We control the internet and your use of it…

How would you like somebody to tell you for what services you could and could not use your internet connection? Or which innovation you could take advantage of and by which companies? Bittorrent? Nope…it uses too much bandwidth. A competing voice over IP (VoIP) to the one that your ISP (e.g., Comcast, Roadrunner, et al) wants to sell you? Or completely crush some disruptive telephony service like, say, Skype, GoogleTalk or iChat?

It’s happenin’ kids. The trolls are coming out from under the bridge’s to collect their tolls.

First there was the buzz (and later public evidence) of Clearwire blocking the Vonage VoIP service since Clearwire wanted to have the customers of their ISP buy their VoIP service. It got stopped. Then it was the CEO’s of SBC and BellSouth whining about the market capitalization of companies like Google, Microsoft and others “not paying their fair share.” Today I read an article that ISP’s are blocking outbound SMTP (the simple mail transmission protocol) which makes sense: it blocks spammers from relaying through their mail servers. Now allegedly some are blocking the inbound SMTP ports.

What does this mean for you? If you’re like me, I choose to use an email provider other than the single email account I receive from Roadrunner. I like Gmail as does my son; my daughter uses Hotmail; my wife an account for her work. If Time Warner Roadrunner service did port blocking on services other than the ones they provide, we’d be screwed (though Gmail and Hotmail use port 80…the same as for web pages…though I also obtain Gmail through POP3 — as does my wife — which would be turned off).

Anecdotally, I’ve been experiencing strange behavior with my Vonage box (a Linksys…and is a service I’ve only had for less than two months). My download speed through Roadrunner (which I’ve had for 3 years and it’s been rock solid) was always 4 – 5mbps and is now intermittently 1.5 – 2mbps. I unplug the box, fine. Plug it back in, throttled back. But only intermittently and I’m not smart enough technically to narrow down the problem. I’ve only got suspicions now that all this other choking-and-control-of-others-services is happening.

Where is the Federal Communications Commission? Why have they not addressed this? There needs to be an internet summit in Washington to address internet strategy and ensuring it is and remains a level playing field for competition. If instead the Feds have a laissez faire approach to free market competition, the ISP’s will slowly close the sphincter around any competition and the trolls will have their hand out if you want to be an innovator and/or simply buy or use the innovations of others.

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  1. Ralph Roberts on January 13, 2006 at 8:42 am

    Internet is spelled with an upper-case “I” not a lower-case “i” as is in the above title.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.