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CA: Urban issues take the lead at Sacramento broadband meetings | ESCRBConsortium.org

CA: Urban issues take the lead at Sacramento broadband meetings | ESCRBConsortium.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Digital literacy and broadband adoption – the wired kind anyway – were high on most priority lists in Sacramento this week. Broadband infrastructure, well, not so much. For four days, various (directly and indirectly) state-funded broadband groups met with agency and legislative staff, policy makers and telecoms companies. Much of the talk was about social service and educational programs, and how to fund them.

 

Broadband week, as many were calling it, kicked off Monday with an assembly committee hearing regarding digital haves and have nots. To the extent those testifying advocated, it was in favor of chairman Steven Bradford’s (D-Los Angeles) plan to shift money away from rural infrastructure construction and towards wiring urban public house projects and providing equipment and training to residents. Telecoms company representatives liked the idea – it would mean less competition and more customers for them – as did committee vice chair Jim Patterson (R-Fresno).

 

The conversation on Tuesday ranged more widely. Leaders from regional broadband consortia funded by the California Public Utilities Commission talked about progress made over the past year toward their shared goals, including infrastructure development and adoption of Internet service. Much of the same ground was covered Wednesday morning by the California Broadband Council, although the emphasis was decidedly back on urban access and adoption. AT&T’s decision to invest in expanding mobile service rather than upgrading wired plant also took heat.

 

Thursday, the stage shifted to the California Emerging Technology Fund, which hosted people involved in its projects and CPUC consortia. Representatives from federal and state agencies with money to spend on broadband and organizations with ideas for doing so rallied the crowd.

 

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FCC to Verizon: Your throttling had better be about managing congestion, not cash | GigaOM Tech News

FCC to Verizon: Your throttling had better be about managing congestion, not cash | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the Federal Communication Commission, isn’t impressed with Verizon’s recently announced plan to throttle the speeds on its unlimited plans. In a letter to CEO Dan Mead, he asked Verizon to respond to three questions about its plans. Verizon’s stated reasons for the new policy is to help it manage its LTE network congestion, but Wheeler’s query indicates he’s pretty skeptical of Verizon’s justification.


My colleague Kevin Fitchard described the plan this way:


"On October 1, Verizon will start throttling back LTE speeds on its heaviest unlimited-plan subscribers when they move into congested cells on its networks. What that means is that when the network gets crowded, Verizon will prioritize 4G customers who buy their data by the gigabyte over unlimited plan customers who fall into the top fifth percentile of monthly data usage."


The letter from Chairman Wheeler is actually pretty scathing, especially for an agency that recently lost a major court case against Verizon over network neutrality. Wheeler writes:


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CA Representative Waxman Takes Issue With Republican Knock on FCC | Broadcasting & Cable

CA Representative Waxman Takes Issue With Republican Knock on FCC | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In his opening statement for a markup on several bills, House Energy & Commerce Committee ranking member Henry Waxman (pictured) (D-Calif.) took issue with a statement from the committee's leadership criticizing FCC process.


Last week, Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), issued a press release saying "the process is clearly broken and something smells rotten on the [FCC's] Eighth Floor [where the FCC commissioners reside].


Waxman cited that press release and its complaints about the FCC using an "irregular process." He said he disagreed with the assessment, then turned the criticism on the committee.


Waxman complained that the committee was marking up bills, including the LABEL Act and an anti-spoofing bill, without subcommittee markups, which is the regular order. Waxman said bad process can produce bad results, but supported those bills as "common sense" legislation, even if he did not support the process.


"While they were not voted on in subcommittee," he said, " I support their passage."

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Comcast Expands School-Focused IPTV Trial | Multichannel.com

Comcast Expands School-Focused IPTV Trial | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Bridgewater College, a school founded in 1880, is about to get access to something new – an emerging multiscreen video service from Comcast that is delivered entirely over IP.

 

Bridgewater College, a Virginia school with about 1,800 students that’s located about two hours from Washington, D.C., has signed on for Xfinity On Campus, a new IP-delivered subscription video service that supports live TV streaming and on-demand content to select iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch models (the AirPlay function is disabled), and browsers running on PCs and Macs. Comcast is working on an Xfinity On Campus app for Android-powered devices.

 

Bridgewater College joins a small batch of east coast colleges that are testing or preparing to test the Xfinity On Campus, which is still technically in the trial stage. Other schools that are on board include Lasell College, the University of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Drexel University, and Emerson College.


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5 Things We Learned From The GAO Report On Broadband Caps | TheConsumerist.com

5 Things We Learned From The GAO Report On Broadband Caps | TheConsumerist.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Broadband data caps might not be affecting everyone just yet, but that could easily changeas the current wave of ISP merger mania continues. A preliminary government report taking a look at data caps, both wired and wireless, was released this week. It finds that ISPs and subscribers are far from being on the same page when it comes to how much data consumers move.


The Government Accountability Office (GAO), at the behest of Rep. Anna Eshoo of California, looked at broadband data caps by examining ISPs policies, conducting focus groups with the public, and interviewing tech experts and public interest advocacy groups.


The report (PDF) is still preliminary; the final version won’t be released until November. Even so, though, the report is a good gauge of the pitfalls and potential benefits of usage-based pricing plans. The short version? Consumers don’t feel they’re getting all of the info they need, and are worried about their home and mobile broadband providers soaking them for extra cash.


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The Power of the Gig | Jason Meyers | Light Reading

The Power of the Gig | Jason Meyers | Light Reading | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

When I answered an incoming customer service call from Comcast yesterday, all I really hoped was that my experience would be better than this guy's. (See What Can We Learn From Comcast's Customer Service Nightmare?)


Turns out it was. For one, my call was from an automated and far less argumentative voice. Also, I wasn't planning to cancel my service (not yet, anyway). And finally, the automaton told me that Comcast Corp. was doubling my internet speed for no additional charge, effective immediately.


I haven't binge-watched House of Cards since I got that call, so I have yet to know if Comcast's action will improve my often frustrating Netflix Inc. experience. But I know this: I feel a little better about Comcast.


Is it a sign of the times, this unsolicited gesture to satisfy customers and stave off churn? It would seem so -- and it's likely a development driven by ever-increasing competitive pressure, especially from the myriad providers now beginning to offer gigabit services.


These providers run the gamut: There's AT&T Inc., which has recently added San Antonio, Nashville, Dallas/Fort Worth, and three North Carolina communities (Charlotte, Winston-Salem, and Raleigh-Durham) to the list of cities that will join Austin in getting its GigaPower service. There's Google Fiber Inc. , which is signing up customers in Kansas City and Provo, Utah, and has Austin and nine more cities on deck, many of which overlap AT&T's GigaPower map.


But then there are the smaller providers -- according to the Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council , 55 in all in the US, including telcos, municipalities, utilities, and even real estate interests. These are the entities bringing gigabit services to smaller cities and towns, stepping up the competitive pressure on the Comcasts, AT&Ts and Google Fibers of the world, whether those larger players are willing to admit it or not -- and adding to the regulatory ruckus while they're at it.


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Singapore: The Social Laboratory | Shane Harris | ForeignPolicy.com

Singapore: The Social Laboratory | Shane Harris | ForeignPolicy.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In October 2002, Peter Ho, the permanent secretary of defense for the tiny island city-state of Singapore, paid a visit to the offices of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the U.S. Defense Department's R&D outfit best known for developing the M16 rifle, stealth aircraft technology, and the Internet. Ho didn't want to talk about military hardware.


Rather, he had made the daylong plane trip to meet with retired Navy Rear Adm. John Poindexter, one of DARPA's then-senior program directors and a former national security advisor to President Ronald Reagan. Ho had heard that Poindexter was running a novel experiment to harness enormous amounts of electronic information and analyze it for patterns of suspicious activity -- mainly potential terrorist attacks.


The two men met in Poindexter's small office in Virginia, and on a whiteboard, Poindexter sketched out for Ho the core concepts of his imagined system, which Poindexter called Total Information Awareness (TIA). It would gather up all manner of electronic records -- emails, phone logs, Internet searches, airline reservations, hotel bookings, credit card transactions, medical reports -- and then, based on predetermined scenarios of possible terrorist plots, look for the digital "signatures" or footprints that would-be attackers might have left in the data space. The idea was to spot the bad guys in the planning stages and to alert law enforcement and intelligence officials to intervene.


"I was impressed with the sheer audacity of the concept: that by connecting a vast number of databases, that we could find the proverbial needle in the haystack," Ho later recalled. He wanted to know whether the system, which was not yet deployed in the United States, could be used in Singapore to detect the warning signs of terrorism. It was a matter of some urgency. Just 10 days earlier, terrorists had bombed a nightclub, a bar, and the U.S. consular office on the Indonesian island of Bali, killing 202 people and raising the specter of Islamist terrorism in Southeast Asia.


Ho returned home inspired that Singapore could put a TIA-like system to good use. Four months later he got his chance, when an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) swept through the country, killing 33, dramatically slowing the economy, and shaking the tiny island nation to its core.


Using Poindexter's design, the government soon established the Risk Assessment and Horizon Scanning program (RAHS, pronounced "roz") inside a Defense Ministry agency responsible for preventing terrorist attacks and "nonconventional" strikes, such as those using chemical or biological weapons -- an effort to see how Singapore could avoid or better manage "future shocks." Singaporean officials gave speeches and interviews about how they were deploying big data in the service of national defense -- a pitch that jibed perfectly with the country's technophilic culture.


Back in the United States, however, the TIA program had become the subject of enormous controversy. Just a few weeks after Poindexter met with Ho, journalists reported that the Defense Department was funding experimental research on mining massive amounts of Americans' private data. Some members of Congress and privacy and civil liberties advocates called for TIA to be shut down. It was -- but in name only.


In late 2003, a group of U.S. lawmakers more sympathetic to Poindexter's ideas arranged for his experiment to be broken into several discrete programs, all of which were given new, classified code names and placed under the supervision of the National Security Agency (NSA). Unbeknownst to almost all Americans at the time, the NSA was running a highly classified program of its own that actually was collecting Americans' phone and Internet communications records and mining them for connections to terrorists. Elements of that program were described in classified documents disclosed in 2013 by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, sparking the most significant and contentious debate about security and privacy in America in more than four decades.


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US Senate committee report: Mobile phone 'cramming' widespread, profits carriers | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com

US Senate committee report: Mobile phone 'cramming' widespread, profits carriers | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Mobile carriers have pulled in hundreds of millions in profits through third-party charges tacked onto customers’ bills without their consent, according to a report from a U.S. Senate committee.


The carriers have been slow to act against scammers tacking third-party charges onto mobile bills even after thousands of complaints by customers and investigations by multiple state attorneys general during the past six years, said the staff report from the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, released Wednesday.


While the mobile industry has suggested unauthorized third-party billing—often called cramming—is a minor problem, the practice has been “widespread and has likely cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars,” according to the committee staff report.


Third-party billing on mobile phone bills has been “a billion dollar industry that has yielded tremendous revenues for carriers,” the committee report said. The four largest U.S. carriers—AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon—generally take 30 to 40 percent of the cut for third-party services, often tacked on as charges of less than US$10 a month, but continuing indefinitely, the report said.


Those four carriers had assured the committee they were taking “robust” steps to combat a minor problem with mobile cramming when the committee began asking about the issue, said Senator John “Jay” Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat.


“There is now overwhelming evidence that these statements were just not true—cramming on wireless phones has been widespread and has caused consumers substantial harm,” Rockefeller said in a statement.


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Verizon’s slowing down data for some of its heaviest users. And the FCC is calling them out on it. | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

Verizon’s slowing down data for some of its heaviest users. And the FCC is calling them out on it. | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Federal Communications Commission has sent a strongly worded letter to Verizon warning that changes in the way it handles mobile Internet traffic may violate federal regulations.


More broadly, the letter by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is the latest sign that the commission is considering applying its new net neutrality rules to wireless carriers.


Last week, Verizon announced that wireless customers on the company's unlimited 4G LTE data plans would become subject to restrictions on that service beginning in October. The most voracious data users — meaning the top 5 percent, the company said — would see their traffic slowed during periods of heavy demand, with the limits lifted once the congestion had passed or the users moved into range of another cell tower. Verizon already does this for 3G users; the new changes would extend the policy to 4G LTE users, too.


"The vast majority of data customers will not see any impact from Verizon Wireless’ Network Optimization policy, and will be able to browse the Internet, stream music and videos, upload pictures and send emails as they always have," Verizon said in a blog post announcing the changes last week.


A Verizon Wireless spokesman said Wednesday that the announcement last week was "highly targeted and very limited."

"We will officially respond to the chairman's letter once we have received and reviewed it," the company said.


But the targeted nature of the slowdowns may be precisely the problem; citing Verizon's Web site, Wheeler accused the company of discriminating against unlimited data customers but leaving its other customers alone. Wheeler said he was "deeply troubled" by the attempt to apply data restrictions on Verizon's "much more efficient" LTE network, and implied strongly that the company was invoking "network management" as an excuse to make more money.


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Rural Indiana Looks to Tax Increment Financing to Build Fiber Networks | community broadband networks

Rural Indiana Looks to Tax Increment Financing to Build Fiber Networks | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Wabash County, Indiana wants to expand its access to high speed internet through a fiber optic network build out, and is planning to use a distinctive financial tool to do so. The Wabash County Redevelopment Commission has begun the process of assigning a special Economic Development Area designation for the purpose of helping to finance new fiber deployment through parts of the mostly rural county of 33,000 people.


Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is method of public financing that uses future gains in property or sales taxes within a defined area to subsidize a redevelopment or infrastructure project. A local jurisdiction can borrow money up front, build the project, and then use the increased tax receipts it generates to pay off the debt over a period of years. The concept is actually pretty simple: capture the value that something will have in the future to build it now.


TIF  has been a popular approach among local politicians around the country for decades as a way to work around tight budgets and finance improvements in blighted areas, often in the form of public infrastructure. It has sometimes drawn criticism, especially in cities like Chicago where it is very heavily used. One downside is that it effectively takes properties off the general tax rolls. 


More important for our purposes, however, is that the use of TIF for next generation fiber optic networks is a fairly new phenomenon. While municipal networks around the country have used a wide range of financing approaches to cover upfront costs, most have revolved in some way around bonds that are repaid from network revenue. Using TIF to capture the increased property value that a fiber optic network would create is an interesting approach.


In the case of Wabash County, it’s not yet clear exactly how the funds would be used. There is a local private incumbent provider, Metronet, which received $100,000 last year to match its own $1 million investment to bring fiber to a town on the north edge of the county. The county also has a cooperative utility (Wabash County REMC) that provides power and telephone services in rural areas and has expressed interest in using TIF to build out a fiber network. Whichever entity ultimately receives TIF money, it does not appear that the county is interested in owning the network itself.


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BlackBerry buying German firm for voice encryption | John Cox | NetworkWorld.com

BlackBerry buying German firm for voice encryption | John Cox | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

BlackBerry has always touted its mobile devices as secure. But now it plans to make them “more secure” by acquiring a German company that specializes in voice encryption.


BlackBerry will acquire Secusmart GmbH, which offers encryption systems to scramble voice calls, and also data communications. The company was silent about the details of the transaction, except to say it hinges on regulatory approvals.


The company also announced a plan to automatically scan Android apps selected for download by BlackBerry smartphone users. BlackBerry Guardian already combines automated and manual app analysis with Trend Micro’s Mobile App Reputation Service, and continuously monitors apps in the BlackBerry World online store.


Starting with the release later this year of the square-shaped BlackBerry Passport “phablet,” Guardian will autoscan any Android app that the device downloads from any source. Suspicious apps are flagged, and the user can cancel the installation or go forward with it. 


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Internet of things devices contain high number of vulnerabilities, study finds | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com

Internet of things devices contain high number of vulnerabilities, study finds | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A security audit of 10 popular Internet-connected devices—components of the so-called “Internet of things”—identified an alarmingly high number of vulnerabilities.


The study lasted three weeks and was performed by researchers from Hewlett-Packard’s Fortify division. It targeted devices from some of the most common IoT categories: TVs, webcams, home thermostats, remote power outlets, sprinkler controllers, hubs for controlling multiple devices, door locks, home alarms, scales and garage door openers.


All of the analyzed devices, which weren’t named in the resulting report published Tuesday, communicated with some type of cloud service, as well as mobile applications that allowed users to remotely control them.


The HP researchers identified a total of 250 vulnerabilities ranging from issues that could raise privacy concerns to serious problems like lack of transport encryption, vulnerabilities in the administration Web interface, insecure firmware update mechanisms and weak or poorly protected access credentials.


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AT&T defends benefits of proposed DirecTV merger | CNET.com

AT&T defends benefits of proposed DirecTV merger | CNET.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson was in the hot seat in two different congressional hearings Tuesday defending his company's promised benefits and rationale for a proposed merger with satellite TV provider DirecTV.


During judiciary committee meetings in both the US Senate and House of Representatives, CEOs from AT&T and DirecTV reiterated the benefits of their $48.5 billion proposed merger, which includes expanded broadband access for all AT&T customers. The companies also emphasized that without such a merger neither company would be able to compete against cable giants like Comcast.


Public interest advocates from Free Press and Public Knowledge called AT&T's bluff on its promises, stating the company has made similar promises and justifications for each merger it's proposed since buying BellSouth in 2006.


"Again and again, AT&T makes the same arguments and the same promises when it wants to acquire a competitor," said John Bergmayer of Public Knowledge during the House Judiciary Committee hearing. "Yet no merger ever seems to be quite enough for it to achieve its goals, leaving AT&T ample headroom to re-promise and re-commit to the same goals the next time around."


This merger is the second major marriage between communications companies that the government is considering this year. Regulators are also reviewing a merger between the nation's largest and second largest cable operators Comcast and Time Warner. There are also rumors that the two smallest national wireless operators, Sprint and T-Mobile, will strike a deal to merge.


Even though the public opposition to the Comcast/Time Warner merger has been more intense than criticism of possible AT&T/DirecTV or Sprint/T-Mobile mergers, for many consumer advocates the deal between AT&T and DirecTV is another sign that the market is in danger of too much consolidation.


Generally speaking, AT&T is promising improved Internet access for rural customers, faster speed services for many of its customers, and greater efficiencies, which will allow it to invest more in its network. Specifically, in its public interest statement with the Federal Communications Commission it said it will "upgrade two million additional locations to high-speed broadband with GigaPower fiber to the premise and expand our high-speed broadband footprint to an additional 13 million locations."


Bergmayer of Public Knowledge said in his House testimony that it's hard to know if these promises are really above and beyond what AT&T has already promised. Matt Wood of Free Press reiterated this argument in his Senate testimony. AT&T has already allocated billions of dollars through its Project VIP to upgrade its wireless and wireline broadband networks, including the deployment of more fiber to at least 21 additional markets.


These critics each pointed out that when AT&T was seeking approval for its merger with T-Mobile in 2011, the company made similar arguments Then, AT&T said that it needed T-Mobile's spectrum in order to cost-effectively expand its 4G LTE network to 294 million potential customers.


At the time, AT&T's Stephenson said, "this transaction represents a major commitment to strengthen and expand critical infrastructure for our nation's future."


Regulators actually rejected AT&T's arguments, and the company withdrew its acquisition of T-Mobile. As a result, AT&T ended up giving T-Mobile wireless spectrum and paying a hefty break-up fee, which T-Mobile used to upgrade its own network. In spite of these setbacks and the loss of the merger, AT&T still managed to expand its 4G LTE network. The company is on track to cover more than 300 million potential customers with the service by the end of this summer.


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Sky Deutschland's Second Biggest Shareholder Rejects BSkyB's Offer

Sky Deutschland's Second Biggest Shareholder Rejects BSkyB's Offer | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Hedge fund manager Crispin Odey, who is the former son-in-law of Rupert Murdoch, has turned down an offer from U.K. pay TV operator BSkyB to buy his shares in Germany’s Sky Deutschland, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph.


Odey’s hedge fund Odey Asset Management is Sky Deutschland’s second biggest shareholder, after Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, with a stake of around 8%.


Last week, BSkyB, which is controlled by 21st Century Fox, announced a deal to buy Fox’s 57% stake in Sky Deutschland, and its 100% shareholding in Sky Italia.


BSkyB intends to pay £2.9 billion ($4.92 billion) for Fox’s stake in Sky Deutschland, and offer the same share price for the remaining publicly traded shares, valuing them at €6.75 ($9.09) a share.


However, Odey Asset Management told the stock market Tuesday that it “does not intend to tender its shares in this proposed offer.” Odey believes the proposal, effectively a nil premium takeover offer, understates the company’s true value.


Odey told the Telegraph that while Sky Deutschland was already an expensive stock, it was “undervalued on a three-year basis” as there was significant growth in the German TV market.


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US House Energy & Commerce Committee Passes E-LABEL Act | Broadcasting & Cable

US House Energy & Commerce Committee Passes E-LABEL Act | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The House Energy & Commerce Committee has approved the E-LABEL Act (the Enhance Labeling, Accessing, and Branding of Electronic Licenses Act of 2014), which essentially gives the FCC nine months to do what it has already done, which is to allow the manufacturers of electronic devices with integrated screens to opt for on-screen and online labels to provide FCC-required information—like certification and testing—rather than having to affix or etch a physical label.


E-LABEL bills were introduced in the House and Senate at around the same time the FCC announced it was changing its guidelines to allow for onscreen and online labeling of devices with integrated screens, essentially mooting the bills, though the legislation means the FCC could not take the unlikely step of changing its mind and reverting to a physical label mandate.


On July 11, the FCC's Office of Engineering & Technology issued new labeling guidance saying it was authorized to allow alternative means of labeling and it was doing so by advising that all devices with an integral screen can now display that label digitally on that screen, and up to three steps deep into the device menu. The user manual must include information on accessing that FCC info, or it can be on the equipment's website.


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IIA Study: New Network Compact Is Consumer-Driven | Multichannel.com

IIA Study: New Network Compact Is Consumer-Driven | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA) is suggesting that regulators take a fresh look at the so-called network compact and recognize that it should be competition and consumer-driven, with regulation only a targeted means of helping maintain that compact.

 

"The New Network Compact: Consumers Are in Charge," a new study from Anna-Maria Kovacs, visiting senior policy scholar at Georgetown University’s Center for Business and Public Policy, says that regulators, consumer advocates and network providers all agree that there are core values that should apply to communications "ecosystems"--public safety, universal access, consumer protection, and competition.

 

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has invoked that compact in explaining the need regulatory intervention when those values appear to be threatened — from media ownership regs to network neutrality-- but the Kovacs analysis suggests that the competition portion of that compact has now empowered consumers to set their own priorities, which may not match those of regulators.

 

She suggests that the old compact has been enforced in a top-down fashion from "inescapable regulators" to "monopoly providers" to "passive consumers" at the bottom.

 

Now, Kovacs argues, "empowered consumers" are at the top but part of a two-way flow chart including "competitive  providers" and "strategic regulators."


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Cablevision Touts WiFi Milestone | Multichannel.com

Cablevision Touts WiFi Milestone | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Cablevision Systems said its network of WiFi hotspots emitting an “Optimum WiFi” SSID has exceeded the 1 million mark thanks in part to recent deployments at The Coney Island and Long Beach boardwalks and 24 New Jersey Transit rail stations.

 

Cablevision has been deploying quasi-public hotspots with its own SSID in a variety of public and business locations that are also open to other cable operator members of the “Cable WiFi” roaming consortium (Comcast, Cox Communications,  Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks are the other members), as well as in home-side gateways. The breakdown of Cablevision’s WiFi deployment between those location types was not immediately known.

 

In May, Cablevision CEO James Dolan said on the MSO’s first quarter call that Cablevision was rolling out “smart” WiFi routers that would put the company on track to expand its Optimum WiFi footprint to 1 million access points by year-end. “WiFi  is a differentiator for the business,” Dolan said, noting that “you’re going to see some of these products are going to be rather disruptive, most likely to some of the current marketplaces, particularly the wireless data market.”


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CenturyLink: How Dare Cities Challenge The Laws We Paid For | DSLReports.com

CenturyLink: How Dare Cities Challenge The Laws We Paid For | DSLReports.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

CenturyLink, formerly Qwest, has spent much of its life suing community broadband efforts that might spur the company to improve its service offerings.


They've also written (via draft legislation) and paid-to-pass legislation in numerous states that restrict or outright ban a community from deploying its own broadband infrastructure -- even in cases when CenturyLink couldn't be bothered to.

With cities like Wilson, North Carolina and Chattanooga, Tennesee now pushing the FCC to void bills that were written by CenturyLink lawyers and exist solely to protect CenturyLink revenues (at the cost of local citizen rights), CenturyLink is handing out lectures on responsible ethics.


According to CenturyLink, Wilson really isn't playing fair:


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Report Says Backlash From NSA's Surveillance Programs Will Cost Private Sector Billions Of Dollars | Techdirt.com

Report Says Backlash From NSA's Surveillance Programs Will Cost Private Sector Billions Of Dollars | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Open Technology Institute has put together a thorough paper detailing the many adverse effects the NSA disclosures have had, both on American businesses inside and outside of the tech sector, as well as on Americans themselves.

The Open Technology Institute is no stranger to the adverse side effects of the NSA's pervasive surveillance. Its own open-source mesh network project (Commotion) was accompanied by this warning, prompted by the revelations of the Snowden leaks.


Commotion

Cannot hide your identity
Does not prevent monitoring of internet traffic
Does not provide strong security against monitoring over the mesh
Can be jammed with radio/data-interference


So, how much will the NSA leaks cost American businesses? It's tough to say. Although the OTI has done an incredible amount of research, it's difficult to pin down exact losses.


Any time an American company has its bid denied by a foreign country, the NSA's actions have likely played some role. But this will very rarely be stated explicitly. This leads to a rather open-ended estimate of lost sales.


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Countries don't own their Internet domains, ICANN says | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com

Countries don't own their Internet domains, ICANN says | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Internet domain name for a country doesn’t belong to that country—nor to anyone, according to ICANN.


Plaintiffs who successfully sued Iran, Syria and North Korea as sponsors of terrorism want to seize the three countries’ ccTLDs (country code top-level domains) as part of financial judgments against them. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which oversees the Internet, says they can’t do that because ccTLDs aren’t even property.


After the plaintiffs filed papers to ICANN seeking the handover of the domains, the organization said it sympathized with their underlying claims but filed a motion on Tuesday to quash the attempted seizure.


A ccTLD is the two-letter code at the end of a country-specific Internet address, such as .us for the U.S. or .cn for China. There are more than 280 of them, all of which need to have managers, administrative contacts and technical contacts who live in the countries they represent. The domains in this case are .ir for Iran and .sy for Syria, plus Arabic script equivalents for each, and .kp for North Korea.


But the domains aren’t property and don’t belong to the countries they point to, ICANN said. Instead, they’re more like postal codes, “simply the provision of routing and administrative services for the domain names registered within that ccTLD,” which are what let users go to websites and send to email addresses under those domains, ICANN wrote. If ICANN stepped in and reassigned the domains on its own, that would disrupt everyone who uses a domain name that ends in those codes, including individuals, businesses and charitable organizations, the group said.


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MA: Comcast moves to swallow Charter | Telegram.com

MA: Comcast moves to swallow Charter | Telegram.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Charter Communications Inc. could be leaving Massachusetts next year, if an agreement with Comcast Corp. is approved by federal and state officials.

"All assets of Charter in Massachusetts will become Comcast. Charter will carry on until the transaction is complete," said Timothy G. Murnane, vice president of external affairs for the Greater Boston region for Comcast's north central division.

He spoke Tuesday at an Oxford selectmen's meeting.

The complex Comcast/Charter transaction, announced in April, raises questions about the possible impact on cost and service.

Mr. Murnane said, "There will be no effect whatsoever" on prices, at least at first, though new choices, equipment and services will be offered.

The transfer of all 182,699 Massachusetts Charter customers in 53 communities to Comcast, which already has 1,488,659 customers in 246 Massachusetts communities, is one of several results of a merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, which Comcast is purchasing for $45.2 billion.

To gain approval from the Federal Communications Commission, Comcast agreed to divest itself of 3.9 million customers so that its "post-merger subscriber total" will be less than 30 percent of the total national multichannel video programming distributor subscriber base, according to Comcast.


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How Video Is Changing the Internet | Richard Bennett | GigaOM Tech News

How Video Is Changing the Internet | Richard Bennett | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The rise of video streaming is dramatically affecting the Internet, according to a two-year study of Internet traffic trends that Arbor Networks recently presented to the North American Network Operators Group.


Two years ago, Internet traffic was distributed evenly among a dozen Tier-1 network providers, but today the majority of traffic flows through direct peering agreements among large content providers, content delivery networks and ISPs.


Consequently, Tier-1 networks have shifted their business models from simple packet delivery to richer cloud computing and content hosting services, and new players Google and Comcast have joined the top 10 list of Internet traffic producers — and the more traffic they put on the Internet, the more control it gives them over your online experience.


Traffic is growing much faster than the 50 percent year-to-year rate found by studies such as the Minnesota Internet Traffic Study; yet the “exaflood” of video traffic hasn’t drowned the Internet because network operators have found more efficient paths. The dramatic shift in traffic patterns has to do with the rise of what Arbor calls “the Hyper Giants,” 30 large companies that contribute 30 percent of Internet traffic.


Thanks to YouTube, Google alone is responsible for 7 percent of all the traffic on today’s Internet, which puts it in the privileged position of prioritizing its VoIP and video calling services over YouTube without FCC permission.


The onslaught of video is also changing the nature of peering agreements. Traditionally, peering and so-called transit were very distinct from a revenue perspective: Peering agreements were “settlement free” arrangements in which packets changed hands between networks of roughly equal size and scope, but money didn’t.


Fee-based network interconnects were confined to “transit agreements” in which a large network operator connected a small player to the entire Internet for a fee; peering is also strictly a “one network to one other network” arrangement.


The new wrinkle is “paid peering” agreements in which a large operator permits direct connection for a small fee. Paid peering replaces transit fees that run $2-9 per Mbps with direct connection at $1-3, and enhances service, according to an article on Bill Norton’s “Ask Dr. Peering” web site which explains the value of Comcast’s paid peering and its potential collision with net neutrality regulations:


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Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc's insight:

The article by Richard Bennett was published by GigaOM on November 22, 2009 and raises issues now being dealt with yet again by the current FCC NN Rulemaking.

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iPhone gets first free app for encrypting voice calls | Jeremy Kirk | NetworkWorld.com

iPhone gets first free app for encrypting voice calls | Jeremy Kirk | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

An open-source project has released the first free application for the iPhone that scrambles voice calls, which would thwart government surveillance or eavesdropping by hackers.


Signal comes from Open Whisper Systems, which developed RedPhone and TextSecure, both Android applications that encrypt calls and text messages.


The application is compatible with RedPhone and eventually RedPhone and TextSecure will be combined in a single Android application and called Signal as well, according to a blog post.


Signal is notable for two reasons. First, it’s free. There are many voice call encryption products on the market for various platforms, most of which are not cheap and are aimed at enterprise users.


Second, Signal is open source code, meaning developers can look at the code and verify its integrity. That’s important because of concerns that software vendors have been pressured into adding “backdoors” into their products that could assist government surveillance programs.


The beauty of Signal is its simplicity. Setup requires verifying the device’s phone number through a one-time code that is sent by SMS. Signal displays only the contact details of the other user who has it installed.


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Tor hints at possible U.S. government involvement in recent attack | Jon Gold | NetworkWorld.com

Tor hints at possible U.S. government involvement in recent attack | Jon Gold | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Hackers attacked the infrastructure of Tor, the anonymizing service, earlier this month in an incident that may have compromised a number of hidden services, according to an announcement posted today by the Tor Project’s director, Roger Dingledine.


Dingledine said that it’s possible the attack wasn’t carried out with malicious intent, although the effect is harmful in any case, potentially weakening Tor’s encryption and making it more vulnerable to a state actor attempting to compromise it.


“If the attack was a research project, it was deployed in an irresponsible way because it puts users at risk indefinitely into the future,” he said, suggesting that the researchers behind a recently-cancelled talk scheduled for Black Hat 2014 may be behind the attack.


“In fact, we hope they were the ones doing the attacks, since otherwise it means somebody else was,” Dingledine wrote.


The researchers in question are part of a team at Carnegie Mellon University that “works closely with the Department of Homeland Security,” according to a Washington Post report by Andrea Peterson from last week on the cancellation of the Black Hat talk.


Tor operates as a large-scale proxy network, encrypting and routing web communications through a series of randomized hosts around the world to protect the identities of users and obfuscate their activities from surveillance. Tor also provides the option of so-called hidden services, which uses servers configured to only accept incoming connections from the Tor network, allowing for secure email and the like.


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How the history of electricity explains municipal broadband | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

How the history of electricity explains municipal broadband | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

With the fight over net neutrality still simmering, the Federal Communications Commission has opened up another front in the battle over the Internet's future. The agency wants to explore the possibility of helping cities build their own connections to the Internet and bypassing the commercial broadband providers like Verizon and Comcast that have generally served as America's onramps to the Web.


On Monday, the FCC opened up new proceedings for a pair of petitions asking for the government's help, and as with the net neutrality docket, members of the public can now weigh in on the issue for themselves. Should the FCC try to preempt state laws that block cities from building out publicly owned Internet infrastructure?


Skeptics have raised questions as to whether the federal government can legally intervene in states that have put up barriers to greater public investment in municipal broadband networks. But others, including one of the cities petitioning for federal assistance, say that there's a valuable precedent in U.S. history that shows why Washington shouldn't be afraid to step in.


The analogy they have in mind is electricity.


Unlike today, electricity wasn't always common or plentiful in the United States. Direct-current electricity was hard to transmit over long distances, because the power faded over long distances. Those limitations gave rise to lots of power plants being built in the 1890s that were meant to serve very small areas within a city. As technology improved, those small power plants led to much larger ones serving wider areas and more customers.


Eventually, the companies running these plants effectively got taken over by even bigger companies that held ownership stakes in numerous utility firms across the country. The Smithsonian Institution says that by 1932, the vast proportion of privately owned utility companies were held by just eight holding companies — and their operations were largely exempt from state regulatory oversight. The 1929 stock market crash did nothing to improve the holding companies' reputations. President Franklin Roosevelt vowed to reform the holding companies if he won reelection in 1932.


The following year, Roosevelt launched the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the Rural Electrification Administration, among a number of other offices meant to provide power to those who'd been passed over by the privately owned utilities because those areas weren't as profitable. TVA in particular worked with cities like Chattanooga to provide affordable energy.


"TVA went in with the notion of, 'Let's make power cheap enough that the average person can afford it, and let's make money by selling on volume — not on massive margins," said Harold DePriest, chief executive of the public electric utility in Chattanooga, Tenn. "That worked for TVA. And at the time, it forced the private power companies to reduce the rates."


Chattanooga's electric utility, EPB, is among those who have petitioned for the FCC's help.


One of TVA's original directors, David Lilienthal, seemed to go about his work with a near religious belief in the power of technology, if applied correctly, to become a tool for what he called "grassroots democracy."


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FCC Chairman Questions Verizon's Decision to Throttle Some Heavy Users | Re/code.net

FCC Chairman Questions Verizon's Decision to Throttle Some Heavy Users | Re/code.net | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is questioning Verizon Wireless’ decision to slow connection speeds for certain customers during times of peak network congestion.


In a letter to the carrier, Wheeler pronounced himself “deeply troubled” by Verizon’s plans to slow connection speeds for a subset of its subscribers — those with older, unlimited data plans — during times when the network is experiencing high demand. The carrier has said that the plan, which is to take effect in October, is part of its network management strategy.


“‘Reasonable network management’ concerns the technical management of your network; it is not a loophole designed to enhance your revenue streams,” Wheeler wrote in a letter Wednesday. “It is disturbing to me that Verizon Wireless would base its ‘network management’ on distinctions among its customers’ data plans, rather than on network architecture or technology.”


Verizon said it would respond to Wheeler’s letter more fully once it has received and reviewed it. However, it defended the practice, which it described as limited in scope.


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