Timothy M. Denton

Success Through Understanding Technology

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Industry News

Subcategories from this category: Internet, Canada

Posted by on in Industry News

 

I thought that title would get your attention. How often does your computer crash? Right. Does it matter? yes, quite a bit, if you lose data or files or a year's worth of work. But no one dies. Now just think about your house going cold in winter, your brakes failing, the power grid going off, your water supply being contaminated, or airplanes crashing.

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I met Ajit Pai in the course of conducting my NG 9-1-1 inquiry. I found him friendly, polite, charming even, and highly intelligent. A former telecom lawyer for one of the large US carriers, Pai has been elevated to the Chairmanship of the FCC as a result of Donald Trump's election.

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Ideas are both necessary to navigate the world with, and sources of misinformation. When you bump into a wall in the dark, you change your idea of the layout of the house. Unfortunately, if you are a slave to your ideology, there are no walls, you never hit anything, and you never have occasion to learn, because you are never wrong. Such is the ideological life of the Montreal Economic Institute and certain members of the economics profession, when it comes to telecommunications.

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The page on the telephone era has finally turned. The relevant question is no longer the affordability and availability of the telephone, but of bandwidth, the substrate that allows everything. Yesterday's decision of the CRTC on basic services marks the turning point, the closing of the public switched telephone network era. Rest in peace, PSTN. You served us well.

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The CRTC was envisaged to be governed by a chairman making decisions with the assistance and agreement of a number of commissioners, insofar regulatory policies are concerned. Otherwise I could see no need to mention their existence in the CRTC Act.  The law allows for the appointment of up to 13 of them. The Governor in Council appoints one of them to be a chairman and another two may be appointed vice-chairmen of broadcasting and telecommunications.

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I have been impressed with how completely the sorts of issues the CRTC is dealing with have been transformed into Internet and consumer issues. I was struck by this during the recent hearings on differential pricing practices and zero rating.

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I heard today, from someone who is a position to know, that the IANA transition from Department of Commerce oversight cost 3.5 million dollars in campaign donations.

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Prediction is risky, especially about the future. As of 29 September, the US House of Representatives has passed a bill continuing government finances, without the rider that had expressly forbidden the NTIA from discontinuing the IANA functions contract. So the IANA functions contract will expire, and the transition to the management of IANA will now be placed in the hands of the constituencies that concern themselves with names, numbers, and protocol parameters. Halleluiah!

What I wrote before is, to this extent, obsolete. And what was Trump trying to do, anyway?

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Image result for sofia bulgaria

 

I have been attending the European Peering Forum in Sofia Bulgaria, and learning much. It feels as if I have inhabited the edges of the Internet- ICANN, ARIN, CIRA - until now, and finally the veil has parted and I find myself in the place where the deals are done, where the agreements are made to exchange traffic. In short, it is peering if you exchange traffic without compensation, and transit when you pay. And though it may involve money, the transaction is essentially about trust. And here is where trust is built. Knowledge of the other guy's network is built over time by personal contacts.

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This morning's oh-so-21st century news was that a woman was suing the manufacturer of a networked vibrator.

An American woman says the Canadian manufacturer of a smartphone-enabled vibrator has crossed the line by selling products that allegedly secretly collect and transmit “highly sensitive” usage information over the web.

Or, in the words of Leonard Cohen:

And everybody knows that the Plague is coming
Everybody knows that it's moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows

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Posted by on in Industry News

 

The CRTC's report, prepared by Nordicity Group,  on Canadian telecom prices shows that we pay some of the highest rates in the world. Citing the National Post,

Canada won gold for the most expensive low-end wireless telephone service and landed silver for premium mobile phone services that include more minutes and data, according to the ninth-annual international telecom price comparison study commissioned by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

It also landed in the Top Three for the most expensive broadband Internet, bundled services and mobile data, which costs about three times as much here as it does in the U.K., Italy and Australia, according to the report by consultancy Nordicity Group Ltd. that compared prices for landlines, wireless telephone and broadband services, broadband Internet and bundled services.

I would like to make some suggestions as to how this comes about, and what might be done to correct it.

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The forces of opposition to bill 74, Quebec's gambling legislation, continue to assemble. First it was PIAC, on July 11. Now the CWTA has joined the fight. The Mohawks may follow. I have previously described Quebec's legislation as odious, unconstitutional and futile, a rare trifecta. Quebec has sought a delay from the CRTC of 120 days while it gathers  its thoughts on how to deal with the issue. It should read some of Geoff Huston's comments on Internet site blocking, but of course it is too proud to admit error and climb down. Mr. Huston lives in Canberra, is the Chief Scientist for APNIC, and although I have not spoken to him in this regard I am sure he may be contacted to provide parties with further technical advice on name blocking, route filtering, and other distortions of the Domain Name System. Good luck, Quebec, because you will need it. I wonder if Google will intervene?

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Benjamin Klass, a PhD candidate at Carleton, and his supervisor Professor Dwayne Winseck have issued a significant report on international practices in what is known as "zero-rating". This is the practice of a carrier not charging for the use of its bandwidth when it carries content it favours, while other sorts of content are charged for. Content not favoured by the carrier runs into bandwidth caps and higher prices, with the effect or intention that consumption is driven towards content that the carrier favours. What could possibly go wrong?

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The Public Interest Advocacy Centre has submitted its petition to the CRTC on Quebec's gambling legislation. Quebec is seeking to block access to any gambling site other than its monopoly official site. PIAC is requesting the CRTC to declare the legislation to be unconstitutional, among other things. See the petition for details. I am waiting for other players to weigh in.

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By Geoff Huston and Tim Denton. Geoff Huston is the chief scientist of APNIC and the creator of potaroo.net

 

The astonishing rise and rise of the fortunes of Google has been one of the major features of both social and business life of the early 21st century. In the same way that Microsoft transformed the computer market into a mainstream consumer product through its Windows and Office software products some 20 years ago, Google has had a similar transformative effect.

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The news that Commissioner Shoan was fired by the Governor in Council for cause shocks me. As Talleyrand said to Napoleon about some judicial murder that the latter had engaged in: "worse than a crime, sire, it was a mistake". Firing Raj Shoan is no crime, but it may prove an extremely expensive mistake. Shoan has fought the Chairman, and the Chairman has won, for the time being. To fire Shoan for harassment when the very issue of harassment is under judicial review strikes me as premature.

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The CRTC's decision to support local television news is at once sensible and right from the logic of the Broadcasting Act, and slightly mad from any perspective not governed by that statute. It is right in that it allows broadcasters to shift subsidies from something truly obsolete (community television) to something which might have a few years left in it (local television news). Yet from outside the perspective of the Broadcasting Act, it is a bold decision to support more battleships in 1944 or heavy cavalry in 1905, or maybe more aircraft carriers in 2016.

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The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the FCC rules on net neutrality today.

They did so on the basis that they are common carriers, and do not have speech rights such that the net neutrality would interfere with.

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I used to think it was somewhat cynical to observe that, when your business model is failing, you legislate against its  rivals. Quebec has proven this point to be precisely accurate. The papers have noticed that Quebec's website blocking legislation has passed into law.

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