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If Slate Comes in Standard Sizes, Why Not Broadband?

Why does the broadband industry, supposedly a "high technology" one, lag behind old and largely defunct industries that now have reached the "museum piece" stage?Last week I was at the National Slate Museum in Wales watching slate being split apart. On the wall were sample pieces of all the standard sizes. These have cute names like "princess". For each size, there were three standard qualities: the thinnest are the highest quality (at 5mm in thickness), and the thickest have the lowest quality (those of 13mm or more). Obviously, a lighter slate costs less to transport and lets you roof a wider span and with less supporting wood, hence is worth more.

These slates were sold around the world, driven by the industrial revolution and need to build factories and other large structures for which "traditional" methods were unsuitable. Today we are building data centers instead of factories, and the key input is broadband access rather than building materials. Thankfully telecoms is a far less dangerous industry and doesn't give us lung disease that kills us off in our late 30s. (The eye strain and backache from hunching over iDevices is our deserved punishment for refusing to talk to each other!)

What struck me was how this "primitive" industry had managed to create standard products in terms of quantity and quality, that were clearly fit-for-purpose for different uses such as main roofs versus drainage versus ornamental uses. This is in contrast to broadband where there is high variability in the service, even with the same product from the same operator being delivered to different end users.

With broadband, we don't have any kind of standard units for buyers to be able to evaluate a product or know if it offers better or worse utility and value that another. The only promise we make is not to over-deliver, by setting an "up to" maximum burst data throughput! Even this says nothing about the quality on offer.

In this sense, broadband is an immature craft industry which has yet to even reach the most basic level of sophistication in how it defines its products. To a degree, this is understandable, as the medium is a statistically multiplexed one, so naturally is variable in its properties. We haven't yet standardized the metrics in which quantity and quality are expressed for such a thing. The desire is for something simple like a scalar average, but there is no quality in averages.

Hence we need to engage with the probabilistic nature of broadband, and express its properties as odds, ideally using a suitable metric space that captures the likelihood of the desired outcome happening. This is by its nature something that is an internal measure for industry use, rather than something that end consumers might be exposed to.

Without standard metrics and measures, and transparent labeling, a proper functioning market with substitutable suppliers is not possible. The question that sits with me is: whose job is it to standardize the product? The regulator? Equipment vendors? Standards bodies? Network operators? Industry trade groups? Or someone else?

At the moment we seem to lack both awareness of the issue, as well as incentives to tackle it. My hunch is that the switch-over to software-defined networks will be a key driver for change. When resources are brought under software control then they have to be given units of measure. Network operators will have a low tolerance for control systems that have vendor lock-in at this elementary level. Hence the process of standardizing the metrics for quantity and quality will rise in visibility and importance in the next few years.

Written by Martin Geddes, Founder, Martin Geddes Consulting Ltd

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More under: Access Providers, Broadband, Policy & Regulation, Telecom


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Cyber-Terrorism Rising, Existing Cyber-Security Strategies Failing, What Are Decision Makers to Do?

A Global Paradigm Change is Threatening us All

While conventional cyber attacks are evolving at breakneck speed, the world is witnessing the rise of a new generation of political, ideological, religious, terror and destruction motivated "Poli-Cyber™" threats. These are attacks perpetrated or inspired by extremists' groups such as ISIS/Daesh, rogue states, national intelligence services and their proxies. They are breaching organizations and governments daily, and no one is immune. This is a global paradigm change in the cyber and non-cyber threat landscape. The world has moved from resisting the attack, to surviving the inevitable.

Traditional Cyber-Security Strategies are Struggling at Best, and Failing Daily

With traditional cyber-security strategies failing, how can Decision Makers defend and protect national and corporate interests against existing serious conventional attacks and the new generation of Poli-Cyber terrorism? This is not just a threat to profitability, this is a threat to "Survivability". New & innovative solutions are most urgently needed.

The MLi Group is organizing Decision Maker Symposiums & Briefings aimed at Chairmen, CEOs, Board members and senior government officials, as well as Summits around the world to address these new threats, and offer innovative solutions that address them. On March 22-23, 2017, an MLi summit is taking place in London aimed at: "Securing Survivability in Cyber Threatened World

This Summit is a new format created by MLi based on its proprietary and holistic Survivability Solution™ to address these grave new threats posed by conventional and destruction motivated Poli-Cyber attacks threatening businesses and governments globally.

The Summit Draft Program illustrates the innovative MLi developed model as well as some of their partners' mechanisms and processes to help stakeholders first come to terms with the severity of new threat landscape and to be able to operate in it. Only then are they in a position to start their journey to better ensuring "Survivability".

Decision Makers who are keen on making their organizations become better protected against these new threats would significantly benefit from attending.

But those who also see the value of turning a threat into a unique competitive edge and opportunity for years to come would find Joining, Witnessing & Engaging in the New Mind-Set, Approach, & Solutions Needed to Address this Critical New Challenge very Compelling.

Written by Khaled Fattal, Group Chairman, The Multilingual Internet Group

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More under: Cloud Computing, Cyberattack, Cybercrime, DDoS, DNS Security, Internet Governance, Internet of Things, Internet Protocol, Law, Malware, Policy & Regulation, Security, Spam


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Former New York City Mayor Rudy Guliani Appointed to "Chair" Cyber Task Force

Transition spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters today that former New York City Mayo, Rudy Giuliani will "chair" the cyber task force that Trump announced last Friday. The task force is given three months from Trump's inauguration to deliver a cybersecurity plan.

— Giuliani from the Trump Tower in Manhattan on Thursday: "Over the course of the last 20 years, our ability to use modern technology has evolved in ways we couldn't possibly imagine — really fast, very quick, we can do things we never could do before. Our ability to defend that has lagged behind."

— "Giuliani, who has done private cybersecurity work since he left government, will be convening groups of private sector experts and executives who will meet with Trump on the issue," Rebecca Savransky and ben Kamisar reporting in The Hill

— Giuliani on Fox & Friends: "It's his [Trump's] belief, which I share, that a lot of the solutions are out there, we're just not sharing them. It's like cancer. You know, there's cancer research going on all over the place — you'd almost wish they'd get together in one room and maybe we'd find a cure." Watch video clip via Twitter

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More under: Cyberattack, Cybercrime, Security


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How a 'Defensive Registration' Can Defeat a UDRP Complaint

A company that registers a domain name containing someone else's trademark may be engaging in the acceptable practice of "defensive registration" if (among other things) the domain name is a typographical variation of the registrant's own trademark.

That's the outcome of a recent decision under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), a case in which the domain name in dispute, idocler.com, contained the complainant's DOCLER trademark — but also contained a typo of the respondent's DOLCER trademark.

The UDRP complaint was filed by Docler IP S.à r.l. and related companies, all in Europe, that own the DOCLER trademark. According to the UDRP decision, Docler IP apparently uses the DOCLER trademark in connection with "a web platform with music, storytelling, and similar entertainment services."

The disputed domain name was registered by a Chinese company that "sells speakers and similar products under the name DOLCER," which is protected by an EU trademark registration.

Note the slight difference: The complainant's trademark is DOCLER, while the respondent's trademark is DOLCER. And, importantly, the respondent's domain name contains the complainant's trademark.

The UDRP panel had no trouble finding the domain name <idocler.com> confusingly similar to the complainant's trademark DOCLER, succinctly stating that the addition of the letter "i" to the domain name "does not obviate confusion." (Indeed, other UDRP decisions have found that inclusion of the letter "i" in a domain name that contains the complaint's trademark is irrelevant for purposes of confusing similarity. For example, in a dispute that included the domain name ambien-i.com, one panel said that the letter "i" is "a common prefix and suffix in domain names" that "may lead consumers to believe that a product or service may be ordered online" and therefore can "heighten the risk of confusion.")

However, a finding of confusing similarity is just one of three UDRP requirements, the third of which — bad faith — proved determinative. The panel in the idocler.com case found that the respondent had engaged in a "defensive registration" of the domain name and therefore had not acted in bad faith. As a result, the UDRP panel denied a transfer of the domain name.

So, what exactly, is a defensive registration?

According to email correspondence reviewed by the panel in the idocler.com case, "the Respondent has suggested that it registered the disputed domain name well prior to the commencement of this dispute in connection with its speaker business, to protect against typosquatting on its own DOLCER trademark." In other words, the respondent allegedly registered a variation of its own trademark as a domain to prevent a typosquatter from doing the same thing. The panel found this explanation acceptable.

(Interestingly, the panel reached this decision based on email correspondence submitted by the complainant, given that the registrant of the domain name did not submit a response. As I've written before, many trademark owners have lost UDRP cases even in the absence of a response, since there is no "default judgment" available under the UDRP. See: "The Most Embarrassing Way to Lose a UDRP Complaint.")

The idocler.com case is not the first UDRP case to address the issue of a defensive domain name registration. In a 2011 decision cited in the idocler.com decision, a panel described a defensive registration this way:

The Panel finds that the Respondent registered the Domain Name in 1999 as part of a policy of protecting itself against cybersquatters by the defensive registration of a large number of domain names similar to its own which might be used (if registered by others) to divert its customers or otherwise to damage its business.

In that case, the respondent was allowed to keep the domain name shoeby.com even though the complainant owned trademarks that contained the word "SHOEBY" — because the respondent owned trademark registrations for SHOEBUY.

The doctrine of defensive registration in both of these cases seems to have limited applicability and would not protect a domain name registrant in just any situation. In these two decisions, the doctrine seems to have been applied only because the following factors also were present:

  • The respondent's trademark rights arose long before the domain name dispute.
  • The respondent has not used its domain name to target the complainant.
  • The record does not indicate that the respondent was aware of the complainant's trademark.

As a result, although a defensive registration may on occasion be applicable, the limited number of UDRP cases that have addressed the issue and the restrictions on the doctrine show that a true cybersquatter could not successfully assert that it registered a domain name to defend its own rights.

Written by Doug Isenberg, Attorney & Founder of The GigaLaw Firm

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More under: Cybersquatting, Domain Names, Law


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U.S. Department of Commerce Issues IoT Advancement Guidelines

Green Paper: Fostering the Advancement of the Internet of Things - January 12, 2017The Department of Commerce issues a green paper outlining guiding principles and ways to support the advancement of the Internet of Things (IoT). "The report, developed by the Department's Internet Policy Task Force and Digital Economy Leadership Team, finds that the increased scale, scope and stakes of the Internet of Things will lead to opportunities and challenges that are qualitatively different than prior technological advances."

The paper offers feedback on the April 2016 Request for Comment as well as a workshop that was hosted by the Department in September 2016. Included in the paper are four principles for guiding the Department's future IoT activities:

— The Department will lead efforts to ensure the IoT environment is inclusive and widely accessible to consumers, workers, and businesses;

— The Department will recommend policy and take action to support a stable, secure and trustworthy IoT environment;

— The Department will advocate for and defend a globally connected, open and interoperable IoT environment built upon industry-driven, consensus-based standards; and

— The Department will encourage IoT growth and innovation by expanding markets and reducing barriers to entry, and by convening stakeholders to address public policy challenges.

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More under: Internet Governance, Internet of Things, Policy & Regulation


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Zero-Touch Provisioning… Really?

Zero-touch provisioning (ZTP) — whatever does that mean?

Of course, it is another marketing term. I think the term "closer to zero touch provisioning" is probably better, but CTZTP — as opposed to ZTP — is a bit more of a mouthful.

Whenever I hear language like this that I'm not familiar with, I get struck by a bolt of curiosity. What is this new and shiny phrase that has just appeared as if from nowhere?

Zero means zero, right? So by zero-touch provisioning, I was expecting to be dazzled. Services could be delivered to the customer without anyone having to put their hands near anything. How was this going to be done? Had someone invented a system run by robots and mind-control? Did we just need to think about what we wanted and it would get done?

Unfortunately, this was not the case. Some touches were required. Whole networks needed to be in place and this was going to require some physical touches. Already we are way above zero.

Okay, so ZTP is probably based on the assumption that the infrastructure is in place. Is there a case to be made for zero touches? I'm still not seeing it. Someone still needs to take the customer order. If it is a new customer, then usually someone needs to go onsite. The service still needs to be checked to ensure it meets the standards required; at a minimum, the customer needs to access the internet, see a TV channel, or get a dial-tone.

For the sake of getting to our goal of zero touches, we can make that process better. How about we just ship the required devices to the customer? That makes it so the customer just needs to plug-in, turn on, and connect to the network. Okay, so this is still not quite zero-touch as the customer needs to do something, but it is zero touches for us. Now we don't need to send someone onsite. That helps a lot. Not only do we save on labor costs but the customer becomes a shade more technical.

But what if there's a problem? Now the customer has plugged everything in and they're not getting service. So much for the great plan of just shipping the device out! Well, actually, this is where we can get really creative.

Nowadays, we can generally determine if and when a device is connected. Once we know the device is connected, we can then ensure that the service is good quality, e.g. using TR-069, SNMP, IPDR, and so on.

Before we can do this though, we need to map a device to a customer order. In other words, even if a device comes online, how do I know that this device is sitting in the right customer's premise? There are ways to deal with this, for example:

  1. Log the device that is sent to the customer address prior to delivery
  2. Once the device is plugged in, use a walled garden to discover the device information and map that back to the customer. Once the customer tries to access the Internet, they will be redirected to a walled garden. This redirection captures the device information, thereby registering the device.

In both cases above, once the device is properly associated with the customer and is online services will be set up and the service assurance workflows will be triggered. Decreasing the touches generally means increasing the automation. As we get closer and closer to zero touches, the automation increases and gets more complex.

I'm sure you're also seeing other options here. NFV and SDN can contribute greatly to this. In my mind's eye, "zero touch" is a bit like that exponential decay curve that will forever go towards zero but never quite reach it. So even though it will probably never be literally "zero touch", I get the idea. The more we can remove "touches" from the process, the easier it will be to deploy new devices and make the whole provisioning cycle so much easier.

We offer a white paper with more information about getting as close as possible to zero-touch provisioning.

Written by Ronan Bracken, SAC Product Manager at Incognito Software Systems

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More under: Access Providers, Telecom


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Alphabet Shuts Down Its Solar-Powered Internet Drone Program

"Alphabet cuts former Titan drone program from X division, employees dispersing to other units," reports Seth Weintraub today in 9TO5Google: "In 2014, Google bought Titan Aerospace, maker of high-altitude, solar-powered drone aircraft. ... The Titan division was absorbed into X in late 2015 from the Access and Energy division during the Alphabet re-shuffle. ... We’ve now heard and Alphabet has confirmed, that the Titan group was recently shut down and engineers were told to look for other jobs within Alphabet/Google in the coming months. Over 50 employees were involved in the process."

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More under: Access Providers, Broadband


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