Net Neutrality is only complicated because monopolists are paying to introduce doubt

My op-ed in New Internationalist, ‘Don’t break the 21st century nervous system’, seeks to cut through the needless complexity in the Net Neutrality debate, which is as clear-cut as climate change or the link between smoking and cancer -- and, like those subjects, the complexity is only there because someone paid to introduce it. Read the rest

100 million Americans live in areas where every single ISP has admitted to violating net neutrality

Trump FCC Chairman Ajit Pai -- a former Verizon exec -- says that we can count on ISPs to voluntarily refrain from abusing their natural monopolies to degrade service to their customers in order to maximize their profits. Read the rest

Ajit Pai made a funny: leaked video shows his presentation at the Telecom Prom where he "pretends" to be a Verizon shill

Trump FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is a former top Verizon executive and now he's about to hand Verizon billions of dollars in public subsidy by striking down net neutrality rules, which is a really funny coincidence! Read the rest

Bell is leading the push to end Canadian Net Neutrality with a secret, extrajudicial Star Chamber that will decide what Canadians can and can't see

Canada has a grotesquely concentrated telcoms sector and a grotesquely concentrated media sector, and thanks to a series of extremely anticompetitive mergers, the two sectors are one in the same. Read the rest

Comcast flushed its 3 year old net neutrality promise down the memory hole the instant the FCC announced its plan to allow network discrimination

Comcast fought the last net neutrality regulation in 2015 by making a bunch of promises about how fair it would be, whether or not the FCC regulated its behavior; this week, Comcast has put on charm offensive by repeating all but one of those promises, namely, its promise not to create internet slow lanes and then extort money from web publishers by threatening to put them there unless they paid for "premium access" to the Comcast subscribers who were trying to retrieve data from them. Read the rest

Net Neutrality is just for starters: municipal networks are the path to paradise

We just bought a house here in Burbank and I was delighted to learn that my new home office -- part of a business incorporated in the state of California -- would be sitting directly on one of the scorching-fast fiber optic lines that the city of Burbank maintains to wire up Disney, Warners and the other major businesses in town. Finally, an end to my long nightmare of slow, balky internet from Charter/Spectrum, my local cable monopolist! Read the rest

A million anti-Net Neutrality comments reportedly fake

Over on Hackernoon, data scientist and "language nerd," Jeff Kao, has posted the results of a data analysis he did on Net Neutrality comments submitted to the FCC between April-October 2017. Using natural language processing techniques, he was able to look for suspicious patterns in the language used. What he found was alarming.

The first and largest cluster of pro-repeal documents was especially notable. Unlike the other clusters I found (which contained a lot of repetitive language) each of the comments here was unique; however, the tone, language, and meaning across each comment was largely uniform. The language was also a bit stilted. Curious to dig deeper, I used regular expressions to match up the words in the clustered comments:

It turns out that there are 1.3 million of these. Each sentence in the faked comments looks like it was generated by a computer program. A mail merge swapped in a synonym for each term to generate unique-sounding comments. It was like mad-libs, except for astroturf.

When laying just five of these side-by-side with highlighting, as above, it’s clear that there’s something fishy going on. But when the comments are scattered among 22+ million, often with vastly different wordings between comment pairs, I can see how it’s hard to catch. Semantic clustering techniques, and not typical string-matching techniques, did a great job at nabbing these.

Finally, it was particularly chilling to see these spam comments all in one place, as they are exactly the type of policy arguments and language you expect to see in industry comments on the proposed repeal, or, these days, in the FCC Commissioner’s own statements lauding the repeal.

Read the rest

Arrogant overreach: Ajit Pai's plan to totally destroy net neutrality may doom him in court

If Trump FCC chairman Ajit Pai had confined his attack on Net Neutrality to merely rolling back the 2015 Title II rules, he might have gotten away with it; but like the Republican plan to kill Obamacare, the Republican plan to rob the middle class to enrich billionaires, and, well, every other Republican plan in this administration, Pai's plan is so grotesque, so overreaching, so nakedly corrupt that it is likely to collapse under its own weight. Read the rest

Poor Detroit neighborhoods, abandoned by telcos and the FCC, are rolling out homebrew, community mesh broadband

40% of Detroiters have no internet access. The Detroit Community Technology Project and similar projects across the city are skipping over the telcos altogether and wiring up their own mesh broadband networks, where gigabit connections are transmitted by line-of-site wireless across neighborhoods from the tops of tall buildings; it's called the Equitable Internet Initiative. Read the rest

70% of poor people on broadband subsidy will lose their connections thanks to Trump's FCC

Trump's FCC is gutting the Lifeline service, which gives poor families a $9.25/month subsidy for fixed or mobile broadband; under the new rules, poor people will have to buy their connections from major carriers (who often don't offer Lifeline plans), and will no longer be able to use the resellers who presently constitute 70% of the Lifeline connections. Read the rest

Despite Comcast's "misinformation campaign," Colorodans vote en masse to reject ban on municipal internet

The telcoms industry has aggressively lobbied state legislatures to pass laws banning cities from setting up their own internet infrastructure, even in places where there is no broadband, exacerbating the high prices and poor service that Americans pay for their internet. Read the rest

Portuguese non-neutral ISP shows us what our Trumpian internet will look like

Since 2006, Net Neutrality activists have been warning that a non-Neutral internet will be an invitation to ISPs to create "plans" where you have to choose which established services you can access, shutting out new entrants to the market and allowing the companies with the deepest pockets to permanently dominate the internet. Read the rest

San Francisco may finally get decent internet access, thanks to municipal fiber

American cities have some of the slowest, most expensive internet access in the world, and the biggest, wealthiest cities are some of the worst-provisioned, including San Francisco, ground zero for the tech revolution and home to a cable/telco duopoly whose underperforming infrastructure is especially galling for the city's techie residents. Read the rest

Trump's “free market” FCC loves monopolies, especially when they rip off prisoners' families

The American prison system is home to one of the greatest market-failures in the history of telephony (which is saying something): a monopolistic system in which sole-supplier, hedge-fund owned telcoms operators charge as much as $14/minute for prisoners to talk with their lawyers, families and loved ones. Read the rest

Trump's FCC redefines "effective competition" to include having only one ISP in your county

US businesses really get screwed by their ISPs: 73% of the US only has one business ISP; 24% of the remainder has only two ISPs, and only 3% of the US has 3 or more ISPs that will sell them internet access. Read the rest

Ofcom wants to give Britons the right to cancel their broadband when speed guarantees are broken

A new consultation by the UK telcoms regulator Ofcom will require ISPs to match the speeds they advertise, and if they fail to do so, customers will get the right to unilaterally cancel their broadband subscriptions without penalty. Read the rest

Analysis of 22 million FCC comments show that humans love Net Neutrality and bots really, really hate it

Data analysis company Gravwell ingested 22,000,000 comments sent to the FCC's docket on Net Neutrality and posted their preliminary findings, which are that the majority of comments came from bots, and these bots oppose Net Neutrality; of the comments that appear to originate with humans, the vast majority favor Net Neutrality. Read the rest

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