According to recent news, Comcast is being sued because it is taking advantage of users’ resources to build up its own nationwide Wi-Fi network. Since mid-2013 the company has been updating consumers’ routers by installing new firmware that makes the router partially devoted to the “home-user” network and partially devoted to the “mobile-user” network (a Comcast service named Xfinity WiFi). In fact, the same network infrastructure offers two different kinds of connection: the first one covers a comparatively restricted (local) area and stays under the relative control of the private end-user; the second kind of connection is “shared” between Comcast customers and covers a wider area, compatible with the range of national mobile carriers. In other words: the last mile of data transmission is being made mostly by a group of home based routers (or access points) that offers two different Internet connection services, the local “private” network and the metropolitan “shared” network.
I hope non-Brazilian readers will forgive me, but I could not find a better expression to summarize the current situation of the Brazilian Marco Civil da Internet. “E agora, José?” The expression can be translated into English as “What now, José?”, and is quite popular in Brazil, having its origin in a famous poem by Carlos Drummond de Andrade (1902-1987). Although it might carry different meanings, this expression is mainly used in hard times, when people are challenged by a situation in which desirable or ideal solutions just seem impossible. When puzzled by a conundrum, one might say: “E agora, José?”.
Here I will try to explain why I do think that the Marco Civil is facing such a situation. [Read more…]
On the last week of November/2013 the second edition of ESC took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. ESC is the acronym to “Espectro, Sociedade e Comunicação” (Spectrum, Society and Communication); as the name suggests people in this meeting discussed a fair use of the Radio spectrum in order to empower society by the use of a multiple and free mean of communication: the digital radio broadcasting.
Yes, the radio broadcasting is still important in many ways and not only in Brazil. At least since Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) wrote “Radio as a means of communication” in 1932 there is a struggle related to the right to speak trough the radio waves. Communitarian and unlicensed free radios have been trying to survive despite the efforts from big communication groups to take them down. The radio spectrum scarcity has always been used as technical excuse to keep the communication power concentrated in fewer hands.
But now this picture can be changed in Brazil. [Read more…]