Tag: Internet access

What is the Declaration For The Future Of The Internet about?

Articles

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook

Internet services now under a worldwide declaration

US signs Declaration for the Future of the Internet alongside 60 global partners | Windows Central

US Pledges to Keep an Open Internet With Dozens of Other Countries – CNET

Governments Pledge to Keep an Open Internet, Not Russia, China (gizmodo.com)

From the horse’s mouth

The White House, USA

FACT SHEET: United States and 60 Global Partners Launch Declaration for the Future of the Internet | The White House

Declaration-for-the-Future-for-the-Internet_Launch-Event-Signing-Version_FINAL.pdf (whitehouse.gov)

My Comments

The US, European Union, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries signed a declaration regarding the Internet. This declaration, called the “Declaration For The Future Of The Internet” is an effort by the Biden White House to reinforce what the Internet is to be about as an open network of networks with a fair playing field.

This is a response by these countries against digital authoritarianism that has been shown by authoritarian regimes like Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. It encompasses domestic and international online repression efforts like censorship along with international political destabilisation efforts like election / referendum interference, disinformation campaigns and cyberattacks.

There is also the same fear that due to populist strongman politics taking place ins some Western and other countries not associated with that kind of politics, the Internet as a symbol of freedom of expression could be under threat in those countries.

It is a reference for public policymakers, citizens, the business community and civil society organisations, but is non-binding. This is seen as a sticking point amongst some because sone countries like the USA aren’t toeing the line when it comes to a free and open Internet with issues like civilian surveillance. But some policymakers in some governments, international organisations and civil society could see this as a “gold standard” for what the Internet should be about.

The goal in this Declaration is to maintain what the Internet was about when it came about in the 1990s – an open network of networks that is freely accessible to all.

It is about protecting fundamental human rights and freedoms for all people in the online space. As well, it is about the global Internet that facilitates the free flow of information for citizens and businesses. That also includes inclusive and affordable connectivity to the Internet, which also factors in access from rural and remote areas. As well, there should be an increase in our digital skills so we can work the Internet competently.

Trust in the global online ecosystem is also underscored, including protection of the privacy and confidentiality of end-users. This is about safe secure private Internet use. For businesses of all sizes, it is about allowing them to compete, innovate and thrive in their own merits.

This goal is to be facilitated using reliable secure interoperable and sustainable infrastructure around the world. Here it would be managed in a multiple stakeholder approach to assure common benefit.

An issue that will need to he looked at is how online services are operated by the private sector. This is with expectations regarding end-user privacy along with their operation as a social good. It may also have to include support for healthy competition between online service providers so as to support innovation and service affordability.

I do see a strong possibility that the Declaration For The Future Of The Internet as a “Gold Standard” for what is expected of the Internet as part of a democratic society.

Using school buses to provide Internet to poorer communities

Articles

Yellow school bus - Wikimedia Commons image courtesy of H, Michael Miley

These yellow school buses are being used not just for transporting schoolchildren but to provide Internet to poorer communities in the US

Wi-Fi-enabled school buses leave no child offline | PBS Newshour

Wi-Fi-Enabled Bus Connects Students in Poor Calif. Community | Education Week

What to do for kids with no internet at home? How about parking a wifi-enabled school bus near their trailer park? | Hechinger Report

How one of the poorest districts in the US pipes Wi-Fi to families – using school buses | The Register

My Comments

Coachella Valley in California is a rural community often associated with one of the trendiest rock music festivals in the USA. But when the musicians and fans pack up and leave this district, it reverts to having the attributes of a highly-disadvantaged rural community based primarily around trailer parks including lack of decent Internet access.

This is a situation that has been found to hold back secondary students who want to push on with their studies especially as today’s method of learning is focused towards online learning. One of many situations was that families were heading out to Starbucks or McDonalds or their schools’ parking lots to use the on-site Wi-Fi public-access Internet service. Another situation was a student staying back late at the school to complete an online assignment because their family couldn’t trust the Internet connection they had back at home.

But the Coachella Valley Unified School District have provided an innovative way of solving this problem by implementing in-vehicle Wi-Fi Internet connectivity in the school buses. Each bus implements a modem router connected to a mobile broadband service and dispersing the Internet access inside the bus and to 100 yards (91.44 metres) from the bus, similar to what some premium bus routes are doing. This network is set up for the school students to use through the use of particular software installed on the students’ tablets.

This setup would work when the vehicle is underway during a school-bus run but the school district wanted to run this setup with vehicles that are parked. They tried it out running the modem routers off the vehicle’s batteries alone but it could run for an hour with the batteries not providing enough juice to start the bus’s engine after that hour.

So one of the teachers put forward a solar-based solution to supply enough power from a roof-mounted solar panel array to run the modem router and in-vehicle network. Here, this didn’t put strain on the vehicle’s batteries thus avoiding the risk of losing the power needed to turn the engine over on a cold morning.

The buses would be parked in the trailer parks or near the communities so that students can wander down with their portable computing equipment to do the necessary study while under adult supervision. For example, if the community has a clubhouse or community hall, the bus would be near that facility.

There are further plans for the Coachella Valley Unified School District to take this concept further such as using donated or salvaged cars for the same purpose or even creating a community-access Wi-Fi Internet service. The usual remarks that I would most likely hear in relationship to enabling a disadvantaged community with real broadband is that such broadband services will end up being used for pornography viewing which would lead on to a downward family-abuse spiral.

Personally, I would also like to see the Coachella Valley Unified School District approach Google and others who roll out competitive broadband service to target the areas in the school district’s remit for competitive real-broadband service. Similarly, the school district could work toward helping the adults in their community by providing onsite public-access Internet facilities like an Internet café or Wi-Fi hotspot in these communities.

UK to simplify switching between DSL broadband providers

Articles

Draytek Vigor 2860N VDSL2 business VPN-endpoint router press image courtesy of Draytek UK

It now becomes easier to chase value for money for your British Internet service

At last, switching between rubbish broadband providers now easier | The Register

Switching your broadband supplier just got really easy | Engadget

From the horse’s mouth

Ofcom

Press Release

My Comments

In the UK, Ofcom have simplified the processes involved for customers who want to change DSL providers that use the BT Openreach or KCOM telephony infrastructures.

Previously, a customer who wanted to “jump ship” had to obtain from their prior ISP a “Migration Authorisation Code” and had to pass this to the newer provider they were about to sign up to. Now, from Saturday 20 June 2015, the newer provider will facilitate the switchover without extra work from the customer.

There will be a requirement that the both the existing and the new ISPs send a letter to the customer advising them of the switchover and this will be the point where the customer can opt out. As well, both ISPs are required to keep records of the customer’s consent to change ISPs in order to protect customers against “slamming”. This is the practice where a customer is switched between electricity, telephone or Internet services that use the same infrastructure without their knowledge or permission and can result from participation in a “cold-call”.

But there could be the ability for customers to arrange with their ISP to have any switch-over to be an opt-in process to frustrate “slamming” attempts. This may be of value to small-business users who are often at risk of falling prey to various scams targeting that sector.

According to Which?, UK’s main consumer-protection body who is similar to Choice in Australia, customers are receiving sub-par Internet bandwidth from most of the providers who are using this infrastructure.

As I have said before, this would apply to Internet services which use the BT Openreach or KCOM telephony infrastructures and wouldn’t really apply to customers switching between services with different infrastructures like cable or FTTP fibre-optic. But a good question worth raising is that if a customer is made aware of aVDSL2 service and switches to the FTTC service, would this arrangement take place for customers switching to the FTTC service?

What this improvement should offer is to allow customers to have more control over the Internet services they subscribe to so they have greater value for money.

FCC plans to subsidise broadband for low-income households

Article US Flag By Dbenbenn, Zscout370, Jacobolus, Indolences, Technion. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

FCC Crafting Plan to Subsidize Low Income Broadband | Broadband News & DSL Reports

From the horse’s mouth

FCC

Commission Document (Press Release)

Lifeline – explanation guide (worth reading for those of you who don’t live in the USA)

My Comments

The Federal Communications Commission’s Chairman Tom Wheeler has put a proposal amongst the fellow Commissioners to create a subsidised broadband program for the USA’s low-income households.

This will be a modification of the Lifeline subsidised-telephony program which the Reagan administration started in the 1980s in order to extend its remit to broadband Internet service. The Lifeline program, funded by a universal-service-obligation levy that is paid by the US’s telephone customers or the telco they use, provides a discount on telephony services to eligible low-income households.

The modification will also incorporate stronger anti-fraud measures so that the money goes to the subsidised-communications programs rather than telcos “taking the money and running”.

It has been found that marginalised communities like blacks and Latinos are not likely to as connected as white people. But there is an “elephant in the room” that is not mentioned concerning computer literacy which drives the desire to connect to broadband service. From my recent experience with helping some households with their personal IT, I have seen some cases where computer literacy being linked to general literacy. Here, a subsidised-broadband program could also be about facilitating local computer-literacy programs in the affected neigbourhoods such as through schools offering “after-hours” classes or community centres running workshops.

Oh yeah, you may think that a subsidised broadband program for low-income communities will lead towards waste in the form of constant YouTube-viewing or “one-handed surfing” (viewing of pornographic material). But broadband is become increasingly relevant because it is becoming the norm to do business online including applying for jobs, getting a business up and running, or interacting with government agencies.

The Universal Service Fund programs like Lifeline and eRate have been subject of criticism due to fraud and waste occurring within carriers and other companies. Primarily this is where the companies simply “take the money and run” and the FCC are in the dark about how it is being used. There is also the issue of how to raise this money, especially where new or increased universal-service-obligation levies on Internet and other communications services are not popular with customers where they are paying a premium for these services.

Other factors that the FCC want to consider include redefining the minimum “at the door” bandwidth that constitutes a broadband service along with overriding protectionist state laws that protect incumbent operators by prohibiting the existence of competing broadband service.

The former issue concerns the actual bandwidth that a customer benefits from because of DSL services that are affected by line distance and quality or cable services which are affected by the line quality and number of subscribers. The latter affects cities being able to “open the door” to fibre-optic installations or Wi-Fi hotzones ran by themselves or independent operators like the Google Fiber installations or municipal Wi-Fi hotzones.

I would still like to see this also factor in mobile-broadband setups which will be considered important with homeless and nomadic people. This is more so as the scope of homelessness is encompassing continual couch-surfing or living in emergency and “inn-like” accommodation like refuges, hostels and motels rather than a long-term home. Similarly, the Lifeline program could be evolved to encompass mobile telecommunications for people in these situations.

Similarly, there has to be a minimum level of quality expected for carrier-supplied customer-premises equipment that is used for Lifeline-subsidised Internet services. Here, it would prevent ISPs and telcos supplying underperforming equipment to these customers.

What is really needed for the US broadband market is to see real competition rather than a cosy duopoly or cartel of providers providing the service. This will then lower the prices that people pay for broadband and increase real value-for-money for these services.

Why FCC’s Tom Wheeler is not caving in to cable and telco pressure

Article

Net Fix: Why FCC’s Wheeler is ‘defying the greatest lobbyists in the world | CNet

My Comments

I had come across this interesting article in CNet about FCC’s current commissioner, Tom Wheeler and the way he is standing up for the consumer, real competition and Net Neutrality. There were people who were saying that he would cave in to the cable and telecommunications industry because of his work with them but he has determined that the end user is his customer.

In 1984, he was involved with the NABU idea which was a special home computer that would be connected to the cable TV infrastructure to deliver games and news information to consumers. This was a closed-loop system that required the use of particular equipment all the way. Compare this with Steve Case who had built up America Online which was centred around commonly-available home computers and modems along with the common telephone network. This was a service that led to and underpinned the dot-com era. The NABU system had to have him get permission from each and every cable operator to set that up in every market. This had given him a first-had experience of what happens to closed-loop telecommunications systems that don’t work on an open framework where you end up with them stifling innovation and them suddenly collapsing.

But Tom Wheeler got his hands wet with the nascent cable-TV industry where he lobbied against the NAB to build the service with programming and make it viable in the minds of consumers. This was where he met his wife Carol who was lobbying for the National Association Broadcasters.

His current reign as FCC Chairman has made him to be the equivalent of Joseph Kennedy Snr. in 1934 when he set up the Securities & Exchange Commision in the first bid to regulate Wall Street. Here, this was about standing up to powerful interests especially that of the US business moguls. It was also about getting things done at the FCC rather than the niceties, like what had happened in the UK at Ofcom when they humiliated British Telecom to provide competitors access to the local loop at reasonable prices.

But what has he done in his position as FCC Chairman?

  • He has had the e-rate program which provides tech finding to schools and libraries modernised. This has lead to it benefiting from US$45 billion of revenue from a wireless-spectrum auction that took place in January 2015.
  • He eliminated the decades-old sports-blackout rule concerning the broadcast of sports fixtures organised by the popular sports leagues like NFL. This was where TV stations and networks, including cable and satellite TV setups, couldn’t broadcast a sports fixture in the town it was played unless the match was sold out.
  • He raised the minimum bandwidth of an Internet service to be classed as a broadband service from 4Mb to 25Mb like what most of Europe calls a broadband service. This was to raise the game when it came to DSL services offered by the incumbent telcos.
  • He sided with T-Mobile to make AT&T and Verizon charge reasonable data-roaming rates for 4G LTE services
  • He is intending to pre-empt state laws which preclude the establishment of competing fixed-broadband infrastructure by cities, communities and competing operators
  • This is part of an effort by the FCC to bring teeth to the concept of Open Internet. Tom Wheeler even caused President Obama to take action to have broadband Internet deemed a Title II Utility in the same concept as fixed telephone service. This is where the service gains various legal protections and requirements

His term at the FCC is about the fact that he represents the US communications-service end user who is watching TV, listening to the radio, making calls on a fixed or mobile phone, or using a regular or mobile computing device  to benefit from the Internet.

Personally I see Chairman Tom Wheeler as someone who could bring the USA in to line with Britain, France and the Nordic countries where they don’t kowtow to established telecoms monopolies or cartels but bring forward real competition. His work could be underscored by the bodies at the Department Of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission as a way to effectively shake up the telecommunications industry and stop it going backwards.

The French campground and caravan park scene is now switched on in new ways

Article (French language / Langue Française)

La fibre optique et la domotique débarquent dans les campings | DegroupNews

My Comments

Travelling is now becoming more of a connected affair with Internet connectivity being considered a valuable amenity wherever you stay. Even the humble campground or caravan park now offers a level of Wi-Fi-based Internet connectivity as a value-added service.

But the French have taken this further with the use of fibre-optic broadband to assure the people who lodge at these facilities have proper high-speed Internet access everywhere. They are typically in a position to do this because that country is fast becoming the poster child for a highly-competitive highly-affordable Internet service. This is in contrast to the typical cost-effective setup with one or a few Wi-Fi access points to cover the campground with Wi-Fi wireless Internet.

Yelloh Village have worked with Covage to achieve this goal and also provide an IPTV service with access to international TV channels.They have also implemented the “smart-home” concept in the bungalows or cabins that are becoming part of what the typical campground or caravan park offers. For example, when a guest leaves their bungalow, the electrical installation and hot water heater shuts down like as expected in a lot of newer hotels.

Some people may think that the idea of using a campground or caravan park for their holidaying needs is a chance to seek a humble cheap holiday but as more of these places equip themselves in a manner similar to a resort, it may become that camping in the wilderness may be the way to have that humble holiday.

Similarly, the goal to see proper rural Internet service can play in to a campground owner’s hands as a way of seeking to provide high-calibre public-access Internet to holidaymakers who are wanting to camp the “connected way”.

Allowing competitive infrastructure can help US broadband

Article

Killing Muni-Broadband Bans First Step to Helping U.S. Broadband | Broadband News & DSL Reports (USA)

My Comments

As previously covered, the US broadband Internet service is heading down the path of a poor-value service. This is due to very cosy duopolies and cartels that exist in providing this service on both the fixed and mobile platforms and are placing householders, small business and community organisations at a disadvantage.

This article is highlighting how the state governments are doing their bit to protect these cartels by passing laws that proscribe companies and local governments from deploying their own infrastructure to provide retail communications services in their neighbourhoods. These laws came about when various local governments were setting up free public-access Wi-Fi services for their constituents and this activity was disturbing the likes of Comcast and the Baby Bells.

But the issue is being highlighted again by Google launching their own Google Fiber service which has its own infrastructure and has an intent to provide next-generation broadband at next-generation speeds for rock-bottom prices. The same issue could be raised concerning a competing provider who uses other technologies like fixed wireless or even their own coaxial cable to raise the Internet bar in a neighbourhood.

Some of these efforts may be to either provide real broadband Internet to rural communities or enable disadvantaged communities to have access to high-quality broadband. It also is about igniting business development and sparking up residential and commercial property values in various neighbourhoods, especially where a lot of business is being conducted online.

What is being raised in this article is to have some form of oversight concerning the state laws affecting the deployment of municipal or other competing retail broadband services. Personally, I would like to see these laws looked at in the context of antitrust (competition) issues, because they have been architected to protect uncompetitive behaviour.

Wired broadband for the mobile-only household

Draytek VPN endpoint router

You can use a fully-functional router as part of a wired broadband service without the need to rent a classic telephone service

I have come across households that won’t operate a landline phone service and use mobile phones for their incoming and outgoing voice calls. In some cases, they even won’t run a wired broadband Internet service because they fear they have to pay a line rental to the incumbent telephone carrier for a landline service they don’t need. Instead they would use a mobile-broadband service for their Internet access needs, whether via a “Mi-Fi” device sharing the broadband via a Wi-Fi network with tablets and laptops or just by using mobile-broadband modems connected to or integrated in their mobile devices.

Which kind of users would this appeal to

This advice would appeal more to those of us who are in our premises for the long haul and don’t mind using an account with monthly postpaid billing for our services. On the other hand, a mobile-broadband service may have a better appeal where portability between premises or access to a prepaid service that can be worked into your budget matters.

What kind of connection

Dedicated infrastructure (Cable Internet, Fibre-to-the-premises, etc)

But you can use a wired broadband service in these situations. Here, you can order a broadband service which is based on dedicated-infrastructure technology. A cable-broadband, fibre-to-the-premises service or a fixed-wireless service is typically sold in a manner where you just pay for the dedicated infrastructure. Cable users can even just sign up for a service which has just the Internet service provided over the cable-TV infrastructure without the need to sign up for a pay-TV service.

Most of these services will require the installation of the necessary infrastructure and/or consumer-premises equipment if such infrastructure and equipment isn’t in place already. These services may also earn their keep if an ISP who offers naked / dry-loop DSL service won’t provide the service to a premises where there isn’t already an active telephone service.

Naked / Dry-loop DSL service

But you can use a DSL-based service which uses existing telephone wires, whether this is ADSL-based or VDSL as part of a fibre-copper next-generation broadband service. Here, you would need to sign up for a “naked DSL” service, also known as a “dry-loop” or standalone DSL service. These are provided in a manner where you don’t receive and pay line-rental for a classic landline telephone service, also known as a “dial-tone”. Rather, the telephone lines are used just for the DSL data service and some service providers may provide a “fully-optimised” DSL service which uses the whole bandwidth of the telephone line for the DSL data service.

This same service may also apply to a household or business who has a surplus telephone line along with one used for a classic land-line telephone service. These may be brought about due to a line used for a fax machine or dial-up Internet service or simply a separately-billed phone service for someone else living at home or for your home business, but you may end up purposing this line for a “naked ADSL” Internet service.

What kind of service plan

As for the communications service you sign up to, you would focus on a “data-only” service, also known as a “broadband-only” or “Internet-only” service without the need for a VoIP telephony or pay-TV service if you just want the data service rather than any telephony or pay-TV services.

On the other hand, they may offer a VoIP telephony service with call charges that represent increased value for money or an IPTV service as part of the package. They can be optioned on if you do need these services. The VoIP service will be typically delivered with a router that has an integrated analogue-telephony-adaptor or DECT base-station which works with most consumer fixed-line telephony equipment.

What this allows you to do

The main advantages you would have with these services would be higher bandwidth that is more available as well as a service that gives better value-for-money than the mobile-broadband service. As well, you can use a broadband router that provides improved functionality like wired Ethernet connections and an improved Wi-Fi access point. This device even opens up paths for improving your home network like using a network-enabled printer or a network-attached storage device that works reliably.

For that matter, you can keep your mobile broadband service more or less as a portable broadband solution for whenever you are “on-the-go” and away from home.

Conclusion

It is still worth considering a wired broadband service for your home if your mobile phone is your main telephone handset. Here, you obtain a service that is independent of a classic telephone service such as one based on dedicated infrastructure like cable or a “naked-DSL” service.

La Réunion to benefit from VDSL2 courtesy of Orange

Article (French language / Langue Française)

Le VDSL2 d’Orange arrive à la Réunion | DegroupNews

Orange lance le VDSL2 à la Réunion | Clicano.re (La Réunion)

My Comments

France DOM-TOM courtesy France Government

France is even working on the overseas territories like La Réunion to raise the broadband capacity there

France Télécom (Orange) are now involved in deploying a VDSL2 next-generation broadband to La Réunion, one of France’s “Départements Outre-Mer” or overseas regions. This is part of an effort to raise the bar for Internet access in these regions such as this one which is near Madagascar.

Initially the service will pass 35000 households and businesses offering them 50Mb/s bandwidth and will be a “triple-play” Livebox package known as Magick, costing EUR€59 / month. The telephony component will provide unlimited calls to landlines and mobiles in La Réunion and mainland France along with unlimited calls to landlines only in other French Départements Outre-Mer regions and 50 other countries. There is the unlimited 50Mb/s Internet along with 50Gb online storage at Orange Cloud. As well, the TV component will also include the Deezer Premium online-content service.

At the moment, the subscribers have to be 1.6km from the exchange for this to work but Orange wants to double this target by 2015. This is in conjunction with a fibre-optic effort that is taking place in Saint-Denis to raise the bar here.

Personally I would like to see one or more of the other competing ISPs that are operating in L’Héxagone (mainland France) to target La Réunion and the other DOM territories for competitive service. This could then be an effort to reduce the price of a decent triple-play service in these territories.

Strong increase in the number of quadruple-play households in France

Article

4,7 millions de foyers français sont abonnés à une offre quadruple play | 01Net.com (France – French language) Flag of France

My Comments

What is”quadruple-play”? This term describes a communications service contract where a single service provider or their business partner is providing a customer four services, typically, a fixed telephone service, “hot and cold running” broadband Internet, pay TV and a mobile telecommunications service.

According to the artilcle, at the third quarter of 2013, there was a strong likelihood of one in six French households acquiring one of these “quadruple-play” services which would simply be an “n-box” single-pipe triple-play service with the pay-TV, unlimited telephone use and unlimited broadband along with a mobile telecommunications deal. It was described as being commensurate with the number of display screens in use in that household and has been made possible with attractive deals being offered in that market.

The penetration of the “quadruple-play” service in France as described in this French-language may be reflected in some of the developed world where real competition does exist in the telecommunications and pay-TV sectors. This is although the US, Britain and Norway had the similar mix of services in most of their households.

A question that I often think of the argument that some people put forward about running a mobile-only telephony and broadband setup in their homes or not running a fixed telephony service or fixed broadband service in the face of the mobile telecommunications services.

These services would be engaged or retained by their customers if it is found that the price is right when it come to retaining them especially if they are part of a “many eggs in one basket” solution.  For example, a fixed broadband service used alongside a wireless router may offer better value for money when it comes to Internet service at home while a fixed telephony service may offer improved prices for outgoing calls, a reliable telephone service, alongside a “catch-all” phone number to contact the household at.

Personally, I encourage people to investigate the multiple-play telecommunications services when they are assessing their communications-service plans so they can look ay ways to “bundle” the services they use together with their favourite carriers.