FryUp: Of youth and horses

Top Stories: - Ah, the youth of today - 2003: Year of the Horse (of many colours)

Top Stories:

- Ah, the youth of today

- 2003: Year of the Horse (of many colours)

- Ah, the youth of today

Don't you just want to bang their heads together?

Here we have several youths, teenagers, young adults, call them what you will (and by the time I'm done you'll feel like calling them several choice names). They're intelligent, perhaps a little too intelligent, but they're so young that they're still thinking with their hormones and as far as I can see it's all going to end in tears.

It started on Monday when Peter Griffin at the NZ Herald broke the story of 17-year-old Sahil Gupta, founder of ISP Net4U, caught supposedly admitting to leeching - a technical term for stealing - bandwidth from Attica Communications (now part of CallPlus). It seemed such a simple case of someone too stupid to realise that what they're doing is possible but is also wrong.

However, the story goes further than that. The guy who dropped Gupta in the media poo is Steven Taylor, who not coincidentally is an unrepentant spammer, responsible for an average of a million emails a day (and ambitions to boost that to 4 million).

There's a special place in the inner circles of hell reserved for spammers. I like to think of them on all fours having to eat their own dog food but that's just me.

Taylor, who also goes by the names Captain Bob and Master Mithras (no, really) was using Net4U to host his spamming activities and clearly took the pip when the plug was pulled.

Taylor, you see, knows another spotty youth who worked for Net4U by the name of Will. Will is also a spammer, albeit on a slightly smaller scale than Taylor, and he goes by the name ^god. You can read about his exploits in the Herald story below.

So here we have someone who allegedly steals bandwidth, and both Telecom and CallPlus have been investigating the claim - CallPlus says yes, someone has been doing just that - and two self-confessed spammers who are mad because they've been kicked off a network.

Throw in a dash of teen bravado and threats of hacking, DDoS attacks and "my server is bigger than yours" and really the whole thing is about as attractive as a road accident.

I'm sure we haven't heard the last of all this, either, no matter how much we wish it would just go away. These are capable kids, clearly, but they have no idea of the trouble they've caused or the trouble they're in. I can't see Net4U being able to buy bandwidth off anyone in future and I can't see these guys getting to work in the industry for some time to come. Children, to your rooms.

Bandwidth bandit loses business - NZ Herald

InternetNZ calls for Net4U founder's head - Computerworld Online

Bandwidth bludger a victim of spammer's revenge - Computerworld Online

Spammers remain unrepentant as they make money - NZ Herald

From the archives - May 2001:

Waikato whizz kid aims high - Computerworld Online

- 2003: Year of the Horse (of many colours)

It's shaping up to be a two-horse race.

In the blue corner (do horses have corners? Of course they do, they have a leg in each one) are Telecom and BCL - an interesting combination of cultures and technology. Telecom, the incumbent, and BCL, the government's wholly-owned, potentially devastating competitor to Telecom.

Telecom, you see, had the country's only national network. This was the jewel in its crown, and also its biggest sore point - it costs a lot to maintain such a network, hundreds of millions of dollars a year. As such, Telecom originally felt quite happy telling farmers that they'd never be hooked up to faster internet access and that to do so would be financially crippling to the company.

That's all changed, however. Telecom heard the distant chime of cash registers and the government saying "but we have money to spend as an incentive". Given this government's track record of being somewhat tight-fisted with the old incentives jar, this announcement was immediately followed by a whip-like U-turn on the part of Telecom which decreed that "some of our best friends are farmers" and the decision to go after the Project Probe money gumboots and all.

BCL, on the other hand, was being dangled by government as a potential second national network.

BCL has towers in place all over the country - a greater reach than even Telecom has - and would be well placed to switch from sending TV and radio signals to sending bits of data.

Many folk ended up with glazed eyes, myself included, dreaming of a second ubiquitous network able to compete toe-to-toe with Telecom as a national carrier.

BCL has always said it will operate as a wholesale-only company - it will sell space on its network to anyone. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, it's signed only one deal to do so and that's with Telecom.

So the Telecom-BCL consortium is competing in the Project Probe rounds for both government money and for a slice of the farmers' business. It's gone so far as to compete with itself by signing up as the tech provider to Fonterra's broadband offering. Where once Telecom and BCL were competing for Fonterra's hand, now it's a threesome.

However, over in the red corner we have the plucky underdog, in the form of Walker Wireless, snapping at the heels of both the cow cockies and Telecom.

WW, in conjunction with Vodafone (which must be the world's largest underdog if ever I saw one) have put together a compelling case for an alternative network based on WW's wireless capability - W-CDMA.

So far, WW has won the Southland contract, is favoured for the Wairarapa's contract and is front runner to be Northland's chosen one as well. The rest will be chosen in one large lump by government officials later this year.

If nothing else, Probe has opened up broadband as a can of worms because even if we end up with these two duking it out for all of Probe's cash, there are other contenders who will be rolling out broadband networks: Wired Country (part of Counties Manukau's old power board), South Waikato District Council and UCC Technology, the wireless company run by Leicester Chatfield, formerly of Radionet. With so much interest around the traps the mythical competitive broadband environment could soon be real.

Walker Wireless wins race into Wairarapa - NZ Herald

Wairarapa's high_speed internet contract bypasses Telecom - Stuff

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