Tag Archives: FCC

FCC’s Tom Wheeler proposes Title 2

Tom_Wheeler_FCCLast week, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler — who has deep roots in the cable TV and wireless phone industries — proposed a surprise: broadband carriers, both wired and wireless, should be regulated as common carriers under title 2 of the Telecommunications Act so that they provide uniform broadband service to all consumers. In addition, the FCC proposed that the definition of broadband should be upgraded to 25 Mbps. (It has been 4 Mbps.) Consumers will benefit from these actions.

As a compensatory gift to the cable TV companies, Mr. Wheeler proposes that there should be no last mile (the distribution cable from the carrier’s central office to the customer premise) unbundling. (The phone companies were ordered years ago to unbundle their last mile — that’s what allows companies such as DSL Extreme to offer low cost DSL service over the local carrier’s twisted pair.) AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast spend tons of money on lobbyists. They’ll expect to receive favors from Congress in return for their largesse, so Mr. Wheeler’s proposal will be in for rough sledding when it hits Congress.

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

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President Obama endorses net neutrality

Yesterday, Reuters reported a piece of good news: Obama pressures FCC for strong net neutrality rules. They quote from Mr. Obama’s speech:

Simply put: No service should be stuck in a ‘slow lane’ because it does not pay a fee. That kind of gate keeping would undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet’s growth.

I’m puzzled. If Mr. Obama favors net neutrality, why did he appoint cable TV and cellular phone industry lobbyist Tom Wheeler as FCC chairman last year? In May, predictably, FCC Chairman Wheeler Proposes Net Partiality, which he couched in terms of “net neutrality”. Curiouser and curiouser.

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

FCC may fine NBC for Miley Cyrus “Bangerz” show

According to Rolling Stone magazine, the FCC is considering disciplining NBC for airing an indecent performance on July 6, Miley Cyrus’ “Bangerz Tour”. I watched it. It was provocative, but artful. Bertolt Brecht would have loved the production: live dancers against rear-projection oversized animation with creative costumes and lighting. I loved it. Some of the images, such as Miley riding a giant “Mr. Wiener”, were sexually suggestive.

image
Click to stream or download full 862 Megabyte video performance

The concert (recorded in Barcelona) reminded me of Madonna’s shows twenty-five years ago. Both performers have acceptable contralto voices, energetic dance skills, and assemble exciting Brechtian spectacles. I love the costuming and choreopgraphy. Shocking? “Bangerz” pushed the limits on prime-time American TV, I suppose. But that week on television, the atrocious performance by the Brazilian football team was truly shocking.

I’d prefer that the FCC take no action on this. They have enough serious issues on their plate already. Censoring art is, in my opinion, a slippery slope for any government agency . . . and I think that this production can be labeled “art”. Here’s the full show (862MB H264 1h 25m mp4 video file, 720 x 404 pixel) for download or streaming:

Miley Cyrus Bangerz show in Barcelona
Click to stream or download full 862 Megabyte video performance

You’ll need a fast Internet connection to smoothly stream this. You might be better to download the file and then play it locally with a good video player such as VLC.

Is it Miley’s performance or just modern low distortion recording technique that for the first time makes John Lennon’s “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” lyrics (at 44m 35s) sound so . . . so . . . clear, logical, and complete?

What do you think?

Tom Wheeler’s FCC frightens even Obama fanboyz

Venerable liberal journalist Bill Moyers recently raised an alarm about the FCC’s consideration of tiered Internet access.

Bill Moyers
Bill Moyers
He titled his article Don’t let net neutrality become another broken promise, an allusion to President Obama’s plethora of broken promises. He details not only Obama appointee FCC chairman Tom Wheeler’s conflicts of interests, but those of Wheeler’s lieutenants, who are also directly connected to the companies they are supposed to regulate. You can sense Bill’s deep disappointment that Mr. Obama has betrayed him. Et tu, Barry!

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

Tell FCC your opinion on net neutrality

The FCC is considering allowing Internet service providers to create a tiered Internet. FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is a former lobbyist for both the cable TV and wireless phone industries(!). He has proposed an anti- net neutrality plan that, perversely, he labels “net neutrality”. Yes, Newspeak has arrived at the FCC. (originally published 16 July 2014)

More than 900,000 Americans have filed comments with the FCC on this topic. Today, the FCC extended the comment period:

The deadline for filing submissions as part of the first round of public comments in the FCC’s Open Internet proceeding arrived today. Not surprisingly, we have seen an overwhelming surge in traffic on our website that is making it difficult for many people to file comments through our Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). Please be assured that the Commission is aware of these issues and is committed to making sure that everyone trying to submit comments will have their views entered into the record. Accordingly, we are extending the comment deadline until midnight Friday, July 18. You also have the option of emailing your comments to openinternet@fcc.gov, and your views will be placed in the public record.

Without enforcement of net neutrality, ISPs will be tempted to sell high-speed access to preferred content at a premium price. Everything else must poke along in a slow lane. Cable TV companies have grown fat on this model: it allows them to collect revenue from both you the subscriber and CNN the content provider.

The Internet was not built on this model. Its creators envisioned a level playing field on which each user enjoys equal access to all Internet resources, and vice-versa. This has allowed fledgling sites to quickly blossom into giants. It encourages constant innovation. Mr. Wheeler’s proposed tiered Internet would encourage the status quo.

I vote for innovation. Email your vote to openinternet@fcc.gov before midnight Friday, July 18.

image of loudspeakerConfused? Listen to a good audio explanation of net neutrality.


Update

31 July 2014

image
Tom Wheeler

Thank you very much for contacting us about the ongoing Open Internet proceeding. We’re hoping to hear from as many people as possible about this critical issue, and so I’m very glad that we can include your thoughts and opinions.

I’m a strong supporter of the Open Internet, and I will fight to keep the internet open. Thanks again for sharing your views with me.

Tom Wheeler
Chairman Federal Communications Commission

Mr. Wheeler’s definition of “an open Internet” seems to mean one that’s open to exploitation by shared monopolies such as Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T (the companies that he once lobbied for). Until now, the Internet has succeeded by leveling hierarchies. Mr. Wheeler would allow these companies to create new hierarchies, which would be a giant step backward.

Ref FCC chairman Wheeler proposes net partiality

FCC commissioners meet today

Today the five FCC commissioners will meet. On their agenda is consideration of regulation to encourage “an open Internet”. A vocal pro-“net neutrality” group is camping on FCC’s doorstep; their website is occupythefcc.com.

What can fix the corrupt FCC?

To borrow from Mr. Shakespeare, ”The first thing we do, let’s kill remove all the lawyers.” At least, let’s remove all the industry lobbyists and political fundraisers, starting with FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. Replace the lawyers and lobbyists with engineers. Second, let’s prohibit former FCC employees from immediate employment in the industry that they regulated. Former FCC chairman Michael Powell, son of General Colin Powell, now heads CTIA (Cellular Telecommunication & Internet Association).

Then again, maybe Shakespeare had the right idea.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

FCC’s Mr. Wheeler replies

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler replied to my emailed request that he act responsibly regarding net neutrality during the upcoming FCC meeting on May 15. His reply:

Thank you very much for contacting us about the ongoing Open Internet proceeding. We’re hoping to hear from as many people as possible about this critical issue, and so I’m very glad that we can include your thoughts and opinions.

I’m a strong supporter of the Open Internet, and I will fight to keep the internet open. Thanks again for sharing your views with me.

Tom Wheeler Chairman Federal Communications Commission    —-

—  Original Message  ——- 
From:     rb@russbellew.com  
Subject:   Define ISPs as common carriers

Do the right thing, not what Mr. Wheeler’s former employers desire. Do what US citizens desire: define ISPs as common carriers.

Ref https://rbellew.wordpress.com/2014/04/27/fcc-chairman-wheeler-proposes-net-partiality /

Regards,
Russ Bellew
rb@russbellew.com
website: http://russbellew.com blog: https://rbellew.wordpress.com
954 873-4695


Mind you, Mr. Wheeler is a lawyer and industry lobbyist — just the latest one at the FCC. It’s a corrupt revolving door agency whose board members shuttle between the FCC and the industry it’s supposed to regulate.

Before its May 15 meeting, tell the FCC what you think about the importance of a level Internet playing field. Send email to openinternet@fcc.gov.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

FCC Chairman Wheeler proposes net partiality

If you read my article about Tom Wheeler last year, you know that I disapprove of his appointment to the chairmanship of the FCC. Why? He’s a long-time lobbyist for both the cellular phone and cable TV industries. The fox is now guarding the hen house.

Tom WheelerOn Thursday, Chairman Wheeler published Setting the Record Straight on the FCC’s Open Internet Rules. His article proposes

That ISPs may not act in a commercially unreasonable manner to harm the Internet, including favoring the traffic from an affiliated entity.

Translation: ISPs may sell preferential access to the highest bidder.

This is exactly what Mr. Wheeler’s former employers want him to propose, and it will stifle innovation and creativity that depend upon a level Internet playing field.

In January, the Washington D.C. Court of Appeals told the FCC what it must do to ensure net neutrality: it must re-classify broadband service as a public utility. (Verge article: The wrong words: how the FCC lost net neutrality and could kill the internet)

Barbara van Schewick, writing in Stanford Law School’s blog, published a thoughtful discussion: The FCC changed course on network neutrality. Here is why you should care. She proposes:

The FCC can reclassify Internet service as a telecommunications service and adopt network neutrality rules under Title II of the Telecommunications Act – rules that are unencumbered by the restrictions imposed by Section 706. To ensure that reclassification does not result in onerous regulation, the FCC should immediately forbear from applying those Title II provisions that are not necessary to protect consumers.

Dan Gillmor, writing in The Guardian, summarizes Mr. Wheeler’s proposal in The FCC is about to axe-murder net neutrality. Don’t get mad – get even:

The sky hasn’t fallen with today’s FCC announcements. Let’s not panic. But if we don’t start getting serious about this, as a public, we will lose the most important medium in human history. That would be worse than tragic.

The Verge has prepared an excellent 90-second video that summarizes Mr. Wheeler’s net partiality. Watch it.


Tell the FCC what you think about the importance of a level Internet playing field. Send email to openinternet@fcc.gov.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Cities key to broadband deployment

Susan Crawford, in a ten-minute YouTube video interview, states that she’s focusing on U.S. mayors as the people best positioned to break wired broadband monopolies. She joked that she’s given up on the U.S. Federal government doing anything to roll out world-class high-speed Internet throughout the nation.

Susan Crawford
Susan Crawford at G8 press conference
Last month Ms. Crawford wrote an opinion column for The Boston Globe that urged mayors to take their cities’ broadband infrastructure seriously. Most cities do great jobs with supplying safe water, trash pickup, and sewage disposal systems. Now they just need to roll out fiber-based broadband Internet access to their residents.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

FCC and VoIP

The FCC seems to favor moving our nation’s telecommunications from a circuit-switched model (using crossbar and ESS switches) to a packet-switched model using routers and VoIP (voice over internet protocol) packets. They appear to favor SIP (session initiation protocol).

Karl Auerbach, in a recent article, criticized this use of SIP. According to Mr. Auerbach, the current SIP spec is way too loose. I’ve used SIP with Asterisk-based “PBX”s, but I’m not a SIP expert. In my limited experience, SIP works fine, but its loose spec seems to make system configuration needlessly confusing.

imageIt reminds me of the RS-232 spec. It’s open to interpretation, so each manufacturer interprets it as it wishes. Result? You’re lucky if an RS-232 device works without fiddling with its connector’s pinout. The USB spec, in contrast, works reliably because it’s unambiguous.

Let’s hope that, whatever is finally chosen, our telecommunication backbone is as robust as USB, and not as flaky as RS-232.

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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.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

FCC’s Mobile Speed Test

The FCC has released a test version of a cellular data transfer speed measurement app for Android devices. It’s available from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.samknows.fcc.

fcc-test-resultsThe FCC has published the Android app’s open source code on its Github site. They’ve promised an iPhone version. It’s being developed by Samknows.com.

According to the app’s FAQ, “the application will run continuously in the background, periodically performing measurements.” I’m not enthused about having this app running continuously. I’ll probably uninstall it after each measurement run.

A feature of this app that I like is that it collects and reports “cell tower ID” and “cell tower location code” — data that may help my quest to pinpoint the physical location of T-Mobile’s nearest cell site. It also reports received signal strength in dBm.

The speed test data are collected from your mobile device and aggregated by the FCC. Let’s hope that they use the data to hold the carriers’ feet to the fire.

One reported problem is that the app, when testing over a WiFi connection, thinks that it’s connected via LTE. Also, it may have contributed to problems I had with other apps today.

4G??

If you examine the screenshot, you’ll see that although T-Mobile claims that the wireless connection (which was HSDPA when I snapped the screenshot) is “4G”, the download speed is a wimpy 1 Megabit per second. This disproves T-Mobile’s claim that HSDPA+ is “4G”. (The ITU specifies that 4G system mobile phones have a minimum peak download speed of 100 Mbps.) Maybe the FCC or FTC will do their jobs and slap T-Mobile for false advertising.

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

HySky HF wireless network

Here’s a novel idea: build a wireless network of low-power HF (High Frequency – 2 to 30 MHz) radio stations to collect and transport low-speed data from remote sites.

The license granted by the FCC to HySky Technologies is intriguing. It may be unique. It grants HySky limited access to 934(!) HF frequencies. HySky’s website claims that

HySky offers an attractive alternative where cellular coverage is unavailable or , the collection of sensor data via satellites is exorbitantly expensive.

HySky boasts that its HF network will be suitable for:

HySkylogo

  • Asset Tracking
    • GPS Asset Tracking
    • Inland Waterways
    • Geo-Fencing
    • Hazmat Tracking
  • Information Services
    • Alarm and Security
    • Citizen Emergency Notification
    • Digital Message Sign Control
    • RXR Crossing Monitoring
  • Remote Sensors
    • Rooftop HVAC
    • Flow and Power
    • Security Entry Notification
  • Homeland Security
    • First Responder Notification
    • Citizen Notification
    • Hazmat Tracking
    • Container Tracking

How HF signals propagagate

SpreadF-NPSHF signals behave differently than cellphone signals (which operate in the 700 to 1900 MHz range). HF signals can travel far beyond line-of-sight, either by hugging the Earth (called “groundwave”, a daytime phenomenon) or by reflecting from the ionosphere (called “skywave”). The biggest problem with HF is atmospheric and man-made noise. HF signal propagation varies not only hourly, but seasonally and as a function of the 11-year sunspot cycle.

One characteristic of HF groundwave propagation is that it is decidedly not line-of-sight: the signals permeate everywhere within a given radius. This may be an advantage relative to the directional characteristics of signals in the 700 to 1900 MHz range.

I’m going to guess that the HySky HF network will, on each link, dynamically try each of their 934 frequencies until the lowest signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is found for that link. Apparently an out-of-band control channel will be provided by both subcarriers on broadcast FM signals and above 1 GHz signals via satellite.

HySky CEO Chief Executive Officer is Charles Maynard. I found this in Radio Ham develops HF asset tracking network:

To ensure maximum reliability, we continually test the propagation characteristics of our 954 FCC licensed frequencies within the HF radio spectrum using 44 low power transmission sites strategically located across the United States.

The mobile tracking units using this spectrum will transmit a maximum of 1 watt Effective Radiated Power using a small low- efficiency broadband antenna. The data will be received by nine stations located at low-noise [read: rural] sites across the USA which will then forward the data to customers.

An unusual network

HySky’s FCC license seems to be unique. It restricts the output power of each transmitter to 15 Watts maximum. Other license parameters: The radiated power of each HF transmitter and its antenna system(s) as typically installed must not exceed one Watt. The operational modulated emission type must be 2K80G1D. [Huh? I’ve never heard of 2K80G1D!] Maximum bandwidth is 3 kHz. The duration of each HF transmission by each transmitter must not exceed 4 seconds.

This is a very unusual system that’s now licensed and will presumably be constructed soon. I’d like to learn more about it, but can’t find many details. Can you?

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

Your tax dollars at work

fcc-down

It’s not hard to just maintain a web server(s). Here is just one more reason to clean house in Washington. Raus!

Let’s start at the FCC . . . right after we sweep out the dolts who tried to prevent our WW2 vets from visiting their memorial.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Tim Wu discusses the Internet and telecoms in the US

Tim Wu, who first coined the phrase “net neutrality”, can be seen and heard discussing the Internet in context with information market history in a recent speech titled The Rise And Fall Of Information Empires on YouTube.

masterswitch-160wTim is author of The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires.

ListenYou can also listen to his information market observations during an audio interview with WABC radio host John Batchelor.

ListenTim again speaks in more detail during an interview with KERA’s Krys Boyd.

One message is that information markets — movies, telephone, radio, data — seem to devolve from open to closed. This leads to

  • lack of innovation
  • inflated prices

He points out that Bell Labs invented a (steel) tape recorder – based telephone answering machine in 1931 but didn’t develop it because they feared that it would reduce revenue from Bell’s operating companies. (Sounds like Kodak: they hid their invention of the digital camera because they feared that it would kill their photographic film business.)

According to Mr. Wu, “People are all the same: when they’re not in charge, they favor competition. When they’re in charge, they hate competition.”

Another message is that ownership of content and transport medium (“the pipes” that deliver content) should be kept separated.

empire of the airIf you’re interested in the history of American radio broadcasting, there’s no finer book than Tom Lewis’ Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio. I loved learning about the giants: David Sarnoff, Lee De Forest, and Edwin Armstrong.

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