Unfortunately for the commission, all the lipstick in the world can’t disguise this pig.
—  Ajit Pai, Federal Communications Commission, arguing that the FCC doesn’t have the authority to interfere with state sovereignty. The FCC then voted to forbid states from restricting city-run broadband internet before going on to talk about whether to enforce net neutrality rules.

Cable companies like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon are actually paying money in order to keep your internet at lower speeds. 

How and why are they doing this you ask? 
Well, they’re paying politicians to pass laws that prevent us from crowd funding our own internet infrastructure (which would be significantly faster, I might add)! This allows them to keep competition from arising and allows them to keep reaping the profits since they are the only people who we can buy internet from in many cases.
The City of Cedar Falls, Iowa has already managed to build their own network, hence their incredible internet speeds.
Check out this Upworthy article along with this one from the Washington Post to learn a bit more about why exactly our internet is so terrible compared to the networks in other countries. 

The president made a video about it as well.

anonymous asked:

So the other day you posted the Honest Trailer for "Love Actually" (ironically the same day as i'd shown it to my dad, who is also a big fan of that movie) and i had a bit of a fangirl moment where i thought "OMG one of my favourite authors watches the same videos as me" (sorry this isn't technically a question D:)

:) I get around.

Seriously: I spend a lot of time online, in a lot of the usual places and a lot of unusual ones. It may be a good thing that our broadband is so terrible, otherwise who knows when I’d get anything done….

Obama Support for Municipal Broadband is Huge Step Forward for Open Internet

Washington D.C. (January 14, 2014) – President Obama today travels to Iowa to announce his support for municipal broadband Internet. Obama will urge the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to strike down state laws that currently ban local and city governments from investing in broadband deployment. The President will make the announcement in Cedar Falls, a city of 40,000, where – thanks to municipal investment in broadband — businesses and residents benefit from Internet speeds that are among the fastest in the country.

Demand Progress welcomes the President’s announcement and vows to support his proposal.

“When it comes to Internet access many people do not have competitive choices. In most cities, there are only one or maybe two companies that offer broadband services. In many rural communities, there is simply no option, and as of 2013 30% of American adults had no high-speed Internet access at home. When corporations refuse to invest in the Internet, people deserve a public option.” said David Segal, Executive Director of Demand Progress. “If communities are able to invest in their infrastructure there’s fast service, lower prices, and everyone wins.”

Many communities recognize the inherent benefit of high speed access – both to people and to businesses – and would like to invest in building the infrastructure necessary. Yet in 19 states, major corporations like Comcast and Verizon have successfully lobbied state governments to make local broadband development illegal.

“Internet Service Providers lie by claiming that Net Neutrality would slow broadband investment, but cities like Cedar Falls show the truth. The biggest impediment to broadband buildout is the ISPs themselves: They use their massive political power to simply ban cities and local communities from extending fast access at low prices.” added Segal.

"The President’s proposal is good for American communities and their economic vitality. Outside the board of directors at the big ISPs, and the politicians they’ve convinced to do their bidding, no one votes against Internet access."


5 things you didn’t know about…fibre optics

‘Silica is thematerial of choice for most optical fibres, because it boasts good transmission over a wide range of wavelengths.’

1. Optical fibres consist of a core, surrounded by a cladding layer, and an outer buffer later that acts as a protective coating.

2. They are produced by drawing large-diameter preforms into thin fibres at temperatures up to 2,200oC.

3. Most are coated with a UV-cured urethane acrylate during the drawing process for protection.

4. In 2011, the bandwidth record for an optical fibre was set at more than 100 terabits (100x1012 bits) per second.

5. In medicine, endoscopes made of fibre optics allow doctors to view or operate on patients with minimal interference.  

For more on the history of fibre optics, read Anna Ploszaski’s Material of the Month piece here

Take Huawei for example, which entered Africa in 1998, it set up many telecommunication networks in faraway areas in its initial period of development, while most Western operators before that had basically concentrated in more densely-populated big cities.

It is fair to say that the arrival of Chinese companies has brought the Internet to more Africans. Besides, Chinese companies have also brought advanced technologies and less expensive internet services. Macharba said that the telecommunications networks built and maintained by Huawei or ZTE have reached most African countries. Smart phones of Huawei, Lenovo, and Haier are also very popular in Africa. In addition, China’s experience in the fast development of IT technology also offers reference for African countries.

Demand Progress Welcomes Sprint to #TeamInternet

Washington D.C. (January 16, 2015) – Sprint Corporation today told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that the company supports Net Neutrality regardless of the legal authority the FCC uses to enforce it. The company, the third largest wireless carrier network in the United States, is the latest in a long line of users, activists, start ups, investors and companies to express support for reclassifying broadband Internet accesses under Title II of the Telecommunications Act.

“For years, Internet Service Providers have been claiming that Net Neutrality would be harmful. They can’t sell the truth – that ending Net Neutrality would be extremely profitable for the largest companies at the expense of everyone else. They’ve hid behind false claims about ‘innovation’ and network investment, but this announcement finally acknowledges the truth. Net Neutrality will not harm broadband deployment. The argument is over,” said David Segal, Executive Director of Demand Progress. “If anyone continues this zombie argument, their credibility should be questioned.”

In a letter to FCC commissioners and Chairman Wheeler, Sprint wrote that the company does not believe “light touch application of Title II, including appropriate forebearance, would harm continued investment in, and deployment of, mobile broadband Internet.”

“Sprint has done the people a service by simply telling the truth about how wireless broadband works. Net Neutrality used to be an unknown policy debate. Yet, Internet uses – i.e. potential customers – care strongly about this issue and are willing to vote with their feet. Verizon and Comcast should pay attention,” added Segal.

After working on the issue for nearly a year, FCC is poised to vote on rules reclassifying broadband access under Title II. Next week, however, the House Energy and Commerce and Senate Commerce committees are scheduled to hold hearings. 

“Sprint’s support for Title II Net Neutrality rules from the FCC should end the charade in Congress that is clearly aimed at satisfying big cable monopolies. The FCC has done great work and Congress should not try to step in to undermine the will of millions of Americans and hundreds of web platforms, small ISPs, and now Sprint,” said Segal.

On Polling, Net Neutrality, Regulation, and Competition

A wide majority of Americans oppose “[a]llowing Internet service providers to charge some websites or streaming video services extra for faster speeds”, according to polling by the University of Delaware. But Americans also widely believe that “the Internet remain ‘open’ without regulation and censorship” when the alternative is that “the Federal Communications Commission regulate the Internet like it does radio and television”, according to polling by the conservative Ramussen Reports.

A YouGov/Huff Post poll found similar results: a strong majority of both Republicans and Democrats believe “…internet service providers should not be allowed to restrict the speed of certain types of internet content” and disagree with the idea that “broadband internet service providers should be allowed to prioritize data traffic speed…” And, yet, only 19% of Americans believe more “federal government regulation of internet service providers is needed”, while 27% think we need less and 33% think the “[c]urrent level is about right”.

As Mark Trujillo and Julian Hattem note, “[t]he complexity of the debate makes the wording of questions critical…” When it’s framed as a matter of regulating the internet, people oppose net neutrality. When it’s framed as a matter of stopping internet companies from charging certain websites extra for service, people support net neutrality.

One way to read these results is pretty straightforward: people hate the  concept of government regulation, but love its outcomes. A 2012 poll by the Pew Research Center gives us more insight into this. Though the majority view of “government regulation of business” has fluctuated between “usually does more harm than good” and “is necessary to protect the public interest” over the last 20 years, that poll found that at that time 52% of people thought that it did more harm than good, as opposed to the 40% who believe that it’s necessary to protect the public interest. And yet, when asked about views on specific regulations, the outcomes were suprising:

The plurality of people wanted stronger regulations on food, the environment, cars, and prescription drugs, while the plurality wanted to keep regulations the same on workplace conditions. Even Republicans only wanted to reduce regulation in one of the five categories, the environment, and actually wanted to strengthen them for food.

This shows us that people dislike regulation as a concept, because it purportedly does more harm than good. But, when it actually comes to the cutting board, people like government regulation, because it’s purportedly necessary to protect the public interest. As Harold Meyerson quips, “…the storyline of Americans’ sentiments towards regulations is the same as the storyline of Americans’ sentiments towards government programs: They hate them all, they love them each.”

On the topic of net neutrality, however, this does raise the question of an alternative policy that doesn’t involve regulating internet service providers (ISP’s) like public utilities. Earlier today, well-known liberal policy wonk Kevin Drum came out in favor of such a different policy. He believes that what’s needed is more competition, encouraging ISP’s to build new infrastructure:

Given current political realities, strong net neutrality rules are a good idea. But an even better idea would be to forget about net neutrality and open up local markets to real competition. I think we’d find out pretty quickly that broadband suppliers have plenty of money for infrastructure upgrades if the alternative is a steadily shrinking market share as competitors start eating their lunch.

ISP’s have done a very bad job at deploying internet infrastructure at this point in time. But more competition would encourage new internet infrastructure to be constructed, new infrastructure allowing them to undercut compeitors by offering better service without “fast lanes”.

As a matter of fact, more competition would solve a lot of the problems with telecom companies; most of their current problems stem from the fact that they have near-monopolies on a local scale, and so have no reason to improve their services. Take a look at cities where Google Fiber is deploying their high-speed broadband: existing ISP’s are ramping up the quality of their services so that they don’t lose all of their customers, in one instance even offering internet speeds 15 times higher than before for about 58% of the original cost.

So there could be a non-regulatory alternative to net neutrality. In my opinion, a good way to start would be to allow for the creation of public options by removing state laws banning cities from creating public broadband programs, and instead encourage them to do so.

This is shaping up to be a big week for the Federal Communications Commission, and a good week for the internet. Chairman Tom Wheeler is expected to release his net neutrality proposal to the other commissioners this week, which will almost certainly include the reclassification of broadband providers as common carriers in order to enforce net neutrality rules. The vote on that will happen at a February 26 meeting. But so will another big vote, one to pre-empt state laws that harm municipal broadband.

The Federal Communications Commission this week will begin considering a draft decision to intervene against state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina that limit Internet access operated and sold by cities, according to a senior FCC official. The agency’s chairman, Tom Wheeler, could circulate the draft to his fellow commissioners as early as Monday and the decision will be voted on in the FCC’s public meeting on Feb. 26.
If approved, the FCC would find that the states have erected barriers to the timely and reasonable deployment of high-speed Internet access in Chattanooga, Tenn. and Wilson, N.C. It would effectively knock down the state laws that the cities say inhibit them from building viable competitors to the likes of Comcast and Verizon.
The draft decision targets legal hurdles that make it more difficult for city- or community-run Internet services to get off the ground. Tennessee, for example, has passed rules forbidding cities from building high-capacity networks beyond a certain geographic area. Publicly run broadband in North Carolina may not offer service at prices below what a private carrier offers. And in their petitions to the FCC filed last year, the cities point to other regulatory challenges that, they argue, tilt the playing field in favor of incumbent Internet providers such as Comcast and Verizon.

Nearly two dozen states have the same kinds of laws on their books, giving the likes of Comcast and Verizon a stranglehold on broadband. While the ruling will likely be limited to Chattanooga and Wilson, it will likely open up challenges to the state laws in those other states. The FCC will apparently decide that its authority under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act to promote the deployment of broadband is hampered by the state laws that restrict municipal governments from creating networks. The FCC has already found that roughly 55 million Americans—17 percent of the country—doesn’t have access to adequate broadband speeds and most of the country has no more than two broadband providers to choose from.
That, of course, is how big telecom and Republicans want it. In the sham net neutrality legislation Republicans have introduced, they propose to roll back the FCC’s Section 706 authority, barring the agency from ruling on municipal broadband at all.

h/t: Joan McCarter at Daily Kos