Reuters: "Netflix has agreed to pay one of the largest broadband providers in the United States Comcast Corp for faster speeds, throwing open the possibility that more content companies will have to shell out for better service. Comcast and Netflix made the joint announcement on Sunday, marking the first time that Netflix is paying for faster speeds in the U.S. after customers complained about slow service." Terms of the deal remain undisclosed. The news comes as US regulators wrestle with Net Neutrality, and is a perfect example of why it matters. More: "Netflix to pay Comcast for faster speeds [Reuters]
Robbo sez, "Dave Raphael of Dave's Blog has an interesting post
about a conversation he recently had with Verizon support and discovered some uncomfortable - yet wholly unsurprising - truths about how Verizon is selectively limiting bandwidth to AWS services and adversely affecting the quality of Netflix. The open admission of this by Verizon support was unexpected - but the fact it is happening should be of no surprise to anyone but the ignorant and naive."
Read the rest
Lloyd Kaufman, cofounder of Troma Entertainment (the people who brought us such films as the Toxic Avenger) has a brilliant, profane, and stirring editorial in support of Net Neutrality on Techdirt. Kaufman explains how an open Internet is the only competitve hedge against the communications giants that own "cinemas, newspapers, T.V. stations, radio and even Broadway 'legitimate' theaters." Thanks to the failure of the FCC to give Net Neutrality their full protection, and the court ruling that gutted the FCC's weak protections, Net Neutrality is in real trouble. Kaufman's editorial a great arguments for its preservation.
Read the rest
Tim Wu is the law professor and activist who coined the term "net neutrality" -- the principle that ISPs should get you the data you request, as efficiently as they know how, without deliberately slowing down some sites unless they've paid bribes for "preferred carriage." The FCC had made a halfhearted and legally doomed rule to protect American net neutrality, refusing to use its full regulatory power for fear of offending the powerful telcoms corporations it is meant to regulate.
A recent court decision struck down the FCC's rule, confirming critics' fears about the weakness of the FCC's legal position. Now, in a Washington Post interview, Wu explains what a blunder the FCC made (he calls it "a FEMA-level fail") and sets out the next steps the Commission should take if it is to ameliorate the consequences of its timidity and deference to the telcos:
Read the rest
Yesterday, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated the FCC's Open Internet Rules. These were the closest thing to a set of Net Neutrality rules America had: rules that were supposed to ensure that ISPs fetched you the data you asked for without prejudice, rather than giving preference to the companies that had bribed them for faster access to you.
But these rules sucked
As David Isenberg points out, the Open Internet Rules were drafted to be as inoffensive to great and powerful companies as possible. They were toothless, nearly pointless rules that turned their backs on "500 years of common law and a deep corpus of case law."
Read the rest
Alan sez, "Using a simple (if wordy) graphic, Common Cause has teamed up with Symbolia to produce a Creative Commons-licensed description of how Verizon's lawsuits and lobbying threaten net neutrality."
Big Deal Big Money
Robbo sez, "Alternet reports on Verizon's stated plan to overturn the Federal Communications Commission's Open Internet Order and charge selective tolls for access to internet content."
At its core Verizon's attack on the FCC is an attack on the idea that regulators have any role to ensure affordable access to an open Internet. Now more than ever we need policies to protect consumers and users of all communications. And as all media converges on digital networks that means policies that protect Net Neutrality.
While Verizon and other ISPs are already raking in immense profits from connecting users to the Internet, they see even higher margins in being able to tell us where to go once we're online. By charging a premium so wealthy businesses can jump to the front of the line, they're playing a game with data delivery that would shove all other sites to the back.
"I think the people who talk about dismantling -- threatening -- Net Neutrality don't appreciate how important it has been for us to have an independent market for productivity and for applications on the Internet," World Wide Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee has said.
Verizon's Outrageous Plot to Crack Up the Internet
In John Wooley's hilarious 30-minute mockumentary The Internet Must Go, he plays a marketing shill hired by the big cable operators and phone companies to convince Americans to accept corrupt, non-neutral Internet connections where your ability to reach sites and services online is based on whether your ISP has a deal with the company offering it.
Wooley's playing a Colbert-esque useful idiot, and he never breaks character as he interviews Susan Crawford, Al Franken, John Hodgman, Tim Wu, Larry Lessig, and many others, giving them the chance to play out the arguments for a neutral, fair Internet. The climax is a visit to North Carolina, where the big telcos have successfully gotten legislation passed banning municipalities from offering high-speed Internet, even in towns where the cable and phone companies have no plans to offer high-speed connections.
The trailer is above, the whole movie is below, but do visit the movie's site for action links and more interviews.
Read the rest
Michael from Public Knowledge sez, "Today the DC Circuit Court is hearing Verizon's challenge to the FCC's net neutrality rules. It has been a while since net neutrality was in the news, so we created this interactive timeline to remind people of all of the twists and turns of net neutrality so far."
A Timeline of Net Neutrality
For years, Google has intervened in regulatory and court proceedings on the side of net neutrality (except for its embarrassing and inexcusable joint filing with Verizon on mobile rules). But now that Google is running its own gigabit broadband service, it has told the FCC that it's perfectly reasonable to discriminate on the basis of which packets are flowing and how they were generated -- justifying its own terms-of-service that block running "servers." Without this policy, it would be harder for Google to sell a "business" service that was distinct from the gigabit home service.
Read the rest
Susan Crawford is an eminent telcoms scholar, former government official (who resigned because of corruption in telcoms policy) and the author, recently, of an important book on telcoms corruption and net neutrality called Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age. This book has scared the pants off of big telcos.
Their anti-Net-Neutrality front groups like NetCompetition, Broadband For America, and Media Freedom have been smearing Crawford and her book since it was published, and now, at least 31 people have posted highly similar one-star reviews of her book to Amazon, quoting talking points from these organizations. Most of these reviewers are not in Amazon's "real name" program, and the ones that are work for big telcos and the think-tanks they fund. Mike Masnick investigated the reviews in detail and it's pretty clear that nearly all the five-star reviews are from legit, named, disinterested parties (albeit with a few people who have a dog in the fight, like activists and scholars, and a couple more who say they are trying to balance out the one-star smears); meanwhile, nearly all the one-star reviews are from shills or telco people.
America has some of the worst Internet infrastructure in the developed world, and it's getting worse year by year. It's thanks to the crooked phone companies and their corrupt pals in Congress, the state houses, and the regulators. These titans have the country by its nervous system, and they're so afraid of criticism that they engage in petty, corrupt astroturfing to attack books that call them out. Now is a great time to buy Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age, read it, and give it an honest review.
Read the rest
As you doubtless suspected, your ISP wants Google and Netflix to cough up, and bandwidth is their bat
Behind the scenes, in negotiations that almost never become public, the world's biggest Internet providers and video services argue over how much one network should pay to connect to another. When these negotiations fail, users suffer. In other words, bad video performance is often caused not just by technology problems but also by business decisions made by the companies that control the Internet.
Alan Wexelblat sez, "Baratunde Thurston is generally known as a humorist, not a net.activist, but here he gives a concise and remarkably non-technical explanation of what net neutrality is and what it means for the average person."
Baratunde Thurston explains net neutrality
Brian sez, "I made an animated presentation about broadband and mobile data caps - specifically, how they discourage innovation, how the excuses used to justify data caps don't hold water, and the real reasons that ISPs and mobile providers are moving towards caps."
This is really good stuff. It might need an edit for time, but if you've got 11 minutes, this is what you should spend 'em on.
Why Data Caps Suck: The Animated Examination
The American Six-Strikes regime -- through which ISPs voluntarily agree to punish their customers if the entertainment industry accuses them of piracy -- has been delayed, again, to "early 2013." The Center for Copyright Information (CCI) -- which will act on the entertainment industry's behalf -- blames Hurricane Sandy for the delay.
TorrentFreak has learned that the main problem is to get all actors, including the ISPs and the American Arbitration Association, lined up to move at once. This proved to be much more difficult than anticipated.
Three of the five U.S. ISPs participating in the copyright alerts plan have revealed what mitigation measures they will take after the fourth warning.
AT&T will block users’ access to some of the most frequently websites on the Internet, until they complete a copyright course. Verizon will slow down the connection speeds of repeated pirates, and Time Warner Cable will temporarily interrupt people’s ability to browse the Internet.
It’s expected that the two remaining providers, Cablevison and Comcast, will take similar measures. None of the ISPs will permanently disconnect repeat infringers as part of the plan.
I love that AT&T will force its customers to complete copyright reeducation camps designed by the entertainment industry, and will withhold Facebook and YouTube until they pass the course and demonstrate their proficiency in parroting back Big Content's party line.
I wonder if Facebook will sue them for tortious interference.
Six Strikes Anti-Piracy Plan Delayed Till 2013
(Thanks to everyone who sent this in!)