AT&T to Launch Gigabit Internet Service in Los Angeles

GigaPowerCompetition folks. I want more competition. AT&T is pushing forward with their GigaPower fiber internet roll out, and it looks like a major ISP finally has their sights on the Los Angeles Metro area.

“Fast, affordable Internet is essential for today’s cities,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Having high-speed digital communications infrastructure is as important as ensuring that we can efficiently deliver electricity, transportation, clean water, and lighted streets to Angelenos. The ultra-fast AT&T Gigapower service will help L.A.’s students, entrepreneurs, and families succeed and help our city’s economy grow.”

Starting with West Palm Beach, Big Blue will be expanding their gigabit footprint over 2016 for businesses and residential areas. This expansion follows their merger with DirectTV which U-Verse customer can subscribe to for multimedia content.

It’s exciting news for those of us in Southern California. Hopefully soon we’ll have more competition for faster broadband services. You can read the full press release below. Continue reading “AT&T to Launch Gigabit Internet Service in Los Angeles”

Google Unleashes Video Quality Report Site Showcasing Under-Performing ISPs

google video quality report siteFollowing in Netflix’s footsteps, Google has launched a site to report average Youtube streaming speeds. It allows consumers to compare performance between different providers in their area.

This is a tactical play by Google who recently signed off on a letter supporting Net Neutrality in the face of the FCC’s proposed “Fast lane” rules. It’ll provide customers an additional tool to shop service (at least for those people who have more than one option in their area). Based on location, you can see which companies are providing more HD, standard definition, or low def video streams.

In a climate where Americans often pay more for service than other developed nations, and receive slower speeds, providing shoppers more info is handy as ISP’s usually only discuss what their theoretical maximum download is.

You can check out your area here

FCC Backpedals on Net Neutrality: The Death of the Fair Internet

FCCBroken by the Wall Street Journal, in a disappointing turn around from their previous position on protecting fair pricing and net neutrality, the FCC will be proposing new rules allowing internet carriers to negotiate individual rates with content providers for a guaranteed “high speed lane”.

This means a company like Netflix will have to undergo distinct negotiations with TimeWarner, Verizon FiOS, Comcast, and every other ISP, to pay additional rates for bandwidth and to reduce the threat of their service getting throttled.

ISP’s can also negotiate separate rates for different services, meaning they can be the gate keepers. They can decide which services will be successful on their networks. If they choose, blocking certain services from competing.

Say Comcast wants to promote their own video-on-demand service, why not quadruple the rate Netflix pays for a consistent data stream? If Netflix doesn’t pay it, you can throttle the service which will upset their customers. If they do pay it, chances are pretty good they’ll eventually have to pass those costs down to their customers also upsetting them. It’s a win win for nobody except the ISPs.

This could also have a chilling effect on innovation, as any successful start up which requires any consistent bandwidth will likely be priced out of the market before they have a chance to actually build a fan base.

The proposal was drafted by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, and will be distributed to the four other FCC commissioners Thursday where it can be amended. After the amending process it will be up for a final vote on May 15th.

For those interested, here’s where you can find contact information for the members of the FCC.

Kansas Legislature Trying to Stall Fiber Internet Outside of Kansas City?

Google-Fiber1Hey Google. If the rest of Kansas doesn’t want Fiber, might I suggest breaking up some of the monopolies here in Southern California? Maybe? Think about it OK?

I try not to soapbox politically too often on this site, but network infrastructure is one of my trigger topics, especially when business and politics meet preventing a level playing field and stifling competition.

The “municipal communications network and private telecommunications investment safeguards act” would seek to prevent other municipalities in Kansas from offering the same kinds of incentives Kansas City provided Google. Of course, the boilerplate goals of the bill all triumph protecting consumer interests, and providing services through “fair competition”, and letting the established ISP market decide what fair rates are for that service.  Continue reading “Kansas Legislature Trying to Stall Fiber Internet Outside of Kansas City?”

“Consumer Choice in Online Video Act” to prevent ISP’s from throttling competing services like Netflix

senator jay rockefellerA bill submitted Tuesday to the Senate looks like it could address several concerns we netizens have regarding the future of digital media and our relationships with internet service providers.

The “Consumer Choice in Online Video Act” presented by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) would make it illegal for ISP’s to engage  “in unfair methods of competition or unfair or deceptive acts or practices” as it pertains to online video and other services.

Some feel there’s a conflict of interest when  company like Verizon for example, offers their own media service while maintaining the connection for competing services. Senator Rockefeller’s bill looks like it could  intersect Venn Diagram style with the FCC’s Open Internet order which Verizon is currently fighting in court. Verizon is arguing they have a first amendment right to knowingly degrade the connection for competitors utilizing their network. The FCC is claiming they have the authority to monitor and enforce net neutrality.

It’s very possible that Verizon might be able to successfully argue that the FCC does not have the authority to enforce net neutrality, so it looks like this Consumer Choice act could be a fall back position for those wanting to protect online services and competition. The bill would also include some helpful consumer additions like simpler clearer billing, more accurate usage monitoring for usage based billing and capped plans, and more support for antenna rental / online cable alternatives like Aereo.

While it’s great seeing some politicians step up to the plate on net neutrality, and this bill would certainly be better than allowing ISP’s to rig bandwidth in their favor, one has to wonder why we don’t see legislation explicitly granting the FCC the regulatory authority to protect consumer interests in this space.

You can read the full bill here (63 page PDF): Consumer Choice in Online Video Act

Do you get all the bandwidth you pay for? The FCC will release a speed test app for you to check!

ookla speedtest app screen shotBandwidth speeds and prices are a touchy subject here in the states right now. People often are surprised to see that their expensive internet plan does not guarantee a consistent top tier of speed. If you have “50 megs innernet”, that only means that your connection can burst up to that speed, not that it can sustain that speed.

To help consumers figure out if they are actually getting what they pay for, the FCC is jumping into the app business. More details will be announced on November 14th during the release, but it looks like Android users will get first crack at the FCC test app. With users contributing test results, the FCC hopes to develop a national report card for carriers and ISP’s. Seeing as how we pay more for data access than most other industrialized countries and still deal with caps and throttling, it’ll be nice to see if we actually get what we pay for.

I’m certainly interested in seeing how the app compares to other speed test apps like Ookla’s app (shown to the right). Expect a full test when the FCC’s solution drops!

Can Los Angeles light up Fiber for the whole city? Free broadband internet for all?

Los Angeles winterDamn I hope this can work.

LA City Council officials are working on a Request for Proposals. They want companies to offer bids on an extremely ambitious project, namely lighting up fiber optic broadband internet for every business and residential area in the Los Angeles city limits. No piecemeal, staged, “testing” of the viability for the potential, to maybe, some day, consider, trying a starter market in one corner of a McMansion in Beverly Hills. They want to go whole hog, all or nothing.

The plan for the proposal so far would be to offer up a baseline low level service for everyone for free. It could be ad supported to offset costs, and most likely speeds would top out around 2Mbps, yet it would be available for everyone. This could be a huge boon for those in lower income neighborhoods, areas not often well supported by current ISP’s, and tremendously helpful in an economy where many have to choose between home internet and low cost cell phone service to remain competitive in the job market.

For those who can afford it, higher tiers of service will be made available, most likely topping out at gigabit bandwidth, resembling services like Google Fiber. This backbone could also be used to power WiFi hotspots in public areas.

The implications of such a move could be remarkable.  Continue reading “Can Los Angeles light up Fiber for the whole city? Free broadband internet for all?”

Google Fiber now explicitly allows home and home-based business servers

Google-Fiber1A nice little clarification for those folks lucky bastards  who get to use Google Fiber. There was a touch of confusion recently as Google has pushed the talking points surrounding the improvement of residential internet offerings, and there aren’t any publicly discussed plans to offer up business grade solutions.

This caused a bit of a ruffle as many indie and start up folks headed out to Kansas City to utilize these incredibly affordable (and stupid fast) internet plans. After making a transition like that, it would be understandably frustrating to find out that utilizing Google Fiber in a commercial building would be a violation of the TOS.

Of course many of us utilize home solutions for doing business on the internet, and now Google has clarified that running servers out of a home office is A-OK, so those looking to incorporate fiber can do so without fear of Goog pulling the plug.

Still no word on business solutions for commercial spaces. Who knows, maybe traditional ISP’s might be motivated to improve their corporate offerings. It could happen.

More info on the Google Fiber Blog.