Tag Archives: net neutrality

T-Mobile’s “Binge On”

With the recent introduction of its Binge On service, T-Mobile US is again mangling the English language. Binge On provides preferential treatment of packets  “from Netflix and Hulu (which are T-Mobile partners) but not YouTube (which isn’t) without having those streams count against their data plans.” (Wired article, T-Mobile Confirms It Slows Connections to Video Sites, 7 Jan 2016).  Dig a little deeper and you’ll discover that if you have the Binge On “service”, T-Mobile will throttle data from YouTube et al to 1.5 Mbps. Some “service”!

Surprise: Binge On is switched on by default

If, like me, you have a legacy “Simple Choice Plan: Unlimited Talk + Text”, you may be surprised to learn that by default your account now includes the Binge On “service”. (Thank you T-Mobile, I prefer that you not throttle my YouTube videos.)  As far as I can see, Binge On provides no advantage for users with truly unlimited data plans. In fact, it slows down their YouTube viewing. Here’s how to turn Binge On off:

  • Log in to your T-Mobile account
  • Click on Profile (upper right hand corner)
  • Click on Media Settings
  • Click on Binge On to turn it off (as illustrated below):

t-mobile binge on 1184w

I mistakenly thought that T-Mobile’s legacy plans were immune from encroachment by throttling. I was wrong. Apparently the FCC wishes to chat with T-Mobile about its latest twisting of words’ meanings: T-Mobile’s Binge On: When throttling may not break the rules, Arstechnica, 7 January 2016.

Is Binge On legal?  According to the EFF,

. . . throttling all traffic based on application type definitely violates the principles of net neutrality. It also obviously violates the FCC’s Open Internet Order, which says that ISPs

“…shall not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of Internet content, application, or service…subject to reasonable network management”

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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!

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© 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.


31 July 2014

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

EU Net Neutrality


The European Union will soon enforce meaningful net neutrality policies on european ISPs. (European Union vote clears the way to end roaming charges, enforce net neutrality)

The EU telecoms package also included strong protections for net neutrality, making it illegal for network providers to block or impose speed restrictions on data based on the sender or recipient.

Coupled with strict enforcement of privacy policies, EU Internet users enjoy a better online environment than American Internet users.

Why would I expect more from the American government, since it’s devolved into a corporatocracy?

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© 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

Tom Wheeler as FCC Chairman?

President Obama has nominated Tom Wheeler, another in a long line of political hacks at the FCC, for the FCC chair. This choice receives mixed reviews from observers: Obama’s new FCC chairman isn’t a reflexive shill for carriers, but he’s still a bad pick. Tom WheelerHis close ties to the cable TV and mobile phone industries worry me. Wheeler is former head of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and the mobile wireless trade group CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association). Translation: he lobbied for these industries. He’s also a major Obama campaign fund raiser. (His predecessor, Julius Genachowski, was an Obama election campaign committee official.) Nothing new here — it merely continues a long tradition of patronage at the FCC.

Remember Obama’s “no lobbyists in my administration” pledge?

In my opinion, Mr. Wheeler is way too closely connected to industries that fall under the FCC’s oversight. You can bet that his cable TV and cellular provider buddies hope that Congress approves his nomination as FCC Chairman. It’s ironic that the two segments of the American electronic communications market that are infamous for gouging the consumer are the industries for which he’s been a champion. If he runs the FCC, don’t expect change in either of these cozy shared marketplaces. Both industries are fat and happy, with limited competition. In fact, expect legislation to prevent municipalities and Google Fiber et al from competing with the incumbents.

Now, more than ever, the FCC Chairman should be independent of industry associations. Tim Wu, respected telecommunications observer, writing in The New Yorker, described The Coming War Over Net Neutrality. uncoveror comments,

The FCC, by getting in bed with the industries it is supposed to regulate, has undermined its very reason to exist. They are a corrupt agency for sale to the highest bidder.

I hope that Wheeler’s appointment is bounced by Congress and Mr. Obama instead nominates Susan Crawford, who doesn’t seem to be in any industry’s pocket. I almost forgot: she didn’t raise election funds for Mr. Obama. Hey, I can dream, can’t I?

Video clip: former FCC board member Nicholas Johnson calls Wheeler’s nomination “somewhere between bizarre and outrageous”.

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

Senate bill limits ISP data caps.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) last week introduced a bill that requires that ISPs (Internet service providers) cost-justify their data caps. Wired Magazine reported the story in Net Neutrality, Data-Cap Legislation Lands in Senate by DAVID KRAVETS.

The bill requires that the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) ensure that each ISP isn’t creating an artificial bandwidth shortage:

The commission shall evaluate a data cap proposed by an internet service provider to determine whether the data cap functions to reasonably limit network congestion in a manner that does not unnecessarily discourage use of the internet.

The bill also contains a section that prevents ISPs from creating “fast lanes” for preferred customers:

A covered internet service provider may not, for purposes of measuring data usage or otherwise, provide preferential treatment of data that is based on the source or the content of the data.

The demand for bandwidth has, as long as I remember, exceeded supply. You’d think that competitors would jump in, but the capital required is daunting. I hope that potential competitors aren’t dissuaded by regulations such as Senator Wyden’s bill. I’d prefer that good service at fair prices result from competition rather than government regulation.

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

Net neutrality in a bandwidth-limited Internet

The phrase “net neutrality’ was coined by Tim Wu, the author of The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, to describe a so-called open Internet in which all packets from all users are treated equally. Sounds fair, doesn’t it?

I’ve managed corporate networks since 1987. When all clients were the same, treating their packets equally made sense. As videoconferencing and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) traffic joined these networks, latency caused frozen video frames and dropouts in VoIP telephone conversations — all verboten in a business environment. One cure is to implement QoS (Quality Of Service) across the enterprise. Packets that are time-sensitive are created with a QoS field that asks routers that these packets go to the front of the line when packets queue for routing. In private networks, where IT departments control which stations and apps create packets with high priority, implementing QoS works nicely.

MUSE QoS architecture
IGMP = Internet Group Management Protocol
ASP = Application service provider
NSP = Network service provider

The Internet is anything but private. If all Internet routers accommodate QoS, is it sensible to assign the same high priority to packets carrying real-time heart surgery, HD video of Rocky XXII, and people playing online games?

The Internet will never be a boundless resource, so from a technical point of view it’s sensible to implement QoS. Who will pay for priority handling? If Netflix were to pay a premium for preferential handling of its streaming video packets, it could hurt the cable TV providers, so the cable TV industry piously supports net neutrality. Any argument against enabling QoS is purely political, and opens a Pandora’s box that revolves around the question, “What IS the Internet?”, or “What do we wish the Internet to become?”

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