Monday, March 23, 2009

Broadband Maps and 'We never saw bittorrent comming'

Having spent a good part of today watching some of the Department of Commerce's (DOC) roundtable about the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, it seems there's a lot of talk and little action. One thing that came up was there is little desire to make businesses accountable and serve the public, because it might put people off (although they also acknowledge that very few turn down the money talked about here). Something eye-opening was that the FCC considers an entire zip-code (postal code) covered by broadband, if one address in it has broadband service.

The problem is, that in the rural areas, with the problems of access to broadband, zipcodes can cover huge areas – sometimes 150 square miles or more – and also contain towns and rural areas. A friend of TorrentFreak's researcher lives in such an area, living a 25-30 minute drive out of town, up and over a mountain in rural Georgia, and yet they've still got the city zip-code. It's something that needs revamping urgently, so that an accurate picture of what there is to work from can be found.

It wasn't all boring figures though, as in the morning session, on 'nondiscrimination and interconnection obligations', one remark in some ways showed the depths of the problem. Chris Guttman-McCabe, Vice President for Regulatory affairs at the Wireless Association (CTIA) said, and I quote “I'm not sure anyone would have known what bittorrent was two years ago, but now it's at the center of how we look at discrimination cases and such, but we will be looking back saying 'what the heck we had no clue as to what network management meant at the time'”. (You can find it in the official transcript, but as it's a text2speech system, search for 'bit torn')

We have major sites that have been around for 4-5 years, and the FBI knows about bittorrent (elitetorrents) as did the White House (the pirate bay) so why doesn't 'The Wireless Association'? Who knows, but it seems someone should be asking them that.

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