprisingly, despite their open invitation to the ISPs to contest their "disruptive user" argument, no other broadband/DSL service offered to provide any data, suggesting they're already well aware of what usage numbers actually show.
In a blog post, Felten notes that the pair took real user data for all customers connected to a single aggregation link and analyzed the network statistics on data consumption -- in five minute time increments -- over a whole day. What they found is that capping ISPs often don't really understand customer usage patterns, and are confusing data consumption (how much data was downloaded over a whole period) and bandwidth usage (how much bandwidth capacity was used at any given point in time).That's a lot of percentages and percentages of percentages. Fortunately, a commenter at DSL Reports was able to use the "dreaded" highway analogy to simplify things:
What they discovered is data that runs in stark contrast to a lot of the claims put out there by some familiar, larger ISPs when justifying caps and overages. Among the pair's findings is that the top 1% of data consumers (which they call "very heavy consumers," instead of the already adversarial "hog") account for 20% of the overall consumption.
Looking deeper into the data, they also found that about 61% of very heavy data consumers download 95% of the time or more, but only 5% of those who download at least 95% of the time are very heavy data consumers. While 83% of very heavy data consumers are amongst the top 1% of bandwidth users during at least one five minute time window at peak hours, they only represent 14.3% of said Top 1% of users at those times.
1% of vehicle drivers on the road travel a disproportionate amount of miles compared to the average driver. But they are on the road all the time. Most of the time they are on the road there is no rush hour congestion.The heavy drivers are likely to be involved in rush hour traffic jams, but only represent a small, not terribly relevant, fraction of total drivers in the traffic jam.Limiting the amount of miles a driver can drive, does nothing to widen the roads and little to keep people off the roads during traffic jams, thus does not help with congestion.In other words, internet usage tends to be heaviest at certain points of the day, and installing caps or throttling supposedly heavy users does nothing to relieve that congestion. Instead, it punishes users across the board by hitting some of them with additional fees and offering very little in the way of improving connection or speed for the rest of the users online during these "traffic jams."
Felten concludes that ISPs themselves need to better understand the difference between data usage and bandwidth consumption, or face driving their customers to more reasonable competitors. That's assuming consumers have a choice, given caps exist in many markets largely due to no competition.That's the real problem. For many people, there are few options. And most of the ISPs are more than happy to install caps and overage fees, especially if someone in the market is already doing just that. Bode also notes the adversarial relationship with their customers that the ISPs are creating through the usage of terms like "bandwidth hog" or "disruptive user." Rather than look into improving infrastructure, they'd much rather vilify certain paying customers in order to deflect attention away from their service limitations.
Karl Bode expands on this:
It would also be naive to assume many of the larger ISPs -- stocked with number crunchers and network analysts -- don't already know everything Felten stated. However, there's a reason that ISPs don't like bandying real, raw data about -- and it's because there's a few large carriers that like to use bogus science to justify anti-consumer behavior, most recently with AT&T's announcement of caps and overages for DSL and U-Verse users. When asked to prove that these caps and overages were necessary, AT&T couldn't -- something ignored by general tech press coverage of the move.While it's nice to finally have some data on hand to debunk the "bandwidth hog" myth, most ISPs will be able to dismiss it as not being representative of their customers' usage patterns. After all, they're still refusing to provide any data to back up their claims. In areas without competition, this myth will still be used as a scapegoat for everything from hard caps to lousy connections.
As we've noted repeatedly, most carriers impose caps and overages claiming it's due to either network congestion or financial necessity. In realty, caps and overages are implemented by carriers that simply want to jack up the cost of bandwidth so they can protect TV revenues from Internet video by making Internet video more costly and less appealing. The financial "necessity" of moving away from the flat-rate pricing model is proven false quarterly by earnings reports.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Oct 18th 2011 2:10am
from the can't-walk-the-walk dept
Much of the plan is an attempt to reform the absolute boondoggle that is the Universal Service Fund -- a mysterious fund with little oversight that often just seems to end up propping up telcos' bottom lines rather than leading to anything like universal service. Fixing the USF would be a good idea, but apparently the "plan" doesn't look like it'll do anything useful:
The primary thrust of the project involves the agency's plan for USF reform, the specifics of which have yet to be fully disclosed but are believed to be largely pulled from AT&T and Verizon lobbyist recommendations. The FCC's "Connect to Compete" website insists this reform could net "$1 billion or more per year in benefits for wireless consumers alone." However, unmentioned is the fact the plan will likely drive up prices for consumer broadband bills by raising the cap on USF fees charged by carriers above $6.50 per month.So there we are. No effort at increased competition and better broadband. But higher fees going into a boondoggle fund that will almost certainly end up in the coffers of our two largest (and super profitable) telco companies.
What would consumers get for this money? Digging into the telco's USF plan, there's absolutely nothing there that suggests serious broadband expansion beyond what they'd already planned with upcoming LTE efforts. There's also absolutely nothing to suggest the FCC has a handle on auditing the USF and e-Rate program. $25 billion has been poured into large and small telco coffers over the years (in addition to billions in additional subsidies), and yet somehow our libraries still lack adequate bandwidth.
Readers should be able to conclude where most of this money actually went. Ignored by the FCC and the press is the fact that all the state and federal subsidies doled out to phone companies by now could have easily wired every U.S. home with fiber to the home several times over. AT&T and Verizon should not be getting another penny in government subsidies, yet the FCC's USF reform will almost-certainly involve additional handouts you'll be paying for in the form of higher broadband bills.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Sep 7th 2011 7:02pm
Sarkozy Routes Around Parliament, Ditches Net Neutrality, Forces Copyright Clauses Into All ISP Terms Of Service
from the but-of-course dept
Over the summer, the French government has published its transposition of the Telecoms Package. The Sarkozy regime has used a controversial manipulation of the legislative process to get the transposition into law without going through the French Parliament. It includes provisions which contradict the French government’s stated objective of protecting net neutrality. Moreover, it includes a copyright obligation on ISPs to support France’s 3-strikes law.Sarkozy even ignored the government's advisory committee on the digital economy, which explicitly came out against some of the provisions that were added. Of major concern is the fact that the required terminology being forced into ISP contracts, says that ISPs will restrict certain services for those accused of infringement. As the article notes, this could include things like blocking Skype, something that would go against basic net neutrality principles, which the French Parliament has said it supports. So, in yet another effort to put draconian copyright law ahead of all else, it looks like Sarkozy has routed completely around Parliament, slipped some extra rules into a Telecoms Package, and in the process made it clear that France officially has no respect for the principles of net neutrality.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Aug 30th 2011 7:55am
from the lame dept
But where this gets more interesting is that it appears Verizon is simply lying about the reasons why. The company is telling users it's for "security" reasons. But... while it's discontinuing FTP for its regular subscribers, those who pay up for a higher level hosting plan (starting at $5.95 per month) seem to still be able to use FTP. In other words, it's only a security problem if you're not paying -- suggesting that the "security" is more about Verizon's revenue than the security of your content. And while it's true that unencrypted FTP can have some security issues (mainly on untrusted networks), there are ways to deal with that with secure, encrypted FTP offerings.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Aug 25th 2011 12:24pm
from the crickets dept
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Aug 24th 2011 11:57am
from the crickets? dept
But Derek Kerton may have had the best idea of all, noting that Sununu and Ford will almost certainly ignore our request that they swap their broadband bills with Netflix. Derek suggests we up the ante, and offer to actually give Sununu and Ford some money if they agree to pay Netflix's broadband bills for the rest of 2011. He's putting up $500 and we at Techdirt will match his offer and put up another $500. So, that's $1,000 for Sununu and Ford Jr. if they're willing to pay Netflix's braodband bill. Hell, we'll give them some time to think it over, and say they only have to pay for the last quarter of the year. If they'll pay Netflix's broadband bills for October, November and December, we'll give them $1,000 ($500 each). Some others in the comments have also offered to chip in as well, so perhaps we can raise the ante a bit more.
So here we go. According to Sununu and Ford Jr., this is "free money" that we're offering them. Will they take it? Will they agree to pay for Netflix and its very cheap "free rider" broadband bill? I'm not holding my breath.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Aug 23rd 2011 7:26pm