Sunday, April 30, 2006


Support the Markey Network Neutrality Amendment

The text (.pdf) of the Markey Network Neutrality Amendment, which was introduced in the House Telecom & Internet Subcommittee and defeated, in the Commerce Committee and defeated, and will be introduced ON THE FLOOR OF THE HOUSE, PROBABLY ON THURSDAY, MAY 4, is straightforward. In part, it says,
Each broadband network provider has the duty—
(1) not to block, impair, degrade, discriminate against, or interfere with the ability of any person to use a broadband connection to access, use, send, receive, or offer lawful content, applications, or services over the Internet . . .

Sure it will be difficult to make effective enforcement rules -- the ILECs and Cablecos will fight this every step of the way. The FCC (which would make the rules) will have its hands full. But it is so much better than the current Barton compromise, which does not protect content from discrimination, does not give the FCC power to make rules, and does not specify what happens if the FCC decides that an incident is not a violation of the Principles. (They're the watered down Martin principles, not the stronger ones of the Powell FCC, anyway.)

Now that I've read the Amendment, I've added my name to the citizens who don't support the Barton-Rush COPE Bill without the Markey Amendment. Please consider doing the same.

If you need more, see this video (from any browser) of Markey explaining his Amendment.

Here's Public Knowledge's video on Network Neutrality, also watchable from any browser, also well worth two minutes of your time, if only to help you explain to your mother or son or neighbor what's going on.

Where were you when the DMCA was passed? Myself, I kinda slept through it, now I regret that course of inaction.

Here comes a BAD LAW and you can oppose it, maybe even make it better. You want the Internet to be 57 Billion URLs with Nothing On? OK, then act.

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Quote of Note: Unnamed Telecom Employee

"We're not going to talk about prices, and the fact that we're not going to talk about it is off the record. You can't use the fact that we won't talk about prices in a story."

Unnamed spokeswoman for unnamed telecommunications company, quoted here.

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Is dial-up is an "information service" now?

This is a huge step backwards. Verizon is discriminating against POTS calls to an ISP. (In the UK, friends of mine had a successful Campaign for Unmetered Telephony based on the fact that dial-up charges inhibit Internet use. (They succeeded.)) Even if you don't dial up anymore you should be concerned!

The Boston Globe reports:

Dial-up provider loses Net access amid fee dispute
Ruling favoring Verizon may hike price of service

Service to thousands of dial-up Internet users in Massachusetts was disrupted this week after a federal court ruled against a Quincy company in a lawsuit that could have broad impact on the cost of dial-up service.

The US Court of Appeals in Boston ruled April 11 that Verizon Communications Inc. can charge per-minute fees for calls to local numbers that dial-up users need to connect to the Internet -- in much the same way that they charge for long-distance or other calls.

The ruling came after Verizon sued Global NAPs Inc., a Quincy company that supplies local numbers to 28 Internet service providers for use by their dial-up customers.

Verizon claims it is owed more than $65 million by Global NAPs. The court did not rule on damages, but Verizon cut off Global NAPs's access to its network, effectively shutting down Internet service for customers of dial-up providers like MegaNet of Fall River, which had to find another company to supply emergency connections for its approximately 7,500 dial-up subscribers.
This sounds like a direct result of the FCC, by inaction (or forbearance, take your pick) granting Verizon's Petition (.pdf) for Forbearance from Title II and Computer Inquiry Rules. I'm not sure of this, but Title II relates to common carrier rules and CI-2 defines what's a basic service. More info, with pointers to relevant documents, here.

If I'm correct, then Verizon has the right not only to drive broadband ISPs out of business but dial-up ISPs too. Even if I'm not, apparently it does, but on other grounds.

Alex Goldman has a deeper analysis than the rest of the press. He concludes,

If Verizon succeeds in charging GlobalNAPs long distance fees for dialup phone calls, those fees will be paid by the customer. The future of dialup in the United States looks like a choice between the monopoly offering service at a flat rate and the "competition" offering services priced per minute.

I don't understand this well enough yet, so if you know more than I do about this incident or its underpinnings, please comment! Is it an isolated incident? A harbinger? A red herring? Related to the Verizon petition?

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Monday, April 24, 2006


Quote of Note: Joshua Micah Marshall

"Think of [the Internet] like Cable TV. Anybody can start a cable channel. But if you can't get on TimeWarner Cable here in Manhattan, for me you might as well not even exist. The Internet could work like that.

It could have been that way. And it could still become that way. That's what this new debate is about. Find out more about it. And see what you can do to make your voice heard."

Joshua Micah Marshall in TalkingPointsMemo today. Link

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Breaking News: Net Neutrality Hearing in House Judiciary Committee Tomorrow!

Powerful Joe Barton tried to stop the Judiciary from its hearing on Net Neutrality, but the Telecom and Antitrust Taskforce of the Judiciary Committee will hold a Net Neutrality hearing tomorrow at 2:00 PM anyhow, upstaging Barton's Commerce Committee. [.pdf] Tim Wu will be among the witnesses.

No word on webcast. Call 202-225-2492 to find out more.

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Barton Bill Battle Begins

WooHoo! Free Press is in. MoveOn is in. Even the Gun Owners of America have joined the fight. And, while it has not joined the main coalition yet (C'mon Jeff! C'mon Jonathan!), has an imaginative campaign that should be part of the anti-discrimination fight.

I finally got my mitts on the most recent version of the Barton-Upton Telecom Bill, called COPE for ‘‘Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act of 2006." It is dated April 12. The acronym COPE sounds like not even the authors are happy with it. I've put the .pdf on my website.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce hears the bill tomorrow and Wednesday. There will be a Webcast. A cursory reading of the bill helps make the Webcast a bit more meaningful.

I have not yet read the daunting Title 1 on cable franchising. This is the one that the telcos want. All the rest is quid to this pro-quo.

Here's some observations on what I have read to date:

a) It has a pretty good muni networking section, but arguably it does not prohibit a Pennsylvania-type anti-muni law because PA does not prohibit munis from offering network services (Verizon's Link Hoewing argued this directly in
a panel I chaired at the last VON meeting), it just makes it awfully damn inconvenient and time-consuming.

b) It has a good provision saying that broadband providers can't force customers to buy other services (e.g., voice
or CATV) with broadband (but it does not explicitly prohibit discounting, bundling or unjust pricing).

[Look for both muni and broadband provisions above to disappear before it comes up for the real vote.]

c) Its anti-discrimination provision, its best shot at prohibiting blocking, impairment or degrading of any content, application or service is based on the four watery Martin Internet Principles (original .pdf, derived .html) which are weakened by phrases like "subject to the needs of law enforcement," and "that do not harm the network," and Footnote 15 that says, "The[se] principles we adopt are subject to reasonable network management," which can be taken to mean whatever the carrier wants it to mean. It has a 90 day window to determine whether a complaint is actually a violation, and then an infinite amount of time to take action, such action resulting in a $500,000 fine -- or less -- per incident. It prohibits the FCC from adopting additional enforcement procedures.

My analysis: Obscenely toothless, a telco-cableco giveaway in consumer-protection clothing. A poor excuse for anything resembling non-discrimination. If you agree, please sign the statement (and contact your legislators) at SaveTheInternet.Com!!!

But I am not a lawyer or legislator, so if your informed opinion is different, please comment.

Here's the Benton Foundation's summary of an earlier draft of COPE.

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Thursday, April 20, 2006


I've been nominated for ISOC Trustee

ISOC, the Internet Society, is one of the Internet's core organizations. It is the organizational home of the IETF, the Internet Engineering Task Force, the IAB, Internet Architecture Board, and other groups and organizations. It is home to PIR, the Public Interest Registry, which operates the .org top-level domain, and there are over 60 regional and interest group chapters. ISOC's mission is, ". . . to promote the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world."

I knew none of this until about a year ago, when, out of the blue, I was nominated to run for Trustee. Daniel Stern (of Uganda Connect), who I met once, briefly (but liked immediately), at Telecom95 in Geneva, nominated me. As I boned up on ISOC, the more I learned, the more important to me it became. It seemed that ISOCs mission was my mission anyhow, and the organizations and informal groups that ISOC supported were ones that I valued.

Last year I lost.

This year I've been nominated again -- the NomCom chose four other great nominees, and I feel honored and awed to be in this company. Here's my Nominee's Statement and here's a Candidates' Forum where BOT candidates discuss questions proposed by the ISOC Elections Committee.

From my Nominee's Statement:
I don't pretend to special expertise in technology or protocols or infrastructure. Many others within ISOC have such expertise. Rather I bring a broad view of how the larger pieces of the Internet fit together, how the Internet could become economically sustainable while remaining open, and how the Internet might serve individuals, localities, economies and humanity. The goal is a unified global Internet so we can learn to communicate as a cooperative, intelligent species and to manage our shrinking planet as the interdependent system it is.
Readers of this blog know where I stand. If you're an ISOC member, I'd be happy to learn where you stand. If you know ISOC members, especially Organizational Members, please tell them where you stand on promoting " . . . the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world." It is an incredibly important mission.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Nuke 'em to Prevent Nuclear War

It's hard to talk about trivia like telecom and the Internet when we're teetering on the brink of unilateral pre-emptive nuclear war. Don't believe it? Check here and here and here. Now according to retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner,
I was in Berlin three weeks ago, sat next to the Iranian ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, and I asked him a question. I read these stories about Americans being involved in there, and how do you react to that? And he said, oh, we know they are. We've captured people who are working with them, and they've confessed.
Colonel Gardiner continues
Now, the question that really follows from that is “Who authorized that?” See, there is no congressional authorization to conduct combat operations against Iran. There are a couple of possibilities. One of them is that it's being justified under the terrorism authorization that occurred in 2001. The problem with that is that you would have to prove a connection to 9/11. I don't think you can do that with Iran. The second possibility is that it's being done under the War Powers Act. I don't want to get too technical, but the War Powers Act would require the President to notify the Congress 60 days after the use of military force or invasion or putting military forces in a new country under that legislation, and the President hasn't notified the Congress that American troops are operating inside Iran. So it's a very serious question about the constitutional framework under which we are now conducting military operations in Iran.
Denial is so much easier. Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Wonderful video podcasts

Susan Estrada, who is the main force behind points to a bunch of video podcasts (Realplayer format) of the meeting, a week or so before F2C: Freedom to Connect. Some awesome talks, especially SF Mayor Gavin Newsom.

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State-by-State Broadband Penetration

Crain's has published the top 25 most wired states in the U.S. Nevada's number 3! Alaska is #20, well into the top half. Wonder what the bottom half looks like. [The numbers are in the public domain. Anybody?]

Thanks to Jim Baller for pointing me to this important article.

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Monday, April 17, 2006


Quote of Note: Jim Ciccone

"It costs a lot to maintain and operate a network . . . You don't pay for that by offering a raw pipe. We didn't build a copper line network a hundred years ago so people could do whatever they want on it. We offered a phone service. And you don't build networks so that somebody else can necessarily use them for free. We have the capability through dedicated lines of service for offering a high-quality product. There's a service there. We should be able to offer that in the market."

Jim Ciccone, AT&T's senior executive vice president for external affairs, quoted here.

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Quote of Note: Gary Bachula

"When we first began to deploy our Abilene network, our engineers started with the assumption that we should find technical ways of prioritizing certain kinds of bits, such as streaming video, or video conferencing, in order to assure that they arrive without delay. As it developed, though, all of our research and practical experience supported the conclusion that it was far more cost effective to simply provide more bandwidth. With enough bandwidth in the network, there is no congestion and video bits do not need preferential treatment."

Gary Bachula, vice president for external affairs of Internet2, testimony [.pdf] at the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Committee hearing on network neutrality, February 7, 2006, also quoted here. Another good reference page on all this here.

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Quote of Note: A Service Provider

"The raw-pipe threat has never been as big as it is today, so [service providers] must be more present in devices."

A service provider, quoted here.

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Friday, April 14, 2006


F2C Interviews.mp3

Colin Rhinesmith and Daniell Krawczyk of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School did some great hallway interviews (audio, .mp3 format) with Joe Van Eaton, Tim Wu, Cynthia de Lorenzi, Esme Vos and Dewayne Hendricks.

These are really good! Even if you were there, even if you know the interviewees, Rhinesmith's and Krawczyk's interviews draw the issues out nicely. The interview with Joe Van Eaton is especially welcome, given that I met him too late to include him on the F2C program.

Visit the Audio Berkman page to learn more, to find other Berkman podcasts and to subscribe to future Berkman podcasts.

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Rick Boucher.mp3

Representative Rick Boucher's F2C: Freedom to Connect talk is available here. It is in .mp3 format, 29 megabytes, 31:48 long, produced by Colin Rhinesmith of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.

It is an excellent overview of the comprehensive telecom law under consideration. It is timely, too, because the law will be considered by the full House Commerce Committee immediately after its spring recess. The telcos are pushing it hard because they fear the House and Senate will become more Democratic after the 2006 elections.

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Thursday, April 13, 2006


David Pogue & Drivesavers & the NYT Web site

Says here that New York Times tech columnist (and Mac enthusiast) David Pogue accepted a post-disk-crash complementary data recovery job (value $2000) from Drivesavers, a California data recovery operation, in return for writing a review of their service.

I've also done business with Drivesavers. Wow, seriously expensive. It was in August, 2004. I do not remember exactly how much I paid for my job, but I do remember deciding NOT to get the full treatment. As a result, I had to rebuild my Lotus Organizer database from a very old version, and I lost a significant number of digital photos. (No, I wasn't backing my drive up often enough. Shame on me.) I did feel that I got what I paid for, and that Drivesavers was a responsive and competent organization that I could recommend to my friends and do business with again.

I remembered reading the original Pogue column, which appeared about a year after my own Drivesavers adventure, and when I found out about the Pogue comp story, I tried to find Pogue's original column. I finally found it here. And a followup here. The dates are August 25, 2005 and September 1, 2005, respectively. Then there's this, from February 15, 2006. And the original setup, where Pogue guesstimates the Drivesavers job at a mere $400, is here.

The September 1, 2005 article contains this statement:
Had I been a paying customer and not a reviewer, I would have been charged about $2,000.
This is a Disclosure. So, to me, Pogue followed the rules of the blogosphere. But apparently he did not follow the rules of the New York Times, because there's an obtuse "correction" (dated March 10, 2006) appended to the September 1, 2005 article, that says that the Times will pay Drivesavers for the services rendered. Hmmm.

[One reason for my interest in this is that I, too, was involved in allegations that I failed to sufficiently disclose a financial quid pro quo. My side of the story here (with links to relevant documents).]

But there's something even more disturbing about this. When I search the New York Times (yes I did buy a subscription to Times Select) for everything by Pogue from 1/1/2005 to 1/1/2006, none of these pieces appear. And when I search the New York Times (since 1981) for "+Pogue +Drivesavers" nothing about Drivesavers written by Pogue appears. And when I search for "+Pogue +Drive" or "+Pogue and +Drivesavers," I can't find anything either. And when I go to, the instructions for "How to Find Past Columns" are inaccurate, unhelpful and/or out of date; I couldn't figure them out.

I had to search in Google for "Drivesavers" to find the primary pieces of the Drivesavers story. (Plus Google returned many "hits" that were actually false alarms, i.e., they had nothing in them about Pogue or Drivesavers.) Other related Pogue NYT pieces I found by hacking Technorati and looking inside the technorati results for links. The original Pogue stories are not gone from the NYT Web site, but they're harder to find than hen's teeth. What's up with that?

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I am not an econ wonk, but . . .

This article, entitled Development in defiance of the Washington consensus looks noteworthy. It begins:
China has carried off the world's largest reduction in poverty by grasping that market economies cannot be left on autopilot

Joseph Stiglitz
Thursday April 13, 2006
The Guardian

China is about to adopt its 11th five-year plan, setting the stage for the continuation of probably the most remarkable economic transformation in history, while improving the wellbeing of almost a quarter of the world's population. Never before has the world seen such sustained growth; never before has there been so much poverty reduction.

Communism 2.0?

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Quote of Note: Senator Billboard Rawkins

"My family has been having problems with immigrants ever since they came to this country."

Senator Billboard Rawkins, D-Missintucky, in Finian's Rainbow
Music: Burton Lane
Lyrics: E. Y. Harburg
Book: E. Y. Harburg + Fred Saidy
Premiere: Friday, January 10, 1947 [link]

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Reed Hundt.mp3

Reed Hundt's session at F2C: Freedom to Connect (audio, .mp3 format, 55 minutes, 51 megabytes) is now available here. Hundt is introduced by Blair Levin, who is introduced by Jonathan Askin.

Michael Powell's audio from F2C is available here as well.

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danah wraps Bill O'Reilly around her little finger

Way to go danah! I am so proud of you!!!

Video here.

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You heard it here first

Dave Farber's list published the "discovery" that Intel Macs have hardware DRM, saying,
Now the bad news. It looks like Intel has embedded “Trusted Computing” DRM protection in its Infineon chip and forgot to tell people. If you remember the Sony rootkit uproar, you know this is not small news.

The basic idea of Trusted Computing is that security on a computer is obtained via hardware, through a specific chip dedicated exclusively to this task and called Trusted Platform Module (TPM). It’s a very controversial project, as I wrote four years ago. Originally sold as a beneficial security system for users (which is partially true), trusted Computing and Palladium risk to open the doors to inviolable copy-protection systems and to censorship and surveillance issues to unprecedented levels.

Back in June, quoted a Wired News story that said
But why would Apple [switch to Intel processors]? Because Apple wants Intel's new Pentium D chips. Released just few days ago, the dual-core chips include a hardware copy protection scheme that prevents "unauthorized copying and distribution of copyrighted materials from the motherboard," according to PC World. Apple -- or rather, Hollywood -- wants the Pentium D to secure an online movie store (iFlicks if you will), that will allow consumers to buy or rent new movies on demand, over the internet.
Why is it a surprise now? Will it be another surprise when Intel Macs become popular enough for Apple to unleash heavy DRM on its users?

Repeat after me: DRM is anti-user. DRM destroys value. DRM weakens culture.

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Monday, April 10, 2006


Mike Powell.mp3

Michael Powell's session with Jonathan Krim at F2C: Freedom to Connect (audio, .mp3 format, 51 minutes, 48 megabytes) is available here.

This is my first attempt to put an audio object on the Web. All forms of constructive feedback welcome!

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Telco Lies, the whitepaper

Here's a very well-written report of the Bell's trail of Rate Relief and Broken Promises. It is funded by Broadband Everywhere, a consortium that's openly funded by small cablecos and the NCTA, who are fighting back against the Bell-flavored franchise reform law moving through Congress. It relies heavily on the work of Bruce Kushnick, but it also cites many relevant local press stories from, e.g., Enid OK (where a promise of 500 jobs led to rate relief and a net loss of jobs), Austin TX (where a new Texas law that assumed "competition" would lead to lower prices and granted rate relief actually led to rate caps), etc., etc., etc.

Really good stuff on a bad story that demands more attention! Mainstream reporters, attention please!

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Friday, April 07, 2006


Phone line fixed!

Thank you Ken at Connecticut DPUC for lighting the fire. Finally.

This outage lasted 2.25 days (since I reported it).
Here's hoping that my phone does not go out for another 616 years.

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Verizon lets third "commitment" slip silently

Verizon's third "commitment" to fix my phone (by 11:55 AM, see previous post) silently expired. The Web interface (see screen shot, left) is completely ignorant -- it leaves the onus of action on the subscriber victim. The next appointment is that 11-hour window on Monday.

I have not been passive. I called Ivan Seidenberg's office, and emailed, and got a call back from Vera Gonzalez (212-395-0316) who said she'd get action. Also, at the suggestion of a commentor on this post, I called the Connecticut DPUC (800-382-4586). Ken at DPUC stirred up a call to me from a Verizon supervisor, Kenny Cullen, who called me and promised to get to the bottom of this. It definitely sounded like Cullen knew something. So there's slightly renewed hope, and there's always the Monday 11-hour wait. Things could be worse -- somebody could be testifying against me to save his or her own hide.

So I am going down to the Sinowoy Road street box to find out for myself what's going on. Stay tuned.


Verizon "Commitments"

The picture ahows today's Verizon lie.

The first time I saw this screen, it was about 8:30 AM on April 5. It gave a "commitment" date/time of 4/5/2006 at 7:00 PM.

The second time I saw this screen, it gave a "commitment" of 4/6/2006 at 11:59 AM.

On April 5, about 11:00 AM, I got a call on my "contact number" saying that I needed to be at home for the repair to take place, to push 1 if somebody over 18 would be there for the repairperson. I pushed 1. No repairperson. Verizon telephone agents have assured me that somebody was out there working on this problem every day. Nobody has come to my house to check this end of the problem. As far as I know I am in a day-for-day slip, and nobody at Verizon gives a rats derriere.

My primary line is out. What am I going to do, move my house to another telco's territory?


Verizon owes me 1365 years of perfect service

My phone line has been out -- completely out, no dial tone -- for 2 days since I discovered and reported the outage. If "five nines" were a guarantee, that is, if it had any reality to it at all, I could expect 100,000 days, or 274 years, of perfect service for each day my phone were out, or 548 years total.

Unfortunately, Verizon is still working off the remaining 817 years of a three-day outage (822 years!) five years ago. So I figure that they owe me 548+817=1365 years of perfect service. Or they would if "five nines" were more than hot air.

Somebody please check my math -- I've been known to make stupid mistakes. But if I'm right, or even close, it looks like Verizon is not even making 3 nines, i.e. one day kaput for every 1000 normal days.

Fortunately, other options are available. I have a cell phone and a my wife's line and Skype (which can use either of two Internet connections). So if each of my five telephony systems is out one day in 1000, and if there are no common points of failure among them, that is, if outages are independent events, then the probability of me being totally without telephony is .000000000000001 -- 15 nines. It's a good argument for facilities-based competition, indeed, for multi-modal facilities-based competition. [I first made this argument in an essay entitled Buy as Many Nines as You Need, which was published in Business Communications Review.]

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New Vocabulary Words

I'm a pretty good speaker of English and it has been a while since I learned a new word, but this week I learned two!

Auteur, n. A filmmaker, usually a director, who exercises creative control over his or her works and has a strong personal style.
One F2C: Freedom to Connect participant described it as an auteur conference.

Conurbation, n. A predominantly urban region including adjacent towns and suburbs; a metropolitan area. I could not find its cognate, "conurbated", which I now know is an adjective that means contiguous and urban.

Thanks to Jorge Ortiz and J.H. Snider!

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Thursday, April 06, 2006


F2C: Music CDs from Joe Craven

I have four music CDs by Joe Craven, the F2C musician in residence.
I'll send one to each of the first four people to respond to me who were
there and liked Joe's music and send me their mailing address.

Also, FOUND AT F2C: Sony Microcassette Recorder. If it is yours,
let me know and I'll send it home.

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Internet Freedom is a global issue!

I hardly ever print a letter verbatim, but this one, from Alberto Mordojovich, the CEO of Redvoiss, a Chilean Internet Telephony Service Provider, is extraordinary. I only met Alberto for the first time at F2C: Freedom to Connect, and I was unable to work him into the program. (Apologies, Alberto!) You'll see from this letter that he would have been an excellent F2C speaker.

The letter illustrates that telco heritage is fundamentally the same the world round. And the human longing for an open Internet is too.

Here's Alberto's letter, word for word.

Subject: f2c feedback
Date: April 5, 2006 5:45:29 PM EDT (CA)

Dear David,

It was a real pleasure attending f2c in Washington this week and having the opportunity to meet you and your guests there. Unfortunately, I was not able to talk to your audience about our "net neutrality" problems in Chile. Next time.

I was looking after support and help from the Internet community for our case, but I saw a lot of pessimism, regret and complain among your crowd. My personal view of the NN issue is that you have a lot of resources to fight against discrimination from the telcos starting from your marvelous constitution. You mentioned civil rights and I personally think NN is all about it.

We (humans) have built a wonderful public space (it used to be called cyberspace) that should have all the privileges and protection we give to other public spaces. Think about the sidewalks, plazas and parks, air, etc. You are allowed to use these spaces to talk, walk, think, etc. The space created by the Internet, even though it is of virtual nature, should be treated similarly, that is, nobody has the right to ban or block your rights to talk, think or express yourself as you wish in that space. Your first amendment works OK here, doesn't it?.

Obviously, you have to pay for the access there, no free rides. However, whomever gives you that ride is not allowed to impose rules of his own once you reach that space. Railroads won an extra margin by buying and selling livestock and grain because they were the transportation monopoly from the US West to the US East in the 18 hundreds. Telcos are the railroad robber barons of today, this is old story new stage, no news about it.

My opinion: trust your institutions, they are strong, they will protect the average American from abuse. However, you must be working 7 by 24 to catch an eye on what the telcos are doing. You have to build technical tools to monitor what they are doing, how they discriminate your packets, how they manage their part of the Internet. Educate their clients, make them know how their civil rights are being violated.

To create a "fast lane" Internet is a sophisticated way of discrimination, market position abuse and anticompetitive behavior. It is very easy to see that this "simple" action will inevitably lead to the death of the current Internet. Who will invest in increasing the capacity of the "slow lanes" if they don't get any dollar extra for that?. Who content provider will use the dirt road an punish his business and his clients Web experience? Who will be able to resist the telco extortion if her competitors switch to the "fast lane"?

I used to think the Internet would evolve to a QoS network all by itself if market forces were allowed to work freely. In fact, once an ISP decided to install QoS to prioritize time sensible traffic, such as audio and video, then all the others would have had to follow suit. A VoIP customer would have appreciated the QoS service its ISP was willing to give him. In turn, the ISP would have preferred to work with a QoS first tier provider for its backbone connection. That's how a technological improvement is transferred to the end user by the market. All the incentives were placed in the right direction. Today, however, I have changed my mind. NN should be enforced even though there would be good technical reasons to allow discrimination among packets. Watching how the telcos have behaved so far it would be easy for them or others to abuse QoS in order to prioritize any traffic they choose, not necessarily real time traffic. It is easier to fool around the intelligence of a QoS capable Internet, than to manipulate the stupid network.

Other issue raised in the seminar was a lack of definition for Net Neutrality. It seems to me that whenever you use a term like that so extensively, it finally ends up losing its meaning. My definition is quite simple: NN means that all packets should be treated equally on the Net. This means that all ISPs should commit not to prioritize any packet from others in any way.

A different story is bandwidth (symmetrical or not). Bandwidth (legally) is the customer right to deliver (or receive) a certain amount of packets or bits to (from) the Net per unit of time. The more bandwidth you demand the more you have to pay. But, that doesn't mean that the routers inside the Internet should treat my packets preferentially to those of others. They would have to wait their turn to be delivered on a first come first served fashion as those of anybody else. Pure democracy. Skipping a queue is a nasty thing to do or to tolerate. Think about vehicle traffic jams. Why should the Internet be different?

If you feel NN is being jeopardized in the US, then you need to know more about the Chilean Internet. I will summarize it for you and the reason why I attended your seminar in the first place.

Telefonica is the current incumbent phone company in Chile. They bought CTC 15 years ago. CTC used to be operated by the Government as a traditional PTT. They hold more than 90% of the copper wires whithin the country and they are in a position to provide Broadband connections to 75 to 80% of the population today. Their main competitor at the home level is VTR, the cable TV monopoly, owned by Liberty. However, the home passes of VTR account only for 25% of the population.

My company, RedVoiss (an Internet Telephony Service Provider), sued Telefonica for anticompetitive behavior under the Court for the Defense of Free Competition (TDLC, per its Spanish acronym) in Chile. Our antitrust laws forbid a monopoly to exert market power in illegal ways, as in anyplace.

What are the nasty behaviors of Telefonica we denounced in Court?

1.- To make independent ISPs, who need to provide Broadband connections to their clients through Telefonica's copper pairs, sign a wholesale agreement (Megavia) under which the ISP commits not to use the pipe for VoIP in any of its forms. Also, the ISP cannot use Telefonica ADSL service to do VPNs, Web and many other things without Telefonica's previous approval.

2.- Telefonica actually blocks the VoIP ports (SIP and H.323) to all its clients who access the Internet through its ADSL service, directly or indirectly through independent ISPs.

3.- Telefonica forbids independent ISPs and end users to install any equipment behind the ADSL modem without its written approval.

4.- Telefonica forbids its clients to share its Internet access internally, if hired as single user, or externally (with your neighbor, for instance).

5.- Telefonica discriminates among single users and multiusers of its ADSL service, charging the later significantly more than the first, even though the hired bandwidth is the same.

6.- Telefonica bundles its traditional phone service with Broadband access at a LOWER monthly price than the price it charges for the same Broadband service included in the bundle, when this service is provided as stand alone.

7.- Telefonica installs, by default, an ADSL modem with a USB port only, so that its clients are able to install just one computer behind it. If they ask for an Ethernet modem, Telefonica will charge them US$ 30 to replace the modem and a permanent rent of US$ 2 per month additional. The cost difference from one modem or the other is less than one dollar for the volume of modems Telefonica buys today.

These are REAL Net Neutrality problems. These are not solutions in search of a problem, but nasty behavior from a monopolist, not to be tolerated by anybody who knows what the Internet freedoms are.

I hope you can help me make these issues known among your community. I am anxious to colaborate with any effort to impose NN worldwide. I know what is at stake and I wish both, the US and Chile can cooperate as well as we did when we signed our Free Trade Agreement.

Hope to hear from you soon,


Alberto Mordojovich
CEO RedVoiss
Santiago, Chile

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Verizon: "Trust us."

Trust Verizon. When the ILECs say, "Our commitment to our customers, our commitment to [the U.S. Congress] is this: We will not block, impair, or degrade content, applications, or service," we can trust them, right? When Verizon makes commitments, public promises, it keeps them, right?

I got home at 6:30 AM this morning to discover that my primary line, 203-661-4798, had no dial tone. I called my LEC, Verizon. Verizon's repair office was closed until 8:00 AM. Fortunately, DSL on that line worked, so I filed an on-line trouble ticket. Verizon "committed" to be there today between 8:00 AM and 7:00 PM, an 11-hour window. The company used that word. Commitment. I waited.

To be sure, I filed a voice-line trouble ticket too via cell phone. Same deal, by 7:00 PM today. I waited.

And waited. Good thing I didn't HAVE to be at work today.

At about 6:00 PM somebody called on my cell phone (caller ID listed "no number") and said that probably nobody from Verizon would come today. I reminded the person emphatically that there was a "commitment" -- their words, not mine -- in place. The person said that his supervisor would call me. No. Call. From. Supervisor.

I called the repair center. Closed at 6. Use the automated system. Repair still "committed" between 8:00 AM and 7:00 PM. No human available.

NOBODY FROM VERIZON CAME BY 7:00 PM, the commitment hour. I HAD BEEN HOME, WAITING, FOR ELEVEN HOURS. I called the only 24 hour Verizon number I know, the number for FIOS service repair. I did this despite the fact that 203-661-4798 is a copper line. I made this clear to the nice man, and he tried real hard to put me in touch with somebody who could help me.

After 20 minutes, a man came on the line who was responsible for repairing my service but who (a) could not tell me why today's "commitment" was violated, (b) could not expedite a repair this evening, and (c) could not do anything more than a "priority commitment" for tomorrow. (How is a broken commitment different from a broken priority commitment?)

So, as Bruce Kushnick has amply pointed out, "Verizon promises" aren't worth fecal matter.

Should we trust them when they say, "We'll be there during this 11-hour window"? Should we trust them when they say, "We will not block, impair, or degrade any content, application or service"? They've been lobbying to not be a "public trust" anymore. And they've earned the absence of public trust. We shouldn't trust them with our rights of way, our franchises and our spectrum.

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Stuff hits the fan!

Doing conferences is an amazing experience, but it turns my life inside-out. After F2C, I had three Margaritas, went to bed early, awoke at 1:00 AM, probably at 1:02:03 AM (on 04/05/06), and then could not get back to sleep, so I drove home to Connecticut, arriving just before morning NYC rush hour. I've been alternately napping and listening to the House Commerce Telecom Subcommittee hearing on COPA, Son of BITS all day.

We lost, by the way. The Bells won this round. (NOTE: I don't think the Internet has a party. But the Bells do -- the Republicans.) Blair Levin, in a Stifel Nicolaus email report today, writes,
House telecom subcommittee members have beaten back a number of Democratic amendments to change a bill aimed at speeding Bell entry into video through national franchising. Panel Republicans as well as some Democrats at times opposed various substantive Democratic amendments, including to impose telco video build-out duties, toughen broadband network neutrality safeguards, and strengthen local control of public rights of way. Some of the votes were close, but the network neutrality vote was more lopsided than some expected (23-8 against), as several Democrats joined all but one of the Republicans in opposing the Democratic amendment.
This despite a letter, signed by Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Barry Diller (Interactive Corp.), Meg Whitman (eBay), Steve Balmer (Microsoft), Eric Schmidt (Google) and Terry Semel (Yahoo!) to House Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton, that said,

. . . the telecommunications legislation being considered by the Committee fails to preserve the longstanding openness of the Internet. Without critical changes, the legislation puts at risk consumer choice, American innovation and global competitiveness.

Until FCC decisions made last summer, consumers’ ability to choose the content and services they want via their broadband connections was assured by regulatory safeguards. Innovators likewise have been able to use their ingenuity and knowledge of the marketplace to develop new and better online offerings. This “innovation without permission” has fueled phenomenal economic growth, productivity gains, and global leadership for our nation’s high tech companies.

To preserve this environment, we urge the Committee to include language that directly addresses broadband network operators’ ability to manipulate what consumers will see and do online. It is equally important to pass a bill that fleshes out these consumer freedoms via rules of the road that are both meaningful and readily enforceable.
Maura Corbett, of Qorvis Communications helped put this amazing group of CEOs together to write this letter.

Apparently, COPA, son of BITS, will be heard by the House Judiciary Committee on Friday.
Pay attention! They're trying to slip one past us!

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Net Neutrality enforcement that actually deters

In my opening speech at F2C: Freedom to Connect, I said that since the economic benefits of violating Network Neutrality are so high, that we must have rules with penalties that are strong enough to deter and effectively punish violations. Susan Crawford, independently, comes up with the same idea . . . in graphic detail! She writes:
. . . let's create a Draconian set of escalating remedies (injunctions, escalating damages, structural separation mandates) and write them down in careful detail. Let's say that unless the network providers show over the next two years that they are not, in fact, illegitimately shaping network management in order to favor their own business plans, these remedies will be put in place -- two years from now. This delayed-action regulation might be easier to push through, and might just make the providers toe the line. If they do, we'll all be rewarded by solidified consumer expectations of an unfettered, blazing-fast internet for everyone.
Indeed!!! Somebody should propose this as an amendment to the current COPA bill!

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Fat Pipe -- The Bumper Sticker

I met Kyle Johnson, the founder and prime (sole?) mover of Bumperactive, at SXSW Interactive a few weeks ago. I told him I wanted to make a bumper sticker out of Tim Bray's "Fat Pipe, Always On, Get out of the way!" motto. (For the record, Tim actually said, "Fast pipe . . .")

Anyhow, Kyle and I corresponded briefly, and (magic!) a couple hundred stickers came in the mail (and we gave them away at F2C: Freedom to Connect). You can buy one (or more) of your own here. Bumperactive has a pretty cool idea, a bit similar to FON's business model; it will give you a share of the profits on each sticker, or it will donate that share to an organization of your choice. I chose to give the proceeds from the Fat Pipe sticker to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Kyle did another sticker at my instigation, too. It says, Torture is wrong. I'm upset we can't take this for granted. Proceeds from this one go to Amnesty International.

Monday, April 03, 2006


Live audio for F2C: Freedom to Connect

Live audio stream (Quicktime) here

You can join the Group Chat at

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