Obama Would Veto ‘Anti-Net Neutrality Bill”

The power to veto something is a strong one, and many governments have the power in place for specific reasons. Though rarely used it can often be what makes or breaks a law or new piece of legislation. In this case, the White House has stated that it would veto the ‘No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act’ on the grounds that it is very anti-net neutrality.

H.R. 2666 would appear at first glance to support the concept of net neutrality, with its author Adam Kinzinger, the republican representative for Illinois, saying that regulating broadband rates would create “significant uncertainty for ISPs” while also discouraging “investment and unique pricing structures or service plans”.

The sly part of the new bill, which the Electronic frontier foundation spotted, was that the FCC would have to stop summoning companies to explain a new trend of data exception schemes. These schemes like the T-mobile binge service, see companies making deals with certain providers and then not counting their content towards your data usage. Unlimited videos from certain sites? Sure, but videos on every site will be throttled.

In the White Houses letter, they state that the bill “would restrict the FCC’s ability to take enforcement actions to protect consumers on issues where the FCC has received numerous consumer complaints.” The White House then continues to say that the bill would also cause issues in the future as it ” could limit the Commission’s ability to address new practices and adapt its rules for a dynamic, fast-changing online marketplace”.

The letter finishes by saying that “if the President were presented with H.R. 2666, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”.

FFC To Create “Nutrition Labels” For Your Broadband

The Federal Communications Commission do a lot of things, including monitoring and investigating companies which have less than kind business practices. In their latest attempt to help people they’ve taken their inspiration from something we see (and ignore for the most part) everyday, nutrition labels.

In their latest attempt to give consumers a fair few the new nutrition labels will be used to help customers understand both home internet service providers (ISP’s) and mobile carriers. While not mandatory carriers are being “urged” to use the labels which will give you an idea about the following properties:

  • Price
    • This includes all those hidden fees they often hide, such as line rental or limited discounts
  • Data Caps
    • Ever felt like you may be getting a slower service? You should be able to see if you’ve hit your data usage cap, if one even exists
  • Speed
    • This will be included alongside things like latent and packet loss, giving you an idea not just how fast your service would be but also how reliable it is to

ISP’s are free to come up with their own labels, but they must be made in an “accurate, understandable and easy-to-find manner”.

Examples of the Broadband and Mobile labels can be found below.

Hoping to avoid the surprise fee’s that account for more than 2,000 complaints received by the FCC, the new labels could help people decide on the company that’s right for them, rather than the advertisement that fools the most.

BT Openreach Told to Reduce its Wholesale Broadband Prices

While Openreach – the company that holds a monopoly over the main broadband and telephone infrastructure in the UK – has managed to dodge calls for it to break its affiliation with BT over fears that it is at odds with the spirit of competition law, the UK telcom regulatory body OFCOM has demanded that the self-appointed ‘guardians of the last mile’ reduce the wholesale prices it charges businesses and ISPs to use its network, and improve the speed at which it installs leased lines after failing to meet its own targets more often than not.

In a statement released today (22nd March), as part of its investigation into the efficacy of Openreach, OFCOM accuses BT of taking “too long” to deliver services to business customers, and of charging too much for its sub-standard service.

“This means BT would have to give competitors physical access to its fibre-optic cables, allowing them to take direct control of the connection,” OFCOM’s Business Connectivity Market Review reads. “This service is often referred to as ‘dark fibre’, because the cables would not be ‘lit’ using BT’s electronic equipment. Instead, they would be ‘lit’ by the competitor installing its own equipment at either end of the optical fibre.”

“BT is already required to offer wholesale leased line products, which bundle the optical fibre and BT’s own network equipment, at regulated prices to competitors. BT would still be required to provide these services, but the new proposal would go further, allowing operators to use BT’s fibre-optic cables with their own equipment, rather than rely on BT’s equipment.”

“This should increase the opportunity for competitors to develop new high-capacity services for their customers,” the report adds.

The report calls for Openreach to complete 80% of leased line installations by its promised deadline by March 2017, raising to 90% in April 2018, and reduce its prices over the next three years.

Comcast Demanded $60,000 For Not Installing Internet

Silicon Valley is known as the place to be for startups in the technology business, and with companies looking to move there next to some of the biggest names in the business, it comes as no surprise that companies are often after the best internet they can get. SmartCar initially thought that moving there would be like a dream come true for the company with the amazing deal Comcast was offering on their internet, that was until several months later when the company wanted $60,000 after not installing the internet.

Founder and CEO of SmartCar Sahas Katta moved the company office to Silicon Valley with the dream of it being the best place to start the company off. Looking for the best deal Katta found that Comcast was offering “Comcast Business” in their area, offering 100Mbps downstream and 20Mbps upstream for only $189.90 a month. After signing a deal to get the package Katta was told by Comcast that they would need to do a site survey to see if they were actually going to be able to match that promise.

The response was that the new office was “just outside of” the Comcast service zone. They deemed it financially unviable to run the cables required to the building and instead offered to bring fiber to the building after Katta signed a four-year contract paying $1,050 a month for the 100Mbps service he was originally promised. Having signed the lease for the new building Katta felt like there was no choice and signed, with the promise that he would have fiber within 120 days.

With the lease on the property ending Katta contacted Comcast stating that he wished to terminate the contract, at which Comcast stated that in order to cancel the contract SmartCar would need to pay $60,900.45 to cover “construction costs”.

Thankfully Comcast has waived these fees after Ars Technica got ahold of Comcast’s public relations team regarding the matter, and have even promised a refund of the $2,100 deposit that was already paid. Just goes to show that you need to read and check you can actually get the internet they promise before you sign the contract.

UK Needs Faster Internet Says Business Leaders Group

Buffering, downloading, pausing, even trying to make out the shapes on a low-resolution video have become common place for so many people as their internet speed caps out, normally before they are anywhere near their advertised (and purchased) speeds. It seems that we aren’t the only ones annoyed by this though as a group of business leaders have spoken out now, accusing the UK government of creating a “poverty of ambition” for internet speeds.

The Institute of Directors (IoD) is formed from business leaders within the UK, and in their report titled Ultrafast Britain, they state that the UK is lagging behind when it comes to enabling faster broadband connections. The government states that 90% of UK properties have access to superfast speeds, with that reaching 95% by next year.

The IoD don’t think this is good enough, with them calling for speeds of 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) by 2030. Currently, the government wants just 10 megabits per second by 2020, a speed which many are already getting.

This isn’t the first time that the internet as a structured provision has been discussed this week, with Ofcom telling BT that its cable network should be opened up to other companies. Currently, BT contains two parts, the core company and Openreach, the part of the company responsible for the cable, fibre and network infrastructure that the UK relies on for its internet.

What is your internet speed? Is it ever what you were actually advertised to be getting? Do you know anyone with super fast/slow internet and does it have a big impact on them?

BT Internet and Phone Suffers Nationwide Outage

BT’s phone and internet services have crashed across the UK over the last hour. Down Detector, a website that tracks internet failures, has been inundated with reports that BT customers all over the country – from London to Birmingham, Manchester to Glasgow – have experienced outages. The faults peaked at around 15:00 (3pm GMT), with 18,399 reports. Many BT websites and services are also down.

BT’s customer care Twitter account claims that the issue is being dealt with, saying, “Sorry if you’re experiencing network problems. Engineers are on site now. We will keep you updated.”

https://twitter.com/BTCare/status/694547101854896128

“It is true that we are down at the moment,” a BT spokesperson later told Sky News. “We are aware of the problems and are working on them as fast as we can.”

Judging by the inevitable Twitter meltdown, the issues began just after 14:00 (2pm GMT), with BT customers complaining:

https://twitter.com/MikePattinson/status/694535277033984001

https://twitter.com/richypie/status/694535485486698496

The incident is the largest network failure the UK has ever experienced. There is no indication as to what has caused the issue yet, nor hor long it will take to repair.

Reports from users suggest that BT’s customer service has started turning people away while the outage continues. BT customer Jason Mills wrote on Down Detector: “DY2 [Dudley postcode] down but my big problem was when i spoke to BT, not sure where this foreign call centre was but after being informed of an issue and being told to ring back in a few hours before i had chance to speak they hung up. Totally shocked and dissapointed in there actions towards paying customers and will be changing asap!”

 

Xfinity User Creates Bot to Tweet Comcast Whenever His Internet Speed Drops

An industrious Comcast Xfinity customer, disgruntled over poor internet speeds, has created a bot that auto-Tweets Comcast whenever his broadband drops below advertised speeds. Redditer AlekseyP used a Raspberry Pi to monitor his internet speed, checking every hour, which sends a Tweet to the official Comcast Twitter account every time it drops below 50mbps.

“I pay for 150mbps down and 10mbps up,” AleskeyP wrote on reddit. “The raspberry pi runs a series of speedtests every hour and stores the data. Whenever the downspeed is below 50mbps the Pi uses a twitter API to send an automatic tweet to Comcast listing the speeds.”

“I know some people might say I should not be complaining about 50mpbs down,” he added, “but when they advertise 150 and I get 10-30 I am unsatisfied. I am aware that the Pi that I have is limited to ~100mbps on its Ethernet port (but seems to top out at 90) so when I get 90 I assume it is also higher and possibly up to 150.”

After some redditors accused AleskeyP of recording skewed results, he responded: “We do not torrent in our house; we use the network to mainly stream TV services and play PC and Xbone live games. I set the speedtest and graph portion of this up (without the tweeting part) earlier last year when the service was so constatly bad that Netflix wouldn’t go above 480p and I would have >500ms latencies in CSGO. I service was constantly below 10mbps down. I only added the Twitter portion of it recently and yes, admittedly the service has been better.”

While adding that he is no “fancy programmer”, AleskeyP has made his Raspberry Pi speedtest Tweetbot code available on Pastebin.

Republican Senators Argue With FCC Over 25Mbps Broadband

On Thursday, a group of republican senators expressed an issue with the Federal Communications commission, or rather their definition of a service. The item in question is broadband and the fact that in order to qualify in their reports they are now required to provide 25Mbps Broadband.

Citing popular sites like Netflix and Amazon in their letter, they argue that services like these only require a fraction of the speed that the FCC now say is the baseline to classify as broadband internet. The speed in question is 25 Mbps, a speed I know a lot of people would be happy to pay for if it was stable at even a fraction of that speed.

Broadbands definition was redefined as 25 Mbps last year, raising from only 4Mbps. The difference being fundamental to the FCC given that they are required to act if not enough people have access to this service. The reason they stated for the update was because the old speed was “dated and inadequate”, with more devices connected to each household now you could often see several people connecting and using services like Netflix at the same time.

In their latest report, 10% didn’t have access to the 25Mbps speed that was required to be considered Broadband. Something which may be easier to help with if the FCC was consistent across the board the senators argue. While using 25 Mbps for reporting on broadband levels, if you are applying for Connect America Funds the benchmark is only 10 Mbps. These funds are designed to help connect people and allow companies to offer services to as many people as possible, but clearly only offering 10 Mbps is far from the 25 Mbps you will require according to the new standards.

Virgin Media Increases Broadband Prices by 5.4%

Virgin Media recently implemented a significant speed increase for customers on 50Mbps, 100Mbps and 152Mbps connections to 70Mbps, 150Mbps and 200Mbps. Initially, the speed boost appeared to be a free promotion to encourage more customers to join Virgin Media. However, Virgin Media has admitted there will be a price hike by up to £3.99 per month. Additionally, the line rental fee will also increase by £1 which signifies a 5.4 percent change. The company explained on social media why the higher prices are necessary and said:

“The price changes are put in place to sustain and build on our network to give you even better quality”.

Virgin Media’s managing director, Gregor McNeil, told The Register:

 “We are doing everything we can to keep prices as competitive as possible. Through the continuing investment in our network we are again upgrading our customers’ broadband speeds and providing unlimited downloads – meeting the growth in data consumption we see.” 

Unhappy customers can cancel their Virgin Media subscription as the increased prices are technically a breach of contract. I think the company has to be extremely careful as consistently increasing the package prices will result in mass cancellations. Faster broadband speeds are vital when you consider the huge data demands with modern gaming, and 4K video streams. However, the packages need to remain affordable or people will simply go for a cheaper, slower option.

UK Government Promises 10Mbps Broadband to All Homes by 2020

The internet has rapidly become a basic human right and an essential element of daily life. Whether you’re looking for a new job, or want to communicate with relatives, it’s almost impossible to think of a situation where the internet isn’t a necessity. The UK government agrees with this stance and pledged a universal service obligation” to provide an affordable fast connection. More specifically, the Prime Minister promised speeds of 10Mbps by 2020 and said:

“Access to the internet shouldn’t be a luxury, it should be a right—absolutely fundamental to life in 21st Century Britain,” said David Cameron. “Just as our forebears effectively brought gas, electricity and water to all, we’re going to bring fast broadband to every home and business that wants it.”

The service obligation gives broadband parity with other services like water and heating. While it’s always welcome to see a government acknowledge the internet’s importance, 10Mbps will be pretty slow by 2020, and isn’t overly fast by today’s standards. On another note,  this is the same government which drafted extremely intrusive and controversial legislation which forces internet service providers to monitor every website you visit within a 12 month period.

Even more astounding, the government can access this data, and snoop into your daily life. Encryption to evade these new measures will be banned. Not only that, the government is well-known for increasing broadband prices through their pointless anti-piracy censorship. In the past few years, the UK government has applied pressure on ISPs to block torrent sites, which can easily be circumvented with a simple proxy. When the ISPs originally resisted, this resorted in legal proceedings and increased the monthly broadband service costs.

Also, David Cameron’s crusade against porn, and implementing a opt-out filtering scheme, is another stupid decision as the government attempts to control an open, worldwide infrastructure. Given the government’s previous actions and promises, it’s difficult to take the latest one seriously.

Virgin Media Upgrading Broadband Speeds For Free

Virgin Media has announced a substantial speed upgrade for existing customers across various package tiers. Those on 50Mbps, 100Mbps or 152Mbps will receive a speed boost to 70Mbps, 150Mbps and 200Mbps, respectively. The initial roll-out will begin on October 1st but it could take until the year end to reach the majority of customers. According to Virgin Media, 90% of its users should have received the upgrade by the end of 2015. Gregor McNeil, managing director of consumer at Virgin Media explained:

“Our message is simple: if you want to be certain that you are signing up to true ultrafast broadband speeds of 100Mbps and above, Vivid from Virgin Media is the new standard,” 

“The speed of a customer’s broadband connection matters; when you have more you can do more.”

Currently, Virgin Media has no plans to increase the monthly fee for any of its broadband services. This applies a great deal of pressure on BT as their top package is a mere 76Mbps. Of course, BT is working on its infrastructure to improve things, but Virgin Media’s top package is more than double that of its leading competitor. Therefore, BT has a lot of catching up to do.

Image courtesy of Simply-Communicate.com

Thank you V3 for providing us with this information.

BT Promises ‘Ultrafast’ Broadband Speeds in Excess of 300Mbps by 2020

BT’s Chief Executive Gavin Patterson, has promised broadband speeds between 300 and 500Mbps by 2020. Currently, BT is one of the major UK internet service providers and aims to provide super-fast broadband to over 10 million homes. The company also said they will offer a 1Gbps service to the cope with severe network demands from heavy users. This could include 4K streaming, downloading huge games or backing up data on a home server.

2020 seems like an ambitious figures for rural areas which struggle to even access relatively low speeds of 5Mbps. BT is hoping the combination of their G fast technology and Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) connectivity can help revolutionize the service’s internet speeds. Patterson argued speed increases are integral to BT’s market strategy:

“BT would ‘never say no’ to providing faster broadband to communities, promising the company would instead explore innovative funding and technical solutions.” 

Even if BT manages this feat, I’m not entirely convinced it will be able to beat Virgin Media’s network speeds and a great deal depends on network traffic management. It’s unknown if the latest BT network will begin to throttle speeds after so much is downloaded or during peak times. This is becoming a more well-known phenomenon, and customers should access the speeds they pay for all the time.

Thank you The Next Web for providing us with this information.

Germany Promises 50Mbps Broadband

With a wide majority of the world using internet on a regular, if not every day, basis, we need to be aware of just how much we use the internet for. While most activities are mundane and almost ritualistic in how we do them each day. There are some which we take a lot of time to do, and can even be in their work life every day. With more and more people relying on the internet for everyday work related activities speed is essential (yes, we understand that you want that YouTube video to buffer a little faster too). Germany has decided that it will take the first step and states that it will promise all users 50Mbps broadband across the entire country.

The current highest download speed (on average) is South Korea with 23.6Mbps, with the average speed in the US only measuring at 11.9Mbps. With initial estimates putting 70% of Germany already connected to 50Mbps connections, the cost of upgrading everyone to this speed is expected to be rather small. It should be noted though that their current average speed is only 11Mbps, a value only slightly lower than the US’s and under half of the current world’s leaders average.

With the public being asked to provide 10% of the cost, with 90% being provided by a combination of German states (40%) and development projects (50%), users could soon see their internet speed jumping.

Thank you The Next Web for the information.

Image courtesy of Gecko And Fly.

Comcast VP Has No Idea Why it Caps Data at 300GB

Comcast, notorious for terrible customer service and arbitrary restrictions, does offer the fastest internet speeds of all the nationwide ISP in the US – Comcast Xfinity has an average download speed of 104Mbps and upload speed of 12.7Mbps – but the biggest bone of contention amongst customers is the 300GB data cap. Does it exist for technical reasons, to maintain the integrity of its network performance, or is it just an arbitrary number plucked out of the air? Considering the words of a Comcast executive, it could well be the latter.

A Comcast customer asked the company’s Vice President of Internet Services, Jason Livingood, what the point of the data cap is via a tweet. Livingood’s response revealed that the cap is not motivated by engineering concerns, but is rather a “business policy”:

Though the data cap only affects less than 2% of customers – most everyone else stays within data limits, month-on-month – the reasoning behind it certainly seems unclear. An arbitrary cap, though, bodes well for the future, since streaming services such as Netflix are increasing bandwidth demand every year. With plans to introduce 4K streaming in the near future the home data usage is set to increase further.

Thank you BGR for providing us with this information.

Games Prices In Europe Set To Be Unified

Europe is looking towards a more technological environment, where companies and countries can operate knowing that there is a standard across the board for everything that may impact that their work. This could soon be the same for games as well thanks to the European Commission.

The Digital Single Market outlines a proposal for a fairer system when it comes to game pricing in the EU. Game prices fluctuate depending on where you buy them from, with companies like GoG trying to level this through their credit system.

Please note that this only applies to digital copies of games, but would be across the board. This means that be it from Xbox Live, PSN, Steam or another digital distributor, you would be asked to pay the same price throughout all EU territories.

The digital single market was first introduced in May 2015 and looks to bring about uniform pricing in 2016. This is alongside a broadband standard that would see 30MBPS internet standard for all citizens, with 50% of European households having 100MBPS internet by 2020.

With all these measures to help not only gamers but everyone in the European union, we could shortly see better internet connections and fairer prices for digital content. How can that be a bad thing?

Thank you European Commission for the information.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

EU Pretends Internet Fast Lanes Are OK Under Net Neutrality

The European Union is moving ahead to legislate net neutrality and enforce a free and open internet! Hooray! Only, the EU is trying to change the meaning of words to make its net neutrality laws nothing of the sort. The key to the EU’s obfuscation is the term “specialised services”; under this banner, companies can throttle speeds and prioritize traffic to their heart’s content.

The current draft of the EU net neutrality legislation looks promising:

The rules enshrine the principle of net neutrality into EU law: no blocking or throttling of online content, applications and services. It means that there will be truly common EU-wide Internet rules, contributing to a single market and reversing current fragmentation.

  • Every European must be able to have access to the open Internet and all content and service providers must be able to provide their services via a high-quality open Internet.
  • All traffic will be treated equally. This means, for example, that there can be no paid prioritisation of traffic in the Internet access service. At the same time, equal treatment allows reasonable day-to-day traffic management according to justified technical requirements, and which must be independent of the origin or destination of the traffic.

But this defines just one category of internet traffic. The second is classed as “specialised services”, which will allow for the “paid prioritisation”, “blocking”, and “throttling” that is prohibited from other parts of the internet:

What are specialised services (innovative services or services other than Internet access services)?

The new EU net neutrality rules guarantee the open Internet and enable the provision of specialised or innovative services on condition that they do not harm the open Internet access. These are services like IPTV, high-definition videoconferencing or healthcare services like telesurgery. They use the Internet protocol and the same access network but require a significant improvement in quality or the possibility to guarantee some technical requirements to their end-users that cannot be ensured in the best-effort open Internet. The possibility to provide innovative services with enhanced quality of service is crucial for European start-ups and will boost online innovation in Europe. However, such services must not be a sold as substitute for the open Internet access, they come on top of it.

In segregating the internet into two categories, enforcing open internet laws on one and allowing the other to exploit traffic in whatever way it seems fit, the EU is making a mockery of net neutrality, with the bill itself becoming an oxymoron. Let’s hope that by 2016, when the laws are set to take effect, that the European Union can deliver true net neutrality to the citizens of Europe.

Thank you TechDirt for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Engineers Break Capacity Limit for Fibre Optic Communication

Electrical engineers from the University of California’s Qualcomm Institute have developed a solution to capacity limits inherent in fibre optic cabling, increasing the maximum distance and power at which optical signals can be sent through conventional cabling, allowing for record-breaking data transmissions that could be a huge boost to internet, cable TV, wireless, and landline networks, a new study has revealed.

“Today’s fiber optic systems are a little like quicksand,” Nikola Alic, research scientist at the Qualcomm Institute and co-author of the study said. “With quicksand, the more you struggle, the faster you sink. With fiber optics, after a certain point, the more power you add to the signal, the more distortion you get, in effect preventing a longer reach. Our approach removes this power limit, which in turn extends how far signals can travel in optical fiber without needing a repeater.”

Trials conducted in San Diego transmitted information across 12,000km via fibre optic cable without data degradation, making it the furthest distance across which information has been sent using optics without amplifiers or repeaters.

“Crosstalk between communication channels within a fiber optic cable obeys fixed physical laws. It’s not random. We now have a better understanding of the physics of the crosstalk. In this study, we present a method for leveraging the crosstalk to remove the power barrier for optical fiber,” eStojan Radic, Professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UC San Diego, and senior author of the paper, added. “Our approach conditions the information before it is even sent, so the receiver is free of crosstalk caused by the Kerr effect.”

The breakthrough follows Huawei’s recent achievement of reaching one terabits per second – the equivalent of sending 33 HD movies in a single second – data transmission through super-channel optical cable in Nice, France recently. How long until these phenomenal speeds reach our homes?

Thank you UC San Diego for providing us with this information.

Huawei Achieves 1 Terabits Per Second Speeds

Chinese networking giant Huawei, in partnership with telecoms company Proximus, have achieved unbelievable speeds of up to one terabits per second over super-channel optical cable, the equivalent of sending 33 HD movies in just a second. The successful trial was announced on Huawei’s website on Thursday.

The record-breaking transmission, held in Nice, France, involved sending data over 1,040km fibre connection, implementing a ‘Flexigrid’ infrastructure and Huawei’s own OSN (Optical Switch Node) 9800 platform and 1Tbps OTN (Optical Transport Network) line card, increasing the capacity of the fibre optic cable by compressing the spaces between the transmission channels. The increased density within the cable marks a 150% rise in efficiency over typical 100GBps network connections.

“The network is turning to DC (Data Center) centric, which brings a boost demand for increased bandwidth,” said Jeffrey Gao, President of the Huawei transmission network product line. “Businesses are currently undergoing a digital transformation and consumers require always-on connectivity. Huawei supports its customers through innovation; together we build simplified networks ensuring the best user experience towards end users. This trial is testimony of Huawei’s engagement to innovation.”

“At Proximus we pledge to satisfy the evolving customers demand by investing in new technologies to offer them the best quality and service,” Geert Standaert, Chief Technology Officer at Proximus, added. “Together with Huawei we want to let our network infrastructure evolve to support current and future bandwidth demands and offer our customers an outstanding user experience.”

Image courtesy of ZDNet.

Google Fiber Users Receiving Automated Fines for Piracy

Google is sending customers of its fibre service that are suspected of illegally downloading copyrighted materials automated fines. Google Fiber users have received fines, sent through automated e-mails, of up to hundreds of dollars. Other automated messages from the internet provider include takedown notices to users thought to be hosting pirated data.

Google, though its search engine, usually has a good record at protecting users from DMCA takedown notices from copyright holders, so the company’s use of automated fines as a first point of contact is surprising. Settlement fees send through such e-mails tend to range from anywhere between $20 and $300. Even ISPs such as Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T protects its customers from such settlement demands, which makes Google allowing these e-mails, though copyright enforcers such as Rightscorp and CEG TEK a real concern.

According to Mitch Stoltz, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), ISPs are no required by law to forward DMCA notices to users, and should be obliged to carefully review any such notice before taking action.

“In the U.S., ISPs don’t have any legal obligation to forward infringement notices in their entirety. An ISP that cares about protecting its customers from abuse should strip out demands for money before forwarding infringement notices. Many do this,” Stoltz says.

“The problem with notices demanding money from ISP subscribers is that they’re often misleading. They often give the impression that the person whose name is on the ISP bill is legally responsible for all infringement that might happen on the Internet connection, which is simply not true,” he adds.

Google has so far refused to comment on the matter.

Thank you Torrent Freak for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Techno Buffalo.

Comcast Attempt to Consume Time Warner Cable Fails

Comcast has at last given up on their attempt to merge with rival Time Warner Cable. Since the announcement of the merger early last year, the two largest cable providers in the United States have struggled against stiff consumer opposition. The final blow was struck as officials in the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice both started anti-trust investigations into the merger. If the merger had gone through, Comcast would have controlled over 57% of the broadband market with over 33 million customers.

Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts gave the following statement:

“Today, we move on. Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn’t agree, we could walk away. Comcast NBCUniversal is a unique company with strong momentum. Throughout this entire process, our employees have kept their eye on the ball and we have had fantastic operating results. I want to thank them and the employees of Time Warner Cable for their tireless efforts. I couldn’t be more proud of this company and I am truly excited for what’s next.”

Opponents of the merger claimed that the result would have created an unstoppable monopoly and harmed competition. Comcast argued that the merger would have saved them billions in redundancies and that the two companies don’t compete against each other anyway. Two of the major complaints were Comcast’s terrible customer service track record and the fact that Comcast were unable to promise any savings to customers as a result of the merger.

The FCC Will Vote on Plan to Share Valuable 3.5GHz Specturm next Month

The FCC is said to be voting on a spectrum-sharing plan that could make its way to the military, mobile service providers and individuals alike on April 17th. The spectrum is said to open up a frequency from 3550 to 3700 MHz to three classes of users, including new mobile device owners who could use the service similar to Wi-Fi.

The current demand for wireless spectrum could benefit from auctioning off the new 3.5 GHz, leading to better wireless data performance for users in crowded places, provide better rural broadband services and even give a better spectrum for industries that do not use Wi-Fi and LTE services.

In order to keep track of existing radios and licensed services, the FCC also plans to implement a Spectrum Access System alongside the new spectrum in order to manage the interference. This is why it plans to seek proposals for both the Spectrum Access System and sensing service at the same time, but the new tech is not likely to be approved before 2016.

Thank you PC World for providing us with this information

Twitter Pushing for Strict Net Neutrality Rules

In the build-up to the FCC vote regarding net neutrality – which, despite taking place in the US, could have ramifications for the global web – Twitter has thrown its support behind regulating broadband services as a utility, much like other telecommunication services, rather than a business.

In a post on Twitter’s blog, Will Carty, Public Policy Manager at the social network, came out firmly on the side of Title II regulation for internet services, saying, “Empowering ‘lesser’ or historically less powerful voices to express themselves and be heard globally is at the core of Twitter’s DNA.”

Carty continued:

This openness promotes free and fair competition and fosters ongoing investment and innovation. We need clear, enforceable, legally sustainable rules to ensure that the Internet remains open and continues to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers. This is the heart of Twitter. Without such net neutrality principles in place, some of today’s most successful and widely-known Internet companies might never have come into existence.

The Federal Communications Commission votes on net neutrality for internet services on 28th February.

Source: The Washington Post

Virgin Media Planning £3B Broadband Network Upgrade

Virgin Media is planning to spend £3 billion on upgrade their existing network hardware in what is known as ‘Project Lightning.’ The new scheme will see broadband speeds of 152Mbps being provided to 4 million more UK homes.

The new scheme is said to provide the UK with 6,000 new jobs, 1,000 apprenticeships and more over the next five years.

The “Cable my Street” campaign will gauge public interest on where to install the new networks, although they’ll still favour areas that are near existing networks, which is no doubt bad news for those in rural areas.

“This could mean rural customers are knocked down the priority list if there aren’t enough residents in remote areas to convince Virgin to ‘Cable My Street’,” Ewan Taylor-Gibson, broadband analyst at uSwitch said.

This is still great news, but it does mean that already well-connected areas will develop their networks, while other areas remain in the dark.

Thank you CNET for providing us with this information.

Comcast Changed a Customer’s Name to “Asshole Brown”

Comcast, America’s most hated company, has done yet another thing to draw hate towards itself. It appears that the company has a new policy of changing customer’s names on their bills. These names aren’t nice though, they really are quite derogatory.

Like many Comcast customers, Ricardo Brown was having some trouble paying his bill – the services he was paying out for became too expensive for him to keep up with, so he wanted to remove some of those services and reduce his bill. Now we all know how hard that can be. Even if you’re not a Comcast customer, you’ve most likely encountered the stories from those who have found themselves on the phone for hours in an attempt to cut down their bills or leave the service altogether.

Ricardo’s wife, Lisa, was the one who made the call to Comcast, and when they said that to remove their cable subscription would cost $60, she decided not to take the offer. She was then passed to one of Comcast’s ‘Retention Specialists’ instead. This is what Lisa believes caused the name change.

“I was never rude,” she says. “It could have been that person was upset because I didn’t take the offer.” Lisa Brown talking to Chris Elliot.

So it seems that a disgruntled employee who had a hard time trying to keep Mr and Mrs Brown from cutting down their services could very well have decided ‘Asshole Brown’ was a more fitting name. Comcast have since apologised and in the process given Ricardo Brown quite a nice goodwill gesture – a refund for the last two years of service and the next two years free. Wow.

Thing is, while you’d think this story would end there, it doesn’t. This wasn’t the only time this has happened to a Comcast customer, because it has happened again. Mary Bauer called the company a number of times trying to solve issues with her cable reception. After 39 total engineers came out to her over a period of several months, her problems were eventually resolved. But then she was faced with another problem – she stopped receiving her bills. So she called again and eventually she did receive a bill through the post, except this time her name had been changed to ‘Super Bitch’.

Oh dear.

Source: Gizmodo, The Verge

UK Approves White Space Broadband

UK telecoms regulator OFCOM has approved white space broadband following successful trials.

White space is the name given to the empty buffer zones between television channel broadcast signals to stop the content from bleeding together. White space broadband uses this dead space to transmit wireless internet signals by “gluing” them together to form a single transmission band, without interfering with TV signal.

OFCOM hopes that the technology will be deployed by the end of 2015. Steve Unger, acting CEO of OFCOM, said in a statement, “This decision helps ensure the U.K. takes a leading role in the development of innovative new wireless technology. It is also an important step in helping the U.K.’s wireless infrastructure evolve effectively and efficiently.”

Source: Gigaom

Journalist Calls Comcast CEO’s Mom Over Bad Service

That’s not a headline you read everyday. A journalist at the Philadelphia Daily News had a number of e-mails from customers of one of America’s most hated companies complaining about poor service. So, what’s a journalist with high profile contacts to do to help these people out? Call the CEO? No, even better – she called the CEO’s 92-year-old mother.

Diana and Jason Airoldi told columnist Ronnie Polaneczky that they were having a pretty hard time with Comcast. Apparently, they would be completely cut off for six weeks, all thanks to the company having broken its appointments with them. That’s literally six weeks without cable and internet in a world where the latter is quite often vital for many people’s professions. Plus, remember this is the USA we’re talking about here – Comcast, like other telcos in America, often have a monopoly in certain regions, largely due to them owning all of the infrastructure, leaving customers with no alternative.

So Polaneczky decided it would be a good idea to give Comcast’s CEO Brian Roberts’ mom a call. It was a good idea too – the next day vans turned up at the Airoldi’s house and got them up and running.

I wonder if she grounded him?

Source: Philadelphia Daily News Via: The Verge

BT Aims for 500Mbps UK Broadband Speeds by 2025

British telecoms company BT has announced plans to upgrade its fibre network to offer  “initial speeds of a few hundred megabits per second to millions of homes and businesses by 2020″ and up to 500Mbps speeds by 2025.

“We know the technology is capable, so it’s just looking at how we deliver that on a larger scale,” a BT spokesperson said.

BT hopes to achieve this by implementing its “third-way” (copper and fibre being first and second) G.fast technology, which should prove more cost-effective than expanding its network to fibre-to-the-premises.

“[Government money] probably wouldn’t mean it would be faster [to deploy G.fast upgrades] as we’re still rolling our fibre program and as that winds down G.fast will deployment will wind up hence we believe it will stay in broadly  the same capex envelope. It might mean the scope of any program could be larger, however but it is a significant engineering task,” the spokesperson added.

Source: TechCrunch