Internet Class Warfare

My last column on broadband data caps rubbed the wrong way my old friend Brett Glass, an Internet Service Provider in Laramie, Wyoming. “Your most recent article regarding ISPs and bandwidth caps is misleading and inaccurate,” wrote Brett. “I hope you haven’t joined Bob Frankston’s ‘kill all service providers’ camp, because it sure seems like you have… Our bandwidth costs are $100 per megabit per second and are going UP due to increasing charges for middle mile bandwidth from Qwest/Centurylink and the FCC’s failure to act on special access.”

“My situation is absolutely the norm. Bandwidth is expensive, and anyplace you have to use the (monopoly) telephone company to get to it — which […]

By |July 30th, 2011|2011|60 Comments

Bandwidth caps are rate hikes

Internet Service Providers in the USA are trying to apply bandwidth caps to their users, with those caps being 2, 4, or 5 gigabytes-per-month for wireless users at various price levels and generally 250 gigabytes-per-month for home users. Most of the press coverage of this issue comes down on the side of consumers but lately the ISP publicity machine has been revved-up and we’re being told that bandwidth caps are necessary, even inevitable. This is, as my 87 year-old Mom would say, BS.

Provisioning is what ISPs call the amount of Internet backbone capacity they buy per subscriber. This number is always less than the amount of bandwidth we think we are buying because most of […]

By |July 28th, 2011|2011|176 Comments

Bufferbloat 2: The Need for Speed

Almost eight months ago in my annual predictions column I made a big deal about Bufferbloat, which was the name Bell Labs researcher Jim Gettys had given to the insidious corruption of Internet service by too many intelligent network devices. Well I’ve been testing one of the first products designed to treat bufferbloat and am here to report that it might work. But like many other public health problems, if we don’t all pay attention and do the right thing, ultimately we’ll all be screwed.

At the risk of pissing-off the pickier network mavens who read this column, Bufferbloat is a conflict between the Internet’s Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and various buffering schemes designed […]

By |July 25th, 2011|2011|63 Comments

The Future of Hulu and U.S. TV

Who will buy Hulu, the IPTV streaming service and why should we care? I’m not sure I do care, now that Lie to Me has been canceled, but in case you are an American who feels the future of series television is important, here’s what I think is going on.

The Wall $treet Journal says Apple is thinking of making a bid for Hulu and Seattlepi.com says Microsoft’s is no longer interested, which leaves Amazon, Apple, Google, Yahoo, and any unnamed parties. I can’t think of any unnamed parties, by the way, so I’m guessing one of these will walk with Hulu, which went into play a couple weeks ago following an […]

By |July 22nd, 2011|2011|47 Comments

The Decline and Fall of Facebook

Roger McNamee is a smart guy and a very successful investor as a co-founder of Elevation Partners. He made a breakfast presentation last month at the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles that is well worth watching. I could probably get half a dozen columns out of this one speech, but the part I want to concentrate on here is McNamee’s claim that when it comes to social media, Facebook (in which he was an early investor) has already won. I’m not here to say Roger is wrong, just that I am not exactly sure what Facebook is winning.

The core of McNamee’s speech didn’t have to do so much with Facebook as with Microsoft, Apple, Google, and […]

By |July 20th, 2011|2011|205 Comments