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CO: $100 Million Stimulus Project Halted Over Environmental Concerns | telecompetitor.com

CO: $100 Million Stimulus Project Halted Over Environmental Concerns | telecompetitor.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Eagle-Net Alliance, a Colorado intergovernmental entity, has had its broadband stimulus project haltedbecause of questions about its documentation – and has only a few days to pull together what would appear to be a large amount of paperwork to try to correct the situation.

 

Eagle-Net Alliance won a $100 million broadband stimulus award from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to create a broadband network to connect more than 230 community anchor institutions in the state.

 

According to a letter sent to Eagle-Net Alliance yesterday by the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, ENA failed to consult with NTIA in advance on changes in its network design, putting it in violation of the terms of an Environmental Special Award Condition and therefore ENA is in “material noncompliance with the terms and conditions of its award.”

 

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New documents reveal which encryption tools the NSA couldn't crack | Russell Brandom | The Verge

Thanks to Edward Snowden, we're getting a new look at which programs can successfully keep out the NSA. A report in Der Spiegel has shed new light on the NSA's encryption-breaking programs, and put a spotlight on the handful of programs that are still giving them trouble.


The findings, based on leaked documents, were also presented onstage at the Chaos Computer Club Conference in Hamburg by researcher Jacob Appelbaum and Laura Poitras, who took the findings as a call to action. "We really wanted to have some of these answers for fifteen years," Appelbaum told the crowd.

The most impressive news to come out of the dump is that, as of 2012, certain emails and chats were still indecipherable by the NSA database when they had been encrypted with the right tools. Reports describe "major problems" following users across the Tor network, or deciphering messages sent through heavily encrypted email providers like Zoho.


The agency reported similar problems when deciphering files that had been encrypted with TrueCrypt, an open-source disk-encryption program that was discontinued earlier this year. PGP encryption tools and OTR chat encryption also caused major problems for the agency, causing entire messages to disappear from the system, leaving only the message: "No decrypt available for this PGP encrypted message."

Not every service fared so well. Following a particular file across the web is marked as "trivial," while decrypting emails sent through the Russian mail service "Mail.ru" is marked as "moderate." Virtual private networks also offer little protection: documents show the NSA planning the capacity to surveil 20,000 VPN connections per hour.


Perhaps most alarming, the NSA seems to have completely circumvented the HTTPS system, which is used to secure connections between websites and browsers. By late 2012, the agency expected to be able to intercept 10 million HTTPS connections per day.


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T-Mobile US lines up further 700MHz spectrum deals | TeleGeography.com

T-Mobile US has lined up a number of additional 700MHz spectrum deals with regional licence holders, Fierce Wireless reports, citing filings made with the Federal Communications Commission. As such, T-Mobile has agreed terms with BEK Communications Cooperative for licences covering Bismark and Kidder, North Dakota.


Meanwhile, the deal with Big Wave Ventures, which is backed by Phoenix-based Smartcomm, covers two A block licences, one in Wheeling, West Virginia, and one in Lubbock, Texas.


Finally, the transaction with Vulcan Wireless includes a concession covering the Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton area in Washington and the Portland-Salem area in Oregon.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, T-Mobile agreed to pay Verizon Wireless USD2.37 billion for a substantial package of 700MHz A block spectrum in January 2014, before going on to secure 700MHz spectrum covering a further 18 million people from a number of smaller players.


Recent transactions notwithstanding, the cellco presides over 700MHz A block frequencies covering 176 million people, or 55% of the population. These frequencies are said to encompass nine of the top ten metropolitan markets and 22 of the top 30 metro areas.

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Botched cyberattack raises fears that Islamic State may be hacking | Raphael Satter | Stars & Stripes

Botched cyberattack raises fears that Islamic State may be hacking | Raphael Satter | Stars & Stripes | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A botched cyberattack aimed at unmasking Syrian dissidents has experts worried that the Islamic State group is adding malicious software to its arsenal.

Internet watchdog Citizen Lab says an attempt to hack into systems operated by dissidents within the self-styled caliphate could be the work of hackers affiliated with the Islamic State group.

Citizen Lab analyst John Scott-Railton said there is circumstantial evidence of the group's involvement, and cautioned that if the group has moved into cyberespionage, "the targets might not stop with the borders of Syria."

The Nov. 24 attack came in the form of a booby-trapped email sent to an activist collective in Raqqa, Syria, that documents human rights abuses in the Islamic State group's de-facto capital. The activist at the receiving end of the email wasn't fooled and forwarded the message to Bahaa Nasr of Cyber Arabs, a project which provides online security training.

"We are wanted — even just as corpses," the activist, whose name is being withheld to protect his safety, told Nasr. "This email has a virus; we want to know the source."

The message eventually found its way to Citizen Lab, based at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs. There, Scott-Railton and malware researcher Seth Hardy determined that it could act as a kind of electronic homing beacon by revealing a victim's Internet protocol address.

Citizen Lab regularly dissects rogue programs from the region, but Scott-Railton said this sample was different from previous attacks blamed on the Syrian government.


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Big Data and the Internet of Things: Two Sides of the Same Coin? | Tamara Dull | SmartData Collective

Big Data and the Internet of Things: Two Sides of the Same Coin? | Tamara Dull | SmartData Collective | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Let’s kick this post off with a quick quiz. Read each statement below and determine if it’s referring to big data or the Internet of Things:

  1. Every minute, we send 204 million emails, generate 1.8 million Facebook likes, send 278 thousand tweets, and upload 200 thousand photos to Facebook. Is this statement about big data or the Internet of Things?
  2. 12 million RFID tags (used to capture data and track movement of objects in the physical world) were sold in 2011. By 2021, it’s estimated this number will increase to 209 billion as [big data or the Internet of Things?] takes off.
  3. The boom of [big data or the Internet of Things?] will mean that the amount of devices that connect to the internet will rise from about 13 billion today to 50 billion by 2020.
  4. The [big data or the Internet of Things?] industry is expected to grow from US$10.2 billion in 2013 to about US$54.3 billion by 2017.


Here’s the answers: 1 – big data; 2 – Internet of Things; 3 – Internet of Things; and 4 – big data. So how did you do? To be honest, if I didn’t have the answers in front of me, I’m not so sure I’d get all these right. I recently conducted this same quiz during a presentation at a CIO event to “warm up” the attendees. With the exception of question 3 (which they nailed), they were pretty much split on their answers.

Which brings me to the point of this post: What is the relationship between big data and the Internet of Things (IoT)? Are they related and/or are they two sides of the same coin? Let’s examine further.

In October 2014, representatives from the private sector and academia came together in Mauritius for the 36th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners. The purpose was to discuss both the positive and negative impact of big data and IoT in our daily lives, and the objective was to establish principles and recommendations on how to reduce the risks associated with collecting and using data in this big data-IoT era.

The observations and conclusions of the conference were captured in two documents: the Mauritius Resolution on Big Data and the Mauritius Declaration on the Internet of Things. Both documents acknowledge that IoT’s connected devices coupled with big data can make our lives easier, but there are still important concerns about individuals’ privacy and civil rights.

Here’s a summary of both documents (as reported on Inside Privacy):


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BBT Wants In On FCC’s Set-Top Action | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com

BBT Wants In On FCC’s Set-Top Action | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Count Beyond Broadband Technology (BBT) among the organizations that are willing to help the FCC and its Chairman, Tom Wheeler, pursue a successor to the CableCARD.

BBT, a cable-backed consortium founded in 2005 that has developed a downloadable security system for set-tops and other devices, has already contacted the Chairman’s office to let it be known that BBT would like to be part of the working group that ends up tackling the task, Steve Effros, a BBT partner and its director of strategic development and communications, told Multichannel News in an email.

Effros, the former head of industry lobbying group once known as the Cable Telecommunications Association (CATA) and who is currently a regular CableFAX columnist, noted that the BBTSolution, the organization's security platform, can be made to support a range of platforms, including IP and QAM, among others. And while BBT’s initial focus was on the set-top box, the company has been exploring broader applications of its technology.


In its FAQ, BBT holds that if BBTSolution chips were included in smart TVs or devices such as Roku boxes, TiVo DVRs, Apple TVs boxes, or even Chromecast streaming adapters, then any OTT streaming video programmer could allow consumers to use those devices while maintaining full security of their programs while also assuring privacy and confidentiality of their customer lists.


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Austin, TX: Closing the Digital Divide | Mary Tuma | Austin Chronicle

Austin, TX: Closing the Digital Divide | Mary Tuma | Austin Chronicle | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Austin, TX is slated to take a major leap toward bridging the city's digital divide, city and state leaders announced last Thursday afternoon.


In partnership with Google Fiber, the city is offering 4,300 public housing residents living in the 18 Housing Authority of the City of Austin developments across the city a chance to join the upcoming high-speed Internet rollout for free (or at least a nominal cost) for the next decade. The broader Google Fiber rollout is expected to hit South and Southeast Austin starting in December.

Flanked by newly minted U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, HACA president and CEO Michael Gerber delivered the message outside East Austin's Booker T. Washington Terraces. The plan, Gerber said, would alter the cultural fabric of Austin and help close the gap between the digital haves and have-nots.

"If you lack access to the Internet, or don't have access to a computer or tablet; or if you don't understand the Internet's relevance to your daily life, then you're even farther apart and more separated from your community and its resources," said Gerber. "All too often that separateness has been the case for residents of public housing. ... For us, the Internet is an information superhighway, but for kids and families in public housing, the Internet, at times, is more like an information bike path."


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NM: WESST’s digital studio provides tech tools | Juliana Silva | Albuquerue Journal

NM: WESST’s digital studio provides tech tools | Juliana Silva | Albuquerue Journal | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Comcast Digital Media Studio at the WESST Enterprise Center is more than the sum of its state-of-the-art parts. Under the direction of Managing Director Russell Combs, the studio is a hive of business networking and creation.

“We didn’t want this to be just another studio where you can produce a Kickstarter video,” said Combs, who led the Erie Technology Incubator at Gannon University in Erie, Pa., before taking the job at WESST in March 2013. “We want to combine technology and entrepreneurial aspects. And that only happens if we bring together multiple groups, multiple resources and multiple opportunities.”

The studio, which formally opened in October, features video, sound, editing, lighting and streaming equipment that clients can use to produce and distribute multimedia presentations for commercial or educational projects. Its 180-degree green infinity cyclorama is one of the only of its kind in the region, Combs said, and its work spaces include a control room, roll-out theater seating and a 20-foot screen for viewing finished products or giving presentations.

A magnet for innovators, the studio attracts people with various levels of expertise and diverse needs. Some simply rent the space and equipment because they possess all the technical skills they need to produce a film or video or to stream a performance or lecture to distant audiences.

Others hire the studio to help them create something, generating work for local technicians, entrepreneurs and university students.


Some of these service providers then turn to WESST for the core services it has offered for 25 years: small business development, training and lending.


WESST has been a key driver of economic development in New Mexico throughout its history. It has operated from its headquarters in Downtown Albuquerque for 25 years and was an early anchor in what is now Innovation Central ABQ, a burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem Downtown and home to other innovators such as FatPipe, CNM STEMulus Center, ABQid, the PNM Pop-Up Pavilion, KIIC, Levitated Toy Factory and the future Innovate ABQ.


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IL: iTV-3 ANNOUNCES CONSTRUCTION OF GIGABIT FIBER-OPTIC BROADBAND IN URBANA-CHAMPAIGN | UC2B.net

The first Urbana-Champaign residents will soon be connected to some of the fastest Internet speeds in the country. Local broadband provider iTV-3 today announced construction and expansion of the Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband (UC2B) network.

iTV-3 will begin construction in the first Urbana neighborhood located around Pennsylvania Ave. and Vine St. in Urbana. This neighborhood was the first to reach the needed 50 percent of sign-ups in order for iTV-3 to expand.

Want to ensure your neighborhood is the next to be connected? All Urbana-Champaign neighborhoods are encouraged to continue signing up at www.ThePerfectUpgrade.com. A frequently-updated neighborhood status map is available on the website with the numbers of sign-ups needed in each neighborhood. The expansion is driven by demand and iTV-3 will provide service in sectors where at least 50 percent of residents request service.

“We are excited to begin construction on the first neighborhood in Urbana-Champaign. The enthusiasm for getting iTV-3 fiber optic Internet from the residents of this neighborhood was tremendous,” said Levi Dinkla, Vice President at iTV-3. “We are already seeing the effects of that enthusiasm on other neighborhoods as more and more people sign up. When we partnered with UC2B our vision was to bring gigabit fiber-optic speeds to every home and business in the community. Today’s announcement is yet another step toward achieving that vision. We look forward to getting many more neighborhoods to the necessary interest level over the next few months and a very busy construction season in 2015.”

iTV-3 and the UC2B not-for-profit board announced their partnership in May. iTV-3 will operate and expand the UC2B network, enabling Urbana-Champaign to be one of the few communities in the U.S. with gigabit fiber-optic Internet.


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U.S. Cellular launches 'OnLook' home automation and security service, challenging AT&T | Phil Goldstein | Fierce Wireless

U.S. Cellular launches 'OnLook' home automation and security service, challenging AT&T | Phil Goldstein | Fierce Wireless | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

U.S. Cellular is jumping into the digital home automation and security market, presenting a challenge to AT&T Mobility, which has largely had the market to itself among wireless carriers via its Digital Life unit.

U.S. Cellular is calling its service the "OnLook Digital System," which is now available in the company's Iowa and Tulsa, Okla., markets (the service is available statewide in Iowa). The carrier said the system is a self-installed home automation and security system that can be managed via a smartphone, tablet or computer.

According to U.S. Cellular, the OnLook service is powered by Alarm.com's cloud-based connected home software platform and runs on the carrier's 3G CDMA network. The company is offering three packages or service tiers starting at $100 with a two-year contract. Each plan also requires a $40 device activation fee and credit approval.

The three OnLook package options include: Essential Security, Advanced Security and Advanced Security + Energy. Each package includes 24/7 professional monitoring and standard components include a control panel, two door or window sensors, a motion sensor, a key fob and security signs and decals.


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Facebook’s ‘Year in Review’ app swings from merely annoying to tragic | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com

Facebook’s ‘Year in Review’ app swings from merely annoying to tragic | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Unless you're making an active decision to disconnect this holiday season, you've probably seen a flood of Facebook "Year In Review" posts -- a sort of digital card highlighting the biggest moments of 2014, algorithmically customized for each user.

The posts are slickly designed, even if their visual uniformity can make scrolling through a newsfeed of the digital holiday letters a bit grating. However, in some cases the summaries can go beyond irritating and become downright cruel.

The default tagline for the posts is “It’s been a great year! Thanks for being a part of it.” But not everyone actually had a great year. For some users, the prompts to view their own digital year in review may dig up painful memories.


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Misfortune Cookie vulnerability affects 12 million routers | Maria Korolov | NetworkWorld.com

Misfortune Cookie vulnerability affects 12 million routers | Maria Korolov | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A newly-discovered vulnerability puts 12 million routers at risk around the world in homes, small business, and corporate environments.

The Misfortune Cookie vulnerability allows an attacker to remotely take over a gateway device with administrative privileges, according to Tel Aviv-based network security vendor Check Point Software Technology, Inc.

The scale of the problem is unprecedented, said Shahar Tal, Check Point's malware and vulnerability research manager.

"In previous cases, there were 200,000 or 300,000 vulnerable gateways," he said. "This time, it's 12 million, and 200 different models of devices, with some very big names in there."

Those names include models from Asus and TP-Link -- but not Check Point itself, he added. The full list is posted online at mis.fortunecook.ie.

The vulnerability allows attackers to control the gateway, and to steal data from all the devices on the network.

"If you get hold of the router, you get a wide-open access to start attacking computer devices like smartphones, printers, security cameras and everything else you have on your wired or wireless network," he said.

A compromised router also makes man-in-the-middle attacks "almost trivial," he added. "That's what was typically done in previous compromises of residential gateways."

The compromised routers all use the embedded web server software RomPager from AllegroSoft, he said.


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Government Report: No High Speed Broadband Competition: Blame AT&T, Verizon & CenturyLink's Two Decades of Broken Promises | Bruce Kushnick Blog | HuffPost.com

Government Report: No High Speed Broadband Competition: Blame AT&T, Verizon & CenturyLink's Two Decades of Broken Promises | Bruce Kushnick Blog | HuffPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

See: "The Book of Broken Promises: $400 Billion Broadband Scandal & Free the Net" for all of the gory details.

This chart is the commitment, the "promise" of a digital future vs what was "delivered", the reality of the deployment of fiber optic broadband (or higher-speed services) in America by the phone companies -- now AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink.

In the last article about broadband I supplied a list of the "video dialtone" deployments that were filed at the FCC by what are now AT&T, Verizon and Centurylink to upgrade the utility copper networks and replace these wires with fiber optics wires -- which never happened. And, as I mentioned, there were plans to build out the utility infrastructure in entire states, like New Jersey, that were tied to these federal 'commitments'. But, the ugly truth is -- customers were charged extra, thousands of dollars per household, for these upgrades, not to mention that the companies got massive tax perks. Worse, these increases are still embedded in the cost of service, and this is on top of other increases over the last two decades to pay for broadband, such as Verizon New York's series of rate increases on regular phone customers, 84% since 2006, for "massive deployment of fiber optics".

We estimate that by 2014, America paid about $400 billion extra in higher phone costs and tax perks to the companies, and based on more recent uncoverings of the phone companies' financials, this number is low. I'll get back to this in a moment.

A new government report by the Economics & Statistics Administration of the Commerce Department lays out that America's higher speed services are mostly monopoly services, and the faster the speed, the less competition is available from a second provider. Or worse, less people can get these faster services, as there may be no provider offering the higher-speed services, especially in more rural areas.

While we have issues with the actual data of the report, what this report clearly shows is that the phone companies never showed up to compete with the cable companies and it left America with no serious wired higher speed broadband competitor, just higher prices, and slower speeds than in other countries. (America is 27th in the world in broadband according to Ookla.)

And people notice these things. In 2013, "ISPs", (the phone and cable companies) were rated 'the most hated companies in America'. Might this lack of competition be one of the underlying forces driving this love-fest for our communications companies?

Let me highlight some of the government's report.

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Internexa claims 2,577km backbone network in Argentina | TeleGeography.com

Latin American backbone network operator Internexa has confirmed that its Argentinean infrastructure now spans 2,577km.


Internexa, which launched in Argentina in 2012, currently covers the urban clusters of Buenos Aires, Rio Primero, Arroyito, Rafaela, Santo Tome, Federal, Chajari, Cordoba and Mendoza.


The company aims to expand its network infrastructure to reach the Entre Rios and San Luis provinces in 2015.

TeleGeography notes that Internexa, which leverages electricity transmission networks for connectivity, presides over a South American network that spans 21,000km across Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Brazil and Argentina.


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Data Broker Is Charged With Selling Consumers' Financial Details to 'Fraudsters' | Natasha Singer | NYTimes.com

Data Broker Is Charged With Selling Consumers' Financial Details to 'Fraudsters' | Natasha Singer | NYTimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Federal regulators are cracking down on information resellers who hawk personal details about consumers to companies that might illegitimately exploit that information.

This week, the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit claiming that LeapLab, a data broker in Nevada, sold intimate details about several hundred thousand people, including their Social Security numbers and bank account numbers, to marketers and other companies that had no legitimate need for that data.

One of the data purchasers, Ideal Financial Solutions of Las Vegas, reportedly used the records it bought to make unauthorized withdrawals from consumers’ bank accounts, according to a separate federal lawsuit.

The complaints are part of a multiyear government crackdown on fraudulent debt collection and other scams that target people in financial distress. But the case against LeapLab indicates that federal regulators are now widening their investigation to include the middlemen who traffic in the kind of closely held consumer details that can make consumers vulnerable to financial scams.

“We have been targeting the actual fraudsters for years. Now we are really trying to move behind the scenes and target the data brokers,” Jessica L. Rich, the director of the F.T.C.’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “The message is that selling consumers’ highly sensitive data to third parties, with either the knowledge or a strong suspicion that they have no legitimate need for it, violates the law.”


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How Obama’s Policy Shift Will and Won’t Affect Tech in Cuba | Ellery Biddle | Slate.com

How Obama’s Policy Shift Will and Won’t Affect Tech in Cuba | Ellery Biddle | Slate.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Wednesday’s bombshell announcement that the U.S. and Cuban governments have decided to re-establish diplomatic ties after 56 years of estrangement brought tears, joy, awe, and disbelief to Cubans across the globe. (And some anger from Cuban-Americans, too.)


While President Obama’s speech was watchable in real time—televised and streamed live on the White House website—those outside of Cuba had to wait patiently for the text of Raul Castro’s speech to be transcribed and uploaded to Cuban state media sites. The brief address delivered by Cuba’s commander-in-chief was not streamed live because Cuba’s rickety Internet infrastructure cannot support it. At least not yet.

Among thousands of other questions flying around the Internet and the streets of Miami, Havana, and Washington today is the question of technology. What will these changes mean for Internet access and mobile telephony in Cuba? For now, little is certain. But there are a few things we can glean from what both leaders have said—and haven’t said—so far.

While Western advocates may rush to focus on how this will affect government policy and practice around the Internet, like surveillance and censorship, the impact of yesterday’s economic reforms on the tech environment in Cuba may be the most critical change to watch at the moment. With more money, more Cubans will be buy mobile phones and service.


This does not mean that they will have Internet access—3G is scarce at best on the island. But it will accelerate the changes that are already taking in place in Cuba due to peoples’ increasing ability to connect with one another through mobile telephony. More than ever, news and information that once traveled only by word of mouth will now circulate more quickly and in greater volume. And Cubans’ ability to communicate with friends and family abroad will likely increase, too.

We can also anticipate an influx of tech objects and hardware on the island—computers, mobile phones, hard drives, pen drives are all in high demand in Cuba and they are not easy to come across. The changes will without question make it easier for Cubans to obtain tech objects that will in turn enable greater communication and information sharing on the island.

And greater access to capital will also enable more Cubans to get online at hotel business centers and Internet cafes, where rates (ranging from USD $4.50 to $12.00 per hour) are out of reach for most of the population. This will increase not only the number of Cubans who use the Internet themselves, but also the quantity and diversity of digital media in circulation on the island.


Videos, music, news, and literature regularly circulate secondhand via pen drive, mobile phone apps and other lightweight mechanisms for data storage—a person with Internet access downloads a video, puts it on a pen drive, and circulates it hand-to-hand among friends who watch the video, copy it, and distribute it to more friends.


The importance of these second-hand networks, what Cuban blogger Orlando Luis Pardo once termed Cuba’s “Internet offline,” must not be overlooked.

It is hard to glean much from what the two leaders said about telecommunications policy specifically. After acknowledging that U.S. sanctions on the country have for years “denied Cubans access to technology that has empowered individuals around the globe,” Obama stated:


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Countering Cyberattacks Without a Playbook | David Sanger | NYTimes.com

Countering Cyberattacks Without a Playbook | David Sanger | NYTimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For years now, the Obama administration has warned of the risks of a “cyber-Pearl Harbor,” a nightmare attack that takes out America’s power grids and cellphone networks and looks like the opening battle in a full-scale digital war.

Such predictions go back at least 20 years, and perhaps that day will come. But over the past week, a far more immediate scenario has come into focus, first on the back lots of Sony Pictures and then in back-to-back strategy sessions in the White House Situation Room: a shadow war of nearly constant, low-level digital conflict, somewhere in the netherworld between what President Obama called “cybervandalism” and what others might call digital terrorism.

In that murky world, the attacks are carefully calibrated to be well short of war. The attackers are hard to identify with certainty, and the evidence cannot be made public. The counterstrike, if there is one, is equally hard to discern and often unsatisfying. The damage is largely economic and psychological. Deterrence is hard to establish. And because there are no international treaties or norms about how to use digital weapons — indeed, no acknowledgment by the United States government that it has ever used them itself — there are no rules about how to fight this kind of conflict.

“Until now, we’ve been pretty ad hoc in figuring out what’s an annoyance and what’s an attack,” James Lewis, a cyberexpert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said last week. “If there’s a lesson from this, it’s that we’re long overdue” for a national discussion about how to respond to cyberattacks — and how to use America’s own growing, if unacknowledged, arsenal of digital weaponry.

All those issues have been swirling in the background in the drama of North Korea’s effort to intimidate Sony Pictures, and the retaliation by the United States — if that was the case — against one of its oldest Cold War adversaries. “If you had told me that it would take a Seth Rogen movie to get our government to really confront these issues, I would have said you are crazy,” one senior defense official said a few days ago, referring to the Sony Pictures film “The Interview.” “But then again, this whole thing has been crazy.”


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Wikipedia’s ‘complicated’ relationship with net neutrality | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

Wikipedia’s ‘complicated’ relationship with net neutrality | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Internet's biggest encyclopedia is a lot like other major sites on the Web: It's been a little hesitant to weigh in on net neutrality, the idea that all Web traffic should be treated equally by Internet service providers such as Comcast or Time Warner Cable.

That's because the folks behind Wikipedia actually see a non-neutral Internet as one way to spread information cheaply to users in developing countries. With Wikipedia Zero, users in places like Pakistan and Malaysia can browse the site without it counting it counting against the data caps on their cellphones or tablets. This preferential treatment for Wikipedia's site helps those who can't afford to pay for pricey data — but it sets the precedent for deals that cut against the net neutrality principle.

"We have a complicated relationship to it. We believe in net neutrality in America," said Gayle Karen Young, chief culture and talent officer at the Wikimedia Foundation. But, Young added, offering Wikipedia Zero requires a different perspective elsewhere. "Partnering with telecom companies in the near term, it blurs the net neutrality line in those areas. It fulfills our overall mission, though, which is providing free knowledge."

Wikipedia isn't alone. Facebook and Google both operate programs internationally that are exempted from users' data caps — a tactic known somewhat cryptically as "zero rating". And wireless carriers in the United States have recently begun experimenting with the business model. On Monday, T-Mobile expanded the number of zero-rated music services it offers to include Google Play Music and Soundcloud. (Who picks up the tab for the data consumers use varies, but it's typically the content provider.)

Zero rating is still in its infancy in the United States, and given the furor over net neutrality, it's no surprise that the practice is controversial. Civil rights groups argue that low-income Americans who don't see the value in using the Internet could benefit from zero rating, if it were allowed.


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Estes Park, Colorado, to Ask Voters to Reclaim Authority in February | community broadband networks

Estes Park, Colorado, to Ask Voters to Reclaim Authority in February | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The recent Colorado elections in Boulder, San Miguel County, Yuma County, Rio Blanco County, Wray, Yuma, Red Cliff, and Cherry Hills Village have inspired Estes Park. According to a recent Trail Gazette article, the northern town will hold a special election in February to ask voters to reclaim telecommunications authority. Approximately 5,800 people live in Estes Park.

The local Estes Park Economic Development Corporation (EDC) adopted a resolution in August urging the town council to take the issue to the voters reports the Trail Gazette. The council voted unanimously to support that idea.

"This resolution resulted from an extensive investigation into how to achieve a key goal in the Town's 2014 strategic plan: 'to encourage optimal use of the Platte River Power Authority's and Town's fiber optic infrastructure,' " [EDC's David] Batey said.

"We must take back the Town's right to decide the best way to provide competitive broadband," Batey said.

"Like electricity a century ago, broadband is a foundation for economic growth, job creation, global competitiveness and a better way of life," stated the EDC.

The town and the Platte River Power Authority (PRPA) share ownership of a fiber optic network between Estes Park and nearby Loveland. The ring was installed about 10 years ago for operation of the PRPA Transmission and Substation Electric System. Flooding in 2013 eliminated the other telecommunications infrastructure connecting Estes Park to the outside world, so there is no redundancy.

The City leases several of its fibers to Level 3 for a little over $1,600 per month but connectivity in town varies. Some areas rely on dial-up while others have DSL. There are also several smaller Wi-Fi providers working in the area.


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AT&T told by NAD to modify U-verse broadband speed claims | Sean Buckley | Fierce Telecom

AT&T told by NAD to modify U-verse broadband speed claims | Sean Buckley | Fierce Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

AT&T has been told by the National Advertising Division (NAD) to modify the way it compares its Internet speeds with those offered by its cable rival Comcast.

Among the advertising claims at issue that were challenged by Comcast are claims that AT&T's service provides "up to 45 Mbps," is "reliable" and that it provides the "fastest Internet for the price."

In reviewing AT&T's "up to" claims about its 45 Mbps speed tier, NAD said the service provider gave it data that showed an "appreciable" number of customers receive its 45 Mbps under typical-use scenarios.

NAD added that "there are material limitations to the availability of this service," meaning that in some markets where the ads appeared, the 45 Mbps speed tier is not available to a "majority of consumers."

The agency recommended that where the advertised tier of service is available to less than 50 percent of consumers in the geographical area where the advertising appears, AT&T should modify its advertising to disclose these limitations by using explicit language--e.g., "up to 45 Mbps may not be available in your area."

In addition, NAD looked at whether AT&T's overall speed tiers--including 18 Mbps, 24 Mbps and 45 Mbps--suffer speed degradation in certain circumstances, "and if so, whether AT&T's advertising fails to disclose such speed degradation."

AT&T said in response to NAD that it was "very disappointed, however, with NAD's decision recommending additional disclosures be made regarding theoretical bandwidth reductions for U-verse users engaging in very specific and rare combinations of behaviors … We believe this kind of disclosure overload does not contribute to consumer understanding of the product offering, but rather detracts from it."

AT&T is not the only telco called out for its broadband advertising claims.


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Verizon promises not to sue over net neutrality—if FCC avoids utility rules | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica

Verizon promises not to sue over net neutrality—if FCC avoids utility rules | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Verizon is trying to convince the Federal Communications Commission that it won't sue to block net neutrality rules as long as they're issued without reclassifying broadband providers as utilities. Yet, Verizon did sue the FCC the last time it crafted net neutrality rules without relying on its utility regulation powers.

In 2010, the FCC issued rules preventing Internet service providers from blocking or discriminating against traffic by relying on Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, rather than the stronger powers the FCC has under Title II, which covers utilities or "common carriers." Verizon sued and won, with a federal appeals court stating that the FCC could not issue what amounted to common carrier rules without first reclassifying broadband service as a utility, similar to the traditional phone network.

That's why the FCC is now considering reclassifying broadband. It wants the next set of net neutrality rules to survive a court challenge. "We are going to be sued," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said last week.

In response to Wheeler's statement, Verizon Executive VP Randal Milch e-mailed Wheeler to say Verizon won't sue if the FCC uses Section 706, even though that's exactly what Verizon did last time. Section 706 requires the FCC to encourage the deployment of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans, and it can be used to govern broadband providers' treatment of Internet traffic.


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What I am Thankful For (The Telecom Version) | Doug Dawson | POTs and PANS

What I am Thankful For (The Telecom Version) | Doug Dawson | POTs and PANS | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Since Thanksgiving is here I made my list of the telecom things I am thankful for this year. Here are my good thoughts for this season:

An FCC Chairman that Talks the Talk. We have a new FCC Chairman in Tom Wheeler who seems to talk the talk. He has said the right things about a whole range of topics. He wants to increase the definition of broadband to 10 Mbps. He wants to allow municipalities and anybody else to build fiber networks. He wants to make net neutrality apply to wireless as well as landline data connections. He has speculated that Comcast and Time Warner are too large to merge. He has even talked about allowing competitors to use unbundled fiber networks.

There was a big worry when he took office that he would support large cable and wireless companies due to his history as the head of those industry groups. And he still might. While he has talked the talk, nothing he has talked about has yet come to pass. All that will matter in the end is what he does, not what he says. But for now I am at least thankful that he is talking the right talk.

Moore’s Law Has Not Yet Broken. It seems like for the last fifteen years that some expert always predicts the end of Moore’s Law – the one that predicts that computer processing power will double every 18 months. But this year alone I’ve seen dozens of incremental improvements in computer power and it doesn’t look like we are anywhere near to the end of technology history as the pessimists have often predicted.


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MA: Venture Cafe to run Roxbury incubator | Jordan Graham | Boston Herald

The city of Boston has selected the Venture Cafe Foundation to run its new innovation center in Roxbury, a Boston neighborhood.

“Not only will it launch new businesses from the Roxbury Innovation Center to boost the local Roxbury economy, but it will strengthen the connections of the surrounding neighborhood to innovation and the opportunities it creates,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a statement.

The Venture Cafe Foundation also runs District Hall in the Innovation District.

The 3,000 square-foot center will house a business incubator and event space.

“This has to be about local economic development, an authentic approach,” said Nicole Fichera, general manager of District Hall, who is involved in launching the Roxbury center.

She said the center will likely include flexible working space and possibly access to shared technology resources, including a 3D printer, for the community.

“I hope the Roxbury Innovation Center becomes a draw and a magnet for more innovation activity in the Dudley Square area and the Dudley neighborhood,” said John Barros, Walsh’s economic development chief. “I hope it becomes a true vehicle for taking innovative ideas to market.”

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Canada Preps Launch Of An Actually Mostly Sensible ISP Copyright Warning System | Karl Bode | Techdirt.com

Canada Preps Launch Of An Actually Mostly Sensible ISP Copyright Warning System | Karl Bode | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Over the last several years, Canada has been working on copyright reform that not only actually makes sense, but, unlike efforts like SOPA here in the States, actually tries to incorporate user concerns (gasp). As part of that reform Canada reworked its ISP-to-user copyright infringement notification process, steering it toward a "notice and notice" system, which as we've noted in the past is vastly preferable to notice and takedown (or the ridiculous notice and staydown efforts) as it's less likely to stumble drunkenly into the realm of censorship and a litany of other abuses.

Canada's new ISP notification system is preparing to finally take flight starting January 1, and like the country's copyright reform efforts, it tries to actually incorporate the concerns of all parties involved (gasp, again). The system is first and foremost designed to raise awareness of copyright violations. That really doesn't take much -- Canadian ISPs state that simply notifying the user (especially the user's parent) puts a big dent in infringement right out of the gate. More specifically, ISPs claim 89% of notice recipients don't infringe after the second notice.

Canada's implementation manages to educate Billy's parents on copyright while still managing to protect user identities and legal rights. And while Canada's notice and notice system requires that ISPs forward on copyright violation notices to subscribers (for penalty of up to $10,000 if they refuse), it then grants legal ISPs safe harbor protection from liability. If a copyright holder isn't happy with this and wants to proceed with legal action, they have to follow strict procedures and go get a court order (gasp, in triplicate).


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The hackers who say they took down gaming networks are now going after Tor | Brian Fung & Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com

The hackers who say they took down gaming networks are now going after Tor | Brian Fung & Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A hacking group that calls itself Lizard Squad claimed it was behind Christmas Day outages on Sony and Microsoft's gaming networks. And now, it says, it has turned its eyes toward anonymous browsing tool Tor.

Tor is relied on by journalists, activists, whistleblowers and everyday people who want to keep their online activities private. It works by routing traffic through nodes known as "relays" that are operated by individuals and organizations around the world -- essentially volunteer-run servers that keep anonymity functions working.

But earlier Friday, thousands of new nodes appeared on the network featuring labels starting with "LizardNSA." A Twitter account associated with the group indicated that it was behind the new relays.

Hi, do you guys still give away shirts for relay owners? We need about 3000 @torproject

— Lizard Squad (@LizardMafia) December 26, 2014

This is potentially problematic because theoretically the operator of a significant proportion of nodes could compromise the anonymity of users by tracking traffic that exited through their system -- and 3,000 some nodes would represent a substantial number of total relays. Earlier this year, the Tor Project reported that an unknown attacker had used malicious relays to potentially capture data using far fewer nodes.

But it's not clear that the apparent Lizard Squad nodes are currently a threat. According to an explanation posted on a Tor blog last year, new relays go through an approval process that lasts several days during which their bandwidth is restricted.


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Canada: Bell ‘warns’ regulator not to force fibre sharing | TeleGeography.com

This week during Canada’s public hearing on the review of wholesale wireline services, Bell Canada has argued vociferously against mandating wholesale access to fibre broadband access networks operated by incumbent large wireline telcos such as itself, subsidiary Bell Aliant and western Canada-based Telus.


At the hearing run by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Bell claimed that investment in nationwide high speed infrastructure development would suffer if the large incumbents were forced to give smaller providers access to their direct fibre access networks, and instead urged the regulator to allow market forces to drive competition.


Canada’s Metro News quotes Bell executive vice president Mirko Bibic speaking at the hearing on Wednesday, issuing an apparent warning: ‘If there are rules in place that make building [networks] in the first place unprofitable, we will not build to a community … The consumer will suffer from that, because they’ll have the choice of only one high speed network, which is the cable network, or none at all.’


However, the Canadian Network Operators Consortium, representing independent ISPs, dismissed the executive’s argument at the hearing, countering that large telcos such as Bell and Telus would have to continue investing in last-mile fibre to compete with cablecos such as Rogers, Shaw, Videotron and Cogeco. Chris Tacit, the consortium’s legal counsel, put it this way: ‘They have a natural incentive to build wherever there is a cable carrier because otherwise the cable carrier will eat their lunch.’


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