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Comment: What I would have liked to see... (Score 1) 112

by mgcarley (#49552925) Attached to: Comcast Officially Gives Up On TWC Merger

Personally, what I would have liked to see is allowing the merge of the retail arms and wholesale/infrastructure arms merged, but into separate respective entities, with a stipulation that the wholesale/infrastructure arm was explicitly not allowed to sell services to end users (ever); only to retail ISPs, at a regulated but fair rate and requirement to upgrade the network to FTTx as demand arises. It's a common model in a lot of other countries and for the most part, works pretty well.

That way, other ISPs could sell service on a whitelabel/unbundled/virtual network basis using [Comcast-TWC wholesale] infrastructure at competitive rates, and the retail arm of the newly combined [Comcast-TWC Retail] would now have to compete with multiple ISPs on the basis of service quality and customer support, rather than simply having their monopoly over their coverage areas.

Imagine if [Comcast-TWC Retail] had to compete with ISPs including but not limited to Sonic.net, Google Fiber, EPB, US Internet etc because they were now able to access all that infrastructure? They [Comcast-TWC retail] would basically be forced to clean up their act.

And even if upgrades were not stipulated in the deal, [Comcast-TWC wholesale] *could* still be incentivized to begin upgrading their service areas to an FTTx model, because the technology & infrastructure is all they would have to worry about/concentrate on now, and their wholesale ISP customers could/would/should demand it.

Comment: Upgrade or scrap the DMCA (Score 1) 649

by mgcarley (#49542469) Attached to: Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars

The DMCA is a law for the tech sector.

As such, like much 18 year old tech, it needs to keep up with the times and lawmakers should be upgrading it to account for new things (such as things that weren't yet available in the late 90's), remove cruft that no longer applies (or shouldn't have applied) and rewritten to prevent the broad abuse that companies are able to use it for.

Comment: Re:Do not want (Score 1) 192

by mgcarley (#49497075) Attached to: The Car That Knows When You'll Get In an Accident Before You Do

Speaking from experience, flappy paddles are utter shit in most cars, but the worst are those levers behind the steering wheel instead of in the centre console - I've only found those in American cars (and minivans and utes, which Americans know as "trucks")... but they're annoying as hell.

Comment: Re:In other words ... (Score 1) 312

by mgcarley (#49442371) Attached to: Google, Apple and Microsoft Squirm As Global Tax Schemes Scrutinized

"Least bad" is still better than the alternatives, which kind of proves the point just as well as a "bad-neutral-good" argument...

Nobody *wants* to pay taxes, but you can't have all the stuff a government provides for free - so contributing a reasonable percentage in exchange for free/subsidized healthcare, education and so-on seems acceptable compared with the alternative of having to pay the full cost for whatever service I might be using in my time of need.

Using your example of things poorly solved by the private sector - you now have things which used to be basically voluntary but are now basically mandatory - such as healthcare. In this case, I see Obama/Romneycare as what should have been a good idea that got screwed up because the coverage you pay for is to/from a private company, as opposed to a tax which should give coverage similar to what I understand Medicaid is/was supposed to be (I may be wrong on that assumption/understanding of the system).

Anecdote: I suspect I pay more as a percentage of my gross income for healthcare in the US because private entities are involved than I ever did under any government-run system (and I've lived under several), for coverage that is barely as good as (if not worse, because of the hassle involved) AND I have to give a shit about who I choose as my insurance provider rather than just being automatically covered by virtue of being a citizen or resident of the country. Frankly, if I ever got sick while in the US, I'd probably go somewhere else for treatment & recovery (emergencies notwithstanding).

Growing up under government run systems, my parents never had to have a college fund for me or my siblings and we still got educations. We didn't have $500+/month insurance bills for the family and yet when any of us needed to go to the doctor or have surgeries for anything (appendectomy, broken bones, heart attacks, aneurysm requiring helicopter transportation to another city, stroke) we weren't bankrupted or even billed and as far as I know, the pills my parents are on these days are all $3 per refill.

Taxes are, unfortunately, a necessary evil, but the benefits they can provide should result in a net positive for the society.

Comment: Re:In other words ... (Score 1) 312

by mgcarley (#49441289) Attached to: Google, Apple and Microsoft Squirm As Global Tax Schemes Scrutinized

Not entirely true... some taxes are good/useful when, in those seemingly rare circumstances, they're used for the benefit of the taxpayer. Otherwise, yes, for the most part you're right.

As someone from a relatively socialist country currently residing in America, what I find funny here is the amount of people who are opposed to taxpayer funded things as found in other countries because "BOOO SOCIAL/COMMUN/WHATEVERISM" and/or "EVERYTHING GOVERNMENT DOES IS BAD/EVIL" but who at the same time are more than happy to contribute to charity/charitable causes or even pay (much higher) out of pocket expenses for private (or 503c tax exempt and so on) versions of these things.

Comment: Re:Obama wants to become Judge Dredd? (Score 1) 289

Here's an idea: all bills/laws - federal or state - should have to be approved unanimously by a panel comprising of teenaged (under 18) boys and/or girls of the group (sex/race/religion or whatever the case may be) which the proposed bill/law will most likely affect.

And if they can't reach a unanimous decision by simply reading the law, the politicians sponsoring the bill/law should have to make their case to the panel.

Also, the panel should be chosen by lottery with mandatory participation (travel/accommodation expenses would be reimbursed by the sponsors of the proposed bill/law, of course, with the participants remaining anonymous until the panel gets to their seats).

Comment: Re:Um, not so much.... (Score 1) 105

by mgcarley (#49407857) Attached to: Court Refuses To Dismiss AT&T Throttling Case

That depends on how you define "problem".

As it is, you call AT&T to get your line fixed because something's wrong (say, it's noisy and your DSL signal is weak). AT&T may or may not give a shit about you because all you are is residential customer #146190480112 valued at a whopping $50 a month.

On the other hand, in a wholesale situation,the end user wouldn't be calling AT&T, they would be calling Pedro. Sure, Pedro has to raise the ticket, but Pedro has an SLA.and might be worth $5,000 or even $50,000 a month to AT&T, so they are a bit more likely to dispatch a tech.

Ultimately the end user shouldn't need to know or care who owns and operates the physical infrastructure, so long as Pedro has it taken care of when there's a problem.

Comment: Re:Um, not so much.... (Score 1) 105

by mgcarley (#49407803) Attached to: Court Refuses To Dismiss AT&T Throttling Case

It's not just Japan - much of Europe, UK, AU, NZ, SK, HK, SG... all use an "unbundled loop" model and for the most part it works pretty well - personally, I like it.

There are some "open" networks in the US, but they are damn near impossible to get on to or use properly, in part because some of them have been built for the sake of being built - as far as I have been able to ascertain from a couple of those I've made inquiries for, they don't actually go anywhere (as in, they don't really reach end users in a meaningful way - that's up to the provider).

There are also some in India, but they have extremely limited coverage areas (there are a lot of them and they're all at war with each other) and take fairly a significant percentage of the plan revenue.

Comment: My systems (Score 1) 107

So, hypothetically speaking, if say the US or UK breaks in to a company's systems without any real justification, authorization or knowledge (i.e. for fun, for espionage, or to illicitly gain control of information or systems for whatever purpose), can the company sue them in an international court?

Can the company lodge a criminal complaint against the offending government in the local jurisdiction?

Can the company lodge a criminal complaint in the offending country pursuant to whatever acts (CFAA, for example) may exist?

What if, in the process of breaking in, they break my company's systems somehow? Do they compensate the company for lost hours, system restores and new hardware?

Is there any recourse whatsoever?

Comment: Re:Ah, come one, don't we trust the Feds? (Score 1) 90

How is this even a question? OF COURSE the ISPs are left to pay for "new internet investment", that is a material cost of doing business. In order to reach a subscriber, I have to run a cable or build a tower, which requires some capital expenditure.

For a mature/operational ISP, capital is usually obtained by charging the subscribers a monthly fee. The monthly fee covers things like infrastructure and the operating expenses, maintenance and upgrades thereto, labour costs for the people to operate, maintain and upgrade the network, support, service fees for bandwidth and/or usage and allows (usually) an amount usually referred to as "profit".

We know from their published numbers that most ISPs are making fairly obscene profits (90% is commonly quoted, but break it down and it's not always quite that high), and many of them are more than happy to take from the USF BUT users are not really seeing much benefit - to the point where some states are bringing lawsuits against telcos (WV vs Frontier springs to mind right now). Profit and availability of capital therefore is not really an issue in this industry so the question becomes one of what makes the ISPs believe that they are seemingly exempt from having this cost center in their business model? What makes them think they can charge twice for what is essentially the same transaction?

Sure, it would be silly to expect a leased line on dedicated infrastructure at the prices paid for typical residential service BUT to the same end bandwidth itself really isn't that expensive. Consumers will find ways to use it and this leads to a continual upgrading process, there is no question, but again, part of the cost of doing business as a middleman is buying sufficient product from your suppliers to be able to distribute to your clientele. You get more clients, you need to buy more product to account for that. In any other industry, they would get sued for breach of contract for not having enough (or the wrong) product.

Many will argue that "Hey, $ISP built this network so it's theirs to do with what they wish" but the reality is that many networks were taxpayer funded and so it goes without saying that if something is taxpayer funded, it absolutely should NOT be "private property" - they may have the contract to build/maintain/upgrade it, for which they get paid, but the same goes if I have a contract to build/maintain/upgrade something for which I get paid... just because I built/maintained/upgraded something and got paid for it, doesn't make it mine: it remains the property of the entity which paid for it.

Perhaps a better analogy is building a house. Unless you pay for it in cash, you probably have a mortgage. Yes, it is yours in title but the bank still owns it, even if you built it with your own two hands. And if you don't maintain it, the city council might have something to say about it. And if you don't periodically upgrade it, you may no longer be in compliance with one or more regulations. And if you stop paying for it, soon enough it'll no longer be yours.

The private property issue though does murk up the argument in the two paragraphs above, but there is some fairly fundamental differences, namely that the infrastructure in question is rarely ON what could really be considered private property, by which I mean, cables may go across private back yards, up private driveways and across private fields, but houses are not linked up in a serial, with each house relying on the previous house to remain connected. The ISP infrastructure in your house is for your household (which you paid for with your install fee, but that's another thing altogether), and has no place in the supply of services to your neighbours or neighbourhood and as such unless there is a problem with *YOUR* service, a technician doesn't require specific permission from any one individual to physically access the ISP equipment that supplies an area.

Given this, it would seem that some of these US ISPs want to have their cake and eat it too: public funding for building, maintaining and upgrading their (own, private, non-shared, closed) networks AND the ability to choose whether to build/maintain/upgrade their network and infrastructure WHILE charging consumers out the arse for all of the above, and profiting from it by offering services that may not be fit for purpose (leaving old infrastructure to decay while customers are still using it, charging for services not received, not upgrading congested peering links or finding other ways to reduce congestion).

Another popular argument is that of population density. This is a farce, of course - a city with 1 million people in the US is basically the same as a city with 1 million people on any other continent, so there is no reason a city in the US can't have European quality Internet access - yet I read daily of subscribers struggling to wrangle even a few megabits out of their connections.

Plus, the middle mile in the US is a very competitive market (much more than the last mile market) - as a city in Arizona recently found out, often we're talking about 1 or 2 cables to an area which is then shared by multiple providers. So even though the initial build cost isn't shared, it's not like any individual ISP is footing the entire bill over the entire life of the cable (even though they might claim they are) but whoever builds the cable has multiple customers buying large quantities of bandwidth or even wavelengths, all on the same cable, making such endeavours entirely viable and reasonably profitable.

Long story short: "new Internet investment" is part of the cost of doing business in this industry. Quit whining and deal with it. Frankly, I'm surprised that the government hasn't (or isn't getting ready to) repossess or put a lien on all the taxpayer funded networks so that you can get the types of systems we have overseas, i.e. shared/open/unbundled last mile access networks on which any ISP can offer access (which, frankly, I'd like to see happen in the US).

Comment: Re:this is one more reason (Score 1) 136

by mgcarley (#49159139) Attached to: Under US Pressure, PayPal Stops Working With Mega

Eh? Banks are known to regularly open and operate accounts for all of the organizations you mention (especially the big international ones with private banking facilities).

It usually only seems to be when the US gets pissy that the bank in question is called out, sued, pays a fine, stops doing business with that entity (at least in that entities current form) and what have you.

The same is true here: it wasn't until some US politician got pissy that he went to Visa/MC to say "stop processing their stuff", who then went to Paypal to say "do what you do best": until then, Paypal had been happy to process the payments. I only hate to think about how much of Mega's money is being held to ransom by Paypal.

Companies providing financial services (even Paypal) usually have a list of industries they'll not do business with, stating rather specifically that if you're in one of those industries, you won't be granted an account and you need to find a high-risk payment processor that is willing to take on the kind of risk involved... these high-risk merchants usually cost more in transaction fees and whatnot to reflect the risk.

Frankly, this is a political overstep, penalizing a non-US company that - at least this time - does not even have any assets in the United States. Visa/MC/Paypal should have told the politician to fuck off (I assume Mega's Paypal account is not running through Paypal's US entity, so there is the issue of jurisdictional overreach as well), although to be fair, I'd never have offered payments by Paypal in the first place.

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