Net neutrality: New Talks With the FCC, Google and Verizon

hares fighting obout net neutrality Net neutrality is very controversial pitting broadband providers against internet companies. The providers claim they are paying billions of dollars for networks that internet companies make money from and they should be able to control and charge fees for the type of data that travels over their networks.

I strongly believe in net neutrality. It is what the internet was build on and it should be looked at like a utility. The electric company doesn’t charge you more if you want to plug in a machine they didn’t make. The water company doesn’t charge you a different price depending on what you do with the water. The phone company doesn’t charge you various prices based on the language or words you use when you talk on the phone. You pay for their service/connection.

What do you think? Should broadband providers be allowed to regulate traffic?
Or should net neutrality prevail?

Read more about Net Neutrality: Source: Google, Verizon near net neutrality plan

How the Internet Makes our Lives Better

This past Thursday morning I attended the Lancaster PA Tweetup and ended up talking with another twitterer @LancasterHomes (Jeff Geoghan) about the book he is reading: The 4-Hour Workweek. We talked a lot about ways to simplify, improve and even automate things in your life to give you more time to do what you really want to do. There are some radical ideas in the book, but it got me thinking.

In what ordinary ways has the internet simplified life?

So when I arrived at the office Thursday morning, one of the first things I did was Tweeted and posted on the following question on Facebook:

“I know this is a pretty broad question, but here goes. How do you use the internet to make your life easier?”

I had some great answers too:

“I use the internet to find locations and people. This makes getting to who & where easier.” -@OttomatedSuccess (Melissa Otto)

“It has made finding information, both useful and useless, extremely easy. discovering music, events, people, etc takes seconds.” -@AdamChlan

“Driving directions, travel information, banking, movie information/ticket purchase, student research (wife/kids), working remotely when necessary. None of the rest of the stuff we do makes our lives easier, just more fun” -Andy Woolley

“Living in a rural area it is great for shopping and banking.” -Charles Coe

For me there are a many things ways that the internet has made my life easier or better. Here are just a few:

  • Comunication:
    • Brought me closer to people that are in another part of the world:
      video calls with Skype
    • Online support calls so I don’t have to drive 2 hours to a client site
    • Telephone: Voice over IP or VOIP
  • Entertainment:
    • Video and tv anywhere
    • Listen to radio stations and watch tv stations from Germany.
  • Online banking
  • Driving Directions
  • And essentially I can work from anywhere in the world!

What has your Internet connection done for you lately?

Cable and Phone Companies Crying Like Babies.. Again

Just read an article put out by the associated press. “Summary Box: Broadband funds draw complaints

“THE COMPLAINTS: Some phone and cable companies complain that the money is sometimes being used to fund networks that will compete with services they already offer.”

So, the phone and cable companies complain that other company’s are using their networks to make money and they should be allowed to filter this traffic the way they see fit. Their argument is that they are building expensive networks and others are making money on their networks while they alone carry the burden of building and supporting the networks. But, really, this is a way they can filter out and kill their competition. Then they receive money from the government to support their “expensive networks”, but that’s not enough. Now they are whining that the money is creating competition for them. This just has the stink of monopoly all over it. Especially since many of the companies have regional monopolies or near monopolies.

Related articles:
Comcast vs. Net Neutrality: Why is Comcast So Scared?
Net Neutrality Takes a Blow
Net Neutrality — A Letter to US Senator Arlen Specter

Net Neutrality Takes a Blow

I just read an article about FCC’s battle for net neutrality. FCC loses key ruling on Internet `neutrality’
After reading the article, I’m again frustrated that so many people (apparently including some judges) don’t understand the severity of the issue.

Tuesday’s unanimous ruling by the three-judge panel was a setback for the FCC because it questioned the agency’s authority to regulate broadband. That could cause problems beyond the FCC’s effort to adopt official net neutrality regulations.

It baffles me that they don’t understand that the FCC is pushing an open system. The large ISPs are only looking out for themselves and instead of innovating they are trying to block other companies that have proven to be more innovative then they are. It’s like the kid on the playground that doesn’t get his way and says “I’m taking my ball and going home, so no one else can play.”

I’ve written about this a number of times. Below is my comment on the recent article. Plus check out these links for other posts on the subject:
Comcast vs. Net Neutrality: Why is Comcast So Scared?
Net Neutrality: A Letter to US Senator Arlen Specter

Comment:

It’s amazing to me to see how many people don’t understand what Net neutrality really is about. Comcast, Verizon and other ISPs want to be allowed to decide what types of data can travel over their networks. That’s would be like Ford saying well we helped build this road so we are only going to allow Fords to travel on it. Or the electric company saying you’re using our wires to power products that were built by some company we don’t like. Sorry you electric might work today.. maybe not though. Or the water company saying you’re using a Brita filter. Ok, then your water pressure is going to be a trickle. I could on, but what it really does is allows the ISPs to crush their competition. Let’s look at VOIP (voice over internet protocal) services or internet phones as an example. Where I am, I basically have two choices. Comcast or Verizon. Both companies offer VOIP. So if they were allowed to decide the speed and what data is allowed to travel across their networks they could crush companies like Vonage, or even Skype. Giving them an unfair advantage because they “own the pipes” Do you remember what phone prices were before Vonage and Skype? One of their biggest complaints is Google. First of all do you think Google is running off a dial up or pirated internet connection. You better believe they are paying to get into the network. Furthermore, look at all the free stuff they give away, and does anyone at Comcast. Or maybe they want to slow down Google’s data because they a deal with Yahoo for their search.

Bottom line allowing the ISPs to filter data on their networks is bad for everyone. Wake up people. The FCC is trying to help consumers. Stand up and let them know that you don’t want to be told what you can and can’t access online. The link below is to a letter I sent to my state senator Arlen Specter. After seeing this ruling I’m planning on sending it again. Here’s a quote from my letter:

“I commend the FCC for taking a stand with Comcast. Comcast is a huge business that in most areas operates almost as a monopoly, yet they continue to cry that their infrastructure is being unfairly used. They claim that companies and people are getting a free ride on their pipeline. I always get a kick out of how they try to justify the policy of slowing down different types of traffic just because that type is popular. One example is Google. They talked about implementing a way to slow traffic to companies such as Google and then charging them a higher fee so that the traffic will run at normal speeds. That sounds like a form of racketeering, which is not unlike what the mob does when they force people to pay for protection. ‘Protection from what?’, you ask. In actuality the money being paid is to protect the victims from the mob itself. “

Get More Exposure for Your Website and Company Name: A LinkedIn Tip

I use LinkedIn regularly. You can find me here. Bryan Coe As an entrepreneur and a business owner I use it to promote my business. I’ve noticed that many people are missing out on a simple way to increase exposure for their company name and website. There is an option to display your website on your profile. When you edit this you have several choices.

linkedin edit website view

Most people choose the “My Website” or “My Company” or any of the “My whatever” choices. Then you are stuck with it showing on their profile this way too. If you choose “Other:” you are given the option to give it a custom title (see above). Then it looks like below.

linkedin website profile view

This looks more professional and shows off the real name of the website you are linking. It helps increase the keyword density for your company name on the page. It also gives you a more relevant link back to your site. Both things are important factors for placement in search engine results. You could even use keywords in the title for a better link. In my case Localization or Translation would be good.

Want the printable version of this post? Get More Exposure for Your Website and Company Name: A Quick Tip For LinkedIn Users

Net Neutrality — A Letter to US Senator Arlen Specter

After seeing the news article “FCC rules Comcast violated Internet access policy” I was reminded of the importance of net neutrality. So since I’m located in Pennsylvania, I decided to right US Senator Arlen Specter. You can read my letter below.

Dear Mr. Specter,

After seeing the news article this morning “FCC rules Comcast violated Internet access policy” this morning I was reminded of the importance of “net neutrality”. I commend the FCC for taking a stand with Comcast. Comcast is a huge business that in most areas operates almost as a monopoly, yet they continue to cry that their infrastructure is being unfairly used. They claim that companies and people are getting a free ride on their pipeline. I always get a kick out of how they try to justify the policy of slowing down different types of traffic just because that type is popular. One example is Google. They talked about implementing a way to slow traffic to companies such as Google and then charging them a higher fee so that the traffic will run at normal speeds. That sounds like a form of racketeering, which is not unlike what the mob does when they force people to pay for protection. “Protection from what?”, you ask. In actuality the money being paid is to protect the victims from the mob itself.

The idea of slowing different types of traffic could also be equated to Microsoft saying you can install any program on a Windows computer, but you will have to pay MS more money so the software will run correctly.

Companies like Comcast feel that they can’t support their networks with the fees they are charging, but their fees continue to go up and they continue to see profits and growth. Comcast Reports First Quarter 2008 Results Furthermore do they really think that Google and friends are not paying for their connection the internet? I would be interested in seeing the numbers on how much they pay to keep all their data centers connected… It’s not like they are running a billion dollar business on a dial up connection that costs them only a few dollars a month. Plus, all those people using Google, are they not paying for their connection as well?

As a business owner myself I support finding creative ways for new revenue, but it has to be done in an ethical manner. If the telcos are allowed to decide at what speed traffic travels over their networks it will stifle the economy. There are number of reasons this is true. For instance, the US has become a service economy and many of those services are performed via the internet. Many companies live or die by their ability to reach customers online. There is also a big conflict of interest for the telcos/cable companies. For example a company such as the VOIP breakthrough Vonage could be squashed out of existence if Comcast decided they wanted to hinder Vonage’s VOIP traffic. Since Comcast also has a VOIP service this would give them an unfair advantage. Then where does it stop? The telcos could start picking off different markets by eliminating their competition in this manner.

Then fundamental idea of the internet is based on neutrality. This has created new economies, new markets and new jobs. Allowing the telcos/cable cos to hold companies and individuals hostage would be disservice to the country and its people.

For further information about net neutrality please visit: savetheinternet.com

Best regards,
Bryan Coe

Blackbird e-Solutions Works With YSN.com to Create Buttons for Their Members.

I am a member of a number of online networking sites such as LinkedIn, Xing, as well as the up and coming YSN: Your Success Network. YSN was spawned from the NY Times best selling book Secrets of the Young & Successful: How to Get Everything You Want Without Waiting a Lifetime. It is a network site for developing relationships with like mined people who are driven for success. You can also find a experts and mentors or even be a mentor. (Find out more…)

Recently I wanted to add a link to my personal and company blog to share my profile, but when I looked around on the YSN site I noticed they don’t have any pre-made buttons. So, with YSN’s approval we have created some of our own. You can see one of them in action if you look over to the right side of the page. So far we have created two buttons, but there will be more on the way soon. If you would like to get some for your own site follow the link below:

YSN Buttons

Language Learning Meets Social Networking

It seems lately everyone is turning to the internet for networking. It all started with the hugely popular social networking site; MySpace. Now there is also FaceBook which comes in as number two for social networking in the US. If you want something a bit more professional, there are a number of sites geared towards business networking: LinkedIn, Xing and YSN. To name a few. The idea of such sites is to help people connect and network. In the case of the business sites; To find business opportunities, finding a new job, new employee or simply just to network with other professionals in your field. The social sites are used to connect with your friends, meet new people, promote a band or an event and so much more…

The latest addition to the networking site realm is language learning. Language sites have been popping up recently and becoming quite popular. Two example are soZiety and xLingo. The two sites are similar in nature, as they are both platforms for language exchange. The basic features of both sites also comparable. Each member sets up a profile where they list the languages in which they are fluent or experienced as well as languages they would like to learn or improve. In addition there are various ways of communicating: Email, IM (instant messaging) and voice (Skype). Members are then able to find each other via the search functions and then connect in the form they prefer. Other features include blogs (many people use their blog to give free language tips and lessons), chat rooms and flash cards. The flash cards are created by members and can be used by everyone. Both sites also offer a group section where users can set up groups based on common interests.
SoZiety also offers a few features not found on xLingo. For example, on both sites members can friend each other although SoZiety also allows you to rate other members. Two other additional features are a multimedia section and translation services. In the multimedia section you can link to videos and other media that you would like to share. The translation services feature has two parts. The first is a simple online translating tool (Actually Google Language Tools built into the site). The second is for full documents. Here you can upload files that you want translated including the deadline and amount offered to pay for the translation. The only feature from xLingo not found on SoZiety seems to be the forums area. I believe this part of the site is still under development as the design doesn’t seem to match the rest of the site and the Google Adwords block at the top of the page is in the wrong format. Currently it is vertical, where it should be horizontal.

So far I have only found one point where that concerns me about the sites. It has to do with the Skype function. I have only used it on SoZiety so far. When you add your Skype login to the sites, other members can see your online status. I am online pretty much all the time and unfortunately when I actively share Skype status on the site I found I received what is called Skype Spam. That’s when someone skypes you so they can send you a link to go to a site to sell something or even worse a malicious site. When I turned off my Skype options in my profile this stopped. I researched a little about who was spamming me and it did not appear to be a member of the site. Admittedly it has been some time since I used this feature, but it would be great if the Skype login was hidden from others. It should be possible to connect to other via the site without revealing your ID. The last time I spoke with the developers of SoZiety they were working on this.

Overall both sites are a great way to connect with others and to boost your language skills, with soZiety slightly in the lead with it’s additional features. They are both valuable tools for people who want to practice a language with native speakers, especially if you live in a location where you may not have any direct contact with anyone who speaks the language.

Yahoo! Go 2.0: A Big Disappointment

Like many people in business I have a smart phone. I don’t have a blackberry, instead I have the 8125 pocket pc from Cingular(now AT&T). The phone is a life line for business. It keeps me connected at all times where ever I am. I have my work email as well as a personal account set up as an IMAP accounts. The IMAP accounts are configured to automatically check for mail and notify me when I receive anything new.
However, my primary personal account is a Yahoo! Mail account. I use Yahoo! Mail suite for a lot of things including business. The suite includes a calendar, notes, tasks and an address book with options to enter email addresses, phone numbers and snail mail. I use the calendar and tasks functions for personal as well business. With Yahoo Go 1.0 I had live access to the full suite anytime anywhere and it synced directly with my phone.

For months maybe even close to a year, I have been using Yahoo’s service called Yahoo! Go 1.0. The service was great, because I was able to sync my calendar, notes, tasks, email and address book directly between my phone and my Yahoo! account. The software could be configured to periodically check for new email, and functioned like a POP3 or IMAP account. Plus, when it checked for new email the other functions were also synced on the fly. Pocket PCs have the ability to sync with MS Outlook, but this can’t be done on the fly like Yahoo! Go 1.0 worked. So, Yahoo! had me using their email service almost exclusively for my personal mail, appointments and for the address book.

Unfortunately this service has recently been discontinued and replaced with a new service: Yahoo Go! 2.0. The new service is blotted, slow, cumbersome and isolated. You can no longer directly sync anything with your phone. To check my mail I have to log into their slow memory eating software. Then navigate to the mail function and manually check my email. There seems to be an option in the mail settings called “Push email”. I’m not sure where it is “Pushed”… certainly not my phone. There is another setting called “Message alert”. Again, I’m not sure what the function is for as it isn’t notifying me when I receive a message. I still have to load the software to check mail. Granite the Cingular 8125 is not the most powerful phone on the market anymore, but the Yahoo! Go 2.0 software is so buggy that periodically when loading it will freeze the phone and reset the time and date to May 2000. Incidentally the phone is only 1 year old. Furthermore there doesn’t seem to be anyway to turn off functions that I do not use. (Unless I missed something.) I have no need for entertainment news, sports news or flicker. Yes, they may be interesting options and many people may use them, but why can’t the user streamline the software, so it only loads the functions they want?

Yahoo! is seemingly trying to emulate the functions of the iPhone. That might be a good idea if the software was integrated into the phone. Right now, that is definitely not the case. Yahoo! Go 2.0 has been such a disappointment for me that, after using Yahoo! Mail as my personal account for many years, I am considering, moving to another account that will directly sync with my phone. I don’t have time for blotware, as it slows down productivity and causes more headaches than it is worth. I sincerely hope that Yahoo! realizes what functionality is really important to their customers and adjusts it’s strategy accordingly.

Is Google Getting Too Big For Comfort?

These days it seems that Google has it’s hands in everything. Their latest interest is the radio frequencies that the FCC is auctioning. The frequencies is used for the old UHF television spectrum. Google sent lobbyists to Washington in order to give a hard push for Google’s interests. They promised the FCC that they would bid $4.6 billion for the spectrum only if the FCC followed their rules. Imagine, Google dictating to the FCC as to what it should do.

There are four points to their terms that require the FCC to ensure that the new parcels of spectrum be “open platforms”. #1 Consumers need to be able to use any device they want. #2 The devices would support software like browser and e-mail. #3 The operators of the new networks would be required to lease some of their spectrum to other providers. #4 And last but not least, all networks would have to be compatible. -From Fortune Magazine article “Don’t Be Arrogant”

Sound familiar? It’s an attempt at the “New Net”. The traditional carriers were blindsided by Google’s demands. They’re outraged as they believe that if they pay billions for the new spectrum, shouldn’t they able to use it as they see fit? They also have issues with the idea of allowing any device to connect to the network. To companies like Verizon and AT&T these are very foreign concepts. In fact though, this mentality of proprietary networks and devices is one of the major reasons that the USA is behind Europe and even further behind Asia when it comes to wireless technology. The self interest of companies in the US has hampered the implementation of standards and slowed the development of the technology that runs the networks. One of the best things in Europe is that if the battery on your phone dies you can just pop your sim card into your buddies phone, even when he has service from a different company, and start calling. That way your buddy doesn’t have to worry about running up his phone bill. It all going through your sim card and your account. It is still amazing to me that some companies in the US don’t even use the sim card technology. Another example of the market in the US limiting itself with proprietary restrictions is shown in the highly publicized iPhone. Recently hackers were able to unlock the device so it could be used on any network. This will boost the sales of the iPhone. The way things currently work is when you get a new phone it is locked so you can’t use a card from another carrier. This limits the type of phone you can get when you sign up for service, depending on what company you use. Currently the iPhone is only being sold by AT&T.

The technology limitation of the US wireless market are not really the issue here. The question is whether or not Google has overstepped it’s boundaries by putting forth such demands for the new radio spectrum auction. Or wait, maybe it is really about the limitations the US market has put on itself…..

Google has always claimed to be working for the greater good. With their bold moves into book scanning, word processing software and now the wireless market (as well a many, many other areas), to some it has become unclear what the “greater good” is. Even better, for who’s “greater good” they are really working. In the case of wireless technology however, they make a valid point. Maybe now is the chance to the industry to move forward. If the US market would adopt a more uniform and open network, instead of the major carriers trying to go it alone and out do each other. We would all see a much more robust system in the US. The consumer(something I fear many of the wireless companies have forgotten about) would win big if this could be achieved. Being able to buy and phone you want for any carrier; a market for reselling your phone if you like to always have the newest phone; would be two of many positives. Yes, this would bring down many of the barriers restricting customers from jumping from one provider to another, something the carriers of course fear, but then that would force them to concentrate more on service. A novel idea, don’t you think?

So, to go full circle… Is Google Getting Too Big For Comfort? Most likely yes if you are a TelCo company. If you’re the average consumer, maybe not yet…