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New Digital-Divide Campaign Would Leave Seniors Behind | New America Media

New Digital-Divide Campaign Would Leave Seniors Behind | New America Media | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A major national campaign was launched last week to bridge the digital divide. Everyone On is the public service arm of Connect2Compete (C2C), a national public-private partnership that hopes to provide Internet access, digital literacy training and refurbished computers to low-income consumers.

The three-year, multimillion-dollar campaign, which C2C is doing with the Ad Council, sounds like a great idea, given how essential digital communications have become in how Americans live and work in the 21st century.

There’s just one problem—as an efficient way of providing low-cost broadband access and computers to many low-income families, C2C is targeting those whose children are eligible for the federal free and reduced-cost lunch programs. To qualify, a family must be in a low-income area and have a child on the lunch program.

That means low-income seniors, a highly vulnerable segment of the population, are being left behind.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was a driving force behind the launch of C2C. The commission recognized the need for a strong collaborative partnership with industry, the nonprofit sector and government to make sure everyone in this nation, regardless of age or income, is able to reap the benefits from access to affordable broadband networks.

 

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Netflix won’t count against iiNet broadband caps in Australia | Janko Roettgers | GigaOM Tech News

Netflix won’t count against iiNet broadband caps in Australia | Janko Roettgers | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

So much for net neutrality: Netflix has struck a deal with Australia’s iiNet ISP to exempt its traffic from iiNet’s broadband caps. This means that iiNet subscribers will be able to watch as much Netflix as they want, without the fear that their viewing will lead to any overage charges. But it’s also bad news for any upstart trying to compete with Netflix, and it runs counter to the company’s long and very public defense of net neutrality.

Netflix said on Monday that it is going to launch on March 24 in Australia and New Zealand. As part of the announcement, iiNet revealed that it will exempt any Netflix traffic from its customers’ monthly bandwidth quotas.

iiNet currently has a 100GB cap for its cheapest broadband plans, and charges customers who exceed that quota $0.60 AUS (about $0.47) per additional gigabyte. The company also has 300GB, 600GB and 1TB plans. Netflix estimates that its customers use up to 7GB of data per hour for the company’s best-looking 1080p HD streams. However, averages are typically much lower.

In the past, Netflix has taken a strong stance against broadband caps. In 2012, its CEO Reed Hastings said that Comcast was violating net neutrality priciples by exempting its own online video services from its broadband caps. “Comcast should apply caps equally, or not at all,” Hastings wrote on his Facebook page back then.

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Comcast Looking for Legislative 'Solution' to FCC Broadband Vote | Erik Gruenwedel | Home Media Magazine

Comcast Looking for Legislative 'Solution' to FCC Broadband Vote | Erik Gruenwedel | Home Media Magazine | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Perhaps no company could be more impacted by the Federal Communication Commission’s vote to reclassify broadband as a utility than Comcast. As the nation’s No. 1 cabler, it also controls a large percentage of household Internet connections, including broadband.

Yet while the FCC’s historic 3-2 vote Feb. 26 in favor of reclassification made headlines, few people have actually seen the more than 300 pages of the order, including Comcast.

Speaking March 3 at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom confab in San Francisco, Comcast CFO Michael Angelakis reiterated company statements in support of net neutrality, transparency, anti-throttling, blocking and tiered access.

“We don’t do any of those things,” he said.

Angelakis, like most ISP executives, doesn’t like the ominous role government and regulation (especially through an 80-year-old law) could play in how broadband is shepherded going forward.

“We haven’t seen the order, so we have to read it very carefully. We’ll look very carefully at the forbearance, which obviously is very important,” Angelakis said.


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MN: How broadband develops here: Local goals, state grants Mitch LeClair | St. Cloud Times

MN: How broadband develops here: Local goals, state grants Mitch LeClair | St. Cloud Times | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Internet connections in the U.S. are on average far faster than ever.


Broadband service, or a connection quicker than dial-up, is spreading to more consumers every month.


But access is lacking, according to some people. Others say we're living in a continuous renaissance.


Models of network development vary, and interest in the subject might be at an all-time high.


One month ago, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced 17 recipients of $19.4 million to develop broadband networks at about 6,300 locations in the state.


Clear Lake-based Palmer Wireless is one of three area recipients. The company that shares management and other resources with CitEscape High Speed Internet in St. Cloud is partnering with sister firm NewCore Wireless to install more than 3 miles of fiber passing 21 businesses and 12 vacant lots in Becker, including the possible future site of a Northstar rail station.


At a meeting last week, the Federal Communications Commission decided to pre-empt restrictive state laws on municipal broadband. That could lead to drastic changes for networks across the nation — the St. Cloud area included.

Minnesota law requires 65 percent of voters or more to pass a referendum allowing local governments to own or operate broadband networks for its citizens.

Residents of 38 municipalities in the state — about 4.5 percent of its cities — have access to government-operated Internet services, according to a recent White House report.

Its four neighbors in the union are home to 36 total.

Information Technology Director Micah Myers said the city of St. Cloud owns and operates about 90 miles of fiber-optic lines that connect the law enforcement center downtown, City Hall and all other government buildings except the airport, which connects to the Internet through T1 lines, a slower, older technology.

Myers said the fiber network, a "co-build with the school district" connects to St. Joseph and Clear Lake. About seven years ago, it prompted a discussion about providing competing Internet service in St. Cloud.

The city "never went anywhere" with the talks, but if more exploration would have occurred in St. Cloud, incumbent providers would have pushed back, Myers said. Entrenched cable television and telephone companies will "make your life a living hell," he said.

The possibility is something cities should evaluate, said Chris Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, though "not every local government should do it."

"If you really want to look at some of the challenges, look at Monticello," Myers said.

The Wright County city began building a municipal broadband network, FiberNet, in 2009, after a year of legal challenges brought on by TDS.

Charter Communications reacted to Monticello's network plans by dropping subscription prices.

The city's network still provides service, but revenues and other factors haven't rolled along as planned.


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Would You Pay $30 to Keep Your Web History Secret? | Greg Ferenstein | The Atlantic

Would You Pay $30 to Keep Your Web History Secret? | Greg Ferenstein | The Atlantic | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

AT&T is conducting an experiment in how much money Americans will pay for privacy. If consumers in Kansas are willing to pay an extra $30 per month for super-fast fiber-optic Internet access, the telecom giant won’t track their online browsing for targeted ads. It turns out, most people opt for the cheaper service, according to AT&T.

"Since we began offering the service more than a year ago the vast majority have elected to opt-in to the ad-supported model," Gretchen Schultz, a spokeswoman for AT&T, told me. In other words, most people are willing to give up privacy in exchange for a lower price tag.

This shouldn’t be surprising. Indeed, it is how humans have behaved for more than 3,000 years.

Privacy was not an issue in hunter-gather societies, because it wasn't even a possibility. “Privacy is something which has emerged out of the urban boom coming from the industrial revolution,” explained Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf at a Federal Trade Commission event in 2013. "Privacy may actually be an anomaly."


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Republican FCC Commissioners Submit Formal Title II Dissents | John Eggerton | Multichannel

Republican FCC Commissioners Submit Formal Title II Dissents | John Eggerton | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly, the two Republican commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission, have submitted their formal dissents to the Feb. 26 vote by the agency's three Democrats to reclassify Internet access as a telecommunications service under Title II common-carrier regulations.

Their submissions advance the process but do not provide a clear timeline for the release of the order.

Sources for both minority commissioners said they had turned the dissents in Monday (March 2), and now the ball is in the chairman's court.

A spokesperson for the chairman had no comment on when the final order would be released and sent to the Federal Register. The rules become effective 60 days after publication in the register.

FCC General Counsel John Salet wrote in in a blog post, "Once the vote on a commission order has been taken, some additional steps remain before the decision is final and ready for public release."

After the submission of those dissents, the order may have to be "clarified" to "address any significant argument made in statements," Salet said.

That's primarily to ensure the order is as challenge-proof in court as FCC lawyers can make it. "[T]he order itself must address any significant argument made in the statements – or risk being overturned in court for failing to address the issue," Salet explained in the post.


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From Lafayette, LA to Wilson, NC: Municipal Fiber Deployment is About “Strengthening America” | Mayor Joey Durel | CLIC

From Lafayette, LA to Wilson, NC: Municipal Fiber Deployment is About “Strengthening America” | Mayor Joey Durel | CLIC | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

CLIC has received permission to post a terrific letter recently written to Wilson’s Mayor Bruce Rose from Mayor Joey Durel of Lafayette, underscoring how municipal deployment of fiber internet is not a partisan issue, it is an infrastructure issue. Local communities need to be able to decide for themselves the best means possible for ensuring that no one in their communities go without access to 21st century infrastructure. (Both Mayor Durel and Wilson’s City Manager, Grant Goings, will be speaking at CLIC’s April 13 event @BBC in Austin.)

March 2, 2015

Dear Mayor Rose:

As Mayor of Lafayette, LA, a city that proudly provides electric and communications services to our businesses and residents, I want to congratulate you, your colleagues, and your constituents on your achievement in delivering world-class Internet services to the residents and businesses of Wilson-and on the strong endorsement you received last week from the Federal Communications Commission.

As in Wilson, the Lafayette community has been united in our support for high-capacity broadband connectivity to the Internet as an essential tool of economic development and as a means of securing our community’s economic future. While some will use any means possible to distract you from achieving your goals for your community, our deeply conservative electorate has consistently supported our electric utility’s great achievement in building a future-proof broadband Internet infrastructure, and this support has been consistently bi-partisan. My Democrat colleagues have joined me and my fellow Republicans in insisting that we in Lafayette should have the right to choose our broadband Internet future. We here in Lafayette will determine how our community engages this essential economic development tool, and we will not have our economic future dictated to us by others.


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Verizon CFO: FCC Ruling 'Cluttered' Broadband Future | Erik Gruenwedel | Home Media Magazine

Verizon CFO: FCC Ruling 'Cluttered' Broadband Future | Erik Gruenwedel | Home Media Magazine | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A promising broadband investment landscape received unwanted intrusion (regulation) following the Federal Communications Commission’s recent 3-2 vote in favor of reclassifying the nation’s ISPs under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, Verizon CFO Francis Shammo told an investor group.

Speaking March 2 at the Morgan Stanley’s 2015 Technology, Media & Telecom confab in San Francisco, Shammo said that while the exact language of the FCC ruling hasn’t been available to the public, the mere specter of regulation is not a good thing.

The CFO said that prior to the FCC vote, Verizon saw an open playing field to invest, innovate and deliver products to the consumer.

“Now, that field has been cluttered up with a lot of obstacles,” Shammo said. “It’s going to be more difficult to invest, more difficult to innovate.”

Specifically, he said that innovation would now require navigating burdensome regulation on select areas of broadband distribution — a reality Shammo said invites confusion.

“I’m pretty much assured [the FCC vote] will have an impact on investment and innovation over the longer term just like we’ve seen in Europe and other places,” he said. “But, you can probably make the assumption there’s going to be a lot of litigation around this one when it’s all said and done.”

Meanwhile, Shammo said the telecom’s pending mobile video over-the-top platform would combine Verizon Digital Media Services, Edgecast and OnCue to deliver a “very viable” consumer product that can do “a lot of things."

“There’s going to be very different models in mobile video than there [is] in the linear TV. You can’t make money paying $5 [to content holders] for every subscriber you have. With 103 million [mobile] subs, it doesn’t make economic sense. And the content holders know that,” he said.

The CFO said the platform would attempt to meld multicast technology as during Verizon’s exclusive mobile wireless distribution rights to the Super Bowl and select IndyCar events.


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Dish, Like AT&T, Won't Pay Extra For Sports | Phillip Swann | TV Predictions

Over the weekend, Fox Sports 1 began blacking out certain sporting events on AT&T's U-Verse over a disagreement regarding programming fees.

Fox Sports 1 obtained the rights to the events after it signed its carriage deal with AT&T and therefore says the telco should now pay additional fees to air them. The skirmish has led to charges that what Fox Sports 1 is doing is unique and singularly punitive.

But the sports network is not the only programmer who has demanded extra fees from a TV provider after the two signed a carriage deal. As Rodney Ho of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes today, Dish is going through the same thing in Atlanta with Fox Sports demanding more money to carry 51 extra weekend games; the dispute, which began in 2013 when Fox bought the game rights from Peachtree TV, is now entering its third year.

Other TV providers serving the Atlanta area, such as DIRECTV, Charter, Comcast and, ironically, AT&T, have played along and agreed to pay the extra money for the Braves. They apparently believe that going without the extra Braves games could trigger subscriber defections.

But not Dish.


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Internet Pioneers Decry Title II Rules | Carol Wilson | Light Reading

Internet Pioneers Decry Title II Rules | Carol Wilson | Light Reading | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A group of self-proclaimed Internet "elders," including early pioneers of voice-over-IP services and proponents of Internet freedoms, is now warning that the FCC's move to impose Title II regulations on the Internet will have toxic effects on investment and innovation.

The warnings were issued on a conference call arranged by Daniel Berninger, known primarily for his early work in VoIP, including as part of VocalTec Communications, and that also included Jeff Pulver, VoIP pioneer with Free World Dialup and later Pulver.com ; John Perry Barlow, who founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation and is still on its board; George Gilder, economist and author of Telecosm; and Bryan Martin, chairman of 8x8 Inc. (Nasdaq: EGHT), a VoIP provider.

One over-arching goal of the teleconference was to lay to rest the notion that the technology industry universally backs what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has done, Berninger noted. While there is general support for net neutrality, imposing Title II regulations is not the answer, he said.

"The US represents 70% to 80% of the [global] information technology economy -- why would you reverse your strategy that got us to this point?" Berninger said.

Gilder was probably the most agitated of the group in decrying the FCC move. He recalled the telecom crash of 2000, and said another crash could result from the new rules.


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Blackburn and Tillis Introduce Bill Aimed to Undo FCC Decision to Restore Local Authority | community broadband networks

Blackburn and Tillis Introduce Bill Aimed to Undo FCC Decision to Restore Local Authority | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Last week, the FCC made history when it chose to restore local telecommunications authority by nullifying state barriers in Tennessee and North Carolina. Waiting in the wings were Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Senator Thom Tillis from Tennessee and North Carolina respectively, with their legislation to cut off the FCC at the knees. [A PDF of the draft legislation is available online.]

Readers will remember Blackburn from last year. She introduced a similar measure in the form of an amendment to an appropriations bill. Blackburn has repeatedly attributed her attempts to block local authority to her mission to preserve the rights of states. A Broadcasting and Cable article quoted her:

“The FCC’s decision to grant the petitions of Chattanooga, Tennessee and Wilson, North Carolina is a troubling power grab,” Blackburn said. “States are sovereign entities that have Constitutional rights, which should be respected rather than trampled upon. They know best how to manage their limited taxpayer dollars and financial ventures."

Thom Tillis, the other half of this Dystopian Duo, released a statement just hours after the FCC decision:

“Representative Blackburn and I recognize the need for Congress to step in and take action to keep unelected bureaucrats from acting contrary to the expressed will of the American people through their state legislatures.”

Considering that networks in Chattanooga and Wilson are incredibly popular and an increasing number of communities across the country are approving municipal network initatives through the ballot, it is obvious that Tillis is rather confused about the expressed will of the American people. He needs to sign up for our once weekly newsletter!

No doubt the decision will be tied up in court proceedings for some time to come as state lawmakers attempt to control what municipalities do with their own connectivity decisions.

In keeping with the drama of the recent days, I have to say, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." If Blackburn and Tillis are so convinced the FCC is overstepping, why not let the matter be decided in the courts? They know the law is not on their side, that's why.


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China defends cybersecurity demands, amid complaints from U.S. | Michael Kan | NetworkWorld.com

China defends cybersecurity demands, amid complaints from U.S. | Michael Kan | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

President Barack Obama isn’t happy with new rules from China that would require U.S. tech companies to abide by strict cybersecurity measures, but on Tuesday the country was quick to defend the proposed regulations.

“All countries are paying attention to and taking measures to safeguard their own information security. This is beyond reproach,” said China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying in a news briefing.

She made the statement after Obama criticized a proposed anti-terror law that he said could stifle U.S. tech business in China. The legislation would require companies to hand over encryption keys to the country’s government, and create “back doors” into their systems to give the Chinese government surveillance access.

“This is something that I’ve raised directly with President Xi,” Obama said in an interview with Reuters on Monday. “We have made it very clear to them that this is something they are going to have to change if they are to do business with the United States.”

U.S. trade groups are also against another set of proposed regulations that would require vendors selling to China’s telecommunication and banking sector to hand over sensitive intellectual property to the country’s government.

Although China hasn’t approved the proposed regulations, the country has made cybersecurity a national priority over the past year. This came after leaks from U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden alleged that the U.S. had been secretly spying on Chinese companies and schools through cyber surveillance.

On Tuesday, China signaled that there was a clear need to protect the country from cyber espionage. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua pointed to recent reports alleging that the U.S. and the U.K. had hacked into a SIM card maker for surveillance purposes as an example.


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Why small ISPs support net neutrality | Fedric Paul | NetworkWorld.com

Why small ISPs support net neutrality | Fedric Paul | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In the wake of the FCC's landmark decision last week to classify broadband internet access as a public utility, it was easy to see the battle over net neutrality as a conflict between Democrats and Republicans, between the companies that provide content over the internet and companies that supply the "pipes" that deliver that content.

But according to Dane Jasper, CEO and co-founder of California-based ISP Sonic, that would be far too simplistic an analysis. In reality, Jasper says, the warring principles behind net neutrality cut across those lines in surprising ways. As chief executive of a company competing with the big carriers, Jasper clearly has an agenda. But his viewpoint also makes it clear that the carrier industry is not uniformly opposed to net neutrality and Title II regulation.

Jasper says the FCC's existing rules (casting broadband as an information service instead of a regulated utility in the early 2000's to weaken the 1996 Telecommunications Act) seem to be based on the idea that there could be "too much competition" in broadband. The theory was that only "intermodal" competition—DSL vs. cable vs. powerline vs. wireless—was required, not competition within each technology. The reasoning was that having only a single player in each technology would encourage investment while competition from other technologies would be enough to keep prices in check and ensure good service.

As it turned out, of course, not all of these technologies turned into viable alternatives, creating what Jasper called "America's intentional broadband duopoly"—and leaving most consumers with just one or two internet options.

"I would argue that when you have failed competitive market, with just one or two choices, you have an effective monopoly," Jasper says.

That's the chief reason for the U.S. internet industry's high prices, privacy issues (too willingly sharing information with various agencies), and "shockingly bad customer service practices," Jasper says.

Outside the U.S., he notes, many regions have more vibrant service at lower prices than are available to domestic consumers. "We wouldn't have to deal with any of these issues if consumers had 30 choices," Jasper says.

"We need 50 companies like Sonic to step up and build networks," he adds. "Hopefully it will mean more competition and drive down prices."

That's the exact opposite of the argument that enforcing net neutrality will inhibit investment in internet infrastructure. The dominant carriers like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and their supporters are correct that not being allowed to charge content providers extra for access to "fast lanes" will cost them an incremental revenue stream, Jasper says. But he notes that many smaller carriers like T-Mobile, Sprint, Time-Warner, Frontier, and, yes, Sonic, have clearly stated that they do not anticipate the order will impact their investments or their ability to serve customers. Critically, Jasper says, that's because only the biggest incumbent carriers have enough subscribers to force content providers to pay additional fees. Those revenue streams are simply not available to smaller players. In Jasper's view, that's why many of the smaller carriers and ISPs have ended up on the side of the content providers in support of net neutrality.

Interestingly, we haven't seen a similar split on the content side. It makes sense that smaller content providers who can't afford fast-lane payments would be all for net neutrality. But even the biggest bandwidth users like Google and Netflix, which could afford to pay for faster access to their customers, have been clear on their support for the concept.


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TiVo Buys Aereo Assets at Auction. Is a Legal Aereo Coming? | Bill Rosenblatt | Forbes.com

TiVo Buys Aereo Assets at Auction.  Is a Legal Aereo Coming? | Bill Rosenblatt | Forbes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Aereo officially died last week. Eight months after losing its legal battle with television networks, the failed watch-TV-on-the-Internet startup held an auction for its assets. One of the notable purchases was its trademarks, domain names, and customer list, which went to TiVo for $1 Million. What could TiVo do with these assets? Here’s an intriguing possibility: TiVo could be looking into offering an Aereo-like service but one that’s licensed by TV networks.

TiVo is at risk of missing out on the growth of Internet television through devices such as Smart TVs and set-top boxes like Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV. TiVo’s core product is a digital video recorder (DVR). That means that unlike Roku, Apple, and Amazon, TiVo is ultimately dependent on users recording content that they receive in other ways. An Internet retransmission deal with broadcast networks would be a neat way for TiVo to expand its offerings and compete more effectively in the Internet TV market.


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Net Neutrality Rules Don't Protect AT&T In Battle Over Throttling, FTC Argues | Wendy Davis | Media Post

Net Neutrality Rules Don't Protect AT&T In Battle Over Throttling, FTC Argues | Wendy Davis | Media Post | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Federal Trade Commission says in new court papers that it is entitled to continue pursuing a lawsuit against AT&T, despite the new net neutrality rules.

The agency argues in court papers filed on Monday that the net neutrality rules, which were passed last week by the Federal Communications Commission, don't “relieve AT&T of liability for its unfair and deceptive throttling program.”

The FTC's papers come less than one week after a different agency -- the FCC -- voted to reclassify broadband as a common-carrier service, which is regulated under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. That decision enabled the FCC to prohibit broadband providers from discriminating among content providers -- such as by creating fast lanes. At the same time, it also appears to strip the FTC of the power to bring enforcement actions, because the FTC lacks authority over common carriers.

But the FTC argues in its new court papers that even if the net neutrality regulations prevent it from bringing future enforcement actions against AT&T, the rules don't apply retroactively.


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EOBC Formula Would Boost FCC Opening Bids By Billions | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

EOBC Formula Would Boost FCC Opening Bids By Billions | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition (EOBC) has offered up alternative opening incentive auction bid prices that are billions of dollars higher than the FCC's proposed opening bids.

EOBC, which represents stations interested in participating in the auction at the right price, has recalculated opening bid prices for every station based on an alternative formula, one that takes into account a station's impact on other stations (in the repacking after the auction), an impact EOBC argues goes "far beyond its protected contour." To check out the different between the FCC and EOBC prices, go here.

According to EOBC's analysis of the value of all the stations of major group operators, top owner Sinclair's stations would be worth $15 billion more, Media General's $13 billion and Ion's almost $9 billion.

By that measure, 2,165 stations see a boost in their starting bids and only eight stations would experience a "slight" decrease, but all are owned by station groups that, on balance, would see an overall opening bid gain, says the coalition.

"A single station in New York City can interfere with other broadcasters or wireless operations from Boston to Baltimore," it says. "Our reweighting of the FCC formula gives broadcasters the credit they deserve for the spectrum they occupy beyond their own service area — spectrum that the FCC wants to buy at a discount using its proposed formula."

EOBC concedes that the starting prices will go down as stations compete for the money, but choice is to "go down from a high price or from a low price."

It points out that the higher prices will attract more broadcasters and increase the odds of a successful auction, so it should be in the FCC's interest as well as broadcasters.


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Senate Commerce Committee to Hold First Ever Oversight Hearing on FirstNet | U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, will convene a hearing on Wednesday, March 11, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. entitled “Three Years Later: Are We Any Closer To A Nationwide Public Safety Wireless Broadband Network?” The chairwoman of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), the organization mandated to establish the first nationwide broadband network for emergency responders, and officials from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Government Accountability Office will testify at the hearing.

At the urging of the public safety community, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 created FirstNet, an organization designed to serve as an “independent authority” in the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and to “provide emergency responders with the first nationwide, high-speed network dedicated to public safety." As highlighted by the tragedy of 9/11, the reliance by first responders on separate networks has made communications among public safety professionals problematic during emergencies.

The hearing will examine the progress of FirstNet's nationwide wireless broadband network for emergency responders. Witnesses will discuss progress and challenges in building the network, as well as FirstNet’s future as a self-funding entity as required by the Act.


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Walden: Wheeler Still Signaled Light Touch Regs in Nov.-Dec. | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

Walden: Wheeler Still Signaled Light Touch Regs in Nov.-Dec. | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) says that he has trouble believing FCC chairman Tom Wheeler when he says he was already moving toward Title II by the time the President announced his support for that approach to new network neutrality rules.

"The FCC Certainly changed their view, or at least Tom Wheeler did, on where he was headed once the President sort of tripped him up," Walden told C-SPAN's Communicators series in an interview.

He was asked by co-interviewer Lynn Stanton whether that meant he didn't give credence to the chairman's explanation that he was thinking about Title II last summer and that it was a result of the conclusion that they could not reach the kind of network neutrality protections they wanted without it.

"I am having trouble believing that because of conversations I had with the chairman this fall where he was still in 'light touch,' and then I read he had this ... epiphany on the Eastern Shore in July or August. If he did, it was not what I was led to believe where he was headed in November when I met with him, and December." The President urged the FCC to adopt Title II based rules in a video posted on the Internet Nov. 10.

Wheeler was in Barcelona at a conference and unavailable for comment, according to a spokesperson. But asked if he trusted the FCC to forbear from applying some of the Title II regs, Walden said he thought the FCC would try, but that it was possible the D.C. court could uphold Title II, but not how the FCC chose to forbear from the many parts it planned not to apply — rate regs, unbundling, Universal Service Fund fees and more. "They are now under full Title II regulation because the court says 'you didn't do proper process to forbear."


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House Judiciary Plans March 17 Net Neutrality Hearing | John Eggerton | Multichannel

House Judiciary Plans March 17 Net Neutrality Hearing | John Eggerton | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It may be a time for the "wearin' o' the green," but Republicans are seeing red over the FCC's new net neutrality rules and plan to debate them on St. Patrick's Day.

The House Judiciary Committee has told FCC chairman Tom Wheeler it plans to hold a March 17 hearing on the FCC's new Title II-based network neutrality rules.

In a letter to Wheeler dated the day after the Feb. 26 vote, the majority of Republicans on the committee said they will not "stand by idly as the White House, using the FCC, attempts to advance rules that imperil the future of the Internet."

That is a reference to the President's urging last fall that Wheeler use Title II to restore net neutrality rules thrown out by the court last year.

They called the new rules a "partisan headline for a partisan initiative that is destined for years of litigation, generating years of debilitating uncertainty."

In the letter, they asked, they said, they were hoping he would testify at the hearing, but that it would be held regardless to "allow for public debate regarding the impact of the FCC's rules on the future of competition and the Internet.


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Kittson County Broadband 2014 Update: ARRA funding and MN Broadband Funds help but still only half served | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

Kittson County Broadband 2014 Update: ARRA funding and MN Broadband Funds help but still only half served | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For the upcoming weeks I’m working on a County-by-County look at the State of Broadband in MN. My hope is to feature a county a day (in alphabetical order). In November, Connect Minnesota released their final report on broadband availability. Here is how Kittson County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 1.8
  • Number of Households: 1,986
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 43.08%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 43.08%


Kittson County is served, at least in part, by Wikstrom Telephone; they received ARRA funding; in 2012 they celebrated installation of fiber to Wikstrom customers. Earlier this year, Wikstrom received more through the Minnesota Broadband Fund to expand that network..


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FCC got Net neutrality 'right,' but fight isn't over, Franken says | Marguerite Reardon | CNET

FCC got Net neutrality 'right,' but fight isn't over, Franken says | Marguerite Reardon | CNET | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Four years ago, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) was one of the only US lawmakers standing up for rules to keep the Internet open.

Now he's celebrating a victory, along with President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats who applauded the Federal Communications Commission's new Net neutrality rules adopted last week.

For years Franken -- comedy writer, author and talk radio host who became a Democratic US senator for Minnesota in 2009 -- has been calling for regulations that ensure all Internet traffic gets fair and equal treatment. "Let's not sell out," he exhorted Internet entrepreneurs at the 2011 South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) in Texas. "And let's not let the government sell us out. Let's fight for Net neutrality. Let's keep Austin weird. Let's keep the Internet weird. Let's keep the Internet free."

What does keeping the Internet free mean? Net neutrality is the idea that traffic on the Internet should be treated equally. That means your broadband provider, which controls your access to the Internet, can't block or slow down your ability to use services or applications or view websites. It also means your Internet service provider -- whether it's a cable company or telephone service -- can't create so-called "fast lanes" that force content companies like Netflix to pay an additional fee to deliver their content to customers faster.

But the newly approved rules also reclassify broadband as a Title II service under the 1934 Communications Act, which basically means the FCC can regulate the Internet the same way it does telephone service. That reclassification has raised the ire of broadband providers, who say the FCC could now impose new taxes and tariffs and force them to share their networks with competitors. Republicans, who also disapprove, are dubbing the new regulation "Obamacare for the Internet."

Franken and other Net neutrality supporters scoff at that. "No, no, no, no!" FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said Tuesday during a fireside chat at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Wheeler said the Net neutrality rules wouldn't dictate rates, impose tariffs, open up carriers' networks to competitors or meddle with their business.

Franken, Wheeler and others say reclassifying broadband is the only way to make sure the rules stand up to court challenges. Experience has shown they need that legal heft. The current rules replace ones a federal appeals court threw out in January 2014, saying the FCC didn't have the legal authority to impose them.


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NAB to FCC: Localism Must Be Baked into OVD Item | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

NAB to FCC: Localism Must Be Baked into OVD Item | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The National Association of Broadcasters says that, to read the FCC's proposal to define some over-the-top providers as MVPDS, "it’s as if the Commission no longer views localism as one of its key policy objectives." It also says it wants the FCC to give broadcasters the ability not to negotiate retrans with an OVD if it cannot demonstrate it can protect that content from pirates.

That came in formal comments on that proposal. NAB says it agrees with the FCC that linear OVDs defined as MVPDs should be subject to retransmission consent/must carry rules, but challenges its silence on how the network nonduplication and syndicated exclusivity rules would apply, which it says is essential to the concept of localism."

The FCC has signaled the main reason for the definitional change is to make sure those programmers have sufficient access to programming to become true competitors to traditional cable and satellite service, but NAB says responsibilities must go along with those rights.

NAB is concerned about not extending geographic signal limits to online TV station signal distribution. "The Commission must ensure that its expansion of the definition of MVPD does not inadvertently erode the ability of broadcasters to serve their local communities," NAB said.

That means that the FCC needs to insure there is a mechanism for insuring TV station signals online "are secured from potential piracy, are accessed by OVD subscribers within the broadcaster’s geographic market, and are not materially degraded." Broadcasters also want notification when an OVD is defined as an MVPD so they know with whom they need to negotiate.


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Crooks targeting call centers to further Apple Pay fraud | Steve Ragan | CSO Online

Crooks targeting call centers to further Apple Pay fraud | Steve Ragan | CSO Online | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

According to mobile payments expert Cherian Abraham, fraud on Apple's mobile payment platform – Apple Pay – is rampant. However, Apple's hardware and software security measures remain intact; the issue at the heart of most fraud cases is social engineering.

When getting started with Apple Pay, consumers can take an image of their card, allowing the app to scan the required credentials. However, they can also manually enter the details, which is where criminals have started focusing their attack.

The card details, along with other information related to the iTunes account (device name, current location, transaction history), are forwarded to the bank. At this point, the bank can choose to authorize the card for Apple Pay, or require additional information.

Since the technical security controls are tough to crack for the average crook, they've taken to targeting the weaker parts of the system, including the provisioning channel.

Cards that are automatically approved are listed under the green path. Cards on the red path are simply declined. However, Apple required banks and card issuers to develop a system of additional checks and fraud protection called the yellow path.

The yellow path was originally optional, but Apple made them mandatory a month prior to the Apple Pay release. Depending on the card issuer, the yellow path can include a number of different checks, including a conversation with someone at a call center, authentication with the bank's mobile app, or additional verification from two-factor authentication.

Yet, when the Apple Pay roll-out started, because the yellow path was optional, card issuers didn't give it much attention. After it became mandatory, there was a scramble to meet the requirements, leaving gaps for criminals to target.

Most card issuers have leveraged existing fraud checks and metrics, including the use of call centers for additional verification, and that's where the problem is.


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Opinion: The FCC's Net Neutrality Victory Is Anything But | Geoffrey A. Manne | WIRED

Opinion: The FCC's Net Neutrality Victory Is Anything But | Geoffrey A. Manne | WIRED | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The day after the FCC’s net neutrality vote, Washington was downright frigid. I’d spoken at three events about the ruling, mentioning at each that the order could be overturned in court. I was tired and ready to go home.

I could see my Uber at the corner when I felt a hand on my arm. The woman’s face was anxious. “I heard your talk,” she said.“If net neutrality is overturned, will I still be able to Skype with my son in Turkey?”

The question reveals the problem with the supposed four million comments submitted in support of net neutrality. Almost no one really gets it. Fewer still understand Title II, the regulatory tool the FCC just invoked to impose its conception of net neutrality on the Internet.

Some internet engineers and innovators do get it. Mark Cuban rightly calls the uncertainty created by Title II a “Whac-a-Mole environment,” driven by political whims. And telecom lawyers? They love it: whatever happens, the inevitable litigation will mean a decade’s worth of job security.

As I’ve said in technically detailed comments, academic coalition letters, papers, and even here at Wired, while “net neutrality” sounds like a good idea, it isn’t. And reclassifying the internet under Title II, an antiquated set of laws repurposed in the 1930s for Ma Bell, is the worst way to regulate dynamic digital services.

On February 26, self-styled “consumer advocates” and a few self-interested corporate behemoths won the day with clever branding and passionate rhetoric. But as FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai warned in his dissent, net neutrality regulation enacted under Title II doesn’t deliver.

“Instead,” he wrote, “the order imposes intrusive government regulations that won’t work to solve a problem that doesn’t exist using legal authority the FCC doesn’t have.”

Let’s take a look at those charges.


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Nokia CEO: We Have To Get Rid Of Net Neutrality, Otherwise Self-Driving Cars Will Keep On Crashing Into Each Other | Glyn Moody | Techdirt

Nokia CEO: We Have To Get Rid Of Net Neutrality, Otherwise Self-Driving Cars Will Keep On Crashing Into Each Other | Glyn Moody | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It would be an understatement to say that net neutrality has been in the news quite a lot recently. One of the supposed arguments against it is that requiring all data packets to be treated equally within a connection will prevent companies from offering us a cornucopia of "specialized services." The main example cited is for medical applications -- the implication being that if net neutrality is required, people are going to die. Speaking at the Mobile World Congress that is currently underway, Nokia's CEO Rajeev Suri has come up with a novel variation on that theme, as reported by CNET (via @AdV007):

Suri emphasises that self-driving cars need to talk over wireless networks fast enough to make decisions with the split-second timing required on the roads. "You cannot prevent collisions if the data that can prevent them is still making its way through the network", said Suri, discussing Nokia's drive toward instantaneous low-latency communication across the network.

Yes, according to Suri, there are going to be terrible pile-ups on the roads unless we get rid of net neutrality. Leaving aside the fact that low-latency communications across the internet will come anyway -- if there's one thing that's certain in the world of digital technology, it's that everything gets faster and cheaper -- there's another problem with this argument.


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How to Fund an Open, Ubiquitous, Very Fast, Broadband Internet Utility | Bruce Kushnick Blog | HuffPost.com

How to Fund an Open, Ubiquitous, Very Fast, Broadband Internet Utility | Bruce Kushnick Blog | HuffPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

While America searches for a way to fund fiber optic broadband to everyone, and cities have taken it upon themselves to 'go around' the incumbent phone and cable companies, let me give you a different point of view. Let's discuss how to take advantage and leverage the broadband and network infrastructure commitments of the incumbent phone and cable companies, as well as companies' financial and business practices.

And to put this into some context of current events, the FCC has just made some recent announcements about Net Neutrality and municipalities' rights to offer broadband.

Unfortunately, it looks like it is going to take years before anything is resolved. As we wrote:

"The count-down has started and by the end of next week, or once the entire Open Internet (Net Neutrality) rules are put out (we have only an outline as of this writing), you can expect a lawyers' banquet, a feeding frenzy where they will file and file and file."

Moreover, even if the Net Neutrality rules are applied, the FCC has taken opening the networks to deliver direct competition off the table, which would have allowed you to choose your cable, broadband or Internet provider over the wires coming into your home or office.

This means there is no way to lower the price of service as there's no competition -- no 'market forces' are in play except 'monopoly' or 'duopoly'. Worse, the FCC is placating the companies still further as there will be no 'price regulation'-- i.e., you are getting gouged and there's no competition to fix this -- so tough. The FCC is not going to say to the cable, phone or ISP companies -- There's no competition, so lower your rates.

And the current situation needs to be fixed as this marked up Time Warner Cable bill shows you what happens when there's no competition or oversight. The basic $89.99 Triple Play package in two years ended up costing a whopping $190.77 a month.

But it gets worse if you are in a rural area or one of those places that the companies want to forget about. Verizon announced it is 'shutting off the copper' wires as it is 'uneconomical' to maintain or upgrade and will force customers onto wireless. Verizon also announced it is no longer going to deploy its fiber optic FiOS product, and this leaves about 50% not upgraded with a wired service. (While Verizon will claim more FiOS coverage, truth is there are no audits of Verizon's deployments and reports by the unions and by those who can't get service in 'completed areas', even in New York City, tell a much different story.)

And while it is great that Net Neutrality principles, which means that they can't screw with your Internet service, may be put into effect, it belies the more pervasive problems -- you may not be able to afford (or want to pay for) that service or get that service or have a choice about who offers you that service.


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