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CO: Congress to review suspended Eagle-Net broadband project next week | Denver Post

CO: Congress to review suspended Eagle-Net broadband project next week | Denver Post | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Congressional lawmakers have scheduled a hearing for Wednesday to review the effectiveness of federal funding on broadband expansion, and a controversial Colorado project is expected to be part of the discussion.

 

Colorado's Republican delegation and rural carriers have criticized Eagle-Net Alliance, a quasi-governmental entity armed with a $100.6 million federal broadband grant, for building out its high-speed fiber-optic network in areas that already had connections while ignoring communities that are in dire need of bandwidth.

 

"That's going to be a big part of the hearing," a spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said Friday.

 

Gardner has been a  vocal critic of the project and is a member of the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee, which is holding the hearing, titled, "Is the Broadband Stimulus Working?"


Eagle-Net received its grant in September 2010 as part of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

 

The federal government suspended Eagle-Net's funds in December over environmental concerns related to its network roll-out. Eagle-Net appointed Mike Ryan as interim president in January after his predecessor, Randy Zila, stepped down for personal reasons.

 

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

That's the latest media question.

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

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

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

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


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My Insanely Long Field Guide To The War On CableCARD | Harold Feld | Tales of the Sausage Factory | Wetmachine.com

We often talk about the power of cable lobbying in the context of big proceedings like network neutrality. But where the real power comes, and where consumers routinely get screwed the most, happens off-screen. Because people hardly ever know what is happening, cable lobbyists play an outsized role in working their magic and making it legal to find new ways to screw over subscribers. Nothing illustrates this better than the fight over the Satellite Television Access and Viewers Rights Act (STAVRA).


As my Public Knowledge colleague John Bergmayer explains in this blog post, unless Congress passes STAVRA, a lot of satellite TV subscribers will lose access to some of their broadcast channels. Since Americans totally freak out if they cannot watch their favorite show, and channel this rage to their members of Congress, that makes STAVRA “must pass” legislation.

The cable industry lobbyists have managed to append this bill designed to protect consumers a little gift to themselves. Cable operators make over $1 billion a year on equipment rentals to subscribers. Section 203 of STAVRA eliminates the FCC rule (“the integration ban”) that makes it even vaguely possible at the moment for people to avoid these rip off rental fees and actually buy your own cable set top box (STB) or digital video recorder (DVR) using something called CableCARD.

From a policy wonk perspective, I have to say that Section 203 of STAVRA is a work of art. Unless you know what to look for, you will never find it by flipping through the bill. And unless you know the whole background on how the cable industry has frustrated the effort to get competition in the STB and cable device attachment business, you would never know how the cable arguments about how CableCARD doesn’t work are self-serving baloney. And, best of all, Section 203 contains a fake solution so members of Congress and the cable lobby can pretend this will make things better, rather than continue to screw consumers out of hundreds of millions of dollars in cable fees annually.

Hence the need for two insanely long posts. But since we are talking about consumer rip offs of over $1 billion a year, I kinda hope you will consider it worth reading. Here in Part I, I will give you everything you need to know about the history of how cable has ripped us off on equipment rental fees despite Congress passing two separate laws (here and here) to make it possible to actually own equipment and avoid this nonsense (which worked from 1992 until we went digital), what the heck the “integration ban” is, and why CableCARD — lame as it is — actually does make things mildly better and is picking up steam as a result of stuff the FCC did back in 2010.

In Part II, I will cover the current fight over the Section 203 of STAVRA, what makes Section 203 such an amazing work of art and how Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) is standing up for consumers on this. With help, Markey can actually flip this around and convert this from a gift to the cable industry to something that would genuinely help consumers by making the promise of stand alone STBs and other cable equipment real. But, at a minimum, Markey needs help getting the bad provision stripped from the bill so we can at least keep what we have and keep working to make it better.

Part I with all the background you need to understand Part II below. You can find Part II by clicking here.


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Facebook wants DEA to confirm it stopped using fake profiles impersonating others| Ms. Smith | NetworkWorld.com

Facebook wants DEA to confirm it stopped using fake profiles impersonating others| Ms. Smith | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Facebook wants to make sure the Drug Enforcement Administration does not create any more fake Facebook accounts and that it has stopped using any it has created, declaring, “The DEA’s deceptive actions violate the terms and policies that govern the use of the Facebook service and undermine trust in the Facebook community.”

In a letter to DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart, Facebook chief security officer Joe Sullivan added, "We regard DEA's conduct to be a knowing and serious breach of Facebook's terms and policies."

Facebook said it does not dispute Sondra Arquiett’s allegations that the DEA setup a fake Facebook account to impersonate her and posted photos of her that were seized from her cellphone. DEA agent Timothy Sinnigen used the fake profile to interact with “dangerous individuals he was investigating.” Arquiett is suing DEA agent Sinnigen and the government for “violating her privacy and placing her in danger;” she’s seeking $250,000 in damages.

The Justice Department defended the DEA’s actions, saying the federal agent had a right to impersonate Arquiett without her knowledge. “Defendants admit that Plaintiff did not give express permission for the use of photographs contained on her phone on an undercover Facebook page, but state the Plaintiff implicitly consented by granting access to the information stored in her cell phone and by consenting to the use of that information to aid in an ongoing criminal investigations [sic].”

Facebook disagrees, claiming it is “deeply troubled by the DEA’s claims and legal position.” Facebook’s Sullivan maintains the DEA’s actions “threaten the integrity” of Facebook’s “safe, trusted environment” where people use their real names and says impersonating others “abuses that trust.” It asked for confirmation that the DEA has ceased using Facebook to impersonate others and “taken all necessary steps to prevent further unauthorized use of Facebook by the DEA and its agents.”


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FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Local Broadband Choice | Coalition for Local Internet Choice

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Local Broadband Choice | Coalition for Local Internet Choice | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Amidst enormous applause and a final standing ovation, FCC Chairman Wheeler spoke to NATOA two weeks ago about the critical federal-local partnership that is essential for “all citizens” “to have access to robust broadband networks.”


CLIC revisits this important speech and Chairman Wheeler’s focus on Lafayette’s local broadband victory to demonstrate the inherent value in local communities being able to determine their own broadband futures. Wheeler stated:


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Wheeler: President and I Agree On Paid Prioritization | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

Wheeler: President and I Agree On Paid Prioritization | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said Friday that he and President Obama are in agreement on paid prioritization and not dividing the Internet into haves and have nots, and always have been.

The President said at an innovation forum in California Oct. 9 that he was opposed to paid prioritization, that tiered Internet service should not be allowed, and that he expected the FCC to insure that that did not happen.

Wheeler has proposed restoring network neutrality rules thrown out by the courts in a way that would allow for commercially reasonable discrimination, though he has since said that was a proposal and final rules had not been arrived at.

At a press conference following its public meeting Friday, Wheeler steered one question toward the President's statement so he could reiterate where the two were in agreement, "and always had been."

Asked about his contacts with the White House over net neutrality, Wheeler said that he had not had “personal communications” the President on the net neutrality rule revamp, but had kept the White House staff informed about the process, as he has Congressional staffers.

"There has been a lot of interpretation about what the President said, and I wanted to be clear that my position is unchanged."

He said he and the President agreed, and always had, about the importance of an open Internet--it was a campaign issue for the President in 2008--in creating the next Google or Facebook.

"The President said that he was opposed to paid prioritization, and when we rolled out the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking NPRM), I said: 'If prioritization hurts the virtuous circle, or is anti-competitive, or anti-consumer, or anti-innovative or degrades the network, it is dead on arrival."

That "if" could allow for the kind of commercially reasonable discrimination that lets life-saving telemedicine applications be prioritized, while not allowing favoring ones owned online video service over a competitor, or degrading a competitor's service.

"The President also said that, 'we're not creating two or three or four tiers of the Internet.' At the open meeting where we rolled out the NPRM, I said: 'The prospect of a gatekeeper choosing winners and losers is unacceptable.' And then a week or so later, when I was testifying before the Energy & Commerce Committee and I was asked a similar question, I said, quote: 'I don't think there should be haves and have nots."

"So, my position is unchanged, and I believe that on the important question of paid prioritization and opportunity that is created by an Open Internet, the President and I are in agreement and have always been."

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Edward Snowden’s Privacy Tips: “Get Rid Of Dropbox,” Avoid Facebook And Google | Anthony Ha | TechCrunch.com

Edward Snowden’s Privacy Tips: “Get Rid Of Dropbox,” Avoid Facebook And Google | Anthony Ha | TechCrunch.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

According to Edward Snowden, people who care about their privacy should stay away from popular consumer Internet services like Dropbox, Facebook, and Google.

Snowden conducted a remote interview today as part of the New Yorker Festival, where he was asked a couple of variants on the question of what we can do to protect our privacy.

His first answer called for a reform of government policies. Some people take the position that they “don’t have anything to hide,” but he argued that when you say that, “You’re inverting the model of responsibility for how rights work”:

When you say, ‘I have nothing to hide,’ you’re saying, ‘I don’t care about this right.’ You’re saying, ‘I don’t have this right, because I’ve got to the point where I have to justify it.’ The way rights work is, the government has to justify its intrusion into your rights.

He added that on an individual level, people should seek out encrypted tools and stop using services that are “hostile to privacy.” For one thing, he said you should “get rid of Dropbox,” because it doesn’t support encryption, and you should consider alternatives like SpiderOak. (Snowden made similar comments over the summer, with Dropbox responding that protecting users’ information is “a top priority.”)

[Update: In a June blog post related to Snowden, Dropbox actually says, "All files sent and retrieved from Dropbox are encrypted while traveling between you and our servers," as well as when they're "at rest on our servers," and it points to other security measures that the company is taking. The difference between Dropbox and SpiderOak, as explained elsewhere, is that SpiderOak encrypts the data while it's on your computer, as opposed to only encrypting it "in transit" and on the company's servers.]


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"He added that on an individual level, people should seek out encrypted tools and stop using services that are “hostile to privacy.” For one thing, he said you should “get rid of Dropbox,” because it doesn’t support encryption, and you should consider alternatives like SpiderOak. (Snowden made similar comments over the summer, with Dropbox responding that protecting users’ information is “a top priority.”)"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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


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


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Obama orders chip-and-PIN in government credit cards | Zach Miners | NetworkWorld.com

Obama orders chip-and-PIN in government credit cards | Zach Miners | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

President Barack Obama issued an executive order on Friday to have secure chip-and-PIN technology embedded into government-issued credit and debit cards as part of a broader move aimed at stemming payment data breaches.

Under the order, government-issued cards that transmit federal benefits such as Social Security will have microchips embedded instead of the usual magnetic strips, as well as associated PINs like those typically used for consumer debit cards. A replacement program for the cards is set to begin on Jan. 1 of next year, with the goal to have more than 1 million such cards issued by the end of the year, Obama said at the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to a press release.

The order comes following a spate of breaches of payment systems at major retailers including Home Depot, Kmart and Target, which have affected more than 100 million Americans over the past year, according to figures published by the White House.


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Whisper chief executive answers privacy revelations: 'We're not infallible' | Dominic Rushe & Paul Lewis | The Guardian

Whisper chief executive answers privacy revelations: 'We're not infallible' | Dominic Rushe & Paul Lewis | The Guardian | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The chief executive of the “anonymous” social media app Whisper broke his silence late on Saturday, saying he welcomed the debate sparked by Guardian US revelations about his company’s tracking of users and declaring “we realise that we’re not infallible”.

Michael Heyward’s statement was his first public response to a series of articles published in the Guardian which revealed how Whisper monitors the whereabouts of users of an app he has in the past described as “the safest place on the internet”.

Whisper hosts 2.6 million messages a day posted through its app, which promises users a place to “anonymously share your thoughts and secrets” and has billed itself as a platform for whistleblowers.

The Guardian’s disclosures, which were based on a visit to Whisper’s headquarters and detailed conversations with its executives, prompted privacy experts to call for a federal inquiry into the company.

Heyward, who stayed silent for more than 48 hours, came under intense pressure to respond to the controversy. His statement was posted on a blog late on Saturday.

Unlike other Whisper representatives, who have strongly denied the disclosures, Heyward did not dispute the accuracy of the Guardian’s reporting. But he insisted his company was founded on “honesty and transparency” and indicated Whisper would take firm action against employees who breach those values.

“Above all else, we always strive to do right by our users,” he said. “We have zero tolerance for any employee who violates that trust.”

Heyward expressed “dismay” that the Guardian, which had previously collaborated with Whisper on three small projects, “published a series of stories questioning our commitment to your privacy”.

“While we’re disappointed with the Guardian’s approach, we welcome the discussion,” Heyward said. “We realise that we’re not infallible, and that reasonable people can disagree about a new and quickly evolving area like online anonymity.”

In formal responses to the Guardian’s reports, Whisper had insisted it “does not follow or track users”. Heyward, however, said only that Whisper does not “actively” track users.

The 27-year-old CEO’s remarks contrast with those of his editor-in-chief, Neetzan Zimmerman, who mounted an offensive immediately after the reports were published, accusing Guardian journalists of fabricating quotes and denouncing the reports as “a pack of vicious lies”.


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TPP Leak Confirms Measures To Criminalize Corporate Whistleblowing | Glyn Moody | Techdirt.com

TPP Leak Confirms Measures To Criminalize Corporate Whistleblowing | Glyn Moody | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As Mike has reported, the core of the newly-leaked TPP chapter is about granting Big Pharma's wish-list, with other worrying stuff for the copyright industry's benefit thrown in for good measure. But hidden away in the chapter's 70+ pages there's something very different -- and very dangerous. Here's how the Australian newspaper The Age explains it:

The draft text provides that TPP countries will introduce criminal penalties for unauthorised access to, misappropriation or disclosure of trade secrets, defined as information that has commercial value because it is secret, by any person using a computer system.

That's clearly an incredibly broad definition of trade secret, and will allow a vast range of materials to enjoy this kind of protection. And by requiring criminal penalties, TPP aims to make that protection very serious indeed:

TPP countries may criminalise all such disclosures or, if they wish, limit criminal penalties to cases that involve "commercial advantage or financial gain"; are directed by or benefit "a foreign economic entity"; or are "detrimental to a [TPP] party's economic interests, international relations, or national defence or national security."

Notice that those are simply options: the default position is to criminalize everything. Moreover, even those "limited" cases could be applied very widely. Particularly troubling is the following aspect of the proposed text:


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Tech Giants Unfriending ALEC | Michael Brune | Truth-Out.org

Tech Giants Unfriending ALEC | Michael Brune | Truth-Out.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Exactly 54 days after Lisa B. Nelson started her job as the CEO of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), she got some bad news from a major supporter: The tech giant Google wanted out of its relationship with ALEC.

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said the relationship had been a “mistake.” Nelson fumed that Google’s abrupt “Dear John” note was like “breaking up via text with your girlfriend when you’re 16.”

So who or what is ALEC and why should anyone care about its relationships?

ALEC calls itself a nonpartisan organization that focuses on the principles of “limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual liberty.” Not quite.

Here’s a slightly more accurate description from The New York Times. It’s “a conservative-leaning group that has urged repeal of state renewable power standards and other pro-renewable policies.” ALEC has fought against efforts to address global warming all over the country.

After Schmidt left Nelson high and dry, she may have wanted to “unfriend” him on Facebook. But she couldn’t do that, because Facebook is breaking up with ALEC too. Maybe she could post a torn-up picture of her and Schmidt to Yahoo’s photo-sharing Flickr site? Nope, Yahoo’s also dumping ALEC.

How about leaving nasty comments about Google, Flickr, and Yahoo on the consumer review website Yelp? Sorry, Yelp already gave ALEC the thumbs down. And before she opens Outlook to send some “actually-I’m-the-one-who-broke-up-with-YOU” emails, she might recall that even Microsoft has pressed z to “undo” its relationship with ALEC.

What did ALEC do to scare off all its suitors? For starters, it tried to steal our democracy.


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