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WiMAX vs. WiFi

In fact WiFi (technically standard 802.11) and WiMAX (802.16) don't compete for broadband users or applications today. That's partly because WiFi is widely deployed and WiMAX is still largely an unfulfilled promise and partly because the two protocols were designed for very different situations. However, if WiMAX is eventually widely deployed, there will be competition between them as last mile technologies. Some people describe the difference between WiFi and WiMAX as analogous to the difference between a cordless phone and a mobile phone... more

Call for Telecom Industry Wake-Up

As many of you know, I'm launching the Emerging Communications (eComm) conference -- taking place next month in Silicon Valley, at the Computer History Museum. Communications innovation has been stagnant, in my opinion, for nearly a decade. Telecommunications and Internet communications both seem to be at somewhat of an impasse. The communications industry needs a forum to help break through the stagnancy and highlight the huge opportunity space that is emerging. The stagnancy has been strikingly more so in telecommunications... more

As the Comcast Saga Unfolds, Be Careful What You Wish For

Comcast has been in the news recently for deliberately "slowing down" some subscribers and applications in its broadband cable service. There was an article in the Washington Post today updating the case, and there was a recent article in Network World that actually favors the groups filing the complaints and calls for the FCC to crack down on Comcast. more

More on 700 MHz Block C Hits Reserve Price

This is big... For the upper band C Block, the FCC mandated that any winning licensee have in place "no locking" and "no blocking" provisions conditioning its use of this spectrum: "Licensees offering service on spectrum subject to this section shall not deny, limit, or restrict the ability of their customers to use the devices and applications of their choice on the licensee..." The no-locking, no-blocking requirements were hedged in by substantial limitations... But it's still important... Particularly if Google is the winning bidder, something we may not know for a month or so. more

Client-based WDS: Providing Application Acceleration in Mobile and VPN Environments

Wide-Area Data Services (WDS), aka "WAN Optimization" is becoming the most effective way to improve application performance while reducing network traffic. In scenarios where there is significant network latency that would otherwise render many applications unusable, WDS can deliver almost LAN-like speed. Where bandwidth constraints exist and there is no practical or economical option, WDS can help reduce network traffic, allowing you to postpone or avoid circuit upgrades altogether. The technology provides the ability to centralize applications and servers, furthering the cost savings on hardware, software licensing, maintenance and the operation of a distributed architecture. more

How Tiered Internet Pricing Could Actually Facilitate P2P

Time Warner Cable's planned experiment with tiered charging for Internet access has generated a flurry of coverage in the blogsphere, but no new insights (at least that I've seen). The primary problem ISP's complain about is that 5% of their customers use 90% of the available bandwidth and when they examine this traffic, it's mostly peer-to-peer file sharing... more

Google Playing to Win in the 700 MHz Auctions

Many say Google will bid to lose in the upcoming 700 MHz auctions and many more are equivocating. The idea is Google's entry alone will induce enough openness, and besides they couldn't afford to become an operator. This shows a total lack of understanding! more

Internet Access and the Missing Institutional Design

It's Friday, a day to tie some threads together. There were three announcements/events this week that are connected in a non-obvious way... These three elements go together in creating a picture of US policy towards Internet access at the beginning of 2008. Rather than seeing the Internet as an engine for economic growth, creativity, innovation, and new jobs -- and as the converged communications medium for the next generation -- current policy is to wait for private companies to decide when investment in access makes sense for them. Those private companies have plenty of incentives to shape access to suit their own business plans. more

The Network Management Excuse

Telco front-man Scott Cleland, in a recent blog post, thumbs his nose at the Four Internet Freedoms and says that the FCC should too. Under current leadership, it probably will. Referring to the recent submissions to the FCC by Free Press and Public Knowledge and Vuze complaining about Comcast's use of reset packets to block applications that compete with Comcast's own proprietary video entertainment offering, Cleland says "Network management trumps net neutrality." There are lots of reasons for, ahem, managing. Cleland neglects to observe that controlling congestion the way Comcast does it is like scattering nails in the road for traffic control. more

“The Broadband Revolution”

The International Telecommunications Union recently issued a press release announcing with joy the release of "the first set of global standards for Internet Protocol TV (IPTV)." A key sentence: "A combination of voice, Internet and video services over a single broadband link and from a single provider is foreseen as the ultimate goal of the broadband revolution." Those of you who lived through 'What Is Broadband Good For?' with me last summer, know that the word "broadband" is a pet bugaboo of mine. It's a word that answers a lot of policy questions in a particular way. more