Tag: comcast

US redefines broadband

oldphoneThe US FCC has redefined the minimum spec required to define a service as broadband.
As part of its 2015 Broadband Progress Report, the raised the minimum download speeds needed from 4Mbps to 25Mbps, and the minimum upload speed from 1Mbps to 3Mbps.

At the stroke of a pen it triples the number of US households without broadband access and means there should be some jolly cross people miffed that they bought something they thought was broadband but isn’t.

Currently, 6.3 percent of US households do not have access to broadband under the previous 4Mpbs/1Mbps threshold, while another 13.1 percent do not have access to broadband under the new 25Mbps downstream threshold.

FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler was vehement in his support for the new broadband standard. “When 80 percent of Americans can access 25-3, that’s a standard. We have a problem that 20 percent cannot. We have a responsibility to that 20 percent.”

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said: “We are never satisfied with the status quo. We want better. We continue to push the limit, and that is notable when it comes to technology… as consumers adopt and demand more from their platforms and devices, the need for broadband will increase, requiring robust networks to be in place in order to keep up. What is crystal clear to me is that the broadband speeds of yesteryear are woefully inadequate today and beyond.”

However there is a push to make the minimum broadband standards far past the new 25Mbps download threshold, up to 100Mbps.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel thinks the new threshold should be 100Mbps.

However, that would anger the telcos and cable providers who currently call the shots on internet connections in the US. Many of them would prefer to see dial up defined as broadband. As it is changing the national broadband standards to 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up is a bold move for the FCC.

Companies like AT&T and Verizon, which employ DSL services to a notable number of their users and AT&T’s fastest DSL offerings only reach 6Mbps down, while Verizon’s DSL speeds top out at 15Mbps.

In a letter sent to the FCC last week, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) made known its objections to any changes to current broadband standards, stating that examples used by supporters of raising the broadband standards “dramatically exaggerate the amount of bandwidth needed by the typical broadband user.”
The NCTA told the FCC that 25Mbps down isn’t needed for 4K streaming and that users aren’t even interested in higher quality content yet and they will take what ever the suppliers will give them or else they will have to move somewhere else.

The US is currently ranked 25th in the world in broadband speeds, thanks mostly to the fact that the telcos have nearly monopolistic power in the US and politicians in their backpocket.


Comcast deal highlights US political corruption

comcast-center1The Comcast/Time Warner Cable deal is showing the extent of corporate control over corrupt US politicians in all its ugly glory – not that anyone seems to care.

According to The Verge three politicians sent letters to the Federal Communications Commission that were ghostwritten by Comcast. The letters were signed by the politicians that mimicked Comcast talking points and cut, and pasted Comcast’s own statements.

What was happening is that Comcast official sent the politicans the exact wording of the letter he would submit to the FCC,  finishing touches were put on the letter by a former FCC official named Rosemary Harold, who is now a partner at one of the nation’s foremost telecom law firms in Washington, DC. Comcast has hired Harold to draft letters that contained phrases that the FCC wanted to hear to approve the proposed merger.”

A letter from Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown “was almost wholly written by a Comcast Government Affairs specialist.” The other politician featured in the story was Mayor Jere Wood of Roswell, Georgia, whose letter to the FCC was written word for word by “a vice president of external affairs at Comcast.”

And what did the politicians get from signing the letter? Brown has received $9,500 from Comcast in donations, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

Advocacy groups generally haven’t made any secret of their signature gathering tactics, even issuing press releases boasting that as many as 400,000 people signed petitions urging regulators to reject the merger.

Of course, this is the Land of the Free so no one is resigning over what would be seen in civilised countries as bribery or, at the very least, subversion of democracy.


Comcast gets customers to pay its power bill

nikolapic US telco Comcast has a wizard way to set up public Wi-Fi hotspots on the cheap.  It thought it could get its customers to use their home routers to send a “secondary signal” and get a decent coverage.

Now it appears that some people have a problem with the comms company effectively powering its network on their electricity bill. They also feel that they are inviting a security problem and stuffing up their own internet connections.

Two East Bay residents are suing Comcast for plugging their home’s wireless router into what they call a power-wasting, Internet-clogging, privacy threatening network of public Wi-Fi hotspots.

Toyer Grear and daughter Joycelyn Harris, claims Comcast is “exploiting them for profit” by using their Pittsburg home’s router as part of a nationwide network of public hotspots.

Comcast is trying to compete with major mobile phone carriers by creating a public Xfinity WiFi Hotspot network in 19 of the country’s largest cities. The company is activating a second high-speed Internet channel broadcast from newer-model wireless gateway modems that residential customers lease from the company. It plans to spread to 8 million hotspots by the end of the year.

The secondary signal is supposed to be separate from the private Wi-Fi channel customers use, and it was intended for houseguests or Comcast subscribers who happen to be in range and using mobile devices.

But Comcast started activating the secondary channel in the Bay Area this summer and although Comcast has said its subscribers have the right to disable the secondary signal, the suit claims the company turns the service on without permission and places “the costs of its national Wi-Fi network onto its customers.”

The suit quotes a test conducted by Philadelphia networking technology company Speedify that concluded the secondary Internet channel will eventually push “tens of millions of dollars per month of the electricity bills needed to run their nationwide public Wi-Fi network onto consumers.”

Under heavy use, the secondary channel adds 30 to 40 percent more costs to a customer’s electricity bill than the modem itself.

The suit also said “the data and information on a Comcast customer’s network is at greater risk” because the hotspot network “allows strangers to connect to the Internet through the same wireless router used by Comcast customers.”

Although Comcast has said it has enough bandwidth to handle the extra traffic Grear and Harris have suffered from “decreased, inadequate speeds on their home Wi-Fi network.

The suit asks for unspecified damages and an injunction preventing Comcast from using home wireless routers for its hotspot network.




Comcast declares war on Tor

Newspaper Seller, 1939The most popular telco in the US, famous for its happy customers and commitment to a positive future for an open internet, Comcast has declared war on the encrypted system Tor.

Comcast agents have contacted customers using Tor and instructed them to stop using the browser or risk being cut off.

According to Deep Dot Web one Comcast agent named Jeremy insisted Tor an “illegal service” and was against usage policies. The Comcast agent then repeatedly asked the customer to tell him what sites he was accessing on the Tor browser. Of course the customer told him to go forth and multiply.

What is scary is that Comcast knew that any customer was using Tor. This would mean that Comcast is spying on the online activities of its users.

There is some bad blood between Tor and Comcast. The Tor project has listed Comcast as a Bad ISP. The Tor project cited Comcast’s Acceptable Use Policy for its residential customers which claims to not allow servers or proxies.

A Comcast spokesperson insisted that the outfit did respect customer privacy and security and would only investigate the specifics of a customer’s account with a valid court order.

However, this did not happen in the case of Comcast’s treatment of Ross Ulbricht, alleged Dread Pirate Roberts.

Comcast previously collaborated with the FBI by providing information on alleged Silk Road mastermind Ross Ulbricht’s internet usage. Ulbricht was most certainly never given a warning by Comcast or given time to contact a lawyer before he was arrested in a San Francisco library last October.