Jon Brodkin

Level 3 blames Internet slowdowns on ISPs’ refusal to upgrade networks

Recent public battles over how network interconnections affect the quality of streaming video have almost all involved one company: Cogent Communications. Cogent CEO Dave Schaeffer has claimed that his company is simply the only one willing to put up a public fight.

But even though Cogent makes the most noise, it's not the only Internet bandwidth provider battling consumer Internet service providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T. Level 3, another company that has fought consumer ISPs in previous years, has mostly remained quiet lately.

But now, Level 3 decided to voice its displeasure in a blog post by general counsel for regulatory policy Michael Mooney. Additionally, Level 3 recently asked the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the network interconnections known as peering in a possible revision of network neutrality rules.

Google Fiber expansion moves fast, San Antonio approves construction

“On Thursday, the City Council approved a long-term contract with Google Fiber Texas, allowing the tech company to install about 40 so-called 'fiber huts' at San Antonio libraries, fire and police stations, and other city buildings," the San Antonio Express-News reported.

$5 discount to give up unlimited data? Time Warner Cable customers say “no”

Time Warner Cable has been offering customers $5 monthly discounts in exchange for giving up unlimited data for the last couple of years, but almost no one has taken the company up on its offer.

Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus said that only "thousands" of its 11.5 million subscribers have opted for metered billing. Marcus argued that the 30GB product is a good deal even though few people want it.

The good news, Marcus said, is "we plan to offer unlimited for as far out as we can possibly see. I think that the concept of 'use more pay more, use less pay less,' is an important principle to establish. So notwithstanding the low uptake of usage-based tiers, I think it's a very important component of our overall pricing philosophy."

Netflix got a bit faster on Comcast after opening its wallet

Netflix performance on Comcast, which had been deteriorating for months, finally got a little better in February according to Netflix's latest speed rankings.

The latest Netflix data shows some Internet service providers (ISPs) struggling, while Google Fiber soars. Netflix streamed at an average of 1.68Mbps on Comcast in the US in February, up from 1.51Mbps in January. The average on Comcast was above 2Mbps as recently as September, but it had gone down each month until Netflix decided to pay Comcast for a direct connection to its network.

Netflix requires at least 0.5Mbps to stream video, but it recommends at least 1.5Mbps. 5Mbps is recommended for HD quality and 7Mbps for "Super HD" quality. Netflix on Verizon FiOS continued to decline, going from 1.82Mbps in January to 1.76Mbps in February, while Verizon DSL dropped from 0.97Mbps to 0.93Mbps.

[March 10]

In Tennessee, four bills seek to reverse restrictions on public broadband

Tennessee is one of 20 states that have restrictions on municipal broadband networks, enacted to protect private Internet service providers from competition.
Bills limiting municipal ISPs in Kansas and Utah continue noble tradition.

Now, though, there are four bills in the Tennessee House and Senate that would "un-do some of the restrictions previous legies put in place several years ago," broadband industry analyst Craig Settles wrote. "This kind of reversal is practically unheard of," he wrote. "What’s more surprising? Republicans lawmakers, typically the party that leads the charge against public-owned networks, are taking the lead on many of these bills in Tennessee!" Internet service providers aren't happy about this, naturally.

"We are particularly concerned about four bills that have been introduced this session," Tennessee Telecommunications Associations chief Levoy Knowles said in an announcement. The TTA claimed to be presenting "concerns of rural consumers" but are more worried about the potential of losing customers. "These bills would allow municipalities to expand beyond their current footprint and offer broadband in our service areas. If this were to happen, municipalities could cherry-pick our more populated areas, leaving the more remote, rural consumers to bear the high cost of delivering broadband to these less populated regions," Knowles said. [March 7]