Network Neutrality comments due Monday {!important}

netflix chart
Internet Slowdown

Coalition to support network neutrality sponsored an Internet slowdown day.

Update: My letter to the FCC

You may have noticed a spinning-wheel-of-death atop your browser last week while visiting Etsy, Kickstarter, Netflix, Reddit, Tumbler or any number of sites around the Internet.

The web site owners were raising awareness of something known as network neutrality (which should really be called network discrimination). Comments on an FCC proposal to regulate how website and email traffic moves around the Internet within the United States are due Monday.

Of course, what’s at stake is a buttload of money.

No surprise, then, that companies selling the equipment that shuffles bits around the Net are in favor of network discrimination. It means new equipment sales for them.


Why you should care

Think about telephone calls for a moment. The telephone network does not discriminate between carriers. In other words, if you are an AT&T customer and you have an incoming call from Verizon, the AT&T network has to treat the call exactly as it would if it were an internal network call. I’m not talking about pricing, I’m talking about call quality.

As an Internet consumer, you pay a provider to connect your phone, table and computer to the Net. Your Internet provider should not be able to “privilege” content (bits) from sites that it owns or “discriminate” content (bits) from sites that its competitor owns. After all, those competitors are paying their providers based on bit volume.

You’re paying to get content.

Companies are paying to send content.

Your provider should not be able to demand a toll for its competitors just so that you can receive the content you have already paid to receive.

Real world example: “television.”

Comcast owns 100% of NBCUniversal, effective last year.

Comcast provided Internet connectivity to 21 million American households at the end of 2013.

Why might Comcast want to discriminate against Netflix traffic?

Because, grasshopper, Netflix watching eats into their viewership which in turn reduces their television business advertising revenue. Comcast lost about 300,000 pay-TV subscribers in 2013.

PayTV Market Share

So is it any surprise that Comcast “discriminated” against Netflix traffic (bits) in 2013? And reversed itself when Netflix agreed to pay an additional toll to ensure its bits got delivered in a timely fashion? From the Washington Post in April:

Netflix and net neutrality

From the Washington Post

Comedian John Oliver explains:

Flawed regulatory framework

We would not be having this conversation if Internet connectivity (infrastructure) were owned separately from Internet content sites.

That’s how Europe manages it mobile telephony, for example. The companies that sell phone service are not the same companies that own and manage the cell towers. No vertical integration. It means Europeans pay less for more when it comes to cell data.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that in the US, we pay more for less broadband than other countries around the world.

Global connectivity

Akamai data from first quarter 2014

Act now!

Critics (I’m one) believe the that FCC proposal would create a two-tiered Internet and thus should be rejected.

Even though current system is broken, the current FCC proposal won’t fix it. The courts have said that the FCC can’t fix it because it does not have the authority to regulate network neutrality. Only Congress can fix the system by regulating Internet access like the utility (phones, water, natural gas) that it is.

But the FCC needs to hear from as many people as possible in order to put pressure on Congress (and the White House). The comment period has been extended three times: from July 15 first to July 18 then September 10 and now to September 15. We can’t count on its being extended again.

So write the FCC (you can use if the comment form for proceeding 14-28 is broken but be sure to include in your email, your full name, and address and the proceeding number) and insist the the Net to be regulated like a utility. Demand no two-tier system.

Then call your Senators and Representatives and bend their ears, too.


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Graphic designer launches social media campaign around global warming

it's not warming
logo for Milton Glaser campaign

Animated gif of new logo from Milton Glaser; loops only once.


According to Dezeen magazine, graphic designer Milton Glaser has launched an awareness campaign centered on global warming.

Glaser created the iconic “I love NY” logo as well as a Smithsonian-featured ’60s image of Bob Dylan.

“There is no more significant issue on earth than its survival,” Glaser told Dezeen. “The questions is, ‘how can anyone not be involved?’”

Support the campaign by buying five buttons for $5.00 (that covers postage and handling). The campaign encourages selfies with the hashtag #itsnotwarming. For campaign news, follow the Twitter account ItsNotWarming.



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The Corporate States of America


As war drums beat in Washington, DC (and at many US newspapers), it’s useful to understand how the federal government spends our tax dollars and borrowed money.

There’s an image floating around Facebook that compares military, health, housing and education spending. It’s undated, but it’s from 2009. And the numbers in the supporting article are, well, squishy. For example:

The Troubled Assets Relief Program gave an initial $700 billion to the banks, with Congress handing control to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to decide who would receive the vast sums of taxpayer money with no real oversight. Since then, additional sums to the tune of nearly $10 trillion have been either handed over or guaranteed to financial powerhouses and corporate giants, who have since nonchalantly paid out hundreds of millions in bonuses to corporate executives.

Congress authorized $700 billion for TARP. Last fall, the Congressional Budget Office reported disbursements of $431 billion. After loan paybacks, the net cost of the program is estimated at $24 billion.

Here is my chart comparing costs associated with the Great Recession to our military, Medicare and education budgets for fiscal 2012.





Cross-posted at The Moderate Voice