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Texting for Health | Blandin on Broadband

According to iHealthBeat…

 

"HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration is seeking input on how to disseminate text messages that promote wellness, nutrition and exercise to parents of children under age five, according to a notice published in the Federal Register, MobiHealthNews reports (Comstock, MobiHealthNews, 2/1)."

 

I know texting isn’t really a broadband application – but I also know that sometimes communities need to build demand to encourage supply and tools such as texting can get folks one step closer to using technology in new ways. Text for Tots and Text for Baby sound like good feeder programs for broadband use.

 

Again according to iHealthBeat…

 

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CA: Pacific Grove picked for fiber-optic network | Monterey County Herald

CA: Pacific Grove picked for fiber-optic network | Monterey County Herald | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

An English-backed company wants to make Pacific Grove one of two California cities it wires with a high-speed fiber-optics network.


The network, which would offer internet speeds 20 times faster than existing systems, is being offered to the city as a large, very expensive test market.


"They are building these networks on spec," said Kurt Overmeyer, city economics development director.


The Pacific Grove City Council on Wednesday will consider approving development and license agreements with SiFi Networks that would allow it to install its "fiber-to-the-curb" network throughout the city.


The company, which has wired communities in the United Kingdom but not in the U.S., would spend an estimated $30 million to $40 million to wire Pacific Grove. "It's a huge investment," Overmeyer said.


The cost to the city would be virtually nothing — aside from some staff time checking plans and providing technical advice, a council report says.


"I can't figure out the downside. The worst case would be they build part and have to sell off to someone else," Overmeyer said.


The upside would be to give Pacific Grove a new network with world-class speeds, capable of serving many existing and emerging technology businesses that are heavy data users.


"It really changes things for our residents and our business community," Overmeyer said. Even in Silicon Valley, there aren't many systems like this.


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Google Fiber Seeking Sales Help In New York | Multichannel.com

Google Fiber Seeking Sales Help In New York | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google Fiber has yet to unleash a plan to weave its 1-Gig network into the Big Apple for residential services, but the speed-happy ISP is already seeking sales help in the region.

 

As spotted by Geek.com, Google Fiber is looking for a full-time regional sales manager in New York City.

 

The job posting doesn’t mention when Google Fiber might actually try to deploy and launch services in the region, but the job description says the new Google Fiber Regional Sales Manager will be tasked with leading up “multiple teams that evangelize Google Fiber services to MDU (multi-dwelling apartments and condos) and large SMB owners. You will hire and manage a team that proactively reaches out and…articulates how Google Fiber Solutions can help make their work more productive.”


More specifically, the person, who will be based at Google’s New York City office, will seek out prospective MDU owners, property management companies and “large SMB owners,” and “negotiate contractual language and terms.”


Google Fiber was not immediately available for comment on the job posting as of early Tuesday morning, but if it was successful in securing franchise deals in New York, it could present more competition for several service operators in the area, including Time Warner Cable, RCN, Verizon Communications and Cablevision Systems.

 

Update: Google  Fiber downplayed the signficance of the job posting. A Google Fiber spokeswoman said the company has had staff working on fiber in the NYC area, as well as other locations, for years -- almost through the entire duration of the Google Fiber project.


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Heartbleed is about to get worse, and it will slow the Internet to a crawl | WashPost.com

Heartbleed is about to get worse, and it will slow the Internet to a crawl | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Efforts to fix the notorious Heartbleed bug threaten to cause major disruptions to the Internet over the next several weeks as companies scramble to repair encryption systems on hundreds of thousands of Web sites at the same time, security experts say.


Estimates of the severity of the bug’s damage have mounted almost daily since researchers announced the discovery of Heartbleed last week. What initially seemed like an inconvenient matter of changing passwords for protection now appears much more serious. New revelations suggest that skilled hackers can use the bug to create fake Web sites that mimic legitimate ones to trick consumers into handing over valuable personal information.


The sheer scale of the work required to fix this aspect of the bug — which makes it possible to steal the “security certificates” that verify that a Web site is authentic — could overwhelm the systems designed to keep the Internet trustworthy.


“Imagine if we found out all at once that all the doors everybody uses are all vulnerable — they can all get broken into,” said Jason Healey, a cybersecurity scholar at the Washington-based Atlantic Council. “The kinds of bad things it enables is largely limited only by the imagination of the bad guys.”


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Crain's New York Business: New York City Conduit Jam Packed | community broadband networks

Crain's New York Business: New York City Conduit Jam Packed | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Crain's New York Business recently published an article on the crowded conduit under New York City. The article complements the April 7 edition of This Week in Crain's New York podcast, hosted by Don Mathisen.


Empire City Subway (ECS), the crumbling subterranean network of conduit for telephone wires constructed in 1888, is so crowded underground construction crews regularly need to detour to reach their destination. Routes are no longer direct, adding precious nanoseconds to data delivery - a significant problem for competitive finance companies.


Verizon owns ECS and, according to the article, does not operate with competitors in mind:


But businesses that lease space in the ECS network for their own fiber-optic cable say that Verizon doesn't worry about keeping the system clear for others. Conduits are filled with cables from defunct Internet providers that went belly-up after the dot-com bust in 2000. Verizon itself left severed copper wire in lower Manhattan ducts after installing a fiber-optic network following Superstorm Sandy. (The company says the cables could be easily removed, if needed.)


Stealth Communications spent an extra $100,000 in March to re-route its fiber from Rockefeller Center to Columbus Circle. Conduit was so congested along the planned route, the independent ISP needed to go 6,500 feet out of its way. The re-route added almost two weeks to the project.


Crain's contacted Chris Mitchell from ILSR:


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Zuckerberg Vows Facebook Will Shoot Down Google Drones | Andy Borowitz Satire | The New Yorker

Zuckerberg Vows Facebook Will Shoot Down Google Drones | Andy Borowitz Satire | The New Yorker | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

One day after Google outbid Facebook for a manufacturer of solar-powered drones, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg served warning that his company was prepared to blow Google’s drones out of the skies.


At a presentation for Facebook employees at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Zuckerberg announced plans to build a $24 billion Facebook laser shield, a global network of satellites capable of identifying and incinerating Google drones in midair.


Zuckerberg delighted his audience with a brief animated demonstration showing a Facebook satellite locking in on a Google drone and obliterating it with a green laser.


“Unfriended, bitch,” said Zuckerberg, to a roaring ovation from his employees.


Within an hour, Google responded with a stern warning of is own, vowing, “Any act of aggression against Google drones will not stand.”


To that end, the company announced that it was prepared to shoot down Facebook’s laser satellites with a long-range super cannon called Google Gun.


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Libraries and Broadband: Urgency and Impact – public hearing on April 17 | Blandin on Broadband

Happy National Library Week! To celebrate I was going to invite my co-working coffee shop friends to shoot me ready reference questions – or maybe just shush a few people, then I found something even better – a public hearing on libraries and broadband.


This is one of those meetings that looks wonky and not top priority – until you consider the role that libraries play in your community in terms of bridging the digital gap. Libraries provide access to computer and broadband (via public computers and often Wi-Fi) and librarians are often the first line of defense for digital literacy.


The FCC has pledged to invest $2 billion in broadband for libraries and schools. And libraries are pilot testing a mashup of spectrum white space broadband access and local WI-FI networks as a way to serve wireless access in a community.  If you want to make sure that your library continues to serve your community to the best of its ability, it makes sense to learn more. (Broadband access in individual Minnesota libraries is not the same!)…


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Maybe you don't need a gig. Wireless might bridge the broadband gap | GigaOM Tech News

Maybe you don't need a gig. Wireless might bridge the broadband gap | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Not every community needs a fiber-to-the-home network. Not every home needs a gig to their doorstep. In our gigabit crazy era this statement might seem like a step backward, but take note that there’s more than one option for delivering the speed consumers and businesses need. Even Google is hinting that some form of wireless might become part of its goodie bag of services.


When people fixate on one technology to the exclusion of all else the people governing cities can make wrong choices that hurt or hinder communities’ ability to fully benefit from broadband. When investing in technology, users’ needs should dictate technology choices, not media hype. Two other recent broadband developments indicate some broadband decision makers should step back for a minute and re-assess their options.


RST, a new regional ISP, announced it had quietly built and acquired a 3,100-mile 100-gig fiber middle mile infrastructure throughout the state of North Carolina. However, it plans to deliver a 1-gigabit last mile service there and in South Carolina, mostly using Wi-Fi with fiber options available on demand. In Utah, home security and automation company Vivint threw its hat into the gigabit ring with plans to connect Utah homes wirelessly using gigabit Wi-Fi on rooftops to create a high-capacity mesh network built on customers’ rooftops.


The gigabit picture is still developing, and no rules are set in stone, so why not extensively evaluate all available options? Do consumers really care whether their connection comes through a wire or wirelessly as long as it’s fast enough to meet their needs, and guaranteed to be secure, reliable and affordable?


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MN: Governor Dayton supports broadband development fund | Blandin on Broadband

According to the Post Bulletin


Gov. Mark Dayton said he has been convinced it is important to fund the initiative this year.


Broadband supporters want lawmakers to allocate $100 million toward helping expanding high-speed internet into rural parts of the state. Dayton did not include funding for the program in his budget and had originally raised concerns about the plan having a lack of specifics. But he told reporters he supports including some level of funding for broadband this year.


He seems to advocate a slower start to a potentially longer running program…


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Google updates terms of service to reflect its scanning of users' emails | NetworkWorld.com

Google updates terms of service to reflect its scanning of users' emails | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google has updated its terms of service to reflect that it analyzes user content including emails to provide users tailored advertising, customized search results and other features.


The Internet giant's scanning of users' email has been controversial with privacy groups describing it as an intrusion into user privacy.


Competitor Microsoft claims in its "Don't Get Scroogled by Gmail" campaign that its Outlook.com email service is superior to Gmail as unlike Google it does not go through email looking for keywords to target users with paid advertisements.


In a case in California over Google's interception of email, District Judge Lucy H. Koh said that Google's terms of service and privacy polices did not explicitly notify the plaintiffs "that Google would intercept users' emails for the purposes of creating user profiles or providing targeted advertising." Google's decision to change its terms of service may have been prompted by these comments.


In the consolidated multi-district litigation brought by users in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose division, the users alleged that Google had violated state and federal wiretapping laws by scanning the content of messages sent through Gmail, to serve ads to users among other things.


Google contended that Gmail and all Google Apps end users had explicitly consented to its alleged interceptions, relying on various terms of service and privacy polices in effect between 2008 and 2013, according to court records.


Judge Koh, however, denied class action status to the petitioners to the consolidated lawsuit. The plaintiffs have sought permission to appeal.


The new Google terms of service, that went into effect on Monday, adds the provision that "Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored."


Google has amended its terms of service previously and its last such change was in November last year.


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Connected stuff is catching on -- just don't call it IoT | NetworkWorld.com

Connected stuff is catching on -- just don't call it IoT | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Many organizations today are looking for things that talk to the Internet. Sensors, cameras, medical equipment and even snowplows are on that wish list.


The "Internet of Things" is not.


The municipalities that come to systems integrator AGT International are already sold on so-called IoT technologies, such as wireless traffic sensors embedded in streets, said Gadi Lenz, a senior technical fellow at AGT.


But they aren't interested in IoT, nor in "smart cities," another term that's been getting a lot of play lately. What they want, Lenz said, is a solution to their problems.


Even Cisco Systems, one of the biggest evangelists for IoT, thinks the concept still needs some explaining. Enterprises, cities and utilities all could stand to benefit from IoT, but first they need a better idea of how it can help them do their jobs.


"We definitely need to spend more time educating the market," Inbar Lasser-Raab, vice president of Enterprise Network Solutions, said last week at a meeting at Cisco. Leaders from IT vendors, industrial companies and governments came together there to hash out issues for IoT.


Networked devices have been talking to each other for years. What's new in so-called IoT is the scale of those networks and the way advanced data analysis can draw conclusions from them. But getting this broad vision off the ground, including getting enterprises to adopt the new technology, raises several challenges, according to participants at last week's meeting.


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Windows XP holdouts explain why they haven't upgraded | Andy Patrizio Blog | NetworkWorld.com

Windows XP holdouts explain why they haven't upgraded | Andy Patrizio Blog | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

OK, Armageddon has passed, and I was wrong. April 9 was not the new Y2K bug. In this case, I'm glad I was wrong. However, Microsoft is no longer supporting Windows XP (and Office 2003, we often forget that) and a lot of people are still using it.


Microsoft sure tried to incentivize people to move, with things like a $100 discount off a Surface Pro 2 or PC purchase and a $50 discount to purchase Windows 8. How much of a dent these efforts made is debatable; I've yet to see any figures from Microsoft on how many people took up their offer. My guess is few.


I have come across XP quite a few times in my day-to-day activity, so I asked those folks why they are sticking with it. One thing is abundantly clear: in the case of business users, they are sticking with XP out of necessity or an inability to move, not because they are lazy, lackadaisical, or unconcerned.


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Canada’s Digital Privacy Act lets companies share customers’ personal info, privacy critics warn | Vancouver Sun

Canada’s Digital Privacy Act lets companies share customers’ personal info, privacy critics warn | Vancouver Sun | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If you worry Big Brother is reporting everything you do on the Internet, changes introduced to Canada’s privacy legislation last week may prove your worries aren’t totally unfounded.


Privacy advocates warn under the Digital Privacy Act, Bill S-4,  Internet users could have their personal information handed over to companies and organizations and they won’t even know that it’s happening.


All those downloaded songs your teen didn’t pay for, the Latest Game of Thrones episode you downloaded illegally or any other real or suspected infractions could result in your name and subscriber information passed along to any company or organization claiming to be investigating fraud or the even the potential breaking of Canadian laws. And the law doesn’t stop at digital piracy.


Michael Geist, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa, says the legislation could be used may be used to obtain information about you for everything from defamation to consumer disputes.


“Unpack the legalese and you find that organizations will be permitted to disclose personal information without consent (and without a court order) to any organization that is investigating a contractual breach or possible violation of any law,” Geist wrote in his blog. “This applies both past breaches or violations as well as potential future violations.

Moreover, the disclosure occurs in secret without the knowledge of the affected person (who therefore cannot challenge the disclosure since they are not aware it is happening).”


And while Industry Canada defended the new legislation in an email to iPolitics, saying that the Privacy Commissioner can take action against organizations that don’t follow the rules in disclosing information, Geist pointed out that Canadians won’t even know their information has been released. While the government suggested that the legislation would apply to organizations such as a provincial law society investigation allegations of malpractice, Geist pointed out the legislation is much broader.


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Server makers rushing out Heartbleed patches | NetworkWorld.com

Server makers rushing out Heartbleed patches | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Enterprise IT vendors are rushing to protect users from the Heartbleed bug, which has been found in some servers and networking gear and could allow attackers to steal critical data -- including passwords and encryption keys -- from the memories of exposed systems.


Hewlett-Packard, Dell and IBM have set up pages that identify hardware and software products affected by Heartbleed, which exposes a critical defect in certain versions of OpenSSL, a software library for secure communication over the Internet and networks.


The bug, which was detailed last week, has already been patched in a new version of OpenSSL, but hardware companies are now racing to patch products relying on older versions. Firmware and software patches have been issued for HP's BladeSystems and IBM's AIX servers and also Dell's appliances and networking equipment. In advisories, the server makers have advised customers to investigate hypervisors, OSes and middleware for possible vulnerabilities.


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If TV Weren’t Everywhere Before, It Is Now | Cable Tech Talk | NCTA.com

Yesterday, CTAM, the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing, announced a new, aggressive and first-of-its-kind campaign to promote the idea, the brand, and the value of tv everywhere.


For many, tv everywhere – the idea that we can watch cable content on myriad devices in any location – has been a part of the television experience for a number of years. Products like Comcast’s Xfinity and devices like tablets and smartphones have made tv everywhere possible for millions of early-adopter customers. But for others, it’s an entirely revolutionary concept – one that will take time and effort to incorporate into their TV watching routine.


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What This Year’s Survey Says About Broadband and Economic Development | Building the Gigabit City

What This Year’s Survey Says About Broadband and Economic Development | Building the Gigabit City | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Broadband has consistently been described as a tool or asset to help communities improve local economic development. In the past few years, a lot of effort has gone into positioning broadband as our newest utility, vital as our mainstay electric, gas and water utilities. Every year I dig a little bit via a survey to learn how much the hype about broadband’s impact on local economies reflects the reality.


This year’s survey asks members of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), the largest professional association of economic developers, key questions regarding broadband’s impact on local economies. These questions test some general assumptions made about outcomes that broadband produces, and also enables survey respondents to assess some of the value broadband brings to their communities.


Get the full report here. Some of this year’s findings include:


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Advice for Starting a Community Network - Community Broadband Bits Episode #94 | community broadband networks

Advice for Starting a Community Network - Community Broadband Bits Episode #94 | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Community Broadband Bits podcast this week focuses on what people can do to start building a grassroots effort for a network in their community. John St Julien of Lafayette, Louisiana, returns to the show to discuss what they did and ideas for others to follow.


John was last on the show for episode 19, where we focused more on the specific approach used in Lafayette.


We discuss the early challenges and ideas for how to engage others, who may be the best people to approach, and how to maintain a sense of progress during what may be a very challenging organizing effort.


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CT: UConn-Comcast launch security research center during Heartbleed week | NetworkWorld.com

CT: UConn-Comcast launch security research center during Heartbleed week | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The University of Connecticut has joined forces with Comcast to launch the Center of Excellence for Security Innovation at UConn's Storrs campus, building on the school's already well established Center for Hardware Assurance, Security and Engineering (CHASE).


The news came late last week amidst the revelation of the Heartbleed bug, which has companies scrambling to patch servers and other network gear as users redo their passwords. The center's launch also comes at time during which nearly 1 in 5 users say they've had personal info stolen online.


The university and service provider announced their partnership during a two-day national conference at UConn on secure/trustworthy systems and supply chain assurance. Together, they hope "to develop robust detection systems and analytical tools to ensure that the computer chips and other hardware components vital to Internet broadband systems are shielded from malicious attacks, unauthorized access, and faulty or counterfeit products."


The Center of Excellence in Security Innovation will be located in UConn's Information Technologies Engineering building in Storrs. Research projects will be sponsored by Comcast but most likely by other outfits as well, including the federal government. A couple of UConn Ph.D. candidates this summer will get internships at Comcast.


Mark Tehranipoor, director of CHASE, will also serve as director of the Center of Excellence in Security Innovation.


Comcast is already tight with UConn, as a founding member of CHASE, which is also supported by the Department of Defense, National Science Foundation and Cisco, among others.


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How algorithms shape our world | Kevin Slavin | TED Talks

How algorithms shape our world | Kevin Slavin | TED Talks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Kevin Slavin argues that we're living in a world designed for -- and increasingly controlled by -- algorithms.


In this riveting talk from TEDGlobal, he shows how these complex computer programs determine: espionage tactics, stock prices, movie scripts, and architecture.


And he warns that we are writing code we can't understand, with implications we can't control.


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Diffraction Analysis Offers Free Webinar on FTTH, April 15th, 11 a.m. Central | community broadband networks

Diffraction Analysis Offers Free Webinar on FTTH, April 15th, 11 a.m. Central | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

On April 15th, Benoit Felten and his organization, Diffraction Analysis, will host a free webinar to discuss results from their latest study. The study, Why Consumers Love FTTH – The FTTH Consumer Experience Study, delves into the fiber experience in Sweden.


Here are some preliminary findings from the report:


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Canada to be first G20 country to abolish door-to-door postal service | RT.com

Canada to be first G20 country to abolish door-to-door postal service | RT.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Canadians are angry with their government’s plan to end door-to-door postal services, which would make it the first such G20 country, as delivery process have gone up dramatically.


The plan Canada Post had is set to take effect within five years and is necessitated, like in the United States, by dwindling profits caused by everyone switching to things like email, Reuters reports. But this is necessary, according to the service, who says they’ll start losing cash by mid-2014 if a major overhaul isn’t performed.


Spokesman for the service, Jon Hamilton, told Reuters how mail deliveries had gone down by a whole billion in 2012 compared to 2006, so “we had to make changes.”


The changes will entail the loss of 8,000 jobs, along with other things. The government-owned company spends much more than its private sector competitors.


“[The plan] really provides Canada Post with a future based on serving needs that Canadians have rather than trying to put something together that doesn’t work,” Hamilton said.


The company has been hemorrhaging money in recent years, reporting a whopping loss of C$109 million ( US$103 million) before tax – a 7.3 percent drop from the previous year. To make matters worse, its pension plan is in deficit by C$6.5 million.


Currently, about a third of Canada’s approximately 5.1 million homes get mail delivered to their door, and they are not too happy about the government proposing a system of community mail boxes under its five-point plan announced Wednesday.


Once the reforms take effect, not only will the people in small, remote towns feel the effect, but also those inhabiting large cities like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.


Now, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, are blasting the idea as a brash decision that may cripple the postal service, and have called on fellow workers to oppose the measure. Other groups have joined such calls too, like the official opposition party, the New Democratic Party (NDP), who fear the move could affect pensioners, whose everyday activities are greatly affected by winter months.


The Guardian visited a remote mining community of 7,000 people, surrounded by mountains, called Labrador City, in east Canada – a good example of just how much people’s comfort would be affected by Canada Post’s decision.


Temperatures there can drop below -30C easily, while meters of snow in the winter make it really hard to get about freely.


The mayor of the city, Karen Oldford, said that battling through the impassable snow would be really difficult for some groups of people. She added that using the excuse of mail to affect home deliveries is preposterous, because “there is still no broadband access in our communities.”


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Data breaches nail more US Internet users, regulation support rises | NetworkWorld.com

Data breaches nail more US Internet users, regulation support rises | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

More U.S. Internet users report they have been victims of data breach, while 80 percent want additional restrictions against sharing of online data, according to two surveys released Monday.


While nearly half of all U.S. Internet users avoid at least one type of online service because of privacy concerns, according to a survey by marketing research firm GfK, 18 percent reported as of January that important personal information was stolen from them online, a poll from the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project found. That's an increase from 11 percent last July.


"As online Americans have become ever more engaged with online life, their concerns about the amount of personal information available about them online have shifted as well," Mary Madden, a senior researcher at Pew, wrote in a blog post. "When we look at how broad measures of concern among adults have changed over the past five years, we find that internet users have become more worried about the amount of personal information available about them online."


In January, 50 percent of Pew survey respondents said they were concerned about the amount of personal information available online, compared to just 33 percent in 2009.


The survey was done before recent revelations of the Heartbleed OpenSSL bug, Madden noted.


The GfK survey, of U.S. Internet users in early March, which found that 48 percent of respondents avoid at least one type of online service because of privacy concerns, also found that 59 percent of those polled are more concerned about online data security than they were a year ago.


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Darpa Turns Aging Surveillance Drones Into Wi-Fi Hotspots | Danger Room | WIRED

Darpa Turns Aging Surveillance Drones Into Wi-Fi Hotspots | Danger Room | WIRED | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A fleet of surveillance drones once deployed in the skies over Iraq is being repurposed to provide aerial Wi-Fi in far-flung corners of the world, according to Darpa.


RQ-7 Shadow drones that the Army flew in Iraq for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions are now becoming wireless hubs for connectivity in remote conflict zones where challenging communication environments can mean the difference between being ambushed and getting reinforcements.


Darpa’s Mobile Hotspots program retrofits retired Shadow drones with pods that will be able to transfer one gigabyte per second of data — the equivalent of 4G smartphone connectivity — so that soldiers in remote areas will have the same access to tactical operation centers and mission data that others in more central theaters have.


The challenge, however, is making sure that the already existing drones can accommodate the wireless system. At just 11 feet long and 185 pounds, the RQ-7 Shadow isn’t exactly the largest of drones, but Darpa researchers say they have developed small antennas operating on the extremely high-frequency millimeter wave-band, in addition to special amplifiers that can boost the signal — all of which, Darpa says, will allow the drones to fly higher and farther out of enemy view.


“We’re pleased with the technical achievements we’ve seen so far in steerable millimeter-wave antennas and millimeter-wave amplifier technology,” said Dick Ridgway, Darpa program manager, in a statement. “These successes — and the novel networking approaches needed to maintain these high-capacity links — are key to providing forward deployed units with the same high-capacity connectivity we all enjoy over our 4G cell-phone networks.”


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When Facebook Is a Bank... | Inc.com

When Facebook Is a Bank... | Inc.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Facebook is mere weeks away from having a regulatory green light in Ireland to allow its users there to store money on the site, and make payments to individuals, the Financial Times reports.


Yes, Facebook is getting into electronic money.


The company's primary initial interest in e-money authorization throughout Europe is so that it can facilitate remittances--the transferring of money by a foreign worker to an individual in her home country--and other various person-to-person payments, the paper reports.


"Facebook wants to become a utility in the developing world, and remittances are a gateway drug to financial inclusion," a person familiar with the company’s strategy told the Financial Times.


At first glance, remittances might seem like an odd and narrow path into becoming a trusted online bank, or even a digital Western Union. But over the past few months, as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been talking about getting Facebook to more users around the world and, particularly, to those in developing countries, it makes more sense. Facebook spent $19 billion to acquire WhatsApp in order to reach toward that goal of expanding its user-base to places without reliable wireless Internet.


This time, Facebook isn't just acquiring companies that can help it--it's doing the leg work itself, with Sean Ryan, the company's vice president of platform partnerships, at the helm. (Though the Financial Times reports that the social network attempted to pay $10 million to acquire a senior employee from Azimo, a UK-based social money-transfer service.) Facebook would not comment to the Financial Times, calling its reporting "rumor and speculation."


Let's take a step back.


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Comcast-TWC Merger Could Bring Broadband Data Caps To Pretty Much Everyone | The Consumerist

Comcast-TWC Merger Could Bring Broadband Data Caps To Pretty Much Everyone | The Consumerist | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Mobile data caps might be almost universal, but home broadband data caps are much less so. Some providers have them, but many don’t. At the moment, Time Warner Cable is in that “doesn’t” category — but Comcast keeps trying to expand theirs. If the FCC grants the corporate union of the two its blessing, a whopping 78% of Americans could find themselves living under the new normal of limited home broadband.


The math comes from the crew over at GigaOm, who keep up to date on the state of broadband caps in general. They find that among cable broadband providers, TWC and Cablevision are the only ones who don’t currently impose data caps on consumers. (Fiber and DSL companies are a more mixed bag.) Post-merger, Cablevision could easily be the last one.


Comcast’s current data cap — sorry, “data threshold” — is 300 GB. Consumers who exceed that 300 GB data point automatically see a $10 charge on their bill for each extra 50 GB of data used. The plan is not yet nationwide, but the program has been expanding over the past few years and seems to be one Comcast wants to stick with.


TWC, meanwhile, doesn’t keep their data unlimited because they particularly want to. They tried to implement “metered bandwidth” back in 2009 but had to drop the plan in the face of enormous opposition. They have since created an opt-in plan where customers can choose to accept a very restrictive cap in exchange for a tiny monthly discount on their bills. As even TWC’s CEO has admitted, that has been a total flop.


Of course, we don’t know what terms the FCC and Justice department might impose on Comcast in order to let their purchase of TWC go through. It is theoretically possible that regulators could require Comcast to ditch data caps as a condition of the sale. Possible… but unlikely at best.


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First sites admit data loss through Heartbleed attacks | NetworkWorld.com

First sites admit data loss through Heartbleed attacks | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Canada's tax authority and a popular British parenting website both lost user data after attackers exploited the Heartbleed SSL vulnerability, they said Monday.


The admissions are thought to be the first from websites that confirm data loss as a result of Heartbleed, which was first publicized last Monday. The flaw existed in Open SSL, a cryptographic library used by thousands of websites to enable encryption, and was quickly labeled one of the most serious security vulnerabilities in years.


The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) blocked public access to its online services last Tuesday in reaction to the announcement, but that wasn't fast enough to stop attackers from stealing information, it said on its website.


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