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Inside the Black Box - By Marc Ambinder | ForeignPolicy.com

Inside the Black Box - By Marc Ambinder | ForeignPolicy.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For China, U.S. government secrecy has been a boon. Cyber-warfare directed against American companies is reducing the gross domestic product by as much as $100 billion per year, according to a recent National Intelligence Estimate. Because companies are generally reluctant to admit they've been breached and because the National Security Agency, which works with these companies to assess Chinese cyber techniques, is surrounded by a cocoon of secrecy, China has been able to operate with impunity. 

 

That soon will change. 

 

In the coming weeks, the NSA, working with a Department of Homeland Security joint task force and the FBI, will release to select American telecommunication companies a wealth of information about China's cyber-espionage program, according to a U.S. intelligence official and two government consultants who work on cyber projects. Included: sophisticated tools that China uses, countermeasures developed by the NSA, and unique signature-detection software that previously had been used only to protect government networks. 

 

Press reports have indicated that the Obama administration plans to give certain companies a list of domain names China is known to use for network exploitation. But the coming effort is of an entirely different scope. These are American state secrets.

 

Very little that China does escapes the notice of the NSA, and virtually every technique it uses has been tracked and reverse-engineered. For years, and in secret, the NSA has also used the cover of some American companies -- with their permission -- to poke and prod at the hackers, leading them to respond in ways that reveal patterns and allow the United States to figure out, or "attribute," the precise origin of attacks. The NSA has even designed creative ways to allow subsequent attacks but prevent them from doing any damage. Watching these provoked exploits in real time lets the agency learn how China works.

 

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CenturyLink to Bringing Broadband to 24,000 Rural Households in Louisiana | MyArkLaMiss.com

CenturyLink to Bringing Broadband to 24,000 Rural Households in Louisiana | MyArkLaMiss.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

CenturyLink announced today that it will bring high-speed Internet services to more than 24,000 rural households and businesses in Louisiana by accepting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s Connect America Fund (CAF) statewide offer in Louisiana.

CenturyLink is accepting 33 CAF phase II statewide offers from the FCC to bring Internet service with speeds of at least 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload to approximately 1.2 million locations in FCC-designated, high-cost census blocks. The company is accepting a total of approximately $500 million a year for six years.

High-speed Internet access brings many benefits to rural communities, including economic development and better access to education and healthcare services such as distance learning and telemedicine.


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CEOs Call for Wage Increases for Workers! What’s the Catch? | Jim Hightower | Truthdig

CEOs Call for Wage Increases for Workers! What’s the Catch? | Jim Hightower | Truthdig | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Peter Georgescu has a message he wants America’s corporate and political elites to hear: “I’m scared,” he said in a recent New York Times opinion piece.

He adds that Paul Tudor Jones is scared, too, as is Ken Langone. And they are trying to get the Powers That Be to pay attention to their urgent concerns. But wait—these three are Powers That Be. Georgescu is former head of Young & Rubicam, one of the world’s largest PR and advertising firms; Jones is a quadruple-billionaire and hedge fund operator; and Langone is a founder of Home Depot.

What is scaring the pants off these powerful peers of the corporate plutocracy?


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US agency to seek consensus on divisive, volatile topic of security vulnerability disclosures | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld

US agency to seek consensus on divisive, volatile topic of security vulnerability disclosures | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A U.S. agency hopes to gather security researchers, software vendors and other interested people to reach consensus on the sticky topic of how to disclose cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

Beginning in September, the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will host a series of meetings intended to improve collaboration among security researchers, software vendors and IT system operators on the disclosure of, and response to, vulnerabilities.


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The Government Needs to Work With Silicon Valley to Create Our Military Future | P.W. Singer & August Cole | Slate.com

The Government Needs to Work With Silicon Valley to Create Our Military Future | P.W. Singer & August Cole | Slate.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

"In 1931, the city fathers of Sunnyvale, California, came up with a unique plan to rescue their town from the doldrums of the Great Depression. They raised $480,000 to buy nearly 1,000 acres of farmland and then sold off the land to the U.S. government for $1. The deal was that Sunnyvale would then become the home for a new planned Navy fleet of “flying aircraft carriers,” massive helium-filled airships that would serve as bases in the air for propeller biplanes.

"The plan didn’t work out as anticipated, neither for Sunnyvale nor the blimps. In 1933, the USS Akron, the Navy’s test airborne aircraft carrier, crashed. The plan was shelved, its only legacy that the airfield was renamed after Adm. William Moffett, the head of the Navy’s Aeronautics Bureau, who had been killed in the crash. But, fortunately for the town, World War II interceded a few years later, and Moffett Field became a base for patrol airplanes and then the home of the U.S. Air Force Satellite Test Center. By the 1950s, several big aerospace firms clustered around the base and the test center. The thousands of scientists and engineers who moved into the sunny valley built close ties with local universities, and the old farmland became the hub of a different industry. The city fathers’ plan of economic growth through blimp basing instead spawned what became known as Silicon Valley."

Those paragraphs (above) come from our new book Ghost Fleet. The little-known history is instructive, as today it is the U.S. military that is looking to Silicon Valley for help. Faced with disruptive technologies like robotics and 3-D printing and a new strategic competitor in China that many worry could some day risk outright war, the Defense Department has kicked off an effort to “woo Silicon Valley.”


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Is telecom a natural transition for utilities? | Jaclyn Brandt | SmartGridNews.com

Is telecom a natural transition for utilities? | Jaclyn Brandt | SmartGridNews.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As utilities are working to upgrade infrastructure around the world, some are working to cross new boundaries -- including in the telecommunications industry.

Southern Company jumped into the industry nearly 20 years ago, with the launch of SouthernLINC Wireless. Southern Telecom has been a Southern Company subsidiary since it was founded in 1997. And now the company is looking to upgrade its infrastructure to Southern Company utilities, to local businesses and to government in the utilities' service territories.

Although the telecom network is important to the overall company, having the use of a wireless network for utilities is especially important for utilities like Georgia Power and Alabama Power.


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Appeals Court Strikes Down Ruling Finding NSA Phone Records Collection Unconstitutional | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

Appeals Court Strikes Down Ruling Finding NSA Phone Records Collection Unconstitutional | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Back in December of 2013, judge Richard Leon of the DC district court, ruled that the NSA's bulk metadata collection under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act was unconstitutional and issued an injunction against it (though, recognizing the inevitable appeal, Judge Leon stayed the injunction). This was in the case brought by Larry Klayman and FreedomWorks.

Leon's ruling was detailed and thorough... but the DC circuit appeals court has overturned it and sent it back to the lower court, focusing mainly on the "standing" question that has been raised in basically every case against NSA surveillance.


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AT&T to deploy "wireless local loop" fixed premise service in high cost areas | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom

AT&T to deploy "wireless local loop" fixed premise service in high cost areas | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

AT&T will apparently use wireless technology to provide fixed premise Internet telecommunications services using funding from the Connect America Fund (CAF) to subsidize infrastructure costs in high cost areas of the nation.


The U.S. Federal Communications Commission announced this week that AT&T accepted $428 million in annual subsidies from the CAF to serve 2.2 million rural consumers in 18 states.


Since the FCC requires CAF recipients to provide connectivity of "at least" 10Mbps for downloads and 1Mbps for uploads, the wireless gambit could potentially meet that standard. AT&T's wireless strategy was communicated to the FCC in a letter dated August 27, 2015 (H/T to California-based Steve Blum of Tellus Venture Associates):


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NAB, NATOA Sue FCC Over Effective Competition Decision | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

NAB, NATOA Sue FCC Over Effective Competition Decision | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Broadcasters and local franchise authorities have filed suit in federal court to block the FCC's decision that cable operators are subject to effective competition unless proved otherwise.

The National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB)—along with a local franchise authority in Minnesota—filed the suit, saying the FCC decision was "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion." The suit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which has primary jurisdiction over FCC decisions.


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How the FCC is Bringing Broadband to Rural America | Benton Foundation

How the FCC is Bringing Broadband to Rural America | Benton Foundation | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission found that broadband deployment in the United States – especially in rural areas – is failing to keep pace with today’s advanced, high-quality voice, data, graphics and video offerings. Over half of all rural Americans lack access to broadband service with 25 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads. Moreover, rural America continues to be underserved at all speeds, the FCC found: 20 percent lack access even to service at 4 Mbps/1 Mbps, down only 1 percent from 2011, and 31 percent lack access to 10 Mbps/1 Mbps, down only 4 percent from 2011.

In the 2015 Broadband Progress Report, the FCC found that:


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Too Much Fiber? | Doug Dawson Blog | POTs and PANs

Too Much Fiber? | Doug Dawson Blog | POTs and PANs | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

When communities consider building fiber, one of the first questions a community often asks me is how much fiber already exists in their community and how they can take advantage of it. The bad news I almost always have to give them is that their community probably contains several existing fiber networks that will be of little or no use to them. It seems there is a lot of fiber in the world that is not being put to good use.

So what do I mean by this? What I have found is that many communities have numerous existing fiber networks that have been built for one specific purpose and which can’t be used for anything else. Here are some examples:


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Letter from Langdon, MO: The Co-Op Model | Richard Oswald | Daily Yonder

Letter from Langdon, MO: The Co-Op Model | Richard Oswald | Daily Yonder | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Once upon a time, telegraphs and kerosene lamps were state of the art.

Telephones and 110-volt wall outlets were the next big thing.

Now we have the Internet.

Costs of hard-wired improvements are just too high for profit-driven development in rural America, but Missouri has been a hotbed for rural electric co-operatives. Our abundant underground supply of coal made us a natural for coal-fired electricity generation. Power plants were built conveniently on top of coal beds.

Those co-op jobs were good for rural Missourians, a lot of whom were farmers who gained electricity in the bargain.

The whole thing was turned on its head when someone figured out our high-sulfur coal was bad for the planet. Now we generate about 83% of our electricity needs from coal hauled in by rail from Wyoming.

But co-ops are still at the seat of power in Missouri because they hire local people to keep up electrical grids across the state. They have a reputation for service as they preserve cooperative principles and leave the door open for the next big thing in rural America.

I'm talking about fiber – not dietary fiber from farm-raised fruit and vegetables, but fiber optics capable of moving rural Internet connections at the speed of light.


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Judge clears tall buildings for Faubourg Marigny waterfront, but criticizes 'abhorrent' process | Robert McClendon | NOLA.com

Judge clears tall buildings for Faubourg Marigny waterfront, but criticizes 'abhorrent' process | Robert McClendon | NOLA.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A New Orleans judge Thursday (Aug. 27) denied an attempt by the Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association (FMIA) to block new zoning rules that allow for buildings up to 80 feet high in the neighborhood, sixty percent taller than was previously allowed.

Civil District Court Judge Kern Reese said that the city let down its residents when they adopted the new rules, which were a part of the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance approved by the City Council this spring, without adequate public input.

"I'm not fond of this this particular aspect of the ordinance," Reese said. "To not allow citizens to comment on things they will have to live with, it is abhorrent to me.

"It denigrates our entire system of government when you don't allow citizens to comment."

Nevertheless, Reese said, the City Council made its decision, and, as a judge, he does not have the authority to undermine their judgment unless their choice was arbitrary and capricious.

Reese denied a motion for a preliminary injunction that would have blocked any developers from using the new rules to build buildings higher than the current, base limit of 55 fight.


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BitTorrent patches flaw that could amplify distributed denial-of-service attacks | Lucian Constantin | CSO Online

BitTorrent patches flaw that could amplify distributed denial-of-service attacks | Lucian Constantin | CSO Online | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

BitTorrent fixed a vulnerability that would have allowed attackers to hijack BitTorrent applications used by hundreds of millions of users in order to amplify distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.


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Sprint is dangling a year of free service in front of DirecTV customers | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

Sprint is dangling a year of free service in front of DirecTV customers | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Sprint is offering DirecTV customers a tremendous deal, potentially worth hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

The country's fourth-largest cellular carrier says it will give DirecTV subscribers a year's worth of free wireless service if they switch their cellphone plans to Sprint.

The promotion takes explicit aim at AT&T, whose recent purchase of DirecTV made it the country's biggest pay-TV provider. Rolling out a new plan to consumers this month, AT&T said it would give DirecTV customers a $300 credit if they made AT&T their wireless company, too.

Now Sprint is attempting to one-up AT&T with its own offer. The year-long deal gives you unlimited talk, text and 2 GB of monthly data per line. After the year is up, the company said in a release, customers will start paying at the following rates for the same package of features:


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Comcast Launches Video Calling | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com

Comcast Launches Video Calling | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In a FaceTime-like move that could bring some additional stickiness to its digital voice service, Comcast has quietly introduced a two-way, mobile-to-mobile video calling feature to its Xfinity Connect app for iOS and Android devices.

The feature lets Xfinity Voice subs make video calls to each other, and it was included in the 6.0 version of the Xfinity Connect app that was released on August 25 simultaneously for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.


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Wi-Fi blocking debate far from over | Bob Brown | NetworkWorld.com

Wi-Fi blocking debate far from over | Bob Brown | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Following the FCC’s warning in January that it would no longer tolerate the Marriotts of the world blocking visitors’ WiFi hotspots, I set a reminder on my calendar to revisit the topic six months later.


After all, the issue of WiFi blocking sparked strong reactions from IT pros, end users and vendors of wireless LAN products early in the year, and I figured it wasn’t over yet.


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United In Flight WiFi Blocks Popular News Sites | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

United In Flight WiFi Blocks Popular News Sites |  Mike Masnick | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

So, just last month, we wrote about United Airlines idiotic inflight video system that forces you to install DRM on your own devices to watch a movie. And, now, it appears that the company is filtering out all sorts of news sites.


The EFF's Nate Cardozo was on a flight yesterday when he started noticing that he couldn't get to certain tech websites, including Ars Technica and The Verge -- instead receiving messages they were blocked due to United's "access policy." The same was true for political news site Daily Kos.


Eventually he even realized that United also blocks the NY Times (via his phone after the laptop battery ran out).


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U.S. paying price for lack of orderly transition plan to fiber telecom infrastructure | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom

U.S. paying price for lack of orderly transition plan to fiber telecom infrastructure | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

FCC Orders Rules for Copper Retirement | POTs and PANs:


The biggest issue I see with getting rid of copper is where the phone company doesn’t have an alternate landline network ready for the transition. It doesn’t seem like a big issue to me when a company like Verizon wants to move customers from copper to FiOS. There have already been tens of millions of customers who have changed from copper to either FiOS fiber or to a cable company network who have experienced and accepted the required changes.

But AT&T has said that they want to walk away from millions of rural copper customers. That would force customers to migrate to either the cable company or to cellular wireless. This could be a huge problem for business customers because there are still a lot of business districts that have never been wired by the cable companies.


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NPD: 50% of U.S. Internet Homes Have Connected Televisions | Erik Gruenwedel | Home Media Magazine

NPD: 50% of U.S. Internet Homes Have Connected Televisions | Erik Gruenwedel | Home Media Magazine | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In a burgeoning digital marketplace for entertainment, 50% of Internet-connected U.S. households owned a device capable of linking the television to the Web at the end of the second quarter, according to new data from The NPD Group. The total number of homes that have a connected TV device topped 46 million, up 4 million homes from the previous-year period.

Connected devices including TVs, video game consoles, streaming media players and Blu-ray Disc players enable access to over-the-top video apps such as Netflix and Hulu Plus.


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AP sues feds over fake news story | Julian Hattem | The Hill

AP sues feds over fake news story | Julian Hattem | The Hill | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Associated Press is bringing a lawsuit against the Department of Justice seeking information about the government’s use of a fake news story to catch a teenager suspected of calling in bomb threats.

Along with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the AP asked a district court on Thursday to force the department to turn over records regarding the FBI’s impersonation of a journalist and creation of a fake story in 2007.

Reporters from the two organizations submitted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests soon after news of the sting came to light in October but have not received any records in response, they said.

"We cannot overstate how damaging it is for federal agents to pose as journalists," Katie Townsend, the litigation director for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said in a statement. “This practice undermines the credibility of the independent news media, and should not be tolerated.


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Why Gogo's Infuriatingly Expensive, Slow Internet Still Owns the Skies | Sam Grobart | Bloomberg.com

Why Gogo's Infuriatingly Expensive, Slow Internet Still Owns the Skies | Sam Grobart | Bloomberg.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In the fall of 2008, Louis C.K. was a guest on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and delivered a soon-to-be-viral rant called “Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy.” It was about how we live in a time of mind-blowing technological achievement, and all we do is complain about it. His main source of amazement was—again, this was seven years ago—airplane Wi-Fi. He recounted his experience with it, how incredible it was to watch YouTube while soaring above the clouds, and how the network broke down minutes after passengers started using it. “The guy next to me says, ‘This is bulls---,” Louis tells O’Brien. “Like, how quickly the world owes him something he knew existed only 10 seconds ago!”

It’s a clip Michael Small knows well. “Oh sure,” he says. “That’s huge around here.” Small is the chief executive officer of Gogo, the largest in-flight Internet provider in the U.S. You might think an old comedy bit about in-flight Wi-Fi would be charmingly quaint; that most of the kinks would have been worked out by now and service would be fast and reliable. But you don’t think that. If you’ve flown for work on a major U.S. airline over the past five years, you’ve probably used Gogo, and “fast and reliable” are probably not how you’d describe it. More like “hell-sent and extortionate.”


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Coming Soon: Building on Our Progress of Broadband Investment and Competition | Jeffrey Zients | Benton Foundation

Coming Soon: Building on Our Progress of Broadband Investment and Competition | Jeffrey Zients | Benton Foundation | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it
Summary: The White House has received input from all federal agencies on new ways to promote broadband investment, deployment, and competition.

President Obama has led a sustained effort to improve and extend the Internet to every corner of the country and improve broadband speed and quality. And under his leadership, we’ve made major gains. Since 2009, 45 million more Americans have adopted broadband. We’ve expanded high-speed wireless to cover more than 98 percent of the American people. We’ve installed and upgraded over 114,000 miles of fiber as part of the Recovery Act. And we’ve stood up for net neutrality, so companies of all sizes have the ability to provide innovative products and services to customers around the world without unfair barriers being put in their way.


All this progress brings real benefits for American students, workers, and businesses. But we still have work to do. There are places where Internet access and digital content can be a game-changer, but where service just isn’t keeping up.


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Baltimore, MD Broadband Coordinator Hardebeck: Municipal broadband a 'distinct possibility' | Rick Seltzer | Baltimore Business Journal

Baltimore, MD Broadband Coordinator Hardebeck: Municipal broadband a 'distinct possibility' | Rick Seltzer | Baltimore Business Journal | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Baltimore City could eventually offer municipal Internet service as it seeks to expand high-speed access, its first broadband coordinator said Wednesday.

Jason Hardebeck is stepping into the new role of city broadband coordinator after receiving Board of Estimates approval Wednesday morning. Hardebeck is a veteran of the technology and startup sectors who sold software company WhoGlue Inc. to Facebook in 2011 and then became executive director of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council. He more recently co-chaired Baltimore's Smarter City Task Force, which Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called together to find ways to boost technology and broadband in the city.

It was the task force that recommended the creation of the broadband coordinator position. In taking on the role, Hardebeck will now oversee efforts to expand connectivity in Baltimore and make broadband access more affordable, Rawlings-Blake said.


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New Malware Attack Tries To Trick People By Pretending To Be EFF | Techdirt

New Malware Attack Tries To Trick People By Pretending To Be EFF | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has put out an alert noting that, as part of a larger spear phishing attack campaign, to try to gain control over computers, a group has created a fake EFF website, designed to trick people into thinking they're going to EFF's actual website, but really installing some pretty nasty malware.


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Kentucky Issues Bonds for Statewide Internet System | Shelly Sigo | BondBuyer.com

Kentucky Issues Bonds for Statewide Internet System | Shelly Sigo | BondBuyer.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Kentucky is financing a statewide high-speed Internet system in a first-of-its kind P3 deal that market participants said should offer higher yield to investors.

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority, as conduit issuer, is pricing $230.05 million of 30-year tax exempt bonds Thursday.

Bond proceeds will be loaned to the concessionaire in the Bluegrass state's first availability payment public-private partnership.

Co-managers on the transaction are Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Barclays Capital Inc.

The funds will be used to construct the more than 3,200-mile-long, fiber-optic "middle mile" system, which is expected to have an overall cost of $324 million, according to state officials.

Kentucky's transaction "is a first-of-its-kind approach to broadband connectivity statewide," said Fitch analyst Daniel Adelman, making it a unique, first-generation telecommunications project.


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