Broadband

Broadband / Featured Blogs

Unbridled Discretion and Prior Restraint: The Verizon and Comcast Stories

Let's say that providing communications infrastructure is an inherent function of a state. Most people think of the internet as a telephone system, and most people think the telephone companies aren't supposed to choose which calls will go through based on their content. People think that because they think internet access, like telephone access, is a utility -- like electricity conduit, water pipes, etc. -- that has something to do with the government, and the government isn't supposed to discriminate. more

How the Internet On Cable Became the Internet As Cable

When Rogers Communications began promoting its [email protected] high-speed Internet service nearly a decade ago, the company branded it "the Internet on Cable." Years later, their service, as well as those of their competitors, is gradually morphing into "the Internet as Cable" as broadcasters, Internet service providers, and cultural groups steadily move toward the delivery of content online that bears a striking resemblance to the conventional cable model. more

Comcast’s Wrong Approach

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have to do a lot more than just provide a pipe from your residence to their facilities to assure that you have a good Internet experience. There is a raging debate, inextricable from the debate on Network Neutrality, both on what the proper responsibilities of an ISP are AND what methods are proper for carrying out those responsibilities. more

White Space in the Great White North

There is growing interest in the US for the FCC to look at White Space to enable more options for broadband wireless in rural areas. What is White Space? Last weekend, the Sunday NY Times published an article about wireless services that included this description: "In many areas, not all broadcast [television] channels are in use. The unused channels are "white spaces" of high-quality spectrum that could be made available to local Internet service providers. Unlike the much higher frequency of Wi-Fi, television broadcast frequencies can travel for miles and penetrate walls, providing a much broader range for Internet service." There is a coalition of eight technology companies driving the discussion in the US... more

A Packet of Lies

I've been reading the kerfuffle around Comcast's blocking of various random network protocols with interest. Whilst I remain convinced that blanket "network neutrality" legislation remains just a form of digital gripe water (cures colic for cybernauts), there's clearly a problem. As I previously alluded there's a definite consumer protection issue over what you buy when it says 'Internet' on the tin. So here's tuppence worth of additional input... more

Why a Net Neutrality Law is Not Enough

Once we decide that Network Neutrality is a good thing to (re)enshrine in law, then we need to ask how to do that effectively. One way would be to pass a law saying, "Thou shalt not discriminate." That's the current approach. But network operators will say that they must manage their network, and if, in the course of network management, they were to disadvantage some source, destination, application, service or content, they might be accused of violating the law. So any Network Neutrality law must have a Network Management Exception... more

The Myth of Infinite Bandwidth

Back in the late 1990s I was often asked what I thought would happen if Internet bandwidth was infinite -- what would that change about the Internet itself? Level 3's (LVLT) recent decision to slash prices on its content distribution network and rumors of new multi-terabit cables across the Pacific have me wondering if we are actually getting closer to having infinite bandwidth. But when replying to the infinite bandwidth question I was prone to posing a return question -- what does infinite bandwidth actually mean? more

FON and BT: Wifi Today; Mobile Tomorrow?

A deal announced today between British Telecom and upstart FON allows BT's Internet customers to share their own broadband connections via WiFi and, in turn, be able to access WiFi free at "thousands" (doesn't say how many) of FON hotspots around the world operated by other Foneros... When you buy home Internet access from BT and opt into this plan, you are also buying roaming access at no extra charge. The technology is supposed to assure that the part of the connection which you share is segregated from your own access so that there are no security problems caused by the sharing. more

Enterprise or Public Sector Investment in National Lambda Rail Presents a Unique Opportunity

Sometimes in our worries about the Duopoly, we fail to recognize that some extraordinary wealth of opportunity sits right underneath our noses. National Lambda Rail (NLR) is one such case. About six months ago I wrote in some detail about NLR and what made this entity different from previous attempts at research networks in the US... NLR runs on a philosophy of a user owned and administered research network. Intrernet2 (I2), during the ten years of its existence, has run on the basis of first a Qwest donated backbone known as Abilene and since November 2006 on the basis of a seven year managed services contract with Level 3 Communications. more

Wireless Net Neutrality

To date, most of the discussion on net neutrality has dealt with the behaviour of conventional wireline ISPs. RCR Wireless News is carrying an opinion piece called "Paying for the bandwidth we consume" by Mark Desautels, VP -- Wireless Internet Development for CTIA -- the trade association for the US wireless industry. His article follows up on reports of Comcast cable moving to discontinue internet access service to so-called "bandwidth hogs"... more