Archive for March, 2011
(Original at New York Times)
Paul Baran, Internet Pioneer, Dies at 84
By KATIE HAFNER
Published: March 27, 2011
[. . .]
In the early 1960s, while working at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, Calif., Mr. Baran outlined the fundamentals for packaging data into discrete bundles, which he called “message blocks.” The bundles are then sent on various paths around a network and reassembled at their destination. Such a plan is known as “packet switching.”
Mr. Baran’s idea was to build a distributed communications network, less vulnerable to attack or disruption than conventional networks. In a series of technical papers published in the 1960s he suggested that networks be designed with redundant routes so that if a particular path failed or was destroyed, messages could still be delivered through another.
[. . .]
Mr. Baran received a master’s degree in engineering from U.C.L.A. in 1959. Gerald Estrin, who was Mr. Baran’s adviser, said Mr. Baran was the first student he ever had who actually went to the Patent Office in Washington to investigate whether his master’s work, on character recognition, was patentable.
“From that day on, my expectations of him changed,” Dr. Estrin said. “He wasn’t just a serious student, but a young man who was looking to have an effect on the world.”
[. . .]
In recent years, the origins of the Internet have been subject to claims and counterclaims of precedence, and Mr. Baran was an outspoken proponent of distributing credit widely.
“The Internet is really the work of a thousand people,” he said in an interview in 2001.
“The process of technological developments is like building a cathedral,” he said in an interview in 1990. “Over the course of several hundred years, new people come along and each lays down a block on top of the old foundations, each saying, ‘I built a cathedral.’
“Next month another block is placed atop the previous one. Then comes along an historian who asks, ‘Well, who built the cathedral?’ Peter added some stones here, and Paul added a few more. If you are not careful you can con yourself into believing that you did the most important part. But the reality is that each contribution has to follow onto previous work. Everything is tied to everything else.”
Mr. Baran’s wife, Evelyn, died in 2007. In addition to his son, David, of Atherton, Calif., he is survived by three grandchildren; and his companion of recent years, Ruth Rothman.
(Original at Huffington Post)
AT&T Celebrates Broadband Plan by Buying Out Competition
By Art Brodsky
AT&T commemorated last week’s one-year anniversary of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) National Broadband Plan in its own, unique way. Ending a week of celebrations, it bought one of the other four biggest competitors, T-Mobile, further shrinking competition in wireless broadband, further concentrating an already concentrated market. Now instead of the big four wireless companies, there are the bigger three.
The government hasn’t blocked a telecom merger yet, but this one should given these policymakers pause. And if they let it through, there should be some very strong conditions.
That $39 billion move was just the capper to the celebrations. It levied bandwidth caps on its customers. It then told its customers that it was a no-no to use data from their broadband data plan service to connect a Blackberry to a laptop. Not all data is created equal. Separate tethering plan required, it seems. That basically sums up the state of broadband in America.
[. . .]
It’s a good thing that news organizations picked up the usage-cap story, because AT&T didn’t make it very clear in its new Terms of Service. This is what the company told customers: “Data Usage. For more information about the use of your High Speed Internet Service, data usage allowances that may apply to your service, how much data you use, and management of your data usage, please refer to www.att.com/internet-usage.” That’s very helpful.
[. . .]
Los Angeles Times tech editorial writer/blogger Jon Healey commented that even if the cap doesn’t affect users now, “it’s troubling when a broadband provider that faces little competition summarily raises prices, particularly when the move hurts rivals in a separate market. AT&T’s pay-TV service competes with online video-on-demand offerings from Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, Apple and CinemaNow, to name just a few. If the bandwidth caps deter consumers from using those services, that’s a very bad thing.”
That’s the point. High-speed Internet access is still a market with little competition and the government has been trying to stress the need to convert to a broadband-based economy. There is nothing in the National Broadband Plan to address that crucial fact. Indeed, the plan’s writers ignored the study that addressed the issue of competition.
[. . .]
How else is the National Broadband Plan being honored? In North Carolina, the same Time Warner Cable is on the verge of winning the legislative war to keep municipalities from offering their own competing Internet service. TWC has been trying for years to get the bill passed and now, with a friendly legislature, they have a good shot. The local groups who beat back the bill the last couple of years are fighting valiantly but they recognize it’s an uphill battle.
And up in Minnesota, cable company Mediacom is still fighting against a $66.5 million broadband stimulus project, filing a complaint with the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Inspector General against Lake County, Minnesota. Those companies trying to squash municipal networks should realize the local governments wouldn’t take on the challenge of a network if they got decent service from the private sector.
Somehow, the caps and the challenges seem at odds with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s vision that “what matters is the full broadband economy – a broad and widely available ecosystem of fast networks, valuable applications, and innovative devices.”
By most measurement, U.S. consumers still pay more money for less speed than other developed nations. Nothing in the National Broadband Plan will address that situation.
(Original post at the UK Guardian)
Berners-Lee Warns ISPs on Net Neutrality
By Charles Arthur
Wednesday 16 March 2011
The inventor of the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has warned Internet service providers (ISPs) that plans for a “two-speed” internet go against the principles that have let the net grow so rapidly in the past two decades.
“Best practices should also include the neutrality of the net,” Berners-Lee told a round table in Westminster on Wednesday morning, convened by the communications minister Ed Vaizey. Content companies, represented by Facebook, Skype, the BBC and Yahoo, squared up to ISPs, with input from consumer representatives including the Open Rights Group, the Consumers’ Association and the communications regulator Ofcom.
[. . .]
Berners-Lee told the meeting that “every customer should be able to access every service, and every service should be able to access every customer … The web has grown so fast precisely because we have had two independent markets, one for connectivity, and the other for content and applications.”
Vaizey said the meeting had been “useful and productive” and that “it was important to discuss how to ensure the internet remains an open, innovative and competitive place.”
“Net neutrality” – in which services are treated exactly equally as they pass over the net, no matter what their source or destination – has become an increasingly vexed topic as demands on ISPs and mobile carriers have begun to outstrip capacity.
ISPs have thus suggested that they should be allowed to manipulate the transfer of data, but that they would be transparent about how and what they were doing.
(from Scott Bradner’s column at NetworldWorld)
Eyes in their ankles: The congressional view of network neutrality
[. . .]
Too many in Congress, and elsewhere, see that any attempt at ensuring network neutrality will, in the words of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., “stifle innovation, in turn slowing our economic turnaround and further depressing an already anemic job market.”
This type of reaction only makes sense if someone has absolutely no idea how the Internet works or what it is used for.
The only way such an objection makes sense is if you only look at the carriers and assume that they will be worse off if they cannot get a piece of the action for the business that is done over their networks.
So, the argument must go, let the carriers control everything and they will create jobs and expand the economy.
Let’s look at some actual data from the U.S. Census Department. Total U.S. commerce in 2008 (the latest year reported on) was about $22 trillion. Of this about $3.7 trillion was in the form of e-commerce, mostly over the Internet. Most of this (92%) was business-to-business. Doing business over the Internet depends on the Internet working and working fairly.
What about the carriers? The National Cable & Telecommunications Association reports that the total cable company customer revenue for 2008 was about $85 billion and the FCC reports that total U.S. telecommunications industry revenues for 2008 was $297 billion. Thus, total carrier (cable plus telephone) revenue was about $382 billion or about 10% of the value of the business done over the Internet. Commentators that focus on the well-being of the carriers are ignoring the vast majority of the value of the Internet. They want to penalize the 90% to benefit the 10%.
This is an inability to see the value riding over the ‘Net, which is the same thing as having your eyes in your ankles pointing down so they can only see strips of asphalt and miss the cars and trucks riding on the asphalt.
(At SXSW as I post this)
Monday, March 14: SXSW Tackles Net Neutrality in Special Series of Presentations
The ongoing issue of net neutrality clearly impacts all aspects of the digital creativity we celebrate at SXSW. With this in mind, we are very excited about morning programming at the Radisson Hotel on Monday, March 14.
At 9:30 am, Senator Al Franken will talk about “An Open Internet: The Last, Best Hope for Independent Producers.”
At 11:00 am, Sharon Strover and Alex Curtis will cover “Why the FCC Can’t Please Anyone: Net Neutrality Blues.
At 12:30 pm, acclaimed author TIm Wu will explore “Net Neutrality Forever: The Very Long View“.
Don’t miss out on these important presentations — the future of the internet as we know it is potentially in the balance here.
(On SXSW Schedule for tomorrow)
Internet Evolution: Hyperconnected, Hyper-real
Time: 11:00 am, Tuesday, March 15
Venue: Austin Hyatt, Big Bend Room, 208 Barton Springs Road
What are your fears and hopes for the future of the Internet? People who do not understand the potential threats may never get to benefit from the possible opportunities. Most technology experts foresee: wireless devices embedded in everything – including us; nearly invisible cameras recording activity in all public spaces; databases cataloguing our online actions; massive data centers that allow that information to be sorted and understood in new ways; changes in work and home environments as the Internet of Things and everyware applications become widespread and immersive, invisible, ambient, networked computing makes us available to more people in more ways. And what about the implications of a direct brain-to-computer interface? Join in a discussion aimed at illuminating the concerns that should be addressed today to prepare for the potential future scenarios predicted by experts as documented by Pew Internet & American Life Project surveys and other current research.
Janna Anderson Dir Imagining the Internet.orgCome to see my Core Conversation – “Internet Evolution: Hyperconnected, Hyper-real” at 11 a.m. Tuesday March 15. Also starring YOU and principal discussants Paul Jones of ibiblio, tech policy expert Mike Nelson (formerly IBM and Clinton White House) and Chris O’Brien of the San Jose Mercury News. My Bio: Lead author of the Pew Internet & American Life Project “Future of the Internet” surveys. Associate professor at Elon University specializing in emerging media. Founder and director of Imagining the Internet, http://www.imaginingtheinternet.org/, a Webby Honors-winning online compilation of survey studies and documentary videos illuminating people’s hopes and fears for the potential future of the Internet. This project, launched in 2003, has involved more than 200 Elon students in global communications research and documentary journalism. Has written articles for USA Today, Advertising Age and the New York Times News Service. Author of the book “Imagining the Internet,” (Rowman & Littlefield) and the “Future of the Internet” book series (Cambria Press). On the editorial board of Newspaper Research Journal; reviewer for New Media & Society; contributor to State of the Future reports. On the steering committee for the Internet Governance Forum-USA and a member of the boards of the Lifeboat Foundation and DiploFoundation. M.A., University of Memphis. Faculty at Elon University since spring 1999. Previously spent 20 years working as a copy editor, reporter, and features editor at papers in Minnesota and North Dakota.
Paul Jones Dir University of North Carolina Paul Jones runs ibiblio.org, a data archival site that hosts open source software and collaboratively created sites including Groklaw, Project Gutenberg, eTree.org and over 2000 other projects. ibiblio.org is supported by University of North Carolina’s the School of Information and Library Science and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Jones was co-chair of the 2010 International World Wide Web Conference, cited for his use of video and video conferencing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, and an IBM Faculty Research Award winner — all in the past year. Jones’ poems are found in several anthologies including Best American Erotic Poems: 1800 – Present (Scribners).
(Original article at Computerworld)
IDG News Service – A U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee has voted in favor of a resolution to throw out the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s recently adopted net neutrality rules.
The communications subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted 15-8 along party lines for a resolution of disapproval that would overturn the FCC’s rules. Those rules would prohibit broadband providers from selectively blocking or slowing Web traffic.
The resolution would also prohibit the FCC from re-attempting to create similar net neutrality rules.
[. . .]
The resolution will next go to the full committee, and if approved there, to the full House. If the Republican-controlled House approves the resolution, it would then move to the Senate, where Democrats hold the majority. The Senate is unlikely to pass the resolution.
[. . .]
Net neutrality rules are needed to allow small businesses to use the Web without interference from broadband providers, said Robin Chase, co-founder of car-sharing service Zipcar. An open Internet was essential to Zipcar’s success, she said.
“Network neutrality is not excessive regulation that will stifle innovation,” she said. “Network neutrality promotes innovation and protects consumers by preventing telecommunications companies from stifling new thinking, new services and new applications.”
Democratic lawmakers argued that the resolution was taking committee time away from more pressing broadband matters, including proposals to free up new spectrum and the creation of a nationwide, mobile public safety network. The resolution, given its dim chances in the Senate, is a “waste of time,” said Representative Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat.
The net neutrality rules allow Web users to control their online experiences, she added. “We want the consumers to make the choice, not corporations,” she said.
Oral Testimony by Robin Chase
CEO GoLoco, Founder and former CEO of Zipcar
March 9, 2011
Before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce
Chairman Walden, Ranking Member Eshoo, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to discuss the importance of network neutrality rules to job creation, economic development, and innovation. My name is Robin Chase and I am the founder and former CEO of GoLoco, an online ridesharing community; the founder of Meadow Networks, a consulting firm that advises government about wireless applications in the transportation sector; and the founder and former CEO of Zipcar, the world’s largest carsharing company.
When I received the invitation late last week to testify before this Committee, I was working across the Atlantic and later this afternoon I will fly back. Despite the significant resources and travel time it took to come here, I accepted the invitation because the course of action Congress is considering — namely repealing and eliminating the authority of the FCC to enact policies that preserve an open Internet — will harm our country’s ability to innovate, produce jobs, and remain competitive in the world marketplace. And I care deeply about that.
Eleven years ago, I co-founded Zipcar. The idea behind the company was to make renting a car as simple as getting cash from an ATM, and free and open access to the Internet was central to the company’s existence. It is only because of the ease, speed, and zero marginal cost of finding, reserving, and unlocking a car that anyone would be willing to rent a car for an hour, or to sell only an hour of a car’s time. Without an open Internet, Zipcar simply would not exist.
Eliminating the FCC’s network neutrality rules will put future entrepreneurs and small businesses at a significant disadvantage. It will permit the telecommunications industry to define the Internet.
I would like to draw an important parallel. Imagine for example, if Zipcar had been forced to rely on the auto industry’s definitions of car ownership — or worse yet, had to ask their permission in order to execute. Our vision of a fleet of personal cars being shared among unconnected individuals would have been implausible and threatening.
Likewise, we cannot rely on the telecommunications industry to define the Internet. Without a public policy, they will define the Internet as their preferred “triple play” — their telephone service, their video service, and their idea of your ideal Internet experience. And they will seek to squash any service that threatens their revenue stream. Such an approach is a perfect recipe for stifling innovation.
This is not just mere speculation about the potential for short-sightedness but rather firsthand experience. During the initial years of Zipcar the wireless industry simply would not think outside of the box. When we first approached them for a data plan in 2000, we were met with blank, non-responsive stares. I recall many representatives not actually understanding the difference between purchasing “kilobytes” versus purchasing “minutes.” The industry had only one vision of wireless use and therefore only one product to sell. We were either a cell phone or we did not exist.
Innovation is the life blood of a competitive economy and the Internet is the circulatory system that carries this vital source to the whole. An open Internet gives everyone access, and the ability, to apply new ways of thinking to problems in discipline silos that often do not get new thinking applied to them. And especially important to entrepreneurs, the open Internet allows for extraordinarily low input costs, which allows them to efficiently tap into unused excess capacity, and multiply ideas across the network at virtually no cost.
Ensuring that the Internet can continue to perform this function of promoting innovation is the reason we are having this debate. I absolutely agree that excessive regulation stifles innovation and prevents free markets from innovating. BUT.
The most important thing I have to say to the committee, and the reason I have flown so many thousands of miles, is this:
The public policy enacted by the FCC helps ensure an open Internet. It is not excessive regulation that will stifle innovation but rather a policy that prevents excessive regulation by powerful telecommunications companies who do not have an interest in enabling and promoting innovation.
Indeed, I think the FCC’s rules actually did not go far enough, especially with respect to wireless: The idea that different rules should apply, and that my experience of the Internet would be different depending on whether I was sitting at my desk at home connected, or on a park bench accessing those pages wirelessly is nonsense. And it dramatically complicates life for innovators and entrepreneurs.
If Congress wants to truly unlock the economic and job creating potential of the Internet by fully tapping into the innovation potential of our country, it should do so by fixing the FCC’s rules in this regard, rather than repealing them.
Twenty years ago, no one was thinking that the Internet would be used to share small numbers of cars among large numbers of people. I don’t know what brilliant and unexpected uses the Internet will enable tomorrow. No one does. That is why it is critical to make sure that the fundamental characteristic of the Internet — its ability to accommodate, adapt, and evolve — remains as open as possible. It is crucial that there is a public policy by the FCC and Congress that ensures this outcome. Protecting the Internet by defining it as broadly as possible, and letting the FCC protect it from oligopoly interests, is in America’s best interest.
Thank you again for inviting me to testify. I look forward to your questions.
(Original article at Tech Daily Dose)
Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee are crying foul over GOP efforts to overturn federal Internet neutrality rules.
In a letter to the committee’s Republican leaders, the Democrats ask that the resolution of disapproval, which was introduced under the Congressional Review Act, be reintroduced as a regular bill.
The CRA gives lawmakers a limited amount of time to try to overturn federal regulations after they are issued, but does not allow for amendments.
“The process you propose would deprive members of one of their most fundamental rights: the right to offer amendments,” the letter states. “We recognize there is disagreement about the role of the Commission with respect to the Internet, but we do not believe that justifies denying us the right to amend your legislation.”
A markup is scheduled immediately after a hearing on Wednesday. Although members may propose amendments, they will not be considered germane, under the rules.
House Democrats called for the hearing on the resolution of disapproval, which Republicans introduced in an effort to remove the new regulations.
Witnesses at the hearing will include a representative of AT&T, which has split from fellow telecom carrier Verizon and has said it is satisfied with the net neutrality rules as they were approved by the Federal Communications Commission in December.
(Original post at the House Energy and Commerce Committee site)
March 7, 2011
WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), will hold the second hearing this year on the Federal Communications Commission’s efforts to implement controversial Internet rules on Wednesday, March 9, 2011, at 10:30 a.m. in room 2123 of Rayburn House Office Building. Following the legislative hearing, the subcommittee will hold a vote on H.J.Res. 37, a Resolution of Disapproval to reverse the FCC’s rules. Text of the resolution is available HERE.
The hearing is open to the public and press. Opening statements, witness testimony, and a live webcast will be available online at http://energycommerce.house.gov.
RapidDSL & Wireless
Anna-Maria Kovacs, PhD
Shane Mitchell Greenstein, PhD
The Elinor and Wendell Hobbs Professor
Kellogg School of Management
Mr. James Cicconi
Senior Executive Vice President-External and Legislative Affairs
S. Derek Turner