David Cay Johnston has written a good piece in the New York Times this week outlining all the ways the American market for Internet services — and wireline services in particular — is truly godawful. Johnston’s arguments are familiar by now but that doesn’t make them any less relevant, especially his nuggets on how American consumers pay vastly more for “bundled” Internet, television and phone services than consumers overseas. For example, Johnston notes that “on average… a triple-play package that bundles Internet, telephone and television sells for $160 a month with taxes” whereas “in France the equivalent costs just $38.” More →
Nicholas Merrill’s crowd-funded Internet Service Provider raised more than $43,000 in donations in less than 24 hours, CNET reported on Thursday. “I had no idea that the crowd funding would take off as much as it has in such a short time,” Merrill told the news source. “I hope that people will continue to spread the word and help Calyx reach its funding goal so this plan can come to fruition sooner rather than later.” Merrill’s new company, The Calyx Institute, aims to be a “non-profit telecommunications provider dedicated to privacy, using ubiquitous encryption,” and intends to sell Internet access for as little as $20 per month. The company is seeking $1 million in donation-based funding for a “bare-bones launch,” or $2 million in funding for a faster launch. “I am grateful for the outpouring of support which I think clearly demonstrates that there is a vast public demand for privacy-conscious telecommunications companies,” Merrill concluded. More →
Nicholas Merrill, formerly the head of a New York-based Internet Service Provider that fought the FBI and DOJ in court over the constitutionality of the Patriot Act and won, plans to launch a new non-profit, crowd-funded ISP that will make its users’ privacy a central focus. “I have a bit of a track record of fighting for the right to privacy on the Internet, and I have a plan to radically transform the way the Telecommunications industry works,” Merrill said. His new company, The Calyx Institute, aims to be a “non-profit telecommunications provider dedicated to privacy, using ubiquitous encryption,” and it intends to sell Internet access for as little as $20 per month as well as mobile phone service. More →
Thousands of broadband subscribers in the United Kingdom who illegally downloaded pornography will soon have their identities exposed. The United Kingdom’s High Court has ordered O2, a large U.K.-based Internet service provider, to hand over personal details identifying more than 9,000 subscribers to Golden Eye International and Ben Dover Productions, two companies run by British porn actor and producer Lindsay Honey. The subscribers in question are found to have illegally download copies of copyrighted movies owned by the pornographer, and their identities will be turned over to the court so that Golden Eye International and Ben Dover Productions can seek damages. O2 reportedly fought in court to protect the identities of its subscribers, however the company confirmed that it would cooperate with the court’s ultimate decision. “Clearly we respect the court order and will therefore be co-operating fully,” an O2 spokesperson told AKAScope. More →
Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon, Time Warner Cable and other Internet service providers in the United States will soon launch new programs to police their networks in an effort to catch digital pirates and stop illegal file-sharing. Major ISPs announced last summer that they had agreed to take new measures in an effort to prevent subscribers from illegally downloading copyrighted material, but the specifics surrounding the imminent antipiracy measures were not made available. Now, RIAA chief executive Cary Sherman has said that ISPs are ready to begin their efforts to curtail illegal movie, music and software downloads on July 12th. Read on for more. More →
Data caps that wireless carriers and internet service providers often implement on heavy data users may not be the right solution for avoiding network congestion. Instead, ISPs and carriers should throttle data speeds to ensure solid network performance. Research firm Diffraction Analysis recently set out to discover if “data hogs” — the few people on the internet who consume more data than the general population — really do have a negative effect on the overall quality of a network. Read on for more. More →
4G is a hot topic here on BGR and as such, we’ve likely become more numb than we should when it comes to advertised data speeds. We’re so used to seeing “theoretical limits” that are so far from reality we just chuckle and move along. The wireline broadband industry, however, is a different beast. According to a study recently conducted by the Federal Communications Commission, major broadband Internet service provides in the U.S. deliver data speeds that are generally between 80% and 90% of the speeds they advertise. The Associated Press reports that the FCC’s study measured data speeds delivered to thousands of U.S. broadband subscribers this past March from 13 of the nation’s top ISPs including Time Warner, Comcast, AT&T and Verizon. The three most popular wired broadband technologies were covered by the study — DSL, cable and fiber — and data rates were said to have been close to the advertised speeds during both peak and off-peak times. The AP notes that the FCC’s study didn’t delve into speeds delivered by wireless data services, which is a study we would love to see. More →
AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon have reached an agreement with music and movie publishers that will help enforce copyright infringement while giving the ISPs a chance to level with their customers. According to Ars Technica, copyright owners will continue to scour the dark corners of the net looking for anyone downloading and illegally sharing their content. If an IP is found to be downloading or sharing illegal content — likely via P2P networks — the music and movie companies will alert the ISP directly. ISP’s will then send a note to the offending customer, without passing off private information unless there is a court order to do so. Users may get up to four alerts from the ISP, but after that the ISP can choose to start implementing “temporary reductions of Internet speeds, redirection to a landing page until the subscriber contacts the ISP to discuss the matter or reviews and responds to some educational information about copyright, or other measures that the ISP may deem necessary to help resolve the matter.” If a user believes he or she has been targeted without merit, an appeals process can be started for a $35 fee but, as Ars Technica notes, it’s unclear who will be the judge in that process. Read on for the full details on the six strikes. More →
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that hackers have accessed the customer accounts of Sony subsidiary So-net Entertainment Corp, an ISP, and have stolen about $1,225 worth of redeemable gift points. The news comes just weeks after Sony’s massive security breach, during which private information and 12.3 million credit card numbers were stolen from more than 100 million Sony’s Qriocity and PlayStation Network users. Sony said the So-net hacker tried to break into its systems more than 10,000 times before he or she was able to successfully log-in. The intruder was able to access 201 accounts, and he or she stole the redeemable points from 128 customers. “Although we can’t completely rule out the possibility that there is a connection with the PSN issue, the likelihood is low,” said So-net Entertainment spokesperson Keisuke Watabe, noting that the style of attack was different. So-net does not believe that personal information was taken during the break-in. More →
Reports have begun sprouting up all over the Internet claiming that Comcast, and a handful of other ISPs, are blocking access to torrent treasure trove, The Pirate Bay. Being a Comcast customer here in Boston, I thought it might be a good time to test the reports. My findings: yup, they’re definitely blocking it. Attempts to navigate to thepiratebay.org result in a timeout error — I even switched DNS servers to make sure it wasn’t a name-server record error causing the behavior. After firing up my trusty VPN client and initiating a session, connectivity to the site was immediately restored. Comcast now has more impetus to bar connections to the torrent index — its merger with NBC Universal means that the ISP owns content that is potentially being shared illegally — but the blocking of sites that do not further a corporation’s interests is a very slippery slope. I’ve reached out to Comcast for comment and will report back with any additional information provided. Anyone else seeing this behavior? If so, drop us a comment and let us know where you are and what ISP you’re using.
UPDATE: Comcast has issued the following statement to BGR: “We’re not blocking PirateBay [The Pirate Bay] and reports online indicate users from several ISPs around the world are affected. We have FAQs about our network management practices available here.” More →
Reuters is reporting that retail giant Best Buy has signed a partnership deal with WiMax network operator Clearwire. Beginning in 2011, Best Buy will be offering wireless 4G data plans, on Clearwire’s WiMax network, under their Best Buy Connect service offering. No details on pricing, availability, or hardware have been announced. Currently Clearwire’s 4G network covers 43 major cities around the U.S. More on this as it develops… More →
Rogers Communications, Canada’s second largest internet provider, has lowered the data allowance on several of its residential internet plans. Rogers “Extreme” service will now offer an 80 GB per month allowance (formerly 90 GB), and subscribers to the “Lite” service will be allotted 15 GB per month (formerly 25 GB). The CBC speculates that Netflix’s recent announcement to open shop in the Great White North may have something to do with Rogers’ decision. It isn’t all bad news though, Rogers upped the speeds on their “Extreme” plan from 10 Mbps to 15 Mbps… so that’s something. Currently, Rogers provides home internet service to over 1.6 million Canadian subscribers. More →
According to Net Index, a new website operated by Seattle-based Ookla (the people behind Speedtest.net), the United States is falling behind the rest of the world when it comes to wired broadband speeds. Based on user test info generated over the past 30 days, Net Index ranked the US 26th in the world for downlink speeds with an average downlink speed of 10.16Mbps. Such speeds might not seem all that bad at first glance, but considering that the global average is 7.67Mbps, it’s clear that US ISPs have a lot of ground to make up. South Korea finished first with an average of 34.14Mbps, followed by Latvia, the Republic of Moldova, and Japan at 24.29, 21.37 and 20.39Mbps respectively.
Moving to uplink speeds, South Korea once again led the pack with an average of 18.04Mbps while the US’s 2.21Mbps was barely above the world average of 2.10Mbps. In an attempt to keep things as even as possible, Net Index only counted results from nations in which tests were taken from at least 75,000 unique IP addresses. And though the results are by no means scientific, they will no doubt provide a lot of talking points for those currently engaged in the ongoing battle between advocates of net neutrality and ISPs whose interests are best served by imposing caps on data speeds and usage Results from colleges and businesses were excluded from the results.