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MN: 5-County Region focusing on broadband | Blandin on Broadband

Yesterday I was on the road with Bill Coleman. It’s interesting to take a look at the frontlines when I spend so much time looking at the research and watching policymakers and planners. He met with various stakeholders in a 5 county region (Aitkin, Carlton, Kanabec, Mille Lacs and Pine Counties) interested in a regional approach to expanding broadband in their area. This is the second time the group has met on the topic. The focus was on goals and first steps.

 

The situation in the region is that the cities have decent access but the folks outside of the cities don’t. That is similar to other communities but that statement only tells half of the tale. When only the cities are served it means that up to 95 percent of the surface area is un/underserved and 70 percent of the residents are un/underserved. It reinforces the importance of a regional approach to broadband deployment – especially to reach the Minnesota broadband goal of ubiquitous broadband coverage.

 

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Chattanooga, TN and Wilson, NC Comment Period Open; Tell the FCC You Support Local Authority | community broadband networks

Chattanooga, TN and Wilson, NC Comment Period Open; Tell the FCC You Support Local Authority | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Last week, the communities of Chattanooga and Wilson, North Carolina, filed petitions with the FCC. Both communities requested that the agency remove state barriers preventing expansion beyond their current service areas. On July 28, the FCC established a public comment calendar for the request. It is imperative that all those with an interest in better access take a few moments to express their support for these two communities.


Opening Comments are due August 29, 2014; Reply Comments will be due September 29, 2014. That means you need to submit comments by the end of this month. If you want to reply to any comments, you can do that in September.


This is a pivotal moment in telecommunications policy. For months municipal network advocates have been following Chairman Wheeler's stated intentions to remove state barriers to local authority. Within the past few weeks, federal legislators - many that rely on campaign contributions from large providers - pushed back through Rep Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). Blackburn introduced an amendment to a House appropriations bill preventing FCC preemption if the amendment becomes law.


ILSR and MuniNetworks.org encourage individuals, organizations, and entities to file comments supporting the people of Wilson and Chattanooga. These two communities exemplify the potential success of local Internet choice. We have documented their many victories on MuniNetworks.org and through case studies on Wilson [PDF] and Chattanooga [PDF].


Now is the time to share your support for local decision-making. This is not about whether any given community should build its own network so much as it is about whether every community can decide for itself how to best expand and improve Internet access, whether by investing in itself or working with a trusted partner.


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Google’s Algorithm Local Search Update | Techmagnet.com

Google’s Algorithm Local Search Update | Techmagnet.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

There’s a New Google Algorithm in Town


And Search Engine Land’s calling it Pigeon. Because this algorithm affects local searches and apparently pigeons like to fly back home.


Yeah. That’s what we said too. Cue the exaggerated eye roll.


However, without further ado here’s more about the newest feather in Google’s cap.


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Majority of large ISPs now using monthly data caps, GAO says | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com

Majority of large ISPs now using monthly data caps, GAO says | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

U.S. broadband providers appear to be embracing monthly data caps, but customers are confused about the amount of data they use and broadband plan options, according to preliminary findings by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.


The four largest U.S. mobile carriers and seven of the 13 largest wireline broadband providers have data-capped subscriptions in place, the GAO said. When customers exceed the data caps, three mobile carriers and three wired providers charge customers for additional data, while a fourth mobile carrier throttles connection speeds, the GAO said.


The ISPs’ move toward data caps raises concerns about what customers are getting in return, said Representative Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat who requested the GAO report. Broadband customers want to be able to stream videos, download music and use video-conferencing apps, and “they don’t want it interrupted,” she said.


Data cap plans could create a “huge disruption” for customers, she added. “While broadband providers are experimenting with these new business models ... consumers are left wondering if they’re going to have to foot the bill, and how much more it will be.”


Many customers don’t understand the data caps, called usage-based pricing or UBP in the GAO’s report, said Mark Goldstein, director of the GAO’s physical infrastructure team. While some broadband providers offer Web-based tools or email alerts to help consumers check their data usage, many customers don’t understand how much data they use, he said.


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Android vulnerability allows malware to compromise most devices and apps | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com

Android vulnerability allows malware to compromise most devices and apps | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The majority of Android devices currently in use contain a vulnerability that allows malware to completely hijack installed apps and their data or even the entire device.


The core problem is that Android fails to validate public key infrastructure certificate chains for app digital signatures, said Jeff Forristal, chief technology officer of Bluebox Security, a San Francisco company whose researchers discovered the issue.


According to Google’s documentation, Android applications must be signed in order to be installed on the OS, but the digital certificate used to sign them does not need to be issued by a digital certificate authority. “It is perfectly allowable, and typical, for Android applications to use self-signed certificates,” the documentation says.


However, Android contains hard-coded certificates from several developers so it can give apps created by those developers special access and privileges inside the OS, Forristal said.


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Senator Harry Reid: I'd Support Title II | Marvin Ammori Blog

Senator Harry Reid: I'd Support Title II | Marvin Ammori Blog | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Looks like Title II, the only authority capable of supporting real net neutrality rules after a court decision in January, is now politically feasible.


For months, opponents of Title II suggested that Congress would destroy the FCC if it chose the Title II path. One skeptic of strong net neutrality rules wrote: “Republicans and pro-telco Democrats in Congress will grind the FCC to a standstill, starve its budget, and do everything in their power to inflict permanent harm on the agency.”


Since then, over a dozen Senators and dozens of Congressmen (and dozens of companies, investors, and trade associations) have come out strongly for Title II.  Even the FCC Chairman apparently mentioned politics as a reason against Title II.


Senator Reid’s letter makes clear: if the FCC does the right thing and stands up a rule under Title II, the Majority Leader would lead the fight to defend the rule. That’s a far cry from where we were months ago, when one could plausibly claim that the FCC would successfully be defunded and crippled for adopting real net neutrality.


Kudos to Senator Reid. This is a game changer. It allows us to argue on the merits, rather than have the FCC hide behind their political fears. From Bloomberg:


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Minnesota's Lake County Fiber Network Begins Connecting Customers | community broadband networks

Minnesota's Lake County Fiber Network Begins Connecting Customers | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Lake County fiber network is now serving a limited number of customers in northern Minnesota. According to the Lake County News Chronicle, the network's triple-play services are lit and bringing better connectivity to Silver Bay and Two Harbors.


About 100 customers in Silver Bay take service via the network; beta testers in Two Harbors are helping Lake Connections, the entity managing the network, straighten out any kinks in Phase One. Phase Two, which is more than 60% complete, will bring service to Duluth Township, Knife River, Silver Creek Townships, and Beaver Bay Township. Phase Two is scheduled for completion this summer; Lake Connections anticipates network completion in the fall of 2015.


The Lake County project has been plagued with problems, including delays cause by incumbents. Mediacom filed complaints with the Inspector General based on unsound allegations. While the cable company was not confident enough to sue, its accusations wasted time and money for Lake County. Frontier asserted ownership of a significant number of Two Harbors utility poles, even though the City has maintained them, and the two are still involved in negotiations over ownership and fiber placement on the poles. The Minnesota Cable Companies Association (MCCA) delayed the project further by submitting a massive data request.


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Wheeler Seeks Documents From Time Warner Cable | Broadcasting & Cable

Wheeler Seeks Documents From Time Warner Cable | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has told Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus in no uncertain terms that he has "strong concern" that TWC’s actions "have created the inability of consumers in the Los Angeles area to watch televised games of the Los Angeles Dodgers."


That came in a letter to Marcus on the same day (July 29) Wheeler talked to Rep. Tony Cárdenas and Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) about the carriage dispute involving the TWC-owned regional sports network that carries the Dodgers and various distributors. The chairman also talked to Marcus on the phone before sending the letter, according to an FCC source.


The chairman vowed that the FCC would "intervene as appropriate" to bring "necessary relief to consumers." He has given TWC 10 days to provide some relevant documents, including copies of documents, and an explanation of the impasse.


Wheeler says in the letter that he understands TWC has said it is willing to agree to binding arbitration to resolve the dispute, but does not appear to be assuaged. "While I am encouraged by TWC's willingness to enter arbitration, I am troubled by the negative impact that your apparent actions are having on consumers and the overall video marketplace."


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NetAmerica Alliance Hails Rural 4G LTE Benefits From Partnership with Sprint | BroadbandBreakfast.com

An alliance designed to serve the wireless broadband needs of rural America has partnered with Sprint to provide fourth-generation LTE service to members of the NTCA that are calling themselves the Rural Broadband Alliance, according to details unveiled in a webinar on Thursday, July 24.


In a webinar hosted by rural broadband group formerly known as the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association, NetAmerica Alliance Chairman and CEO Roger Hutton said that the alliance seeks to unite peers in the communications industry with Sprint so as to provide greater scale to small carriers but without consolidation. The alliance offers access to 4G LTE service from Sprint.


“Our belief was that you could achieve [that] with small carriers where they maintained their independence, and yet operate in a manner where they shared cost and operating cost in a manner that then produced scale,” Hutton said.


The barriers include national reach, meeting technology requirements, and aligning with spectrum holdings.


Bringing cost-effective 4G LTE to rural areas is important because access to internet is no longer optional, Hutton said. It’s just as much an absolute necessity for folks living in rural America as it is for those in urban and suburban communities.


“The internet has gone mobile and we all need to remain aware of that,” Hutton said. “People want access where they are, not where they ain’t.”


A study conducted by NetAmerica Alliance in 2012 found that 75 percent of respondents in rural communities deemed mobile broadband to be crucial. Roughly two-thirds of younger adults said they credited mobile broadband access with being able to live wherever they want to, Hutton said.


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Privacy groups call for action to stop Facebook's off site user tracking plans | Loek Essers | NetworkWorld.com

Privacy groups call for action to stop Facebook's off site user tracking plans | Loek Essers | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

U.S. and EU privacy and consumer groups called on privacy regulators to stop Facebook’s plans to gather the Internet browsing patterns of its users while they visit other sites.


The groups, gathered in the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) asked the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) to stop Facebook collecting the web browsing activities of Internet users in order to target advertising. They made the request in a letter sent to the authorities on Tuesday. Facebook’s European headquarters is in Ireland, giving the Irish data protection commissioner responsibility for defending its European users’ personal data and privacy rights under EU law.


The privacy groups expressed “deep alarm” about Facebook’s June announcement that it would start tracking information from some of the websites and apps its users are visiting in order to serve more relevant ads.


At the time, Facebook said: “When we ask people about our ads, one of the top things they tell us is that they want to see ads that are more relevant to their interests,” the company said at the time, adding that in the U.S. it would “soon” start tracking users’ off-site surfing behavior. Anyone who doesn’t want to be tracked can opt out via the Digital Advertising Alliance website.


But on Tuesday the groups said: “Facebook already installs cookies and pixel tags on users’ computers to track browsing activity on Facebook.com and Facebook apps. If Facebook is permitted to expand its data collection practices, those cookies and pixel tags will also track users’ browsing activity on any website that includes a few lines of Facebook code.”


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Rural Utilities Building Broadband Networks - Community Broadband Bits Podcast Episode 109 | community broadband networks

Rural Utilities Building Broadband Networks - Community Broadband Bits Podcast Episode 109 | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If you have doubts that we can or will connect rural America with high quality Internet connections, listen to our show today. Alyssa Clemsen-Roberts, the Industry Affairs Manager at the Utilities Telecom Council, joins me to talk about how utilities are investing in the Internet connections that their communities need.


Many of these utilities are providing great connections, meaning that some of the folks living in rural America have better -- faster and more affordable -- Internet access than residents of San Francisco and New York City.


We discuss the demand for better Internet access and the incredible take rates resulting from investment in some of the communities that rural electric cooperatives are serving.


UTC has a been a strong ally of our efforts to prevent states from revoking local authority to build community networks. Within UTC, the Rural Broadband Council is an independent operating unit.


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MN Broadband Development Fund discussion in Baxter MN - is scalability an issue? | Blandin on Broadband

Yesterday I attended the regional meeting in Baxter, MN to discuss the Broadband Fund. Diane Wells from the Office of Broadband Development spoke to 20-25 people about the upcoming opportunity for funding.


The information shared was very similar to info from the <a href=”http://blandinonbroadband.org/2014/07/10/border-to-border-infrastructure-grant-program-webinar-notes-from-july-10-2014/”>webinar</a&gt; and other regional meeting – but I like to capture the questions and notes from each meeting


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Your Unlimited, Off-Contract Verizon Wireless Web Experience Will Be “Optimized” (Throttled) Oct. 1 | Stop the Cap!

Your Unlimited, Off-Contract Verizon Wireless Web Experience Will Be “Optimized” (Throttled) Oct. 1 | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Verizon Wireless’ ongoing campaign to get rid of its grandfathered unlimited data customers continues this week with news the carrier will begin throttling speeds of off-contract customers still hanging on to their uncapped data plans starting Oct 1.


Verizon doesn’t call the enforcement of speed reductions a “throttle,” but rather “Network Optimization”:


"Verizon Wireless strives to provide its customers with the best wireless experience when using our network. In 2011, Verizon Wireless launched Network Optimization, which slows the data speeds of its unlimited data subscribers with 3G devices who are in the top 5% of data users when they connect to a cell site experiencing high demand.


Effective October 1, Verizon Wireless will expand its existing Network Optimization policy to include its unlimited data subscribers using 4G LTE devices who have fulfilled their minimum contract term. Based on your plan and recent data usage, one or more lines on your account may experience a reduction in data speeds when connected to a cell site experiencing high demand. Customers on MORE Everything or other usage-based data plans are not subject to Network Optimization. For more information about our Network Optimization, please refer to www.verizonwireless.com/networkoptimization."


Verizon Wireless customers on the company’s 3G network have been subject to speed throttling for several years if Verizon deems them a “heavy user,” but the company’s 4G LTE network avoided the speed noose until now. Customers who find themselves subjected to Verizon’s speed limiter report it is a very unpleasant experience.


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AT&T To Bring ‘GigaPower’ To Nashville | Multichannel.com

AT&T To Bring ‘GigaPower’ To Nashville | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

AT&T announced Monday that it will extend its fiber-based “GigaPower” network to parts of Nashville, where it will eventually offer speeds up to 1 Gbps.

 

Nashville, served by incumbent cable operator Comcast, is also one of 34 potential expansion cities being sized up by Google Fiber and its 1-Gig-capable platform.


AT&T did not announce a specific timeframe for the deployment nor say which parts of Nashville will get access to the GigaPower network during the early part of the rollout.

 

"We are very pleased that AT&T has selected Nashville for its ultra-high speed fiber network," said  Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, in a statement. "This kind of technology is important to keep our city vibrant and attractive, and it is further proof of how Nashville is positioned as a city of the future. We look forward to working with AT&T as they bring this exciting new service to our residents."

 

In April, AT&T announced that it would explore the expansion of GigaPower to as many as 100 additional cities across 25 markets.


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Now you can tell the FCC to overturn state limits on municipal broadband | Ars Technica

Now you can tell the FCC to overturn state limits on municipal broadband | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Federal Communications Commission just started taking public comments on whether it should preempt state laws that limit the growth of municipal broadband in Tennessee and North Carolina.


Twenty states have passed such limits, which protect private Internet service providers from having to compete against cities and towns that seek to provide Internet, TV, and phone service to residents. After FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said he intends to use the commission's authority to preempt the state laws, the commission received petitions from two public entities that want to expand broadband offerings.


"On July 24, 2014, the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the City of Wilson, North Carolina filed separate petitions asking that the Commission act pursuant to section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to preempt portions of Tennessee and North Carolina state statutes that restrict their ability to provide broadband services," the FCC said today. "The Electric Power Board is an independent board of the City of Chattanooga that provides electric and broadband service in the Chattanooga area. The City of Wilson provides electric service in six counties in eastern North Carolina and broadband service in Wilson County. Both Petitioners allege that state laws restrict their ability to expand their broadband service offerings to surrounding areas where customers have expressed interest in these services, and they request that the Commission preempt such laws."


The FCC opened two proceedings, one for North Carolina and one for Tennessee. Initial comments will be accepted until August 29, and reply comments will be accepted until September 29.


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NBC, Now Owned By Comcast, Once Told FCC It Should Break Net Neutrality To Force ISPs To Be Copyright Cops | Techdirt.com

NBC, Now Owned By Comcast, Once Told FCC It Should Break Net Neutrality To Force ISPs To Be Copyright Cops | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As you surely know by now, NBC Universal is owned by Comcast. And Comcast is one of the major players in today's fight over net neutrality. Comcast, of course, likes to pretend it supports net neutrality, even as it actually supports killing it. It seems worth wondering how the NBC Universal side of the Comcast family is viewing this current debate.

If you don't recall, NBC Universal has actually been vehemently against net neutrality for a long time, in large part because it's afraid that with net neutrality, broadband access providers wouldn't be able to spy on what users were doing, and wouldn't be able to throttle things like BitTorrent, as Comcast famously did in the past. You may even recall that, back in 2008, NBC Universal more or less offered up a deal to the broadband access providers: if the broadband ISPs agreed to become Hollywood copyright cops to spy on users and cut them off for any possible infringement, it would side with them in the fight to get rid of net neutrality.

In fact, in an FCC filing on net neutrality going all the way back to 2007, NBC Universal made it clear that it more or less wanted the FCC to force broadband providers like Comcast into being copyright cops:


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The copper telephone line over time | Paul McNamara | NetworkWorld.com

The copper telephone line over time | Paul McNamara | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

My daughter, Emma, soon to be 13, is in the office with me today and I had some fun sharing with her a couple of facts from this Alcatel-Lucent infographic about the history of the copper telephone line.


Two examples: In 1918 it took an average of 15 minutes just to set up a call and it wasn’t until 1940 that telephone numbers allowed for direct customer dialing.


I’m glad she didn’t ask if I remembered these milestones.


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Holding onto the triple play: How costs, caps and contracts will keep ISPs flush | GigaOM Tech News

Holding onto the triple play: How costs, caps and contracts will keep ISPs flush | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Sure, we predicted this, and the Comcast and Time Warner Cable merger is predicated on this, but the dynamic between video and broadband is a great example of watching giant companies try to balance the costs of providing new services while still keeping the margins of the previous service. Call it a pivot of sorts, or changing the engines while a jet is flying, but ISPs have been making these transitions for years.


What’s happening is that as customers find more entertainment value in broadband — either because they are spending all night on Reddit or because they are streaming movies via Netflix or Apple’s iTunes — they are increasingly questioning the value of the cable package. And while these people may not be the dreaded cord cutters or cord nevers, they may attempt to cut the costs of cable by going for an economy package or signing up for service and then dropping it a few months later.


This puts cable companies and telco providers in a bind. To keep subscribers happy they need to cut the costs of their pay TV packages, but they need to do it in such a way that they don’t end up on the wrong side of the negotiating table when it comes to making deals with the content companies. Time Warner Cable had this problem as it emphasized broadband and started making expensive and bottom-line hurting deals with sports and content providers.


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North Kansas City mulls fibre options; Google Fiber in the frame for takeover | TeleGeography.com

North Kansas City officials are considering the future of the city-owned liNKCity fibre-optic network, and a 5 August vote could pave the way for the possible sale of the infrastructure. Mike Smith, assistant city administrator, told the Kansas City Star: ‘We’re not saying if we would or wouldn’t sell it or lease it. The ballot language is very purposefully structured to say if there is a yes vote, it doesn’t mandate that we have to sell’.


liNKCity was deployed in 2006 and started signing up customers in 2007, but currently has just 900 users on its books. The utility is believed to rely heavily on government subsidies, but received a welcome windfall in 2013 when it agreed to lease a portion of dark fibre to Google Fiber.


Google Fiber, which is in the process of rolling out 1Gbps networks in selected cities, is not active in North Kansas City, but paid USD3.2 million to lease liNKCity’s fibre for a 20-year period. The dark fibre allows Google to traverse the Missouri River and provide services to other cities within its catchment area north of the river.


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Columbia: DirecTV wades into 4G fray | TeleGeography.com

Pay-TV provider DirecTV has launched its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) service, branding the new offering DirecTV Net, local news portal Communidad Ola writes.


Service is currently limited to Chia, Palmira, Barrancabermeja and Monteria, and the operator plans to expand its offerings to smaller cities at first, before launching in the likes of Bogota, Cali and Barranquilla.


DirecTV aims to cover 57 municipalities in the next five years. The provider’s plans offer unlimited downloads at speeds of 2Mbps, 4Mbps or 6Mbps.


According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, DirecTV will compete with the nation’s trio of incumbent cellcos – Tigo Colombia, Claro Colombia and Movistar Colombia – as well as Une-EPM, whilst a sixth operator, Avantel, is expected to launch later this year after encountering difficulties signing national roaming agreements with the incumbents.


Colombia was home to 167,018 4G users at the end of 2013.

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FCC Officials Outline Plans for $100 Million in Funding for Rural Broadband Experiments | BroadbandBreakfast.com

In a webinar on Thursday, July 17, the Fiber to the Home Council hosted a webinar with Federal Communications Commission officials on a $100 million fund for expanding broadband capabilities to rural communities. FCC officials encouraged companies to apply for the funds, but also cautioning them of the heavy commitment.


The FCC voted at its July 11 monthly meeting to authorize the experiments, and applicants have until Oct. 14 to bid for funding. The $100 million will be split into three categories, said Jonathan Chambers, Chief of the FCC’s Office of Strategic Planning & Policy Analysis. About $75 million will be used for testing networks that service plans at 25 Megabit per second downloads and 5 Mbps uploads. Another $15 million will go to testing delivery service at 10 Mbps down/1 Mbps upload speeds in high cost areas. The remaining $10 million will go to 10 Mbps down/1 Mbps upload service in remote rural areas.


The experiment will allow the FCC to test its reverse auction mechanism for Phase II of the Connect America Fund, and to better see where interest for high-speed broadband is expressed and by whom.


As a rule, Chambers said the FCC will not discriminate between types of services: “In terms of the expression of interest we received, we got ranges of projects in the hundreds of thousands and hundreds of millions of dollars. We wanted to ensure we get some diversity in the projects.”


The key is cost effectiveness, he added.


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Georgia Tech launches early warning system for cyberthreats | Antone Gonsalves | NetworkWorld.com

Georgia Tech launches early warning system for cyberthreats | Antone Gonsalves | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Georgia Institute of Technology's applied research arm has launched an early warning system to help organizations prepare for possible cyberattacks.


The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) developed the open source system called BlackForest, which will complement the institute's malware and spear-phishing intelligence systems.


GTRI describes BlackForest as being on the "cutting edge" of anticipating when cybercriminals may be planning a distributed denial-of-service attack or the latest malware variations under development.


To gain insight on attackers, the system collects information from hacker forums and other sites where malware developers post new code to advertise its availability and ask questions or seek feedback from other code writers.


Other discussions BlackForest can tap into include planning of distributed denial-of-service attacks, advice given on network break-ins and the posting of stolen digital assets, such as payment card data and login credentials.


By collecting the information and relating it to past activities, the system can help organizations understand the nature of the threat and whether it's building toward a possible attack.


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Telecom Industry Committed to Rural Broadband | USTelecom.org

Telecom Industry Committed to Rural Broadband | USTelecom.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The telecom industry has spent enormous sums and made great progress in bringing broadband to rural America, but more can and should be done USTelecom Vice President David Cohen told the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development.


The subcommittee held a hearing to discuss two broadband programs serving rural America: the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Universal Service Fund (USF) and the telecom loan programs of the Rural Utilities Service (RUS).


“As the FCC modernizes USF, coordination with RUS is necessary to continue the progress that has been made,” Cohen’s testimony said. RUS has a sizeable portfolio of loans to borrowers that derive a significant portion of their revenues from USF, which means there must be a predictable level of future support so carriers can confidently plan, borrow and invest in facilities, he said.


Cohen told the subcommittee what the FCC is doing to reform USF, starting with a landmark decision in 2011 to shift the program from supporting voice to broadband. The commission established a new “Connect America Fund” that has two phases and has been instrumental in achieving rural broadband deployment goals.


CAF Phase II is still in the planning stages with implementation expected in early 2015. The program will offer price cap companies a fixed amount of money to meet vigorous broadband service obligations. A company would receive five years of CAF support (for a 25-year investment) and be obligated to provide broadband at 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream.


The FCC is considering raising the downstream speed to 10 Mbps. USTelecom supports the higher speed, which increases build-out costs if accompanied by more flexible terms of support, including funding for 10 years. If companies decline funding, the FCC will conduct an auction open to all those willing and able undertake the broadband obligations.


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About those alleged backdoors in Microsoft products... | Ms. Smith | NetworkWorld.com

About those alleged backdoors in Microsoft products... | Ms. Smith | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Four of Microsoft's offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu, China, were raided as part of an official government investigation. Microsoft China spokeswoman Joan Li confirmed that Investigators of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce were investigating the company and that Microsoft would “actively cooperate”’ with the Chinese government. The South China Morning Post reported that the investigation may involve antitrust matters.


In May, China cited computer security concerns and banned Windows 8 from being installed on government PCs. After China claimed Microsoft had backdoors in the OS to allow for U.S. government spying, Microsoft issued the following five statements:


  1. Microsoft has never assisted any government in an attack of another government or clients.
  2. Microsoft has never provided any government the authority to directly visit our products or services.
  3. Microsoft has never provided any so-called "Backdoor" into its products or services.
  4. Microsoft has never provided the data or info of our clients to the U.S. Govt. or National Security Agency.
  5. Microsoft has never concealed any requests from any government for information about its clients.


Regarding the raid on Microsoft offices, a Microsoft spokeswoman told NDTV, "We aim to build products that deliver the features, security and reliability customers expect and we're happy to answer the government's questions."


Last week, attorneys for the NSA, CIA and DNI joined Microsoft’s Scott Charney, Corporate Vice President for Trustworthy Computing, in “Striking the Right Balance between Security and Liberty,” a panel discussion at the Aspen Institute moderated by the Washington Post’s Greg Miller.


When asked if the government compelled Microsoft to add a backdoor to Skype, Charney replied that the government had “never done that” and that Microsoft “would fight it tooth and nail in the courts.”


The government can use FISA to compel companies “to provide technical assistance,” but if the government said “put in a backdoor,” then Microsoft “would fight it all the way to the Supreme Court.” Charney added, “If the government did that, and I really don’t think they would, it would be at the complete expense of American competitiveness. Because if we put in a backdoor for the U.S. government, we couldn’t sell anywhere in the world, not even in America.”


Yet in September 2013, The New York Times reported the NSA worked with Microsoft “officials to get pre-encryption access to Microsoft’s most popular services, including Outlook e-mail, Skype Internet phone calls and chats, and SkyDrive, the company’s cloud storage service. Microsoft asserted that it had merely complied with ‘lawful demands’ of the government, and in some cases, the collaboration was clearly coerced.”


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FCC's Wheeler to Meet with CA Rep. Cárdenas Over TWC/Dodgers Letter | Broadcasting & Cable

FCC's Wheeler to Meet with CA Rep. Cárdenas Over TWC/Dodgers Letter | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is meeting with Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) Tuesday afternoon, prompted by Cárdenas' letter last week asking the FCC to mediate the carriage dispute between Time Warner Cable and various distributors over carriage of SportsNet LA and the Dodgers.


Time Warner Cable launched SportsNet LA in February, but a number of distributors complained about the price — some reports put is as high as $4 per sub per month — especially when combined with three other RSNs in the market (Prime Ticket, Fox Sports LA and Time Warner Cable SportsNet) and aren't taking the network.


In the letter to Wheeler, Cárdenas along with seven other House Democrats, said they were increasingly concerned about the absence of the net on Cox, Charter, Suddenlink, Dish, DirecTV, FiOS (Verizon) and U-verse (AT&T).


At the Minority Media & Telecommunications Conference, Cárdenas said he was sorry Wheeler had only been able to appear via video, but said he had to leave to talk to Wheeler on the phone.


He said after he wrote the letter, Wheeler called him and asked to talk. He suggested the carriage fight was a "subset" of larger media consolidation battles, and that this would not be the last of what he hoped would be "respectful, cordial and overdue conversations."


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Recording Industry Willfully Misreads The Law In Order To Sue Ford & GM For Having Built-in CD Rippers | Techdirt.com

Recording Industry Willfully Misreads The Law In Order To Sue Ford & GM For Having Built-in CD Rippers | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It's no secret that the legacy recording industry players are constantly searching for new ways to make money. Of course, they don't seem all that keen on actually searching for new business models to make money, but rather they tend to default to new ways to squeeze money out of others through legal changes or lawsuits. That's what happens when you have an industry dominated by lawyers, rather than innovators. It's why so many new music services end up getting sued. It's why ASCAP tried to declare that ringtones were a public performance (ditto for the 30 second previews of songs at iTunes). Basically, these industries just go searching under the couch cushions for spare change to sue for because that's how they operate.

The latest such example is the AARC -- the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies -- deciding to file a lawsuit demanding $2,500 for every car in which Ford and GM have installed CD devices that will automatically rip CDs into MP3s to store on a local hard drive. The AARC is a smaller and little known collection society. It was created solely to collect fees from the Audio Home Recording Act (AHRA), one of the many (many) laws that the RIAA foisted upon the world in fear over the rise of digital music. It was designed as something of a "compromise" between the RIAA and the computing and consumer electronics industry. The focus was supposedly to better enable personal, non-commercial home copies of music, while putting royalties on devices used to make serial (repeated) copies.

The problem is that the AHRA is basically a deadletter act, with little real standing in the world today, partly because the act itself killed the market for such devices. The RIAA had tried to use it in the late 1990s to ban the mp3 player (or, well, to tax them to death). But, thankfully, a court in RIAA v. Diamond rejected that interpretation of the law, making mp3 players perfectly legal (without the corresponding royalty tax). That ruling, which destroyed the RIAA's (wrong) interpretation of the law, also opened up the wonderful digital music world we have today, where you can store thousands of songs in your pocket. Without the RIAA v. Diamond ruling, it's unlikely that we'd ever have the iPod.


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