Thursday turned out to be a nightmarish day for internet junkies across Canada, as the CRTC ruled that both Bell can proceed with plans to charge broadband customers per gigabyte of data consumed. Known as usage-based billing, the CRTC granted Bell permission to go ahead with the changes on the condition that it does not charge usage-based rates to wholesalers until all of its retail customers are switched over to usage-based plans. Bell did away with uncapped data allotments in 2006 and the vast majority of its retail customers are presently on usage-based plans. If and when all consumers are on the new plans, Bell will be able and willing to impose a cap of 2GB, 20GB and 60GB on its 512Kbps, 2 Mbps and 5Mbps services. Anyone who exceeds the cap will have to pay $1.12 per GB up to a maximum of $22.50. Exceed 300GB and pay an additional $0.75 per GB. Many wholesalers are crying foul over the ruling as it gives Bell an even greater advantage over its partners wholesales and significantly reduces competition in the broadband market as it will force rates to be raised. Bell has yet to comment on the ruling. More →
As part of his presentation at the RSA Security Conference currently taking place in San Francisco, Scott Charney, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President for Trustworthy Computing, discussed different tactics for combating the scourge of spyware that is infecting computers by the billions. One such proposition applies a health care paradigm to the problem and views spyware as a disease that requires a social program to identify, quarantine, and cure afflicted computers. The bulk of the cost to identify and cure these sick computers would be shouldered by the Internet service providers who could pass this cost onto consumers by presenting the problem as a public safety issue and funding it with general taxation. Would you pay a stupid computer user general tax to help better the Internet and keep it clean or is Microsoft just drunk with success at its recent victory over the Waledac botnet and spewing forth wild and crazy ideas? More →
Back in 2007 and 2008, internet service provider Comcast was accused of throttling packet data traveling over its network; more specifically, packet data that was deemed to be P2P traffic, a la BitTorrent. The story goes: Comcast denies the whole thing, the Associated Press, smelling blood, launches an investigation, and customers’ suspicions are confirmed. After the AP published its report — stating Comcast was indeed throttling, or in some instances outright blocking, data flowing over ports commonly used by P2P sites and programs — Comcast suddenly remembered that it was, perhaps, doing a little “network management.” Class action lawsuits suits ensued (pun intended). Today it looks like Comcast has settled one of the suits, filed out of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, for a cool $16 million. The ISP maintains the settlement is to “avoid a potentially lengthy and distracting legal dispute that would serve no useful purpose”…right. Now, those who enter into the class action settlement aren’t going to be on easy street as they are guaranteed no more than $16 for their troubles, but can you really put a price on damning the man? More →
Stateside ISP Comcast is ready to jump on the 3G/4G wireless data bandwagon — and how. The Comcast site is boasting 4G services for residents of Bellingham, WA, Portland, OR, and Atlanta, GA, — with more to come — and 3G coverage throughout most of the continental US. Comcast doesn’t make note of what cell provider(s) they’ve sold their soul to, but the coverage map is pretty impressive and it’s most likely using Sprint’s network. Combine that with a $69.99 monthly price tag for high speed cable interwebs for your home (15Mbps) plus unlimited 3G/4G cellular data (3 – 6 Mbps) while on the road, and we think Comcast may have something cooking here. How many of you are paying $69+ just for home internet as it is?
While Verizon maintains its FiOS service is way too cool to be bothered with things like speed upgrades, Comcast is apparently just about ready to step up to the plate. According to an Inquirer report from this morning, Comcast is prepping an Optimum Ultra competitor that could launch any day now. Comcast’s offering will allegedly provide users with a 100Mbps downlink on par with Cablevision’s 101Mbps Ultra speed, and the uplink could be as fast as 40Mbps. Cablevision’s Optimum Ultra service only provides upload speeds up to 15Mbps. Pricing for Comcast’s new offering is still unknown; it’s current portfolio tops out at 50Mbps/20Mbps for $190 per month. As such, it would be very surprising if its upgraded service competes with Optimum Ultra’s $100 price tag.
In a move guaranteed to attract well deserved controversy, Andy Burnham, Britain’s Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, has publicly stated that delegates from the British government hope to meet with members of the Obama administration to pitch the idea of creating a content-based rating system for all English-based websites. Essentially what Burnham is proposing is having the internet follow the same rules as British TV where it is against the law to air violent programs before 9pm. But since the internet is very different in nature from TV, Burnham suggested that a time-based filter be created in which websites must block “offensive” and “violent” material. For extra precaution, ISPs would be asked to offer rating-based “child-safe” packages in which it is only possible to access websites that are pre-approved as inoffensive and appropriate for those of a young age.
In an uncharacteristically rational move, on the surface at least, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has decided that it will stop suing individuals caught downloading pirated music and will instead focus solely on asking the pirates ISP to either serve warning or kill their internet connections. This tactic is by no means new and is in fact standard practice in many countries across the world where, you guessed it, it makes little to no difference in levels of music piracy. But hey, at least the RIAA has finally realized that its spending $100,000 to sue a struggling single-mom diner waitress for $25,000 after catching her downloading a few pirated CDs is plain stupid, especially when there isn’t a hope in the world that it’ll ever collect a penny from her.
According to a widely circulating report by the Wall Street Journal, Google has apparently changed its stance on net neutrality and has asked internet service providers for a fast track for its content. The proposed plan, internally called OpenEdge, would place Google servers within each provider’s network allowing near immediate access to Google content. Such a request is contrary to Google’s previous net neutrality stance and opens the door for an internet where influential companies get fast access and everyone else gets slower access. The article at WSJ continues to elaborate upon this threat to net neutrality by citing how other companies, in particular Microsoft, Yahoo, and Amazon and prominent Internet scholars have also softened their stance on net neutrality. Though other companies and individuals may be wavering on net neutrality, Google has responded to the WSJ article and strongly reaffirmed its firm stance on net neutrality.
Image via ItsOurNet.org
Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and Republican Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine have announced plans to introduce a bipartisan bill addressing the controversial topic of net neutrality. The Internet Freedom Preservation Act, expected to be introduced in January 2009, will make it illegal for ISPs to block or slow down specific types of Internet traffic. Remember Comcast and their BitTorrent blocking debacle? Under this new law, their packet hijacking would be illegal, not just subject to some lame slap on the wrist by the FCC. This whole issue of Net neutrality will be rearing its ugly head again, pitting the ISP’s like AT&T and Verizon who claim they need to control content as part of their network management procedures against the content companies like Google and Microsoft who want their content delivered equally to everyone. We won’t even get into the whole issue of the ISPs double dipping by charging subscribers a monthly fee for their Internet connection and then charging content providers to have their content provided “faster” than those who don’t pay these extortion fees. The issue also divides the tech world with some saying “we can’t trust ISPs to deliver content freely so we need to enact legislation proactively” while others argue that “existing provisions already adequately handle the issue of net neutrality. If we enact a law too early, there may be unexpected negative consequences.” We will reserve judgment on this issue for now and turn it over to our readers. So what do you think, is net neutrality legislation a necessity at this point or is it better to wait until a clear threat to Internet freedom is present?
As part of the sanction by the FCC for its package hijacking of BitTorrent traffic, Comcast was ordered to file a new network management plan with the FCC by midnight Friday. Comcast complied with the order and announced that it would use bandwidth throttling a new congestion management technique as its new network management plan:
It will identify which customer accounts are using the greatest amounts of bandwidth and their Internet traffic will be temporarily managed until the period of congestion passes. Customers will still be able to do anything they want to online, and many activities will be unaffected, but managed customers could experience things like: longer times to download or upload files, surfing the Web may seem somewhat slower, or playing games online may seem somewhat sluggish.
This protocol-agnostic bandwidth throttling plan is expected to be deployed nationwide by the end of December 2008. With its 250GB cap set to go live in October and now bandwidth throttling on tap for December, it looks like we will not be having a Comcastic Day.
Directly inline with rumors that made their way around the web a few months ago, Comcast has confirmed that it will employ a residential consumer bandwidth cap beginning October 1st of this year. Now before you start going too crazy, it should be noted that the cap will stand at 250 GB. 250 GB is most definitely more than enough for the typical to highly-active range of internet users. Once you pass over 250 GB per month of bandwidth you would definitely be best served by getting out more. In fact, Comcast states that the median monthly data usage amongst its customers is between 2 and 3 GB. The site puts 250 GB into perspective as such:
* Send 50 million emails (at 0.05 KB/email)
* Download 62,500 songs (at 4 MB/song)
* Download 125 standard-definition movies (at 2 GB/movie)
* Upload 25,000 hi-resolution digital photos (at 10 MB/photo)
50 million 0.05 KB emails. What kind of measurement is that? Anyway, while there is no mention of overage fees in Comcast’s new terms it is rumored that subscribers who surpass the cap a certain number of times may be subject to service suspensions or termination. Hey, at least Comcast customers can be thankful they’re not stuck with one of the other ISPs employing caps as low as 5 GB…