Saturday, March 28, 2015

Introduction To The Internet Of Things

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What Is The Internet of Things?

By 2020, there will be 50 billion devices connected to the Internet. Jonathan Strickland takes us on a tour through a living room of the future to see how this "Internet of Things" (IOT) will impact our daily lives.

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Net Neutrality In The US...Now What?

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Internet Citizens...Defend Net Neutrality

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Net Neutrality Does Not Equal Net Utility

The most strident proponents of "net neutrality" want the Federal Communications Commission to declare broadband a utility, so the government can ensure that everyone gets equal access to the best Internet service that today's providers can offer.

Had they gotten this wish back in 1999, there is a good chance we would all get online today using state-of-the-art dial-up modems.

The FCC is trying to walk a fine line in its regulation of broadband. By a 3-2 vote, it has advanced a proposal that seems to be a reasonable attempt. The proposal would allow large traffic generators, like Netflix, to enter into deals with Internet service providers to ensure the fastest possible service, and thus underwrite the infrastructure that their service requires. At the same time, the proposal would prevent broadband vendors, like Comcast, from blocking or severely slowing traffic from competing websites that do not pay extra to use the fast lane. New Internet sites would reach consumers at whatever speeds consumers paid vendors to provide.

Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the FCC, has emphasized that the commission's goal is "an open Internet" (1) and has argued that the rules respect the principles of net neutrality, suggesting that the definition of the concept is not necessarily self-evident. Ajit Pai, the senior Republican on the commission and one of the two dissenters, said that all the members shared common ground in wanting to protect a free and open Internet despite the split vote, according to The New York Times. (1) The dissenters argued that Congress, not the FCC, should establish policy for regulating Internet traffic.

In essence, then, the dispute comes down to what "free and open" means. As Seattle Times columnist Brier Dudley observed, those opposing the FCC's proposed rules are disingenuous or naive if they claim that the Internet is currently neutral and free. "Since the rise of the commercial Internet," he wrote, "it's been a place where you pay more to get faster and better service, whether you are a consumer or a company on the other end of the pipe." (2)

Differentiating types of Internet traffic is actually necessary in order to provide a smooth user experience. Bandwidth is not infinite, and companies that provide broadband services not only can recognize that not all Internet traffic is created equal, they should. Data packets that carry your voice call or the next frame of your streaming high-definition video must arrive exactly when expected, or you will notice the difference. The packet carrying part of the homepage of your favorite news site - or an ad appearing on that homepage - is not so time-sensitive.

This sort of logic has already played out, to some degree. Netflix has made agreements with Verizon and Comcast to allow the service to bypass congestion at hubs connecting ISPs and transit providers, despite arguing that the FCC should ban such payments. Ars Technica reported that Netflix performance speeds on Comcast improved by 65 percent after the deal.

Federal regulation preventing broadband providers from sorting high-priority traffic from less urgent demands would be counterproductive for those of us who want the state of Internet connection technology to continue to improve. And it is neither unreasonable nor unfair to want companies that push the demand for higher speeds and more bandwidth to shoulder some of the costs involved in providing it.

This is not to say broadband providers should have no regulation whatsoever. In particular, the prohibition against blocking or disrupting competing vendors' content is an essential consumer protection. Differentiating types of traffic is useful, but protection to make sure it isn't discriminatory due to the traffic's content is wise. While recognizing this, the FCC seems to be taking care not to clamp down on ISPs so severely that they are inhibited from investing in new or improved services.

The FCC's proposal will draw a big pile of comments for the next few months, while it remains open for public reaction. A lot of those comments will be critical. Net-neutrality advocates have already called the proposed rules "a stake in the heart for Internet openness" and "an insult to those who care about preserving the open Internet." Online and offline protests have sprung up, based on distrust for broadband providers or the idea that a "fast lane" must necessitate a "slow lane" that is substantially worse than what most users see now.

But perhaps the most telling sign, to an outside observer, indicating that the FCC's proposal is a compromise is that it has already drawn criticism from both sides, not simply the most extreme defenders of net neutrality. Verizon issued a statement warning that subjecting broadband to strict regulation "would lead to years of legal and regulatory uncertainty and would jeopardize investment and innovation in broadband." (1) The FCC is caught in the middle of fight in which everyone claims to want the same thing: faster, better Internet.

There may well be room for improvements in the FCC's proposed rules, but the proposal is still a good start. If we want vendors to keep investing in ever-faster and wider pipes, then the parties who do the most to fill those pipes must at least be allowed to help foot the bill.

Sources:

1) The New York Times, "F.C.C. Backs Opening Net Neutrality Rules for Debate"

2) The Seattle Times, "Net neutrality more myth than reality?"

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By Larry M. Elkin

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Net Neutrality And The End Of The Internet

To the best of my knowledge, here's what happened. Comcast wasn't happy at a ton of Netflix traffic hitting their network and decided to re-engineer commercial arrangements. All part of the pull-push nature of Internet relationships.

Consequently, after the back & forth, to & fro, pull & push, the yelling & the screaming, now instead of going via a transit carrier, Netflix directly peers with Comcast in a paid-peering arrangement. Par for the course and happens all the time, except in this case, we are told it's the end of the Internet as we know it. Here's the thing. Anyone in the industry will tell you such arrangements and changes occur frequently between parties managing traffic flows and throughput - par for the course, like I said. Ostensibly at least, the bilateral peering arrangement between Netflix and Comcast is similar to all those other such agreements out there collectively allowing the Internet to work.

So, how did it become the end of the Internet, as we know it? Where and how do "Net Neutrality" concerns fit into a peering discussion/dispute/arrangement? And if it does, then does that mean the Comcast - Netflix arrangement is not a peering agreement? Or is it that peering agreements now come within the purview of this Net Neutrality thing? It's left regulatory bodies, ISPs and content providers wondering what the future holds; not just here in the USA but in Asia and Europe as well.

The top most concern voiced across the media is over this whole new cost being applied on the Internet by the likes of Comcast - owner of eyeballs. However Netflix was already paying it's transit carrier to access Comcast. Under the new arrangement, Netflix simply eliminated or reduced its flow via the transit carrier and connected over paid-peering directly to Comcast. Where was the additional hit on the end user? I looked around for data on what Netflix was now paying Comcast, but of course it was confidential. What was it paying its transit carrier earlier? Confidential. The best take on the subject came not from the 'concerned' and the 'aggrieved' but from this blog post: http://blog.streamingmedia.com/2014/02/heres-comcast-netflix-deal-structured-numbers.html.

Next, one decided to dig beyond the plethora of generalities and look at the specifics on how this deal endangered net neutrality. I mustn't be looking carefully because besides populist concerns and appeals to the FCC to intervene and save the Internet, I could not find anything beyond high-level corporate-speak. No real case is out there in public for the likes of me to sink my teeth in. That though, is more than enough for the media to sink their teeth in and before we knew it, the Internet was in peril.

Here's the one thing I did find out. To the best of my knowledge, 'Net Neutrality' as spelt out by the FCC only applied to Comcast, after they acquired NBC. No one else was bound by Net Neutrality provisions until now, with the latest ruling of the FCC who - thanks to the content providers and transit carriers crying murder - has cast itself, going forward, as the champion of the Internet and vowed to ensure there won't be "two Internets." So rather than keep the Internet neutral, we have now allowed the FCC to step in and decide fates. Someone once said, "Be careful what you ask for... "

In conclusion:

1) If the new Netflix - Comcast arrangement is nothing more than paid-peering, then it is nothing more than paid-peering and has nothing to do with 'Net Neutrality'.

2) Even if Comcast is saying they will provide two kinds of paid access via peering, one being best effort and the other being with QoS under SLA, that's also fine and not endangering the Internet. Such arrangements are allowed in Europe, Hong Kong, Japan and elsewhere. It's not a big deal.

3) It only becomes a big deal should traffic be separated based on what's in the packets. If Comcast for example, were to sneak a peek into the packets and not allow video or voice or force them through via different pipes, that would be a concern. Several countries for example, block voice/Skype traffic. That's worrisome. It's not wrong to say however, that I will give you ordinary best effort access and premium access. If the video provider insists on streaming his traffic over best effort access and not use the premium service offered, its up to him and should be allowed. The FCC has a role in ensuring that the actual throughput over a best effort or premium pipe, is actually what the ISP claims it is. Beyond that, it should shy away from interfering in market commerce.

4) One more thing the FCC could do. It could ensure that monopolies remain broken up and that consolidation doesn't mean a dangerously small number of providers holding the customer to ransom. This is what happened in the health insurance market where they carved up the country into turfs for the insurance companies and anti-trust be damned. The same thing appears to the happening over the Internet's last mile in the USA and that's a potential 'Net Neutrality' concern.

Now, please show where I am wrong and blow me out of the water.

By Braham Singh

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Saturday, March 07, 2015

Why Broadband Is So Important

Why is broadband so important to your business?

This is a valid and often overlooked question but the internet connectivity of a business, regardless of the size of this business is now possibly the most important factor. So much so that most company acquisitions of new sites or expansions to new areas are often decided on the basis of what sort of internet connectivity is available at that location.

If you are to think of your standard small company that traditionally frequent your local high street such as a butcher shop for instance, you can pretty much assume that they use their own internet connection for the following;

Ordering Stock.
Billing corporate customers they have such as local hotels.
e-mail (whether it be marketing or answering queries).

The likelihood is that even your local Butcher shop uses their Broadband connection for much more than this but to keep this point as basic as possible we will explore just the three functions above.

If the Butchers shop lost their internet connection on the Monday morning they would still continue to trade through traditional foot traffic on this high street but without being able to order new stock for their Hotel chain they supply for and send an invoice for last month not only are they not getting paid for last month but they will also not be supplying the hotel in future as they have not been able to replenish stock.

In the meantime the stock in the shop is running low and by Friday the loyal foot traffic that they were getting is not happy with the lack of pork Chops available and has started to shop at the newest supermarket chain which has popped up in the last 6 months.

In addition to disappointing the local Hotel and their loyal locals they have not been able to respond to any potential leads to supply other corporate customers in the area such as Restaurants and Hotel Chains.

All in all, just a few days without internet connectivity has really affected your local Butchers.

The above is only a very basic example and you can imagine how much more serious it can get within different industries etc.

An e-mail server alone going down can lose a customer thousands upon thousands of Pounds through lost potential sales revenues.

The answer to the original question is that in fact your broadband is essential to your business no matter what your industry or size.

There are many ways a business can connect to the internet and it is a true 'you get what you pay for' market where a company can run on a broadband connection and not pay to much but of course is more susceptible to outages and slow upload speeds. A business can spend thousands per month on installing a true private fibre Internet leased line connection direct from the exchange to their premises and have fantastic speeds and resilience levels.

The key in the matter is to ensure that you get true 'value for money' with your internet connection, accept that you will pay more for an Ethernet First Mile connection as oppose to an ADSL broadband product but don't tie yourself to a long term contract for broadband when technology changes so often.

As a guideline to purchasing your business internet connectivity try and stick to the following rules;

1) Never sign more than a 1 year Broadband or Fibre Optic Broadband product.
2) Never sign up for any internet connection which isn't truly unlimited usage.
3) Always purchase the best product you can afford for your business.

I am a Mobile and internet connectivity sales consultant working for http://www.kfcommunications.co.uk who are a national supplier of business grade communications solutions.

Our mission statement is 'make Your Business Our Business'

By Mike Rowlands

For help finding the right broadband solution for your business needs simply request a free quote here ...

Free Broadband Quotes

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Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Internet Of Things Influencing Day-To-Day Lives

Our planet is turning into an electronically controlled ball of energy. There is a lot of hype over Internet of Things (IoT) in today's technology oriented world. Let's just step back in time, say about a decade ago, when Internet of Things was as anonymous as the iPhone. And now all of a sudden it is all over the place and news.

So how was IoT coined?

It was done in 1999 by Kevin Ashton. As per him it is an Internet system which connects to the world via sensors and storage of data. How the internet and the devices connected to it have grown over the past is evident from the fact that in the year 2003 the ratio of internet connected devices to people was 500 million internet connected devices to 6.3 billion people in the world with approximately 0.08 devices per person. This rocketed quickly and by the year 2010 the ratio was 12.5 billion internet connected devices to 6.8 billion people in the world with about 1.84 devices per person.

How do you classify a device under IoT?

Not all electronic gadgets can be classified under Internet of Things. Devices like a toaster or a refrigerator cannot be a part of IoT unless they have the 7 key features which are notably: sensors, processors, internet connectivity, cost-effectiveness, energy-efficiency, quality and security.

The future plan is to make the household appliances like light bulbs, doors, and washing machines, part of IoT. These appliances do not get replaced very often when compared to our cell phones which makes them very appealing to be morphed. Giving the household appliances sensors and connectivity means providing them a brain of their own and hence the appliances will be able to perform functions automatically without external stimulus at different junctures.

The evolution of machine to machine communication is what IoT is all about and it is fast paced, which means capturing and storing of gargantuan amounts of data. The need to store data at every step has in-turn resulted in the Big data and a cloud computing boom.

Companies putting iot into practice are a huge range and are destined to grow big in the near future. Incorporation of Iot in businesses allows the companies to better assess the customer needs based on the data collected and fulfill their demands. Big data and the internet of things are the technologies to keep an eye out for.

But just how risky could this be?

There is a whole lot of skepticism around the security issues that the conversion of day-to-day devices into a part of IoT poses. The security and privacy threats could be unimaginable with such large extent of automation. Concerns about privacy and safety will grow with the IoT trying to invade our privacy. You may never know what could be spying on you. Next time you sit in front of your television imagine it to be watching you instead of the other way around.

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By Priya Ravinder

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