Second Opinion is where readers respond to the Doctor, share their wisdom, correct him if he's wrong, and generally show the world what smart, beautiful people you are.
I can’t agree more with the Doctor regarding his advice to Michael Collins (June 2008) on a TiVo as the best option to extend your DVRing capabilities, especially for transferring recorded programs to a computer. The TiVoToGo feature is great. However, the Doctor’s advice regarding the FireWire ports of most cable DVRs is, as Dwight Schrute would say, “False!”
In a seemingly never ending battle with the FCC, Comcast is back on the offensive. The cable giant is looking to overturn the ruling reached on August 1st which found them in violation of the FCC’s network neutrality principles. Comcast was mandated to immediately cease any packet shaping initiatives and to publically disclose the full extent of its traffic blocking policies. Experts close to the case have chimed in on the issue and it would appear as though news of the appeal wasn’t all that surprising. Comcast has become famous in legal circles for appealing any decision it doesn’t agree with, and this case is no exception. Comcast firmly believes that packet shaping of peer-to-peer traffic is a legitimate and reasonable means of managing network traffic and intends to defend that contention to the bitter end. Despite the impending appeal, Comcast has agreed to abide by the FCC mandates until a new verdict is reached. Comcast’s packet shaping activities have been in the spotlight since late 2007 when the Associated Press revealed proof that Comcast was blocking P2P traffic during peak hours. The FCC case was seen as a test run help to determine if it could enforce its network neutrality principles. I’m sure most Maximum PC readers are rooting for the FCC, but since so little precedent in a case like this; the outcome of an appeal could still go either way.
Kevin Martin, chairman of Federal Communications Commission, is doing his best to sell his free, porn-free internet dream. The plan is – if you were on an intergalactic voyage all this while - to auction AWS-3 spectrum to a company willing to provide nationwide wireless broadband internet for free and sans pornographic content. “More and more people expect and demand to have access to the Internet and new wireless technologies,” Martin apprised USA Today about the increasingly insatiable thirst for broadband.
He rests his case on the absolute necessity of broadband and compares it to copper lines as the most prominent means of communication. His plan hasn’t gone down well with T-Mobile which believes that wireless services in the AWS-3 spectrum will interfere with its own services in the AWS-1 range. But Martin tried to allay such fears by telling USA Today that engineers are busy finding a solution.
There is certainly a case for free wireless broadband if one considers the abject rate of broadband penetration in the U.S with only 38% of rural America enjoying broadband, according to a report by Communications Workers of America. Furthermore, the percentage of broadband homes is only 25% amongst households with annual incomes of $20,000 or below.
What the MPC Readers Are Saying: But T-Mobile is not the only one frowning. Many people, including a few MPC readers, don’t like the porn-free part of the proposal. “I would rather see nationwide free internet fail completely than to see our government actively "filtering" the net. Leave net censorship to the Chinese,” wrote a charged up MPC reader; and “porn drives innovation,” according to another.
Comcast is not about to stop in its attempts to manage heavy users on its network after the hand slap from the Federal Communications Commission that found that Comcast had improperly blocked peer-to-peer programs.
Bloomburg reports that Comcast now has plans to slow Internet service to the heaviest users during periods of congestion. The internet speeds for targeted customers will be reduced for periods lasting from 10 minutes to 20 minutes, to keep the service running smoothly for other users.
How much of a slow down? Mitch Bowling, Comcast's senior vice president and general manager of online services said it would back down to “a really good DSL experience''.
Internet Service Providers need a way to control bandwidth hogs during peak times in order to keep things profitable. The only other way is to add additional bandwidth that they would never even touch the rest of the time, which comes off their bottom line. Comcast’s first mistake was being sneaky about it and not disclosing the practice to consumers.
I actually like their latest idea, but from the sounds of this, they are about to repeat their second mistake; not defining what constitutes a heavy user and what exactly is this penalty phase with the bandwidth cap? The generalities just make users uneasy. Those same uneasy users will backlash if they unknowingly get caught up in Comcast’s heavy user slowdown, with what they see as reasonable usage. That reasonable usage is completely subjective, unless Comcast chooses to define it.
What do you think? Is Comcast’s latest plan an improvement?
They admonished the detractors of the proposal for objecting to the AWS-3 spectrum auction. The two Congressmen don’t believe that the TDD technology that will be used for the Pan-American wireless broadband network will jeopardize services in the AWS-1 region. T-Mobile had objected to any auction in the 2155-2180 MHz spectrum range as it holds AWS-1 spectrum. The duo also supports the proposed auction as it is worried about U.S loosing the broadband-penetration wars to other countries.
Free Wireless broadband certainly seems a step in the right direction. However, the question is whether suppression of pornographic material would encroach upon the right to freedom of speech.
The Federal Communications Commission is now going to reign in on Comcast’s controversial practice of hampering peer-to-peer internet traffic. Out of the five FCC commissioners, three have voted, thus far, on whether Comcast is liable for punishment for filtering internet traffic. And all of them want the cable company to be punished, but the punitive order will officially be executed once the remaining members have voted – a mere formality. The FCC doesn’t intend to fine Comcast but merely wants it to abstain from internet traffic filtering altogether.
Comcast has been in the eye of the “network neutrality” storm since August, 2007, when TorrentFreak revealed that the leading cable company was filtering internet traffic. It is rumored that the company utilizes Sandvine hardware for warding off P2P traffic but Comcast has not even acknowledged that it indulges in such practices. Comcast is currently busy defending itself in a class-action suit which alleges that the company’s actual services betray its promises, for it restricts internet access despite promising unshackled service.
This being such a contentious issue, that has invited intense reactions from all corners, you all are expected to set the comments section afire.
Major wireless carriers, including AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, and their primary trade association, the CTIA, are opposing FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s proposal that would put free wireless broadband in the hands of consumers. This is the filtered public broadband proposal that we covered before. Basically it is an advertising-supported network that would filter out porn and who knows what else.
I disagree with Martin’s proposal on that filtering the service would be wrong, unless adults have a way to shut off the filtering. It just smacks of China somehow. I also disagree that the government should fund such a service directly competing with small businesses that are already trying to offer similar services. I also don’t believe the government has the experience or structure needed to run such a network effectively. They aren't facing any of the realities needing to be confronted in the operation and control of the system.
How does the CITA look at the FCC proposal? Hit the jump to see.
ArsTechnicareports that a July 15 visit by Intel representatives to the FCC wasn't a social call. Instead, Intel is encouraging the FCC to mandate the addition of Ethernet ports to the set-top boxes used by cable TV companies. Their rationale? IP based networking is just about everywhere, except in cable TV, and it's about time to enable cable TV to join the home networking revolution.
It is about time to get cable TV on the home network, but should Intel ask the government to force the industry to do it? To find out why Intel thinks it's the government's role, and for a different take on the argument, see us after the jump.
It sounds like Comcast is about to get it’s hand slapped for blocking P2P file sharing on it’s network. That is good news, as it will send a message about screwing with folks internet access. The funny part is where the message is coming from.
The head of the Federal Communications Commission, Kevin Martin said he will recommend that the Comcast be punished for violating agency principles that guarantee customers open access to the Internet. "The commission has adopted a set of principles that protects consumers access to the Internet," Martin told The Associated Press. "We found that Comcast's actions in this instance violated our principles."
This is the same Kevin Martin that wants a free but filtered national broadband that we covered previously. Don’t mess with people’s file sharing, but it is a good idea to filter access to information. (we really want our pr0n). Ah, the duplicity of politicians, even appointed ones. It’s kind of like the obnoxious Uncle from when you were a kid. He’d point at your shoes so he could whack you upside the head while you were looking at your feet.
More on Martin's order for Comcast after the jump.
Federal Communications Commission Chair Kevin Martin's quest for a free, wireless, national broadband service for the people has taken a new turn. On the surface it sounds good, they did say “free” after all. That is free in the monetary sense, not in the free thinking, freedom loving sense. Of course I can hear my economics Professor shrieking “TINSTAAFL” (There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch) at me now in her high pitched voice. Oh, the horrors of college. Of course the American people would have to pay for this in one of the many taxes we now enjoy paying, or maybe we get the pleasure of a nice new tax somewhere.