May 22 2014

SamKnows in Ireland

Category: Hardware,Internet,TelecomsTeknovis @ 11:26 pm

I recently heard about SamKnows in the context of it being available in Ireland! In summary, it is a free to participate in scheme which involves plugging a box into your ISP’s internet connection in order to measure actual speeds! You can then compare these actual speeds to the advertised speeds in order to determine the difference.

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Oct 11 2010

Irish Courts Rule Against Music Industry’s Demands

Category: Internet,TelecomsTeknovis @ 5:11 pm

The Irish Courts have said no to the music industries ridiculous demands for policing users’ activity! See Record companies lose illegal download case.

Brilliant! Well done to UPC for standing up for its users rights!

I wonder will Eircom reconsider its foolish position of cooperation now!

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Nov 24 2009

EU Blow to Eircom and Illegal File Sharing

Category: Networks,TelecomsTeknovis @ 10:28 pm

Delighted to read Threat to Eircom ‘three strikes’ plan. It will be interesting to see how Eircom reacts!

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Apr 23 2009

Internet Censorship by Belgian Government

Category: eGovernment,InternetTeknovis @ 4:43 pm

I just read that the Belgian Government has ordered 17 ISPs to block access to four websites. According to the largest ISP, this is the first time that this has occurred. The censored websites in this case contain details of convicted paedophiles. For more details about this see Belgium govt blocks access to website.

In general, I am in favour of making information public. However, I am also a strong supporter of privacy. So I do not know yet if publishing this information is good or bad.

However, I do think that trying to block access to these websites by forcing ISPs to police network traffic is both stupid and ineffective. In my opinion, this type of action only raises the profile of the censored websites! I suppose that it is typical of pushing a political solution into a technical arena.

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Mar 12 2009

Eircom Broadband in Rural Ireland

Category: NetworksTeknovis @ 11:17 pm

Eircom has been in the news over the last few days due to its broadband strategy:

An Eircom executive has said that people in rural Ireland who live more than 5km from a telephone exchange will never get broadband.

Eircom’s Paul Bradley said that even when the local exchange is upgraded to handle broadband, a modem will not connect as the signal becomes so weak after 5km.

I must admit that I do not see what all the fuss is about. Eircom is simply stating the obvious! You can read more about this in Eircom accused of abandoning rural Ireland and Eircom broadband spend under review, committee told.

It is not clear to me why people in rural Ireland have an expectation that they should be able to avail of the same level of broadband as people who live in urban centres. Do these rural dwellers also expect the proposed Metro for Dublin to extend to their towns? Or do they expect that they can have gas connections to their houses? There are advantages and disadvantages of living in rural or urban areas, and that the associated differences must be recognised!

Indeed, the story gained enough momentum to be featured on national television this evening. You can watch it online on at Eircom re-thinking rural broadband rollout. Damien Mulley, for whom I have a lot of respect, appeared on the program. However, I disagree with him on the significance that broadband has on rural Ireland. As part of his argument he compared broadband access in rural locations in Ireland with broadband access in Amsterdam! I think that this is a very flawed comparison for the obvious reasons!

I also disagree with what Damien said about Eircom blocking access to certain web sites, and in particular, he mentioned The Pirate Bay. I am currently using Eircom to access the Internet, and I appear to have full access to The Pirate Bay. Furthermore, I previously described how many ISPs blocked access a certain web page in Extreme Child Pornography Prevention Measures, but Eircom did not, and still does not, block access to this web page.

In my opinion, it would be significantly more beneficial to Ireland to have investment into providing greater bandwidth and more services into a few well chosen urban locations. In other words, concentrate resources to create a silicon valley in Ireland, rather than create a mediocre service covering the entire country.

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Jan 31 2009

Eircom and Illegal File Sharing

Category: NetworksTeknovis @ 11:31 am

I remember reading a while ago that some of the record companies were taking legal action against Eircom, because Eircom would not police and prevent illegal P2P music sharing within its network. I think that Eircom would have been mad to do this!

Like many other people, I think that the record labels are still living in the past by spectacularly ignoring the realities of current technology!

So I was very interested in reading this week that this action has been settled out of court. The agreement seems to centre on the record labels detecting illegal downloading themselves without any special access to Eircom’s network. They can then pass the relevant IP addresses to Eircom, and Eircom will serve the offending user with a warning. If the record companies detect that the user persists in sharing illegal music files then Eircom will disconnect the user.

I think that this is a big win for Eircom, and a big loss for the record companies, for the following reasons:

  • Eircom does not need to modify or police its network.
  • The record companies must do the policing themselves. I am sure they would have loved to pass that burden to Eircom!
  • The record companies will not get any special access to the network. So, they will have as much detection abilities as I do!
  • Consequently, it will be relatively easy for users to avoid detection.
  • The record companies will not get access to any personal details of users who are performing illegal downloading.

The full details about this are in Big four music labels and Eircom in landmark piracy settlement.

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Jan 29 2009

Google ISP Performance Tools

Category: NetworksTeknovis @ 9:28 pm

Google is developing a set of tools that will enable users to determine if their ISPs are interfering with their packets. That should be very useful, especially if more users become aware of the fact that some ISPs might do this!

More details about this are described in Google Introduces A New Weapon In The Fight For Net Neutrality: Measurement Labs.

I am not necessarily an advocate of Net Neutrality. I do not think that a very small proportion of users should be allowed to negatively impact the majority of users. However, this can be ensured through network management without necessarily compromising on Net Neutrality. However, I do think that ISPs should clearly state their network management policies. This enables consumers to make the final decision!

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Dec 17 2008

Virgin Broadband

Category: Networks,TelecomsTeknovis @ 10:34 pm

I read an interesting article earlier in the week describing how Virgin Media has launched its new broadband service. This service will be available throughout the UK in the next six months, and it providers users with a maximum download speed of 50Mbps. This will make Virgin Media the fastest ISP in the UK.

More details about this can be read in Virgin unveils next-gen broadband.

The same article describes how BT is beginning a fibre to the cabinet trial that will provide users with speeds up to 40Mbps.

This is very interesting, because in the middle of 2007 I attended an event hosted by T-Com in Berlin. One of the topics at this event was broadband, and T-Com told us that it would have fibre to the cabinet deployed in the 50 largest cities in Germany in 2008. This would be capable of supplying 17 million homes. At that time T-Com had already installed fibre to the cabinet in the 26 largest cities in Germany, and we were shown some of the new cabinets on the streets in Berlin. It was then easy to spot these new cabinets ourselves, because they are slightly larger than the standard cabinets, and if you listen carefully you can hear the cooling equipment running inside them! T-Com were offering a triple play service of phone, television, and Internet to customers using this infrastructure. There were some BT representatives at the meeting also, and I recall them being impressed :o

Independently, it appears that Virgin Media will start traffic shaping P2P traffic next year according to Virgin Media to dump neutrality and target BitTorrent users. I wonder if the Net Neutrality war is being lost in Europe :|

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Dec 08 2008

Extreme Child Pornography Prevention Measures

Category: InternetTeknovis @ 2:23 pm

There are two articles in the news today regarding child pornography prevention measures that are being applied at national level. These articles caught my attention because I think that they are great example of how not to apply censorship!

The first article describes how six ISPs in the UK are blocking access to a Wikipedia web page that contains a photo of a naked girl in her early teens. Initially this sounds reasonable, but the block is being applied to the whole page rather than simply the photo. Furthermore, the photo is of a well known album from 1976 by a well known band. So clearly the intention of publishing this web page is not to promote child pornography.

The ISPs are implementing the block using a transparent proxy that is not forwarding the original client IP address to Wikipedia. Unfortunately, this means that Wikipedia cannot identify individual clients within these ISPs, so all users of these ISPs are now blocked from updating Wikipedia!

To add to the stupidity of this situation, the photo is widely available on the Internet already, and a simple search for “virgin killer” on Google Images finds it. Apparently many UK bloggers are now posting the image in protest.

For more details about this see Brit ISPs censor Wikipedia over ‘child porn’ album cover.

I am delighted to report that my ISP (Eircom) is not blocking access to this web page! I hope it stays this way. If you want to test your ISP then simply try viewing Virgin Killer.

The second article describes how an Australian judge recently found a man guilty of possessing child pornography. The child pornography was a fake Simpsons cartoon that depicted some of the characters have sex. For more details about this see Fake Simpsons cartoon ‘is porn’.

Again, this seems like excessive policing to me.

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Dec 05 2008

ISP Traffic Shaping

Category: Networks,TelecomsTeknovis @ 8:19 pm

Traffic shaping is the practice of examining IP packets (but not the payload), and treating them differently, based on their characteristics. This usually consists of assigning packets priorities which determine how efficiently they are processed by networking equipment.

Traditionally, all packets within the network have been treated as equals. This worked fine when most traffic required only a small amount of bandwidth for a short durations, as is typical in web browsing and email exchange. So most ISPs were relatively happy to peer together, and carry each others traffic for free.

However, as the Internet has developed people are requiring and consuming greater amounts of bandwidth. Often this bandwidth is required across multiple ISPs’ networks, and ISPs and the intervening carriers, are increasingly charging based on the amount of traffic being exchanged. One of the main causes of significant bandwidth being required is P2P applications.

I read an article recently describing how a Canadian court granted the country’s largest ISP permission to apply traffic shaping on its core network. In particular, the court granted the ISP permission to traffic shape P2P traffic. This will effect both the retail customers and the smaller ISPs who buy wholesale services. The full article is Regulators back Bell Canada choking indie ISP traffic.

As far as I am aware, no Irish ISPs currently do any traffic shaping. However, I might be wrong about this!

My opinion is that traffic shaping will become increasingly necessary in the future to ensure that a minority of customers do not consume the majority of resources to the detriment of the majority of the users. However, I am very concerned about the prospect of traffic shaping being used by ISPs to prevent competitive services such as VoIP being used.

Would you be happy if you knew that your ISP was traffic shaping?

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