Big cable-backed broadband bill soars through NC House, one step closer to stifling ISP competition

via Engadget by Darren Murph on 3/30/11

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Time Warner Cable is made up of some insanely shady folks. And frankly, it’s not just TWC to blame here — CenturyLink, Embarq and a smattering of other big telecom companies are banding together in order to push the ironically-named H129 “Level Playing Field” bill straight into law. Unfortunately, said bill sailed through the clearly oblivious (or “persuaded”) North Carolina House this week, with just 37 sane individuals voting against 81 delusional proponents. For those outside of the loop, the bill effectively suggests that commercial entities — municipal ISPs like Wilson’s own Greenlight that provide greater levels of service with lower costs — are unfairly competing against for-profit monoliths. In short, that’s an absolute joke. Rep. Bill Faison nailed it with this quote: 

“This bill will make it practically impossible for cities to provide a fundamental service. Where’s the bill to govern Time Warner? Let’s be clear about whose bill this is. This is Time Warner’s bill. You need to know who you’re doing this for.” 

Yours truly just so happens to reside in the wonderful state of North Carolina, and knows first-hand what it’s like to live in a major metropolitan area with a single high-speed broadband carrier. TWC has only recently announced impending DOCSIS 3.0 coverage, but early installations in the heart of Raleigh have been fraught with latency issues and router difficulties. Oh, and it’s charging $99 per month for a service with 5Mbps up; for comparison’s sake, Greenlight gives customers 10Mbps internet (in both directions), home phone and expanded basic cable for the exact same fare. So, NC lawmakers — how exactly do your constituents gain access to that “level playing field?” 

[Image courtesy of IndyWeek]

Before You Change your DNS Server, Read this!

Public DNS services, like OpenDNS or Google DNS, may offer more reliable and faster lookups than the DNS server of your ISP but in some cases, you may get much better download speeds if you continue to stick to your ISP’s DNS server. Here’s why.

location of amazon cdn

You know about Content Delivery Networks like Amazon, Akamai, etc. that have data centers located across the globe and they serve content from the one that’s closest to you geographically. A site like Adobe hosts its files on Akamai so when you download that 1 GB Photoshop installer from Adobe.com, the file will be served to you from the Akamai data center that’s nearest to you. 
A CDN uses your computer’s IP Address to determine your current location and then redirects you to the server that’s nearest to you. However, if you use a public DNS service, the CDN may not get to know your accurate location as your IP address is masked by the public DNS Service. The CDN could therefore serve content from a server that’s not closest to you and hence it will take more time to download files. 
A recent story published in The Economist discusses this problem in much greater detail. 

Are CDNs serving you content through the shortest path? 

Considering the fact that all major websites – from Microsoft to CNN to YouTube – use CDNs for delivering content, it is important to know if your are getting served from the nearest located server. How do you find that out? 
Step 1: Download the Dig tool and run it against a domain (like trials.adobe.com). 
C:\labnol>dig trials.adobe.com A trials.adobe.com. 687 IN CNAME trials.adobe.com.edgesuite.net. a1326.g.akamai.net. 20 IN A 203.106.85.127 a1326.g.akamai.net. 20 IN A 203.106.85.40 
Once you have the IP Addresses, you can find the server’s physical location using this online tool. If you are in India and request a file through Adobe (Akamai CDN), it should be served from their data-center in Asia and not the one in North America. 
203.106.85.127 MY Malaysia Simpang Tiga TMnet Telekom Malaysia 203.106.85.40 MY Malaysia Simpang Tiga TMnet Telekom Malaysia 
When I asked OpenDNS about this issue, their representative told me that it is something ‘fixable’ and that they’re working on a solution where the DNS Server itself passes on the client’s location to the CDN. Unless this happens, as Atul Chitnis rightly points out, non-ISP DNS services “kill the benefits of CDNs like Akamai.”
Digital Inspiration @labnol

Do You Fear Monthly Internet Service Limits?

via geeksugar — Geek is chic. by geeksugar on 8/29/08

Comcast dropped the bomb the other day that it’ll be placing caps on Internet service — 250 GB per month. When a customer goes over, they’ll be contacted by Comcast and asked to curb their usage, and there’s also a possibility that the company will charge $15 for every 10 GB over the limit.

Considering Comcast is the country’s second-biggest Internet provider, this should affect tons of people (yours truly included), and in general, I’m wary of new limits on services. On the other hand, 250 GB is a whole lot of uploadin’ and downloadin’; SFGate reports that the average user only utilizes about two or three GB per month. Of course, setting a limit now could set a precedent and usher in eventual lowered limits.

What do you think — are you bummed that Comcast is capping usage, or does it not make a difference to you?

Source

FCC Orders Comcast to Stop P2P Blocking

via Gizmodo by Sean Fallon on 8/1/08

It comes as no surprise, but the FCC has officially ruled on the issue of Comcast P2P blocking and determined in a 3-2 vote that the company must stop blocking web access and fully disclose its traffic management practices to subscribers—but it will not be fined for its actions. It is only a small victory though—as we have already stated, this ruling does not prevent data caps from being implemented by ISPs and there is no guarantee that the ruling will hold up in court. Chances are the FCC does not legally have the authority to regulate ISPs in the first place.

[Bloomberg]

AOL Falls to Third Largest ISP

In yet another sign of the ubiquity of broadband, AOL said yesterday it now counts only 12 million subscribers – a far cry from the company’s peak of 26.7 million in 2002. AOL is now only the third largest ISP, behind both AT&T with 12.1 million subscribers and Comcast with 12.9 million.
AOL has ceased marketing its dial-up and high-speed Internet services, instead focusing on its advertising-based Web business. The company says 8 million users have signed up to the free offerings, although nearly half are former AOL ISP customers. Still, the company remains upbeat about its progress, saying users are now spending more time on AOL Web properties, meaning advertising revenues should increase.

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