Pro Tip for the Cable Bill

If you see your cable or phone bill creeping up for no reason, call the provider and ask to speak to “retention”.  It’s the office that’s in charge of keeping people from switching to the competitor.  Mention that it’s getting hard to afford the service and you’re thinking of switching.  

More often than not, they’ll reduce your bill and even put you on a lower priced promotional plan.  

This is especially important if the increased price is causing a financial strain.

Cable Companies Are Astroturfing Fake Consumer Support to End Net Neutrality

The anti-net neutrality group Broadband for America claims to be “a coalition of 300 internet consumer advocates, content providers, and engineers.” After a little digging, VICE has discovered they are in fact a who’s who of ISP industry presidents and CEOs, hell-bent on pursuing a two-tiered internet.

Why Is the Internet So Damn Slow?

​I spend all day on the internet. And I mean that literally: The first thing I do every morning is roll over to check my Twitter feed; I stream music on my drive to work; I buy movie tickets and make restaurant reservations online. I don’t even own a television, because I watch all my TV on my laptop.

But in most cities in America—including Los Angeles, where I live—we’re getting screwed over by our internet. Last week the ​Cost o​f Connectivity, an annual report on the state of internet speeds and cost, reported that just about everyone in America is paying top dollar for really slow broadband.

For example, the internet in Los Angeles is half the speed of the internet in Seoul, and yet we pay ten times as much for it. The only cities in America that can even hold a candle to places like Seoul are Kansas City and Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the internet is fast but still twice as expensive.

So the internet sucks—but why? Broadband , like modern art, is one of those things that I understand on a theoretical level but don’t really “get,” so I reached out to Chris Mitchell, who heads the nonprofit Community Broadband Networks Initiative, to learn about why my internet is so damn slow.

VICE: Why do internet speeds vary so much between places like Los Angeles and, say, Kansas City?
​Chris Mitchell: Well, it’s a good question. I think the main reason is that most communities only have a choice between one or two providers in a residential area for high-speed internet access. The reason for that is that those networks were typically built with monopoly protection. Basically, if you go back 100 years, the federal government said, “Telephones are going to be a monopoly, that way we can make sure that everyone will have access at reasonable prices." There were some cities that did not give a monopoly; they gave what’s called a nonexclusive franchise. We’re in a situation where we still don’t have competition, but we don’t have any legal force protecting a given provider from competition. It’s just sort of developed that way because of the economics, which is that basically once you already have a network, it’s really easy for you to drive out competition. And you do that typically by lowering prices; if there’s anyone that’s trying to build a network, you lower your prices long enough that they go out of business, and then you raise your prices back up to monopoly levels. 


Comcast + Time Warner Cable = Disaster

Comcast just announced that it’s buying Time Warner Cable. If approved, this outrageous deal would create a television and Internet colossus like no other.

Comcast is the country’s #1 cable and Internet company and Time Warner Cable is #2. Put them together and you get a single giant controlling a massive share of our nation’s TV and Internet-access markets.

No one woke up this morning wishing their cable company was bigger or had more control over what they watch and how they get online. But that is the reality we’ll face unless the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission do their jobs and block this merger.

Stopping this kind of deal is exactly why we have antitrust laws. After a year of sustained organizing, we convinced the DoJ and the FCC to stop AT&T from gobbling up T-Mobile.

This merger would put more than a third of all cable-TV subscribers in Comcast’s hands and give it control over more than half of the “triple-play” services that combine TV, phone and Internet service. Don’t forget, Comcast already owns NBC, MSNBC, Universal Studios and tons of cable channels. That means that for most of America, Comcast could control even more of what you see and how you see it.

Putting this much power in the hands of one company is dangerous. This deal would lead to less consumer choice, less diversity and much higher cable bills. 

Tell the FCC and the DoJ to stop this merger today. This is a fight we can win.

Net Neutrality: Netflix Goes Directly to the FCC as Google, Yahoo, and Others May Launch a SOPA-Style Protest

In the wake of leaks about new, weaker, Open Internet rules proposed by the Federal Communications Commission, and soon after Netflix had to pay two internet service providers for better access to their customers, Netflix has taken its concerns directly to the FCC. Meanwhile, Google, Yahoo, and other internet heavies may be planning a SOPA-like grassroots protest for net neutrality.

Netflix has now paid Comcast and Verizon for direct access to their networks, something that is pretty much unprecedented and contrary to the way the internet usually works. Feeling the pinch, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has called for a stronger version of net neutrality – one that would protect his company and others from unreasonable interconnect fees.

But beyond the public outcry, Netflix has shown its serious about its stronger net neutrality manifesto: this week it took its concerns directly to the FCC in meetings with the agency’s staff, according to a report by Reuters.

New Open Internet Rules and Potential Backlash
This comes as the FCC is considering new Open Internet rules to replace the net neutrality-friendly Open Internet program, struck down by a federal court earlier this year. The new rules leaked late last month, and to say the least, they’re being perceived as less than net neutrality-friendly.

The new rules, while still requiring ISP transparency and banning them from blocking any internet traffic, would allow for deals between ISPs and websites and services to provide better service. In my opinion, this is incredibly anti-competitive, anti-consumer, and would be the death of net neutrality as we know it.

And it appears that some major internet technology companies share those concerns: According to The Wall Street Journal, officials inside member companies of the Internet Association – a trade group that includes Google, Yahoo, Netflix, and others – are “considering mobilizing a grass-roots campaign to rally public opinion around the idea that the internet’s pipes should be equally open for all.”

One thing is certain. The FCC’s new proposed rules will be officially unveiled in the next week or two, and there’s going to be a ruckus on the web: We’ll just have to wait and seen how big it will be.
Netflix: The Case Against ISP Tolls

Netflix offers a technical take on why a “fast lane” for data is a bad strategy, and why the Comcast/TWC merger shouldn’t be allowed:

Comcast does not carry Netflix traffic over long distances. Netflix is itself shouldering the costs and performing the transport function for which it used to pay transit providers. Netflix connects to Comcast in locations all over the U.S., and has offered to connect in as many locations as Comcast desires. So Netflix is moving Netflix content long distances, not Comcast.

Nor does Comcast connect Netflix to other networks. In fact, Netflix can’t reach other networks via Comcast’s network. 

For all these reasons, Netflix directly interconnects with many ISPs here in the U.S. and internationally without any exchange of fees. 

In sum, Comcast is not charging Netflix for transit service. It is charging Netflix for access to its subscribers. Comcast also charges its subscribers for access to Internet content providers like Netflix. In this way, Comcast is double dipping by getting both its subscribers and Internet content providers to pay for access to each other. 

Side note: Here’s FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler rebuking critics of the commission’s proposed net neutrality strategy.

From US Uncut: While internet users in the US struggle with expensive and slow connections provided by cable corporations, Chattanooga, Tennessee’s fiber-optic network, “The Gig”, is a taxpayer-owned public utility that boasts internet speeds 50 times faster than the rest of the country.

SHARE this if the FCC should dump their plans to end net neutrality and classify the internet as a public utility!

BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) Basics

• The current version of BGP is BGP version 4, based on RFC4271.
• BGP is the path-vector protocol that provides routing information for autonomous systems on the Internet via its AS-Path attribute.
• BGP is a Layer 4 protocol that sits on top of TCP. It is much simpler than OSPF, because it doesn’t have to worry about the things TCP will handle.
• Peers that have been manually configured to exchange routing information will form a TCP connection and begin speaking BGP. There is no discovery in BGP.
• Medium-sized businesses usually get into BGP for the purpose of true multi-homing for their entire network.
• An important aspect of BGP is that the AS-Path itself is an anti-loop mechanism. Routers will not import any routes that contain themselves in the AS-Path.

Smart Homes Meet Connected Cars: X Marks the Spot

Several factors have contributed to the sudden expansion of connected car services available or coming to the market, most notably the expansion of mobile broadband networks, high penetration of smartphones in the consumer market, and auto manufacturers’ re-evaluation of connected services as a competitive advantage and means to generate new revenues.

While the connected car and smart home ecosystems haven’t yet entered the mainstream, neither is in its infancy. Crossover between the two markets is evident and offers a unique opportunity for the ecosystem players.

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