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Monthly Archives: November 2013

18
Nov
2013

A New Round of Attacks on Net Neutrality Policy

by Administrator

net neutralityThe DC Circuit Court, which is just one step down from the United States Supreme Court, is hearing arguments in a case some believe may lead to striking down the nation’s Net Neutrality Law, which was officially adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2010 and has been in place since the earliest days of internet development. While the courts may yet decide to uphold the law in this particular case, many experts contend that it is only a matter of time before Net Neutrality is eventually litigated out of existence.

As conceived, Net Neutrality means that ISPs are required to provide the same level of throughput between content providers and consumers, but the owners of these “data pipes” often have their own content that they would prefer to send, or are simply looking for an additional revenue stream which would be available if they could charge site owners for feeding their bits to consumers faster, or as a way to hamper competition by throttling unaligned content providers’ throughput so as to make their in-house or allied content load faster and become more attractive to consumers instead.

As a small, but growing segment of the population “cuts the cord” and moves to receiving their entertainment through internet-based services like Hulu, Netflix and Net based providers, cable and telecom companies which have their own cable television-style entertainment packages on offer, would like nothing better than to be able to charge Netflix or other providers for premium speed and connectivity packages. Though their point of view seems to ignore the fact that consumers are already paying quite handsomely for broadband service as it is.

As previously reported here by NationalNet, Netflix accounts for more than 31% of all web traffic and YouTube accounts for nearly 19% of all web traffic. That means just from those two entities alone, half of all web traffic can expect to see worse service or higher prices if the Verizon case is decided in favor of the carriers.

The case presently before the court has been brought by Verizon, objecting to requirements that they practice nondiscrimination among websites and application sources. Based on the statements of the justices during the case’s oral arguments it would appear that the ruling will be made in favor of the phone and cable companies, while they will likely uphold the “no blocking” provision which prohibits ISPs from completely blocking access to non-preferred sites according to experts watching the case closely. That outcome would beg the question, is there really a difference between Verizon ‘blocking’ Netflix and Verizon simply making Netflix load 90% slower than a competing movie service owned by Verizon or one of it’s allies?

If the nondiscrimination rule is struck down, the implications for consumers and website owners will be profound. No longer will sites live or die on the merits of their content, as gatekeepers like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and other major players will be able to demand content providers pay up, or have their throughput slowed and their traffic turned away in droves – presumably, straight into the arms of in-house competition or other providers that have anteed up for a better data connection. Netflix, Hulu and iTunes in particular will have their business models turned upside down, as will any other high traffic low cost content provider. Cost will undoubtedly be passed on to consumers and for those who run commercial sites, a new pay to play model becomes particularly problematic, as users have shown very limited patience for slow page loading times, with 25% abandoning a page if it takes more than 4 seconds to load.

If left unfettered by the Net Neutrality rule, ISPs would be able to throttle any site for any reason, whether to strong-arm a fee, drive users to an in-house alternative or as part of some larger scheme. When questioned about his client shaking down site owners to provide reliable service, Verizon’s own lawyer in the case stated: “I’m authorized to state from my client today that but for these [FCC] rules we would be exploring those types of arrangements.”

If the court throws out the nondiscrimination rule, costs for site owners and consumers may rise significantly while innovation gets stifled. Even if upheld, Net Neutrality is still on shaky ground as there will always be a great deal of money at stake for those fighting to get it overturned, and this a war they clearly do not intend to lose.

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14
Nov
2013

Online P2P File Sharing and Piracy Traffic Plummeting?

by Administrator

piracy downloads are droppingIn 2002, peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing amounted to more than 60% of all web traffic, and fell to 31% five years ago according to Sandvine. Now, according to the most recent internet usage report, P2P traffic has dropped to as little as 10% of the total pool.

The shift from file sharing, which many entertainment and software companies believe is synonymous with “piracy”, has been accompanied by a full speed rise in sanctioned video streaming service traffic, with Netflix accounting for more than 31% of all web traffic and YouTube accounting for nearly 19% of all web traffic – totaling half of all downstream web traffic within North America.

It would appear that the convenience of high quality legal video streaming for a modest cost, where available, is preferred by consumers to the hassle of searching out files for free. It would also seem anecdotally that the high-profile prosecutions and campaigns to end digital piracy may have dissuaded some digital downloaders from seeking out “illegal” sources of entertainment.

Modern set top boxes, DVR convenience and other available technologies are also giving consumers easier access to the TV shows, movies, music and other digitized forms on entertainment they desire on demand. That increase in quality and convenience seems to be enough incentive enough for many to avoid risk of prosecution, when what they are looking for is already available legally for a just a few dollars.

This new paradigm is well underway in the developed economies of the Asia-Pacific region as well, with streaming entertainment accounting for 50% of downstream traffic and average data consumption at roughly double that of users in North America. In the UK, Netflix already accounts for 20% of downstream fixed network bandwidth, just two years after launching in the market.

ISPs are shifting strategies toward bundling immensely profitable entertainment products with their ISP services by attempting to eliminate Net Neutrality guidelines in a bid to bolster their own offerings or extract payments from content providers while attempting to move away from unlimited data service to charge consumers on a per-bit basis.

As the current traffic patterns cause companies to refocus their efforts, it seems the next battleground will be fought over the amount of consumption each customer can enjoy, the speed each site can provide, and the attempt by large entities to re-divide the pie – now that only 10% of the pie is being given away for free.

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06
Nov
2013

The Rockstar Consortium Sues Google Over Nortel Patent Infringement

by Administrator

The so-called Rockstar Consortium is the unlikely alliance of Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Ericsson and Sony – who bought a portfolio of more than 6,000 patents for 4.5 billion dollars. From Nortel, the bankrupt Canadian telecommunications company, during an asset sell-off in 2011. A bidding process that Google also took part in but ultimately failed to win.

Last week, the consortium filed eight lawsuits in US Federal Court, accusing Google of infringing on their patent rights. In addition to Google, the other named defendants in these cases are Samsung, LG Electronics, HTC, Huawei, Asustek, Pantech and ZTE Corp., which just happens to be essentially everyone who with a major commercial interest in the Android smartphone business. In addition to going after the makers of Android devices, there is a lawsuit suit against Google targeted advertising, which remains the company’s core business. Claiming that Google’s targeted advertising and AdWords system is infringing on patents issued to Nortel for an “associated search engine.”

What makes this case particularly interesting is the fact that Google was an unsuccessful bidder for the Nortel patent portfolio, bidding as much as $4.4 billion to obtain it at the time, before being outbid by Rockstar. The aggressive way in which Google pursued ownership of the patents at the time will make it very difficult for the tech heavyweight to argue in court now that the patents are of no value or that their own business practices are completely unrelated to them.

Perhaps most importantly, it appears that battle lines are being drawn between entire ecosystems and collectives of companies at the top of the tech world. Building sites and networks that are agnostic to one particular fiefdom of technology companies or another without running a foul of their constant litigation requires vigilance on the part of business owners, IT staff and administrators. As always, NationalNet is here to help.

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04
Nov
2013

Engineers From Google, Oracle And Red Hat In ObamaCare Tech Surge

by Administrator

With the widely-publicized troubles of the Affordable Care Act’s Healthcare.gov website dominating the news for the past month, key employees of industry heavyweights including Google, Oracle and Red Hat are part of the cavalry charge to help the beleaguered website.

According to the Obama administration, Michael Dickerson, a site reliability engineer on leave from Google, and Greg Gershman, innovation director for smartphone application maker Mobomo, are key players in the so-called “Tech Surge.” Julie Bataille, spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says: “They are working through the analytics of what happens on the site to prioritize what needs to be fixed.” The project’s management has since been reorganized, with United Health Group’s Quality Software Services unit now overseeing the entire operation, whereas previously the project did not employ a lead contractor to coordinate the effort of the many contractors and agencies involved in the implementation and deployment of the site.

While the Affordable Care Act is something of a political hot potato, Oracle CEO, Larry Ellison, took a non-partisan stance when questioned about his company’s participation in the Tech Surge at a recent shareholders meeting, stating: “We think it’s our responsibility as a technology provider to serve all of our customers, and the government is one of our customers” he said. “We are helping them in every way we can. I will refrain from editorial comments about what has happened there. I think most of us want to see our government operating effectively.”

About 8.6 million people visited healthcare.gov in the site’s first week of operation, and exposed a number of software flaws and many experienced long waits that prevented many from even getting registered. The site has been taken offline multiple times over the past month for software upgrades and the Obama Administration insists that capacity is being added to the system to handle the traffic it is seeing. Getting the site up and running smoothly, quickly is a top priority, not only for political reasons, but is also critical for the users of the site, who will potentially face fines if they haven’t chosen a health insurance plan by March 31st of this year.

The technological debacle goes beyond any political debate and serves as a shining example of the fact that having the right infrastructure and talented team of technologists in place is essential to creating any significant internet property. There is simply no substitute for building and launching your website the right way the first time, and NationalNet experts are always here to help you.

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01
Nov
2013

The End of Mobile Minute Limits

by Administrator

AT&T’s announcement last week that it would only be offering unlimited talk for all new smartphone users marks the definitive end of an era. While the US’s other major carriers, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile abandoned limited-minute plans for new customers some time ago, AT&T was the final big player to abandon the pricing paradigm.

It’s not a sense of largesse from the cellular carriers that has pushed the drive for unlimited voice calling, it merely reflects the market, voice calling has been declining precipitously, replaced by mobile data, in the form of texting and internet access, where customers used to make voice calls. The upcoming generation, raised in the era of the smartphone use text as their primary means of communication, reserving voice calls for only their closest friends and relatives. There has been a widespread reduction in actual minute usage, and customers have been reducing their mobile contracts accordingly.

While the move to unlimited voice is in effect locking in a fixed, though invisible to the consumer, price point for voice services, new technologies such as voice over LTE or VoLTE is on the horizon that will essentially make all mobile phone calls into data streams, and will allow the industry to recapture the pay per bit model they crave and will eventually allow them to recapture the valuable over the air channels that are currently dedicated to voice traffic.

This latest acknowledgment by carriers, following development of cross-platform operating systems like Windows 8, shows that Fortune 500 companies are finally ready to admit “mobile phones” are essentially computers that just happen to fit in your pocket, rather than telephones with some data capabilities.

Mobile now accounts for more for 25% of all digital site traffic, offers significantly higher conversion rates than traditional desktop traffic and opens up a huge world of emerging markets where affordable smartphones are penetrating much more quickly than expensive desktop devices. If your properties are not optimized for mobile already, now is the time to take action and secure future revenue streams. NationalNet offers state of the art hosting from our Atlanta data center and full collocation opportunities to help you advance your mobile presence. Always just one click or call away and ready to assist, if you have mobile connectivity questions, contact us for answers.

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