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Comcast Punishes BitTorrent Pirates With Browser Hijack | TorrentFreak

Comcast Punishes BitTorrent Pirates With Browser Hijack | TorrentFreak | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast revealed today how it will deal with customers who receive multiple warnings under the newly launched “six-strikes” anti-piracy system. After four alerts the ISP will “hijack” web-browsers of suspected serial pirates with a persistent pop-up notification, making it impossible to browse the Internet. The pop-up will disappear after the customer “resolves the issue” with a Customer Security Assurance professional.

 

Earlier this week when the six strikes system launched, little was known (officially) about the punishments ISPs were planning for persistent pirates.

 

Since then Verizon reinstated their copyright alerts section, revealing the mitigation measured that leaked last month. Today Comcast follows with a brief overview on how they will handle things.

 

In common with other ISPs, Comcast will start out with friendly alerts informing customers that their account has been used to share copyrighted material, accompanied with an email listing details on the alleged infringement. After four warnings, repeated offenders will then enter the “mitigation phase” during which their service will be interrupted.

 

Comcast has chosen a browser “hijack,” making it impossible for customers to browse the Internet, but without interrupting VOIP and other essential services.

 

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Meredith Attwell Baker To Head CTIA | Multichannel.com

Meredith Attwell Baker To Head CTIA | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Former FCC commissioner and current top NBCU D.C. exec Meredith Attwell Baker has been named president and CEO of CTIA-The Wireless Association. The appointment is effective June 2.

 

She will succeed Steve Largent,

announced he was retiring last October but has stayed on until a replacement was found.

 

Baker is no stranger to CTIA, having worked their earlier in her career.

 

“I plan to bring new ideas and new initiatives to the association that will take it from good to great. We will recruit and keep the best and brightest experts in spectrum and wireless communications,” Baker said in statement.

 

She is already charting her new course, including putting more emphasis on technical and engineering expertise, coming up with a five-year spectrum usage plan, and doing regular spectrum efficiency assessments.

 

Baker left the FCC in 2011 to become senior vice president of government affairs for Comcast-NBCUniversal. Before her two-year stint at the FCC, she was head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, where she helped oversee the converter box program during the DTV transition.

 

“I couldn’t be more pleased for and proud of Meredith as she takes on this exciting opportunity as the newly announced CEO of CTIA-The Wireless Association,” said Comcast executive vice president David Cohen, who heads up Comcast/NBCU’s Washington advocacy. “She has been a strong and effective leader of our NBCUniversal Washington team. We all wish her the very best.”

 

Comcast had no comment on who might replace Baker.

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New FCC Proposal on Net Neutrality is Disastrous for Startups, Consumers and the Economy | Engine.is

New FCC Proposal on Net Neutrality is Disastrous for Startups, Consumers and the Economy | Engine.is | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

“According to recent news reports, the Commission is considering adopting a rule that authorizes discrimination by ISPs and permits them to charge terminating access fees to technology companies. We believe such a rule, if adopted, would crush startups,and therefore undermine American technology entrepreneurship, innovation, and job creation.”


This is the first paragraph of comments we filed with the FCC today. The FCC’s widely reported net neutrality proposal authorizes web-content discrimination by enabling companies to pay Internet Service Providers for access to a faster lane, whole relegating those without the ability to pay to the slow lane.


This proposal marks a significant departure from the principle of Net Neutrality, which grants all content providers the equal ability to provide their offerings to consumers, and gives Internet users the equal ability to see any content they choose.


This proposal would place an incredible burden on small, high-growth companies. In so many ways, the deck is already stacked in favor or larger, well-funded business, and this is yet another barrier to entry. This framework will unequivocally empower the companies that can pay, as the expense of the next generation of disrupters.


As Fred Wilson pointed out back in January, in this new world order “telcos will pick their preferred partners, subsidize the data costs for those apps, and make it much harder for new entrants to compete with the incumbents.”


The innovation ecosystem — so essential to job creation and economic growth — benefits from low costs of innovation, not an environment where multiple ISPs can impose above-cost, unconstrained access fees on startups. Entrepreneurs rely on an open internet to build their companies, and investors rely on the certainty of an open internet to invest billions of dollars in edge providers to power the innovation ecosystem.


Startups rely on not being blocked, discriminated against, or subject to fees for access and preference. If some or all ISPs block a startup, the startup would be unable to reach a portion of users in the market. This is a particular problem for startups whose products rely on network effects — those that become more valuable with more users — such as social networks, e-commerce platforms connecting buyers and sellers (or drivers and riders), sites for user-generated content (including reviews, photos, or micro-blogs), and payment networks. If blocked by some ISPs, these companies will be less likely to win in the market, even if consumers would otherwise prefer their services.


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Telecom Musical Chairs: Regulators And Lobbyists Swap Roles, Everyone Wins! Except The Public! | Techdirt.com

Telecom Musical Chairs: Regulators And Lobbyists Swap Roles, Everyone Wins! Except The Public! | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

We've talked plenty about the big revolving door between government and big business lately, but there are still some moments that are purely insane that show just how broken the system is. On Wednesday, news broke that former FCC commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker has been named the new CEO of CTIA, the main lobbying organization for mobile phone operators. Baker is no stranger to questionable revolving door moves, seeing as just months after she voted to approve Comcast's merger with NBC Universal, she took a top lobbying job with Comcast. Funny how that works.

But, in this case, it's even more ridiculous because, as Jon Brodkin points out, the current head of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, previously was CEO of CTIA as well. And prior to that he was CEO of NCTA (the cable industry's main lobbying group). And, to top it off, the current head of CTIA is none other than former FCC chair Michael Powell.

If you're keeping score at home, it looks like this:


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FCC Proposal for a Payola Internet Would End Net Neutrality | FreePress.net

FCC Proposal for a Payola Internet Would End Net Neutrality | FreePress.net | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Wall Street Journal reports that Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler will on Thursday propose a new set of rules issued in response to a January federal court decision that tossed out the agency's prior Open Internet rules.


The new rules would allow Internet service providers to charge an extra fee to content companies for preferential treatment, guaranteeing their content reaches end users ahead of those that do not pay. The rules are now circulating among the FCC commissioners and are expected to be be voted on at the next FCC public meeting on May 15.


Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron made the following statement:


"With this proposal, the FCC is aiding and abetting the largest ISPs in their efforts to destroy the open Internet. Giving ISPs the green light to implement pay-for-priority schemes will be a disaster for startups, nonprofits and everyday Internet users who cannot afford these unnecessary tolls. These users will all be pushed onto the Internet dirt road, while deep pocketed Internet companies enjoy the benefits of the newly created fast lanes.


"This is not Net Neutrality. It's an insult to those who care about preserving the open Internet to pretend otherwise. The FCC had an opportunity to reverse its failures and pursue real Net Neutrality by reclassifying broadband under the law. Instead, in a moment of political cowardice and extreme shortsightedness, it has chosen this convoluted path that won't protect Internet users.


"This approach is almost certain to be rejected by the courts. Contrary to statements by Chairman Wheeler, the court did not invite the FCC to pursue this path. The court clearly told the FCC that if it wishes to ensure Internet users can send and receive information free from ISP interference, then the FCC has to classify ISPs as telecom carriers under Title II of the Communications Act.


"The FCC apparently doesn't realize the dangerous incentives these rules would create. The routing of data on the Internet is a zero-sum game. Unless there is continual congestion, no website would pay for priority treatment. This means the FCC's proposed rules will actually produce a strong incentive for ISPs to create congestion through artificial scarcity. Not only would this outcome run counter to the FCC's broader goals, it actually undermines the so-called Section 706 legal basis for these rules.


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GovTech Reports on Broadband Legislation in Five States | community broadband networks

GovTech Reports on Broadband Legislation in Five States | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Broadband is a topic of interest in several state legislative chambers this session. In a recent Government Technology article, Brian Heaton focused on five states where community broadband is particularly contentious. In some cases, legislators want to expand opportunities while others seek to limit local authority.


We introduced you to the Kansas anti-competition bill in January. The bill was pulled back this year but could be back next year. When the business community learned about the potential effects of SB 304, they expressed their dismay. From the article:


Eleven companies and trade organizations – including Google – signed a letter opposing SB 304 as a “job-killer” that restricts communications services expansion in the U.S.


Minnesota's leaders introduced legislation to expand broadband. Efforts include financial investment earmarked for infrastructure:


Senate File 2056 – referred to as the Border-to-Border Infrastructure Program – would take $100 million from the state's general fund to be applied to broadband projects. A companion bill in the House, HF 2615 was also introduced.


As we reported, there is bipartisan support for the bill in the House, but the Senate and Governor have not prioritized SF 2056.


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TN: AT&T eyes Clarksville, other cities for 'ultra-fast' network | Clarksville Leaf Chronicle

TN: AT&T eyes Clarksville, other cities for 'ultra-fast' network | Clarksville Leaf Chronicle | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

AT&T has announced an initiative to expand its “ultra-fast” fiber network to up to 100 candidate cities and municipalities nationwide, including 21 new major metropolitan areas. Clarksville is among the cities on the planned network expansion.


The fiber network will deliver AT&T U-verse with GigaPowerSM service, which can deliver broadband speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second and AT&T’s most advanced TV services, to consumers and businesses, said a news release.


“AT&T looks forward to continuing our long history of working with Clarksville’s leaders to deliver the latest technologies to our community,” said AT&T Tennessee State President Joelle Phillips, in prepared comments. “Clarksville is already such a vibrant place, and I’m excited about the potential of consumers using AT&T U-verse with GigaPower to do more of what they already do so well – more healthcare innovation, more advances in education, and much more."


AT&T announced plans to begin talks with municipalities in at least 21 new major metropolitan areas to bring AT&T U-verse with GigaPower, a fiber network that will deliver broadband speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second and U-verse TV. “We’re already successfully selling the service in and around Austin, Texas, we recently announced plans to bring Gigabit speeds to Dallas, and are in advanced talks in several North Carolina communities,” Phillips said.


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GA: Broadband network proved itslf during ice storm | News-Times.com

February’s ice storm was a brutal attack on the communications and utility services in Columbia County, GA.


Power went out to most of the county. Lots of land phone lines froze or were knocked down by falling trees. Cellphone service was spotty and unreliable.


One service never failed or faltered – the county’s Broadband Utility network.


“It’s geared for public safety,” said Lewis Foster, Broadband Utility manager. “Our entire network is underground.”


The network, which went live last fall, comprises 220 miles of buried fiber-optic cable and seven wireless communication towers. A federal $13.5 million grant paid for most of the $18 million network.


The broadband network is leased partially by communications companies, some of which experienced outages from other ice storm factors. But all county departments and facilities are connected to the network, which provided a reliable Internet and phone connection during times when other communications methods didn’t.


The network also supports the digital radio system used by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and other county departments including Emergency and Operations, Roads and Bridges and Fleet Services. It is also the radio system that 911 dispatchers use to communicate with deputies, fire officials and other emergency response resources.


“Where we are fortunate is that other county agencies got on board with it too,” said sheriff’s Lt. John Sherman, who oversees the E-911 Communications Center. “We have inter-connectivity. That’s huge.”


During the storm when even land phone lines into the dispatch center went down, the radios system, supported through the broadband system, never failed and allowed constant communication among those who needed it.


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Activists want net neutrality, NSA spying debated at Brazil Internet conference | NetworkWorld.com

Activists want net neutrality, NSA spying debated at Brazil Internet conference | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A campaign on the Internet is objecting to the exclusion of issues like net neutrality, the cyberweapons arms race and surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency from the discussion paper of an Internet governance conference this week in Sao Paulo, Brazil.


A significant section of the participants are also looking for concrete measures and decisions at the conference rather than yet another statement of principles.


The proposed text "lacks any strength," does not mention NSA's mass surveillance or the active participation of Internet companies, and fails to propose any concrete action, according to the campaign called Our Net Mundial.


Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked information about the surveillance programs of the U.S., which allegedly included real time access to content on servers of Internet companies like Facebook and Google.


The Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance, also called NETmundial, released Thursday a document to guide the discussions starting Wednesday among the representatives from more than 80 countries .


An earlier document leaked by whistle-blower site WikiLeaks proposed international agreements for restraining cyber weapons development and deployment and called for the Internet to remain neutral and free from discrimination. WikiLeaks said the document was prepared for approval by a high-level committee.


Dilma Rousseff, the president of host country Brazil, has been a sharp critic of surveillance by the U.S. after reports that her communications were being spied on by the NSA.


Though the Brazil discussion document does not directly mention NSA surveillance, it refers to the freedom of expression, information and privacy, including avoiding arbitrary or unlawful collection of personal data and surveillance.


The meeting's call for universal principles partly reflects a desire for interstate agreements that can prevent rights violations such as the NSA surveillance, wrote Internet governance experts Milton Mueller and Ben Wagner in a paper. The Tunis Agenda of the World Summit on the Information Society also called for globally applicable public policy principles for Internet governance.


"But there have been so many Internet principles released in recent years that it is hard to see what the Brazil conference could add," Mueller and Wagner wrote.


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India Wants To Take On 'US Hegemony' Over The Internet... By Renaming It The Equinet | Techdirt.com

India Wants To Take On 'US Hegemony' Over The Internet... By Renaming It The Equinet | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The battle for countries wishing to take control over internet governance (either to increase control and censorship or to "reward" local state-owned telcos) didn't end with the whole WCIT debacle a year and a half ago. It's an ongoing process. This week is NETmundial, or the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Governance, and the usual countries are making the usual noise about changing how internet governance works. There will be lots of talk about how meaningful these discussions will be, or if they'll just be a "farce" to enable authoritarian governments more control. Either way, there are some important proposals and discussions happening at the event.

And some nutty ones.

Take, for example, India's proposal that we rename the internet as the Equinet as a way to "challenge US hegemony." Because that will do it.


In a major diplomatic initiative, India is all set to challenge the U.S.’ hegemony of the World Wide Web at a global meet on Internet governance in Sao Paulo (Brazil) next week. India has decided to propose renaming of Internet as ‘Equinet’ so that all nations can have equal say in its operations, besides calling for “internationalisation” of core Internet resources.


Of course, the naming bit is the smokescreen attention-grabber for the other point. Setting up so that "all nations" (note: not all people) can have a say in the operations of the internet is a specific attack on the so-called "multistakeholder" model that is currently in place, in which it's not government entities making these decisions, but a broad group of folks from different backgrounds and specialties (including, many technical experts). Hand the internet over to "governments" and you have a recipe for disaster. If you want more evidence of how troubling this is, look at who India is "aligning itself" with in this proposal:


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5 States to Watch in the Community Broadband Fight | GovTech.com

5 States to Watch in the Community Broadband Fight | GovTech.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The battle between local governments and telecommunications providers over the right to establish community broadband networks heated up over the last several months, as a number of bills were introduced that could have significant impact on municipalities in five states.


Kansas, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Utah and Tennessee were all in the spotlight earlier this year regarding everything from de-facto bans on community networks to funding and development issues. Some of the bills were pulled off the table, while others have continued through their respective states’ legislative processes.


Government Technology took a closer look at the broadband concerns in those states and what public-sector technologists should keep tabs on moving forward.


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USA world rankings: #1 for sending spam, #8 for Netflix streaming speeds | Ms. Smith Blog | NetworkWorld.com

USA world rankings: #1 for sending spam, #8 for Netflix streaming speeds | Ms. Smith Blog | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The U.S. is top dog when it comes to sending spam, but when it comes to streaming Netflix, the U.S. comes in as the eighth fastest nation.


When Sophos named its spam-relaying "Dirty Dozen" for the first quarter of 2014, it pointed out, "Remember that if your country is on the list, we're not implying that you and your fellow countrymen are spam kings." Instead, it implies the countries on the list have botnet-infected PCs spewing spam on behalf of the real cybercrooks. The worst spam-relaying nations are the United States in the "countries by volume" category and Belarus for "countries by population."


The US is spewing 16% of all spam, followed by Spain, Russia, Italy, China, Germany, Japan, France, Argentina, South Korea, Ukraine, and India.


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FCC Chairman Wheeler Circulates Incentive Auction Item | Multichannel.com

FCC Chairman Wheeler Circulates Incentive Auction Item | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is indeed planning to vote on a broadcast incentive auction rule framework at the May 15 meeting, according to senior officials at the Federal Communications Commission, speaking to reporters on background.

 

The auction will include what they said was high first offers for broadcast spectrum, but that the auction would be entirely voluntary.


Wheeler circulated the draft to the other commissioners Thursday (April 17). In a blog posting he reiterated that, for broadcasters, the auction would be "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an infusion of cash to expand their business model and explore new innovations, while continuing to provide their traditional services to consumers. We will ensure that broadcasters have all of the information they need to make informed business decisions about whether and how to participate."

 

The officials outlined the band-plan framework to be voted on, though making clear it was a draft that could be changed in negotiations with the other commissioners.

 

The officials emphasized that the goal of the auction was to free up spectrum for wireless, but that it would have to balance that goal with the other goal of giving broadcasters a one-time-only financial boost and preserving the service for those who want to stay in the broadcast business.


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Why many tech firms end up in the virtual trash heap | J.J. Rosen Blog | The Tennessean

Why many tech firms end up in the virtual trash heap | J.J. Rosen Blog | The Tennessean | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The quest for certainty in an inherently unpredictable world is often a wild ride.


The airwaves are filled with people confidently predicting everything from the weather, to the stock market, to who will win a football game. Professional prognosticators are paid big money to provide us with assertive (but often inaccurate) predictions about the future.


I was recently asked by a friend if I could suggest any favorite tech stocks to consider in planning his retirement portfolio. Predictability in the tech world is notoriously elusive. Nevertheless, I started doing research in hopes of finding a few solid tech stocks that even a non-techie investor such as Warren Buffett might find attractive.


I started my quest by thinking about what companies are likely to do well. Knowing that today’s environment is increasingly mobile and cloud-centric, I limited my list to the firms that are capitalizing on these trends and that also have strong brand names, notable market dominance and large “economic moats” (the safety that Buffet likes). I figured for a retirement account, it would be the big players with huge revenues (Google, Apple, IBM, Microsoft etc.) that would provide some safety while also having a strong upside.


As I was about to click send on my email list of suggestions, I had a sudden flashback that caused me to pause and back away from my computer ... “WordPerfect.”


Anyone born before 1980 may remember Satellite Systems International’s WordPerfect word processor as one of the most popular and market dominant software applications in the world. Nearly everyone used WordPerfect.


But as Microsoft released Windows and began to own the desktop, WordPerfect swiftly was pushed away and now barely exists.


Remember brand names such as Lotus 1-2-3, Novell Netware, Atari and Netscape? At one time, all of these products enjoyed extremely high market share, but then vanished quickly into the “where are they now” file.


The takeaway? Technology companies, perhaps more than any other industry, are fragile. What is popular today can be obsolete by tomorrow.


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How the revolving door lets Hollywood shape Obama's trade agenda | Vox.com

How the revolving door lets Hollywood shape Obama's trade agenda | Vox.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The revolving door between industry groups and the Obama administration's trade shop has been busy lately. Earlier this month, we learned that assistant US Trade Representative Stan McCoy has accepted a new job with the Motion Picture Association of Europe, Middle East, and Africa, a Hollywood lobbying group.


The announcement came a few weeks after the Obama administration announced it was naming a former software industry lobbyist to be deputy U.S. trade representative.


These personnel moves are the latest examples of what critics say is a disturbingly cozy relationship between the agency and industry groups that favor stronger copyright and patent protections.


The Office of the United States Trade Representative represents the United States in international trade negotiations. These agreements invariably include language on copyright and patent law, and the agency's stance on these issues has been curiously one-sided.


For example, US trade negotiators have been pushing to require all countries to extend copyright terms. It also wants to prohibit generic drug makers from using safety and efficacy data that was previously produced by a brand-name drug maker. It's obvious how these policies benefit Hollywood and the pharmaceutical industry, respectively. It's hard to see how either policy benefits Americans more broadly.


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AT&T consumer wireline revenue up 4.3% to $5.7B on strong U-verse video, broadband adds | FierceTelecom.com

AT&T consumer wireline revenue up 4.3% to $5.7B on strong U-verse video, broadband adds | FierceTelecom.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it


AT&T's consumer wireline segment continues to be driven by U-verse growth and the first quarter of 2014 was no exception, with revenues growing 28.3 percent year-over-year to $3.5 billion.


John Stephens, senior executive vice president and CFO for AT&T, said during the first-quarter earnings call that "we transformed our wireline business from legacy services, such as DSL to IP networks and IP services," adding that "this transformation helped drive our strongest consumer wireline growth in years." 


However, there were some losses. Overall wireline revenues declined 0.4 percent year-over-year to $14.6 billion, but wireline service revenues rose 0.1 percent year-over-year.

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Broadband gaps in rural Wisconsin hinder growth, experts say | WI State Journal

Broadband gaps in rural Wisconsin hinder growth, experts say | WI State Journal | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Jill Hietpas’ experience of navigating Green Lake County on Monday morning offered an apt, and timely, illustration of why broadband connectivity is vital in rural areas.


Hietpas, a University of Wisconsin-Extension broadband educator, was scheduled to speak at the monthly meeting of the Intercounty Coordinating Committee, a consortium of county officials from Columbia, Dodge, Green Lake, Jefferson, Marquette and Sauk counties.


ICC was scheduled to meet at the Green Lake County Government Center, so Hietpas tried to use her smart phone to find her way there. But when entered the address, she got an unwanted message: “No service.”


Andy Lewis, UW-Extension broadband and economic development specialist, said the challenge of broadband connectivity in rural areas has been compared to the challenge of rural electrification 80 years ago, when electric companies were reluctant to connect farms, ranches and other remote areas to electric service because of the cost of serving areas of sparse population.


That comparison is apt up to a point, Lewis said.


But while the advent of federal rural electrification efforts meant that remote areas were, once and for all, electrified, the need for speed of Internet service is expected keep increasing -- and the gap between the download speeds that are needed, and what is actually available or affordable, continues to widen in rural areas, Lewis said.


“If you can’t participate in online activity,” he asked, “how can you advance your state and local economy?”


Jack Meyers, chairman of the Green Lake County Board of Supervisors, said he could easily explain to Hietpas why her effort to navigate Green Lake County was thwarted by a gap in mobile broadband service.


“We have an extensive Amish population,” he said. “They wouldn’t use it.”

Lewis said he hears that a lot in Wisconsin -- that some areas are so sparsely populated, or their people are so reluctant to embrace technology, that broadband service is not needed.


He begs to differ.


Some of the uses of broadband connectivity that Lewis said are vital to an area’s economy, and which rural areas need to stay economically viable, are:


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As AT&T and Google push broadband adoption, the feds are non-players | ComputerWorld.com

As AT&T and Google push broadband adoption, the feds are non-players | ComputerWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

AT&T's announcement Monday that it's eyeing a rollout of 1 gigabit fiber-optic service in 21 new cities pits it against Google Fiber, which named 34 cities for possible expansion of a similar fiber optic service back in February.


Both Google and AT&T clearly see the economic incentives of bringing video and other new Web services to a wider audience over 1 Gbps connections.


Both companies also seem to want to use their fiber-optic programs to help bridge the nation's digital divide and to bring free, or nearly-free, broadband service to underserved low-income homes for those who want it.


The question remains whether their private efforts and other programs from an assortment of cable companies like Cox, Comcast, Time Warner and carriers such as Verizon and Sprint are enough to improve the number of homes in the U.S. on broadband without a big infusion of government money.


About 28% of U.S. homes still don't have broadband service, which is defined by federal officials as download speeds of least 4 Mbps.


Many experts believe that most of the 28% of non-broadband homes are in rural areas, where it's hard to run a reliable, secure fiber connection over a long distance. But even the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) hasn't broken out how many of the 28% total are in poorer city neighborhoods or out in rural areas in its recent data. There is, however, a sophisticated interactive national broadband map on the NTIA website that allows a user to check an address to see how connected a particular community is.


Recognizing that there are various reasons why some people don't have broadband, Google Fiber has embarked on a path in the Kansas City area since 2012 that supplements its 1 Gbps service with free service for residents. To receive 5 Mbps download speeds, however, each subscriber must pay $300 up front for each installation; the payment can be spread out in $25 increments over a year.


Google spokeswoman Jenna Wandres called the free service plan "incredibly popular," but wouldn't divulge how many people have signed up for it in Kansas City. In another Google Fiber city -- Provo, Utah -- Google Fiber is charging just $30 for an installation for the free service. The lower cost there is possible because Google acquired an existing network, which lowered the construction fee, she said.


Even though Google and AT&T are for-profit companies, they seem to recognize advantages in working with local governments and nonprofits to provide lower broadband access as they build out the supercharged 1 gigabit services.


"From the beginning, Google Fiber has been about speed and enabling the developer of the next generation of Web applications, but our work to deploy high-speed broadband also means that we have an opportunity to offer an affordable Internet service and be a part of local efforts to close the digital divide," Wandres said.


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NJ: Regulators approve settlement with Verizon over broadband rollout | NorthJersey.com

Citing what it called misunderstandings and misinformation about Verizon's 1993 promise to roll out high speed Internet service statewide, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Wednesday unanimously approved a controversial settlement that critics claim reduces some of the commitments that the telecom company made 21 years ago.


BPU President Dianne Solomon said that there was "clearly confusion" over Newark-based Verizon's original broadband obligations, with the board saying that the company was never required to deliver broadband via fiber.


The agency and its staff said that the settlement will avoid potentially years of litigation over Verizon's broadband agreement, called Opportunity New Jersey, and how rural areas in the southern part of the state will be serviced.


"Verizon is getting a free pass," said Gregory Facemeyer, a member of the Hopewell Township Committee, a town without wired broadband service.


Anthony Centrella, director of the BPU's Division of Telecommunications, said before the vote that of the more than 2,800 comments the agency received on the issue, more than 98 percent were from individuals, and 95 percent of those were form letters. About 63 percent of the individual comments were opposed to the settlement, he said at the BPU's packed monthly meeting.


Centrella described what he called a "mass misunderstanding" of some of the requirements made of Verizon under the ONJ agreement, which aimed to speed the deployment of high-speed Internet service throughout the telecom firm's service area.


The board agreed with Centrella's comments that the agreement didn't require Verizon to deploy fiber-optic lines, or its FiOS TV service, throughout the state in order to fulfill its broadband commitments.


Centrella also said that he agreed with arguments made by Verizon in its comments to the BPU, that the 1993 agreement permitted the telcom to fulfill its broadband obligations through technologies that would later evolve. One of those is wireless phone service, Centrella said.


Under one of the settlements most-debated clauses, Verizon will be permitted to substitute high-speed wireless service, so-called 4G, instead of delivering broadband service over copper or fiber-optic lines, in some areas.


Centrella also denied a claim by Verizon's critics that the company had levied a surcharge for more than two decades on customers that helped pay for its deployment of broadband.


In 2012 the BPU found that that Verizon had not kept the commitment it made in 1993, when it was known as New Jersey Bell. To resolve the court action that the BPU had filed against Verizon two years ago, the agency and the telecom firm worked out a settlement, a so-called stipulation, regarding the company's broadband obligations.


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Putin's 'Clapper' Moment: What He Said Vs. What Russian Intelligence Actually Does | Techdirt.com

Putin's 'Clapper' Moment: What He Said Vs. What Russian Intelligence Actually Does | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Snowden's puzzling single-question Q&A with Russian president Vladimir Putin on the topic of domestic surveillance prompted many to believe this was an indication that he was, at the very least, under control of Russian intelligence, if not actually acting in concert with it. Putin took the apparent softball and lined it right down the middle, responding with a series of statements and denials that made Russia appear to be the antithesis of the US government: tightly controlled intelligence built on respect for its citizens' privacy.

As Snowden later clarified, he was pulling a Wyden -- crafting a question about the mass collection and storage of communications that would either result in transparency or an easily-disproven denial. Putin delivered the latter.


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TN: Digital divide: Just an hour from Gig City, rural residents live in broadband desert | TimesFreePress.com

TN: Digital divide: Just an hour from Gig City, rural residents live in broadband desert | TimesFreePress.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Jed Arthur was at his wits' end.


He lives on a remote road in Polk County, Tenn., and runs a successful tire business, Jed's Wholesale Tires, out of a warehouse just 300 yards from his house. His son and daughter-in-law live next door. He's fourth, maybe fifth generation Polk County, named after "The Beverly Hillbillies" character and proud of it. (No one ever forgets his name once he tells them that, he said.)


He and his nine employees have been selling tires since 1990, peddling on Amazon, eBay and the company's own websites. At least 50 percent of Arthur's business comes directly from online -- but for years, Arthur ran the business on a measly 1.5 megabits-per-second Internet line, and dished out $800 a month for it.


With seven computers plugged into that line, it took three minutes just to upload a photo. Sometimes, Arthur would start an upgrade at 6 p.m. and it still wouldn't be done at 8 a.m. the next day. His employees were wasting valuable time.


But Arthur couldn't figure out a way to get faster Internet. None of the big commercial carriers ran fiber-optic lines all the way out to Jed's Wholesale Tires. He tried using mobile broadband -- the 4G connection used on most smart phones -- but kept exceeding data limits. He tried satellite Internet and ran into the same problem.


"They either don't have fast-enough speeds or they bottleneck you," he said. "We had tried and tried and tried, and finally I just about gave up."


He'd have to move the business to somewhere with faster Internet speeds, he decided. By the end of last year, Arthur had scoped two possible locations in Cleveland, Tenn.


"I walk to work every morning, and I love that," he said. "But business is business."


Arthur lives just an hour's drive from Chattanooga -- just an hour's drive from the Gig City, where gigabit-per-second Internet sells for $69.99 a month and entrepreneurs have trouble figuring out how to use all that bandwidth. He's an hour's drive from speeds about 1,000 times faster than his $800 megabit-and-a-half line.


In the shadow of the gig, there are hundreds of people -- nearly all in rural areas -- who can't access even basic broadband Internet. (That's defined by the Federal Communications Commission as 1 mbps upload and 4 mbps download speeds -- still more than 200 times slower than Chattanooga's gig, but adequate for most common Internet uses on one device.)


"It is a tale of two districts," said Corey Johns, executive director of Connected Tennessee, a statewide organization that tracks and works to improve broadband coverage in Tennessee.


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Hundreds of medical professionals targeted in multi-state tax scam | NetworkWorld.com

Hundreds of medical professionals targeted in multi-state tax scam | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Medical professionals in ten states have become victims of identity theft, after someone used their personal information, including Social Security Number, to file fraudulent tax returns.


In a majority of the cases, the victims were made aware of the situation after they attempted to submit their federal returns electronically, only to be told that someone had already filed them.


The scam includes fraudulent returns at both the federal and state level, targeting various medical professionals, including nurses, physicians, dentists, and oral surgeons. So far, victims in Indiana, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Iowa, North Carolina, Colorado, Connecticut, and Vermont have come forward. Moreover, similar reports of fraudulent returns have surfaced in Puerto Rico as well.


In Indiana, the state's medical association (ISMA) issued an alert to healthcare professionals, warning them of the scam and encouraging victims to come forward. In addition to the warning, the ISMA also said that the Indiana Department of Revenue (DOR) is investigating the situation.


In all, more than 100 professionals have come forward, reporting a fraudulent tax return at either the state or federal level. Some have reported both. In a statement, Julie Reed, ISMA general counsel, recalled her conversations with the DOR investigation unit.


"The DOR is viewing this as a large problem and officials are very concerned. While their investigation has not yet identified the source of the presumed breach, they are tracking all the cases, looking for patterns, and actively investigating and pursing leads."


Chuck Taylor, of the Indiana Attorney General's Identify Theft Unit, said that his office is actively investigating complains, but added that they've yet to identify a common source of compromise.


Investigators are also unsure as to how the medical professional's information was obtained. While the possibility of a data breach hasn't been ruled out, evidence of such a security incident hasn't surfaced.


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AT&T explores expansion of super-fast Internet | US News & World Report

AT&T explores expansion of super-fast Internet | US News & World Report | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

AT&T plans a major expansion of super-fast Internet services to cover as many as 100 municipalities in 25 metropolitan areas.


The service, called GigaPower, has a 1 gigabit per second speed that is about 100 times what U.S. consumers typically get with broadband. That means faster video downloads and the ability for more devices to connect to the network without congestion.


AT&T currently has such speeds in Austin, Texas, and has committed to offer the service in Dallas. The company is also in advanced talks to bring GigaPower to two additional markets, Raleigh-Durham and Winston-Salem, N.C.


A rival offering from Google Inc., known as Google Fiber, is available in Kansas City and is coming soon to Austin and Provo, Utah. Smaller companies and public utilities offer or plan such speeds in a handful of other markets throughout the U.S.


AT&T Inc. said Monday that the specific number of markets beyond its initial four will depend on discussions with local officials and assessments of potential demand. The company said it may start building some of the new networks by the end of the year.


None of the new markets are in the Northeast because AT&T doesn't have landline operations there. Verizon serves much of that area and has been offering its own fiber-optics service, FiOS, though its top speed is at half of what AT&T is planning.


Verizon said that although it hasn't seen widespread demand for a 1 gigabit service yet, the rival offerings are indicative of growing demand for super-fast Internet.


Such speeds are common in parts of Asia and Northern Europe, but they are not as prevalent in the U.S., where some rural households are still stuck on extremely slow dial-up services. Internet providers have been reluctant to spend the billions of dollars needed to extend fiber-optic cables into each and every home. The companies have been largely content to use existing, but slower cable TV lines.


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Portland’s being a pushover to snag Google Fiber | Seattle Times

Portland’s being a pushover to snag Google Fiber | Seattle Times | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As Seattle tries to figure out how to improve its broadband situation, it ought to keep an eye on its sister to the south.


Portland is getting hot and heavy with Google, which may bring its fast fiber broadband service to the Rose City as early as 2015.


Last week, Portland reached a preliminary franchise agreement with the online giant and will begin public deliberations on the deal in May, according to The Oregonian.


Google announced in February that it plans to bring its fast-fiber broadband and cable-TV service to Portland and five surrounding cities.


But first Portland and the neighboring cities must sort through the same neighborhood issues that Seattle now faces with CenturyLink and other broadband providers demanding special treatment and more access to public property.


Google may be an exciting newcomer to the telecom business but in its dealings with cities, it acts like a crusty old player in the industry.

In Portland, Google is twisting arms by offering its fast broadband in return for city handouts, just as CenturyLink is doing in Seattle.


Google doesn’t want to abide by current restrictions on the placement of metal utility cabinets on parking strips in front of people’s homes, according to Oregonian reports.


That’s not all. Google is going further and requesting that Portland give the company swaths of public property to place garage-size “network huts” — with a 12- by 28-foot base — to support its project.


Companies starting up a new venture generally have to find and rent private property. Google could afford to do the same; it’s now making more than $1 billion a month in profit. The day after reaching the deal in Portland, it reported a net income of $3.45 billion the previous quarter. It also appears to have a limitless budget for building amenities at its glorious offices.


Yet Google expects cities to basically hand over public property for its fledgling broadband and cable-TV business.


Cities are pushovers when it comes to broadband. The way politicians talk about it, you’d think their constituents were stuck in the dark ages and broadband was as important as the fire department.


Whether it’s a crisis is debatable. But a crisis mentality is what’s used to justify extraordinary measures, like giving Google, CenturyLink and others what they want.


If there really is a crisis, and broadband has become a critical service on par with water and electricity, cities should consider providing the service directly as a public utility.


Perhaps it’s also time for the federal government to classify broadband as an essential public service that must be available to everyone.


After phone lines were deemed an essential service, the government required companies to provide “universal service” so everyone was served.


Broadband was exempted from universal service requirements, support for which has eroded since telecom deregulation took hold in 1996.


With telecom companies in the driver’s seat, and elected officials begging them for a ride, universal service seems off the table. It’s treated as a dusty, antiquated concept that will impede progress and the arrival of sexy new products like Google Fiber.


Google Fiber is appealing and has plenty of cheerleaders on social media and at City Hall.


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Microsoft takes Iowa from corn to .com | NetworkWorld.com

Microsoft takes Iowa from corn to .com | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Star Trek fans know that Capt. James T. Kirk will eventually be born in Iowa. So, in one respect, this state already has a notable tech reputation.


Now, it has another.


Microsoft is building some 1.16 million square feet of new data center space, Iowa officials said Friday. This is Microsoft's second data center in West Des Moines.


Microsoft's other data center, which is being expanded, is now at about 300,000 square feet, said Clyde Evans, West Des Moines' director of community and economic development. It's also about 7 miles away from the planned facility.


State officials put Microsoft's total investment in their state at more than $2 billion. It will also cement Iowa's reputation as a data center hub state.


The primary reason Microsoft and others including Google and Facebook are interested in Iowa, said Evans, is that the state sits atop some major transcontinental fiber routes. It also has low electric power rates, which for a large user, may be 3 cents to 4 cents per kWh.


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Time Warner Cable bets big on easy and secure Wi-Fi, rolling out Hotspot 2.0 networkwide | GigaOM Tech News

Time Warner Cable bets big on easy and secure Wi-Fi, rolling out Hotspot 2.0 networkwide | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Time Warner Cable has turned on the Hotspot 2.0 capabilities across its public Wi-Fi network, letting customers with newer smartphones or tablets connect to its 33,000-node wireless network without entering passwords or dealing with login screens. Time Warner VP of Wireless Products Rob Cerbone confirmed to Gigaom that it has upgraded the majority network with Hotspot 2.0 software, and its broadband customers have been connecting to it since the end of March.


Hotspot 2.0 is a technology designed to make public Wi-Fi work like cellular networks by automatically recognizing and connecting devices that have permission to access any given access point. Typically consumers trying an ISP or carrier’s Wi-Fi network have to go through a login portal on their web browsers or download special connection software, limiting the hotspots’ appeal to consumers, especially those connecting with mobile devices.


Hotspot 2.0 has actually been around for quite a while — the Wi-Fi Alliance began certifying devices two years ago under its Passpoint program — but carriers and ISPs have been slow to adopt it. Hotspot provider Boingo began offering it to its customers in February, but on a limited basis in 21 airports, making Time Warner’s launch the first large-scale implementation of Hotspot 2.0 in the U.S.


Time Warner is looking at Hotspot 2.0 differently than a carrier would, Cerbone said. While mobile operators are looking to offload data traffic from their cellular networks, Time Warner doesn’t have a mobile network. Wi-Fi is more a means to give its cable customers access to broadband connections outside their homes, which is why it has focused its hotspot efforts in key markets in its cable territory. Today its Wi-Fi systems are concentrated in commercial businesses and heavily trafficked outdoor locations in Southern California, New York City, Austin, Charlotte, Kansas City, Myrtle Beach and Hawaii.


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