Tuesday, December 28, 2010

FCC Net Neutrality Order Rules - Transparency

I've held back writing about the new FCC order because I wanted some time to digest what it all means. With the holidays I have not had a lot of time to take a real good look. This post is my first attempt at explaining how the order will impact people like myself - the average consumer.

The 194 page Report and Order document approved by the FCC on 12/21/10 was released on 12/23/10. The Report and Order lays out three basic rules that, according to the FCC, are grounded in broadly accepted Internet norms, as well as FCC prior decisions. Here they are:

  1. Transparency. Fixed and mobile broadband providers must disclose the network management practices, performance characteristics, and terms and conditions of their broadband services;
  2. No blocking. Fixed broadband providers may not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices; mobile broadband providers may not block lawful websites, or block applications that compete with their voice or video telephony services; and
  3. No unreasonable discrimination. Fixed broadband providers may not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic.

I've written in the past about the FCC net neutrality -this new order is a compromise of a 2009 FCC proposal that was countered with a proposal from Google and Verizon. Technically it actually dates back to February 2004 when then FCC Chairman Michael Powell gave a speech titled Preserving Internet Freedom: Guiding Principles for the Industry where he laid out his vision of the broadband Internet and what he called the four Internet Freedoms in response to calls for some type of network neutrality.

In this post I'll look at just the transparency rule. Here's a quote pulled frowm page 88 of the Report and Order.

A person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service shall publicly disclose accurate information regarding the network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of its broadband Internet access services sufficient for consumers to make informed choices regarding use of such services and for content, application, service, and device providers to develop, market, and maintain Internet offerings.
Sounds good right? Not so quick. Stacey over at Gigaom.com has put together a nice review titled Who Wins and Loses Under the FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules. Here's a piece from her post:

  • The FCC doesn’t go as far as to establish a so-called Schumer Box for broadband which would disclose speeds or details in some type of consumer-friendly standardized language, but it does say an ISP must disclose on their websites and at the point of sale how it manages congestion on its network, the speeds it offers and what types of applications would work over those speed packages.
  • The FCC needs to explain how a user might trigger security restrictions, how the ISP inspects its traffic generally and how an aggrieved end user might address issues with the ISP.
  • An ISP must also show how its own VoIP or IPTV services affect how it delivers broader Internet traffic.
  • The FCC outsources the tracking of violations of these rules to consumers and engineers. It provides the enforcement, but isn’t going to hunt down the problems, it seems.
  • Since transparency is the foundation of this whole order, the lack of a standard framework that’s easily understood by end users is bad for consumers.
  • Outside applications and watchdog groups can fill in the gap and may find the task easier with these rules.

Overall Higginbotham says the transparency rule is good for carriers, because it’s minimally invasive in terms of how they market their services, yet poor for consumers, because it won’t help the average user much, and good for tech-savvy edge service providers who will have the information needed to build apps for certain networks.

I'll review the no blocking rule in my next post.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Simulation and Modeling in Technology Education (SMTE) Project Production Video

Here's a recording of a panel session presentation by Jim Kiggens, describing the project production work.

 Follow along via the project website at http://gaming2learn.org/

Simulation and Modeling in Technology Education (SMTE) Project

Here's an overview video of the  Survival Master game for STEM learning.

You can follow along via the project website at http://gaming2learn.org/

Sunday, December 19, 2010

WikiLeaks Update with Sam Bowne

Last week at the Convergence Technology Center's Winter Retreat at Collin College in Frisco, Texas Sam Bowne from City College of San Francisco gave a brief description and update on the WikiLeaks "situation" thus far. Here's Sam's excellent 16 minute and 51 second presentation.



This video is also available as a podcast. If you have iTunes installed you can listen to and subscribe to our podcasts by clicking here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Maximizing Your Twitter Experience - 10 Quick Tips Podcast

Last Thursday (12/2/10) evening , Mike Q and I recorded a podcast titlted Maximizing Your Twitter Experience - 10 Quick Tips. We also discuss some recent technology updates including:

You can listen to the 36.5 minute podcast in your browser by clicking the play button below:

If you have iTunes installed you can listen to and subscribe to our podcasts by clicking here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Simulation and Modeling in Technology Education (SMTE) Project

This is a temp demo video for the Survival Master game for STEM learning - Knowledge and Skills Builder 2B - Surface Area Heat Flow Challenge level. In this single player platformer level, the learner uses knowledge about heat flow for shapes based upon surface area - to negotiate unlocking a series of elevators and catapulting across a pit of solvent hazard to complete the level and earn energy bonus points and achievements.

You can follow along via the project website at http://gaming2learn.org/

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Simulation and Modeling in Technology Education (SMTE) Project

This is an overview of the design of the Survival Master multiplayer game level, which is a small team survival shelter engineering challenge that incorporates the STEM skills developed in the four single player "knowledge and skills builder" levels for shape volume and surface area, conductive heat flow, insulators, and structural stability and integrity.

You can follow along via the project website at http://gaming2learn.org/

Friday, December 3, 2010

WikiLeaks and DNS

[Notes: Click images for higher resolution. This post was originally published on 12/3/10, then edited and repost-ed on 12/7/10.]

We all probably have some idea and opinion (de
pending on particular sources) about what is going on with WikiLeaks and the exposing of hundreds of thousands of classified US state documents. I'll keep my personal opinions private here. Technically it has been interesting to watch the cat and mouse game and I thought it would be good to diagram how DNS works.

EveryDNS.net, a U.S. DNS provider pulled WikiLeaks from it's database, claiming constant denial of service took the controversial site offline earlier today, claiming that the constant hacking attacks were so powerful that they were damaging its other customers.

What's DNS and why is it so important? I always describe DNS as basically an internet telephone book - it keeps track of site names (URLs) and the IP addresses of the servers hosting those sites. It is something that is not required to access websites but makes it a lot easier because users only have to remember site names and don't have to remember long IP addresses. You get access to DNS with a web connection from your provider. There are also some good alternative DNS providers you can access as long as you have an internet connection. Here's a diagram I made up showing how it works.
Is DNS required to access websites? No. You can still get to a site by typing in the IP address of the site.

I've got an earlier post on DNS linked here that you may also find interesting.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

FCC Chairman - Net Neutrality Proposed Rules

I've written here in the past about Net Neutrality and the issues. Yesterday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced a set of proposed rules to protect the open Internet. Here's a summary of Genachowski's announcement with pieces taken from a post by Nick Farrell:

  • Genachowski will present the principle that broadband companies shouldn't block or degrade rival web content, services or applications to a vote that will be held on 21 December.
  • The compromise rules in theory mean that US Internet users can use peer-to-peer software and see whatever websites they like and use any equipment they like on their cable or DSL connections.
  • Carriers and ISPs will be barred from slowing down or blocking content from competitors. The ISPs will also have to be transparent about how they manage congestion on their networks to ensure that anti-competitive behavior isn't being disguised.
Sounds good so far but is it enough? Carriers will still be allowed to create paid fast lanes on the net and the FCC is not reclassifying the Internet as a "telecommunications service", which would have given the FCC clear authority to enforce its rules.

According to Farrrell, Genachowski has the support of Cisco CEO John Chambers, AT&T senior executive VP Jim Ciccono, and Comcast EVP David Cohen. The Communication Workers of America is also in support with a petition you can sign here. Not everyone thinks it goes far enough though. Sascha Meinrath, director of the New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative has a post over at Wired. Here's a quote from Meinrath's piece:

Without fundamental changes to the current order, the Chairman’s proposal will be a great victory for the largest telecom corporations and a sound defeat for those working to support innovation and the economic vibrancy that an open Internet facilitates. The New America Foundation is hopeful that the Chairman’s office and Commissioners that support open Internet rules will develop a final order that uphold the FCC’s responsibility to protect consumers and Internet freedom.

In order to take effect, the proposal must be approved by a majority of the
five FCC commissioners . Here's how Wireless Week breaks down that vote if it were to happen today.
  • There’s no way Genachowski will vote against a proposal he himself introduced and has fought so hard for. He's a YES.
  • Michael Copps issued the most carefully-worded statement of the bunch, but so far he’s been a big proponent of Genachowski’s net neutrality push and it’s unlikely he’ll back out now. Also a YES.
  • Mignon Clyburn seemed to be in favor of the plan, saying “clear rules of road are absolutely necessary.” Another YES.
  • Meredith Baker and Robert McDowell came out against the idea in comments filed today. That is two NOs.
Right now it looks like it would pass 3-2. We'll see what happens on December 21.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Simulation and Modeling in Technology Education (SMTE) Project

Work continues on the SMTE Project. Here's a video giving a  brief overview of the Survival Master game, Physical Modeling Curriculum and Hybrid Model.

 Follow along via the project website at http://gaming2learn.org/