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Disruptions: Stuck With a Carrier for the Long Haul | NYTimes.com

Disruptions: Stuck With a Carrier for the Long Haul | NYTimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If dating were like the cellphone industry, you would have to sign a contract when you entered a relationship stating that you would remain monogamous for two years, even if you wanted to break up. That’s what cellular carriers have pulled off by successfully lobbying for a recent government ruling that you cannot take the phone you paid for and switch to another provider.

 

It’s the latest reminder that owning a cellphone on one of the biggest United States providers can sometimes feel like an unhappy relationship. Time and again, in the minds of many customers, these companies take advantage of us and there isn’t much we can do about it.

 

Srinivasan Keshav, a professor at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, who studies mobile computing, has found that cell carriers make more than a 4,000 percent profit on text messages. Sending a megabyte of text messages over the cell network costs customers roughly $1,500. What does it cost carriers? Close to nothing, as texts piggyback on other data transfers, including voice calls. The carriers combined make billions of dollars a year in fees on texting alone.

 

Then there was AT&T’s decision in mid-2010 to kill unlimited data plans on smartphones for new customers. As Felix Salmon of Reuters wrote at the time, “AT&T prefers to make life harder for its customers, if that’s going to give it a little bit more money.” For those who kept their unlimited plans and use larger amounts of data, like me, AT&T sometimes slows the data connection on its network.

 

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Detroit: More Collaboration Is Better and Other Secrets of a Successful Town-Gown Relationship | Alex Feldman | Next City

Detroit: More Collaboration Is Better and Other Secrets of a Successful Town-Gown Relationship | Alex Feldman | Next City | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Have you heard of Detroit’s Big 3?


No, the other three: Wayne State University, Henry Ford Health System and Detroit Medical Center.


If Detroit is to truly come back, these institutions, located in a two-square-mile area in the heart of the city’s urban core, will drive the resurgence.


Anchor institutions, such as those making up Detroit’s “other” Big 3, hold incredible potential to transform the cities and neighborhoods in which they reside — but they will not do so if left to their own devices. Tremendous strategy, creativity, perseverance and collaboration are required for success. 


As the United States has shifted from a production economy to a knowledge-based and service-based economy over the last 50 years, universities and hospitals have become increasingly important assets to American cities. These institutions are often referred to as “anchors” because of their permanence and physical and social ties to surrounding communities.


Beyond fulfilling their respective missions to educate, heal, cultivate the arts or provide other services, these institutions should also be considered economic engines for their cities. By employing large work forces, purchasing vast quantities of goods and services, attracting investment through capital projects and research activities, and providing constituents access to food, retail, and other amenities, anchors have the capacity to shape their surroundings and enhance quality of life for residents and institutional associates alike.


In some instances, a mutually beneficial dynamic organically evolves between an institution and its surrounding neighborhood, creating economically sustainable commercial corridors, vibrant streets and dense, diverse neighborhoods. The U.S. has plenty of great college towns to showcase this — such as Ann Arbor, Michigan or Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


In many other cases, especially in underserved urban areas, institutional and civic leadership must champion proactive projects, programs and policies to achieve such a balance — the process of which is known as an “anchor strategy.”


Anchor strategies broadly aim to leverage an institution’s demand and assets to maximize its impact in the community. This can be done through hiring local workers, purchasing from local vendors, providing residents incentives to live in the community, bringing business to local retail and commercial corridors, and overall aiding in the creation of a safe and thriving community.


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Huawei unveils LTE smart grid solution | CNBCAfrica.com

Huawei unveils LTE smart grid solution | CNBCAfrica.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

According to the company, the eLTE smart grid solution is based on the most advanced 4G wireless communication technology and enables power operators to build efficient communications networks for their power grids.


“Power distribution networks are often widely distributed to accommodate electrical power feeds to dense cities and rural communities. Instant communication systems and reliable power infrastructure maintenance is vital for efficient production and distribution of electricity,” Huawei said.


“Technologies such as Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) are also important because it provides greater accuracy in meter reading and reduces the amount of manual labour required, to improve personnel safety.”


Huawei indicated that the smart grid solution provides Distribution Automation (DA) and AMI backhaul as well as value-added services such as trunking dispatch, video surveillance, and mobile platforms.


“These services enable online early warning alerts, real-time fault monitoring, quick fault location, self-healing mechanisms, and effective load monitoring and management,” it said.


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2014 smart grid progress report is out: find out where YOUR state ranks | Smart Grid News

2014 smart grid progress report is out: find out where YOUR state ranks | Smart Grid News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Texas and California made the most progress in with their grid modernization programs in 2014, according to a state-by-state ranking conducted by the GridWise® Alliance and the Smart Grid Policy Center. The two states were tied in this year’s rankings, as they were in 2013.

 

The rankings, referred to as the Grid Modernization Index (GMI), assesses and ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia on how much progress they have made in upgrading their electric systems with smart grid technologies.

 

The formal announcement was made during the National Association of Regulatory Commissioners (NARUC) annual meeting on Monday.

 

Following Texas and California in the rankings were Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Nevada, the District of Columbia, Arizona and Virginia completing the top 10 ranked states.

 

“The rapid evolution of our electric supply and the increasing engagement of consumers, as owners of distributed energy resources, have major implications for the reliability, resiliency, and security of the electric grid,” commented Becky Harrison, GridWise Alliance CEO.

 

“Investments in the modernization of both the transmission and distribution grids are critical to enable the effective and efficient migration of these new supply and demand options.

 

The full report is available at http://gridwise.org.

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Latest FTC enforcement action shows why it’s so hard to figure out who to trust online | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com

Latest FTC enforcement action shows why it’s so hard to figure out who to trust online  | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

TRUSTe, a company that is supposed to help consumers figure out which sites to trust online, deceived consumers, the Federal Trade Commission alleged in a complaint disclosed Monday.


Since 1997, TRUSTe  says it has certified the privacy chops of thousands of Web sites -- giving them a digital "privacy seal" to display on their sites as a sign that they could be trusted. It claims big names as clients, including McDonald's and the New York Times.


But the FTC says that the organization failed to conduct annual re-certifications of companies holding TRUSTe privacy seals in over 1,000 cases bewteen 2006 and 2013, despite claiming on its Web site that it conducted such re-certifications yearly. It also says TRUSTe failed to require companies using its seals to update references to the organization’s non-profit status after it became a for-profit company in 2008. 


“TRUSTe promised to hold companies accountable for protecting consumer privacy, but it fell short of that pledge,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez in a press release.  “Self-regulation plays an important role in helping to protect consumers.  But when companies fail to live up to their promises to consumers, the FTC will not hesitate to take action."


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Comcast on a Store Building Spree; Could Become as Ubiquitous as Verizon Wireless Outlets | Stop the Cap!

Comcast on a Store Building Spree; Could Become as Ubiquitous as Verizon Wireless Outlets | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Although it is unlikely to rival Starbucks, Comcast has launched a significant number of store openings in eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey to handle customer support, bill payments, and equipment exchanges.


Last week the cable company held a special reception to open its 4,000-square foot Xfinity Store in the Roosevelt Mall in northeastern Philadelphia.


The small format stores will resemble the kinds of small stores wireless companies like AT&T and Verizon run to handle customer issues and put the latest equipment on display.


Comcast now operates more than 500 stores nationwide and in October announced it would accept walk in equipment returns at any of the 4,400 UPS Stores. Customers will be able to return unwrapped/unboxed equipment at no charge just by dropping it off.


Comcast has been notorious for its understaffed customer care centers that often force customers to stand in long lines, sometimes extending out the door.

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Merger Live or Die, Time Warner CEO Robert Marcus Cashes In: Nets $2.3 Million in Stock Sale | Stop the Cap!

Merger Live or Die, Time Warner CEO Robert Marcus Cashes In: Nets $2.3 Million in Stock Sale | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Time Warner Cable CEO Robert D. Marcus is a winner if he stays CEO of an independent Time Warner Cable or an even bigger winner if his efforts to sell the company to Comcast are eventually successful with regulators.


Marcus will enjoy a Thanksgiving holiday with his money — including an extra $2,272,320 he just won from a sale of 16,000 awarded shares of Time Warner Cable stock, sold at an average price of $142.02 a share on the open market.


He still has plenty of Time Warner Cable stock left — 61,281 shares worth nearly $9 million. If Time Warner Cable is ultimately sold to Comcast as he hopes, Marcus will walk away from the company after less than one year as its CEO with a golden parachute package worth at least $80 million.

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LA: Vidalia Moves Ahead With New Technology Center, Big Pipe Across the Mississippi | community broadband networks

LA: Vidalia Moves Ahead With New Technology Center, Big Pipe Across the Mississippi | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

When we last checked in with Vidalia, the Louisiana town of 4,300 had implemented free Wi-Fi in its new municipal complex. In October, the community began constructing the Vidalia Technology Center (VTC), as reported by MyArkLaMiss.com


The VTC will be at the site of former city hall office. The new facility will serve as entrepreneur incubation space in addition to housing infrastructure for the city's future fiber network. With Senator Mary Landrieu's help, Vidalia secured a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to build the VTC. The City is providing 35% matching funds.


The current key to better connectivity in Vidalia is a connection across the Mississippi River. The Natchez Democrat reports that the City obtained a permit to run a fiber backbone across the U.S. 84 Mississippi River bridge. Apparently, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) does not normally allow the installation of utilities on bridges it controls. 


The City has been working on obtaining permission for almost two years. Another Natchez Democrat article reports:


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North Georgia Town Considering Fiber for Business | community broadband networks

North Georgia Town Considering Fiber for Business | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The City Council of the city of Commerce, GA is considering using its existing fiber resources to offer connectivity to local businesses. At a November 3rd work session, Council members reviewed the plan and, according to the Main Street News, members voiced support for the idea.


“We’ve been actively working on this for months,” [City Manager Pete] Pyrzenski told the council. “We’ve been counseled on, we’ve talked through the options… this is a pretty viable utility for Commerce.”

“We are ready to pull the fiber,” Pyrzenski declared. “Our role is to supply the fiber. We’re not going to get into cable TV, not going to get into telephone, just high-speed Internet.”


“Businesses have been looking for an alternative,” noted Mayor Clark Hill.


Windstream now serves the community of 6,500 but there have been significant complaints and there are no other options in this north Georgia town.


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WV: Broadband development council to disband | Mandi Cardosi | State Journal

WV: Broadband development council to disband | Mandi Cardosi | State Journal | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Broadband technology is hard to get to some areas of the Mountain State, and while that didn't stop officials from trying, one effort is being curtailed.


In 2008, the West Virginia Legislature formed a council to help with the state's issues of getting broadband access to families all over the state. With a budget of $5 million, the goal of the council included getting the wireless access to students of families living where they didn't have easy access to the Internet for homework and research.


The Broadband Development Council was created to administer and oversee broadband development in the state of West Virginia, especially to bring the broadband services to un-served or under-served parts of the state. According to the council, they will disband while the Legislature lets them go out of existence.


Judge Dan O'Hanlon was assigned by the governor to be chairman of the development council.


“That is a big part of the answer in West Virginia — this last-mile wireless, getting broadband to people's homes in a fairly cost effective way,” he said. “It's not a very expensive proposition, but it seems to work very well.”


O'Hanlon said he and the other members hadn't received or asked for information about why the council would not be renewed.


“It would take a statute to revive,” O'Hanlon said. “If you aren't on that list you don't exist.”


O'Hanlon said the project was focused on six or seven experiments in the Northern Panhandle of the state. He said the research the group did in that part of the state could be applied to other, more rural parts of West Virginia as well.


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Incumbent telcos warn feds: Let us have our way, or the consumer gets it | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom

Incumbent telcos warn feds: Let us have our way, or the consumer gets it | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Incumbent telephone companies have warned the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (and indirectly, the Obama administration) that they will tie up in the courts for years any move to regulate Internet services as a Title II common carrier telecommunications service available to all customer premises without discrimination.

Now they are citing a study to back up their threat that they will also significantly pare back construction of new infrastructure. In other words, if you don't let us pick and choose which neighborhoods we want to serve, we'll leave the 19 million premises the FCC estimates are not served by landline Internet service twisting in the wind. Ditto those on increasingly obsolete, legacy DSL service provided over aging copper cables.

That's monopolist speak for if you don't leave us alone, the consumer gets it.


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RS Fiber Broadband Initiative Moving Forward to bring service to rural MInnesota | Ann Treacy

Here’s the latest news from RS Fiber…

RS Fiber Broadband Initiative Moving Forward Bringing High Speed Internet, Television and Phone Services to Portions of Renville & Sibley Counties

WINTHROP, Minn. – The RS Fiber Cooperative fiber optic broadband initiative is moving forward. RS Fiber’s Board of Directors recently endorsed an updated business plan and financing strategy. RS Fiber representatives presented this information to the Renville- Sibley Joint Powers Board (JPB), which is comprised of representatives from 10 cities and 17 townships in the proposed service area.

The JPB was formed to issue general obligation tax abatement bonds that will fund a portion of the fiber optic network’s construction costs and start-up expenses. Upon completion, RS Fiber Cooperative will operate a fiber optic network for most of Sibley County and portions of Renville, Nicollet, and McLeod County. Over 6,200 potential customers will be able to use this high-speed fiber optic network, which will provide data speeds that can be over ten times faster than speeds offered by current service providers.

RS Fiber is a total communications solution, offering affordable and reliable high-speed broadband internet access, phone and television. RS Fiber’s network will provide download Internet speeds of 50 megabits per second or greater. Network download and upload speeds will remain consistent throughout the day and will not change even if every customer is simultaneously using the services. TV service will provide clear pictures unaffected by weather and will include favorite local programming like live high school sports. Prices will be very competitive to existing service providers.


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Is It The Beginning Of The End For Cable Or Just A New Beginning? | Braxton Jarratt | TechCrunch.com

Is It The Beginning Of The End For Cable Or Just A New Beginning? | Braxton Jarratt | TechCrunch.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In mid-October, HBO dropped a bombshell — albeit a long-rumored one — with the news that it would launch a standalone streaming service some time in 2015. The media and Game of Thrones fans everywhere immediately went into overdrive, analyzing every last one of the scarce details to death (What content will be included? How much will it cost? Should I cancel my Netflix subscription?!!).

CBS’s announcement of its own streaming service just a day later, followed by similar news from its flagship entertainment channel, Showtime, only fueled the frenzy and the general feeling that major changes are underway for pay TV.

Naturally, there were plenty of pundits and industry watchers who were quick to declare this latest development the beginning of the end of cable TV as we know it. And while only time will tell exactly how disruptive these services will be, I think it’s premature to sound the death knell. In fact, I see this as far from a catastrophe for cable; it’s a natural next step.

Over the last several years, we’ve seen companies like Netflix and Aereo start to chip away at the traditional cable model, leading to incremental change across the industry. These latest developments are a clear indicator that the pace of change is about to drastically speed up, and what was once a slow-moving evolution is getting a shot in the arm. Here’s a look what some of the ripple effects will be.


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A Reason to Celebrate: FCC Examines Future of the Phone Network | Clarissa Ramon | Public Knowledge

A Reason to Celebrate: FCC Examines Future of the Phone Network | Clarissa Ramon | Public Knowledge | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Today is a step forward for the 303 million people residing the in U.S. who depend on some kind of phone service for their personal, business, and emergency communications.


This morning the Federal Communication Commission voted to move forward on two proposals that examine the future of the phone network and 911 emergency services. This vote builds on the FCC’s bipartisan, unanimous consensus around core network values that include public safety, universal access, competition, and consumer protection.

Public input to the FCC will be instrumental in developing federal guidance for the phone network transitions that protects consumers and vulnerable populations. The open comment period is an opportunity for people who care about phone service to make their voices heard.


Rural voices, grassroots organizations, consumer advocacy groups, and state agencies who have been vocal on this issue should continue to highlight the importance of a reliable, affordable, and universally available network that includes all communities. This stakeholder input will be critical in ensuring that the digitally underserved do not become the permanently unserved.


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Detroit: University-Community Engagement Is a Two-Way Street | Sandy Smith | Next City

Detroit: University-Community Engagement Is a Two-Way Street |  Sandy Smith | Next City | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

How can urban “anchor institutions” — colleges, universities, hospitals and other major institutions that are rooted in a specific place — strengthen their communities?


One parking lot at a time.


Midtown Detroit President Susan Mosey spent much of 2014 persuading her neighborhood’s major employers, Wayne State University, Henry Ford Health System and Detroit Medical Center, to give up one surface parking lot each for redevelopment in a neighborhood where eliminating surface parking is a major catalyst for community revitalization.


The panelists at Next City’s City Sessions panel on “The University as Community” on Nov. 19th at Moore College of Art in Philadelphia had many other examples of little things that “eds and meds” and other large place-based non-profit institutions can do to hasten big change in their neighborhoods and cities.


It could be something as small as offering space in an institutional building for a local bakery to set up a cafe, or shifting printing to a struggling local printer that allowed it to expand and modernize with a new $2 million printing plant (as happened in Detroit), or designing campus buildings so their main entrances open out onto city streets rather than in toward campus (a Chicago example).


Yet if these are the bricks with which universities, hospitals and other anchor institutions can build stronger communities, the mortar of institutional commitment to engagement with the community is every bit as important. That mortar also has to be mixed in the right way, in partnership with the community rather than acting independently.


During the event, several elements emerged as keys to successful community engagement. Here are some of the most important ones.


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Australia: Smart grids are giving power to the people | Emily Parkinson | Financial Review

Australia: Smart grids are giving power to the people | Emily Parkinson | Financial Review | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Much has been made of the fact that it is energy consumers, not the utility engineers of old, who will power the poles and wires businesses of the future.


The penetration of rooftop solar in Australia tells the story of just how keen consumers are to generate their own electricity. But some are going a step further by managing the flow of their own energy usage through microgrids and smart grids.


“Once a household or business has a solar panel on the roof, or a home storage battery, they are no longer a passive consumer,” says Mark Coughlin, PwC’s power utilities expert.


“This has major implications for existing industry heavyweights, investors, governments and regulators.”


Empowered by technology, and with a huge appetite for self-sufficiency, these consumers are reorganising their usage, lessening their exposure to peak charges and, in some cases, challenging the distributors at their own game.


In Bendigo, in Victoria’s north-west, a group of local businesses has come up with their own community-run power station network to do just that.


Facing another costly upgrade to the region’s transmission network, a group of 10 manufacturers organised themselves into their own smart grid to voluntarily cut usage and allev­iate the capacity constraint.


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MN: Resilient Region Five selected as a Blandin Broadband Community | Brainerd Daily Dispatch

MN: Resilient Region Five selected as a Blandin Broadband Community | Brainerd Daily Dispatch | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Blandin Foundation has announced that Region Five (north central Minnesota) leaders were successful in their application to become a Blandin Broadband Community, one of only 10 selected in the state. The announcement was made Wednesday in Brainerd, before more than 160 participants in the Border to Border Broadband: No Community Left Behind conference, co-sponsored by Blandin and Connect Minnesota.


The Blandin Broadband Communities program is an intensive, two-year partnership between Blandin Foundation and selected rural Minnesota communities. The program provides planning, technical and financial support to communities that demonstrate the determination to bring the benefits of a broadband-enabled economy to their communities.


Region Five is one of 10 new rural Minnesota communities that will join nine previously-named Blandin Broadband Communities in the state. Other Blandin Broadband Communities announced were the Central Woodlands (east central Minnesota), Martin County, Sherburne County, Chisago County, Redwood County, Renville/Sibley Counties, Red Wing, Nobles County, and Carlton County.


"At Blandin Foundation we recognize that broadband access - and the skills to use it - are essential to expanding opportunity for all. Thanks to community leaders in Region Five and in the other communities with whom we partner, Minnesota is making important strides toward ensuring that rural places and the economically and socially disadvantaged are not left behind," said Bernadine Joselyn, Director of Public Policy and Engagement, in a news release.


Communities were selected based on demonstrated commitment to work together across sectors to set and meet information technology goals and bridge digital divides.


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No cash, cards, just mobile pay for a week - Hattiesburg American | Hattiesburg American

No cash, cards, just mobile pay for a week - Hattiesburg American | Hattiesburg American | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Attempt at your own risk: For an entire week, I left all my cash and credit cards at home to see how well wallet-free mobile services work in the real world.


Apple Pay has gotten a lot of attention in recent weeks, but there are lots of other mobile-payment systems. Google Wallet uses a similar wireless technology called NFC, or near-field communication. Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts have apps that generate bar codes for their stores.

A phone case called LoopPay mimics the signals produced by card swipes so you can pay with your phone just about anywhere credit cards are accepted — at least in theory.


The good news: I didn't get arrested for failing to pay my debts. But on two occasions, friends had to buy me drinks. Another night I had to borrow $43 in cash. And I prepaid for drinks at one bar because I couldn't leave a card to keep the tab open.


I know many people aren't going to leave all cash and cards behind, even once these payment systems take off. I did it to challenge myself to find places that accept them.


The week began on Nov. 2, the day of the New York City Marathon. Apart from subway rides, my expenses were included with my $227 registration fee. But when it came time to celebrate, drinks at the local bars I went to required cash or plastic. Fortunately, I was able to use the "I just ran a marathon" excuse on friends. Fast forward to the end of the week, when I used the last ride on my transit card and had to walk 2.5 miles home from a "Sesame Street" exhibit. By that time, I was already wearing jeans to work because I couldn't use coins for laundry.


I am reviewing the various systems separately at http://bit.ly/1wPwoq4.


Here, I go over some of the things I discovered.


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As Expected: Trial Lawyers Made A Huge Miscalculation In Killing Recent Patent Reform | Techdirt.com

As Expected: Trial Lawyers Made A Huge Miscalculation In Killing Recent Patent Reform | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Back in May, we wrote about how, despite pretty much everyone agreeing on a (decent, if not amazing) patent reform bill in the Senate, the whole thing got shot down at the last minute.


That was when the trial lawyers called Senator Harry Reid, asking him to kill the whole thing, which he did by telling Senator Patrick Leahy that he wouldn't allow the bill to go to the floor for a vote.


This came after months of detailed negotiations, getting nearly everyone into agreement on the bill, which would have made life at least somewhat more difficult for patent trolls.


About a week after that, we pointed out that it seemed likely that the patent trolls had miscalculated badly, because it was widely expected that the Republicans would take control of the Senate in the fall (as they did), and they were more gungho on real patent reform and (obviously) not concerned with what trial lawyers think (mocking trial lawyers being a hobby of Republican politicians).

And, indeed, that prediction appears to have been quite accurate. Senator Orrin Hatch -- who is seen as something of a copyright maximalist though apparently doesn't feel that way about patents -- went on the attack against patent trolls in a floor speech.


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TX: Google Fiber Prices Announced in Austin: No Surprises – 5/1Mbps Free, 1Gbps $70/Month | Stop the Cap!

TX: Google Fiber Prices Announced in Austin: No Surprises – 5/1Mbps Free, 1Gbps $70/Month | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Austin residents will receive Google Fiber service under three rate plans: $70 for 1,000/1,000Mbps or 5/1Mbps at no charge after paying a $300 construction fee. A package including television costs $130 a month.


Google Fiber announced its prices this week in anticipation of a December launch in the capital city of Texas. But Google Fiber will arrive with at least two competitors beating them to the gigabit space: Grande Communications and AT&T.


Austin is the first city in the country to have three concurrent gigabit providers. Only Time Warner Cable has elected to sit out the city’s gigabit broadband fight. Google Fiber is expected to face stiffer competition in Austin than in Kansas City and Provo, where it also operates gigabit fiber networks. AT&T U-verse with GigaPower matches

Google’s $70 price and San Marcos-based Grande Communications beats it, charging $64.99 for its 1,000Mbps service.


Google is sweetening the deal by converting the former home of a children’s museum into a “Fiber Space,” a community center at 201 Colorado Street – hosting concerts, community meetings, and clubs, in addition to showcasing Google’s fiber network.


As with AT&T’s gigabit U-verse upgrade, only a limited number of residents in Austin will initially be able to get the new fiber service. Google is initially lighting up areas in south and southeastern Austin. For some, the wait to eventually sign up could take up to several years as Google slowly builds out its network in the city of 885,000 people.

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Community Broadband Media Roundup - November 21, 2014 | community broadband networks

Community Broadband Media Roundup - November 21, 2014 | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Tennessee officials are raising the “Gig City” rally cry. Last week, public and private sector leaders gathered in Chattanooga to make sure the FCC knows where they stand on removing restrictions to community broadband in the state. GovTech’s Brian Heaton covered the rally.


“What needs to [happen] is removing the restriction of the electronic footprint, so anybody who wants to provide accessible, high-speed broadband will not be encumbered by unnecessary regulations,” [Tennessee Sen. Janice] Bowling (R) said.


Public officials again stressed the need to increase connectivity beyond the city’s borders in order to develop the area’s economic future.


Longmont, Colorado is one of this week's darlings of community broadband. Trevor Hughes reported on USA Today about the city connecting residents to its fiber optic network. The public network highlights the problems communities face when private networks fail to provide service as promised.


“Longmont knows all about the failings of the private marketplace. Twice the city partnered with private companies to provide high-speed Internet to residents over the past 15 years, and twice the private companies failed. Now city workers are picking up where those private ventures failed, using low-cost government loans to help pay workers to bring the service from the network that "last mile" to peoples' homes.


"It was the private sector that failed here," Roiniotis said. "We tried. We reached out to the private sector to build this network. "If we had waited long enough, there's a chance a cable company would have eventually done this. We decided, no we don't want to wait."


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Now you can send money over Snapchat, too | Hayley Tsukayama | WashPost.com

Now you can send money over Snapchat, too | Hayley Tsukayama | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Snapchat lets you send friends videos, pictures and, now, your share of the brunch bill. On Monday, the company unveiled "Snapcash" --- a feature in its app that lets you send money from your debit card straight to your Snapchat contacts.


Snapchat announced the new option on its blog and in a glitzy, almost Busby Berkeley-style musical message to users.


Users will be able to tie their Snapchat accounts to their debit cards, and essentially text cash between them. When someone types in, for example, "$15" in the Snapchat app, a green button will show up giving them the option to send that amount to their friend.  According to TechCrunch, if the recipient doesn't take the money within 24 hours, it's refunded back to your account. The feature is currently in the Android app and is coming soon to iOS.


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Michigan's First Gigabit Village - Community Broadband Bits Episode 126 | community broadband networks

Michigan's First Gigabit Village - Community Broadband Bits Episode 126 | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The small village of Sebewaing has become the first gigabit village in the state of Michigan. Superintendent of Sebewaing Light and Water utility Melanie McCoy joins us to discuss the project on episode 126 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast.


With approximately 1,800 people, Sebewaing has cracked the code for a small local government to deliver gigabit services to the community. In the show, we discuss previous telecommunications investments by the village and how they financed the gigabit fiber deployment.


We also discuss how Michigan law, designed to discourage municipal networks, delayed the project and increased the costs as well as the annoyance to many residents who long ago became impatient with how long it took to begin turning on the Internet service.


Read our full coverage of Sebewaing here.


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IP Transition Discussion on WAMU Kojo Nnamdi Radio Show | community broadband networks

IP Transition Discussion on WAMU Kojo Nnamdi Radio Show | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Discussion over the "IP transition" has taken a back seat in the media lately as news outlets focus on the question of local authority over the right to invest in fiber network infrastructure. The IP transition is the gradual change from older analog mostly copper networks to packet-switched IP approaches that may use any medium (copper, fiber, wireless, etc). Some big carriers, like AT&T, are pushing to change the traditional rules applied to telephony and telecommunications as part of this technological change.


In October, Kojo Nnamdi interviewed Jodie Griffin from Public Knowledge, Technology Reporter Brian Fung, and Rick Boucher, a lobbyist from the Sidney Austin law firm. The show, The Future of Phone Service, is archived and available for you to hear.


As technology creates options for how we speak with each other, rules, regulations, and policies must also stay current. In this interview, Nnamdi and his guests touch on some of the basic concerns we face moving forward. From the WAMU show description:


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OTT bundles will cost as much or more than regular cable subscriptions | Michelle Clancy | RapidTVNews.com

OTT bundles will cost as much or more than regular cable subscriptions | Michelle Clancy | RapidTVNews.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Media giants launching over-the-top (OTT) services is all the rage right now, as the likes of CBS, HBO and others look to take on Netflix directly, while bolstering their advertising coffers.

And the move looks to enable consumers to create their own a la carte TV plan by cobbling together various digital services. One problem though: the economics don’t quite work.

Janney Capital Markets analyst Tony Wible has estimated that as much as $4 billion could move from TV network ad budgets this year into digital services. Networks thus "need to find ways that assure they can collect comparable revenue if the traditional ecosystem falters," Wible said. And accordingly, the waters are being tested for the proposition in offering consumers more flexibility.

But, tallying ratings, affiliate fees, ad revenue and other data, the amount that OTT bundles would need to charge to be profitable means that consumers would be paying more than they do for an average cable subscription if they put together more than two of them; a nine-network FX bundle without sports (but including National Geographic) would need to be priced at $29 per month; Disney, with four networks including ABC (but excluding ESPN), would cost $22 per month. And so on.

What about single-channel options? HBO, Showtime and CBS all announced the development of their very own single-channel OTT video services last month. But ABC News and the Associated Press took a look at things from a cost perspective, and totted up the monthly dues for Netflix ($8.99), Hulu Plus ($7.99), CBS All Access ($5.99) and the expected price of HBO's service (about $15), and came up with $37.97, a figure that is roughly half of the average price of a traditional cable or satellite subscription (the FCC pegs it at $64.41).

"The way things are priced, you won't be able to get more than four or five channels for less than your pay-TV bill now, and even getting two or three channels will be a significant portion of that bill," FBR analyst Barton Crockett told ABC News. "I think because of that there will be a strong incentive for people to sign up for a (cable) bundle."

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Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus now guarded by Daleks | Andy Patrizio | NetworkWorld.com

Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus now guarded by Daleks | Andy Patrizio | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If you ever visit the Microsoft campus in the Silicon Valley and hear a mechanical voice shout "Ex-ter-min-ate!", don't be too spooked. It just means some geek humor has gone a little crazy.

Microsoft's campus in Silicon Valley will be patrolled by a team of five security guard robots from a company called Knightscope. The robot, dubbed K5, is five feet tall, weighs 300 pounds, and looks disturbingly like the Daleks of "Doctor Who" fame.

Fortunately, they are not armed with lasers. They use cameras and sensors to monitor their assigned area and look for suspicious activity. They are armed with high-definition cameras and audio recorders, able to record events and voices, analyze faces, read license plates, and even detect biological and chemical agents.

The K5s also use laser scanning and GPS for navigation, have weather sensors, and communicate via Wi-Fi. Their batteries run for about 24 hours and the K5 will return to a dock/power station to recharge.

Should they spot a problem, they call a human security guard. I'm just waiting for Knightscope to decide to cut out the middle man. Or for bored Microsofties to try and hack the thing to play pranks on people.

That sounds like the plot of a bad SyFy movie, doesn't it?

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