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Appeals Court: Bundling Cable Channels Together Isn't Anticompetitive

Appeals Court: Bundling Cable Channels Together Isn't Anticompetitive | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Over the years, one topic that seems to engender extremely passionate responses around here is the question of cable TV bundling. People hate bundled cable TV packages -- usually because they hate paying for a bunch of channels they don't want just to get the four channels they do want. I still tend to think this complaint is overstated -- if the cable guys priced things out a la carte, the pricing would basically come to the same thing anyway (the channels you do want would be super expensive, and the ones you don't would be pretty cheap or free with other channels). Either way, the complaint also seems increasingly antiquated in an internet world. More and more TV shows are moving to the web anyway (through both authorized and unauthorized means). While it's certainly not perfect yet, you can create your own a la carte solution for many TV shows/channels.

 

Still, some folks sued over this bundling, claiming that it was anti-competitive. However, as Eric Goldman alerts us, an appeals court has upheld a lower court decision and outright rejected the idea that bundling is an antitrust issue. The court points out that "tying" arrangements are only illegal if they lead to clear anticompetitive behavior and consumer harm, but that's missing here:

 

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Public Interest Groups Give Recommendations to ITU: Focus on Digital Divide, Avoid Internet Policy | Shiva Stella | Public Knowledge

Public Interest Groups Give Recommendations to ITU: Focus on Digital Divide, Avoid Internet Policy | Shiva Stella | Public Knowledge | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Today, Public Knowledge and other public interest organizations from around the world sent a list of eight recommendations to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and its Members meeting at the 2014 Plenipotentiary Conference in Busan, Korea.

The recommendations address issues varying from net neutrality and spectrum policy to the very role of the ITU itself in Internet Governance, where we have witnessed a disconcerting expansion of powers paired with a lack of transparency and multistakeholderism.

The following contains a portion of our statement delivered to the ITU:

“The ITU’s 2014 Plenipotentiary conference is taking place at a watershed moment. The growth of the open, borderless Internet and the increasing availability of ICTs are revolutionizing access to knowledge, commerce and creativity. Building on the ITU’s nearly 150 years of experience in expanding humanity’s capacity to communicate, the Plenipotentiary provides an historic opportunity for the ITU to craft strategic approaches to closing the digital divide.”

The following can be attributed to Carolina Rossini, Vice President for International Policy at Public Knowledge:

“In an era where a number of international organizations are opening up their processes and documents, ITU members still negotiate the future of the open internet behind closed doors where only governments and a select few can peek in.

“Civil society has done an excellent job reviewing both leaked and non-governmental group information to develop a comprehensive and important set of recommendations on issues that are core to creating and maintaining access to affordable, reliable ICTs infrastructure. Adopting these recommendations would help ensure that when the ITU interferes in internet policy, the organization does so in a multistakeholder fashion.”

You can read the executive summary or the whole briefing note and recommendations here.

You can also join the effort and support this document by adding your name through the Best Bits platform.

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Is your Ethernet fast enough? Four new speeds are in the works | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com

Is your Ethernet fast enough? Four new speeds are in the works | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Ethernet’s future is now about much more than the next top speed: The engineers charting a path for the ubiquitous networking protocol are looking at several new versions to serve a variety of applications.

At a meeting last Thursday of the ethernet Alliance, an industry group that promotes IEEE ethernet standards, three major new projects were up for discussion.

To meet immediate demands in cloud data centers, there’s a standard in the works for 25Gbps (bits per second). For the kinds of traffic expected in those clouds a few years from now, experts are already discussing a 50Gbps specification. And for enterprises with new, fast Wi-Fi access points, there may soon be 2.5Gbps ethernet. That’s in addition to the next top speed for carrier backbones and moves to adapt the technology for use in cars.
MORE ON NETWORK WORLD: The most magnificent high-tech flying machines

These efforts are all meant to serve a growing demand for ethernet outside the traditional enterprise LANs for which it was originally designed. That means solving multiple problems instead of just how to get ever more bits onto a fiber or copper wire.

“What I’m hearing is lots of diversity. Lots of diversity in need, lots of diversity for the future,” ethernet Alliance Chair John D’Ambrosia said part way into the daylong meeting in Santa Clara, California. “We’re moving away from an ‘ethernet everywhere’ with essentially the same sort of flavor.”


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100G Ethernet bringing Large Hadron Collider closer than ever to U.S. researchers | Bob Brown | NetworkWorld.com

100G Ethernet bringing Large Hadron Collider closer than ever to U.S. researchers | Bob Brown | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Department of Energy's (DOE's) Energy Sciences Network is gaining 340Gbps of connectivity to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and other research sites in Europe via 4 new transatlantic links. The network will be used by researchers on two sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

ESnet equipment in Europe will be interconnected by dedicated 100Gbps links from the pan-European networking organization GÉANT.

ESnet, which supports U.S. national laboratories and supercomputing centers, is funded by the DOE's Office of Science and managed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Particle physicists, astrophysicists and genomics researchers are among those expected to benefit from the ESnet upgrade.

ESnet historically has been one of the fastest networks in existence, demonstrating 100Gbps speeds domestically in the United States back in 2011.

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Visualizing Swing States in the Global Internet Governance Debate | Policy Paper | OTI | NewAmerica.org

Visualizing Swing States in the Global Internet Governance Debate | Policy Paper | OTI | NewAmerica.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The global Internet governance debate is heating up again. In light of the International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) 2014 Plenipotentiary Conference, many observers are revisiting what happened at the last major intergovernmental ITU meeting: the 2012 World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), which ended in a dramatic split.


One of the fault lines that emerged at the WCIT was whether the revisions to the text of a key treaty would expand the role of the ITU — a specialized agency of the United Nations — to include more Internet governance functions. The 89 countries that voted in favor of the revised text, including China and Iran, were portrayed as supporting a greater role for governments in the Internet’s global multistakeholder system. Those who refused to sign, including the United States and many of its allies, argued that the new treaty threatened the existing system and the promotion of a free and open Internet.

The division at the WCIT, however, was not as simple as countries that support a multistakeholder model of Internet governance vs. those who seek greater governmental control over the networks and protocols. Many countries fell in the middle, casting their votes for other political, economic, or security reasons, and if they were to shift positions going forward, could have a significant impact on the future of the Internet. These so-called “swing states” have thus become an important focus of the post-WCIT discussion, especially in advance of the ITU Plenipotentiary.


In this map, we highlight the conflict and identify 30 key swing states based on a recent study for the Centre for International Governance Innovation, which attempted to systematically identify these potentially influential countries based on their WCIT voting record, their membership in groups like the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the European Union, and the Freedom Online Coalition, and a range of other indicators.


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MA: Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus threatens lawsuit against Charter | Worcester Magazine

MA: Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus threatens lawsuit against Charter | Worcester Magazine | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

City Manager Ed Augustus Jr., in a strongly-worded letter to a representative of the city's cable service provider, Charter Communications, is urging the company to reverse its decision to relocate its public, education and government (PEG) access channels on the TV dial. Should the company fail to do so, Augustus suggests a lawsuit could be filed against Charter.

The letter, dated Wednesday, Oct. 16, was sent to Tom Cohan, director of government and community relations for Charter. It came two days after the City Council, on an 8-3 vote, recommended Augustus oppose the proposed transfer of the cable license from Charter to Comcast. One day before the letter to Cohan was drafted, Augustus reached an agreement with Comcast to extend the deadline by which the city had to take either accept or reject the transfer. The deadline was Wednesday, Oct. 15, but Comcast has given the city a two-week extension. The future of Charter's call center in Worcester, which employes dozens of people, is among the city's concerns.

"I am deeply concerned and disappointed with Charter's decision to relocate the Public, Education and Government Access Channels from their respective, long-standing channel assignment to new channel numbers in the 190s," Augustus wrote. "I have hear loud and clear the objections voiced by the Worcester City Council and the public access community. I am equally dubious of the need to relocate the channels in general, and why now in the face of the transfer of the license to Comcast Corporation."

The PEG channels are a separate issue with Charter, which has committed to moving them from their current spots on channels 11, 12 and 13 to the 190s on the TV dial. They would be replaced by, among other services, the Home Shopping Network. Charter has said the move was part of its switch to all-digital service. However, At-Large City Councilor Moe Bergman, one of two councilors on the three-member Public Service & Transportation Committee who voted to ask the full Council to recommend Augustus oppose the license transfer, pointed out it might violate the contract, which calls for the company to demonstrate "compelling commercial considerations" for relocating the PEG channels.


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FCC’s Wheeler on OVD NPRM: Stay Tuned | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

FCC’s Wheeler on OVD NPRM: Stay Tuned | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is not ready to weigh in on the proposed Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) the Media Bureau is working on that would tentatively conclude that linear online video providers (OVDs) — those mimicking a cable system — would qualify as MVPDS.

The NRPM was first reported Sept. 29 by MultiChannel News/B&C.

At his press conference following the FCC's public meeting Friday, Wheeler was asked a lot of questions related to the proposal, nibbling around the edges with his answers.

Wheeler was asked what impact he thought the announced HBO and CBS online video services would have on competition, Wheeler said that they, and similar developments, would "obviously have a marketplace impact," and said that the FCC's look at what constitutes an MVPD would be a "key component" of that.

Asked if he had any "time frame" for action on Aereo's request to be classified as an MVPD and a time frame for the NPRM, Wheeler said "stay tuned. It is something that we are very involved in and looking at." He gave no signal of a timetable.


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$90 Time Warner Cable bill becomes $190 after two years | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica

$90 Time Warner Cable bill becomes $190 after two years | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Cable bills have a way of starting out expensive and then getting even more expensive as time goes on. This is especially true when cable companies offer promotional rates that last a year or two without telling customers what they'll actually have to pay once the discounted rate expires.


No cable customer is immune from this phenomenon—even outspoken telecom analysts like Bruce Kushnick are in for bill shock. Kushnick, a frequent critic of Internet service providers, signed up for a Time Warner Cable "Triple Pay" package in 2012 and is now paying more than double the advertised rate.


"When I signed up, less than two years ago, it was advertised at $89.99 and today, less than two years later, the actual price is 110 percent more—now $190.77," Kushnick wrote today in the Huffington Post.

For new customers signing up now, TWC's Triple Play TV, Internet, and Phone package has an advertised rate of $109.99 per month for the first 12 months. Another $20 per month is added in the second year, but it's hard to predict just how much it would cost two years from now. "After 24 months, regular rates in effect at that time apply," the fine print says.

Kushnick never paid as little as $89.99 because a variety of fees raise rates well above advertised ones from the start. Taxes, fees, and surcharges accounted for $16.79 in his latest bill, while set-top box and modem charges accounted for another $17.24. "Fact is—you can never, ever get the advertised price because it doesn't include many of the fixed costs, like the set top box, not to mention it is littered with pass-throughs of the company's taxes and fees, including the cable franchise fees," Kushnick wrote. "To add insult to injury, there are a bunch of garbage, made up charges, and let us not forget the increases on all services—the 'Internet modem' fee went up 140 percent... This bill is like going to a restaurant and ordering the $20.00 dinner 'special' only to get a bill of $38.68, not counting the allowable taxes."

Time Warner Cable argued that "Comparing $190.77 to $89.99 just isn't an apples-to-apples comparison" because of all those extra fees.


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How Google Search is changing to fight online piracy | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com

How Google Search is changing to fight online piracy | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google's dominance of the online search market has often put it at odds with copyright holders, who argue the company should hide results likely to contain pirated content. On Friday, the search engine giant announced new efforts in response to that concern, saying that it would do more to reduce the visibility of pirated content in search products -- including testing a new ad format and tweaking its autocomplete search feature.

According to Google, the company received more than 224 million requests last year to remove search results under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act -- and ultimately removed 222 million of them. The average turnaround for copyright notices was less than six hours last year, the company says.

One of Google's strategies for fighting online piracy is to promote legal ways to access content. On that front, the company says it is testing a new ad format that pops up in search results for music and movies. When users search for such content using words such as "download," free or "watch, for example, Google's search results will automatically direct them to legitimate content sources, such as Amazon, Netflix or its own Google Play store, in a prominent position at the top of the page. The search engine is also trying out a right-hand panel in search results for the same kind of listing. The tests are only being run in the United States right now, but the blog post suggests an international rollout may be in the cards down the line.


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FBI again claims it's Going Dark thanks to encryption | Ms. Smith | NetworkWorld.com

FBI again claims it's Going Dark thanks to encryption | Ms. Smith | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Think back to a childhood story about a boy who cried wolf one time too many; when a wolf was a real threat, people rolled their eyes and no one believed him. The moral of the story is what the boy was told, "Nobody believes a liar...even when he is telling the truth!" While I’m not calling FBI Director James Comey a liar, the FBI has cried it is “going dark” so often since 2007 that it reminds me of the boy who cried “Wolf!”

Last week at the Brookings Institution, during his “Going Dark” speech, Comey hammered on the evils of encryption again and how we must find the right “balance” of security and liberty. When feds start talking about striking a “balance” between security and liberty (or security and privacy) it tends to strike dread in my heart. That’s because liberty and privacy lose out to security, but security loses too as “balance” solutions mean weakening security. If your mind jumped to “back door” access, “one that foreign adversaries and hackers may try to exploit,” Comey called that a “misconception” that “isn’t true.”

We aren’t seeking a back-door approach. We want to use the front door, with clarity and transparency, and with clear guidance provided by law. We are completely comfortable with court orders and legal process—front doors that provide the evidence and information we need to investigate crime and prevent terrorist attacks.

Cyber adversaries will exploit any vulnerability they find. But it makes more sense to address any security risks by developing intercept solutions during the design phase, rather than resorting to a patchwork solution when law enforcement comes knocking after the fact. And with sophisticated encryption, there might be no solution, leaving the government at a dead end—all in the name of privacy and network security.

After Comey’s speech, Laura W. Murphy, the ACLU director of the Washington Legislative Office, stated:

“Director Comey is wrong in asserting that law enforcement cannot do its job while respecting Americans’ privacy rights. In fact, federal law explicitly protects the right of companies to add encryption with no backdoors. Whether the FBI calls it a front door or a backdoor, any effort by the FBI to weaken encryption leaves our highly personal information and our business information vulnerable to hacking by foreign governments and criminals.”

After pointing out how Comey’s words seemed like an echo of a 1995 speech by the FBI director, the EFF said:


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Google's ambitious broadband plans include testing wireless technology, filing shows | Mark Hachman | NetworkWorld.com

Google's ambitious broadband plans include testing wireless technology, filing shows | Mark Hachman | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Documents filed by Google to the Federal Communications Commission show that the Internet giant hopes to test wireless broadband technology. Reportedly the company has been interested in this for two years or more.

Reuters reported that Google plans to test so-called millimeter-wave technology somewhere in San Mateo, Calif., as well as a location believed to be on its Mountain View, Calif. campus.

Craig Barratt, the head of the Google Access and Energy division leading the effort to offer high-speed fiber networks in Kansas City and other locations, signed off as the authorized person submitting Google’s FCC application, Reuters reported. Barratt formerly was chief executive of Atheros.

Why this matters: If Google feels that a combination of wired and wireless broadband at gigabit speeds is feasible, that will put increasing pressure on competitors to follow suit. Already, AT&T is planning its own gigabit broadband plans, recently adding Chicago and Atlanta to the mix. A rising tide lifts all boats, and no carrier wants to cede territory they could own to Google.


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Infonetics: Momentum building in millimeter wave market, ignited by outdoor small cells | Yahoo!.com

Infonetics: Momentum building in millimeter wave market, ignited by outdoor small cells | Yahoo!.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Market research firm Infonetics Research released excerpts from its latest Millimeter Wave Equipment report, which tracks licensed and unlicensed millimeter wave equipment by market application (access, backhaul, and transport).


"Although the millimeter wave market is still modest in scale at this point, the enhanced capacity capabilities delivered by this technology will be invaluable as a backhaul aggregation solution for small cell deployments as they scale up," says Richard Webb, directing analyst for mobile backhaul and small cells at Infonetics Research.

Webb continues: "We expect millimeter wave to play a significant role in outdoor small cell backhaul, which will become the primary long-term market driver."


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How a dumb software glitch kept thousands from reaching 911 | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

How a dumb software glitch kept thousands from reaching 911 | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Who ever thinks that their call to 911 would go unanswered? But in a terrifying incident this spring, thousands of Americans found themselves in need of help — and got none.

For six hours, emergency services went dark for more than 11 million people across seven states. The entire state of Washington found itself disconnected from 911. The outage may have gone unnoticed by some, but for the more than 6,000 people trying to reach help, April 9 may well have been the scariest time of their lives.

Now a study from the Federal Communications Commission offers the most in-depth explanation of the outage and why it occurred. In a 40-page report, the FCC found that an entirely preventable software error was responsible for causing 911 service to drop. The incident affected 81 call dispatch centers, rendering emergency services inoperable in all of Washington and parts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, California, Minnesota and Florida.

"It could have been prevented. But it was not," the FCC's report reads. "The causes of this outage highlight vulnerabilities of networks as they transition from the long-familiar methods of reaching 911 to [Internet Protocol]-supported technologies."

At the center of the disruption was a system maintained by a third-party contractor, a Colorado-based company called Intrado. Intrado owns and operates a routing service, taking in 911 calls and directing them to the most appropriate public safety answering point, or PSAP, in industry parlance. Ordinarily, Intrado's automated system assigns a unique identifying code to each incoming call before passing it on — a method of keeping track of phone calls as they move through the system.


But on April 9, the software responsible for assigning the codes maxed out at a pre-set limit; the counter literally stopped counting at 40 million calls. As a result, the routing system stopped accepting new calls, leading to a bottleneck and a series of cascading failures elsewhere in the 911 infrastructure.


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Amazon Isn’t the Problem With Capitalism. It’s the Solution to Our Economic Ills | Reihan Salam | Slate.com

Amazon Isn’t the Problem With Capitalism. It’s the Solution to Our Economic Ills | Reihan Salam | Slate.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If I knew exactly what Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, planned to do with his ever-expanding retail empire, I wouldn't be writing this column right now. Instead, I'd be traveling the world in a luxurious zeppelin, drinking fine wines and solving crimes with the aid of my mind-reading powers.


But I can say this: Even if Bezos is in his heart of hearts a villain devoted to driving every mom-and-pop store in the world out of business, the company he's built is very much a force for good. It is a force for good not just because it keeps the Salam household stocked with paper towels, dish soap, rolling ball pens, map tacks, and lots and lots of cheap books, but because it points American capitalism in a better, healthier direction.


(Disclosure: Slate is an Amazon affiliate; when you click on an Amazon link from Slate, the magazine gets a cut of the proceeds from whatever you buy.)

This is not a universally held view. There are those who see Amazon as a menacing corporate predator that, as Franklin Foer argues in the New Republic, “has left a trail of destruction” in its wake and that uses its economic power to bring its many suppliers to heel. Foer's central accusation is that Amazon is a budding monopoly whose dominance will eventually yield “less variety of products and lower quality of the remaining ones.”

The concept of monopoly merits closer scrutiny. A pair of Slate alums, Annie Lowrey of New York and Matt Yglesias of Vox, have both noted that Amazon is not a monopoly according to a strict definition of the term.


Lowrey observes that although Amazon does indeed have a formidable and perhaps even monopolistic position in the book market (I don't agree, but we'll get to that), it certainly doesn't have a monopoly on e-commerce, where it represents 15 percent of all sales, let alone retail as a whole, where Amazon is but a pygmy.


Yglesias argues that if anything, Amazon is “the reverse of a monopoly.” Instead of rigging the retail business in its favor by fattening its margins and exploiting its dominant position in a handful of niches, it is so cutthroat that it sometimes appears to be cutting its own throat, as evidenced by the fact that the company loses a boatload of money.


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FTC hires technologist who worked on Snowden docs | Mario Trujilio | The Hill

The Federal Trade Commission appointed a new chief technologist who previously worked as a security advisor and technical expert at The Washington Post, co-authoring some stories based on leaks by Edward Snowden.

Ashkan Soltani was appointed Tuesday by FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez to replace Latanya Sweeney, who is stepping down to return to Harvard University.

After a year at the FTC, Sweeney will return to Harvard's Data Privacy Lab, which she founded.

"Technology and online and mobile platforms are continuing to evolve at a rapid pace and will remain a key focus for the FTC as more and more consumers adopt mobile devices and tablets,” Ramirez said in a statement.

In 2013 alone, Soltani worked as a consultant for the Post, Time magazine, The Wall Street Journal, the FTC and a number of state attorneys general. He has worked as a consultant and researcher on technology, privacy and behavior economics for more than 20 years, according to his biography.

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Your online TV watching is now being tracked across devices | Zach Miners | NetworkWorld.com

Your online TV watching is now being tracked across devices | Zach Miners | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Showing all viewers the same commercial six minutes into, say, an episode of “Modern Family” might soon be over. If you’re watching it online.

A new partnership between TV measurement company Nielsen and analytics provider Adobe was announced early Tuesday, presenting detailed data about how people watch TV and other media on the Internet. The team-up adds smarts to existing forms of tracking, by letting broadcasters get a better picture of how Internet users consume media across devices and platforms.

With the service, partnered broadcasters could see, for instance, if viewers began watching a show on Netflix on their laptop, then switched to a Roku set-top box to finish it. And then read an article on ESPN.com.

It’s a big expansion of the usual demographic data and video viewing rates gained through existing Web tracking and online measurement tools. But the Adobe-Nielsen partnership will let broadcasters connect the dots. They’ll see how people interact with digital video between devices, particularly on new platforms like Internet-connected set-top boxes. The information learned will help broadcasters decide what to charge advertisers, and deliver better targeted ads for viewers.


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Are higher frequencies mobile's next frontier? The FCC wants to know | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com

Are higher frequencies mobile's next frontier? The FCC wants to know | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Some mobile researchers think future networks will reach into higher frequencies to keep up with traffic, and the FCC now wants to know how it might help to make that possible.

Most of the world’s cellular networks send calls and data traffic over frequencies below 6GHz. Growing demand is expected to put the squeeze on those spectrum bands in a few years, and one way out may be to start using largely untapped frequencies in so-called millimeter-wave bands. Though experts say most of those bands are still lightly used, unleashing smartphones and other mobile devices on them would require some regulatory changes.

To get ahead of that game, on Oct. 17 the U.S. Federal Communications Commission announced a Notice of Inquiry to ask what new high-frequency mobile technology might achieve and which bands might be best to use. New advances could make millimeter-wave radios part of 5G, the next generation of mobile communications, the FCC said in a news release. That generation is expected to reach the real world around 2020.


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TN: EPB, Oak Ridge National Laboratory To Partner On Smart Grid | Chattanoogan.com

TN: EPB, Oak Ridge National Laboratory To Partner On Smart Grid | Chattanoogan.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Officials of EPB and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory announced Monday they plan to partner on making further improvements to the Smart Grid that has brought Chattanooga national attention.

At a Monday morning round table discussion at the EPB headquarters that was also attended by U.S. Department of Energy representatives, officials said there are a number of pressing and complex issues relating to delivery of electric power to homes and businesses.

A memorandum of understanding was signed during the morning ceremonies that were attended by Senator Bob Corker and Congressman Chuck Fleischmann.


The event was titled "Future Seek: Where Energy Research Meets Application."


Officials said they want to work toward electrical grids that are both reliable and efficient.


Thom Mason, ORNL director, said one challenge to integrate is the increasing number of "off grid" energy applications, including solar and wind.


Another issue, he said, is how energy can be managed with the least negative impact on the climate and environment.


He also spoke of cyber security, saying there are hackers and even nation states who may want to disrupt electrical grids.


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CBS's Streaming Service Not Likely to Equal 'Real Business,' Expert Says | Tim Kennerally | TheWrap

CBS's Streaming Service Not Likely to Equal 'Real Business,' Expert Says | Tim Kennerally | TheWrap | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

CBS's new digital subscription video-on-demand service CBS All Access, which the company launched Thursday, isn't likely to generate a financial windfall for CBS — but it could still prove valuable for the network and consumers. At least, that's the view of streaming and online video expert Dan Rayburn, executive vice president of StreamingMedia.com.

TheWrap spoke to Rayburn about the new stand-alone service, which offers current CBS programming, previous seasons and classic shows on demand for a $5.99 monthly fee. Rayburn's verdict? Don't look for a massive rush of people to buy the service.

“Are they going to get millions of people signing up for this? No, definitely not,” Rayburn told TheWrap.


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Dish 'Primetime Anytime' doesn't infringe on broadcasters, judge tentatively rules | Daniel Frankel | FierceCable.com

Dish 'Primetime Anytime' doesn't infringe on broadcasters, judge tentatively rules | Daniel Frankel | FierceCable.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A federal judge has issued a key tentative decision in favor of Dish Network in its court battle with Fox, ruling that the pay-TV operator's "Primetime Anytime" DVR feature does not infringe on the programmer's copyright.

The AutoHop feature lets users of Dish's Hopper digital video recorder automatically record the entire primetime schedules of ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, stripping out the commercials in the process.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee said late last week that the feature constitutes fair use under the U.S. Supreme Court's 1984 Sony Betamax decision, which ruled that companies aren't liable for the recordings consumers choose to make.

"What they're saying is don't watch that stinky live stuff," Richard Stone, a lawyer for Fox, said at the hearing, which was covered by Bloomberg. "They created commercial-free video-on-demand because by law they can't provide commercial-free live TV."

Gee did, however, say that Fox may have a breach-of-contract claim, given that Primetime Anytime may violate provisions in Dish's deal with Fox that restrict it from offering video-on-demand content.


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Top Senator Calls on Comcast to Extend Net Neutrality Pledge | Sam Gustin | Motherboard.vice.com

Top Senator Calls on Comcast to Extend Net Neutrality Pledge | Sam Gustin | Motherboard.vice.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Sen. Patrick Leahy, the influential Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has called on Comcast to extend its commitment to net neutrality “well beyond” 2018, when the company’s current pledge expires.

Leahy is also asking the cable giant to foreswear “paid prioritization,” which many Open Internet advocates argue would create fast and slow “lanes” on the internet, threatening its status as a free and open platform and an engine for innovation and economic growth.

In a letter to Comcast executive vice president David L. Cohen, Leahy made a direct connection between Comcast’s proposed $45 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable and net neutrality, the principle that broadband providers should treat all data equally.

Leahy’s letter could increase the pressure on the Federal Communications Commission, which is evaluating whether the proposed merger advances the public interest, to require Comcast to make a strong net neutrality commitment as part of the deal.

It also demonstrates how closely net neutrality is intertwined with concerns over consolidation in the broadband industry. Comcast and Time Warner Cable are the two largest cable companies in the country, and a union between them would create a broadband colossus with immense market power.

As part of its intense lobbying campaign pushing the Time Warner Cable deal, Comcast has repeatedly emphasized that it “supports an open internet and network neutrality.” As part of its 2010 acquisition of NBCUniversal, Comcast pledged to abide by the net neutrality provisions of the FCC's now-defunct 2010 Open Internet order, which was struck down by a federal court in January.

Leahy also asked Comcast to pledge “not to engage in any activity that prioritizes affiliated content or services over unaffiliated content or services, helping to ensure that vertical integration does not threaten competition online."

Although Leahy is not part of the Time Warner Cable merger review process, it’s entirely possible that such conditions will be baked into federal approval of the deal, which is being scrutinized by the Justice Department as well as the FCC.


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China Turns From 'Pirate' Nation To Giant Patent Troll | Glyn Moody | Techdirt.com

China Turns From 'Pirate' Nation To Giant Patent Troll | Glyn Moody | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The West's constant push for stronger patent protection in agreements like TPP and ACTA is based on the belief that they will then be able to deploy their supercharged patents against the rising economic might of China. What this completely overlooks is the fact that China will be able to turn the self-same strengthened patent regime against the West by acquiring patents and suing Western companies.


Techdirt has already reported on how China is providing financial incentives for its companies to file huge numbers of patents overseas. Now it has taken another step in bolstering its patents strategy against the West by setting up a company called Ruichuan IPR Funds.


Here's a press release that the site Citizen Outreach has issued on this move:


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Honoring the "Unwavering Principle" of Free Speech | Rob Stoddard | NCTA.com

Honoring the "Unwavering Principle" of Free Speech | Rob Stoddard | NCTA.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In America, every day, virtually every moment, seems in its way to be a celebration of Free Speech. Living in the U.S., can you imagine a world without it? Unfortunately many of our fellow global citizens cannot only imagine it, but daily live it. How lucky we are.

So it may seem strange that we choose one week each year to commemorate Free Speech, to praise its virtues, and talk about its impact on our lives. But if we’ve learned anything in the modern age, it’s never to take our core freedoms for granted. Thus, our partners at The Media Institute, and scores of organizations, associations, companies, and institutions, elevate the attributes of Free Speech during the third week of every October. And so we begin the 2014 celebration of Free Speech week, October 20 through 26.

Free Speech Week, according to The Media Institute, is “a non-partisan, week-long commemorative event, now in its tenth year, which raises awareness of free speech and a free press in the United States among all age groups and walks of life.”

Fifteen years ago this week, then-freshman FCC Commissioner Michael Powell – who went on to become FCC Chairman and now serves as the President and CEO of our association, NCTA – recognized the importance of Free Speech in American culture, ironically, at an annual banquet of The Media Institute.

“I have gained a deep and profound respect for the wisdom of having an unwavering principle that stands at the summit of the Constitution,” Powell said, “and holds: ‘Government shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.’”

In his remarks that year, Powell went on to discuss the very real and dynamic tension among the framers of our Constitution, who saw the need for a strong central government, but an even more compelling need for protecting our speech from government intervention.

“We did not sign away to a Philosopher-King the responsibility to determine for us, like a caring parent, what messages we should and should not hear,” he said.

Would today’s Golden Age of television have grown and prospered without the protection of free speech?


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MOOC Makers Increase Competition With B-Schools With Executive Courses | Seb Murray | BusinessBecause.com

MOOC Makers Increase Competition With B-Schools With Executive Courses | Seb Murray | BusinessBecause.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Learning technology company edX is launching a series of short executive courses which participants will have to pay for, in a further sign that MOOCs – massive open online courses – are evolving into the fee-paying market, and are threatening to steal business schools’ revenue.

Executive education courses are most schools’ main sources of income. They are often customized and sold to private corporations, covering business trends such as big data and leadership.

MOOCs are seen by many in the education sector as a direct threat to MBA and master’s programs, offering similar content developed by tenure or tenure-track professors, but free of charge.

EdX’s new range of courses will require participants to pay upfront to enrol. As well as charging upfront fees, edX licences courses to institutions, and sells qualifications to students, who after completing edX’s MOOC are given the option to purchase a verified certificate which they can present to potential employers.

The new courses are a shift away from the free programs traditional associated with edX. The organization is an initiative of leading US universities MIT and Harvard, with most of its MOOC targeted at university students.

One of its new executive courses is business-related. Engaging with Innovation Ecosystems: The Corporate Perspective, was developed by MIT Sloan, the business school, and will cost students $1,249.

While edX has largely focused on developing free content, this shift into paid-for programs is likely to pitch it directly against business schools.


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NYC: A Great Day in Harlem | Larry Irving | Silicon Harlem

NYC: A Great Day in Harlem | Larry Irving | Silicon Harlem | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Last week there was another “Great Day in Harlem” as Silicon Harlem held their first summit. It was a wonderful event and a wonderfully diverse event with men and women of every ethnicity and every profession gathered to discuss how to better utilize technology in Harlem and to discuss what will be needed to turn Harlem into a technology hub.


Attendees included one of the most senior members of Congress, the former chair of the House Ways and Means Committee; The Manhattan Borough President; the head of the Economic Development Office for the Mayor of NYC; a senior member of the State Dept. staff and representatives of the Commerce Dept., FCC and major city and regional universities.


Also in attendance were bankers and journalists and entrepreneurs and real estate developers and technologists. It probably was the most diverse tech conference I ever have attended in the past 30 years.

Sadly, this wonderful event had absolutely no support from the technology community or any major philanthropy. I mean ZERO support. No one from Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Intel, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Samsung or even any of the myriad Silicon Alley (NYC based) companies or any of the NYC or Silicon Valley venture firms could take a train ride uptown (they all have NYC offices) to discuss technology and economic development or tech and the arts or tech and education or tech policy or tech and entrepreneurship. NOT ONE tech company invested in this event or could be bothered to attend. Not one. Not one…

So, the next time you hear a tech company exec lament that they can’t find minority talent or minority ventures to invest in or minorities interested in doing business with them, remind them that they could have had a “Great Day in Harlem”.


There were dozens of talented, credentialed and experienced young people of every ethnicity with whom they could have engaged. It was just as disappointing to witness a total absence of support from major foundations and philanthropies. If folks truly want more diversity, these are precisely the type of events that need and deserve support.

Silicon Harlem will continue to grow. I hope the tech community will figure out a way to participate. If you know anyone in that community, tell him or her that if they attend next year I will spring for the cost of a ride on the IRT or if they bring some friends I will pay for a trip via Uber… October 2015 there is going to be another Great Day in Harlem. Harlem will be there. Will Silicon Valley or Silicon Alley join in? Or will they continue to mouth platitudes about diversity with little or no actual investment in efforts at inclusion?

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Airwave Auction: Broadband vs. Minority TV Programming? | Public News Service

Airwave Auction: Broadband vs. Minority TV Programming? | Public News Service | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As the song goes, "Video Killed the Radio Star." Will wireless kill some free public TV?

That's the latest media question.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is holding an auction in which wireless companies such as Verizon and AT&T will bid on parts of the nation's airwaves currently being used by television stations.

It's called a spectrum auction and Todd O'Boyle, program director for Common Cause’s Media and Democracy Reform Initiative, says billions of dollars are at stake.

"On the one hand, the broadcasters are looking at a big payday, potentially,” he explains. “And on the other hand, the cellular folks are looking at making lots of money building next-generation networks."

But some observers are concerned that, given the incentive to sell spectrum, the owners of some public television stations that serve diverse communities in many cities will give in.


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