When Apps Attack

Posted by: Joan Marsh on October 25, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Anyone who believes that FCC-mandated net neutrality could or should be applied to wireless networks ought to read Mike Dano’s recent article at FierceWireless.  Dano’s focus is an FCC filing earlier this year by T-Mobile which described in detail the damage caused by a poorly designed instant messaging app that pinged the network with substantial frequency creating signaling problems:

“These signaling problems not only caused network overload problems that affected all [local] broadband users; it also ended up forcing [a reengineering of the radio architecture] to address this never-before-seen signaling issue.”

According to the filing, this one application caused an increase in data use of as much as 1,200 percent on a single device.

To be clear, I am not casting stones.  We have been on the frontlines of the mobile broadband data and app revolution, working and investing furiously to keep pace with the exploding demand for wireless data services.  But this experience shows once again how the advocated “all apps are created equal” regulatory straightjacket, which doesn’t even make sense for the wired web, is spectacularly ill-suited for wireless networks.

Even pro-Net neutrality advocate Robert Cringley has acknowledged that a handful of Slingbox streams are enough to overtake the capacity of a cell tower.   

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STEM – A New Swear Word
Or Key to Economic Renewal?

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on October 22, 2010 at 12:56 pm

By Charlene Lake, AT&T SVP, Public Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer

Here is one four letter word we want kids to embrace: STEM. At a time of great difficulty for our public education system, a diverse set of stakeholders including the government, educators, companies and nonprofits can agree that STEM —science, technology, engineering and math – is key to improving the country’s global competitiveness.

A new report by the President’s Council of Advisers in Science and Technology finds that the U.S. has extraordinary STEM assets that could be leveraged to revitalize student interest and increase proficiency in these subjects and, ultimately, promote jobs and economic renewal. Now if we can just use this information to get kids to jump on the bandwagon with us.

One of the best ways to motivate kids to take interest in STEM subjects is through hands-on activities. We’re not shying away from the opportunity. AT&T is particularly proud to be sponsoring the USA Science and Engineering Festival on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Taking place this weekend, the festival aims to expose children and families to new technologies that are strengthening communities, building the careers of tomorrow, and stimulating economic growth. The effort is also supported by a Department of Energy grant designed to promote sustainability as an overarching theme of the festival.

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AT&T Statement on the
FCC’s Spectrum Plans

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on October 21, 2010 at 2:20 pm

(BACKGROUND: Today, the FCC released a technical analysis of the benefits from the reallocation of additional spectrum to commercial mobile broadband use.  The FCC’s new analysis finds, using conservative projections and assumptions, that the spectrum deficit will approach 300 MHz by 2014, and that making additional spectrum available for mobile broadband use will add substantial economic value in the next five years.)

The following statement may be attributed to Robert Quinn, AT&T Senior Vice President, Federal Regulatory.

“The FCC’s forecast and the supporting analysis are fully borne out by what we see daily on our wireless broadband networks.  Faster, more intelligent networks, coupled with increasingly more sophisticated connected devices and prolific application development has led to accelerated growth across the mobile broadband ecosystem.  New wireless broadband devices are emerging at an unprecedented rate as are connected machine-to-machine devices.  Consider that 57% of AT&T’s postpaid subscriber base now has an integrated device.  All of this means that mobile broadband traffic is surging on the trajectories predicted in the FCC’s analysis.”

“We commend FCC Chairman Genachowski for understanding the urgency in making more spectrum available for mobile broadband, and for moving quickly to solve this major problem. Additional spectrum is not only essential for the wireless industry, it is vital in meeting the needs of hundreds of millions of wireless customers. More wireless spectrum will also support economic growth and job creation at an important time. We look forward to working with the FCC and Chairman Genachowski so that we can unleash the value of new mobile broadband spectrum.”

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Fox, Cablevision and the
Demise of the Terminating Monopoly

Posted by: Hank Hultquist on October 19, 2010 at 11:01 pm

Day three of “House” Held Hostage.

While many (ok, just a few) folks are focused on the fate of “House,” the medical TV drama on Fox, we here in Tech/Telecom Policy Land are watching a sea change in what the Fox/Cablevision drama is telling us about the net neutrality debate.

Earlier this year, we filed comments in the FCC’s Open Internet proceeding, explaining, at great length, exactly why  the “terminating monopoly” theory of net neutrality regulation (one of the policy justifications used for imposing rules on ISPs), just didn’t make sense in the Internet ecosystem.

Well, in a semi-controlled experiment still underway, Fox and Cablevision are doing a pretty good job proving that point.  Some would even say the (ISP) King is dead. Long live the (Content) King.  Fox and Cablevision are embroiled in a dispute over retransmission consent that has resulted in Cablevision customers losing access to Fox channels. Over the weekend, the dispute briefly escalated to the point where Fox was allegedly blocking Cablevision’s Internet customers from accessing Fox content on Hulu and Fox.com. 

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The Dog That Didn’t Bark

Posted by: Hank Hultquist on October 15, 2010 at 2:41 pm

In Silver Blaze, one of the most popular Sherlock Holmes stories, Holmes solves the mystery of the disappearance of a racehorse in part by divining the importance of something that others failed to notice – the silence of a dog. Holmes concluded that this “curious incident” (which was really a non-incident) could only mean that the dog recognized the midnight visitor who took the horse.

Today, I’d like to focus on another curious incident. You may recall that a little over a year ago, AT&T and others brought to the attention of the FCC the fact that Google was blocking certain telephone calls to areas frequented by traffic-pumpers (i.e., companies with a business built on stimulating calling in order to collect terminating switched access charges). I was reminded of this curious incident yesterday when the FCC’s Chairman, Julius Genachowski, took some measure of credit for opening the iPhone to Skype simply by making inquiries.

The FCC made similar inquiries with respect to Google’s call-blocking practices, and Google responded by narrowing the scope of its call-blocking. But it has never stopped blocking calls to traffic-pumpers and the FCC has never again barked about this issue. To make matters worse, I have been told by rural carriers that some other IP-based providers have taken the FCC’s silence as license to block calls more generally to rural areas to which they are unable to complete calls at the rates they prefer. 

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