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BTOP-BIP Brouhaha | Benton Foundation

BTOP-BIP Brouhaha | Benton Foundation | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

On February 27, the House Commerce Committee’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee held an oversight hearing on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) broadband stimulus programs: the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) directed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in the Department of Commerce and the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) run by the Rural Utilities Service in the Department of Agriculture. Larry Strickling, the head of the NTIA, and RUS Administrator John Padalino testified before the Subcommittee.

 

On February 11, the New York Times previewed this week’s hearing noting that rural areas certainly suffer a lack of high-speed Internet access. While about 88 percent of urban households in the United States have access to high-speed cable Internet service, only 40 percent of rural households do, according to NTIA’s and the Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Map About 20 percent of United States households have access to fiber optic Internet service, the fastest connection, compared with 86 percent in Japan and two-thirds in South Korea. But in the haste to get broadband everywhere, some grant planners appeared not to have taken into account the current condition of infrastructure.

 

The ARRA charged the NTIA with creating the $4.7 billion BTOP. Of that money, the NTIA used approximately $300 million to create a National Broadband Map and approximately $4 billion to award 233 broadband grants. Congress rescinded approximately $300 million in 2010 for other spending. NTIA used the rest for administration and oversight.

 

The ARRA charged the RUS with creating the $2.5 billion BIP. RUS dedicated $2.28 billion to broadband grants and used $87 million to back $1.26 billion in broadband loans. The RUS used the rest for administration and oversight. Altogether the RUS issued 320 BIP awards.

 

The NTIA says that by September 2012, its grant recipients had deployed more than 78,000 new or upgraded network miles in 51 states and territories; connected or improved service to 11,200 “anchor institutions” across 45 states and territories; and installed more than 38,600 new workstations in public computing centers across 38 states. The NTIA also says that training and adoption projects led 510,000 households and 12,000 businesses to subscribe to broadband services.

 

The RUS says that its awards will provide access to 2.8 million households, 364,000 businesses, and 32,000 anchor institutions across more than 300,000 square miles.

 

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GAO: FCC Should Improve the Accountability and Transparency of High-Cost Program Funding | Benton Foundation

The Federal Communications Commission has implemented four industry- wide reforms and the initial phases of two carrier-specific reforms for the Universal Service Fund’s (USF) high-cost program.


However, the FCC has encountered delays implementing the subsequent phases and more complex carrier-specific funding reforms that require extensive cost modeling and stakeholder input.


This Government Accountability Office (GAO) report examines 1) the extent to which the FCC implemented funding reforms, 2) the extent to which the FCC is collecting data to determine the effectiveness of the reforms, and 3) what changes, if any, states have made in USF funding.


The GAO recommends that the FCC demonstrate how high-cost funds were used to improve broadband availability, service quality, and capacity.


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MA: MBTA to add new wireless service on all boats and trains | EnterpriseNews.com

MA: MBTA to add new wireless service on all boats and trains | EnterpriseNews.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Metropolitan Boston Transit Authority (MBTA) announced Thursday that a new WiFi system will be installed on all 14 commuter rail lines, commuter boats and South, North and Back Bay Stations.


At no cost to the MBTA or its customers, inMOTION Wireless will build a $5.6 million system that will expand and improve both the availability and quality of the existing WiFi service. 


Under a 22-year license agreement, inMOTION will install, operate, and maintain a neutral, private, and dedicated WiFi network on all MBTA passenger coaches and ferries. 


Riders will have free access to the internet, as well as a live television feed.  Premium WiFi service, which allows customers to stream data and video, will be available for $15 per month.  The MBTA will receive 7.5 percent of net revenue received from the WiFi program.


Installation will begin this fall, and the full system will be in place within 18 months.

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Kumo Is Raising $50 Million To Break The TV Bundle | TechCrunch.com

Kumo Is Raising $50 Million To Break The TV Bundle | TechCrunch.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Despite Aereo’s trouble in the Supreme Court, the hope of disrupting the TV industry is still alive in the tech world.


A new startup led by Aol and Dish veteran Neil Davis is in the process of raising $50 million to fill that void. The startup is called Kumo, and it’s still in stealth, so details are limited.


However, a source very close to the matter told TechCrunch that Kumo hopes to provide a la carte television content to users. That would give viewers the opportunity to purchase access to specific channels as opposed to buying them bundled from cable companies, or getting access to an incomplete library of content long after it’s released through Netflix or Hulu.


Of course, this is a notable task considering that the oligopoly of content creators and owners profit wildly from the bundling of their channels, as opposed to asking people to pay for just what they watch.


But founder Neil Davis has the experience to navigate these turbulent waters.


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Investment analyst: Murdoch would take HBO out of pay TV bundle, target Netflix | FierceCable.com

Investment analyst: Murdoch would take HBO out of pay TV bundle, target Netflix | FierceCable.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Rupert Murdoch and 21st Century Fox haven't even come back with a follow-up offer to their rejected $80 billion bid for Time Warner Inc. But there's plenty of speculation already as to what Murdoch will do if he acquires his prize.


According to Mediatech Capital Partners managing director Porter Bibb, among all of Time Warner's assets, HBO is the one Murdoch covets the most. And if he gets his hands on it, he'll take it out of the pay TV bundle and have it compete directly with Netflix 


"It's amazing to me why [Time Warner CEO] Jeff Bewkes is not using the tremendous archive of fantastic content that HBO has [to go] head-to-head against Netflix," Bibb told the Bloomberg Surveillance radio program, adding that he does not believe Murdoch would make that same mistake." (Hat tip to SNL Kagan's Sarah Barry James for the original pick-up.)


Other analysts have speculated that it's the Turner Networks sports rights--the NBA and NCAA March Madness, specifically--that Murdoch really covets. But Bibb called HBO "the Holy Grail that Rupert had his eye on," adding "it's the Netflix killer no one has come up with." Fox, which has had an output deal with HBO for decades, values the premium network at around $20 billion all on its own, Bloomberg notes.


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Rabbit TV willing to pay $5 per sub retrans to broadcasters for online feeds | RapidTVNews.com

Rabbit TV willing to pay $5 per sub retrans to broadcasters for online feeds | RapidTVNews.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

FreeCast Inc, Rabbit TV's operating company, has offered to pay $5 monthly per-subscriber retransmission fee paid by cable companies in the No 1 market, New York City, across all 210 DMA markets nationwide.


The company also said that it's prepared to provide an agnostic platform for the networks to distribute their content, which will also in theory bring more revenue to their existing ad-supported video-on-demand (VOD) libraries and pay per view selections.

The company's announcement comes after a recent Supreme Court ruling on Aereo's cloud-based television service, which inadvertently opened new doors for Web-based television services by comparing Aereo to a cable system.


This new interpretation led Aereo to seek compulsory licences to become a local cable provider, and despite their subscriber base of less than 100,000, CBS's president Les Moonves publicly expressed his willingness to enter talks.


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Microsoft wants you to forget Windows 8 | Gregg Keizer | NetworkWorld.com

Microsoft wants you to forget Windows 8 | Gregg Keizer | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As talk of the next Windows begins to build and some details of what most are calling for now either Windows 9 or Threshold come into focus, it's worthwhile to take a moment to remember Windows 8.


Because Microsoft will want everyone to forget it. And we will.


Unless the Redmond, Wash. technology company radically changes its habits, it will throw Windows 8 down a memory hole even before the successor ships. Just like it made Vista persona non grata in its official messaging in 2009, it will shove Windows 8 so far into the background that we'll need the Hubble telescope to find it.


Not that that's unusual. All companies fake amnesia to a stunning degree, even when what they want to forget -- more importantly, what they want customers to forget -- was once trumpeted with Joshua's band. Ford tossed the Edsel into the don't-mention file, Coca-Cola did the same with New Coke, Apple erased the Performa and Ping from its corporate memory, and IBM would be hard pressed to admit it ever knew the PCjr or OS/2.


It's always about next year's shiny object, not last year's.


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NASA looking for out-of-this-world Mars communications services | NetworkWorld.com

NASA looking for out-of-this-world Mars communications services | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The space agency this week issued a Request For Information that looks to explore options where it would buy commercial communications services to support users at Mars, including landers and rovers and, potentially, aerobots and orbiters.


From NASA: “ In this model, the commercial provider would own and operate relay orbiter(s), and NASA would contract to purchase services over some period of time. In exploring this model, NASA encourages innovative ideas for cost-effective approaches that provide backward-compatible UHF relay services for existing landers, as well as significantly improved performance for future exploration activities. One example is deploying optical communications for Mars proximity operations and/or deep-space communications.”


NASA noted that it recently demonstrated optical communications from the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft at the Moon to Earth, with download rates of 622Mb/sec. It also demonstrated an error-free data upload rate of 20Mb/sec transmitted from the primary ground station in New Mexico to the spacecraft orbiting the Moon. NASA said it also “welcomes interactions with relay infrastructure that might be deployed in support of other Mars commercial objectives.”


NASA said its current Mars relay infrastructure is aging, and there is a potential communications gap in the 2020s. That’s why NASA is interested in exploring alternative models to sustain and evolve the Mars relay infrastructure. The current strategy has been cost effective to date, because NASA has launched science orbiters to Mars on a steady cadence; the cost of the relay infrastructure has effectively been limited to the incremental cost of adding a relay payload to them.


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Net Neutrality Astroturfing Stirs Up Conflict Between Latino/Minority Groups | Techdirt.com

Net Neutrality Astroturfing Stirs Up Conflict Between Latino/Minority Groups | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

We've written a few times about the highly cynical astroturfing practice in Washington DC, in which certain lobbyist groups basically have "deals" with certain public interest groups. The basic deal is that the lobbyists guarantee big cash donations from their big company clients, and then the lobbyists get to write letters "on behalf of" those organizations for whatever policy they want enacted (or blocked). We quoted a story from Declan McCullagh in 2008 which includedthis classic line from a lobbyist who worked in one of these shops:


"You go down the Latino people, the deaf people, the farmers, and choose them.... You say, 'I can't use this one--I already used them last time...' We had their letterhead. We'd just write the letter. We'd fax it to them and tell them, 'You're in favor of this.'"


That first option, "the Latino people" turned out to be rather prescient. During the last net neutrality fight, in 2009, it was revealed that a bunch of Latino groups magically supported the telco position -- leaving out the bit about how they were funded by the telcos......


And now in 2014 the fight seems to be getting personal. Alex Nogales, the head of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, called out the Congressional Hispanic Leadership (which has come out in support of the broadband company's plan to kill net neutrality) by pointing out that they held a briefing that was sponsored by the telcos and totally one-sided. The event was so over-the-top biased that even some in the mainstream media highlighted how ridiculous it was.

Martin Chavez, from the telco-supported Hispanic Technology & Telecommunications Partnership, posted a blog post that purports to be a "can't we all just get along" type post, but which really personally slams Alex Nogales for what Chavez claims was an "angry outburst and lapse of judgment." Nogales isn't taking that sitting down and responded by pointing out that Chavez seems to conveniently leave out who pays his salary:


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NY District Court Finds FilmOn in Contempt | Multichannel.com

NY District Court Finds FilmOn in Contempt | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

New York District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald has found FilmOn in contempt for continuing to deliver network TV station signals over the Internet after the Supreme Court found similar service Aereo in violation of copyright.

 

Judge Buchwald said that based on the law of the Second Circuit, which has ruled that Internet streaming does not qualify for a compulsory license, "FilmOn is not entitled to a license under § 111, and its retransmissions clearly and unambiguously fall under the scope of conduct barred by the Injunction."

 

FilmOn says it will appeal the decision.


"We find FilmOn in civil contempt of court for its violation of the Injunction," she said in an opinion released Friday. "FilmOn must pay $10,000 for each of the nine days of its noncompliance. Therefore, we impose a sanction of $90,000. We also reiterate that while it appears that defendant has ceased streaming plaintiffs’ programming, such conduct is covered by the Injunction and future retransmission of plaintiffs’ copyrighted content without a license will subject defendant to  significant penalties per day of noncompliance."

 

FilmOn will also have to pay attorneys fees.


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US House Passes Cell Phone Unlocking Bill Under Unanimous Consent | Public Knowledge

US House Passes Cell Phone Unlocking Bill Under Unanimous Consent | Public Knowledge | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This afternoon, the US House of Representatives passed S. 517, the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, under unanimous consent. The bill allows consumers to "unlock" their cell phones so they can take a phone with them from one service provider to another. The bill already passed in the Senate, and will now make its way to the President's desk for signing.

The following can be attributed to Laura Moy, Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge:

"This important legislation responds to hundreds of thousands of Americans who signed petitions, called, and wrote to government leaders asking for the right to unlock devices they legally own.

"We are particularly grateful to Mr. Goodlatte, Mr. Conyers, and Ms. Lofgren for their work on this important issue and their willingness to find a compromise that works for their constituencies, as well as for the wireless industry and public interest groups like ours."


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OK: Startup Rural Broadband Services Corporation Has Big Plans for Tahlequah | Telecompetitor.com

OK: Startup Rural Broadband Services Corporation Has Big Plans for Tahlequah | Telecompetitor.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A startup company known as Rural Broadband Services Corporationhas big plans for rural Tahlequah, Oklahoma – plans that RBSC CEO Roy Choates hopes he will be able to repeat in other rural communities that lack high-speed broadband connectivity.


“We have a philosophy called ‘shared infrastructure,’” said Choates in an interview. “In rural America you don’t need two or three different companies building a fiber network.” For example, he said he expects to supply connectivity to support utility company smart grid deployments, eliminating the need for the utility to deploy its own fiber.


Choates is a long-time telecom engineer and consultant who believed strongly enough in this idea to invest his own money to build a fiber network in Tahlequah, a town with a population of about 16,000. The company also is funded, in part, by an outside investor, but Choates is the majority owner.


He believes broadband will be key to important rural initiatives such as telemedicine, distance learning and the ConnectED program that aims to bring high-speed Internet to the nation’s schools.


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ISPs are spending less on their networks as they make more money off them | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

ISPs are spending less on their networks as they make more money off them | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

How much money do the nation's biggest Internet providers invest in upgrading their networks every year?


The answer can affect how reliable your connections are, what kind of speeds you get and the amount you pay for service each month. And with all the debate about big telecom mergers, net neutrality and the future of broadband, capital expenditures — or the resources companies sink into their networks — offer an important source of insight into how it all works.


It turns out that, as a percentage of the money they pull in, ISPs have generally spent less on infrastructure over time — from a high of 37 percent of revenue in some cases to a low of around 12 percent more recently.


The data, compiled from public filings by Harvard scholar Susan Crawford and telecom analyst Mitchell Shapiro, includes over a decade of information about how ISPs have allocated their resources.


Before you jump to any conclusions about these companies, though, remember that the turn of the millennium was precisely when a lot of modern Internet cabling was being rolled out.


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Behind Comcast’s truthy ad campaign for net neutrality | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

Behind Comcast’s truthy ad campaign for net neutrality | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast has two big goals in Washington this year. The first is to get its merger with Time Warner Cable approved by federal regulators. The second is to forestall what it views as potentially onerous new regulations on its broadband business.


The two goals are interconnected; if Comcast pushes too hard against additional regulation, it might hinder its chances with merger review officials. At the same time, Comcast stands to earn some goodwill with regulators by demonstrating its willingness to cooperate on net neutrality.


So Comcast has been engaged in a public relations battle lately to convince policymakers and the public that it is all in favor of net neutrality, or the idea that Internet traffic should be treated equally by Internet service providers no matter where it came from or what's contained in it.


In an ongoing ad campaign, Comcast touts that it's the only internet service provider (or ISP) legally bound by "full" net neutrality and that the company wants to expand that commitment to even more people. This sounds great for consumers; it's the kind of thing that might convince skeptical regulators to give Comcast the benefit of the doubt. But the advertising claims come with some big, unstated caveats that could be confusing to consumers who already find the net neutrality debate a jumble of jargon and rhetoric.


None of what Comcast has claimed is factually untrue. But the company omits some facts in its advertising that gives the impression that it is unconditionally committed to "full" net neutrality, whatever that might mean, when the bigger picture is somewhat more complicated.


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Privacy Oversight Board Turns Its Sights On The Real Problem: Executive Order 12333 | Techdirt.com

Privacy Oversight Board Turns Its Sights On The Real Problem: Executive Order 12333 | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

We've written plenty of times about the dangers of Executive Order 12333, which is the Presidential order signed by Ronald Reagan that gives the NSA tremendously broad powers of surveillance, so long as the work is done overseas. And as long as information is collected overseas, it is used to spy on many Americans.


Senators Wyden and Udall have implied that Executive Order 12333 enables the CIA to get around prohibitions on spying on Americans, and just last week a (recent) former top State Department Official, John Napier Tye, revealed that the real surveillance powers happen under Executive Order 12333 -- and the other programs we've all been debating (Section 702 and Section 215) are merely used to "backfill" what can't be collected under EO12333.

The Washington Post has now revealed that the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is turning its attention to EO 12333 -- which is important. Unlike Sections 215 and 702, Congress doesn't (currently) have any oversight over activities done under EO 12333. Basically, there is no oversight at all.


The Congressional intelligence committees have flat out admitted that they receive no reports concerning the kind of surveillance done under that authority, as it's not under their mandate. The Washington Post has also published a graphic from the Snowden files, that highlights how EO 12333 is the main surveillance program, and everything else is just the exception.


It's a "decision tree" where the focus is on using EO 12333 for as much as possible and only resorting to other programs if absolutely forced to:


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Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB to Merge with German and Italian Sister Companies to Create Pay-TV Giant | Variety.com

Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB to Merge with German and Italian Sister Companies to Create Pay-TV Giant | Variety.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Rupert Murdoch-controlled U.K. pay-TV operator BSkyB announced deals Friday to take control of its German and Italian sister companies to create a pan-European pay-TV giant. The total value of the deals will be £5.35 billion ($9.09 billion).


Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox owns a 39% stake in BSkyB, 100% of Sky Italia and 57% of Sky Deutschland. The proposed deals will see BSkyB acquire Fox’s stakes in Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland. It also will bid for the remaining Sky Deutschland shares.


Fox said it will net after-tax cash proceeds of $7.2 billion on completion of the transactions, which are subject to regulatory approvals, the approval of BSkyB shareholders and usual closing conditions.


Industry analysts have speculated that 21st Century Fox would use the cash from the Sky deals to sweeten its bid for Time Warner above its initial $85 per share. But Fox says the proceeds will support its operating principles, including funding share buybacks. The conglom said it will continue its share repurchase program in 2015, with details to be announced Aug. 6 when it reports fiscal 2014 earnings. Fox has returned $12 billion to shareholders over the last three years.


“Our renewed authorization for our share buyback program will be executed regardless of any potential acquisition or investment activity by the company,” Rupert Murdoch said in a statement. “21st Century Fox’s number one priority is increasing shareholder value in a disciplined manner and, as a result, we will only consider transactions that fully support this objective.”


The acquisition of Sky Italia will cost £2.45 billion ($4.16 billion) with approximately £2.07 billion ($3.51 billion) to be paid in cash, and the balance to be secured through the transfer of BSkyB’s 21% stake in National Geographic Channel Intl. to Fox at a value of £382 million ($649 million).


The acquisition of Fox’s shareholding in Sky Deutschland will cost £2.9 billion ($4.92 billion) in cash, valuing Sky Deutschland at €6.75 ($9.09) a share. BSkyB will offer Sky Deutschland minority shareholders that price for the remaining shares.


The total worth of the deals to buy Sky Italia and 57% of Sky Deutschland would be £5.35 billion ($9.09 billion). Depending on how many Sky Deutschland minority shareholders accept the offer for their shares, the total cash consideration overall may be up to approximately £7 billion ($11.9 billion).


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Does Time Warner Need CBS To Thwart A Fox Takeover? | Deadline.com

Does Time Warner Need CBS To Thwart A Fox Takeover? | Deadline.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes has a problem. Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch is preparing to sweeten his offer for the owner of Warner Bros, CNN, and HBO after it rejected an $80B cash-and-stock proposal last month.


And Bewkes, who says he wants to keep Time Warner independent, has few takeover defenses. What can he do? Here are a few of the leading options that Time Warner execs and their advisors at Citigroup are weighing.


Combine with CBS: This would make Time Warner toxic for Fox: The FCC would not allow Murdoch to control two of the four biggest networks, and two of the largest TV station groups with overlaps in the nation’s largest markets.


And the business logic of a Time Warner-CBS combination is compelling. CBS chief Les Moonves would like to diversify his company to make it less dependent on domestic TV advertising. (He has already said that he’d like to buy CNN if Fox prevails with Time Warner and puts the news channel on the block.)


Moonves also has made it clear that he’d like to play a bigger role in movies — his CBS Films appears to be struggling to figure out its identity. CBS  could address these concerns by blending with Time Warner’s cable channels and movie studio.


The chief obstacle is that CBS is controlled by Sumner Redstone, who also owns Viacom. He hasn’t wanted to give up either property, and some bankers believe he’d prefer to recombine the companies he split in 2005 than do something with Time Warner.


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Cable companies: We’re afraid Netflix will demand payment from ISPs | Ars Technica

Cable companies: We’re afraid Netflix will demand payment from ISPs | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

While the network neutrality debate has focused primarily on whether ISPs should be able to charge companies like Netflix for faster access to consumers, cable companies are now arguing that it's really Netflix who holds the market power to charge them.


This argument popped up in comments submitted to the FCC by Time Warner Cable and industry groups that represent cable companies. (National Journal writer Brendan Sasso pointed this out.)


The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), which represents many companies including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Cox, and Charter wrote to the FCC:


"Even if broadband providers had an incentive to degrade their customers’ online experience in some circumstances, they have no practical ability to act on such an incentive. Today’s Internet ecosystem is dominated by a number of “hyper-giants” with growing power over key aspects of the Internet experience—including Google in search, Netflix and Google (YouTube) in online video, Amazon and eBay in e-commerce, and Facebook in social media.


"If a broadband provider were to approach one of these hyper-giants and threaten to block or degrade access to its site if it refused to pay a significant fee, such a strategy almost certainly would be self-defeating, in light of the immediately hostile reaction of consumers to such conduct. Indeed, it is more likely that these large edge providers would seek to extract payment from ISPs for delivery of video over last-mile networks."


ISPs making payments to online video companies would be similar to the payments cable TV providers make to programmers. But in practice it hasn't worked that way. Cable TV and Internet providers have less incentive to ensure that Netflix and YouTube work well on their networks because online video competes against their own video services and because the cable companies face little competition in each local market.


All talk of "fast lanes" has centered on ISPs potentially charging Web services for better access to consumers over the last mile of the network. The FCC's latest proposal would let ISPs charge for fast lanes as long as they provide a minimum level of service to all Internet users and Web services. Network neutrality proponents have urged the FCC to pass stronger rules that would ban such prioritization. Yet the issue is even more complicated than that because ISPs could still degrade bandwidth-heavy services like video by refusing to upgrade infrastructure that connects their networks to the rest of the Internet.


Nonetheless, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings noted in an earnings call this week that "the question comes up—should we over time be charging ISPs for the privilege of carrying our data to their customers, and charging for that?"


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Fox To Sell Satellite Interest To BSkyB | Multichannel.com

Fox To Sell Satellite Interest To BSkyB | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As expected, 21st Century Fox said Friday that it would sell its interests in European satellite companies Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland to British Sky Broadcasting Group, in a deal valued at $9.3 billion, including a hefty cash component that could help fuel another bid for Time Warner Inc.

 

Analysts have expected Fox to sell the European assets to BSkyB, of which it owns 39% -- for months. With the deal, Fox also receives $8.6 billion in cash ($7.2 billion after taxes), money that could be used to beef up another bid for Time Warner. Fox had made an $80 billion offer for Time Warner in June, which was rejected as too low.

 

That deal involved about $35 per share in cash and $50 per share in non-voting Fox stock.

 

With the additional funds, Fox could theoretically increase the cash component by as much as $8 per share without having to increase its leverage ratio.


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Maine: The Case for Broadband in Sanford | Fosters.com

The Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council first started looking hard at the topic of Broadband in the fall of 2013. In reviewing some of the headlines regarding the completion of the Three Ring Binder (3RB) — a primarily federally-funded 1,100-mile high-capacity fiber optic network strung throughout the state — we discovered that Sanford, Maine’s seventh largest city, had not been included in this critical infrastructure project.


As a response to this oversight, and in order to begin to level the “business expansion and attraction” playing field with surrounding communities, we began to do some additional research and meet with broadband experts. In early 2014, we selected the Tilson Technology Company in Portland to prepare a Broadband Plan (BBP) for Sanford.

Let’s take a moment to explain what we mean by “broadband.” In the simplest definition, broadband is a fast connection to the Internet that is always on. Broadband communication comes to us through wires, satellites, cell towers — and often a combination of the above — on its long journey from source to our computers or tablets or cell phones. Between 2000 and 2012, Internet use worldwide increased by more than 550 percent

Here’s a quick reminder of how powerful Broadband deployment can be:


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North Carolina Town Saves Public Dollars With Its Own Network | community broadband networks

North Carolina Town Saves Public Dollars With Its Own Network | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

On June 18 Holly Springs, home to approximately 25,000 people, started saving money with its new fiber I-Net. Last summer, the Town Council voted to invest in fiber infrastructure as a way to take control of telecommunications costs. Just one year later, the 13-mile network is serving community anchor institutions.


After exploring options with CTC Technology and Energy, Holly Springs determined that deploying their own $1.5 million network was more cost effective than paying Time Warner Cable for data services. Annual fees were $159,000; over time those costs certainly would have escalated. According to the Cary News, Holly Springs anticipates a future need for more bandwidth:


“And we wouldn’t have been able to actually afford as much (data) as we need,” [Holly Springs IT Director Jeff Wilson] said. “Our costs were going to be getting out of control over the next couple of years.”


Because state law precludes the town from offering services to homes or businesses, Holly Springs plans to use the new infrastructure in other ways. State law allows the community to offer free Wi-Fi; the town will also lease dark fiber to third-party providers. According to the News article, the town has already entered into a 20-year contract with DukeNet, recently acquired by Time Warner Cable. DukeNet may expand the fiber to the Holly Springs Business Park for commercial clients.


The community's free Wi-Fi in public facilities is approximately 20 times faster than it was before the deployment, reports the News:


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US House passes cellphone unlocking bill that now only needs Obama's signature | NetworkWorld.com

US House passes cellphone unlocking bill that now only needs Obama's signature | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The U.S. House of Representatives has just passed a bill that will once again give consumers the right to unlock their cellphones, meaning the legislation is only a presidential signature away from becoming law.


Sina Khanifar, whose petitioning of the White House got the ball rolling on this almost two years, says via an email:


"The Senate’s cellphone unlocking bill, S517, just passed unanimously in the House of Representatives.


Now it just requires the President’s signature to become law. It took 19 months of activism and advocacy, but we’re finally very close to consumers regaining the right to unlock the phones they’ve legally bought. I’m looking forward to seeing this bill finally become law - it’s been a long road against powerful, entrenched interests - but it’s great to see citizen advocacy work.


It’s important to note that the unlocking exemption that is being reinstated will only last until the Librarian of Congress’s next rulemaking, scheduled to happen in 2015. With such a strong signal from Congress, it’s very unlikely that the Librarian will remove the unlocking exemption."


President Obama’s signing of the bill would appear to be a foregone conclusion given this reply the White Posted last March in response to the petition.


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Verizon will soon throttle LTE data: here's what you need to know | TheVerge.com

Verizon will soon throttle LTE data: here's what you need to know | TheVerge.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The days of truly unlimited LTE data on Verizon Wireless are coming to a close. Today, the largest US carrier announced that it will begin applying its "network optimization" practices, which previously only affected the 3G network, to unlimited 4G LTE customers starting October 1st. Beginning on that date, the carrier will slow you down if you're "connected to cell sites experiencing heavy demand."


But Verizon's policy is far from straightforward, and it's in no way universal. To risk slower speeds, you must also meet all of the following criteria:


  • You're using a 4G LTE smartphone on an unlimited data plan.


  • Your current data usage falls within the top 5 percent of all Verizon users. This ceiling will almost certainly fluctuate in the future. As of March, hitting 4.7GB in a single month was enough to put you over it.


  • You're a month-to-month customer. Most people probably fall into this category, but if you've somehow managed to renew your plan for another year or two, you don't need to worry about throttling. Of course, renewing an unlimited plan isn't supposed to be technically possible. But where there's a will there's a way, and users have occasionally discovered loopholes that allow re-upping with unlimited data.


If you can check off all those boxes, you'll be subject to throttling and may experience video / music buffering, slower web browsing, and other interruptions that come along with reduced speeds. And it won't for just one month: you'll potentially have to deal with throttling the following month, too. Again, this policy only applies in areas where the network is seeing heavy demand. You might be throttled in one town and experience regular, fast speeds in the next. See? We told you it wasn't straightforward.


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Community Area Network: Chippewa Valley, Wisconsin | YouTube.com

Community institutions in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin pooled their resources to build a high-speed broadband network. The high-speed connections create opportunities to share applications, and open up possibilities for new uses of technology.

A video produced by the ARRA-funded Wisconsin broadband project, Building Community Capacity through Broadband. http://broadband.uwex.edu


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Chattanooga, TN and Wilson, NC Petition FCC to Remove Anti-Competitive Restrictions | community broadband networks

Chattanooga, TN and Wilson, NC Petition FCC to Remove Anti-Competitive Restrictions | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Chattanooga and Wilson, North Carolina, are two of the most successful municipal fiber networks by a variety of metrics, including jobs created, aggregate community savings, and more. This has led to significant demand from surrounding communities for Wilson and Chattanooga to expand. We have profiled both of them in case studies: Wilson and Chattanooga.


Expecting this outcome, the big cable and telephone companies had pressured the states to limit where municipal networks can offer service, unlike the private companies that can invest anywhere. Wilson cannot expand beyond county limits. Chattanooga already serves its entire electrical footprint, which stretches into northern Georgia and includes a few other towns but cannot serve anyone beyond that.


FCC Chairman Wheeler has been quite clear that he intends to remove barriers to competition that limit local authority to build community networks.


Today, Wilson and North Carolina have filed petitions with the FCC to remove restrictions on their ability to expand and offer services to nearby communities. These barriers were created after major lobbying campaigns by Comcast, AT&T, and Time Warner Cable, one of which we chronicled in The Empire Lobbies Back. We have also explained how the FCC can take this action and interviewed Harold Feld on the matter.


Read press statements from Chattanooga EPB and Wilson, North Carolina [pdf]. Also, Wilson's Full Petition and Exhibits [pdf], Chattanooga's Petition [pdf], and Chattanooga's Exhibits [pdf]. Jim Baller worked with them on the filing, so you know the facts are straight.


We issued a press release this afternoon:


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Comcast Ramps Up Ad Campaign Claiming To Support Net Neutrality, Even As It Really Supports Killing It | Techdirt.com

Comcast Ramps Up Ad Campaign Claiming To Support Net Neutrality, Even As It Really Supports Killing It | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

We just wrote about how the FCC is now claiming that it will enforce its "transparency" rules that require some sort of truth in advertising. If that's the case, it might want to take a close look at Comcast's recent "truthy" advertising campaign, which it's running online, in newspapers and on TV, claiming that it's a huge supporter of "net neutrality." In fact, in a recent video ad, Comcast flat out claims that it wants to "extend net neutrality protection."


Comcast defends this position by claiming, first, that it's bound by the original 2010 FCC open internet rules, as part of the conditions of its big merger with NBC Universal. That part is true. Just about everything else is misleading or bogus. First, the FCC's 2010 open internet rules were always a weak sauce. They barely allowed the FCC to do anything and there were tons of loopholes. Being bound by those rules was never really being bound by any true sense of net neutrality.

Also, as Brian Fung at the Washington Post points out, the merger conditions only last a few more years. And then Comcast is free to do whatever it wants within the "new" rules:


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