Tales of the Sausage Factory

Obama FCC Transition Team Now Includes Totally AWESOME Additions!!!!

Good news right before Sabbath kicks in. According to this article, Obama’s FCC transition team will now include Susan Crawford and Kevin Werbach!!!

These are not just people who “get it.” These are people who “got it” waaaaayyyyyy ahead of the curve. They are also so totally not captured by any interest — but are also sufficiently “mainstream” that they will not be marginalized as radical left-wing progressive cooks. (Defensive? Me? How dare you suggest it!)

Gotta shut down now before sunset, so can’t wax nearly as enthusiastic as I would like. Suffice it to say t makes a very pleasant way to close out the week.

Stay tuned . . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

The Comcast Bandwidth Cap — Blame Florida (and lack of competition and refusal to upgrade).

As all the world knows by now (the world that follows this anyway) Comcast has imposed a new bandwidth cap, limiting downloads to 250 GB/Month. Unsurprisingly, some folks blame the FCC’s recent decision on prohibiting Comcast from blocking BitTorrent and other p2p applications as pushing Comcast to make this change, although Comcast itself has repeatedly stressed that it was not compelled to do this and planned to do this anyway so no biggie.

What the world did not know, but I thank PK’s Art Brodsky for finding, is that Comcast agreed to clarify its cap as part of a settlement with the Florida Attorney General’s office. As some of us have observed for awhile now, Comcast long had a policy of cutting off “bandwidth hogs” for exceeding a capacity cap while refusing to say what the actual capacity cap was. Well, on July 29, Comcast agreed to make clear their capacity cap and pay $150K in fines.

I highly recommend reading the full terms of the settlement — particularly the factual background which Comcast has agreed is true (without, of course, admitting wrongdoing). Of greatest import, until it announced the 250 GB/month cap, Comcast did not have an actual hard and fast cap. Rather, according to Paragraph 5 of the factual stipulations, Comcast simply knocked off the highest 1000 users regardless of their actual bandwidth usage or geographic location. Comcast is almost certainly telling the truth when it says the highest 1000 users were atypically intense bandwidth consumers. duh. Of course the top 1000 out of 14.4 million will be at the high end of the curve.

No, the more interesting question is what the hell kind of a system is it where Comcast simply goes after the top 1000 users no matter how much they actually use, and why Comcast would adopt such a policy if it wants to reasonably manage network congestion? It seems rather . . . inefficient and arbitrary. Unless, of course, one is trying to save money running a crappy network and generally discourage high-bandwidth use.

Apparently, the Florida Attorney General also thought a policy that simply shut off the top 1000 users every month regardless of actual use or congestion did not meet proper standards of consumer protection or “reasonable network management.” The settlement requires Comcast to state clearly what it means by “excessive use of capacity” in its acceptable use policy (AUP). That’s it (as well as paying $50K for attorneys fees and other associated expenses to the AG for bring this action). Comcast has total discretion to set a limit or have a limit or change a limit, as long as there is (a) an actual fixed limit, and (b) Comcast clearly communicates to its subscribers what that limit actually is. This is in line with the settlement reached last year between Verizon Wireless and the NY AG’s office that Verizon would no longer advertise its wireless internet access package as “unlimited” but would provide a hard monthly cap.

Which explains why Comcast is not going around telling the world that it adopted bandwidth caps because of the big bad awful FCC and their wicked regulatory ways. They didn’t. Rather, Comcast was using an even more ridiculous bandwidth cap the entire time, and they were required as a matter of consumer protection law in Florida to actually come clean with a real number so customers can find out what they are paying for and get full value for their monthly subscriber fee. It seems Comcast has sense enough not to play those kinds of games on something so easily verifiable. Good for them. Nice to see they learn from experience.

Stay tuned . . . .

Posted in Series of Tubes, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

700 MHz Final Tweaks: Limited Relief for Frontline, Google Looks to Bid

So with the December 3 date for the filing of short forms to participate in the 700 MHz auction looming ever closer, we see some last minute shifting about and settling of a few lingering details. First, in the I called it category (as did my friend and fellow Wetmachiner Greg Rose, various news outlets report that Google seems increasingly likely to bid in the 700 MHz auction. Further support for the idea that Google really intends to bid comes from their filing a request for clarification from the FCC that when the FCC said “no discrimination,” they meant the usual statutory version that allows discounts for volume customers and such what (the usual statutory language prohibits “unreasonable discrimination,” which allows for things like bulk discounts provided everyone that meets the criteria gets the same deal).

Mind, it isn’t a sure thing Google will bid until it files a short form, and folks can file to bid without being willing to put up the money. But given the number of folks who said Greg and I were on crack for expecting Google to actually put up its own money to go against the likes of Verizon, we can perhaps be forgiven for patting ourselves on the back for being so far out ahead of the curve on this.

More importantly, perhaps, is the FCC’s decision last week to provide limited help to Frontline Wireless by allowing a designated entity (DE) that wins the D Block auction to wholesale its spectrum without losing its DE credit. (You can read the FCC Press release here and the full text of the Order here.) Now how does this help? And why limit it to D Block? And what the heck is a “DE” anyway?

Answers and speculations below . . . .

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General Exception

Nanotech hiring.. philosophers?

An article in the Washington Post provides a general overview of nanotech. The one interesting fact that caught me eye: nanotech companies and researchers are hiring sociologists, philosophers, and ethicists, in attempt to get ahead of the curve on public opinion.

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Posted in General Exception | Also tagged , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)
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