Tarun Dua | 8 Feb 12:00 2016

TRAI order on differential pricing


Tarun Dua | 5 Feb 07:33 2016


Any idea why this is blocked in India ?
Arun Mehta | 24 Jan 09:06 2016

bluetooth becomes bultoo :)


nice, that people can use Bluetooth as a form of radio, but how stupid, that we do not delicense low power FM, a technology designed for the purpose, with the cheapest receivers

Arun Mehta
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Kiritkumar Lathia | 20 Jan 09:01 2016

India regulator pillories Facebook over Free Basics lobbying - BBC news

Follow up on Arun's previous e-mail chain; for once TRAI has taken the correct step to protect "net neutrality" which is important for not only India. As many have mentioned, there is no free lunch and this type of business by false advertising ("Free Basics") is not only morally wrong and should be regarded as falsifying a product (access of Internet for free but does not give access to Internet - only some selected parts of it). I hope it prevails and does not allow Internet cannibalisation . Any news on what happened to free Internet access from Google at train stations?

From the BBC news article:
" But those campaigning to protect net neutrality in India suggest data providers should not favour some online services over others by offering cheaper or faster access. At least 50 professors of the Indian Institute of Technology and the Indian Institute of Science also supported the campaign to protect net neutrality, saying that the Free Basics plan was "a lethal combination which will lead to total lack of freedom on how Indians can use their own public utility, the Internet".
End Quote.

Best wishes,

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Arun Mehta | 5 Jan 13:46 2016

IP telephony, VPN also part of a neutral Internet!

Before we discuss what Net neutrality is, do we even have agreement on what the Internet is?

The oligopolists controlling Indian telecom have always held that Internet telephony was not part of the ISP license. Similarly, at some point they decided that virtual private networks also were not part of the ISP license -- perhaps Deepak Maheshwari can help with the historical record?

Oh, and remember Intranets? BBSes? If those are OK, is there a problem with Facebook offering Free Basics, only not calling it the Internet, but a BBS?

Net neutrality means according to me an Internet that simply forwards packets. VPNs, Internet telephony, everything, without distinction. 

Arun Mehta
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Atanu Garai | 5 Jan 07:25 2016

Re: MARKET structure and monopolies Re: Why is Mark Zuckerberg angry at critics in India?

On Tue, Jan 5, 2016 at 11:54 AM, Atanu Garai <atanu-+rxkjHWb4avq2LXkWqQROAC/G2K4zDHf@public.gmane.org> wrote:
On Tue, Jan 5, 2016 at 11:43 AM, Ratnendra Pandey <pandey <at> hotmail.com> wrote:
Monopolies do not cause any harm.  This also a communist/socialist propaganda. Envy and feeling of inadequacy drives many communists and socialist to  pick fault with anyone who is successful. Actually monopolies may be more efficient due to economies of scale as compared  a collection of several small players acting autonomously.

This is not free market, nor it is economics. It is not even common sense.
What monopoly has to do with economies of scale?
Atanu Garai

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Kiritkumar Lathia | 4 Jan 08:02 2016

Re: Why is Mark Zuckerberg angry at critics in India?

Dear Ken,

Your inputs have been valuable contributions. You should not give up just because we have had inputs from one person living in Wonderland with: "imagination as the only weapon in the war against reality and my Reality is just different", said the Cheshire Cat.

I have learnt from all other inputs so thanks to all.

Arun, I think here we have agreed that only Open Internet should be allowed and it really comes down to the Indian Government to ensure that all ISPs provide "net neutrality".

Best wishes,

On 3 Jan 2016 8:25 pm, "ken" <ken-1tT2xLNz+vXR7s880joybQ@public.gmane.org> wrote:

I have better things to do with my time that address such profound ignorance.

If this is the level of discourse this list has degenerated to, I will now take my leave.

Good luck to you all moving forward.

In closing,

Ken DiPietro
Cumberland MD.

On 01/03/2016 02:01 PM, pandey-PkbjNfxxIARBDgjK7y7TUQ@public.gmane.org wrote:
What is said about Monopolies are false too. Monopolies are rarely permanent.
And during the short period  when it is possible for monopolies to generate above market profits
 for its owners, enough suppliers are attracted to the market with better product
and business model to make monopolies ineffective.

Care to list Monopolies that have survived without government protection?
Monopolies and inherently unstable and open to attack.

The communist/socialist economist and ideologues have carefully created fear
 of monopolies to justify government takeover of private businesses.

Ratnendra Pandey

On 1/3/2016 10:15 AM, ken wrote:
On 01/03/2016 12:28 PM, Ratnendra Pandey wrote:
What ken suggesting about costs and pricing is  misleading and false.

All prices are paid by consumers.
Repeat with me.
All prices are paid by consumers.

Sure, you could look at it that way but that would also not be entirely accurate.

One specific example would be someone who does not subscribe to the Internet or those who use the net but do not pay for it. In the US, that percentage is est9mated to be above 30%. I am quite certain that in India the percentage of the total population who either don't use the Internet or use it but do not pay for it is significantly higher.

In point of fact, you can delude yourself into believing everything is a supply sided equation but we Americans have learned beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is a fallacy. The concept of a free market is exactly that, an idea that is likely to never exist in much the same way a pure communistic government is unlikely to ever be feasible. And for what few experiments have been attempted, the end result is a society where monopolies rule unimpeded.

Ken DiPietro
Cumberland MD

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ken | 3 Jan 12:56 2016

Iran's blogfather: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are killing the web (long read)

Adding fuel to the fire...

(If we can accept the premise offered below, what real value does 
Zuckerberg offer India?)

Iran's blogfather: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are killing the web

Late in 2014, I was abruptly pardoned and freed from Evin prison in 
northern Tehran. In November 2008, I had been sentenced to nearly 20 
years in jail, mostly over my web activities, and thought I would end up 
spending most of my life in those cells. So the moment, when it came, 
was unexpected. I was sharing a cup of tea when the voice of the floor 
announcer – another prisoner – filled all the rooms and corridors: “Dear 
fellow inmates, the bird of luck has once again sat on one fellow 
inmate’s shoulders. Mr Hossein Derakhshan, as of this moment, you are free.”

Outside, everything felt new: the chill autumn breeze, the traffic noise 
from a nearby bridge, the smell, the colours of the city I had lived in 
most of my life. Around me, I noticed a very different Tehran from the 
one I had been used to. An influx of new, shamelessly luxurious condos 
had replaced the charming little houses I was familiar with. New roads, 
new highways, hordes of invasive SUVs. Large billboards with 
advertisements for Swiss-made watches and Korean TVs. Women in colourful 
scarves and manteaus, men with dyed hair and beards, and hundreds of 
charming cafes with hip western music and female staff. They were the 
kind of changes that creep up on people; the kind you only really notice 
once normal life gets taken away from you.

Two weeks later, I began writing again. Some friends agreed to let me 
start a blog as part of their arts magazine. I called it Ketabkhan – it 
means book-reader in Persian.

Six years was a long time to be in jail, but it is an entire era online. 
Writing on the internet had not changed, but reading – or, at least, 
getting things read – had altered dramatically. I’d been told how 
essential social networks had become, so I tried to post a link to one 
of my stories on Facebook. It turned out Facebook didn’t care much. It 
ended up looking like a boring classified ad. No description. No image. 
Nothing. It got three likes. Three! That was it.

It became clear to me, right there, that things had changed. I was not 
equipped to play on this new turf — all my investment and effort had 
burned up. I was devastated.

Blogs were gold and bloggers were rock stars back in 2008 when I was 
arrested. At that point, and despite the fact the state was blocking 
access to my blog from inside Iran, I had an audience of around 20,000 
people every day. People used to carefully read my posts and leave lots 
of relevant comments, even those who hated my guts. I could empower or 
embarrass anyone I wanted. I felt like a monarch.

The iPhone was a little over a year old, but smartphones were still 
mostly used to make phone calls and send short messages, handle emails, 
and surf the web. There were no real apps, certainly not how we think of 
them today. There was no Instagram, no SnapChat, WhatsApp. Instead, 
there was the web, and on the web, there were blogs: the best place to 
find alternative thoughts, news and analysis. They were my life.

It had all started with 9/11. I was in Toronto, and my father had just 
arrived from Tehran for a visit. We were having breakfast when the 
second plane hit the World Trade Center. I was puzzled and confused and, 
looking for insights and explanations, I came across blogs. Once I read 
a few, I thought: this is it, I should start one, and encourage all 
Iranians to start blogging as well. So, using Notepad on Windows, I 
started experimenting. Soon I was writing on hoder.com, using Blogger’s 
publishing platform before Google bought it.

Then, on 5 November 2001, I published a step-by-step guide on how to 
start a blog. That sparked something that was later called a blogging 
revolution: soon, hundreds and thousands of Iranians made it one of the 
top five nations by the number of blogs. I used to keep a list of all 
blogs in Persian and, for a while, I was the first person any new 
blogger in Iran would contact, so they could get on the list. That’s why 
they called me “the blogfather” in my mid-20s – it was a silly nickname, 
but at least it hinted at how much I cared.

The Iranian blogosphere was a diverse crowd – from exiled authors and 
journalists, female diarists, and technology experts, to local 
journalists, politicians, clerics, and war veterans . But you can never 
have too much diversity. I encouraged conservatives inside Iran to join 
and share their thoughts. I had left the country in late 2000 to 
experience living in the west, and was scared that I was missing all the 
rapidly emerging trends at home. But reading Iranian blogs in Toronto 
was the closest experience I could have to sitting in a shared taxi in 
Tehran and listening to collective conversations between the talkative 
driver and random passengers.

There’s a story in the Qur’an that I thought about a lot during my first 
eight months in solitary confinement. In it, a group of persecuted 
Christians find refuge in a cave. They, and a dog they have with them, 
fall into a deep sleep and wake up under the impression that they have 
taken a nap: in fact, it’s 300 years later. One version of the story 
tells of how one of them goes out to buy food – and I can only imagine 
how hungry they must have been after 300 years – and discovers that his 
money is obsolete now, a museum item. That’s when he realises how long 
they have been absent.

The hyperlink was my currency six years ago. It represented the open, 
interconnected spirit of the world wide web – a vision that started with 
its inventor, Tim Berners-Lee. The hyperlink was a way to abandon 
centralisation – all the links, lines and hierarchies – and replace them 
with something more distributed, a system of nodes and networks. Since I 
got out of jail, though, I’ve realised how much the hyperlink has been 
devalued, almost made obsolete.

Nearly every social network now treats a link as just the same as it 
treats any other object – the same as a photo, or a piece of text. 
You’re encouraged to post one single hyperlink and expose it to a 
quasi-democratic process of liking and plussing and hearting. But links 
are not objects, they are relations between objects. This 
objectivisation has stripped hyperlinks of their immense powers.

At the same time, these social networks tend to treat native text and 
pictures – things that are directly posted to them – with a lot more 
respect. One photographer friend explained to me how the images he 
uploads directly to Facebook receive many more likes than when he 
uploads them elsewhere and shares the link on Facebook.

Some networks, like Twitter, treat hyperlinks a little better. Others 
are far more paranoid. Instagram – owned by Facebook – doesn’t allow its 
audiences to leave whatsoever. You can put up a web address alongside 
your photos, but it won’t go anywhere. Lots of people start their daily 
online routine in these cul-de-sacs of social media, and their journeys 
end there. Many don’t even realise they are using the internet’s 
infrastructure when they like an Instagram photograph or leave a comment 
on a friend’s Facebook video. It’s just an app.

But hyperlinks aren’t just the skeleton of the web: they are its eyes, a 
path to its soul. And a blind webpage, one without hyperlinks, can’t 
look or gaze at another webpage – and this has serious consequences for 
the dynamics of power on the web.

More or less all theorists have thought of gaze in relation to power, 
and mostly in a negative sense: the gazer strips the gazed and turns her 
into a powerless object, devoid of intelligence or agency. But in the 
world of webpages, gaze functions differently: it is more empowering. 
When a powerful website – say Google or Facebook – gazes at, or links 
to, another webpage, it doesn’t just connect it , it brings it into 
existence; gives it life. Without this empowering gaze, your web page 
doesn’t breathe. No matter how many links you have placed in a webpage, 
unless somebody is looking at it, it is actually both dead and blind, 
and therefore incapable of transferring power to any outside web page.

Apps like Instagram are blind, or almost blind. Their gaze goes inwards, 
reluctant to transfer any of their vast powers to others, leading them 
into quiet deaths. The consequence is that web pages outside social 
media are dying.

Even before I went to jail, though, the power of hyperlinks was being 
curbed. Its biggest enemy was a philosophy that combined two of the most 
dominant, and most overrated, values of our times: newness and 
popularity. (Isn’t this embodied these days by the real-world dominance 
of young celebrities?) That philosophy is the stream. The stream now 
dominates the way people receive information on the web. Fewer users are 
directly checking dedicated webpages, instead getting fed by a 
never-ending flow of information that’s picked for them by complex and 
secretive algorithms.

The stream means you don’t need to open so many websites any more. You 
don’t need numerous tabs. You don’t even need a web browser. You open 
the Facebook app on your smartphone and dive in. The mountain has come 
to you. Algorithms have picked everything for you. According to what you 
or your friends have read or seen before, they predict what you might 
like to see. It feels great not to waste time in finding interesting 
things on so many websites. But what are we exchanging for efficiency?

In many apps, the votes we cast – the likes, the plusses, the stars, the 
hearts – are actually more related to cute avatars and celebrity status 
than to the substance of what’s posted. A most brilliant paragraph by 
some ordinary-looking person can be left outside the stream, while the 
silly ramblings of a celebrity gain instant internet presence. And not 
only do the algorithms behind the stream equate newness and popularity 
with importance, they also tend to show us more of what we have already 
liked. These services carefully scan our behaviour and delicately tailor 
our news feeds with posts, pictures and videos that they think we would 
most likely want to see.

Popularity is not wrong in and of itself, but it has its own perils. In 
a free-market economy, low-quality goods with the wrong prices are 
doomed to failure. Nobody gets upset when a quiet Hackney cafe with bad 
lattes and rude servers goes out of business. But political or religious 
opinions are not the same as material goods or services. They won’t 
disappear if they are unpopular or even wrong. In fact, history has 
proven that most big ideas (and many bad ones) have been quite unpopular 
for a long time, and their marginal status has only strengthened them. 
Minority views are radicalised when they can’t be heard or engaged with. 
That’s how Isis is recruiting and growing. The stream suppresses other 
types of unconventional ideas too, with its reliance on our habits.

Today the stream is digital media’s dominant form of organising 
information. It’s in every social network and mobile application. Since 
I gained my freedom, everywhere I turn I see the stream. I guess it 
won’t be too long before we see news websites organise their entire 
content based on the same principles. The prominence of the stream today 
doesn’t just make vast chunks of the internet biased against quality – 
it also means a deep betrayal to the diversity that the world wide web 
had originally envisioned.

The centralisation of information also worries me because it makes it 
easier for things to disappear. After my arrest, my hosting service 
closed my account, because I wasn’t able to pay its monthly fee. But at 
least I had a backup of all my posts in a database on my own web server. 
But what if my account on Facebook or Twitter is shut down for any 
reason? Those services themselves may not die any time soon, but it is 
not too difficult to imagine a day when many American services shut down 
the accounts of anyone from Iran, as a result of the current regime of 
sanctions. If that happened, I might be able to download my posts in 
some of them, and let’s assume the backup can be easily imported into 
another platform. But what about the unique web address for my social 
network profile? Would I be able to claim it back later, after somebody 
else has possessed it?

But the scariest outcome of the centralisation of information in the age 
of social networks is something else: it is making us all much less 
powerful in relation to governments and corporations. Surveillance is 
increasingly imposed on civilised lives, and it gets worse as time goes 
by. The only way to stay outside of this vast apparatus of surveillance 
might be to go into a cave and sleep, even if you can’t make it 300 years.

Ironically enough, states that cooperate with Facebook and Twitter know 
much more about their citizens than those, like Iran, where the state 
has a tight grip on the internet but does not have legal access to 
social media companies. What is more frightening than being merely 
watched, though, is being controlled. When Facebook can know us better 
than our parents with only 150 likes, and better than our spouses with 
300 likes, the world appears quite predictable, both for governments and 
for businesses. And predictability means control.

Middle-class Iranians, like most people in the world, are obsessed with 
new trends. Since 2014 the hype is all about Instagram. There’s less and 
less text on social networks, and more and more video, more and more 
images, still or moving, to watch. Are we witnessing a decline of 
reading on the web in favour of watching and listening? The web started 
out by imitating books and for many years, it was heavily dominated by 
text, by hypertext. Search engines such as Google put huge value on 
these things, and entire companies – entire monopolies – were built off 
the back of them. But as the number of image scanners and digital photos 
and video cameras grows exponentially, this seems to be changing. Search 
tools are starting to add advanced image recognition algorithms; 
advertising money is flowing there.

The stream, mobile applications, and moving images all show a departure 
from a books-internet toward a television-internet. We seem to have gone 
from a non-linear mode of communication – nodes and networks and links – 
toward one that is linear, passive, programmed and inward-looking.

When I log on to Facebook, my personal television starts. All I need to 
do is to scroll: New profile pictures by friends, short bits of opinion 
on current affairs, links to new stories with short captions, 
advertising, and of course self-playing videos. I occasionally click on 
the like or share button, read peoples’ comments or leave one, or open 
an article. But I remain inside Facebook, and it continues to broadcast 
what I might like. This is not the web I knew when I went to jail. This 
is not the future of the web. This future is television.

Soon the internet will be a collection of mobile apps rather than of 
websites. And the money these apps generate will be out of monthly 
subscription, instead of advertising – something like cable television 
with its various theme-based packages, and its primetime. (Already if 
you want to post anything to a social network, you have to do it early 
morning or late night, when most people are using the app.)

Sometimes I think maybe I’m becoming too strict as I age. Maybe this is 
all a natural evolution of a technology. But I can’t close my eyes to 
what’s happening: a loss of intellectual power and diversity. In the 
past, the web was powerful and serious enough to land me in jail. Today 
it feels like little more than entertainment. So much that even Iran 
doesn’t take some – Instagram, for instance – serious enough to block.

I miss when people took time to be exposed to opinions other than their 
own, and bothered to read more than a paragraph or 140 characters. I 
miss the days when I could write something on my own blog, publish on my 
own domain, without taking an equal time to promote it on numerous 
social networks; when nobody cared about likes and reshares, and best 
time to post.

That’s the web I remember before jail. That’s the web we have to save.

The original article can be found here:

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Ruchir T | 3 Jan 10:17 2016

Article - Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are killing the web

Good read above - underscores the fact that these are early days of the web
in the sense that it is early to give any one entity too much power by preferential
peering that makes it difficult for other startups to rise. The current crop of
startups may not be the best for a population, the further one looks down the horizon.

This is not just about net neutrality (of course).
Even if you agree with a preferential network web for technical reasons such as QoS, or a pet theory of socialism being the root of all evil, there is no reason to support tying net access to what is essentially a single data hungry app.

One way to think of this issue is in analogy with another media such as a radio channel.  A company is making the following offer: you will get access to
my cool channel (free information! ain't I generous ?), while I get exclusive access to find out all private details about you and serve you targetted ads. No other channels for you. Even if you decide to opt out of the deal, I'll keep information collected about you indefinitely. I also don't pay for the radio spectrum - people who have access to non-exclusive channels will pay your cost to the telecom providers for you.

Makes sense ? Not to me - at minimum the cost of the spectrum (network) has to be borne by this exclusive broadcaster, else it has successfully externalized its costs and risks and gained exclusive subscriber access without paying any of the significant costs involved.

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Arun Mehta | 24 Dec 08:09 2015

Facebook hard selling Free Basics

Did you see the full page ads that Facebook is taking out, to market a free service? So far, only Reliance offers Free Basics, has anyone checked it out?

We don't all understand the same thing when we say Net Neutrality, but we do agree that it is seriously threatened...

Arun Mehta
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Arun Mehta | 28 Sep 05:15 2015

Fwd: Strength of mobile signals

Does anyone have any advice for Gautam? I am sure this is a problem that an increasing number of people face -- even the Prime Minister complains of call drops...

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Gautam Doshi <gpdoshi-Re5JQEeQqe8AvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org>
Date: Sat, Sep 26, 2015 at 6:20 PM
Subject: Strength of mobile signals
To: Arun Mehta <arun.mehta-Re5JQEeQqe8AvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org>

Hi! Arun,

Lately I find that the signal strength of my reliance connection varies a lot. Sometimes it is 3 bars and sometimes it goes off. This is at home. I want to switch over to another vendor. How does one find out which mobile service provider has the best signal strength at my house?

I hope you can give me some leads to answer this question.

Warm regards,

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