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On Comcast and Net Neutrality: Shouting Fire in a Theater

The Comcast traffic shaping case has stirred up passionate debate. Net neutrality proponents are calling for Comcast's head on a platter. The common argument is that Comcast's policy may stifle innovation and competition. If a service provider is allowed to exercise unregulated discretion in how it treats subscriber traffic, it is a slippery slope toward anti-competitive practices. Net neutrality says keep your hands off. Some are preaching net neutrality as if it were an inalienable human right like freedom of speech... more

A Simulation of the SpaceX, Amazon, Telesat and OneWeb Broadband Satellite Constellations

Over two years ago, an MIT research group ran a simulation of the low-Earth orbit broadband constellations of OneWeb, SpaceX, and Telesat, and last January they repeated the simulation updating with revised constellation characteristics and adding Amazon's Project Kuiper. They ran the new simulation twice, once using the planned initial deployments of each constellation and a second time using the configuration shown. more

Still Waiting for IPv6

It's now been a decade since the world officially ran out of blocks of IP addresses. In early 2011 the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) announced that it had allocated the last block of IPv4 addresses and warned ISPs to start using the new IPv6 addresses. But here we are a decade later and not one of my clients has converted to IPv6. more

The White House Broadband Plan

Reading the White House $100 billion broadband plan was a bit eerie because it felt like I could have written it. The plan espouses the same policies that I've been recommending. This plan is 180 degrees different than the Congress plan that would fund broadband using a giant federal, and a series of state reverse auctions. The plan starts by citing the 1936 Rural Electrification Act, which brought electricity to nearly every home and farm in America. more

Time to Stop Talking About Unserved and Underserved

I work with communities all of the time that want to know if they are unserved or underserved by broadband. I've started to tell them to toss away those two terms, which is not a good way to think about broadband today. The first time I remember the use of these two terms was as part of the 2009 grant program created by the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009. The language that created those grants included language from Congress that defined the two terms. more

Internet Governance Outlook 2018: Preparing for Cyberwar or Promoting Cyber Détente?

In 2018, Internet Governance will be one of the top priorities in the geo-strategic battles among big powers. In today's world, every global conflict has an Internet-related component. There is no international security without cybersecurity. The world economy is a digital economy. And human rights are relevant offline as well as online. It is impossible to decouple cyberspace from the conflicts of the real world. more

The One Reason Net Neutrality Can’t Be Implemented

Suppose for a moment that you are the victim of a wicked ISP that engages in disallowed "throttling" under a "neutral" regime for Internet access. You like to access streaming media from a particular "over the top" service provider. By coincidence, the performance of your favoured application drops at the same time your ISP launches a rival content service of its own. You then complain to the regulator, who investigates... It seems like an open-and-shut case of "throttling" resulting in a disallowed "neutrality violation". Or is it? more

The Internet is Dead - Long Live the Internet

Back in the early 2000s, several notable Internet researchers were predicting the death of the Internet. Based on the narrative, the Internet infrastructure had not been designed for the scale that was being projected at the time, supposedly leading to fatal security and scalability issues. Yet somehow the Internet industry has always found a way to dodge the bullet at the very last minute. more

Cuba Getting Faster YouTube Access in Next 24 Hours, Thanks to Deal Signed in December

In the December of last, Cuba singed a deal with Google to enable faster access to content served via its popular platforms such Gmail and YouTube. more

If Slate Comes in Standard Sizes, Why Not Broadband?

Last week I was at the National Slate Museum in Wales watching slate being split apart. On the wall were sample pieces of all the standard sizes. These have cute names like "princess". For each size, there were three standard qualities: the thinnest are the highest quality (at 5mm in thickness), and the thickest have the lowest quality (those of 13mm or more). Obviously, a lighter slate costs less to transport and lets you roof a wider span and with less supporting wood, hence is worth more. more

Notorious Russian Ship Yanter Suspected of Cutting Syria’s Undersea Internet Cables

A Russian ship, suspected by intelligence and military officials to be capable of cutting undersea Internet cables, is spotted near the coast of Syria. more

The Digital Divide Has Persisted over the Life of the Internet

People have been trying to measure the global diffusion of the Internet and the digital divide between rich and poor nation for twenty five years. The first to do so was Larry Landweber, who noted whether or not a nation had an Internet (or other) connection. It was a binary metric -- yes or no -- and it was suitable to its time because there were only a handful of users who were restricted to teaching and research, using a few applications like email, file transfer, news groups and remote login. more

The Real Reason Why Network ‘Neutrality’ Is Impossible

In "Net Neutrality: Discrimination, Competition, and Innovation in the UK and US", Alissa Cooper and Ian Brown explore the relationship between two broadband regulatory regimes and their practical outcomes. The paper is of (paradoxical) interest as it (unintentionally) demonstrates how policy is being made without sufficient understanding of packet network performance. This paper contains many common fallacies about performance. These fallacies are fuelling misdirected conflicts over broadband regulatory policy. The underlying (false) assumption is that 'neutral' (aka 'non-discriminatory') networks exist. more

ISPs to Enforce Copyright Law

A group of major ISPs and major content providers have agreed on a a mechanism to enforce copyright laws in the network. While full details have not yet been released, the basic scheme involves using previously designed IP flags to denote public domain content. That is, given general copyright principles, it is on average a shorter code path and hence more efficient to set the flag on exempt material. more

What Does “Network Neutrality” Mean?

A lot of ink and pixels have been spilled about the FCC's new rules for network neutrality. It's impossible to comment sensibly yet about the actual proposal, since as far as I know it's not been published anywhere, but the various news reports have left me confused about just what is being addressed. There are a number of different sorts of behavior that can result in performance differences to the end user... The purpose of this post is to give a simplified (with luck, not too horribly oversimplified) explanation of the different issues here. more

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