A User’s Guide to the Video Wars

Over the next year or so, there will be skirmishes in Congress about video regulations.  On the surface, they may sound technical – men wearing ties will bandy about terms like “compulsory license” and “local-into-local” – and it will be very easy to ignore the whole thing. But there are giants moving on the face of the earth when it comes to video, and many dollars are at stake. Just add zeroes until you get interested. Here’s a quick user’s guide to the video wars: 1. The vehicle. The legislative…

Planning for the future

I’m a Comcast internet access customer, and I don’t have a television here in Ann Arbor.  There, I’ve said it.  I remember thinking when other people used to say they didn’t have televisions that they were just being sanctimonious cranks.  I swear I’m not being a sanctimonious crank. With a good internet connection, and a big/friendly enough monitor, you don’t need to subscribe to cable content any more.  I was thoroughly content watching the convention this week on C-SPAN.  But I was watching C-SPAN.org – and I was also following…

Why regulate cable internet access

The cable guys have their way of saying it::  “What do you want to do, nationalize our businesses?” Another way of seeing this issue is::  We have a very few very large providers of highspeed internet access in this country.  They have sufficient market power to decide how and when to prioritize internet communications.  And all of these providers are competing with the internet in some way – they are all (or are becoming) old media and old telecom companies that want to maintain control over their distribution channels.  The…

Three developments

1. More passive content from network providers. Comcast announced that it’s going to be providing 3,000 high-definition video-on-demand programs for subscribers to its highspeed Internet access services. “Comcast is the largest purchaser of TV content and now we are bringing that content over to the Internet” [Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, at CES today] Comcast is also confidently predicting that the PC will become “a full cable TV client” in the future. Dirk van der Woude pointed me to a Wall Street analyst, Douglas McIntyre, who doesn’t think Comcast’s plan makes…

Comcast and “network management”

EFF‘s recent report on the Comcast Affair [pdf] is worth paying attention to. It’s a thoughtful and easy-to-understand exploration of Comcast’s injection of “reset” packets into online communications. (I wrote briefly about this here.) EFF is also letting us know how we can see packet spoofing for ourselves – here. There are three myths that EFF pays particular attention to – ways of explaining Comcast’s activity that have been themselves injected into the public discussion of this issue in order to smooth things over. “This is just network management.” EFF…

The Auction, the Cops, and Comcast

The 700 MHz auction is just ahead. Bidders will soon be filing their applications, and the auction itself is supposed to start by Jan. 24. This is the big event for telecommunications policy in the U.S. One recent online story says that “it’s almost like the powers-that-be decided to auction off the land in the Grand Canyon or Central Park in New York City.” It could affect the competitive landscape for U.S. wireless providers and change the way broadband reaches rural areas in this country. Re-reading the final rules [warning:…

Three updates

Three stories moved forward today: 1. Verizon dropped its legal challenge to the 700 MHz auction rules. I have a feeling they’ve decided that there are ways to work around [link to post giving work-around clues] the no-locking, no-blocking conditions that the FCC established. Plus VZ doesn’t want to be the bad guy, charged by Congress with delaying the auction. They’ve got bigger problems on their hands given the NARAL flap and the fact that… 2. Comcast admitted “delaying” traffic on its network. I learned today that EFF had been…

Comcast Is Pretending to be You

This AP story makes clear that Comcast is pretending to be part of online conversations in order to frustrate users who want to use particular online applications. This happens all the time in the name of “traffic shaping” — it’s the kind of thing that China does to interfere with internet use. What’s different and important about today’s story is that people have carefully experimented. We can now understand exactly what Comcast is doing. When you go online and click a link, what you’re doing is sending packets (think individual…