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MD: Communications Tax Reform Group Discusses New Technologies, Policy Proposals | Conduit Street

MD: Communications Tax Reform Group Discusses New Technologies, Policy Proposals | Conduit Street | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Maryland Communications Tax Reform Commission held its last meeting prior to the start of the General Assembly session to continue its discussion of the communications tax and fee structure in Maryland. The Commission plans to resume meeting in May to develop its final report and recommendations, which are due by June 30, 2013.

 

During the December 5 meeting, members were briefed on the “The Changing Face of Communications” by a representative from AT&T, heard from the satellite industry on cable franchise fees, and heard from certain members on policy proposals they would like the Commission to consider.

 

With respect to cable franchise fees, the satellite industry noted that there is a distinct difference between these fees and communication taxes. They indicated that franchise fees are a cost of doing business, not a tax, and therefore, should not be a part of the Commission’s discussion. As an equal approach, they suggested imposing a sales tax on all video services.

 

The wireless industry proposed two options for communications tax reform: 1) Comprehensive state-local communications tax reform; and 2) Reform of discriminatory telecommunications taxes. Both proposals have negative consequences for local governments. Other communication carriers did not present policy proposals.

 

Instead of a policy proposal, representatives from MACo and the Maryland Municipal League (MML) offered a set of principles to be considered as the Commission evaluates policy options. The key three principles are listed below.

 

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Why I’m Not Looking to Hire Computer-Science Majors | Daniel Gelernter Blog | WSJ.com

Why I’m Not Looking to Hire Computer-Science Majors | Daniel Gelernter Blog | WSJ.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

I usually say the hardest part of running a tech startup is raising money, but that’s a bit of a smokescreen: We spend the money on software developers, who are an incredibly hot commodity in scarce supply. Finding them is the toughest task.

Part of the problem is that startups have to compete with hegemons like Google and Facebook that offer extraordinary salaries for the best talent. I recently met a college student whom Facebook recruited as a summer intern at $10,000 a month. A junior developer fresh out of college can expect to earn around $10,000 monthly, plus benefits, a $100,000 signing bonus and $200,000 in stock options. For a more experienced developer, the sky’s the limit. Business Insider reported last year that a startup offering an annual salary of $500,000 was unable to lure a senior developer away from Google because he was earning $3 million a year in cash and stock.

A small startup has to compensate for its relatively anemic cash offers with more generous stock grants, and—our best feature—a lifestyle of low authority and high responsibility, where each developer sees his work changing the product on a daily basis.

The thing I look for in a developer is a longtime love of coding—people who taught themselves to code in high school and still can’t get enough of it. The eager but not innately passionate coders being churned out of 12- and 19-week boot camps in New York tend not to be the best: There are too many people simply looking for a career transition, and not enough who love coding for its own sake.

The thing I don’t look for in a developer is a degree in computer science.


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Unions Plot Major Push After Landmark Labor Ruling | Nathan Layne & Mica Rosenberg | HuffPost.com

Unions Plot Major Push After Landmark Labor Ruling | Nathan Layne & Mica Rosenberg | HuffPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

U.S. union leaders said on Friday that a landmark U.S. labor board ruling on companies' obligations toward contract and franchise workers would help them organize manufacturers and e-commerce companies as well as fast food chains.

On Thursday the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled the owner of a California recycling plant was a "joint employer" with the contractor that hired workers at the plant, essentially forcing both to bargain with the union together or risk violating U.S. labor law.

Business groups, arguing that the ruling could lead to higher costs and hurt the economy, are pushing the Republican-led Congress to overturn it, in part it because the company named in the decision - Browning-Ferris - cannot challenge it in a federal court without overcoming a number of procedural hurdles.

Unions see the decision as a breakthrough not just in efforts to help employees organizes at franchisees of McDonald's Corp and other chains but also as a tool to counter the proliferation of subcontracting in other industries in which workers are one or two steps removed from the companies indirectly controlling them.


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NY: Colleges at core of Rochester’s economy | James Goodman | Democrat & Chronicle

NY: Colleges at core of Rochester’s economy | James Goodman | Democrat & Chronicle | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Ryan Cummings understands — from personal experience — how colleges can connect to the local economy.

No sooner had he graduated from Monroe Community College this past June than he was hired as an electro-mechanical technician at Sydor Instruments. This Chili-based company makes measuring instruments with high-speed cameras to collect data that are sold to major research facilities, including the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics.

Cummings, 22, who graduated from Gates-Chili High School, picked up valuable experience during his last year at MCC when he worked part time at Sydor Optics, a sister company to his current employer. His concentration in physics at MCC gave him needed skills.

“Our systems have a lot of mechanical and electrical parts. Physics allows me to do all aspects of my job — putting together and testing cameras,” said Cummings.

The kind of high-tech training that Cummings received is becoming more of the norm as Rochester-area colleges have become key players in a local economy that has shifted from one in which Eastman Kodak Co. was king.

Instead, a multitude of smaller companies depend on computer chips to store massive amounts of information and fiber optics to transmit data at rapid speed. More than 110 optics, photonics and imaging science companies populate the region, according to the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council.


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Project Katrina: A Decade of Resilience in New Orleans | The Art of Change | Ford Foundation

Project Katrina: A Decade of Resilience in New Orleans | The Art of Change | Ford Foundation | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, the city is still rebuilding its built environment and recovering from the deep loss of human lives and livelihoods.


Take Part’s Project Katrina is a new initiative aimed at telling the stories of a resilient population: their successes, their struggles, and the change they are affecting throughout the area and beyond.


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Florida Republican Submits Anti-Corporate Tax Bill Without Removing ALEC Mission Statement | Daily Kos

Florida Republican Submits Anti-Corporate Tax Bill Without Removing ALEC Mission Statement | Daily Kos | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It is now the common wisdom of millions of interested parties that ALEC does not work for the vast majority of citizens, that it is a vicious corporate lobby and that it is thee main force behind the deterioration of personal liberties and workers' rights in the United States.

Arguing against ALEC's influence over state legislation has become more difficult thanks to efforts such as ALEC Exposed which display how similar bills advancing in GOP-controlled states are and from whence they originate. Now, Florida Rep. Rachel Burgin (R-56), a 29 year old former legislative aide and graduate of Moody Bible Institute, has made the task of indicting ALEC for undue influence in state politics that much easier by forgetting to remove ALEC's mission statement from a bill (PDF) she suddenly "decided” to propose. This bill calls on the federal government to reduce taxes for corporations (HM 685).

Burgin discovered her error, but not before Common Blog spotted it:


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Can the Great Lakes become an engine for growth again? | Tom Precious | The Buffalo News

Can the Great Lakes become an engine for growth again? | Tom Precious | The Buffalo News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Many parts of the world are suffering through desperate droughts. Areas of California have enacted severe water restrictions, while wild fires rage through parched regions of the West and communities throughout the Southwest worry about how to get water for their growing populations.


Those scenarios are expected to get only worse with climate change.


Now travel north, to the Great Lakes, the world’s largest natural fresh water reservoir. They contain 20 percent of the world’s surface fresh water and 84 percent of North America’s.


The light bulb has gone on for a few people in the old Rust Belt.


Great Lakes optimists are talking of a new, water-driven moniker for the region’s future: the Blue Belt.


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Chicago, IL : State of the Suburbs: New road projects cement future | Marni Pyke | Daily Herald

Chicago, IL : State of the Suburbs: New road projects cement future | Marni Pyke | Daily Herald | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As the economy sputtered during the Great Recession, innovative transportation projects such as the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway extension sustained and created jobs.


Now that the City of Chicago and suburbs are rebounding, those projects will shape how we drive, live and work in the very near future.


To the north, the Illinois tollway is regenerating the Jane Addams Tollway (I-90) as a wider, "smart" corridor with new interchanges that are spurring retail and commercial development.

And just west of O'Hare, crews are pushing the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway (Route 390) east to the airport.

"It's a marvelous project with huge potential for economic development," DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said.


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Fox News Scores Big Court Win Against TVEyes | Eriq Gardner | The Hollywood Reporter

Fox News Scores Big Court Win Against TVEyes | Eriq Gardner | The Hollywood Reporter | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

On Tuesday, a federal judge in New York gave Fox News a partial win in an important copyright dispute that could influence the future of the news business.

Fox News has been taking on a media monitoring service called TVEyes, which is probably unfamiliar to most but has been a resource for many well-known journalists, politicians and corporations who wish to track what cable news is saying about a given topic. The cable news network has argued that a company that records some 1,400 television and radio stations and charges customers $500 a month for access to a near real time index of clips — with the ability to share such videos — threatens its revenues and violates its copyrights.

Last September, TVEyes convinced Judge Alvin Hellerstein that the core part of its service relating to indexing and excerpting was protected as a fair use. The judge noted that TVEyes was the only company offering such a comprehensive service and held up its transformative value.

However, the judge wanted more discussion on some of TVEyes' other features.


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Sinclair: FCC had nothing to do with retrans deal | Kathryn Bachman | Katy on the Hill

Sinclair: FCC had nothing to do with retrans deal | Kathryn Bachman | Katy on the Hill | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Sinclair Broadcast Group shot down claims by the Federal Communications Commission that the agency’s intervention was the reason that Dish and Sinclair finally hammered out a new retransmission consent agreement.

In a blunt statement, Sinclair said:

“We understand the temptation for the FCC to take credit for resolving this impasse, but their intervention had nothing to do with it. We were very close to a resolution well before Chairman Wheeler got involved. In fact, the FCC process actually delayed the resolution, because it added more issues to negotiate, which lengthened DISH’s service interruption, not shortened it. And it is important to remember that our stations never went off the air in any of those markets, but were consistently available free of charge to our viewers, as well as through DISH’s competitors.”

The two parties announced late Wednesday an end to a day-long blackout of 129 Sinclair stations in 79 markets on Dish and an agreement “in principle.”


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MA: Warwick still unsure on WiredWest | Rachel Rapkin | The Recorder

MA: Warwick still unsure on WiredWest | Rachel Rapkin | The Recorder | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

With months of complex negotiations in the works, Warwick still hasn’t joined WiredWest’s cooperative to bring high-speed Internet to the small rural town of Warwick in Western Massachusetts.

Earlier this year, state supported Mass. Broadband Institute (MBI) released a statement estimating the town’s projected cost to extend the existing fiber-optic network the “final mile” to homes and businesses at $2.4 million if it were to join WiredWest. The problem, however, was that the data used to come up with the estimate was based on digital maps that inaccurately measured the number of houses in the town. Broadband Committee Chairman Tom Wyatt said when MBI representatives came to Warwick to confirm the data, the building count requiring broadband connectivity had decreased and the process had to restart.

“We’ve been told that (the data is) coming soon, but it’s been a long time,” he said. “That is one of the reasons why we are hesitant to bring it to the town for a vote — because the $2.4 million figure may be changing.”

Wyatt said another reason why the town is skeptical of the cooperative is that Warwick — with fewer than 1,000 residents, very few businesses and a high tax rate — will endure higher taxes and generate debt for two to three years until WiredWest begins generating revenue.


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NY: Genesee County tech park is key part of regional economic development pitch | Mike Pettinella | The Buffalo News

NY: Genesee County tech park is key part of regional economic development pitch | Mike Pettinella | The Buffalo News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A major Genesee County technology project could have the potential to create more than 10,000 jobs over the next 20 years. It’s an integral part of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council’s draft of its application for a $500 million Upstate Revitalization Initiative award.

The Western New York Science, Technology, Advanced Manufacturing Park in the Town of Alabama could have a significant impact on the economy from Rochester to Buffalo for years to come, Genesee County Manager Jay A. Gsell said Thursday.

“We’re talking about the creation of thousands of jobs paying $60,000 to $70,000 a year just at the site itself, and a multiplier effect of two to three times that number in new employment opportunities in the region,” Gsell said. “All boats rise with the tide in this case.”

The Finger Lakes council released the document earlier this week, stating that it opens a month-long public review period leading up to the Oct. 5 submission of the final proposal to the state.

Finger Lakes is one of seven upstate economic development councils that are vying for three $500 million grants to be used for projects to spur growth and create jobs. The others are the Capital Region, Central New York, Mid-Hudson, Mohawk Valley, North Country and Southern Tier.

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Hitsville vs. Soulsville: How Detroit and Memphis are embracing their soul music heritage | Glen Morren & Criag Meek | SoapBoxMedia.com

Hitsville vs. Soulsville: How Detroit and Memphis are embracing their soul music heritage | Glen Morren & Criag Meek | SoapBoxMedia.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Only in the last decade have Cincinnatians come to appreciate the legacy of King Records. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's historical marker at its once-bustling, now-decrepit recording studio in Evanston explains the company's significance:

"From 1943-1971 King Records forever changed American music. Owner Syd Nathan gave the world bluegrass, R&B, rock and roll, doo-wop, country, soul and funk. With stars from James Brown to the Stanley Brothers and its innovative integrated business model, Cincinnati's King Records revolutionized the music industry."

A variety of music and neighborhood folks — including Bootsy Collins, Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation and Xavier University — have been engaged in efforts to preserve the crumbling studio and celebrate King's place in music history. Meanwhile, one of building's owners has applied for a demolition permit. City agencies have come out against demolition, but the old building is far from saved.

There was a time when King Records stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the best-known independent record labels like Motown in Detroit and Stax in Memphis. Some time in the 1960s — probably when James Brown left — their paths diverged, and today most music fans appreciate the heritage of Motown and Stax while mostly forgetting King's impact.

A big reason why Motown and Stax are still known today is that their home cities have preserved and continue to celebrate what those labels and companies meant to local citizens and to the world. As this story explains, those efforts were hit-and-miss and the work remains unfinished — but ultimately Detroit and Memphis embraced their roles as music capitals, and those cities are reaping the benefits now in terms of tourism dollars and civic pride.

Cincinnati arguably had as big an impact on American music as Detroit or Memphis. But will Cincinnati follow their path, embrace our music heritage and make it relevant in the 21st Century?


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Katrina may be a metaphor to some, but it’s still a reality to New Orleans | Janell Ross | WashPost.com

Katrina may be a metaphor to some, but it’s still a reality to New Orleans | Janell Ross | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Come first to the corner of Flood and North Galvez streets, Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans.

Here, where the unauthorized Lower Ninth tour groups almost never come to gawk and the planning experts rarely do, it’s just silent enough to take it all in. This is not the stretch where Brad Pitt’s charitable organization has rebuilt a series of elevated, solar-panel-equipped homes. This isn’t the site of a big new school. This isn’t the place that President Obama spoke of Thursday, a city that is “coming back better and stronger.” This is where the remnants of sinking curbs and bits of concrete foundation betray the missing homes. They speak of the people lost and places of rest and community obliterated. They hint at what has not — and perhaps will not ever — be replaced.

Katrina is a one-word metaphor for major failing and limited redress, for belated reaction and selective improvement. Katrina, on some level during the storm and in the decade since, became synonymous with government abdication and abandonment.

Ten years after Katrina assaulted New Orleans, that assessment seems likely to follow George W. Bush, the president who called himself a compassionate conservative, into history. Bush and his handlers made the fateful choice to fly Air Force One over New Orleans during this city’s many hours of tremendous need — and never stop. Early requests for transportation assistance went unmet and post-storm efforts to evacuate those in the worst conditions stretched well beyond reason.

As the president who followed Bush, Obama has thus far borne the brunt of those comparisons. The expression, “X is Obama’s Katrina,” came up after the 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood and amid revelations about the still-sputtering economy in 2010. It came up that same year during and after the U.S. response to the earthquake that devastated Haiti, as well as after the massive BP oil spill. We heard the phrase again following the Benghazi attack in 2012 and Obamacare’s rollout in 2013. And we’ve all heard the Katrina comparisons in the years since: to the spike in border crossings to Ebola and to domestic spying.


Sometimes the metaphor is overstatement. Sometimes it is part of an earnest attempt to convey the significance and danger presented by current events. And sometimes a reference to Katrina resonates because it connotes an inhumane distance and official desertion that many Americans did not know was possible before Katrina.


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Amazon Offers Free Delivery of Workplace Hell | Sonali Kolhatkar | Truthdig.com

Amazon Offers Free Delivery of Workplace Hell | Sonali Kolhatkar | Truthdig.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A lengthy exposé by The New York Times about Amazon’s work environment recently revealed the depths to which American workplace culture has plummeted, particularly for white-collar workers. Journalists Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld interviewed more than 100 current and former Amazon employees and concluded, “The company is conducting an experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers to get them to achieve its ever-expanding ambitions.”

“Amazonians,” as employees are referred to, are constantly monitored by their higher-ups and their time micromanaged ruthlessly. They are encouraged to engage in a brutal “Hunger Games”-style practice of snitching on one another to management. Those struggling with unexpected illnesses, caregiving needs or even childbirth are often pushed out for supposedly not being committed enough to their jobs. Regular performance evaluations are designed to weed out employees who don’t meet Amazon “standards,” and reasonable interpretations of work-life balance are frowned upon. One former worker told the Times, “Amazon is where overachievers go to feel bad about themselves.”

But it’s not just office workers at Amazon. The company’s poor treatment of its lower-paid warehouse workers has been well documented. Author Simon Head, in his 2014 book, “Mindless: Smarter Machines Are Making Dumber Humans,” wrote, “Amazon’s system of employee monitoring is the most oppressive I have ever come across,” and its management model is based on “pushing up employee productivity while keeping hourly wages at or near poverty levels.” Head described a level of brutality analogous to the barbarism of upper-level jobs that The New York Times found later.


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CA: Digital 395 Middle-Mile Network Project Overview | ESCRB Consortium

CA: Digital 395 Middle-Mile Network Project Overview | ESCRB Consortium | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Much of the region between Carson City, Nev. and Barstow, Calif. has limited, insufficient broadband middle-mile capabilities. The telecommunications system is dependent on decades-old telephone infrastructure, leaving wide swaths of the Eastern Sierra region of California and Nevada underserved.

The Digital 395 Middle Mile project is building a new 583-mile fiber network that will mainly follow the U.S. Highway 395, a major transportation corridor between Southern and Northern California, which passes through Nevada.

The project’s service area encompasses 36 communities, six Indian reservations, two military bases, 26,000 households and 2,500 businesses. In addition, 35 public safety entities, 47 K-12 schools, 13 libraries, two community colleges, two universities, 15 healthcare facilities and 104 government offices will also be served, as well as the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab, the White Mountain Research Station and the California Institute of Technology Owens Valley Radio Observatory.


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South America may face a perfect economic storm | Andres Oppenheimer | Miami Herald

South America may face a perfect economic storm | Andres Oppenheimer | Miami Herald | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Listening to the business-as-usual speeches by the leaders of Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela and other South American countries in the wake of China’s economic slowdown, it seems like they are living on a different planet. They are still bragging about their countries’ abundant natural resources and raw materials, as if that mattered much in the new world of Google, Apple and Uber.

In recent years, when South America benefitted from record world commodity prices thanks to China’s ever-growing purchases of oil, soybeans and other raw materials, the region’s leaders embarked on a populist fiesta, failing to notice that the world was moving swiftly toward a knowledge economy.

They spent heavily on social subsidies, and fooled their populations into thinking that they had come up with magical formulas to reduce poverty. Meantime, they neglected investing in quality education, science, technology and innovation.

But now, the fiesta is over, and Latin America faces a perfect storm: an economic slowdown in China, falling commodity prices, a flight to safer countries by international investors, and the possibility that the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates, which would make it more difficult for countries in the region to get loans or pay their foreign debts.

What’s worse, many South American countries are finding themselves with little to sell other than low-priced raw materials. They have become so complacent with their commodity booms, that they have done very little to become more competitive in exporting manufactured or high tech goods.


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Measuring progress on financial and digital inclusion | Brookings.edu

Measuring progress on financial and digital inclusion | Brookings.edu | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

About two billion adults across the world lack access to formal financial services. To address this particular economic challenge, many developing countries have made significant efforts to expand access to and use of affordable financial services for the world’s poor. Financial inclusion can be achieved via traditional banking offerings, but also through digital financial services such as mobile money, among other innovative approaches.

The Brookings Financial and Digital Inclu­sion Project (FDIP) Report and Scorecard seeks to help answer a set of fundamental questions about today’s global financial inclusion efforts, including;

  1. Do country commitments make a difference in progress toward financial inclusion?;
  2. To what extent do mobile and other digital technologies advance finan­cial inclusion?; and
  3. What legal, policy, and regulatory approaches promote financial inclusion?


To answer these questions, Brookings experts John D. Villasenor, Darrell M. West, and Robin J. Lewis analyzed finan­cial inclusion in 21 geographically, economically, and politically diverse countries. This year’s report and scorecard is the first of a series of annual reports examining financial inclusion activities and assessing usage of financial services in selected countries around the world.


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CA: Verizon pleads poverty | Mike Bodine | The Sheet News

CA: Verizon pleads poverty | Mike Bodine | The Sheet News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Oh, so that’s why they can’t hook up Digital 395.

One of the nation’s leading telecommunications companies, Verizon told a judge on Aug. 21 in Mammoth, CA that it did not hook up to the area’s broadband service network, Digital 395 (D395), because it was too expensive.

The testimony came at a public hearing and workshop held by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to inform/hear from the public about the transfer of Verizon California land line, internet and video services to Frontier Communications for $10.6 billion.

The main issue folks had about Verizon concerned its lack of leveraging D395.

“I’m pissed,” Rudy Archuleta said of Hammill Valley, an area notorious for having bad communication systems. He said he gets no cell service at his home, the landlines barely work and he’s afraid if he or a neighbor has a heart attack and tries to call 911, the call won’t go through.

“Digital 395 is eight feet from my house,” said Archuleta, “nobody gives a shit about us.”

When Verizon’s lines went down during the Round Fire in February, it took with it 911 emergency and dispatch services for Inyo and Mono counties. Verizon has no redundancy in its local system; it is a closed loop stopping in Bridgeport, so when the lines went down, so did all service. Verizon spliced into Digital 395 and restored service shortly after the fire but unplugged from D395 once it fixed it’s own antiquated copper lines. Had Verizon been connected to D395, one of the fastest highest-capacity fiber optic networks in the nation prior to the fire, there would not have been a disruption in service. The CPUC brought its own judge and court reporter to ask Verizon why it had not hooked up to D395 or done anything to maintain, much less upgrade its infrastructure.

Administrative Law Judge Anthony Colbert asked Alan Reilly, Engineering Director for Verizon California if Verizon ever intended to hook up to D395, before or after the Round Fire.

Reilly said Verizon was approached by D395 in 2012 but an acceptable price could not be negotiated.

Colbert interjected quickly that one of the biggest issues brought up at the 10 previous public hearings and now at the Mammoth meeting was Verizon’s “unwillingness to invest” in its infrastructure. Colbert said it appears that Verizon has done as little as possible to keep up its current infrastructure much less keep up with the times and Gigabit service demand.

Reilly claimed Verizon is aggressively investing in upgrades.

Colbert jumped in again, “Digital 395 must have had some benefits because you hooked up to it?” He added that Verizon’s resistance to D395 because of price was unacceptable to him.


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Chicago, IL: State of suburbs: Investors pump new life into business | Kim Mikus | Daily Herald

Chicago, IL: State of suburbs: Investors pump new life into business | Kim Mikus | Daily Herald | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

After weathering several years of stagnation, suburban Chicago economic development leaders and business experts like what they see when it comes to business expansion.

"Investors are coming back to the suburbs in a way that we haven't seen in years," said Karla Harmon, senior vice president at Jones Lang LaSalle. "I'm very optimistic. Things are good," said Harmon, who focuses on leasing in the Oak Brook and Naperville areas. She believes the economic environment is improving, tenants are expanding and new business is coming in.

Josh Grodzin is the director of development and marketing for Elk Grove Village.

"There is a lot going on in the area of manufacturing and logistics," he said. "That's the bread and butter of Elk Grove Village."

Ceva Logistics, Panattoni Development and Forsythe Data Centers are all in the expansion mode, he said, adding that a number of older buildings were torn down last year and developers are building new.


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New technology sees first braille tablet | RNIB | Supporting people with sight loss

New technology sees first braille tablet | RNIB | Supporting people with sight loss | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

NB talks to Kristina Tsvetanova, a co-founder and CEO of Blitab about a possible ground breaking braille tablet.


What is Blitab®?


BLITAB® is the first ever braille tablet, which uses a new liquid-based technology to create tactile relief outputting braille, graphics and maps for the blind and partially sighted. We call it BLITAB® – the iPad for the blind. It is a next-generation affordable and multi-functional device for braille reading and writing that displays a whole page of braille text, without any mechanical elements.

How did you come up with the idea for a braille tablet?


Everything started three years ago during my studies, when a colleague of mine, sitting next to me, asked me to sign him in for an online course. I did it, but after that I realised Peter was blind. For the first time, I understood that something sighted people take for granted can be a challenge for others. This was the trigger, how we started developing a revolutionary tactile technology that will disrupt the status quo. In the past 10 months, we transferred the concept and project into a start-up company with social impact. Within this short space of time, our tablet has become an 11-time award-winning social and innovative project, with more than 20 sustainability recognitions. And more importantly, we already have more than 2,500 sign-up testers, among them 300 children in 34 countries, and this was the reason we were spotted and awarded as social change makers.


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ACA to FCC: Smaller Cable Companies Are Shutting Down and Congress Should Know Why | Joan Engebretson | Telecompetitor

ACA to FCC: Smaller Cable Companies Are Shutting Down and Congress Should Know Why | Joan Engebretson | Telecompetitor | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The American Cable Association, which represents small, primarily rural, cable companies, is again asking the Federal Communications Commission to report on and study the closing of smaller cable systems, including why the closings occurred. Ninety-one cable systems serving more than 5,300 subscribers shut down in 2014, on top of 133 cable system shut-downs in 2013 and 129 shut-downs in 2012 that impacted more than 12,000 people, according to the ACA.

Using data from the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC), the ACA reports that all told, since 2008, NCTC members have closed a total of 1,169 cable systems, affecting over 55K subscribers. The filing comes as the FCC requested data for their “Annual Assessment of the Status of Competition in the Market for Delivery of Video Programming” report to Congress.


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CFO: Consolidated Communications Video Takes Backseat to Broadband | Joan Engebretson | Telecompetitor

CFO: Consolidated Communications Video Takes Backseat to Broadband | Joan Engebretson | Telecompetitor | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The latest conflict between content owners and video service providers may have been de-escalated this week when FCC intervention put a halt to Sinclair’s blackout of Dish Network, but conflicts remain. Some video providers – including Consolidated Communications — are finding video content economics so challenging that they are rethinking that whole line of business.

“We used to be very triple play and video-centric,” said Consolidated Communications CFO Steve Childers in a presentation at the Midwest IDEAS Investor Conference in Chicago today, which was also webcast. “But with the explosion of video content costs and the cost of [customer premises equipment] for video customers, we’re really trying to, from the consumer side, stabilize our broadband services – and we’ll offer subscription services . . . but we’d really rather work with somebody to help them with over-the-top or streaming capabilities.”


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Ten ISPs Sign On With FCC Fund, Will Expand Rural Broadband To Over 7M Customers In 45 States | Kate Cox | Consumerist

Ten ISPs Sign On With FCC Fund, Will Expand Rural Broadband To Over 7M Customers In 45 States | Kate Cox | Consumerist | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

While those of us who live in or near the country’s medium and large cities see slow but eventual improvements in broadband service and sometimes even some competition, the same is not true for millions of Americans who live in the more rural parts of the country. Running wires outside of the ‘burbs costs more money than it brings in, so carriers aren’t keen to do it without a boost. And that’s where the FCC’s Connect America fund comes in.

The Fund is a big pile of money that broadband carriers can tap into for funds to kickstart their own investments in bringing broadband to underserved rural markets. This week was the deadline for businesses to say if they’re going to take the money and participate or not, and the result is good news for consumers, 7.3 million of whom should be getting some service sometime soon.


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OR: Portland mayor kicks off TechCrawl, praises city for tech diversity push | John Cook | GeekWire

OR: Portland mayor kicks off TechCrawl, praises city for tech diversity push | John Cook | GeekWire | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Hundreds of engineers, entrepreneurs, designers and other technology professionals gathered in the hot sun Wednesday evening for the fourth annual Portland TechCrawl, the kickoff event of the two-day TechFestNW conference.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales celebrated at the first stop, addressing the crowd in front of the Block 300 Building, home to fast-growing Portland companies such as Puppet Labs and CrowdCompass.

“We appreciate the fact that you have made commitments to be Portlanders,” said Hales. “You are competitors, but you are also collaborators and you are part of a community.”

Hales specifically pointed to the efforts by the tech community in Portland to push for greater diversity through the Portland Tech Diversity Pledge, a citywide effort to get more women and minorities involves in the industry.


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With Tech Garden, Syracuse seeds regional growth | Rachael Barker | The Avenue | Brookings.edu

With Tech Garden, Syracuse seeds regional growth | Rachael Barker | The Avenue | Brookings.edu | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

After several decades working at large companies on the West Coast, Amy and Joe Casper returned home to Syracuse, NY, laying the groundwork for the next phase of their careers: launching a start-up focused on specialized LED lighting. At The Tech Garden, the region’s growing business incubator, the Caspers refined their product, identified a specialized market in professional sports arena lighting, and grew from three employees to 25.

Since Ephesus Lighting moved out of the incubator, it has doubled its employment. Today the company sells to the NCAA and major league teams, with the 2015 Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks played under Ephesus lights.

The Caspers’ story shows the payoff emerging from the region’s now decade-long bet that investing in a business incubator and other entrepreneurship supports can help revitalize an older industrial region.


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