Dave says that Riverside is ending their free Wi-Fi service tomorrow after complaints that some people couldn't use it. AT&T, who set it up, pulled out a few years ago and Riverside may have decided it was too costly to operate on their own. Leo says that's a shame because Riverside was one of the first communities to give it a try. It's not likely that more communities will be able to join in, as most ISPs have lobbied legislatures to outlaw free Wi-Fi service so ISPs can charge more.
Whenever Netflix has been having buffering issues, they have been checking with other customers of the same internet service provider to verify that they also are having problems. If they are, Netflix has been displaying a message that puts the blame on that internet service provider for being too congested. Verizon sent Netflix a cease and desist letter to get them to stop doing this, though.
In their effort to replace their failed UVerse Internet and Entertainment packaging, AT&T wants to buy DirecTV. AT&T has also promised everyone that if the deal goes through, prices will drop. Leo says that would be a first. All too often, when there's less choice, prices go up. And with Comcast going after Time Warner and now AT&T going after DirecTV, he doesn't expect prices to drop any time soon. Quite the opposite, actually.
Dan recently began using Google Chrome, and when he tries to use some extensions, he gets a warning box that says it can access his data on all websites along with browsing activity. Leo says this is true of any browser anyway, and is probably a little overzealous. Leo says his browser and internet service provider knows everything he does. This means that if he installs an extension, it will also know everything. It's important to only get browser extensions from the browser's extension store. He should only get them from well known and credible companies.
Leo thinks this could be the best answer to the open internet issue with the FCC. If communities create their own internet, it ends the conversation because it is a municipal utility like water or electricity. One way communities could make this financially viable is to ask commercial providers to provide service on top of their infrastructure. It could also encourage competition among providers. It's a great idea, but it's hard to convince municipalities to do it.
Jerry's Wi-Fi router isn't as fast as he'd like. Jerry should check out SpeedTest.net to see how fast he can get. He may also be able to move the router around to get a clearer signal and faster speeds.
Ron has a home studio, and his ISDN line costs have skyrocketed lately. Leo says that's because the phone company is trying to get ISDN users to give their lines up. The phone company has to operate a non-standard switch in order to maintain the ISDN line. They don't want to have a separate switch anymore and they want to stop providing it.
Justin streams music in real time to radio stations, but it gets problematic. Leo says that the Internet was never designed for streaming music because packets are designed to arrive out of order and be reassembled. Leo uses an ISDN, which isn't super fast, but they are point to point so it's a direct connection. This means he has consistent bandwidth that delivers packets almost instantaneously. Anything in real time can't really be used over the internet. It's too difficult. Telos makes boxes designed to do internet protocol, but Leo isn't convinced it's ready for prime time.
Gary wants to know more about cutting cable television, and wants to know what his options would be to avoid mobile phone contracts too. Gary spends about $150 a month for two smartphones, and spends $150 on cable TV.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has proposed rules that threaten the free an open internet that we enjoy today. Under the new rules, content providers would have to pay for premium access to customers. Larger companies such as Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon would be able to pay these access fees. But smaller startups or individuals with little funding would not be able to afford this, and would be at a competitive disadvantage. The internet is full of innovations that started as small startups with little funding, like Facebook, eBay, Yahoo, and even Google.