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

The Google-Verizon Proposal Is Nothing More Than A ‘Proposal’

The sky is falling crowd has been having a field day since last week, when it was announced that Google and Verizon were in the process of some type of a deal. The rumors were flying that Google [once again], was going against their ‘do no evil’ mantra. Today the two companies announced their proposal for a direction that the Internet and FCC should take.

But this is exactly what the announcement was. A ‘proposal’ not a secret behind the door deal designed to sabotage net neutrality. But more like recommendations that could open the dialogue and provide congress with a direction to take and hopefully protect all consumers as well as service providers.

But the task is not going to be easy. With the authority of the FCC in question following a court decision in favor of Comcast, congress is going to have to address this and other issues.

If you haven’t read the Google-Verizon proposal, check out the link below.

Share your thoughts with us and let us know what you think.

Comments as always are welcome.

Source – Google

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

Apple iPhone & Their Secret Stuff – But Is It Really A Secret?

Apple has sent a letter to the FCC telling the governmental agency that there is more to the Apple iPhone than what the public knows.  In the letter Apple goes on to state that it would like the FCC to freeze photos of the iPhone for at least 45 days. The letter also states that:

“Although Apple has begun to market the device publicly, these documents reveal technical and design information that has not been publicly disclosed in such marketing and that is protected by Apple as confidential and proprietary secrets.”

The really big secret seems to be that Apple has kept hidden that the newest Apple iPhone will have 512 MB of RAM, more than double what its predecessor had. I’m excited.  If you want to find out any secrets about the Apple iPhone, just head into any bar in Redwood City, California and some Apple employee will spill his guts. LOL

Comments welcome.

You can view all of the secret documents here. You may be disappointed at what you see. I was.

San Francisco – Retailers Must Display Radiation From Cell Phones [SAR]

San Francisco Passes Radiation Law From Cell Phones – Retail Posting Required

On Tuesday San Francisco residents passed a law that requires all retailers who sell cell phones to post the amount of radiation the phone gives off. Called SAR, the rating should not exceed 1.6 watts per kilogram according to the FCC, which regulates cell phones. Opponents claim that since there is no scientific evidence that radiation from cell phones is harmful, the law, they state, could hurt business.

A recent news article further states:

Under the law, retailers will be required to post materials — in at least 11-point type — next to phones, listing their specific absorption rate, which is the amount of radio waves absorbed into the cellphone user’s body tissue. These so-called SAR rates can vary from phone to phone, but all phones sold in the United States must have a SAR rate no greater than 1.6 watts per kilogram, according to the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates the $190 billion wireless industry.

But John Walls, a spokesman for C.T.I.A. – The Wireless Association, a trade group, said that forcing retailers to highlight that information might actually confuse consumers into thinking “some phones are safer than others.”

“We believe there is an overwhelming consensus of scientific belief that there is no adverse health effect by using wireless devices,” Mr. Walls said, “and this kind of labeling gets away from what the F.C.C.’s standard actually represents.”

In San Francisco, officials were cautioning that the law was not meant to discourage cellphone use, or sales, rather merely to inform consumers.

There is a simple way to get around this. Buy the phone outside of San Francisco and you won’t have to bother with all of this nonsense! LOL

What do you think? Is a law like this necessary?

Comments welcome.

Source-NY Times

FCC Survey Confirms 30 Million Americans Have Suffered ‘Bill Shock’

In a recent survey the FCC has discovered a shocking reality of life with a cell phone. One in six cell phone users are going to suffer from ‘bill shock’ when their monthly charges increase substantially by exceeding their plans’ limitations. The FCC also has learned that over one half of cell users do not understand early termination fees and for broadband users, this number increases to over 70%.

The report also states that:

The FCC has been proactively working to clear up consumer confusion surrounding bill shock, ETFs, and other issues.  Last August, the Commission launched a proceeding to examine ways to empower consumers to make smart, informed decisions when it comes to communications services.  In January 2010, the Chiefs of the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs and Wireless Telecommunications Bureaus sent letters to the major wireless carriers to learn more about their early termination fees. And as one of the first initiatives undertaken by the FCC’s Consumer Task Force, in early May the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice asking about possible solutions for bill shock.

The survey released today supports the agency’s efforts by supplying essential data about the consumer experience. The survey notes that 83 percent of adults in this country have a cell phone, and 80 percent have a personal cell phone (i.e., one for which their employer does not pay the bill). It also asked about cell-phone coverage: 58 percent of cell-phone users say they are very satisfied with the number of places they can get a good signal.

The survey finds that of the 30 million Americans who have experienced bill shock:

  • 84 percent said their mobile carrier did not contact them when they were about to exceed their allowed minutes, text messages, or data downloads.
  • 88 percent said their carrier did not contact them after their bill suddenly increased.

Shocking, just utterly shocking! How about this, people? Get a prepaid plan and avoid any kind of shock at all. We certainly don’t need any more governmental regulations. For you broadband users, ask your carrier how much the early termination fee is. DUH! Take responsibility for your life.

This reminds me of when the airline flight attendants need to explain to us how to snap and unsnap our seat belts. How about this? If you don’t know how a seat belt works, maybe you shouldn’t be flying by yourself! LOL

Comments welcome.

Source – 5/26/10,  FCC Survey Confirms Consumers Experience Mobile Bill Shock and Confusion About Early Termination Fees.

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Here Is How The FCC Gave The Keys To The Kingdom To Hollywood

The FCC is going to allow the Hollywood movie folks to control your set top box in what it cites as being a move to prevent piracy. Here is how it is going to work. The movie people want to add additional revenue to their coffers by showing their movies on satellite and cable TV, before the movie is released to DVD. This would position the viewing of the movie between the time it is shown in theaters until the time it makes its way to DVD.

So the FCC is going to grant access to the digital output of set top boxes to limit or to prevent copying by the viewer. A recent article stated:

The order concerns an anti-piracy technique known as “selectable output control.” For a movie made available before its release on disc, a studio will be able to instruct pay-TV operators to turn off the analog connectors on viewers’ set-top boxes, transmitting the movie only through encrypted digital outputs. Analog connectors have rudimentary anti-piracy controls at best; encrypted digital outputs, such as HDMI with DTCP, can be programmed to bar or limit copying.

A 2004 FCC rule had forbidden pay-TV operators from using selectable output control, largely out of concern for the millions of early digital-TV buyers whose sets don’t have encrypted inputs. But the commission had also said the prohibition could be waived for a new Hollywood business model.

As for the harm to consumers, it’s hard to see how anyone is hurt when programs are made available in additional ways in a format that only some people can access. That kind of thing happens any time a new technology is introduced — witness HDTV and Blu-ray discs, for example. And the FCC smartly barred studios from turning off analog outputs for more than 90 days on any given title, to avoid the possibility of consumers who rely on older TVs and conventional DVD players from being cut off completely.

Though some may disagree with my assessment, I personally believe that allowing access to any set top box could one day allow Hollywood to control or limit even access to legitimate devices in legitimate ways. Allowing Hollywood and the record industry too much control over our lives is not going to be beneficial to the consumer.

Comments welcome.


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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.


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Yahoo To Add 'ymail.com' To Its List Of Services

Yahoo is adding additional email services, one to be called ‘ymail.com’. As many of us are aware, over the years millions of people got yahoo mail addresses as secondary addresses to try and filter junk mail away from their primary email address. Many of these accounts may be dormant, or rarely used, but the name is taken and can’t be reused.

Yahoo claims that by opening additional emailing addresses, that this will allow users to obtain an email name closer to what they may be using on other accounts. In an article at C/Net it also states:

Yahoo Mail, the top provider of Web-based e-mail, is letting users sign up with the ymail.com and rocketmail.com domains in an attempt to attract new users and keep existing ones loyal.

The move is geared to help people find a better e-mail address, said John Kremer, vice president of Yahoo Mail. “We want users to get the exact e-mail account they want so they stay with us for life,” he said.

Because “[email protected]” is likely taken by now, a lot of people must resort to unpleasant and hard-to-remember addresses such as “[email protected]” Yahoo wants to give people a new chance with a name they like.

Now rocketmail I like. If and when it becomes available I may get myself a ‘speedy’ sounding address. :-) There is one minor issue that I did think about. If someone, anyone, somewhere buys Yahoo, what guarantee do we have that they will keep email services in the future?

What do you think?

Comments welcome as always.