Net Non-Neutrality

Update: If you’d like to comment on the new FCC proposed policy, the comment period is open.

I Loves Me Some Netflix. But Come ON!

When Netflix signed a deal with Comcast to pay them extra for faster, more consistent content delivery it was understandable from a business point of view. But it was clear that it violated the principle of network neutrality and that consumers were going to pay for it one way or another.Netflix

Sure enough, Netflix just announced it is going to raise rates for new customers, and while existing customers won’t see their rates change for now, as Netflix strikes the same bargains with other service providers it’s bound to happen that all our rates will go up.

FCC: Throwing in the Towel

And guess what, now that the Appeals Court ruled the FCC doesn’t have the authority to enforce Network Neutrality, the FCC has simply decided aw what the heck. Let’s just say we can have multi-tiered service after all.

I think the writing is on the wall. Cable providers are going to continue lose subscribers because of their high cost and bundled packages. People are going to use Netflix, Amazon Prime (which just signed a deal with HBO to stream older content), and Hulu through a Roku or Apple TV device, paying small fees to multiple services in lieu of high fees to a single source.

At least that’s where I’m headed. But then I fear the cable companies will start jacking up Internet service rates. So, we people at the bottom of the food chain will get bit in the ass one way or another.


The Legacy of a Suicide

If you’ve paid attention to the news recently you might have heard of the death of Internet programmer and activist Aaron Swartz. This may be small solace to his family and friends, but his suicide  and the examination of his life and the issues he focused on could finally become the impetus for much needed changes to the way the Internet is governed and distributed.

Aaron Swartz from ragesoss on Flickr.

Aaron Swartz from ragesoss on Flickr

I can’t begin to understand the causes that led to his suicide. I’m sure the reasons are complex and deeply rooted in Aaron’s personality as well as whatever outside pressures he was under. But as some of the emotional wave in reaction to his death subsides, I am seeing and hearing some really good discussion about the issues he was concerned with: Free flow of information, copyright law, open source, improved and economical bandwidth access for all. If you do much of anything on the Internet, these should be your concerns as well. A great discussion of Aaron’s life and legacy that reaches far beyond the events and causes of his death can be heard on this podcast from KCRW’s To the Point. Check it out.

Some additional links to good coverage:


Wrapped in a Cocoon of Fiber

I am suddenly watching more TV or rather, video (TV shows, movies, Internet videos, etc.) over the Internet . I broke down and bought a Roku box the other Roku boxday. If you’re not familiar with the Roku, it’s one of several set top boxes that hook up to your  TV, download or stream video from various sources and play them on your big screen. Some of the the other best known devices are Boxee and Apple TV (not the rumored Apple televisions set, but a box that hooks to your existing TV that Steve Jobs called a “hobby”).

I bought the Roku because it’s the cheapest of the three and seems to have the most services available. I thought about getting an Apple TV because I am such an Apple fanboy and use ITunes quite a bit and the Apple TV has a built in integration with ITunes.

But the number of free sources on the Roku service won out. And if I subscribe to Netflix and HBOGO, I could have all the entertainment I could possible want.  My goal is not necessarily to cut the chord on my cable service. But I wouldn’t mind cutting back to just basic cable. I’d need to have the service anyway if I wanted to get HBOGO.

I think all these devices are stop gap technologies that will soon be supplanted with something like the integrated television box (the rumored Apple TV, maybe), essentially a TV with a computer in it that connects directly to your ITunes and ICloud and has Siri in it so all you have to do is say “TV, show me cats playing Siri iconpianos and any unwatched episodes of Boardwalk Empire” and it wills show you a custom menu with a list of YouTube videos and  unwatched episodes of Broadway Empire. And you will speak to it again, “Show me episode 16 of Broadway Empire” and it will start streaming that show. NO MORE REMOTES!

And eventually it will start to speak to you when you walk in the room and say in a soothing voice, “You have 3 unwatched episodes of Glee, Dave. Would you like to watch them now, Dave?” Even though my name is Bob and maybe that will be creepy.

But beyond that, Siri or something like it will be embedded in your house and appliances and we will be talking to the walls and the walls will talk to us as they learn our preferences and that really will be the moment we will all live in a technical cocoon, wrapped in silk threads of fiber.

Redundancy Reshmundancy

It’s been a couple years since I’ve used the term “redundant’ to refer to the chimerical second fiber line to be built for Humboldt County. But the Times-Standard is still using that term as evident in the article that appears today about the IP Networks fiber line build along the Highway 36 corridor. I prefer the term “alternate.” For one, redundant fiber can imply it’s superfluous. After all it’s redundant!

For another, it implies that the second fiber line will automatically insure that we will not be cut off from the Internet should something happen to the AT&T north-south primary line again. This is not necessarily the case unless AT&T decides to buy into a the IP Networks line, and there is no hard information that they have or will. You need to read all the way near to the end of the T-S article to get any reference to this concept.

The other shadow cast over the sunny headline of the article is the lack of permits from the public lands the IP Networks fiber needs to cross. It ain't over until the fat lady singsThe article implies that these permits are inevitable and IP Networks is planning on construction at both ends of the fiber while it waits for those permits to come through. Don’t get me wrong I am excited by the possibility of this alternate fiber and hope to hell it gets done and done on the current time line. But it ain’t over until the…well, you know when.

Fiber In Danger? AT&T Not Telling

There’s been some concern that our (still) only fiber connection could be in danger due to the massive mud slide on 101. Hank Sims has done a good job of trying to get to the bottom of this story over on his excellent new news blog. Unfortunately, the story peters out right where it usually does: The AT&T stonewall.

I think that’s the real story. All of Humboldt County is still beholden to one rather unresponsive corporation for its telecommunications services. Unless, of course, you can afford to get a feed from 101 Netlink.