Broadband Usage Increase – Is It Because We Have More Devices Connecting To The Internet?

I was thinking this morning how things have changed in my own household in just ten years. Ten years ago I had two computers, one for me and one for my wife, connected to the Internet. Just five years ago we had only increased our broadband usage in our home by adding one additional laptop computer with a connection to the Internet. In the past year we have added more devices, so this morning I did a head count of just how many devices we had in our home with Internet access.

Computers: I have one desktop for gaming, and three laptop computers for a total of four.

Tablet – one Apple iPad

Chrome – one Cr-48 test computer.

Roku – two Rokus for streaming video to two HDTVs.

DirecTV – one device for streaming video from DirecTV.

Total number of devices: nine

So is it the number of devices we use in our home the cause of increased broadband usage or is it what we are doing with the devices that is increasing our usage? I would venture a guess that is it a combination of both. Netflix has become to new culprit that ISPs like to blame for our uncontrolled usage of broadband. The ISPs state that one could exceed a 250GB limit easily by streaming video into our homes, which some ISP companies claim can be done in as little as 10.5 days.

AT&T recently announced that the company would impose a 250GB cap starting soon. This may sound like a reasonable amount since AT&T provided its own figures that the average user only uses 18GB a month. But what about in a few years as more of us buy more tablet computers or signs up to stream video and/or TV programs? Those GB may go quickly and the ISPs will be the ones that benefit by adding higher charges to what they call broadband hogs.

Also adding to our GB woes are those who also use Skype or other video chatting services. So between all of these online services that we may use, broadband limits may come back someday to bite us in the rear end. For the causal Internet surfer this may not be a problem. But for those who want to take advantage of everything the Internet will offer, it could be.

So will the tiered pricing scheme have an affect on your surfing needs?

Comments welcome.

Source – gigaom

AT&T To Customers: The All You Can Use DSL Buffet Is Closed

The folks at AT&T are about to impose caps for all of their DSL customers and also for their U-Verse customers. What is interesting about the proposal are the limits that are going to be placed on existing customers and the additional charges when they exceed the limits. AT&T has an interesting premise it cites to show that 98% of customers will not be affected since the average AT&T customer uses only 18GB of data per month.

The new AT&T limits will be 150GB monthly usage cap for all DSL customers and a 250 GB usage cap on all U-Verse users. Notices to all of these AT&T customers will start going out this month and will become effective starting on May 2. But AT&T tells us not to worry, be happy, and accept the limited usage rates since this is the way it is going to be, like it or not.

There are two things that bother me about the data limitation plan being instituted by AT&T. First, I believe that existing customers should be exempt and that the limitations should apply to new customers only. Why is it that large corporations seem to think they can employ or change new features on a whim and that customers are obligated to go along with the new plan? Yes, you can change providers, but that misses the point. When these people signed up, they signed up for unlimited usage. Just because the folks at AT&T were stupid and did not forecast that the system would be abused is their problem, not the problem of the customer.

Second is that this limitation on data will have long-range effects for all of us. If AT&T doesn’t lose a large amount of customers, other providers will also enforce data limits. Depending on how you use you Internet service, this could limit the amount of TV programs or movies you watch on the Internet.

What AT&T has also failed to mention is if the data plan is restricted from unlimited usage, will there be a price reduction? We all know the answer to that question. AT&T will provide less service but will want to keep its pricing the same.

I look at the proposal being made by AT&T this way. Let us say that you go down and purchase a new automobile, SUV, or truck. The company offers a 10 year, 100,000 mile power train warranty. After you buy the vehicle you receive a letter that states that 2% of vehicle owners have abused their vehicles so the company is dropping the warranty to 5 years, 100,000 miles on the power train. I know that I would not be a happy camper.

I personally believe that AT&T has already calculated the cost of a civil suit into the equation and knows it will be cheaper paying consumers a stipend than to continue on with its unlimited plan. All of you who use DSL from AT&T, I feel your pain.

Comments welcome.

Source – Broadband DSL Reports

Microsoft Suggests 6 Ways To Speed Up Your PC

With all of the television advertisements from companies claiming to have the secret cure to speed up your PC, Microsoft has six easy ways to do it on your own. These six easy steps are nothing new and have been used for years by most people who consider themselves guru’s. In addition to these suggestions, there are also other free software for you to use to keep your computer running fast.

Step #1. Remove spyware from your computer. I recommend using the free version of Malwarebytes. You will also need a good anti-virus program and I am using the free edition of Avast on my Windows 7 boxes. Others like the free program from Microsoft called Security Essentials. Another program that gets mentioned is AntiVir personal edition.

Step #2. Free up disk space. Microsoft recommends using their Disk Cleanup tool. I personally like CCleaner or Glary Utilites. Both of these tools do a very good job of cleaning out the junk and gunk that can clog up your operating system.

Step #3. Use the Disk Defragmentation built into Windows. This according to Microsoft will speed up access to your data. There is much controversy as to the benefits of defragging a hard disk. My personal opinion is that I recommend doing it. There are free programs such as Defraggler or Auslogics Disk Defrag.

Step #4. Also recommended is checking your disk for errors using the check disk utility. Here’s how:

  1. Close all open files.
  2. Click Start, and then click Computer.
  3. In the Computer window (My Computer in Windows XP), right-click the hard disk you want to search for bad sectors, and then click Properties.
  4. In the Properties dialog box, click the Tools tab.
  5. Click the Check Now button.
  6. In the Check Disk dialog box (called Error-checking in Windows 7), select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box, and then click Start.

Step #5. If you are using Microsoft Windows Vista or Windows 7, Microsoft recommends using Ready Boost. According to Microsoft, Ready Boost can help speed up your system. IMO your results may vary.

Steps #6. Microsoft recommends upgrading to Windows 7. This suggestion is of course, if and only if, your computer can support Windows 7.

I have read and suggest to those who are new to computers to read the free .pdf manual, ‘Windows On Speed: Ultimate Acceleration Manual’. You can get your free copy here.

Windows On Speed: Ultimate Acceleration Manual

What suggestions do you have to speed up a Windows computer?

Comments welcome.

Source – Microsoft

Will The FCC Ruling For An Open Internet Do More Harm Than Good?

There are two different opinions about the recent FCC ruling to govern the Internet and keep it open to all. Some believe that governmental intervention will do more harm than good. The other opinion is that if there are not regulations in place, companies such as Skype would be not be able to compete.

What was once described as a super highway of information has changed drastically during the past decade. We now have a multi lane highway that now allows users to stream video, download music, watch TV, make phone calls, conduct live meetings, and gaming, and what has taken the Internet by storm, social interaction aka Facebook.

Some of the major ISPs have decided that they have the right to throttle back access for some users. They have also chosen, on their own terms, who should have total access to the Internet pipeline and who shouldn’t. To be fair, there are in fact some users who are broadband hogs, spending their entire life downloading music, videos, and other content. To limit what they see as abuse, some of the major ISPs have throttled back on the amount of data some users can download.

One of the other issues involve companies such as Skype that allow phone calls to be made via the Internet. In theory, an ISP could provide limited access for a competitor’s product, while promoting and controlling their own applications. Some of these ISPs are now trying to control TV programming transmissions via the Internet and how it will be delivered to you and which devices will be supported.

There is little doubt in my mind that the major ISPs aren’t concerned about you and me, instead focusing their attentions on the almighty dollar. We have seen how greed nearly brought down own entire financial system. One can only guess how the major ISPs could actually strangle Internet access and control what we do on the Internet.

Most of us do not like the government to interfere in any business activities. However, sometimes a small dose of regulation is needed to keep the playing field level for all.

What do you think? Will the FCC ruling on an open internet help or hinder our Internet experience?

Comments welcome.

FCC document in .pdf format – Open Internet – 194 pages

Email Privacy Is Protected By The 4th Amendment

In a landmark case, a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that email privacy is protected by the 4th amendment. If the government wants to obtain your private emails from your ISP, they will need a search warrant. The court stated that users expect to have the same level of privacy in their emails as they do in their phone calls and postal mail. This is what the court concluded:

Given the fundamental similarities between email and traditional forms of communication [like postal mail and telephone calls], it would defy common sense to afford emails lesser Fourth Amendment protection…. It follows that email requires strong protection under the Fourth Amendment; otherwise the Fourth Amendment would prove an ineffective guardian of private communication, an essential purpose it has long been recognized to serve…. [T]he police may not storm the post office and intercept a letter, and they are likewise forbidden from using the phone system to make a clandestine recording of a telephone call–unless they get a warrant, that is. It only stands to reason that, if government agents compel an ISP to surrender the contents of a subscriber’s emails, those agents have thereby conducted a Fourth Amendment search, which necessitates compliance with the warrant requirement….

I can see no reason why a company such as Google should be treated any differently than say the post office. We users have an expectation of privacy and this should be protected.

One would hope that Congress, when they have the time, would change the fundamental laws governing protecting emails in the same manner that phone calls and postal mail are protected.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – Electronic Frontier Foundation

Netflix vs ISPs – Is There A Battle Brewing?

As many of you know, I am a huge fan of Netflix. I have been with them for 5 years and have enjoyed their service and find their  $9 a month package a real value. The $9 a month package provides one DVD at a time plus you can stream all the video content you want. But it was only a matter of time before a battle would brew between Netflix and ISPs such as Comcast and others. The ISPs see Netflix streaming as a real threat to their TV broadcasting business as they should. If people dump cable or satellite TV in favor of broadband streaming to their TV sets. the ISPs would take a major hit in revenue.

In one recent article it stated that:

How does Netflix get tangled in the businesses of the likes of AT&T and Comcast (and Comcast’s proposed merger with NBC Universal)? Online video is seen as a major threat to traditional cable and satellite television firms, many of which want the FCC to allow companies to pay extra for higher-speed “channels” in the broadband Internet pipe.

In the third quarter, Netflix saw a 52 percent gain in subscribers to 16.9 million. Revenue increased 31 percent to $553 million. But most interesting: 66 percent of subscribers watched more than 15 minutes of streaming video compared with 41 percent during the same period last year. The company predicted Wednesday that in the fourth quarter, a majority of Netflix subscribers would watch more content streamed from the Web on Netflix than on DVD.

“This growth is clearly driven by the strength of our streaming offering. In fact, by every measure, we are now primarily a streaming company that also offers DVD-by-mail,” Reed Hastings (above), Netflix co-founder and chief executive, said in a release.

The company has already begun to wade into the debate over net neutrality at the FCC. Netflix lobbyists have visited the media bureau and other officials at the FCC at least three times in the last year and said in written comments that the FCC should not allow paid prioritization, or specialized services, that allow an Internet service provider to favor its own content or block out new competitors.

Analysts tout Netflix’s strides in forging partnerships with content companies and device makers, making it one of the most significant applications in Internet television. It has deals to distribute on Apple TV and Google TV. Netflix is already on the Wii game console and Blue-ray players.

So far content companies have been slow to distribute their shows and movies through online platforms like Netflix and many television shows are delayed by at least one day for online viewers.

It seems that the cable and satellite companies have been caught asleep at the switch. But it will be up to the FCC to decide exactly how companies like Netflix, Apple, Google, and others will be allowed to stream content to our homes. So yes, there is a battle brewing.

What do you think? Who is going to win the battle?

Will a streaming only package be a benefit to consumers? Would you subscribe to a streaming only package and give up DVDs being mailed to your home?

IMO I would go for a streaming only feature if it included the latest movies.

Comments welcome.

Source – The Washington Post

Suddenlink 3 Strikes Policy For Copyright Infringers – Is This Legal?

Internet service provider Suddenlink has implemented a policy in which after three notices of copyright infringement, a consumer can lose their account for a period of up to six months. The company states that in its terms of service it is spelled out exactly the procedure for those who violate copyright law. The terms of service state that:

“If you continue to transfer Copyrighted Material illegally, you are violating Suddenlink’s policies and Suddenlink may take further action, including limiting your Internet download capacity, suspending or terminating your account, or a range of other measures.”

What caught my eye in the article I read was this:

In reality, this means that subscribers will be disconnected from the Internet for 6 months without a refund.

I don’t think so! If, and that is a huge if, my service from Suddenlink was disconnected for 6 months they would not be receiving one cent.

What do you think? Would you continue to pay your bill?

Comments welcome.

Source – Torrent Freak

New Bill Wants ISPs To Block Pirate Sites – These Congressman Need To Be Replaced

I must admit that I have not been much for politics in my life. But when I see our country teetering on financial disaster by crooked bankers and business people alike, it makes me wonder how long it is going to take us to kick out the crooks in Washington? A new bill that is being introduced smacks of lobbyists paying big bucks to congressmen, who in my opinion need to be replaced. When our congress protects special interest groups during a time when the average American is experiencing financial hardships, I believe it is time to get political and call for replacing these people.

Who are the congressman supporting this bill?

The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act is sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and senior Republican member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and co-sponsored by a number of Senate Democrats, including Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), plus others.

This is what the bill will try to do:

The bill takes the novel step of not only cracking down on domestic sites that illegally distribute copyrighted material, but also authorizes the Department of Justice to choke off access to foreign sites, including ordering domestic ISPs and payment providers to either block or stop doing business with the infringing sites.

The bill – which would need to survive a full vote in the Senate, the House, and be signed into law by President Obama – would authorize the Department of Justice to file an in rem civil action against a domain name, and seek a preliminary order from the court that the domain name is being used to traffic infringing material. (The term in rem refers to a suit against a thing – in this case, a domain – rather than a specific individual or individuals.)

According to the COICA bill, a domestic registrar would be required to suspend the site’s domain once the order was received.

The DOJ would use a slightly different procedure for sites hosting allegedly pirated materials outside the United States. In that case, the DOJ could serve the order either to one or a collection of ISPs, which could display the site; to a financial payment provider, such as eBay’s PayPal or a credit-card service; or to a display advertiser, such as Google or Microsoft.

In the ISPs’ case, the order would require the ISP to block access to the site. The payment processor and display advertiser would be required to block payments and ads to the site. It wasn’t clear what leeway an ISP would have to contest the DOJ’s order, or if any ISP would do so.

According to the bill, the U.S. Attorney General would require the DOJ’s intellectual property enforcement coordinator to post a list of the infringing sites. The AG may also expand the order to additional domains.

Believe me when I say that I do not support piracy nor any site distributing pirated material. But the cost to enforce this is going to cost us taxpayers millions at a time the money needs to be spent on getting the economy heading in the right direction. A bill like this should have been passed five years ago when times were good, before the economy took a nose dive.  Just my two cents.

Comments welcome.

Source – PC World

Censoring Craigslist Doesn’t Solve Anything – Or Does It?

Most of us are aware that craigslist has removed its controversial ‘Adult Services’ section after the attorney generals from some 18 states placed pressure on the company to do so. There have been many different opinions on whether this should or should not have been done and that craigslist may be playing a game with those who wish to regulate the online advertising website.

My fellow blogger, ShawdowMyth, wrote a compelling argument in the comment section in which she stated the following:

Prostitution will go on, just like the drug industry, regardless of attempts to control it. Prostitutes are safer going through Craigslist, it is out of visual range for those who do not want to see it(off the streets), and it makes it easier for people like myself who hitchhike everywhere, as people do not think I am a prostitute.

An entire street dedicated to prostitution in my town was completely cleaned up due to Craigslist,   and I am sure it is like that in most places. Secondly, it will solve nothing because the prostitutes were already migrating over to the ‘therapeutic’ section of CL, claiming to be massage therapist…I know because I do massage. Now CL has started to charge for the therapeutic section, just like they did the adult section…nothing can be done.

Why people try to suppress animal instinct, even when it is not in their field of vision, is beyond me. If you have studied physiology, you will know the extremity of many male’s desires, and you are not going to stop them from getting what they want, and prostitution helps to curb rape in my opinion. Sad to say, but some men couldn’t get sex if they tried, and prostitutes are the only ones willing to do the deed. Suppression will only lead to a greater eruption of violence and crime, just as we see in the war against drugs.

So when I read an article from The Huffington Post in which the author, Danah Boyd, shared with her readers her quest to stop exploitation of women and children, her argument was compelling. She stated the following:

For the last 12 years, I’ve dedicated immense amounts of time, money and energy to end violence against women and children. As a victim of violence myself, I’m deeply committed to destroying any institution or individual leveraging the sex-power matrix that results in child trafficking, nonconsensual prostitution, domestic violence and other abuses. If I believed that censoring Craigslist would achieve these goals, I’d be the first in line to watch them fall. But from the bottom of my soul and the depths of my intellect, I believe that the current efforts to censor Craigslist’s “adult services” achieves the absolute opposite. Rather than helping those who are abused, it fundamentally helps pimps, human traffickers and others who profit off of abusing others.

The Internet has changed the dynamics of prostitution and trafficking, making it easier for prostitutes and traffickers to connect with clients without too many layers of intermediaries. As a result, the Internet has become an intermediary, often without the knowledge of those internet service providers (ISPs) who are the conduits. This is what makes people believe that they should go after ISPs like Craigslist. Faulty logic suggests that if Craigslist is effectively a digital pimp who’s profiting off of online traffic, why shouldn’t it be prosecuted as such?

The problem with this logic is that it fails to account for three important differences: 1) most ISPs have a fundamental business — if not moral — interest in helping protect people; 2) the visibility of illicit activities online makes it much easier to get at, and help, those who are being victimized; and 3) a one-stop-shop is more helpful for law enforcement than for criminals. In short, Craigslist is not a pimp, but a public perch from which law enforcement can watch without being seen.

I must admit that my original opinion was that the closing of the ‘Adult Services’ section of craigslist was a good idea. But after reading the intelligent responses from these ladies, I have changed my opinion. I believe that the closing of this section is absolute censorship and violates our rights to freedom of speech. In addition I believe that this does nothing to cure the underlying problem associated with prostitution nor the exploitation of women.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – The Huffington Post

MIT – Broadband In U.S. Is Not As Bad As Government Says

I have always believed that it is difficult to determined what causes broadband speeds to be slow, but that it is not always the fault of your ISP. In fact a recent report by MIT seems to confirm this and that broadband speeds in the U.S. are better than what the government thinks it is. The FCC has even concluded that that consumers receive just about half the speeds that their ISP’s advertise. So who is giving us the correct facts?

I believe that both the folks at MIT and the FCC are correct. There is not going to be an accurate speed test because the information highway is a real highway of sorts. Like most highways, speeds are going to fluctuate depending on the amount of traffic at any given time. I recall many a time sitting on highway 101 just outside of San Francisco at a dead stop. I always enjoyed looking at the speed limit sign, since it was rare one could even reach that speed. The exception was at 3:00am in the morning on a Sunday.

In a recent article at the Popsci site it also stated that:

The Federal Communications Commission released a National Broadband Plan back in March, which included the frustrating and surprising statement that most Americans’ broadband speed is half what service providers advertise.

But it might not be that bad after all, MIT researchers say — most Internet measuring methods underestimate the speed of the access network. That’s the part of the Internet ISPs actually control.

Slowness can often be attributed to home networks, users’ computers, and ISP servers instead, say MIT scientists Steve Bauer, David Clark and William Lehr.

In one example, Bauer ran a speed test on his home computer in Cambridge, Mass., using a test server in New York. Most of the time, he was getting rates close to those advertised by his ISP. One afternoon, the rate fell precipitously, and Bauer realized his ISP had re-routed his connection to a different server because the New York server was overloaded. The nearest free server was in Amsterdam — explaining why the speed dropped so much.

This rerouting of traffic will have an adverse affect on speeds, but the MIT testing also showed:

In the study — conducted by MIT labs which receive funding from telecom companies — the authors analyzed a half-dozen systems for measuring the speed of Internet connections. They underestimated the access’ networks speed for a variety of reasons, an MIT news release explains.

For instance, the FCC study analyzed data for broadband subscribers with different tiers of service. The analysis didn’t know which data corresponded to which tier, so they assumed the tier could be inferred from the maximum measured rate, MIT says. But in reality, the lower-tier subscribers sometimes ended up with better data rates than they paid for. The study the FCC relied upon misclassified this, the researchers say — good service on a cheap tier was classified as lousy service at a higher tier.

We have all experienced a slow down of the Internet. But is it the Internet that is slow? Our own network at home? Our ISP? What about the time of day, or day of week and so forth? Any one of these or a combination of these can have a dire affect on the speeds we are able to obtain.

What do you think?

Comments welcome

Source – Popsci

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall, Who Has The Fastest ISP Of Them All?

Any time anyone tries to compare the speeds of different ISPs, one can be suspect of the results. But this morning I read an interesting article over at PCMag.com that seems to have done a fairly good job of testing speed as well as determining customer satisfaction. The general consensus among those who have used the service is that Verizon FIOS is the fastest broadband in the U.S., It seems that PCMag agreed and their survey also indicated that Verizon customers also gave the company a high rating.

But while the lucky few have access to Verizon FIOS, the remainder of us have to connect to the Internet via a cable connection or DSL. What is surprising about some cable companies is that they provide fairly close speeds to Verizon FIOS and AT&T fiber is no slouch either. Here is what PC World presented in a simple chart form:

In another chart they listed what services were being used by region for cable, DSL or FIOS:

The cable company I use for internet connection is a smaller regional company called Suddenlink. I would rate the speed as about average and the same with customer service. I downloaded Surf Speed2, which was the software PCMag.com used and my speed was 883Kbps. Like I said, average.

But what about you? Who are you with and how would you rate your ISP when it comes to speed and customer satisfaction?

Let us know.

Source – PCMag.com

New FCC Proposal – Universal Set-Top Box For TV And The Internet

The FCC has made a proposal that could, if passed, have a significant way in which we consumers could receive TV and Internet services in the future. According to the chairman of the FCC, the proposal would be for a universal set-top box, which the consumer would purchase. The new set-top box would provide both television and Internet services in one device. The benefit of one single set-top box is that it could be used, even when the consumer changes service providers.

As with any proposals coming from the FCC that could spur competition, the big boys in television and Internet services could fight the plan. In fact I would be so brazen to state that they would fight the changes. LOL

In addition a recent article also states that:

“We think the FCC wants to lay the groundwork for over-the-top video to potentially impose some competitive pressure on pay TV providers in the future,” said analyst Paul Gallant of the Concept Capital research firm. That policy could help Internet TV providers like Netflex, Apple, Google and Amazon, he said.

“The idea of accessing the Internet through the TV screen is certainly attractive – so attractive, in fact, that the marketplace already appears to be delivering on that vision without any help from the government,” McDowell said. “A quick Internet search revealed more than a dozen different devices available to consumers who wish to bring some or all of the Internet to their television screens, ranging from specialized web video products and software applications to elaborate home theater PCs and even online gaming consoles.”

While I applaud the FCC and their efforts to provide the consumer with the best possible options for television and Internet services, the reality is that the big cable, satellite & Internet providers have political clout. Unless we see changes in Congress with new representatives who will be actually representing the people, I seriously doubt this proposal will fly.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source

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