Comcast tries to quiet efforts to reveal its astroturfing the FCC’s net neutrality proceedings

Hardly surprising that Comcast would sink to both astroturfing then trademark bullying to try to keep it hidden. Good reporting by Brodkin, especially that Fight for the Future has a solid legal precedent on their side. For now, Comcast seems to be backing off. More important is the remaining question of what the FCC will do with the proven faken comments in support of dismantling the net neutrality rules.

Read More …

More on Level 3 and Comcast

I saw in @radar‘s Twitter stream a re-tweet from @acroll that linked to a piece at GigaOM. Stacey Higginbotham gives Comcast much more the benefit of the doubt.

So what’s the issue? Level 3 told the world that Comcast had hit it up for more money in order to deliver traffic from Level 3′s customers (such as Netflix) to Comcast’s 17 million broadband subscribers. Level 3 said Comcast’s demand for more dough violated the principles of the Open Internet, which is shorthand for net neutrality. On the other side, Comcast, said Level 3 was trying to sell itself as a CDN while not having to pay fees to Comcast as other CDNs do. In short Level 3, was calling itself a CDN to its customers and a backbone provider to Comcast. This (plus the fact that Level 3 owns one of the largest Internet backbone networks) enabled it to undercut its competitors in the CDN business because it didn’t have to pay the fees that Akamai or Limelight did to get content onto Comcast’s network.

Maybe she is unusually sympathetic to Comcast, taking their side of the story at face value. One of my readers, who admitted to doing some consulting for the cableco, offer a few links to consider: Comcast’s letter to the FCC which includes an explanation Level 3 engaging in the same practice years prior, ten myths about Comcast’s possible reaction to Level 3’s current complaint and some more information from them on peering. Superficially these bolster the first point Stacey makes except that what little is mentioned of prior history reads like back biting and the other two blog posts are very heavy on the spin.

I think Stacey’s read on this is correct, that a staid industry is under increasing pressure to change based on consumer demand. As unfair as the Level 3 desires are compared to how Comcast claims to treat peering and transit with other CDNs–we only have their word as the deals in question are under NDA–we have to think more clearly about outcomes.

In this instance favoring disruption would seem to foster more growth than clinging to the status quo. I don’t know that Comcast would completely refuse to carry Level 3’s data, they certainly are refuting that idea, but they don’t have the best track record with customer service and honest competition. While this argument between the two companies is going on, for instance, a modem maker has now leveled a complaint about the cableco’s anti-competitive practices, according to Matthew Lasar at Ars Technica.

Asking Comcast to provide more hard details about their backbone carrying arrangements seems like a sane place to start. I for one am getting tired of invocations of this policy or that standard in the absence of useful information. Maybe this is a network neutrality fight, maybe it isn’t. Either way, we need more than PR statements to avoid the risk of a market failure leading to information service gridlock.

Comcast Demanding Rents from Online Video Provider

Cecilia Kang at the Post was one of many to cover this story. Level 3 provides video streaming services, most notably to Netflix. They are complaining that Comcast is asking for unfair fees to carry their content to the cable co’s network access subscribers. Comcast is already acting to muddy the waters, disputing the claim.

Comcast disputed Level 3’s claims, saying its demand for fees is unrelated to the content that Level 3 wants delivered to consumers.

“Comcast offered Level 3 the same terms it offers to Level 3’s content delivery network competitors for the same traffic,” Joe Waz, Comcast’s senior vice president for external affairs, said in a statement. “But Level 3 is trying to undercut its . . . competitors by claiming it’s entitled to be treated differently and trying to force Comcast to give Level 3 unlimited and highly imbalanced traffic and shift all the cost onto Comcast and its customers.”

We have no way to verify Comcast’s basis for these feeds. ISPs adversarial to notions of network neutrality regulations haven’t been exactly forthcoming with empirical, verifiable data to back their claims of congestion, the justification for either outright discriminatory traffic shaping or additional fees or both. Nate Anderson at Ars Technica has some further remarks from folks at both Comcast and Ars Technica. These are worth reading before jumping on the anti-Comcast bandwagon as they suggest the argument may have greater legitimacy in the context of what is normative for peering arrangements, rather than last mile access.

Kang mentions both the discussions over Comcast’s proposed merged with NBC/Universal and the network neutrality rulemaking that is ongoing at the FCC. The silver lining of this story, regardless of who is right between the two parties, is that it will continue to draw focus to the concerns underlying the calls for an open and neutral network.

Level 3 accuses Comcast of unfairly using its clout as the dominant U.S. cable provider, Washington Post

feeds | grep links > iPhone Apps Leak Personal Data Too, Monitoring Employees Online, Why Comcast Can Read Your Email, and More

  • Many top iPhone apps collect unique device ID
    I wondered about the reality of data leakage on the iPhone after last week’s story about a studio of Android apps that were snarfing up location data and other tidbits. Slashdot links to some research that answers that question, not surprisingly demonstrating that both mobile platforms suffer from these issues.
  • Monitoring employees’ online behavior
    Bruce Schneier links to a piece that I believe made the rounds late last week. It didn’t really catch my eye until you pulled out the two most interesting points. The first is the sort of social data mining being discussed isn’t just for workplace behavior but encroaches into the personal life of employees. The second is the usual fear based rhetoric being used to whip employers into a lather so they’ll more likely buy this load of nonsense instead of trusting and respecting the privacy of their workers.
  • Why Comcast can, but probably won’t, read your email
    Nate Anderson at Ars Technica draws attention to a clause in the cable operators Ts&Cs that shouldn’t be surprising at this point. He goes on, though, to ask them why they need the broad right to monitor customer communications. The answer should resonate with concern over the recent news of a renewed push by US law enforcers to gain broad, new info gathering powers over the net. If you think Comcast is covering its rear, now, imagine how much worse this could get.
  • Free Software Foundation turns 25, Slashdot
  • Malcom Gladwell critical of potential for social media to effect change
    Sara Perez was one of a few folks who linked to a piece by the author at the New Yorker. I cannot say I entirely disagree with Gladwell but I think the tools are immaterial. No new capability is going to spark motivation to act in and of itself or more critically fuel the determination to overcome challenges. That being said, I think he definitely underestimates how social networks and messaging can aid devoted change agents and possibly awake those who don’t realize they have a calling to act.
  • Technology cases on the Supreme Court docket, Wired
  • DC voting systems pwned by UMich researchers, Wired

Following Up for the Week Ending 8/8/2010

Following Up for the Week Ending 7/11/2010

Following Up for the Week Ending 6/13/2010

Following Up for the Week Ending 5/9/2010

Following Up for the Week Ending 5/2/2010

Following Up for the Week Ending 4/25/2010