Monthly Archives: December 2006

Still More on Net Neutrality ‘Victory’ – Not?

Susan Crawford has a disturbingly convincing argument about why the AT&T concession is so much less than it seems.

Key point: DSL as we know it is so yesterday.

Earlier posts: More on Net Neutrality ‘Victory’ and Incredible Victory for Net Neutrality.

Posted in Internet | Leave a comment

More on Net Neutrality ‘Victory’

Is the seeming victory for net neutrality all a sham? That’s what I would have expected. Now, via Dave Farber’s mailing list, comes a suggestion that maybe it is all smoke and mirrors:

Dave Burstein, who knows more about DSL than probably just about anyone, lets us know that the fine print in the deal actually may negate the network neutrality premise. The wording is a little tricky, but while they agree not to remove network neutrality from their standard network, hidden in the middle of a later paragraph is this sentence: “This commitment also does not apply to AT&T/BellSouth’s Internet Protocol television (IPTV) service.” At first that might seem innocuous, but Burstein has pointed out that AT&T’s always planned on using the IPTV network as that high-speed toll lane it wants Google, Vonage and others to pay extra for. Burstein notes that AT&T isn’t even set up to put quality of service on their existing network — so the agreement not to violate network neutrality on that network is effectively meaningless. It is, he claims, a sleight of hand that successfully fooled a bunch of people into supporting the deal, and will probably help it get approval. AT&T promises not to violate network neutrality on a network they never intended to use that way, and carves out permission to use it on their new network, where they had planned all along to set up additional tollbooths.

On the other hand, Harold Feld remains the optimist:

It’s not over until we get it into law. But we now have a strong definition for network neutrality and a clear acknowledgment of why we need it and how it will work.

Step by step, by the numbers, we move the ball steadily forward to the goal.

And, Columbia’s Tim Wu also thinks this is a big win. And he suggests that the exceptions are not necessarily that serious.

And, indeed, one of the shibboleths of the anti-neutrality crowd has been that the concept itself is too amorphous. Well, they can’t say that any more.

I still think this debate mires us deep in the second or third best because, as I’ve said before, we are now stuck in a position where we can’t trust the market to sort this one out, as we might usually want to do. The core problem is regulatory choices by the current administration. We used to have a rule which required the owners of the last mile of wire/fiber to give access on fair terms to competing providers.

This administration reversed that rule, so now there isn’t true competition for the provision of household broadband. Instead most consumers face a monopolist or at best a DSL/Cable duopoly. If we had true competition at the consumer endpoint we at least have some hope that the outcome would preserve the public goods aspects have interoperability and a place for the small and quirky.

So for me the real issue isn’t regulation to achieve “net neutrality”. The real issue is keeping the consumer from being made captive in the first place. But that’s not on the policy menu at present given the power of the (ever bigger) telcos.

Continue reading

Posted in Internet | 1 Comment

Incredible Victory for Net Neutrality

Amazing news this evening about an incredible victory for net neutrality. According to Harold Feld’s Tales of the Sausage Factory, AT&T has submitted a new 20-page letter outlining the conditions it will accept in order to secure FCC approval of its merger with BellSouth. And they amount to a wholesale acceptance of the principle of net neutrality for both broadband and wireless.

If you’ve followed the merger issue, or the net neutrality issue at all, you really have to go read this. I’m stunned by how big a victory this is. If I didn’t know Harold to be a stand-up guy, I’d think this was a hoax.

Update: Oh dear. They only last for two years. That’s not so good. Although it does take us into the next administration…

Posted in Internet | 1 Comment

Rest Cure

I was doing my first session of brain calisthenics this morning, figuring that I should start now before I get old, and get my cerebellum into really good shape. I know you’re supposed to ease into a new exercise regime, but who knew that translating Proust into Esperanto would really be that hard?

Now I fear I may have pulled or strained something in the noggin department. But maybe if I rest it really hard, it should be better soon.

Anyway, I suspect I won’t be posting much this week.

Posted in Completely Different | 1 Comment

Who Does that Cast as Caligula?

Military considers recruiting foreigners – The Boston Globe

I don’t want to sound like I’m catching creeping Spenglerism, after all this is only a trial balloon albeit one with antecedents (see #5 on this generally horrifying list), but isn’t recruiting foreign legions said to be one of the (many) causes of the downfall of the Roman empire?

Yup.

The introduction of barbarians into the Roman armies became every day more universal, more necessary, and more fatal . . . As they freely mingled with the subjects of the empire, they gradually learned to despise their manners and to imitate their arts. … and though most of them preferred the ties of allegiance to those of blood, they did not always avoid the guilt, or at least the suspicion, of holding a treasonable correspondence with the enemy, of inviting his invasion, or of sparing his retreat.

– Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire 397 (1776)

And, yes, the headline may be a cheap shot, since Caligula was part of the Western (Roman) empire, and I think in in the quote above Gibbon was writing about the Eastern (Byzantine) Empire. But “Who does that cast as Diocletian?”, or Theodosius I, Flavius Zeno or Justin II, would all be better questions, but wouldn’t have the same zing.

Whatever Gibbon meant, given the state of things inside the Beltway and outside our borders, it’s to the Byzantine and not the Roman Empire that we should be looking to for models. So here’s a nice academic parlor game: Which Byzantine Emperor does W most resemble?

Posted in Politics: US | 10 Comments

Enjoy Your Presents

Genuine user review of a wireless repeater:

Experience with product: 1 Weeks
Strengths: THE COLOR IS SILVER
Weaknesses: EVERYTHING ELSE

Full User Summary
THIS PRODUCT SIMPLY DOESN’T WORK. SAYING THIS PRODUCT SETS UP WITH SIMPLY A PUSH OF A BUTTON IS LIKE SAYING YOU CAN BUILD CITY IN 30 SECONDS. IT’S JUST NOT TRUE. THIS PRODUCT MAY WORK FOR A FEW MINUTES, BUT THEN YOU MUST RESTART EVERYTHING IN YOUR ENTIRE HOUSE, INCLUDING YOUR LIGHTS AND WATER, IN ORDER FOR IT TO PICK UP A SIGNAL AGAIN. IF YOU BUY THIS PRODUCT YOU WILL KNOW EXACTLY WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT. I TRIED TO SET UP FOR DAYS, TALKED TO TECH SUPPORT (DUMBER THEN A RAT) AND STILL DIDN’T WORK. I AM VERY COMPUTER LITERATE AND HAVE SET UP MANY ROUTERS AND EXTENDERS BEFORE–THEY ACTUALLY WORKED THOUGH. SAVE YOUR MONEY, INSTEAD OF BUYING THIS, OR ANY OTHER LINKSYS PRODUCT FOR THAT MATTER, JUST GO OUTSIDE, FIND A STICK, AND PLACE IT IN A POTATO-bc that wil extend your range of your network much more than this silver box of nothing.

Good thing I was shopping for an access point, not a repeater.

Posted in Sufficiently Advanced Technology | Leave a comment

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Admits She Lied, But Doesn’t Apologize

About as un-graciously as humanly possible, my Congressional representative has admitted that she’s a liar, and that she slandered filmakers last week when she accused them of doctoring tape to put words in her mouth.

Last week, Ros-Lehtinen was still denying that the tapes showing her calling for Castro’s assassination were accurate, and was accusing the filmmakers of doctoring the tape. Then they released the raw tapes, and we found out who was telling the truth. And it’s not Ros-Lehtinen.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen admitted on Friday, through a spokesman, that she did call for the death of ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro during an interview with a British documentary-maker whom she had earlier accused of altering the video.

”Yes, it’s in the documentary, she said that,” said Alex Cruz, the congresswoman’s spokesman.

Ros-Lethinen did not want to respond further, Cruz said, because “she’s focused her energies on issues that are more important for the community.

”Neither she nor I have seen the raw footage, without editing, but if that’s in the documentary, she said it,” Cruz said.

Having wrongly and cravenly accused the documentary makers of the most serious professional misconduct, Ros-Lehtinen is waiting to see how the wind blows before deciding if she has to apologize:

”Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has made a very serious accusation against the documentary’s crew,” [director Dollan] Cannell said. “Her accusation is totally false and I would like her to retract what she said and to apologize.”

Cruz did not respond directly to whether Ros-Lehtinen plans to apologize to the director.

Posted in Politics: FL-18 | 1 Comment