Friday, July 11, 2008

FCC set to punish Comcast

This is perhaps one of the greatest pieces of news that I have heard in a while and may very well be one of the first times that the FCC administration has announced something that is worthy of support. The FCC (especially in this recent administration) has almost always ruled against the interest of the consumer but less than 12 hours ago the FCC Chief announced that he believes Comcast DID violate internet rules and should subsequently be punished. Perhaps the greater excitement of this ruling would be that the FCC may be taking steps to defend Net Neutrality. It is important to note that this proposition has not been voted on but it is expected to pass and be put in to effect.

Read more:

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Thursday, May 08, 2008

WTF Comcast?

Ok, Comcast..... how about the left hand works with the right?

A few weeks ago I blogged about how @comcastcares was really helping me out. I ended up with the 16 meg plan and after the upgrade things where sailing right along... I was seriously impressed..... well, at least for the first week.

The past few weeks have caused things to be getting slower and slower and I mentioned it on Twitter and, again, @comcastcares jumnped in to help. The following day I had a call from Bill at Comcast who set up a technician to come out and take a look at the situation. I wasn't able to be home but he said that they wanted to check things on the pole because thats where they believed the problem to be. Great!

Yesterday the tech called me to try to find my house which is totally typical... it took me a week or so before *I* could consistantly find my house. He said he was going to check it all out and then he'd get back to me. About an hour or so later I received a call from some woman at Comcast who asked if the tech had called me back and I said he hadn't. She said that he should have but she said that, regardless, the tech had reported back that they found nothing wrong. Quite honestly, I was not surprised. It really pointed more to the fact of what I thought it was: traffic shaping. I dont think anything is "wrong" with their system but that their system is designed to give me crappy speeds. So, whatever.... its the same old Comcast to me.

..... but wait!

Today I received a call from Bill again but I wasnt able to take the call. In the voicemail message he explained that the technician did find a problem at the pole and that they needed to send a truck out in order to adjust the issues and that they would most likely be doing so tomorrow before 5:00pm.

Well.... what? My gut feeling is that I should believe Bill. But what about the call from the woman from Comcast and why didn't the tech call me if the woman said that he should have? I dont think I totally understand it but my theory is exactly what I wrote in my Comcast vs Comcast post. I think that Frank and Bill are the people that are tasked with getting Comcast a better image - and in many ways they are. The problem, however, is that the core of the company still operates on the "smoke and mirrors" concept and is just as shady as it ever was and will most likely continue to be. I really appreciate all that Frank (aka @comcastcares) is doing and I respect it in huge ways.... but after seeing this episode I feel like its only a matter of time before either everyone realizes that he is the only way to get things done with Comcast and he is no longer able to do it or the company it's self stamps him out because they really don't see a point in keeping customers happy if they can continue doing what they are doing: forcing customers to stay with them.

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Friday, January 18, 2008

No red cars on my driveway (Net Neutrality)

I just read an article arguing that Akamai is violating net neutrality with their content delivery. The article really is nothing more thatn another example of how those with a stake in the outcome of the debates are trying to skew the description of the problem.

While I can understand the point made it is not accurate to the case with Akamai. When Akamai has a customer they are renting server space just like someone who sets up a hosting account with another company. Essentially, a company doesnt have the facilities to run their own server so they rent part of a server at a location that does have those facilities. When you become a customer of Akamai, you're essentially doing just that but the difference is you're renting multiple locations. Such as a nationwide company purchases office space in multiple states so that people on the east coast don't have to travel to California to see someone in person. Same is true with shipping facilities and company warehouses. And if one of their customers needs to go to an office, they'll go to the closest one. They'll still travel in the same ways and take the same material to the office that they needed to but they'll go to that paticular office based on LOCATION.

This is exactly what Akamai is doing. They are essentially setting up multiple locations of data provided by their customer. Traffic is directed to the closest server based on the location of the source network and not on the content. It is not a manipulation of content which is what those critical of Akamai are infering. It is simply a matter of redirection based on the source and does not differentiate by it being a stream or an HTTP request with the possible exception of the data being stored in a different location.

Think of it this way. Net Neutrality violations would be the local department of transportation saying that no red cars are permitted on a certain road because that would be a discriminatory regulation while saying that tractor trailers aren't permitted on a smaller road would simply be an issue of capacity. Now, as a customer of my ISP, I pay for a certain amount of bandwidth. If I pay for a 3MB connection to the internet, then that is what I deserve the same way if I pay someone to build a driveway to my house I expect to be able to allow anything that I want on that driveway. If the contractor I hired to build my driveway said that they would only allow me to drive blue and yellow cars on that driveway then I'd tell them they were absurd and go somewhere else. Now, at the same time I may be paying for a single lane dirt driveway which would not be suitable for a sports car that I might own. In this scenario, I know what my needs are and I need to contract someone to build me a paved driveway that is compatible with my needs. Also, if I own property between two decent access roads and I decide that I want a driveway bult to both roads I am certainly entitled to do this. In this example I am allowing two entrances to my residence and I will use the one that makes the most sense based on where I am returning from (I'm not going to drive past driveway 1 to get to driveway 2 if I've already payed for both driveways. The same issue holds true with respect to color of the car. I purchased the drive way and if someone building that drive way told me that green cars were not allowed on driveway 1 they would be laughed at.

This is the biggest problem with the net neutrality debate. People quite simply can not determine what is capacity and what is color. When you hire a contractor to build you a driveway you purchase that driveway based on the class of vehicle that you have and not based on the color of vehicle. This is the same when we purchase a connection to the internet. We go to our ISP and tell them that we want to pay them a certain amount of money for a certain amount of bandwidth and our ISP makes that connection. Once that connection is there I should be entitled to the 3MB that I paid for. Having an ISP tell me that I am not able to use P2P applications is exactly like telling me I can't use a red car on my driveway. Additionaly, if you are a contractor that builds driveways and later the person who purchased that driveway carries an illegal substance in his car on that driveway, it is not the responsibility of the company that built the driveway or the manufacturer of the car but the responsibility of the person who was transmitting that illegal substance. If statistics show us that red cars are more likely to be transporting drugs is it fair to then say that all of the roads in a certain jurisdiction are no longer permitted to carry red cars? Again, this is absurd. Not only is it harming those who use red cars legally but it's also not going to solve the issue. In fact, instead of solving the issue we have pushed the problem underground more because now those carrying illegal substances are now making an effort to disguise their transportation vehicle. Interestingly, this is the same thing that is occuring with the internet. Add to the legality debate the issue of the ISP saying they don't have enough capacity. If this is true, how is it the fault of the customer? If all of my neighbors and I use a single road into our neighborhood and that road becomes congested, its not the responsibility of each resident but the responsibility of the developer of the neighborhood and/or the department of transportation. Currently the ISPs are punishing their customers because of a mistake that was made by the ISP (overselling their network). If it comes down to it, the ISP is going to have to raise their rates to support their capacity but currently they are not only raising their rates but they are also making absurd rules to cover their mistakes and to maximize profits because of the unfair advantage they have.

Akamai is not responsible for violating the concept of net neutrality because of their content delivery systems. This is mostly a "gatekeeper" debate and will not be solved until people grasp the concept of what the ISPs are doing rather than listen to the skewed concepts put forth by those ISPs. Resolutions can not be made by people or companies that have a stake in the results and, as such, the ISPs can not be the ones making the final decissions.

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Can T-Mobile Apologize?

I received another email from T-Mobile. This time I'm not even entitled to have the name of the person it came from.

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Subject: RE: ***Ban No. 498717587- Assigned to Marianne - Twitterr***Confirmation Request
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2007 06:07:40 -0800
Thread-Topic: ***Ban No. 498717587- Assigned to Marianne - Twitterr***Confirmation Request
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From: "Executive Response (ECR)"
To: "Bob K Mertz" <>
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This is a multi-part message in MIME format.

Content-Type: text/plain;
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We have since verified that this was a rumor. Please see the second
email that was sent to you yesterday. Thank you,=20


From: Bob K Mertz []=20
Sent: Monday, December 17, 2007 3:26 PM
To: Executive Response (ECR)
Subject: Re: ***Ban No. 498717587- Assigned to Marianne -
Twitterr***Confirmation Request

Could you please explain to me why you previously emailed me that
T-Mobile was blocking the Twitter service? The following email is
signed with your very name. I can not understand this.

To me this is an annoying example of a company that was once highly focused on their customers and good business practices losing touch with what matters. Minus the possibility that T-Mobile gave kick backs to many, including Twitter (which I highly doubt because Twitter has shown lots of responsibility and, therefore, have my trust), the "rumors" that T-Mobile was blocking Twitter were actually started inside of T-Mobile and were spread not only via Customer Service but also via the Office of the President.

Up until now, everytime I contacted T-Mobile with an issue, they went out of their way to apologize for any inconveince that I at experienced. Now that we come to this issue of a huge failure of communication on T-Mobile's part that affected hundreds (maybe thousands) of customers and their response is to cleverly word emails to conceal the truth. While some emails infer that they made a mistake, they show absolutely no remorse for giving such blatantly incorrect information.

The majority of T-Mobile's customers are not with T-Mobile because they have the best coverage but because they have the best customer service and could always trust what they were told by the company. Going forward I have to now question the reliability of the information that T-Mobile provides to me because if, in a matter as trival as this, you can't get their honest response and apology then when the matter becomes an issue much larger you certainly will not be able to rely on the answer they give you.

Another huge issue in this is a display of capability. While this issue is not "Net Neutrality" per se, there was a blatant display of "we can keep you from doing what you want because it's our network" attitude which is, in fact, a violation of the spirit of neutrality. Coming from a company that has signed on with Google's Android to provide "Open Platforms", the attitude is very conflicting. While it may be true that T-Mobile did not filter SMS messages to Twitter, the executive office displayed their lack of concern of preserving customers' ability to access the information they want.

I have personally loved T-Mobile up until now and I have stood up for them many times because I beleived in them as a company. I've requested information from T-Mobile multiple times to give them an opportunity to apologize because I want to continue to believe in the company but T-Mobile is unwilling to give me, or any other customer, that sense of security and that hurts. This is the type of attitude that I would expect from AT&T or Verizon but not the #4 carrier that is trying their best to gain their customers' support.

I, for one, and very dissapointed in T-Mobile and, while this may not make me cancel my contract, it certainly will make me consider what I do when my contract is up.

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Monday, December 17, 2007

Final Thoughts on T-Mobile

With light of the posts that have been coming out today, I have to agree with most of them in the stressing that this is not a Net Neutrality issue. As a fellow blogger, I am asking that everyone take into consideration that this is my personal blog. Understand that I post things here for my friends to know whats up with me and this included the issues that I was having with T-Mobile. I did not post any of the initial posts with the intent that it would go as far as it has and, as such, I posted without serious investigation to the laws that govern SMS. I will admit that I incorrectly placed SMS into a "network" category rather than a "phone" category that it should have been in. While I agree that if T-Mobile was filtering Twitter SMS (which they were not) it would be in violation of the spirit of net neutrality, it is not an official or legal part of the debate.

This entire situation has shown many good things and many bad things. One thing that is a concern of mine was that many blogs and news site posted links to my blog and ran with it without even contacting me to confirm any information. It's actually just fine that the blogs didn't do that but the news sites, well, it's a little more of a concern. In fact, in this situation I think it went completely in the opposite direction. Almost all of the personal blogs that reported what I had posted actually confirmed the issue themselves. Even over at the Buzz Out Loud forum there was confirmation from another reader that he had received the same message.

The issue, going forward, is not about net neutrality but about customer service and executive offices quoting things that were blatantly incorrect.

It is now a very well known fact that the issue between T-Mobile and Twitter were, in fact, of a technical nature but this does not relieve T-Mobile of responsibility of the press that they are receiving and, in my opinion, the longer they go without making a statement, the more bad press they deserve. The fact remains that I sent an email to the executive office expressing my concern that T-Mobile was filtering Twitter, which I was told by a CSR at T-Mobile. The response to that email in a very harsh tone and, as we know now, full of incorrect information. I reported what had happened to me and, as fellow bloggers, it is your responsibility to fact check and confirm whether this is true or false. There are numerous people that did just that and there were many people that didn't.

Before I turn this personal blog back into just that, I want to give my final thoughts. First of all, mistakes are common in the blogosphere but facts are something that can be confirmed. The issue of filtering twitter may not be a part of net neutrality but the fact is the content of the email that I received. Secondly, it's be confirmed that the issue was of a technical nature and that has been resolved. The thing that has not been resolved is why T-Mobile responded in the way that they did. While I sit here asking bloggers to check their facts, I am reporting on a company that didn't do that and, for this reason, I feel that T-Mobile owes their customers an explanation of the situation.

T-Mobile has always been an incredible company in my eyes. Their concern for customer service has always been one of the greatest assets to the company and, as AlternaGeek reported, an amazing company for embracing new technologies. They continue to be my favorite mobile carrier. Some might say that can't be true because of the things I posted but the fact is the opposite is true. I want T-Mobile to address this issue because I don't want them to fall into the same category as the larger mobile providers that don't care about their customers. I believe that if a company is truly concerned about their customers they will investigate the things their own employees relayed and they will offer an explanation to their customers. If they stay silent then, to me, it would appear they really don't care what their customers think.

Just remember that if someone is wrong about one thing it does not mean they are automatically wrong about everything and this also means that if a company makes a mistake it doesnt make them the worst company in the world.

Happy Twittering! :)

This will be the last post that I make to my blog related to this issue unless I would hear additional communication from T-Mobile. Everyone is still more than welcome to contact me at or to leave comments on this blog. I am a personal blogger and it's been a fun few days but I need to go back to my roots which are real life and not the New York Times

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

A blogger attacks the blogosphere?

This really isn't totally related to the T-Mobile/Twitter issues but it appeared on the Twitter Blog related to my post(s) about T-Mobile. This really isn't an attack at anyone specifically but I'm just curious what people think about the situation and how people feel the Blogosphere works. There certainly is always the possibility of a blogger knowing what they are talking about and not knowing what they are talking about but, in my opinion, the blogosphere is the collective group of bloggers that back up and confirm each other. If every story on the internet right now about T-Mobile/Twitter was just a 100% copy of my blog, then this would be a completely different story. What happened is I seemingly posted to my blog first and people refered to it as the first story but numerous posts about this situation were related to people receiving the same email I received or, at the very least, the same response from customer service. There was even a post of someone claiming that a T-Mobile rep actually google'd my site and gave that email as their official response. Some confirmations occured on the Buzz Out Loud Forums while a good central point of confirmation after confirmation occured over at Satisfaction where Biz Stone himself said T-Mobile was blocking Twitter.

What does everyone think? I'm really curious to hear what the overall thoughts of this entire incident is. Please leave your comments below or email me at

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 16, 2007

T-Mobile and Twitter - Not quite there, but trying

Its been a long 48 hours or so and it looks like we are on our way to a resolution but we're not there yet.

For the past 30-45 mins, I have been having issues with not only sending tweets but with receiving them as well. It appears that I'm not the only one that is still having issues. I think that there is enough information coming from Twitter's official channels to not worry about policy at T-Mobile for blocking Twitter but there definately are still some kinks that are being worked out.

It also appears that I am not alone in thinking that T-Mobile needs to make a statement regarding the events of the last few days. If there was policy made to block Twitter and then it was retracted, they need to own up to it and if there wasn't then they need to answer for their executive offices telling many subscribers incorrect information (this is quite different than a CSR giving false information). In either case, they really need to explain why people in the executive offices were responding to customer in very harsh emails and almost in a threatening nature. If you havent read the response I received from T-Mobile, please click the tmo-vs-twit tag below and find that email.

In any case, it is really awesome to see people pull together and stand up for something that is right and I am honored to have been able to bring this information to you and be part of this community. No matter what part T-Mobile was wrong in, it is important that consumers stop rolling over and playing dead... when that happens, we'll start gaining ground in technology advancements.

Again, you are welcome to contact me at with any information that you have or anything that you would like to share. Please also feel free to follow me on Twitter.

For now, I'm going to watch the ice fall around me and pray I dont lose power :)

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Friday, December 14, 2007

T-Mobile vs. Twitter (Links and ongoing updates) 12/15@2038

Last Update: 12/15/07 @ 8:38PM Eastern

Biz Stone has now officially announced that T-Mobile has shut Twitter off for good.

First, the important information. We need everyone to contact T-Mobile and explain to them the negative impact they have made in these last few days. Their customer service number is 800-937-8997 and you can email the President's office at It is very important that we voice our opinion in this matter.

Now some links for your reference:

Personal Blogs:

Posts at Satisfaction:

People to Follow:

Twitter apps to help you cope:

Send TXT via phone:

Stuff to think about:

Please let me know if you have any other links or any additional information and I will be happy to update this information. For a complete list of my posts related to this issue, please go to You can email me at

Hope to see you on Twitter from T-Mobile sometime soon! :)

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Response From T-Mobile

Update: To follow all of my posts related to the T-Mobile/Twitter issues, please click here.

Subject: T-Mobile and Twitter
Date: December 14, 2007 4:49:07 PM EST
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Dear Mr. Mertz:

My name is Marianne Maestas and I am with the Executive Customer Relations department of T-Mobile. I am contacting you on behalf of Mr. Robert Dotson in regards to the email that you sent him yesterday evening.

In your email, you express concerns, as you are not able to use your service for Twitter. As you have been advised, Twitter is not an authorized third-party service provider, and therefore you are not able to utilize service from this provide any longer. You indicate your feeling that this is a violation of the Net Neutrality.

T-Mobile would like to bring to your attention that the Terms and Conditions of service, to which you agreed at activation, indicate "... some Services are not available on third-party networks or while roaming. We may impose credit, usage, or other limits to Service, cancel or suspend Service, or block certain types of calls, messages, or sessions (such as international, 900, or 976 calls) at our discretion." Therefore, T-Mobile is not in violation of any agreement by not providing service to Twitter. T-Mobile regrets any inconvenience, however please note that if you remain under contract and choose to cancel service, you will be responsible for the $200 early termination fee that would be assessed to the account at cancellation.

Should you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Customer Care at 800-937-8997. Thank you,

Marianne Maestas,
Executive Customer Relations Specialist,
Office of the President,

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Thursday, December 13, 2007

T-Mobile violates Net Neutrality? (Blocks Twitter)

Update: Apparently the email address for the customer service executive is and not rbotson like I first posted.

Update 12/14 @ 3:34pm: Twitter has confirmed that there is an issue on the satisfaction page (link below) but they don't indicate what the problem is. No one that I have been in contact with has heard anything from T-Mobile other than what we were told by customer service (that they are blocking twitter and/or they don't support short code)

Update 12/14 @ 4:58pm: I have received this response from T-Mobile. Very Upsetting

Update: To follow all of my posts related to the T-Mobile/Twitter issues, please click here

For the last few days I have been unable to send SMS messages to the Twitter service from my T-Mobile cell phone. This evening I decided that enough was enough and I called T-Mobile. I spoke with 3 different reps and would not let up until I got an answer for why this was no longer working. Finally I spoke with someone in Customer Relations and she felt strongly enough about this that she got a tech on the phone. After waiting for the tech to research the issue they came back with a response (and the rep I was spoeaking with was as outraged as I was). Their official response was that T-Mobile does not support third party messaging services and the reason why I am all of a sudden unable to send messages to the Twitter service is because their system "caught up to the bug." I specifically asked if this meant I should expect to never be able to send to Twitter again and the answer was yes.

I explained to the rep about Net Neutrality and, to be honest, she had been outraged from the start. She completely agreed with me that this was an example of T-Mobile picking and choosing who you can and can't use with your T-Mobile SMS. I also explained that I paid for unlimited SMS messaging and not selective unlimited SMS messaging. She, again, agreed.

The rep and I collectively agreed that this matter needed to be heard and she opened a "Voice Forum" request with the ID of 0623630. For reference to the people reading this, the rep that I talked to had the ID of 3828493.

One thing that I do want to request is that if anyone calls in to speak with someone or emails customer service, please do not speak negatively towards the rep that I spoke with. She was extremely helpful and very instrumental in getting the ball rolling.

Also, if you want somewhere to send an email, please use It would be really great if we get a lot of people to write in or call in and explain the issues with their decission and how we object to any move that a company makes towards chosing what we can and can't do with a service we pay for.

Hope to see you on Twitter from T-Mobile soon! :)


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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Monday, February 05, 2007

Myspace Will Censor You | Ask A Ninja

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

(C)2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved
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