[Politech logo]

Politech is the oldest Internet resource devoted to politics and technology. Launched in 1994 by Declan McCullagh, the mailing list has chronicled the growing intersection of culture, technology, politics, and law. Since 2000, so has the Politech web site.

Text of NYC Time Warner nastygram to free 802.11 access point

Previous Politech message:

"NYC Time Warner Cable sending nastygrams to free 802.11 points?"


From: "rick tait" <rickt@rickt.org>
To: <declan@well.com>, <farber@cis.upenn.edu>
Cc: <jpj@jpj.net>, <press@nycwireless.net>,
    "Alli Hobbs (Home)" <alli@allihobbs.com>
References: <20020626152452.A26206@cluebot.com>
Subject: UPDATE: NYC Time Warner Cable sending nastygrams to free 802.11 
Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2002 14:45:29 -0400


Quick update re: Time Warner's nastygram.

I scanned in the letter and posted it up in various file formats at:


They gave me 3 days from receipt of the nastygram to give them written
confirmation that I would remove the wireless access point, which is of
course ridiculous - the USPS couldn't get a letter across NYC in three days,
and there's no way I'm paying for Fedex overnight out of my own pocket, so I
attempted to contact their Security & Abuse group. After leaving multiple
messages for Greg Powell (the manager who sent me the nastygram), and
multiple messages for the entire Security & Abuse group -- with no calls
back from them to me -- I am at this point, ready to just wait it out.

What's interesting though - is they appear to be messing with my regular
cable account. My internet access was shut off at 00:00 this morning, and I
was unable to order PPV movies via my remote. After calling their support
line (regular cable support, not Road Runner) they were unable to reactivate
my account for PPV, even though I am fully paid up. They could not explain
what the problem was, and suggested hardware problems with my cable box as
the culprit. Uh huh. So then I called the Road Runner people and they
couldn't see a problem either. Uh huh.

As it stands right now, the 3-day period is up, and I have yet to hear from
Time Warner in any capacity. My WAP continues as it has before, since I've
received no response from Time Warner to my questions. These questions are:

1. Does Time Warner have a problem with my extending my cable internet
service (that I pay them for) to my fire escape or to the cafe underneath my
apartment, for my own personal and private fair use? If I enable access
protection via password to my WiFi network so noone aside from myself can
access - do they have a problem with this? They have yet to answer this
question. If their answer is yes, then we have a SERIOUS problem that opens
up all sorts of questions regarding infringment of my fair use of my own
internet service. For TWCNYC to claim that I unfairly redistributing my
service to others or that they just "have a problem with it" even if its
locked down, is analgous to a long distance firm telling me I can't use a
cordless phone to call someone using their long distance service, and
instead I must use their standard, wired phone.

2. Why are TWCNYC concerned about the way in which I access their internet
service. To be specific: a reporter who it seems is championing my "cause"
called Road Runner, and it seems they are somewhat pissed at me for doing
"wacky" technical stuff. I utilise Wireless to Ethernet bridging on my Apple
Airport, and I also have my Airport give  out DHCP addresses to my local
switched LAN and to my laptop via WiFi. Allegedly, they are pissed at me for
deviating from "the norm". This is patently absurd. I use Ethernet to
Wireless bridging so I can have LOCAL connectivity speed between my wired
G4, roommate's wired iMac and my wireless iBook. If I didn't enable that,
any packets from wired G4 to wired iMac would have to go all the way to
TWCNYC's border router, and then all the way back. Why should I do that,
when I can faciliate local access via DHCP on MY side of the Airport? All
that TWCNYC sees is a single DHCP client on my side (I am paying for three
IP's by the way, so they can't accuse me of stiffing them on per-client
access fees) and NAT'd packets encapsulated inside the regular ones on the
way out.

The fact that TWCNYC and other firms can do all of this without the watchful
eye of any regulators is just appalling.

I won't comment on the "underground free wireless" ramifications of all of
this, for obvious reasons.

The bottom line: I understand completely why TWCNYC or any other ISP for
that matter might be pissed at someone allowing free and public access to a
WAP, using their own underlying backbone - especially to someone who isn't a
paying TWCNYC customer. BUT - if I am not going to be allowed to extend the
useful range of my own, fully-paid TWCNYC cable internet service to my own
fire escape or to a cafe downstairs EVEN if I password protect it - then
they surely are infringing my civil rights with respect to fair use of my
own cable internet service?

I'll be posting this on slashdot at some point today too.



Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2002 14:04:16 -0700 (PDT)
From: Annalee Newitz <brainsploitation@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: FC: NYC Time Warner Cable sending nastygrams to free 802.11 
To: declan@well.com

In respnse to the Time Warner Cable nastygram: this is
a commonplace among the larger broadband providers.
AT&T explicitly forbids open access points as well as
P2P servers in their contract.


Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2002 15:15:37 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Robert A. Hayden" <rhayden@geek.net>
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
Cc: <politech@politechbot.com>
Subject: Re: FC: NYC Time Warner Cable sending nastygrams to free 802.11

The only problem with going to TWC and asking for clarification is that
you admit you have an access point.  You're better off responding with a
letter that says "I have removed public access to my device" and leave it
back in TWCs court to prove that, in fact, it is public.   At that point
you can just say "Um, please try to use it....gee you can't can you."

Legitimately, they are trying to stop people from building wireless
networks for the masses fed by one residential link.  They are probably
just a little overzealous.


Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2002 13:39:08 -0700
From: Jimmy Wales <jwales@bomis.com>
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
Cc: rickt@rickt.org
Subject: Re: FC: NYC Time Warner Cable sending nastygrams to free 802.11 

It might be helpful to politechbot subscribers if Rick could indicate
how Time Warner even knows he has an 802.11?

If Rick is advertising free access to all his neighbors, and the
bandwidth over his modem is higher than average, then of course Time
Warner has good reason to complain.

It strikes me as unlikely for Time Warner to bother going around sniffing the
airwaves for 802.11 packets.  It also strikes me as unlikely for them to even
notice or care if people have an unsecured 802.11 network at home -- until it
starts eating up a lot of bandwidth.


Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2002 16:52:41 -0400
From: Rich Kulawiec <rsk@firemountain.net>
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
Cc: rick tait <rickt@rickt.org>
Subject: Re: FC: NYC Time Warner Cable sending nastygrams to free 802.11 

On Wed, Jun 26, 2002 at 03:24:52PM -0400, Declan McCullagh wrote:
 > I've not seen anything on Politech regarding this specific issue before, but
 > my roommate just called me and let me know that Time Warner Cable of NYC has
 > just sent me a snotty letter basically telling me to shut off my public
 > access point immediately - PERIOD - as its not allowed according to the
 > contract I signed to get their cable service.

Does this mean that if you comply in full with their demands, but I
happen to move in downstairs and set up my 802.11 network -- not connected
to anything except for itself -- and TWCNYC discovers it on their next
sweep, that you'll lose your cable service?



From: "Barclay McInnes" <barc@netdud.com>
To: <declan@well.com>
References: <20020626152452.A26206@cluebot.com>
Subject: Re: NYC Time Warner Cable sending nastygrams to free 802.11 points?
Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2002 13:56:18 -0700

What's next?  The TWCNYC gestapo come by your residence at random hours to
inspect your cable modem to see if it's hooked up to a Cable/DSL router or a
Linux box and is illegally sharing your connection with wires?  This is

The way this kind of problem is solved by the cable people up in Canada (at
least Shaw and Videotron in BC and Alberta, can't speak for others further
east than that) is that they look at your usage.  If you're not using a lot,
no problem.  If you're using a lot, they send a nastygram telling you to
stop doing that, or they will bill you $4 a gig over a certain threshold.
If you're using stupid amounts (the Shaw guy I talked to once said they saw
a kid in an apartment pulling down 19 GB in  3 days...) they just cut you
off as soon as they notice you.  Seems to work well here.....  Nobody I know
who runs an 802.11 open point has had a problem with excessive traffic, and
no problems with the cable-co.

Barclay McInnes


POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
You may redistribute this message freely if you include this notice.
To subscribe to Politech: http://www.politechbot.com/info/subscribe.html
This message is archived at http://www.politechbot.com/
Declan McCullagh's photographs are at http://www.mccullagh.org/
Like Politech? Make a donation here: http://www.politechbot.com/donate/

Enter your email address to join Politech, Declan McCullagh's moderated technology and politics announcement list:

Return to politechbot.com