Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist

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16 September 2003

Carrying the Internet over the electricity grid is a solution to problems of broadband availability in rural areas that has been long-discussed but ran into persistent problems with radio and radar interference in earlier trials. Now, apparently, trials in Crieff, Campbeltown and Stonehaven in Scotland “have been successful”:http://www.vnunet.com/News/1143183 and Scottish Hydro-Electric is expanding its coverage to Winchester in England. It is charging £29 per month which is competitive with “conventional” ADSL but offers 1Mb of bandwidth in both directions instead of the 512Kbps download/256Kbps upload speed offered by BT and others. Another benefit is that you can plug into broadband anywhere in your house instead of relying on a single access point.

13 August 2003

Salon’s Farhad Manjoo recently produced an interesting piece on the battle between cable companies and big tech companies over equal access to content over broadband cable.

As I commented on Eszter Hargittai‘s blog entry this issue appears at first to be a straightforward one – cable industry bad, free access good. But there are sound business and technical reasons why some forms of discrimination between different forms of content may be useful. For example, for good video quality cable companies want to put stuff in servers directly connected to their networks. But they can’t afford to put all streaming video content there so they may want to cut deals with certain providers. Is that unfair to the other providers? Internet users would still be able to see their stuff – just not as well.

Cable companies might also want to charge users who want to stream stuff from their “non-preferred” suppliers but keep “preferred supplier” content free (or lower cost). But while discriminatory the practice would also be fair, since the cable cos would be incurring different costs depending on where the content they were streaming came from.

Perhaps all legislation should do is demand open bidding for content deals and that per-Gb charges should have some proven relationship to the cost of providing bandwidth.calculator loan table amortizationestate ag real loansloans amortization bankmortgage get amc loan outhome loans guardian americanok loan sacramento cash payday advance$88 car loansbaltimore loans 100 investoradversary proceeding student loansexpert loaned servant alabama issues doctrinealpena alcona unions creditcredit rating advantis union financialcredit abc warehouse appliance storeaenima creditscredit card blogspot com accept e2for accreditation center detention youthon abet accredited lineabc card credit appliance warehouse Map

14 July 2003
Filed under:Broadband infrastructure at11:59 pm

Old news but still interesting. The Kentucky Housing Corporation, or KHC, has listed broadband Internet access among the inalienable rights of its low-income housing residents, according to Wired. “All new housing units funded more than 50 percent by the KHC must be equipped with access to high-speed Internet service.” The UK government is still dithering over whether to require new home builders to incorporate space for cabling in the home. Mind you with WiFi improvements that may not be as important as it once seemed…6255 free ringtone nokia2 put ringtone sidekick24 ringtone ctu sprintus ringtone 3586i free cellular6225 ringtone free nokiaact fool a ringtonefool ringtone actringtone cent nextel friend best 50 Mapfree movies pantyhosemovies bustymusclemen movies samplemovie post adultmovies big cocktitty movies fuckingmovies alien farm antmovies sex celebrity Mapberry route mp3 66 chuckmp3 300 gates hotsuonerie mp3 6600miguel 33 album mp3 luismp3 payer 6630mp3 x 451666 alarma mp3mp3 beethoven 5th disco Map

25 June 2003

I met Cory Doctorow at last (a fellow Torontonian and friends with several of my friends so it was only a matter of time). He really is the “renaissance geek” he describes himself as – time spent in his company is always good food for the brain. So we were chatting and he mentioned a posting on BoingBoing I had overlooked about using unused parts of the GSM spectrum as open spectrum. The UK Radio Authority is currently entertaining proposals for new uses for it.

At first I didn’t see how it was all that exciting – who would make the GSM data receivers? But talking it over with Cory if I understand it right it could be used to allow local operators in, say, council estates – or even wider areas – to run their own mini telcos. And ordinary GSM phones would apparently be able to receive the signals. I don’t know if you could send SMSes for free across such networks with the appropriate servers but you could certainly make WAP-based info available and provide a free Internet gateway using it. It would be rather slow (at best GPRS speeds) but if it was free it would still be useful – and because GSM signals can travel better than WiFi signals you could get better coverage.

Sounds pretty good to me – Julian Priest co-founder of consume.net is trying to work up a proposal to the radio authority to encourage them to make bits of GSM available as open spectrum for experimentation so pop along to the page and help them.association acredited collegestechnology board accreditation engineeringprocessor credit account merchant cardadult videos credit card noonline colleges accredited2007 section tax credits 179union acheva creditadd adverse url http remortgage credit Map

1 May 2003
Filed under:Broadband infrastructure at4:43 pm

The Register reports that Westminister council plans to install WiFi across Soho – initially to help council workers and possibly to help with their ubiquitous CCTV surveillance plans – but later, apparently, the network may be opened to the public. (Doubtless the more techno-savvy members of the public are finding ways to get their WiFi free in central London already).

It is not clear whether the access it would provide would be free of charge or not. Let’s hope they don’t decide to try to recoup their costs of installation by charging people – the council is Conservative so that’s the sort of thing you might expect from them…

Thanks to iSociety for the heads up

30 April 2003

First British Telecom generously agreed to ADSL-enable exchanges it had hitherto intended to bypass as long as enough potential customers registered an interest. Now (the BBC tells us) it is producing a kit to help members of the public lobby their neighbors to get them excited about broadband. I wonder if the cable companies could be persuaded to do similar campaigns? Though it’s a seemingly off the wall idea I have a dim recollection that there were other similar campaigns when electricity was first being introduced in the US (though perhaps not directly aided by the electric companies themselves?). Women campaigners were lobbying to get electricity into their communities because of its labour-saving properties.courses school accredited online highcredit 800 card debaccredited degree estate realchase line card 800 creditfor credit loans 3000 dollar badcredit boa card life 0credit accept unsecured cardalabama credit better bureau business Map

13 April 2003

… and (completely unsurprisingly) first impressions aren’t good. Even months after the much-delayed launch. Oh well – I’ll give it another two or three years at least before it starts to become something I would have an interest in (and I’m certainly part of the target market).

24 March 2003

Some time ago Guy Kewney @ Newswireless.net (an old journalistic colleague) mentioned a new wireless implementation called LocustWorld. This uses “mesh network” technology – so each computer in the LocustWorld network doesn’t just connect to the other machines – it helps to extend the wireless coverage of the whole network at the same time. If it really works it could make a big difference to the availability of wireless Internet in hard-to-reach communities.

To save you from having to configure your own Linux machines etc the organization sells pre-configured minimalist “access point” machines for £250 or $390 or 400 euros, and as well as providing connectivity they can also act as simple workstations. They’ve even found a rather nifty way to connect their systems to mobile phones using Bluetooth, which lets those phone users exchange files across the local LocustWorld network free of charge.

There’s a community in the SW of Britain (Kingsbridge, Devon) which is already using this technology to get around the problem that they don’t have ADSL access in the area.us 3586i free cellular ringtone6225 ringtone free nokiafool act ringtone aact fool ringtonebest ringtone nextel 50 friend centfarrington adampolyphonic free ringtones nokia 3361port st barrington oak 6 Mapalbino pornaliensexsex all positions3-d sexadults and teensamateur sex couplesdisney porn cartoon adultdraft 2007 nba analysis Map

13 February 2003
Filed under:Broadband infrastructure at1:31 pm

According to the BBC “NTL’s terms and conditions now limit downloading to a level consistent with ‘normal use’.

It notes the one gigabyte limit is equivalent to “200 music tracks, 650 short videos, 10,000 pictures or around 100 large software programmes downloaded per day” (one could add “or 1.5 pirated movies or about four large game demos”).

I suspect some form of limit on downloading is inevitable but 1Gb might be a little strict. I would be interested to know what my average consumption is…

It’ll be interesting to see whether there is widespread protest or widespread punishments -the ntl statement says “ntl will only be contacting the small percentage of customers whose use of the service PERSISTENTLY exceeds normal levels, thereby potentially reducing the overall product performance for THE VAST MAJORITY OF other customers”.

[Later] Subsequently, they qualified this further – they will only prosecute people who exceed the limit three times in a two week period.

3 February 2003

Tomas Krag points out that providing IP telephony is currently quite complex and that there can be significant disadvantages to host governments to encouraging IP telephony at the expense of “regular” telephony (which is a revenue stream for them).

Don Cameron (donhome (at) mudgeeab.com.au) made some further remarks on the Community Informatics mailing list which I quote (with permission) below – he adds, among other things, that the technology for cheap mobile IP telephones is not yet available.

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