wasting bandwidth since 1999

Tag: net neutrality Page 1 of 2

Average Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Fair

 

In all the yelling back and forth (aka “discussion”) about net neutrality rules last year, much was said and written about the “average” internet user in the US.

The FCC chairman, who led efforts to kill them, and his supporters claimed that competition in the market would take care of any issues related to ISPs who try to slow or block competitors on their networks. According to this theory, customers could just switch to another provider if their current ISP begins to play with the traffic.

Except that “average” doesn’t mean everyone is equal, and is usually a crappy way to understand any issue.

The map above illustrates just how bad the internet market is for most locations in the US. It uses actual data about the availability of high bandwidth access, the kind necessary to fully benefit from modern web services, and clearly demonstrates that it “varies greatly based on where you live”.

Average in this example is weighted very heavily in favor of metropolitan areas where households are likely to have at least two high bandwidth choices when it comes to internet service providers. The darker colors on the map show areas with fewer choices and slower speeds.

But even in those lighter areas, like that splotch of white around Washington DC where I live, choice doesn’t necessarily mean competition. Our two major ISPs offer the same packages at the same price. And once the furor over this issue dies down, both are equally likely to favor their own content over competitors. We do have a few other, smaller, options buzzing around but they are not equivalent, even if the chairman wants us to believe they are.

So, maybe “average” is acceptable to those who dislike all governmental regulation. But it’s not to the millions who are below, and far below, that average.


On another issue, this map was created using data from a variety of public sources and ESRIs wonderful Story Map application. You can zoom in to the county level to get more information, although you should pull the map into it’s own window for best results.

Twitter Droppings

Being a small collection of links from my Twitter posts of the past week that deserve a few more than 140 characters.

Last week Google announced that HTML 5 would be the default format for all videos on YouTube. Most YouTube have no idea what that means (or the explanation in the post) but in the larger picture of the web, it’s good news. And one more sign that Flash is dying as a media distribution format, which can’t come fast enough for those who do understand since the technology is still buggy after all these years, not to mention a major security hole.

After last weekend’s Super Bowl, no one should be surprised that the NFL has annual revenues of $9.5 billion. What should shock you, not to mention the people leading this country, is that they are still a tax-exempt nonprofit organization. And it gets worse when you add in the billions of subsidies from state and local taxpayers that are used to pay for stadiums and other team facilities. “You really couldn’t ask for a better symbol of everything that’s wrong with US predatory capitalism.” Indeed!

Last week, the FCC decided to make some changes to reclassify internet service providers (like Verizon and Comcast) as “common carriers” under something called Title II. What does that mean to most of us who use the internet? David Weinberger asked an expert and their explainer is well worth a read. The issue is not that complicated but this is a major change that goes a long way to maintaining a “neutral” internet.

And finally, Fast Company speculates on why introverts are the best networkers on Twitter. I’m not sure I buy the premise, but much of the advice in the article could still apply to working with introverted students. And with helping everyone make the best use of social media.

More Crap Public Policy Polling

According to a recent survey, only 21% of those polled supports “net neutrality”, which really doesn’t make much sense until you read past the headline find more than a little crap in this so-called “research”.

The worst part was that the poll really didn’t ask about net neutrality in the first place.  Instead the polling company asked “Should the Federal Communications Commission regulate the Internet like it does radio and television?”

Neutrality is NOT about the government regulating the net in the same way they do with scarce spectrum used in traditional over-the-air communications.

It’s about preventing big media companies from controlling traffic and making sure everyone gets equal access to any and all resources they choose to use.

However, it’s not surprising the survey was phrased in a way that would benefit the corporations that own the wires, not the content producers.

The poll was conducted by Rasmussen, whose work is widely known in the industry as being “biased and inaccurate“, and is a favorite of Republican candidates and their pet cable channel.

Of course, too many of our congress critters (not to mention most of their constituents) are totally clueless when it comes to public polling, and rarely look even this deep into the statistics before accepting the findings and making their policy decisions.

As always, research of any kind should be approached with a large degree of skepticism and some understanding of basic statistics, two skills kids do not learn in most schools.

Fair Rules of the Road

This could be a very good thing.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski delivered a major address today in which he offered a strong case for net neutrality.

It could be a lot of talk but at least he seems to have a good grasp of the situation and the problems that need fixing.

This is not about government regulation of the Internet. It’s about fair rules of the road for companies that control access to the Internet. We will do as much as we need to do, and no more, to ensure that the Internet remains an unfettered platform for competition, creativity, and entrepreneurial activity.

This is not about protecting the Internet against imaginary dangers. We’re seeing the breaks and cracks emerge, and they threaten to change the Internet’s fundamental architecture of openness. This would shrink opportunities for innovators, content creators, and small businesses around the country, and limit the full and free expression the Internet promises. This is about preserving and maintaining something profoundly successful and ensuring that it’s not distorted or undermined. If we wait too long to preserve a free and open Internet, it will be too late.

Making this the default policy of the Commission won’t be easy, as clearly illustrated by one proposed amendment to an unrelated appropriations bill that would forbid the FCC from even considering net neutrality rules.

The big telecoms are not happy with the idea of them not being allowed to control (and make bigger profits from) the web and are already making down payments on the Congress critters they need to stop it from happening.

Secure and Neutral: A Good Combination

According to a speech by President Obama today, the government intends to take the issue of internet security seriously.

In short, America’s economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cybersecurity.

And this is also a matter of public safety and national security.  We count on computer networks to deliver our oil and gas, our power and our water.  We rely on them for public transportation and air traffic control.  Yet we know that cyber intruders have probed our electrical grid and that in other countries cyber attacks have plunged entire cities into darkness.

Certainly it’s true that modern life has come to depend on fast and reliable connections between all kinds of devices (not to mention my ability to Twitter about the crap of the day :-).

I’m just not so sure responsibility for it should rest with the Department of Defense.

Anyway, I can live with that as long as he’s also serious about this part of his remarks.

Let me also be clear about what we will not do.  Our pursuit of cybersecurity will not — I repeat, will not include — monitoring private sector networks or Internet traffic.  We will preserve and protect the personal privacy and civil liberties that we cherish as Americans.  Indeed, I remain firmly committed to net neutrality so we can keep the Internet as it should be — open and free.

Exactly.

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