Tag Archives: isp

Do You Have a Broadband Choice?

Usually when an ISP is discussed, it is directly related to how fast their speeds are or how good their customer service may be. I often see someone get angry with their provider and Tweet out that they are planning a switch to someone new. We take for granted the fact that there are many choices and options out there, but that isn’t always the case. What happens when there are no choices? How is it possible that in this day and age there are still fairly large cities with a monopoly in place?

Look at Indianapolis, for example. It’s not a small town… we’re talking a population of 829,718. This is the eleventh largest city in the United States according to the 2010 census, yet my assistant Kat has spent hours attempting to find alternatives to Bright House and AT&T. There is nothing there, unless they want to fork over $200.00 per month for a T1 line. She’d absolutely love to have one of those, but like most of you out there – it’s not in her budget. I find it incredulous that in today’s cutthroat ISP market there is nothing else there for her to choose from.

Indy isn’t alone, either. There are large cities all across this fair country of ours who have to deal with utility monopolies. Most of the time, this is in the form of electricity and natural gas providers. Living here in Seattle, I guess I simply didn’t realize that there are still places where you are stuck with one company for your high-speed Internet service, as well.

I know that Kat and others like her should be grateful to have access to a broadband connection at all, and I know that she is. There are still millions of people in this country alone who don’t even have that option, and that’s something that the FCC is trying to address. This rant is more aimed at the fact that we shouldn’t have to deal with such monopolies in 2011, no matter what form it takes.

Are you on a proverbial desert island when it comes to choices for your ISP or other utility services? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Netflix Knows the Fastest ISPs

When it comes to figuring out which ISP has the best Internet speeds, Netflix knows the numbers. The company is a great source for this type of information, considering their service helps users everywhere stream movies and television content right into their homes. “We find ourselves in the unique position,” wrote Ken Florance, director of content delivery at Netflix, “of having insight into the performance of hundreds of millions of long duration, high-definition video streams delivered over the Internet.”

When you check your own speeds via a service such as SpeedTest, you’re testing short bursts of activity. Netflix, though, is testing data at sustained transfer over time. “The throughput we are able to achieve with these streams can tell us a great deal about the actual capacity our subscribers are able to sustain to their homes. In the charts below, we’re using a time-weighted bitrate metric to represent the effective data throughput our subscribers receive over many of the top ISPs.”

Taking a look at the top sixteen Internet Service Providers (as listed by Netflix), one might be a tad surprised at the results. The chart clearly shows that Charter sustained the best overall results, with Comcast coming in a close second. Cox, Time-Warner and Cablevision round out the top five providers. At the bottom of the list, you’ll find ClearWire all by its lonesome. That isn’t very shocking.

Where does your ISP fall in this list?

Have We Run Out of Space on the Internet?

This is a guest post written by Craighton Miller.

There is no more space on the Internet – sort of.

It is predicted that on February 2 around 4am the Internet is going to go through an Armageddon of sorts. All allocatable IPv4 address will be used, and the Internet community will be forced to adopt the IPv6 standard.

The current system of IPv4 addresses allow for only 4 billion combinations to be allocated. Every device that is connected to the Internet is given a unique code, called an IP address, which allows the device to be recognized on the Internet.

At the current rate these IPv4 addresses are being assigned, they will depleted in no time. One Internet Service Provider (ISP) calculates that one million addresses are assigned every four hours. The countdown to “IPcalypse” has begun.

As noted, most of these IP addresses are reusable. Unfortunately, many of them are being utilized as “one-time use” addresses.

The company Hurricane Electric is taking a step to encourage other ISPs to transfer to the new IPv6 system, which allows for 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 combinations. Their Twitter account is counting down the days and IP addresses left before we completely run out.

Currently, hardware and software developers have noticed that this change is needed and have built in compatibility to many devices and software applications to be ready for the change in our future.

Should an ISP Cut Off Infected Users?

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Damn these compromised systems. They’re ruining it for the rest of us. Someone on Lockergnome asked if ISPs should cut off bot-infected users. This refers to people who have computers that happen to be infected with software that can potentially turn their machine into a “zombie computer.” This allows someone to use the infected system as part of a bot net – or DDOS attack.

Why shouldn’t an ISP cut them off? That’s my thought. If an ISP can see that a machine is being used – and abused – in this manner, it’s their duty to keep others protected. Perhaps the user doesn’t even KNOW that their machine has been compromised in this manner. You can be infected with some pretty nasty malware without ever having any pop-ups or symptoms, and without knowing it.

Your ISP should be able to turn you off, and then contact you to let you know there’s an issue. The ISP could go so far as to suggest ways and/or tools to help the user get all cleaned up. Imagine if the ISP took that step to help their customer – we could all have better Internet. That may be a pretty lofty dream, but I think it’s a good one.
Bonus points for remixing the zombie disruption found in this video!

Do You Want Google Fiber?

Milo Medin has joined Google as the Vice President of Access Services. Essentially, he is now heading up the team behind Google Fiber. You remember that story, don’t you? Google wants to bring Fiber internet connections to homes all over the country… at speeds of up to 100 times faster than many people have now. In order to test their offering, Google launched a contest to find just the right community to launch in. Today, Milo is telling us that too many towns jumped at the chance. The company needs more time to make a decision.

Why is the Internet giant getting into providing access, anyway? “The purpose of this project is to experiment and learn. Network providers are making real progress to expand and improve high-speed Internet access, but there’s still more to be done. We don’t think we have all the answers – but through our trial, we hope to make a meaningful contribution to the shared goal of delivering faster and better Internet for everyone.”

Would you want to have your tubes connected by Google – even if they do promise unheard-of speeeds?

Do You Love Broadband?

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Ars Technica reported that 23% of U.S. households don’t have Internet anywhere in the house? Why not? many people just don’t see the need for this “Internet” thing at all. Really? Lamarr thinks broadband should just be something in the house like electricity, water, and heat service so that it’s just normal to have.

The largest reason is listed as a lack of interest in the Internet, with cost being second. Stop spending so much money on dinners out and get yourself online instead. Broadband should be a required utility in the house like water or heat.

How can someone not want to be connected to the Internet? The world is out there. You can find everything online. Don’t you want to expand your mind and your opportunities?

Do you think these 23% are living in the dark ages, are ignorant, or are they on to something? Maybe the Internet causes more problems than it’s worth. I’m just playing Devil’s Advocate here; leave a comment below.

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Ustream Problem

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We took live calls again last night. I discovered that some of you are unable to view Ustream content – and your ISP may have some major splainin to do.

My assistant Kat knew I was about to take calls, and opened her browser to my live stream page. She wanted to follow along as she always does. However, when the page loaded, the Ustream box did not. There was nothing there at all. She shrugged and thought something was wrong with my page, so she went straight to the Ustream.tv home page. There, she was greeted with nothing more than a blank white page – and a very strange message.

Kat apologizes for the bad quality of the screenshot. She was rushing to get that, call the ISP and call me… and didn’t take the time to make sure it was high quality. She simply wanted to make sure she GOT it. The message on the screen stated: Page content cannot be displayed. Please contact your service provider.

Kat thought something odd was going on, and tried two other browsers… attempted to go through her OpenDNS account, AND tried viewing via the Adobe Air app built for my stream. Not a single method would work. Everything was blocked, giving her that same cryptic message. For those of you repeatedly asking… yes. She cleared her cache, restarted the modem herself with a hard reset, and all of the other minor things you have suggested. She’s a Microsoft MVP in Consumer Security y’all – she knows her way around computers.

She then put in a not-so-friendly call to her ISP – BrightHouse networks in Indianapolis. The tech there was extremely patronizing, according to Kat. The lady claimed they would never block anything… yet she said out loud that: “This is strange… I cannot access it here, either.” The rep called a manager over, neglecting to put Kat on hold… she could hear every word. There was something said along the lines of “Well open it up for now then.”

Shockingly, the issue was fixed moments later, via a modem reset! Isn’t that magic? Keep in mind that Kat had no issues viewing ANY other site. Her connection was fine. Her ability to view Ustream was NOT.

When she hung up with her ISP, Kat called in to my stream to tell me about this. As she’s talking, several people in our chat room started saying they’ve been having the same issues lately. Most of them were with BrightHouse also (in other parts of the country), but there were other ISPs involved, such as Time Warner.

Now, I cannot say for certain that BrightHouse (or any other ISP) was blocking Ustream. However, it sure does seem that way, does it not? This is completely and absolutely wrong. An ISP should not arbitrarily decide which content their customers can and cannot view. Yes, Ustream uses up a lot of bandwidth. Is that not why we have to pay such high prices for our services every month? If there is no limit to the amount allowed to use each month (Kat reports there is not), then why would sites such as this be blocked?

Have you run into this issue yourself, either with Ustream or another site? How have you (if you did) resolve it? Please leave us a follow-up comment here on the blog, or send me an email.

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The Future of the Internet

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Over on Lockergnome, Slick asked what our thoughts are on the future of the Internet. With speeds and capabilities ever-increasing, it can boggle the mind to think of what we’ll have available to us in 20 years or so. It will be funny to look back to the year 2010 and think about how SLOW we thought the connections we have now were.

It’s interesting that this question came up when it did. I learned today that Australia is going to be giving all of their citizens fiber-optic connections in their homes. Finland recently said that citizens have the RIGHT to broadband connections. How many other countries will soon realize that the only way to bring their land and their citizens into the future with free and easy access to the Internet?

We already know that the Internet is much more important than eating, drinking, sleeping or having somewhere nice to live, right? Maybe it’s not AS important as those other needs. However, I do think that it’s pretty high up on the list. Wherever you are, you need information. Getting info from the library isn’t practical these days. They’re great, yes, for certain things.

We have knowledge. How are we going to turn that knowledge into wisdom? The future of Internet connections is omnipresent. Anywhere you go and any device you have should be able to quickly connect to the Internet at any given moment of the day, without muss or fuss.

What are your thoughts? What do you think we’ll see in the future as far as the Internet and its connections and speeds go?

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Could Comcast Become Extreme?

Extreme Internet speeds from Comcast will apparently come at an extreme price. To those of us who work from home and rely on fast (and reliable) connections, no price is too high to pay for awesome download speeds. Well, in my case I need superb upload speeds. However, I digress…

Comcast has quietly unveiled an entirely new level of service that will become available in just a few days. Extreme 105 Cable service will offer download speeds of 105 Mbps, and upload speeds of 10 Mbps. Ohhh yeah baby! I can live with those, can’t you? However, as I said, something this extreme doesn’t come cheap. The cost for installation will run $249.00 and monthly service weighs in at $199.95 per month (plus modem rental cost).

There weren’t any official announcements about this service that I have come across. A customer noticed a small advertisement on his recent Comcast bill and called the company to find out more information. The notices on the bills you’re receiving this week aren’t a hoax. Comcast Extreme 105 really IS coming June 1st! Are you going to attempt to upgrade?

Boost your computer speeds with software found on our software site.

Facebook and Privacy: Will the Twain Never Meet?

This guest post is contributed by Shannon Wills, she writes on the topic of Internet Service Providers . She welcomes your comments via email.

It’s an issue that’s dominating headlines on the web these days; it’s raking up the muck in the world of social media; even so, Facebook doesn’t seem to be bothered about all the controversy that its privacy issues (or lack of it) is generating. Just a few months ago, we were shocked at how private email messages sent within Facebook were sent to the wrong recipient; now it’s the turn of private chat messages and friend requests to be visible to your friends, if you knew how to make the right tweaks.

Of course Facebook fixed these security holes in a matter of hours, but the question we need to ask ourselves is – If this could happen twice over a period of three months, how many more security lapses can we expect in the future? How many of these will go unreported and stay unfixed? And even if they are reported and fixed, how many thousands of lives would have been affected in the interim?

The problem with social networks is that they allow other people control over your life. Of course, most problems arise because people are not careful about what they post online or because they leave their pages open for all and sundry to access. But then, what if you’re discreet about your postings, information and photos and have all your privacy settings in place so that only the people you allow access can see your page and all that is on it? Does that mean you’re automatically safe? Apparently not, because Facebook has this autonomous policy of revamping its privacy controls every now and then, and information that you had set as private is now open to the public by default. If you want privacy, you’re forced to go into the settings and change them again.

For example, the latest revamp allowed Facebook users to show up on public search listings even though they wanted to be visible only to their friends. And since there was no real intimation sent out (Facebook did send out vague emails about the new policies, but even these were hidden in a folder called Updates in your Messages. Not many people would bother to check this area because it does not show up in your Notifications. And as a result, what you assumed was private was now part of the public domain.

For the net savvy user, this is a minor irritant because they’re aware of all the latest security issues and they take care of the necessary fixes immediately. But for the average user, it’s a disaster waiting to happen if the wrong people gain access to information on their profile – relationships could be ruined, jobs lost, and feelings hurt in the process.

But no, Facebook does not care that most its users are not savvy enough to figure out that they have to opt out of certain privacy options, and no amount of protests or criticism is going to stop this giant of a social network from rolling on to boost its visibility on and dominance of the web. The only thing that could possibly help is the mass exodus of many of its users, but then, we’re an addicted lot – we may complain every now and then, but like any normal human being, we resign ourselves to the situation and go on to posting the next status update or comment, and privacy issues are relegated to a corner of the mind.