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India Says: 'There Is No Direct Correlation Between IP And Innovation' | Techdirt

India Says: 'There Is No Direct Correlation Between IP And Innovation' | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Techdirt has been pointing out for years that more patents is not the same thing as more innovation, even though many around the world would have us believe otherwise. It seems the message is finally getting through: here's a remarkable statement from India on the subject of innovation and small- and medium-sized companies, made at a TRIPS Council meeting:

 

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Glenn Greenwald, I’m sorry: Why I changed my mind on Edward Snowden | Hodding Carter III | Salon.com

Glenn Greenwald, I’m sorry: Why I changed my mind on Edward Snowden | Hodding Carter III | Salon.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

There gets to be a point when the question is, whose side are you on? Now, I’m Secretary of State of the United States and I’m on our side.
—Secretary of State Dean Rusk

What follows is based on sixty years of experience in public life and journalism. It arises from deepening concern about the people’s limited appreciation of the First Amendment and disgust with media waffling behind timidity’s breastworks. It also arises from urgent unease about government overreach in the name of “homeland security,” an overreach based on post-9/11 fear, political opportunism and an all but explicit assertion that a free people do not need to know and should not demand to know how they are being protected.


There is no pretense here of carefully allocated balance, that briefly treasured convention of American journalism. Instead, this is an attempt to explain the evolution of today’s media-government confrontations and to suggest answers to the hard questions that currently face the press when national security clashes with the Bill of Rights.

Unless informed consent is to be treated as a dangerous relic of more tranquil times, these questions should be answered on behalf of the American people as often as they arise. That means applying general principles to specific cases. Knowing the evolution of press freedom can be useful.


Having an accurate picture of the chaotic realities of the murky present is crucial. Hard cases are inevitable; hard-and-fast rules are rarely available and too often inapplicable to current conditions. In the end, as always, it is up to each journalist and news organization to be willing to stand alone, to ask, and to answer individually:

“Whose side are you on?”


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Google pushes FCC to study high-altitude platform stations for broadband services | Monica Alleven | Fierce Wireless Tech

Google pushes FCC to study high-altitude platform stations for broadband services | Monica Alleven | Fierce Wireless Tech | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google supports the idea of the FCC authorizing resources for the study of broadband delivered from high-altitude platform stations (HAPS), which are 20 to 50 kilometers above ground.

Google says it is developing unmanned aircraft that will circle for months at about 20 kilometers in the stratosphere to maintain coverage of a constant service area on the ground. Such nominally fixed aircraft, which could be considered HAPS, are one promising model for delivery of broadband, particularly to underserved communities, according to the search giant.

In a May 15 meeting with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's legal advisor Renee Gregory and special counsel Diane Cornell, Google's director of communications law, Austin Schlick, noted that Google and others in the U.S. have been investing in unmanned aerial systems (UAS), including for the delivery of broadband communications to underserved communities, and for disaster relief.


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Carrier-Grade Wi-Fi Forecast Sees Strong Growth | Joan Engebretson | Telecompetitor

Carrier-Grade Wi-Fi Forecast Sees Strong Growth | Joan Engebretson | Telecompetitor | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A new report from Maravedis Rethink for the Wireless Broadband Alliance highlights a wide range of service provider opportunities involving carrier-grade Wi-Fi and offers some compelling forecasts. The WBA is an industry organization focused on next-generation Wi-Fi.

The report authors see a bright future for “always best connected” wireless service similar to Google’s Fi offering launched earlier this year. That offering relies on a mixture of Wi-Fi and cellular technology, and is designed to automatically connect users to the network that will provide the best experience at any given time.

About a third of cable multi-systems operators (MSOs) and more than a quarter of mobile network operators (MNOs) surveyed by Maravedis Rethink said they would invest in an “always best connected” strategy by 2018 in order to reduce churn. Other reasons for adopting the technology included new revenues, reduced data cost, flexible capacity and others.


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Decoding the Enigma of Satoshi Nakamoto and the Birth of Bitcoin | Nathaniel Popper | NYTimes.com

Decoding the Enigma of Satoshi Nakamoto and the Birth of Bitcoin | Nathaniel Popper | NYTimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It is one of the great mysteries of the digital age.


The hunt for Satoshi Nakamoto, the elusive creator of Bitcoin, has captivated even those who think the virtual currency is some sort of online Ponzi scheme. A legend has emerged from a jumble of facts: Someone using the name Satoshi Nakamoto released the software for Bitcoin in early 2009 and communicated with the nascent currency’s users via email — but never by phone or in person. Then, in 2011, just as the technology began to attract wider attention, the emails stopped. Suddenly, Satoshi was gone, but the stories grew larger.


Over the last year, as I worked on a book about the history of Bitcoin, it was hard to avoid being drawn in by the almost mystical riddle of Satoshi Nakamoto’s identity. Just as I began my research, Newsweek made a splash with a cover article in March 2014 claiming that Satoshi was an unemployed engineer in his 60s who lived in suburban Los Angeles. Within a day of publication, however, most people knowledgeable about Bitcoin had concluded that the magazine had the wrong man.


Many in the Bitcoin community told me that, in deference to the Bitcoin creator’s clear desire for privacy, they didn’t want to see the wizard unmasked. But even among those who said this, few could resist debating the clues the founder left behind. As I had these conversations with the programmers and entrepreneurs who are most deeply involved in Bitcoin, I encountered a quiet but widely held belief that much of the most convincing evidence pointed to a reclusive American man of Hungarian descent named Nick Szabo.

Mr. Szabo is nearly as much of a mystery as Satoshi. But in the course of my reporting I kept turning up new hints that drew me further into the chase, and I even stumbled into a rare encounter with Mr. Szabo at a private gathering of top Bitcoin programmers and entrepreneurs.


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Five Things You Need to Know About Altice | Mike Farrell | Multichannel.com

Five Things You Need to Know About Altice | Mike Farrell | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

While most people may have a hard time naming three things from Luxembourg (Hint: Jean-Claude Van Damme isn’t one of them), cable operators would be smart to bone up on their knowledge of the tiny country wedged between Belgium, France and Germany, and especially its telecom company, Altice.

Altice burst on the cable consolidation scene Wednesday as the surprise acquirer of Suddenlink Communications and made no bones about its intentions – it wants to be a big part of the consolidation trend in the U.S. cable business. But aside from an unusual name and an obvious appetite for acquisitions, not many people in the U.S. know much about the Luxembourg telecom giant, its executives or its track record. Here are a few things you should know about what could be the next big cable buyer.


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ISPs really don’t want to follow new customer data privacy rules | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica

ISPs really don’t want to follow new customer data privacy rules | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The broadband industry's fight against net neutrality rules is also targeting new privacy regulations that Internet service providers really don't want to follow.

The new privacy rules haven't even been formulated yet. When the Federal Communications Commission reclassified broadband providers as common carriers in order to impose net neutrality rules, it also stated its intent to enforce Section 222 of Title II, which requires telecommunications carriers to protect the confidentiality of customers' proprietary information.

However, the commission's existing privacy rules cover telephone service rather than broadband, so the FCC said it will conduct a separate rulemaking proceeding before implementing any privacy requirements on Internet providers.

ISPs anticipate having to follow some version of the FCC's Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) rules that are applied to phone service, and they claim it will be a major burden. The extra work caused by protecting customer privacy is one of the recurring themes in declarations made by ISPs as part of the lawsuit filed on May 1 by the American Cable Association and National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

There are 137 mentions of CPNI in the cable companies' petition.

"Petitioners’ members would face extensive burdens to comply with Section 222(c)(1), including the creation of processes to ensure that CPNI is not used in marketing without customer approval," the petition states.

Lots of cable companies already have to comply with CPNI requirements because they offer phone service. The FCC's CPNI rules cover not only the traditional Public Switched Telephone Network but also the VoIP telephony service offered by cable companies and other Internet providers.


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We live in the future AT&T imagined in 1994 | Timothy Lee | Vox.com

"Have you ever borrowed a book from thousands of miles away?" the first ad asks. "Crossed the country without stopping for directions? Or sent someone a fax from the beach? You will. And the company that will bring it to you is AT&T."

Obviously, the future hasn't turned out exactly as AT&T anticipated — most of us avoid sending a fax whenever we can. But the basic technologies AT&T is describing here — e-books, turn-by-turn directions, sending documents via mobile devices — are all commonplace. So, too, are many of the futuristic capabilities depicted in other ads in the campaign: video conferencing, electronic tollbooths, electronic ticket-buying kiosks, on-demand videos. Indeed, many of today's technologies are better than the clunky versions depicted in these ads — we make video calls from smartphones, not phone booths.

Others, including smartwatches, MOOCs, and the internet of things, are just taking off now. Most of the remaining technologies — electronic medical records, wireless supermarket checkouts, efficient driver's license renewals, telemedicine — are technologically feasible but have been thwarted by logistical or bureaucratic obstacles. (Real-time voice translation and useful virtual assistants are the two technologies that are still clearly in the future.)

Overall, the ads were remarkably accurate in predicting the cutting-edge technologies of the coming decades. But the ads were mostly wrong about one thing: the company that brought these technologies to the world was not AT&T.


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Report: U.S. consumers swallowed 2.5 GB/month of cellular data in Q1 on average | Phil Goldstein | Fierce Wireless

Report: U.S. consumers swallowed 2.5 GB/month of cellular data in Q1 on average | Phil Goldstein | Fierce Wireless | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

U.S. consumers on average chewed through around 2.5 GB of cellular data per month in the first quarter, according to industry analyst Chetan Sharma, up from an average of 2 GB per month at the end of 2014.

"In the U.S., it took roughly 20 years to reach the 1 GB/user/month mark," Sharma wrote in a research report. "However, the second GB mark has been reached in less than four quarters. An entire year's worth of mobile data traffic in 2007 is now reached in less than 75 hours."

Sharma's figures are roughly in line with those from Cisco Systems. In its latest Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast report, which was released in February, Cisco found that in 2014, consumers in North America used on average 1.89 GB of mobile data per month in 2014. Cisco thinks that figure will surge ahead to a little more than 11 GB on average in 2019.

According to Sharma, data made up 62 percent of all wireless carrier service revenues in the U.S. in the first quarter, up from 60 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014 and around 50 percent in the year-ago period.

Data usage is clearly increasing, both in the U.S. and other markets around the world, but more and more consumers are likely going to be offloading that traffic to Wi-Fi networks, according to a new report from Juniper Research.


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Fast Track Passes Senate But With Anti-Slavery Poison Pill | Laura Barron-Lopez, Ryan Grim & Zach Carter | Popular Resistance

Fast Track Passes Senate But With Anti-Slavery Poison Pill | Laura Barron-Lopez, Ryan Grim & Zach Carter | Popular Resistance | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

President Barack Obama’s trade agenda suffered a setback Friday evening during a series of last-minute maneuvers in the Senate. While the upper chamber eventually passed a bill that would help Obama streamline a trade pact with 11 Pacific nations, the final product threw a wrench into the president’s plans.

The Senate approved a bill to “fast-track” trade agreements negotiated by the president. The agreement will prevent Congress from amending or filibustering Obama’s controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. The TPP deal would have a hard time surviving without fast-track authority.

But a key crackdown on human trafficking survived the legislative jujitsu. The White House considers the provision a deal-breaker, as it would force one of the nations involved in the TPP talks — Malaysia — out of the agreement. An immigration-related amendment authored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) never got a vote, making it far more difficult for Obama to win over skeptical tea party Republicans in the House.

The slavery provision’s survival means that the House will either need to amend the bill and send it back to the Senate, which would cause a delay and complicate the House debate, or pass a bill and go to conference with the Senate, also causing a delay. It also potentially could be fixed in separate legislation otherwise moving through Congress.

But time is not on the side of advocates of the trade agenda, as summer recess is approaching, followed by a heated presidential campaign season. “It leaves a substantial problem that no one’s sure how will be addressed,” said one senator. If fast-track is ultimately approved, 60 days would need to pass before the TPP could be voted on.


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Can White Space solutions solve the rural broadband challenge? | Telecoms.com

Can White Space solutions solve the rural broadband challenge? | Telecoms.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The use of White Spaces, portions of licensed radio spectrum that licensees do not use all of the time or in all geographical locations, for wireless broadband provides a tantalising opportunity to deliver cheap and ubiquitous broadband services. White Space advocates promise to bridge the digital divide efficiently and effectively by tapping into under-utilised spectrum, and introduce competition to mobile operators who have ‘failed’ to provide rural coverage or deliver reliable ubiquitous broadband services. Implemented well, with due consideration of potential future scenarios, there may be nothing to lose. However, make a mistake and it is possible that digital divide could be entrenched for another generation. The stakes and the implications are high.

The non-commercial White Space pilot schemes around the world have demonstrated that White Space technology works. The trials have managed to deliver reasonable broadband networks over small areas without creating unreasonable interference to adjacent services. But the trials are just that – trials – and don’t necessarily prove that White Space solutions will be commercially viable in the long term.

Whilst a number of ‘White Space’ concepts exist, the most likely solution to address rural broadband needs is one that operates in the TV White Spaces between 470MHz and 700MHz. There are a few policy assumptions that underpin the concept:


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Why Google, Apple Don't Want to Give Law Enforcement the Key to Your Data | Alyssa Newcomb | ABCNews.com

Why Google, Apple Don't Want to Give Law Enforcement the Key to Your Data | Alyssa Newcomb | ABCNews.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google, Apple and Facebook are among the biggest names in technology that have signed an open letter to President Obama today asking him to reject back doors that could allow law enforcement to access encrypted data.

Posted online by New America's Open Technology Institute, the letter asks the government to stay out of encrypted data in computers and mobile devices -- or risk undermining information security. It was also signed by dozens of cyber security experts and trade groups.

At issue is whether the government should be pushing technology companies to implement so-called back doors to their operating systems, allowing law enforcement a way to bypass encryption and get information to track down terrorists and other criminals.

"We urge you to reject any proposal that U.S. companies deliberately weaken the security of their products. We request that the White House instead focus on developing policies that will promote rather than undermine the wide adoption of strong encryption technology," the letter said.

By giving the government the master key to decode encrypted data, the signatories said it could leave billions of people vulnerable to cyber criminals and deal a detrimental blow to information security.


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Certification: How The US Demands Even More Concessions After Trade Agreements Have Been Signed And Ratified | Glyn Moody | Techdirt

Certification: How The US Demands Even More Concessions After Trade Agreements Have Been Signed And Ratified | Glyn Moody | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The battle raging over the fast track bill is essentially one about control: who gets the final say over so-called trade agreements like TPP and TAFTA/TTIP. If the US President is not given trade promotion authority, it is possible that Congress will demand changes to the negotiated text; with fast track, it will be a simple up or down vote. That's also the situation in other countries participating in the negotiations: once the text is agreed upon, they can essentially accept it or reject it. However, a group of senior politicians in five of the TPP nations point out that after those votes, the US can still demand further concessions from its partners thanks to a process known as certification:

Senior parliamentarians from five countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement have signed an open letter urging their political leaders to protect their nations’ sovereignty from the United States' process of certification.

Here's how that works:


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WISPA Meets With Policymakers on Capitol Hill | Virtual-Strategy Magazine

WISPA Meets With Policymakers on Capitol Hill | Virtual-Strategy Magazine | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), a membership organization that promotes the development, advancement, and unity of the fixed wireless Internet service provider (WISP) industry, gathered in Washington, D.C. last week to discuss several policies affecting the fixed Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) industry.

Advocacy Week kicked-off with a Keynote Speech from Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee, who discussed his committee’s efforts to fund and oversee the USDA’s Rural Broadband Development Programs. WISPA delegates flooded Capitol Hill, visiting with Members and staff from at least from at least 13 states, as well as both the Senate Commerce Committee Majority and Minority Staffs.

During the meetings on Capitol Hill, WISPA discussed four distinct legislative priorities.


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Edward Snowden: When You Monitor Everyone, You Understand Nothing—and That Has to Change | Natasha Zapata | Truthdig.com

Edward Snowden: When You Monitor Everyone, You Understand Nothing—and That Has to Change | Natasha Zapata | Truthdig.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In an exclusive one-hour interview with The Guardian, the NSA whistleblower weighs in on the recent (somewhat incomplete) shift in Congress toward bulk data collection, warning, “This is only the bare beginning of reform ... bad laws are not forever and if we work together, we can change them.” He adds that phone data collection was only one of many surveillance programs that need to be addressed.

Though the interview was conducted after the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the USA Freedom Act, the Senate had not yet voted on the bill. With regard to the Senate vote, Snowden said that the legislative body had two options: “They can either lose their authority entirely or they can accept at least some reforms.”

Given Saturday’s events, it seems the Senate opted for the former rather than the latter.

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CNBC Runs Op/Ed From iTOK Supporting Local Authority, Munis | community broadband networks

CNBC Runs Op/Ed From iTOK Supporting Local Authority, Munis | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Editorials and opinion pieces in favor of local telecommunications authority have been popping up more frequently in recent months. The benefits of increased competition due to the presence of municipal networks has become hard to ignore.


Recently, we noticed a commentary published on CNBC from Seth Bailey, chief strategist at iTOK. Bailey supports the February FCC decision that peeled back restrictions in Tennessee and North Carolina.

Bailey describes the role of munis:

In a fight against this Internet injustice, more than 450 communities have created publicly-owned high-speed fiber-optic networks. Known as municipal broadband, these providers offer Internet services to their areas which are roughly 50 to 100 times faster than the offered cable or DSL connections. In short, municipal broadband allows those in rural areas to have high-speed access similar to that offered to residents of urban areas. Which means the quality of their technological lives do not suffer due to their addresses.

iTOK, a company that focuses on technology support, consumer service, and small business tech assistance, wants to see more restrictions struck down:


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FBI Director Claims That The World's Most Knowledgeable Cybersecurity Experts Are Not 'Fair Minded' About Encryption Backdoors | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

FBI Director Claims That The World's Most Knowledgeable Cybersecurity Experts Are Not 'Fair Minded' About Encryption Backdoors | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Earlier this week, we noted that a huge list of companies, non-profits and cybersecurity experts had signed a letter to the White House about the stupidity and danger of trying to order backdoors into encryption (disclaimer: we signed the letter as well).


While many in the press focused on the companies that had signed onto the letter (including Google, Apple, Cisco, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook), as we noted, what was much more interesting was the long list of cybersecurity/encryption experts who signed onto the letter. Just in case you don't feel like searching it out, I'll post the entire list of those experts after this post.

It's a who's who of the brightest minds in encryption and cryptography. Whitfield Diffie invented public key cryptography. Phil Zimmermann created PGP. Ron Rivest is the "R" in "RSA." Peter Neumann has been working on these issues for decades before I was even born. And many more on the list are just as impressive.

So how do you think FBI director James Comey -- who has been leading the charge on backdooring encryption -- responded to these experts?

By calling them uninformed.

I wish I was joking.


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Comcast Targets 6 New Gigabit Markets | Mari Silbey | Light Reading

Comcast Targets 6 New Gigabit Markets | Mari Silbey | Light Reading | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In a series of rapid-fire announcements this morning, Comcast revealed half a dozen new regional targets for its Gigabit Pro broadband service.

Comcast's new Gigabit hit list includes the Twin Cities in Minnesota, the MSO's entire footprint in Utah, the Houston area, Oregon, parts of Washington and parts of Colorado. Comcast Corp.also announced that it will launch a new Extreme 250 service tier in the same regions offering Internet speeds up to 250 Mbit/s. The rollouts are all expected to occur later this year.

The Gigabit Pro service beats out other Gigabit offerings by doubling symmetrical speeds to 2 Gbit/s. Using a fiber-to-the-home strategy, Comcast Corp. has previously said it will bring Gigabit Pro to Atlanta, parts of Florida, areas of California, the Greater Chicago region and parts of Tennessee, including Chattanooga. The company is aiming to extend availability of the service to 18 million homes by year's end. (See Comcast Preps 2-Gig Service… Over Fiber.)

Comcast VP of Network Architecture Rob Howald recently explained that the company's ability to deliver multi-gigabit speeds stems from the operator's fiber-deep strategy. With more than 145,000 route miles of fiber deployed across the country, Comcast has been able to shrink service group sizes in select markets down to only about 100 subscribers per fiber node. That gets customers very close to fiber termination and makes it relatively easy for Comcast to extend fiber to the home for households that want Gigabit Pro service. (See Comcast Goes N+0 in Gigabit Markets.)


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Cablevision Calls Out Verizon on Fiber Claims | Mari Silbey | Light Reading

Cablevision Calls Out Verizon on Fiber Claims | Mari Silbey | Light Reading | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Cablevision has a bone to pick with Verizon. That "all-fiber" network Verizon says is powering FiOS? It's hiding coaxial cable in its midst.

Putting a fine point on Verizon Communications Inc.'s marketing claims, Cablevision Systems Corp. is taking issue with the fact that the FiOS service is said to be running on "100% fiber optics." Although FiOS is a fiber-to-the-home play, Cablevision points out that Verizon still uses coax in subscribers' homes. (See Verizon Saves 60% Swapping Copper for Fiber.)

The cable operator has been running its own advertisement disputing Verizon's marketing, but Verizon has demanded that the ad be taken off the air. In retaliation, Cablevision has now filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking a declaratory judgment that will allow it to continue running the spot.

In a statement, Cablevision said: "Verizon has not been truthful to the public for nearly 10 years about FiOS. Verizon FiOS is not all fiber and, in fact, uses regular coaxial cable inside the home. Cablevision ran an advertisement revealing that FiOS is not all fiber, and now Verizon is demanding that Cablevision stop running its ad. Consumers deserve to make informed decisions based on facts, and Cablevision is asking the court to intervene to stop Verizon from attempting to continue to mislead the public."


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MN: Will Annandale get $2 million from the state for broadband? | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

CBS Minnesota reported a couple days ago…

The central Minnesota city of Annandale would get one-fifth of the new money available statewide for broadband Internet build-outs in an earmark that passed the Legislature this week with no time to spare — and vaulted the city past a competitive bidding process that other rural towns must go through.

Annandale was passed over for a grant in 2014, but a clause inserted in a budget bill Monday night sets aside $2 million this time. The earmark by House Republican negotiators would answer what one city official called the “helplessness of not having options” to offer quality Internet to businesses and residents.

But others worry about awarding money outside a rigorous vetting process by the state Office of Broadband Development, which makes grants to cities that partner with private companies based on cost, significance to the community and evidence that an area is underserved by Internet providers.

The Governor vetoed a few bills yesterday – which means special session. So we may see some of the details of this and other projects get fleshed out yet.

I can understand the frustration for Annandale. They have been looking at broadband options for a long time – but they aren’t the only ones. It’s really an indicator or example of how many towns feel! The CBS story puts that info perspective…


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How the battle for the future of the Web is shaped by economics | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

How the battle for the future of the Web is shaped by economics | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

One is that we need some basic rules to make sure the Web remains open and free so that companies that depend on the Internet can grow. The other is that strict rules will discourage Internet providers from making the investments that will enhance the network for everybody.


Whichever narrative wins out will go a long way toward determining what your online experience will look like in the years to come. Although the Federal Communications Commission approved a historic set of net neutrality regulations in February, Internet providers are trying to overturn those rules in court. And if they can convince judges that the rules will cause irreparable damage to their business, the Internet providers will get a major leg up on the FCC.


To bolster that case, some economists are turning to historical data about what the industry spent on infrastructure over the last couple decades. The result is a game of correlation, with one side trying to prove that regulation had little effect on investment and the other side trying to prove that it did.

If you boil it down, it's a disagreement over the Internet's basic origin story. And both sides are essentially accusing each other of historical revisionism.

To understand why, let's dive into some of the data.


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CA: County sheriff has used stingray over 300 times with no warrant | Cyrus Farivar | Ars Technica

CA: County sheriff has used stingray over 300 times with no warrant | Cyrus Farivar | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The sheriff in San Bernardino County—east of Los Angeles County—has deployed a stingray hundreds of times without a warrant, and under questionable judicial authority.

In response to a public records request, the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department (SBSD) sent Ars, among other outlets, a rare example of a template for a "pen register and trap and trace order" application. (In the letter, county lawyers claimed this was a warrant application template, when it clearly is not.) The SBSD is the law enforcement agency for the entire county, the 12th-most populous county in the United States, and the fifth-most populous in California.

Stingrays, or cell-site simulators, can be used to determine location by spoofing a cell tower, but they can also be used to intercept calls and text messages. Once deployed, the devices intercept data from a target phone as well as information from other phones within the vicinity. For years, federal and local law enforcement have tried to keep their existence a secret while simultaneously upgrading their capabilities. Over the last year, as the devices have become scrutinized, new information about the secretive devices has been revealed.

This template application, surprisingly, cites no legal authority on which to base its activities. The SBSD did not respond to Ars’ request for comment.

"This is astonishing because it suggests the absence of legal authorization (because if there were clear legal authorization you can bet the government would be citing it)," Fred Cate, a law professor at Indiana University, told Ars by e-mail.


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Verizon will lease more fiber to densify wireless network | Sue Marek | Fierce Telecom

Verizon will lease more fiber to densify wireless network | Sue Marek | Fierce Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Verizon Communications plans to use a combination of fiber, distributed antenna systems and small cells to densify its wireless network instead of relying solely on spectrum to meet consumers' growing demand for capacity.

Speaking Tuesday at the J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media and Telecom conference, Fran Shammo, Verizon's EVP and CFO, told investors that while Verizon's spectrum position is strong, the company plans to lease more fiber and buy more hardware like DAS and small cells to meet growing capacity demands rather than buy more spectrum.

Shammo noted that the company leases fiber from other companies today and plans to lease more. "We lease a lot of fiber today and there's a lot of competition in the fiber world. We don't own a lot of fiber and we don't need too," he said, noting that there are lots of alternatives for achieving more capacity in the wireless network that don't include buying more spectrum. "We don't need to own and build and control everything," he said.

Shammo added that the company is focused on densifying its wireless network first in the top 50 markets, with particular emphasis on the top 10 markets.


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The internet is running out of room – but we can save it | Jacob Aron | New Scientist

The internet is running out of room – but we can save it | Jacob Aron | New Scientist | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Are we running out of internet? It might sound like an odd question, but researchers met at the Royal Society in London this week to discuss a coming internet "capacity crunch", and what we might do about it.

The meeting sparked headlines warning of a "full" internet and the potential need for data rationing, but the reality is more nuanced. The crunch is real, caused by fast growth of online media consumption through the likes of Netflix and Youtube, but physics and engineering can help us escape it. The internet just needs a few tweaks.

Fear of a capacity crunch stems from a hard physical truth – there is a limit to the amount of information you can cram down any communications channel, fibre-optic cable or copper wire. Discovered in 1940 by Claude Shannon, this limit depends on the channel's bandwidth – the number of frequencies it can transmit – and its signal-to-noise ratio (SNR).

The information capacity of optical fibres – the light-carrying pipes that form the backbone of the internet – can be increased simply by increasing the power of the light beamed through them. This boosts the signal that encodes, say, a Netflix show so that it dominates over the inherent noise of the fibre, making it easier to read at the other end.

Researchers have spent decades finding ways to amplify signals, increasing the capacity of fibre already in the ground and keeping up with the growth of internet traffic.

But that trick has hit a dead end. If you up the power beyond a certain point, the fibre becomes saturated with light and the signal is degraded. This limit means fibres as we currently use them are nearing their full capacity. "You can't get an infinite amount of capacity in a fibre," Andrew Ellis at Aston University in Birmingham, UK, who organised the meeting, told New Scientist.

René-Jean Essiambre of French communications firm Alcatel-Lucent presented research suggesting the limit is around 100 terabits per second, or 250 Blu-ray discs-worth. The internet's fibre systems could reach this in the next five years, he warned.


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NSA is getting ready to shut down bulk surveillance programs in response to failed Senate vote | Dante D'Orazio | The Verge

After a late Senate vote after midnight on Friday, the NSA is starting to take moves to shut down its bulk surveillance programs. With the legal foundation of those programs, the Patriot Act, set to expire at the end of the month, lawmakers have been working to agree on which parts of the mass surveillance systems should stay and which should go. The Senate failed to pass a replacement bill, the USA Freedom Act, and another measure proposed by Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) to extend the program as-is also did not pass.

In response to the news, officials said that the NSA would have to start taking action to prepare to shut down its bulk surveillance programs, like those that controversially collect "metadata" on millions of phone calls. According to The Los Angeles Times, an official now says that "that process has begun." If Congress can't agree to either limit or renew the Patriot Act, the NSA will have to end its programs that rely on the broad language of that bill, which was originally passed in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks.


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Altice to Buy Suddenlink in $9.1B Deal | Ray Le Maistre | Light Reading

Altice to Buy Suddenlink in $9.1B Deal | Ray Le Maistre | Light Reading | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The gripping US cable operator M&A story revealed another unexpected plot twist Wednesday morning with the news that ambitious French communications giant Altice has agreed to buy a 70% stake in US cable operator Suddenlink in a deal that values the MSO at $9.1 billion.

To add to the intrigue, a Reuters report suggests that Altice has also held talks with Time Warner Cable Inc., which has been playing a lead role in the US cable market drama. (See Comcast Formally Ends Its Bid for TWC and Is TWC Sitting in Catbird Seat Now?)

In the meantime, Altice is aiming to close its takeover of Suddenlink Communications by the end of this year. It is buying a 70% stake from existing shareholders BC Partners, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Suddenlink management: BC Partners and CPP Investment Board will retain a 30% stake in the operator.

Altice says it is financing the deal with "$6.7 billion of new and existing debt at Suddenlink, a $500 million vendor loan note from BC Partners and CPP Investment Board and $1.2 billion of cash."

Altice shareholders like the deal, as the French company's stock leaped by 7.6% to €124.40 on the Amsterdam exchange in Wednesday morning trading.

Suddenlink, the seventh-largest cable operator in the US, has 1.5 million residential and 90,000 business customers in its key markets of Texas, West Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas and Arizona. In 2014 it reported revenues of $2.3 billion and EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) of more than $900 million.

"With this acquisition, the Altice Group enters the large and attractive US cable market and takes a further step in diversifying and balancing its portfolio of high-quality businesses," said the French company in its official announcement of the deal.


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