EFF-Austin Nominates Austin for Google’s Fiber for Communities Project

Google Fiber for Communities Project Nomination of EFF-Austin

We at EFF-Austin have submitted our Google Fiber for Communities nomination. Our letter will be included in the City of Austin’s official nomination package. We think Austin, as a community and a broadband market, is the perfect place for a FTTH network and we hope that Google agrees.

Matthew Henry is an EFFA board member and a partner at McCollough|Henry, PC

Barbershop Punk: SXSW Features Film About Net Neutrality

The SXSW Film Festival is screening a documentary about the open Internet and Net Neutrality called Barbershop Punk at the Austin Convention Center on March 15th and 18th. The title refers to Robb Topolski’s 2007 investigation of Comcast’s network management practices after having trouble sharing public domain barbershop quartet music files. Topolski discovered that the company was secretly throttling P2P applications, which he made public on a dslreports bulletin board. With this discovery, Net Neutrality exploded into the mainstream political discourse and Topolski became a reluctant public figure. The power of the network providers to become the gatekeepers to the Internet became frighteningly clear and Net Neutrality was no longer “a solution in search of a problem.” In response, the FCC forced Comcast to stop throttling P2P, which Comcast is appealing in federal court, and began the process of establishing concrete network management rules to prevent similar practices in the future (with some major loopholes).

From the preview, it looks like the film includes interviews with some of the most prominent actors in the Net Neutrality debate and questions the wisdom of the government’s policy of trusting the duopoly Internet access market to function without any oversight.

Matthew Henry is an EFFA board member and a partner at McCollough|Henry, PC

Call to Action: Nominate Austin For Google’s FTTH Experiment

Google just announced that they plan on rolling out a 1Gbps fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) Internet access service in a number of trial locations. To give some perspective, a 1Gbps Internet access service would be over 65 times faster than Time Warner Cable’s fastest Road Runner tier available in Austin and over 165 times faster than AT&T’s fastest available DSL tier. According to the company’s policy blog, Google wants to build out the super high-speed fiber network for between 50,000 and 500,000 people and to operate it as an open access network, open to all competitors that want to offer FTTH service. Now, Google is trying to figure out where to build this network and is looking for city nominations.

Austin, as a tech hub and an Internet-savvy community, would be a fantastic test bed for this FTTH experiment. Austinites are highly connected and sophisticated Internet users and would perfect beta testers for super high-speed service. Also, with the city’s two major Internet Access Providers (AT&T and Time Warner Cable) experimenting with usage caps and metered service, the city may soon need just such an uncapped high-speed alternative service.

Google is asking for community nominations from individual users, community groups, and local governments. The company will be accepting nominations until March 26, 2010. We urge Austinites to let Google know that they think Austin would be a perfect test site and to send in their nominations for Austin early and often.

Matthew Henry is an EFFA board member and a partner at McCollough|Henry, PC