Category Archives: Verizon

Who wants a fragmented Internet?

Brazil, Russia, and China are the headliners. There are others. Each resides behind a controlled gateway. Some countries are tired of US hegemony.

In addition, the Mormon Church wants its own version of the Internet. Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and Time-Warner Cable want to create Internet tiers. (Cable TV is built on a fragmented model.)

If all these parties slice and dice the Internet, it will be unrecognizable. And less useful.

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695


Which service providers encrypt your data?

The EFF has moved its “Who has your back?” report. It’s now at The report explains,

We’ve asked the companies in our Who Has Your Back Program what they are doing to bolster encryption in light of the NSA’s unlawful surveillance of your communications. As of now, eight companies—Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft,, SpiderOak, Twitter,and Yahoo—are implementing five out of five of our best practices for encryption.

Graphic by Electronic Frontier Foundation

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Cell providers’ fat profits

Colin Berkshire just published an excellent article about the fat profits that are enjoyed by U.S. cellular phone service providers. His cost estimates seem reasonable, yet they amount to only two percent of revenue. He asks, US Currency Federal Reserve

So where does all of the money go?

He replies,

The only answer I can come up with as I pour through their financials is that the cell phone business is so poorly managed that there may as well not be any management. Large bureaucracy, corporate palace headquarters buildings, lots and lots and lots of executives, and a broken business model are what you are really paying for.

Colin’s summary:

Because Verizon and AT&T are essentially an oligopoly (often matching each others’ prices and structures nearly perfectly) there is little competition, no need for efficiency, and no need to build lots of pesky towers.

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Verizon beats FCC in court

This Verge article explains in simple language how profoundly yesterday’s ruling will affect us, and how badly the FCC has regulated (if you can call it that) the Internet service providers — for decades. I don’t expect the FCC’s new chairman, Tom Wheeler, former lobbyist for the cable AND cellular industries, to be the consumers’ friend.

The FCC has been a playground for ambitious lawyers, not engineers. You’d have thought that at least they’d have used the right words — their only stock in trade — but they screwed even that up. It’s time to replace the FCC’s lawyers with engineers.

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

CTIA’s stolen cellphone blacklist

A stolen smartphone can fetch $200 to $300, so smartphone theft remains a problem. CTIA’s website includes tips on how to deter smartphone thefts.

CTIA logoThe CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association) announced in November that it had integrated its stolen cellphone database with similar international databases. A recent Verge article describes the importance of the overseas stolen cellphone market and the controversy that surrounds a built-in “kill switch” for smartphones.

The CTIA insists that its new improved cellphone blacklist will make “kill switches” unnecessary. We’ll see what happens to the market value of stolen phones.

Wiretapping for Fun and Profit


ABC News reports on wiretapping by the NSA of telephone conversations of Americans overseas:

Faulk says he and others in his section of the NSA facility at Fort Gordon routinely shared salacious or tantalizing phone calls that had been intercepted, alerting office mates to certain time codes of “cuts” that were available on each operator’s computer.

“Hey, check this out,” Faulk says he would be told, “there’s good phone sex or there’s some pillow talk, pull up this call, it’s really funny, go check it out. It would be some colonel making pillow talk and we would say, ‘Wow, this was crazy’,” Faulk told ABC News.


AT&T charges the federal government a $325 “activation fee” for each wiretap followed by a daily maintenance fee of $10.00. Verizon charges $775 for the first month of monitoring, followed by $500 for each additional month.

Parody: Gizmodo Original "Hope" Artist: Shepard Fairey
Parody: Gizmodo
Original “Hope” Artist: Shepard Fairey

These companies, rather than refusing to comply with unconstitutional orders, turn a profit on compliance.

Your tax dollars at work, violating your fourth amendment right to freedom from unreasonable search, while feeding the corporatocracy.

What’s taking so long to fire and indict intelligence chief James Clapper for lying to Congress about this during sworn testimony?

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Some state regulators and utility reps are in over their heads.

I’ve been scanning the official minutes of various state public utility commission meetings. A theme that runs throughout is incompetence — both the regulators and the utilities’ employees repeatedly use incorrect terms that reveal their ignorance of the technologies under discussion.

Joker playing cardIn one meeting, both sides referred multiple times to a minimum data transmission speed of “28.8 kilobytes per second”, when clearly they should have been discussing 28.8 kilobits per second — an error by a factor of 8.

In another meeting, all parties repeatedly referred to “128,000 baud”, which is meaningless unless we specify modulation method. Probably “128 kilobits per second” was intended — an error by a factor of at least four — but this is just a guess. (The last modem I used that encoded one bit per baud was a 300 bps modem, in 1978. Higher speed modems encode more bits per baud.) An AT&T manager erroneously implied that only ISDN is provided at “128,000 baud”.

Public utility commission meetings which are contaminated by incorrect vocabulary, misinformation, and the wrong units of measure waste time and resources. Taxpayers and utility customers pay for this waste. Presumably meeting attendees approve the minutes before they’re published. Doesn’t anyone proofread them?

Stop wasting subscribers’ money

I propose that before a representative of a utility or a member of a regulatory commission is allowed to discuss data services, that they first pass a simple test of knowledge of DC circuits, AC circuits, communication fundamentals, and units of measure. I’m sure that this will be unpopular with the windbags. So what? The public deserves to be represented by people who at least understand the vocabulary.

Oct 24: I fear that this article may imply that most of the recorded commission meetings contain errors. In fact, based upon my small sampling, only a minority of the dialogue contains technical misinformation. However, when misinformation is introduced, it’s rarely questioned, indicating that all parties in attendance are equally clueless.

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695