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Broadband Routers and Botnets: Being Proactive

In this post I'd like to discuss the threat widely circulated insecure broadband routers pose today. We have touched on it before. Today, yet another public report of a vulnerable DSL modem type was posted to bugtraq, this time about a potential WIRELESS flaw with broadband routers being insecure at Deutsche Telekom. I haven't verified this one myself but it refers to "Deutsche Telekom Speedport w700v broadband router"... more

Ready or Not… Here Come the IRC-Controlled SIP/VoIP Attack Bots and Botnets!

A story... ZZZ Telemarketing (not a real name) is locked in a heated fight with their bitter rival, YYY Telemarketing (also not a real name), to win a very large lead generation contract with Customer X. Customer X has decided to run a test pitting the two companies against each other for a week to see who can generate the most leads. The ZZZ CEO has said to his staff that it is "do or die" for the company. If they fail to win the contract, they will have to shut down -- they need to do "whatever it takes" to win over YYY. A ZZZ staffer discovers that part of why YYY has consistently underbid them is because they are using SIP trunks to reduce their PSTN connection costs. But the staffer also discovers that YYY is using very cheap voice service providers who run over the public Internet with no security... more

Ed Richards of Ofcom on Net Neutrality

Ed Richards, Chief Executive of Ofcom, was at Columbia today... NN (Net Neutrality) debate does give us insight into importance of disclosure to consumers -- consumers should be able to switch providers, and they should know which ISPs are making prioritization decisions. This should be an obligation of suppliers to communicate this information to consumers. In particular, he says that Ofcom is actively exploring whether network operators whose traffic shaping activities change materially should have to tell consumers -- and if these changes are significant consumers should be allowed to break their contracts with the provider without penalty... more

Whose Network is it Anyway?

In reading a Q&A with Verizon's Brian Whitten I found this striking Q and A: "Q. With a fiber connection being symmetric, many fiber providers such as Paxio are providing symmetric connections such as 5Mbit, 10Mbit, 30Mbit. Why is Verizon keeping this arbitrary asymmetric limit with Fiber? A. ...Indeed, our FTTP network can easily support a symmetric data service. As market dynamics change, we would re-assess the benefit to our customers of introducing a class of symmetric data services." My reaction is "No thank you, I'd rather do it myself". To understand my reaction you need to recognize the difference between wanting to build my own bridge across a stream and asking why I'm not allowed to cross it myself using my own boat. more

Infrastructure ENUM

After much initial fanfare a couple of years ago ENUM has matured to a state where it is currently yet another under-achiever in the technology deployment stakes. ENUM initially presented itself as a very provocative response to the legacy telco position of monopolising public voice services through their exclusive control over the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and the associated controlling position over the telephone number space... The perception was that ENUM was going to dismantle these levers of control and open up the voice market to a new wave of competitive carriers. If the address plan was the key to the PSTN, then ENUM was intended unlock this network and position the new wave of Voice Over IP (VOIP) carriers to take over any residual treasures of the traditional voice market. Events have not played out according to these expectations... more

.Mobi Premium Name Auction Off to Wild Success at TRAFFIC in Miami

I'm in attendance at the the TRAFFIC EAST 2006 show, in Hollywood [Miami], Florida. There has been a lot of buzz here about the .Mobi top level domain, ranging from the talk of early registrants hoping to create the next big mobile portal to those that were keen to see implementations of mobile content. There was a domain name auction this evening where flowers.mobi sold for $200,000.00 (USD), and fun.mobi for $100,000.00 (USD) from a long list of domain names in the com, net, info, org, us and mobi extensions. more

If It’s Not Neutral It’s Not Internet

The success of a proposal by AT&T and Verizon to end net neutrality does not threaten the Internet. The broadband customers of AT&T and Verizon will just no longer have access to the Internet. The development appropriately creates alarm among AT&T and Verizon's customers, but the combined customer bases of these companies represent less than 2% of the billion or so users of the Internet. The fact that access to the Internet requires net neutrality does not depend on laws passed by the US Congress or enforced by the FCC. Neutrality arises as a technical and business imperative facilitating the interconnection 250,000 independent networks that choose to participate in the Internet. more

Net Neutrality Again!

I had hoped to take a longer break from the theme of Net Neutrality, but a piece on Om Malik's blog by Daniel Berninger seems to be screaming for a reply. Berninger hails from Tier 1 Research; his credentials show a close association with Jeff Pulver's Free World Dialup, and hence a piece that is sympathetic to the 'Save the Internet' movement. His legalistically styled piece attempts to suggest that, in the absence of conformance to network neutrality principles, telephone companies will lose their common carrier status and therefore should lose their access to low cost rights-of-way. Good try, Dan... more

Preserving “Rational Competition”?

In What's Driving the Next Telecom Law, David Isenberg writes about the incumbents desire to preserve "Rational Competition"... Rational competition is the idea that corporations, knowing their own costs, and their competition's pricing, will price their products to maximize profits. It is tied up in the language of predatory pricing. Some economists argue that predatory pricing is rare, because it is, in fact, irrational... The flaw in the incumbent's argument is twofold... more

Telephony, Regulation, and VoIP

A new article by Ken Camp, published at Realtime VoIP, discusses telephony regulations, describing some existing regulatory issues surrounding telecommunications and how they might impact VoIP services. The following is an introduction to this article: "Bringing new technologies such as VoIP into service presents a wide range of technical challenges. Given the highly regulated environment of telecommunications, VoIP presents a set of regulatory challenges. For the most part, these challenges present hurdles to VoIP service providers who want to deliver commercial services to consumers and businesses and don't directly impact business VoIP deployment. ...Businesses that embrace managed VoIP services might want to review some of these regulatory issues, such as E-911 services, with the managed VoIP service provider." more

How to Increase Broadband Competition

Susan Crawford, seeking to learn from Korea and Japan, identifies three routes towards broadband competition... Facilities based competition: Still waiting for that mythical third wire, or perhaps some unused, unlicensed TV spectrum, but not holding my breath. (Broadband over powerline? It is such an encumbered technology that it is its own barrier to entry.) Wholesale access: Been there, tried that, but the Bells wouldn't unbundled elements... more

Comparative Broadband Ideas

The primary reason that Japan and Korea do so much better than the U.S. on any measurement of broadband (availability, penetration, price, speed) is that there is fierce competition in the market for broadband internet access in these countries. ...How do you increase competition in the U.S. for broadband access? Right now, we have giants fighting with each other -- cable and telephone companies. Small numbers of these companies control 80%-90% of the market for broadband access... more

Network Neutrality Upsetting Worldviews?

With everyone talking about network neutrality, with all the heat, it didn't feel good to have to be in NY today and miss the goings-on in Washington. I watched part of the late afternoon markup session online, with Rep. Barton sounding awfully effective as he marched steadily through Title III -- quickly taking votes, soothing congress people who were suggesting soon-to-be-rejected amendments, and sounding confident. The only substantive work I heard was the rejection of an amendment that would have left in place all state laws that regulate the subjects of the bill -- like mini wireless networks. But the real news had already happened... more

Help! This is Not an Emergency

I like the drift of the Pulver/Evslin proposal on emergency communications, and wish there was as vigorous a debate going on over here. I just hope we in the UK aren't jerked out of complacency by some major disaster -- although widespread use of pre-paid cellular means the problem of sunken landlines isn't as acute. Yet I can't help but wonder why the poor public has to wait for a disaster before they're given partial control over how their number maps to different destinations and services. Why can't I get a voicemail service from someone other than my connectivity provider? Why is ENUM hostage to the telcos, whose interest lies in ensuring that new services can only come from them? more

Post-Disaster Communications Petition

Recently, FCC placed on public review a petition filed by Evslin Consulting and pulver.com. The petition grew out of the experiences felt during a breakdown in communications network caused by Hurricane Katrina. As you may recall, whole communities were evacuated in the Gulf coast and many families were separated because they ended in different cities. Added to the trauma, many of these evacuees found it difficult to contact and communicate with each other. But those who have VoIP service and those who subscribe to premium features on their PSTN lines were better off because their services were able to forward the calls to the new location... more