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23/07/05

Permalink 12:55:09, by matt Email , 151 words   English (NZ)
Categories: Social commentary, International events, Technology

That's it, I'm going to patent facial expressions

Link: http://news.zdnet.co.uk/business/0,39020645,39210396,00.htm

When an IP lawyer says that they'd expect to see a patent on the Dot, it's blatantly obvious that things have gone totally overboard.

Back when I started using the 'net, nearly a decade ago, ICQ didn't exist. AIM and Yahoo Instant Messenger didn't exist. Sure as hell MSN Instant Messenger didn't exist. But we still had smileys. We chiseled them onto our granite tablets and threw them at each other &amp;#58;&amp;#80;
Seriously, though, there's prior art to a fare thee well. According to this page they date back over 20 years! 20 years?! Bill Who? Microwhat?

FUCKING LAWYERS!

-- UPDATE --
Actually, this idea has merit. If MS succeed in getting this patent granted, I've got a great patent idea. I will patent the process of taking the initial letters of a series words and using them to create a new word - such as RAM, or RIAA, or SCUBA. I'll be rich! *cackles evilly*

19/07/05

Permalink 11:48:38, by matt Email , 1511 words   English (NZ)
Categories: Politics, Social commentary, Telecommunications, Internet, Technology

A letter to Telecom

Link: http://computerworld.co.nz/news.nsf/UNID/232444CFFD9ADC6ECC25703F0009B334

As referenced in the article, below is the letter sent to the ComCom. Taken, via Google's cache, from PlaNet.

ISPs Unhappy With Telecom's Broadband
5-7-05

The following is being sent to the Commerce Commission this week with the support of almost all ISPs in NZ, excepting the obvious. PlaNet/KC supports the sending of this letter.

...............letter follows.................

We are writing to you as a united collective to express our concerns over the current wholesale regime for Telecom's Broadband DSL Network. When it comes to helping the Commerce Commission meet its broadband penetration targets that it has agreed with Telecom, as Internet Service Providers we face multiple serious challenges.

We believe that these challenges are sizeable and are causing many of us to seriously reconsider decisions to promote Broadband services based on Telecom's Wholesale broadband services to New Zealanders. In other cases we have deferred the decision to offer broadband service or delayed deployment of innovative broadband services that depend upon true broadband.

The purpose of this communication is to inform the Commission of the major issues that are causing us serious and persistent difficulty. Our challenges belong to 4 categories:

1. Commercial Impediments

1.1 Wholesaling is not profitable.

While wholesale prices are calculated from Telecom's retail price less avoided costs, wholesalers are required to be at least as efficient as Telecom just to break even. However, under the current pricing principles, the ability of a wholesaler to make a margin is not just a measure of its efficiency. Telecom offers discounts off the retail price from which the wholesale price is calculated by bundling broadband with other services such as tolls, and providing 100% discounts on installation fees to retail
customers. Telecom also charges wholesalers additional costs for ATM access circuits and other ancilliary charges such as UBS backhaul remapping charges.

1.2 Barriers to entry.

Telecom enforces onerous payment guarantees equivalent to three months expected Telecom charges from all wholesalers, before it will agree to offer services. This permits only parties with significant financial resources to enter the wholesale market. The backhaul and access costs alone make it too costly to allow margin for a mid range service provider
to become a wholesaler.


2. Technical Limitations

2.1 Upstream Speeds

Wholesalers wanting provide new services that depend on high speeds or interactivity face a serious impediment in the form of Telecom's 128kbit/s upstream speed cap on Unbundled Bitstream Service (UBS). Any application which depends upon content being passed in the upstream direction at reasonable speed is not able to be provisioned using UBS. These applications are numerous and there is significant existing demand from our customers for such applications.

2.2 Downstream Speed Throttling

The downstream broadband line speeds are subjected to a contention ratio of 50:1. This means that a 256kb/s broadband customer may only be given a 5.12kbit/s of bandwidth during peak times. This figure is well below the 32kbit/s minimum required under the Act. It is important to note that this restriction is not just in the provision of backhaul. Even if a service provider were to pick up bandwidth from all 34 hand-off points in the Telecom network, this restriction would still apply. The subsequent growth of broadband based services in NZ is being slowed by these unnecessary restrictions.

2.3 Service Latency

The Telecom broadband Network latency of up to 1000ms makes Telecom's broadband network unsuitable for many delay sensitive applications.


3. Service Levels

As organisations we compete with the larger players by giving exceptional service to our customers. Our ability to meet the expectations of our customers wanting broadband services has been greatly diminished. As wholesalers,we have no direct visibility of network availability and no direct service relationship with Telecom installation contractors. In contrast, Telecom retail personnel appear to have timely provisioning
information available to hand.

4. Regulatory Environment

4.1 Retail / Wholesale Parity

To maintain confidence in the wholesale market, product parity, price parity and service level parity between Telecom's retail services and Telecom's wholesale offerings is of utmost importance. Telecom services must be introduced to the retail and wholesale channels contemporaneously, to avoid undermining the wholesale market. Discounts offered on Telecom services at a retail level must be commensurate with discounts at a wholesale level. Past failures by Telecom to adhere to this principle have caused significant damage to the wholesale market. We believe that retail/wholesale parity can only be guaranteed through regulation.

4.2 Injunctive Relief and Punitive Enforcement

Where Telecom departs from the principles of parity, the Regulator must be empowered to act quickly to provide relief. The Regulator must also be able to take punitive action for such breaches of parity if Telecom is going to be deterred from subsequent breaches. We also must have an affordable and accessible Telecom Ombudsman with which issues can be
quickly resolved.

4.3 Unbundling

Building overlay networks is expensive and time consuming exercise that is not going to create competition or innovation in the timeframes that the government has in mind. Ultimately, we believe that the regulated unbundling of Telecom's local loop is the only way to ensure that New Zealanders have unimpeded access competitive information and communication services.


In conclusion, we believe that a vibrant wholesale market is vital to deliver competitive and innovative services to New Zealanders. We are a group of highly experienced and savvy Internet technologists and entrepreneurs, and are committed to seeing innovation and development of information and communication technology in New Zealand. Amongst us are
the quick and nimble players who brought the internet to New Zealand, some six years ahead of Telecom and Clear Communications and continue to be the first in bringing many new services to market. We are the innovators who will drive growth and productivity gains in New Zealand. We are the competitive force that will drive Telecom and we believe that better competition will also encourage Telecom to invest in its own network. Telecom's 3G mobile network is a good illustration of an investment made by Telecom when it is faced with strong competition.

However, service providers will be detrimentally affected if the wholesale broadband environment does not see great improvements within a short time frame. Several of us have already approached Telecom with respect to the issues discussed here and have received only a measured response. We will continue to address these issues directly with Telecom as a collective, however in order for us to profitably deliver a wide range of competitive and innovative services to New Zealanders, we believe that significant changes are required to Telecom's attitude and to the market framework that we currently operate within.

We intend to educate our users, the public and various facets of government of the issues as we face them, and not to continue holding back public voice in fear of punitive commercial action or in hope that there may be some future measure of commercial relief offered by Telecom. We hope that the wisdom of the politicians will not be limited to evaluating market health of Telecom, but rather than in terms of the diversity, innovation and price attractiveness that bring vitalising communications technologies into every business and home in this remote nation.

We also hope that the Commerce Commission will be rapidly further empowered with vital adjudicatory and guidance roles for our industry and that this will facilite the steps that New Zealand must take now to achieve a prosperous place in the "shrinking world" of the 21st century.

We stand ready to communicate further with you on any and all of the points made here, should you wish to enter dialogue.

Yours faithfully,

It's depressing that things have come to this, particularly in relation to upstream speeds. When it was made public that the reason for the 128kb/s upstream speed was to protect Telecom from VoIP, I was stunned. It is not the regulator's job to protect a rapacious incumbent, it's the regulator's job to ensure that society is afforded the best possible technological services. If Telecom cannot compete with VoIP, then they should look at why they're unable to compete. Regulatory protection smacks of the copyright cartel and their unwillingness to adapt their business model to a changing reality.

Telecom's threats of stifling network investment are crap. They will invest regardless, if only to show better returns for their investors - new equipment costs less to maintain, and can do more, so it is only natural that the investment will continue. Plus, it's not like the investment situation can get worse, seeing as we appear to be getting royally shafted in that department to begin with. It's a hollow threat, and Webb needs to wake up and see that. If he allows himself to be held hostage to Telecom's terms, he's utterly fucked and the current state of affairs will never improve.

Here's hoping that this letter, from the very people upon whom Telecom's future as an integrated company is resting, kicks some butts very hard. Things cannot continue as they are, and my biggest fear of National winning the election is that things will not only continue, but get worse. National were useless last time, and there's no evidence that they're any better now.

17/07/05

Permalink 17:06:00, by matt Email , 267 words   English (NZ)
Categories: Social commentary, Telecommunications

Third world telecommunications? Never!

Link: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?c_id=5&ObjectID=10336048

He's "a special case", say Telecon. Why? It's not like he lives in Drury, or Piha (which, as far as I know, still can't get the fast 'net that appeared in a famous TV ad for the Evil Empire), or some other far-flung part of Auckland.
The continued denials that NZ is getting the shaft are ringing ever more hollow, and that 41 of 42 figure - which I'd not heard before - does make a mockery of some of the figures presented just after the national communications blackout; figures that they claimed show NZ is the benefit of some of the highest relative levels of spending in the OECD. It sure doesn't seem that way when we're stuck with such pitiful attempts at 'net connectivity.

I met an ex-pat Texan last week, and she was most derisive of the state of "broadband" (which made her laugh) in NZ. The sum of the up- and down-stream speeds of what passes for a "broadband" connection here wouldn't even pass muster on the downstream side of a connection in the US, even one with no data caps and for less than we pay here. Her considered opinion is that we're catching it from behind, and Telescum's shareholders are laughing all the way to their next dividend payment. At our expense.

It's a shame that we have no apparent salvation in sight. National won't touch Telecon, and Labour don't seem to have quite figured out that they only way things will change is if they move from the carrot to the stick - a big, heavy stick, with nails and razor blades embedded in it.

16/07/05

Permalink 14:27:02, by matt Email , 47 words   English (NZ)
Categories: blog

My eyes. I'm blind, I'm BLIND!

Link: http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=5401342712

R18: Contains excessive flab and gratuitous displays of thong. Should not be viewed within 12 hours of eating.
Oh dear <deity>, in the name of all that is holy such images are NOT suitable for display on a public website. Won't somebody think of the children?!

Permalink 13:25:21, by matt Email , 197 words   English (NZ)
Categories: Politics, Social commentary, Technology

What happens when you let the content companies set the rules?

Link: http://blog.macros.org/index.php/geeky/2005/07/16/drm_the_good_the_bad_aamp_the_ugly

You get locked out of being able to use content that you've paid for. You, the customer, have given your hard-earnt (or ill-gotten, if you work for the RIAA or MPAA) money for a product that you cannot use - not without spending up very large, in the case of the monitor protection.

Once upon a time, a man named Ray Kroc said that "The customer is always right". He was a little mis-guided (how can the customer be right when they walk into McDonald's and ask for a mince pie? I shit you not), but the basic premise of keeping your customers happy has worked for hundreds of years. Your customer wants something, you give them what they're seeking. You don't sue them, or develop ever-more-draconian technological methods to avoid them achieving their end goal. Keeping the customer happy will keep you in business. Fighting with them will, in the end, send you under, because eventually enough people will stop buying your products.
The people in the content industry seem to have this bizarre notion that they have a divine right to make a profit on their terms, and their customers be damned. That's not good business.

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Shocking as it may be, I think, and sometimes those thoughts are almost worthy of public contemplation. So, here are those some thoughts, with no guarantees as to their validity, worth, or utility to the cosmos. All thoughts are my own, representing only my thoughts, opinions and positions, unless explicitly otherwise stated. This blog is not an official or unofficial outlet for any company or government body, or for person other than myself.

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