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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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Michael Wolff on HBO, CBS Streaming: TV Is Disrupting the Internet | Hollywood Reporter

Michael Wolff on HBO, CBS Streaming: TV Is Disrupting the Internet | Hollywood Reporter | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The solipsism of the tech community sees the CBS and HBO migrations to stand-alone streaming services as a satisfying disruption of the TV business. But that's a striking inversion of what's actually happening: TV is disrupting the Internet.


A funny thing happened during the Internet's seemingly epochal displacement of mainstream media. While digital media was becoming overwhelmingly ad-supported — a mass-media model reminiscent of the three-network era — television gained a subscription revenue stream. Paid television — that is, cable subscriptions — became the most powerful growth driver in the media world, producing a new kind of high-value, culture-shaping programming.


Meanwhile, digital media, from Yahoo to BuzzFeed to the websites and apps of magazines and newspapers — and including even Google and Facebook — found itself overwhelmingly reliant on advertising income. Because of the glut of space, new automated ways of buying and reaching audiences in digital venues and persistent complaints about the caliber of digital attention, ad rates largely have continued to sink — meaning, in a terrible cycle, content must be cheaper and must grow broader in an ever-dumbed-down effort to reach a larger and larger audience, for which advertisers pay less and less. This downward trend now is moving almost every significant Internet platform and media site into the video business, with its higher ad rates and opportunities for user fees.


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Republican House Majority Leader McCarthy blasts 'Truthy' Twitter project | Mario Trujillo | The Hill

The furor in the House GOP over a university project studying Twitter trends is growing as House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) added his name to the list of critics.

McCarthy on Thursday afternoon became the most high-profile Republican to come out against Indiana University's "Truthy" project, which is partly funded by a grant from the federal National Science Foundation (NSF).

"Government funding of this project is not only a waste during a time of budgetary constraints, it is also a danger to free society better suited for a George Orwell book than a country founded on the idea of liberty," he said.

The project is aimed at understanding how information spreads online. It samples real-time public tweets to identify and study trending topics, political and otherwise. An important area of interest for the project is "how social media can be abused."

Much of its early work explored the partisan differences in social media use and the spread of misinformation online, and has broadened since then,


McCarthy's blog post, “#killingfreespeech,” on his leadership website echoes concerns from others like Republican Federal Communications Commission member Ajit Pai and House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who said his panel is investigating the grant. 


"Most Americans would agree that the federal government should not encroach on free speech or play any role in determining what classifies as ‘social pollution’ and ‘political smears,’—other subjects Truthy wishes to monitor," McCarthy said. 


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CBS Launching New Over-the-Air Network: "Decades" Will Feature Classic TV Series from 50s-80s | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

CBS Launching New Over-the-Air Network: "Decades" Will Feature Classic TV Series from 50s-80s | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

MeTV is getting some quasi-competition starting in the second quarter of next year as CBS and Weigel Broadcasting launch “Decades,” a new over-the-air television network that CBS is calling “the ultimate TV time capsule.”


Weigel will handle affiliation agreements with non-CBS owned stations, most likely CBS affiliates owned by other companies. Weigel already programs MeTV, so the two networks will probably avoid direct duplication of each other, but the formats are expected to be similar.


The agreement gives Weigel expanded access to CBS’ library of produced and acquired classic television shows including I Love Lucy, Star Trek, Cheers, Happy Days and other shows generally out of syndication. Decades will also feature some original programming, such as Decades Retrospectical, that will include clips from CBS News and Entertainment Ton

The new network will launch as a digital sub-channel on many CBS-owned local television stations:


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Time Warner Cable Unveils $26/Mo 6-Tuner, 1TB DVR in Los Angeles, New York Maxx Markets | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Time Warner Cable Unveils $26/Mo 6-Tuner, 1TB DVR in Los Angeles, New York Maxx Markets | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Time Warner Cable’s enhanced DVR is here, at an enhanced price starting at $26/month.

Time Warner customers have long waited for an upgraded DVR capable of storing and recording more shows, and the Arris DCX 3600 is the result.

Available soon in Los Angeles and New York (and later in other TWC Maxx-upgraded markets), the enhanced DVR includes six tuners and 1TB of storage, enough to keep around 150 hours of HD programming.

The DVR includes QAM/RF-capability and a DOCSIS 3 modem built into the box. Time Warner Cable has set the monthly price for the box at $15.99 for single room DVR service, $19.99 a month for whole-house DVR service. An additional equipment rental fee also applies: $10.25/mo for the box and remote control, $11.75/mo if you are subject to Time Warner’s “additional outlet service fee.” That means customers will pay up to $31.74 a month for the DVR alone. Customers who subscribe to a bundled service package will likely pay significantly lower rates for the enhanced DVR.

Time Warner arrives very late to the DVR competition wars. Its current boxes can usually record only up to two shows at once and storage space, usually enough for 80 hours, may require customers to clear out older shows to make room for new ones.

Time Warner’s competitors are still able to beat Time Warner’s new DVR:


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Three House Dems, three proposals for net neutrality. Here’s what they look like. | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

Three House Dems, three proposals for net neutrality. Here’s what they look like. | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Rep. Anna Eshoo is urging federal regulators to oversee Internet providers using Title II of the Communications Act — a move that would give the Federal Communications Commission more latitude to prevent the sort of traffic discrimination net neutrality advocates say would hurt the open Internet.

In a letter to the FCC this week, the California Democrat said the agency could selectively apply only those parts of the law that deal with reasonable rates and unjust discrimination — what are known as Sections 201 and 202. The rest of the law, she said, could be waived under a process known as "forbearance." (My colleague Nancy Scola has a good overview of what that means.)

"It is true that some of these laws do apply only to telephone services," said Eshoo, referring to Title II's historical role in regulating phone companies like AT&T. "But others are the source of timeless principles that can and do apply to all two-way telecom services, including broadband."

Eshoo's proposal tracks closely with one by her colleague, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.). In an earlier letter to the FCC, Lofgren also called for a mix of Title II and forbearance — while leaning on another part of the law that could help the FCC make a stronger case for forbearance. In striking down much of the FCC's original net neutrality rules this year, a federal court granted the agency a little more authority under what's called Section 706.

Section 706, found under Title I of the FCC's congressional charter, is how the agency could regulate broadband under new net neutrality rules. Some advocates have been pushing for the FCC to rely primarily on its Section 706 authority to draft the new regulations, but consumer groups argue that won't be enough.

A third proposal by another California Democrat, Rep. Henry Waxman , also relies on Title II, but advances an alternative that waives the very provisions of the law that Eshoo's letter says are the most important — the language against "unjust discrimination." This may sound counterintuitive, but Waxman appears to agree with industry officials' arguments that the phrase "unjust discrimination" actually could still allow Internet fast lanes — if broadband providers can claim that the discrimination is a "just" and reasonable practice.


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Google's Search Changes Are Reportedly Destroying Top Pirate Sites | Mario Aguilar | Gizmodo

Google's Search Changes Are Reportedly Destroying Top Pirate Sites | Mario Aguilar | Gizmodo | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Last week Google announced that it would be rolling out changes to its search algorithm to significantly demote sites that receive a large number of valid copyright takedown requests. Now TorrentFreak reports that top sites have taken tremendous hits in traffic coming from Google.

TorrentFreak spoke to several torrent site operators who say that beginning this week their sites saw significant drops in traffic. According to the Isohunt.to team, "earlier this week all search traffic dropped in half."

That's significant, but the second half of the report is indicative of why these censorship policies don't actually do anything to make piracy any better.


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Google Continues To Try To Appease Hollywood, Though It Is Unlikely To Ever Be Enough | Mike Masnick | Techdirt.com

Google Continues To Try To Appease Hollywood, Though It Is Unlikely To Ever Be Enough | Mike Masnick | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google has come out with the latest version of its "How Google Fights Piracy" report, going to great lengths to show how the company goes above and beyond what is required by law to try to drive people to authorized copies of content while also increasing opportunities for content creators to monetize their own content. There really aren't too many surprises in the report -- it just looks like an extension of what they've said in the past.


The company is apparently about to roll out an update to its program that "downranks" certain sites based on how many DMCA notices it gets -- something that's been a huge point of contention from the RIAA and MPAA. In effect Google is basically saying to the major music and movie companies: you guys still haven't figured out how to optimize your content for search engines (like nearly everyone else online) so, fuck it, we'll do it for you if you'll just stop these ridiculous accusations. Of course, it's unlikely to work.

Just this week James Murdoch insisted, incorrectly, that search engines love piracy because it brings them revenue. This has never made any sense at all, but it's a myth that flows through the legacy entertainment industry. How Google actually makes any money from those links is never explained, because there isn't an answer. And the question of why the industry doesn't do a better job getting its own content more highly ranked is ignored as well.

And, of course, there's a real risk that by strengthening the "signalling" power of DMCA notices, what Google is really doing is giving the legacy players a tool for search engine "de-optimization", so that rather than improving their own offerings, they now have every incentive in the world to just file a bunch of DMCA notices against sites they don't like. This is why there's reasonable fear from many that this new move by Google will actually lead to an increase in bogus DMCA notices that result in legitimate content being censored.


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Researchers use silicon to push quantum computing toward reality | Sharon Gaudin | NetworkWorld.com

Researchers use silicon to push quantum computing toward reality | Sharon Gaudin | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Researchers in Australia have developed silicon-wrapped quantum technology that could solve problems that have held back the development of powerful quantum computers.

The scientists, working on similar but separate projects at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), used silicon as a protectant shell around the bits, also known as qubits, in a quantum machine.

By doing that, they've made the qubits, the building blocks for quantum computers, more accurate, increased the length of time they'll hold information and possible made quantum computers easier to build.

With these two similar silicon-based breakthroughs, the researchers potentially have pushed quantum computing closer to becoming a reality.


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Michigan Coalition To Protect Public Rights-Of-Way | PROTEC-MI.org

Michigan Coalition To Protect Public Rights-Of-Way | PROTEC-MI.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Michigan Coalition To Protect Public Rights-Of-Way was formed in 1996 by several Michigan cities interested in protecting their citizens’ control over public rights-of-way, and their right to receive fair compensation from the telecommunications companies that use public property.

PROTEC’s founders were responding to changes in Michigan laws which threatened to give telecommunications companies free, unrestricted access to public roads and easements. Such uncontrolled access threatened (and continues to threaten) the safety, health, and well being of every Michigan resident and business.

Since PROTEC’s formation, the residents and businesses of numerous cities, villages and townships have benefited from the allied efforts of the coalition. PROTEC has represented jurisdictions of all sizes through coordinated lobbying efforts at both the state and federal level.

PROTEC has expanded its efforts to meet the needs of every Michigan city, village and township, including dealing with concerns over public right-of-way usage by gas and electric companies.


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Chicago takes top spot in mobile performance ranking | Matt Hamblen | NetworkWorld.com

Chicago takes top spot in mobile performance ranking | Matt Hamblen | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Chicago is the U.S. city with the best overall mobile performance ranking, according to tens of thousands of voice and data tests conducted in 125 cities by RootMetrics.

The metropolis dubbed the Windy City originally got its nickname in the 1890s because of its reputation for bragging, and not just because of the fierce winter winds blowing off Lake Michigan.

And so, it seems the bragging is bound to continue.

"Chicago was the only city with top ranking in multiple performance categories," RootMetrics reported in its online analysis posted on Monday.

RootMetrics used off-the-shelf wireless phones both in outdoors and indoors locations to measure factors such as overall performance, reliability of connections, data speed, data connection capability, calls and texting. The networks of all four national carriers, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, were tested.

While Chicago is the third-largest U.S. city, with a population of 8.6 million, its top overall ranking outstripped the nation's biggest city, New York. The Big Apple, with its 18.4 million population, ranked 98th overall in RootMetrics' measurements. The nation's second-largest city, Los Angeles, with a 12.2 million population, finished in 111th place in the tests, well behind many cities a fraction of its size.

Root Metrics didn't come up with a definitive reason for why the nation's two largest cities ranked so poorly. Both cities, as well as Chicago, encompass enormous amounts of land and also have dense urban cores with soaring skyscrapers. These topographies are challenging for cellular signal, which need to stretch long distances and reach inside large office buildings constructed of steel and concrete that tend to impede most signals.

"In the last six months to a year, there's been a lot of press about all the carriers investing quite a bit of money into the Chicago market, especially Sprint, so the folks in Chicago are probably seeing the benefit," said Julie Dey, vice president of marketing at RootMetrics, in an interview. "We don't have the expertise to say why these rankings came out this way. New York and L.A. are at the middle to the bottom, which is surprising."

All the carriers have upgraded to LTE networks in the past two years, which has required installing thousands more cell towers and antennas, as well a fiber optic cable backhaul lines and new switches inside new switching cabinets.


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TX: At Austin airport, Wi-Fi predicts how long the security line will be | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com

TX: At Austin airport, Wi-Fi predicts how long the security line will be | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Internet can ease travel concerns in many ways, including flight-delay information, maps of road congestion, and ride-sharing apps. But a Wi-Fi network at the Austin, Texas, airport can now answer one of the great unknowns: How long will I have to wait in line at security?

That information is available thanks to fairly simple technology implemented on a Cisco Systems network run by global Wi-Fi provider Boingo Wireless. It’s an early example of how the so-called Internet of Things can make some parts of life easier.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport got the nation’s first airport Wi-Fi network in 2000, according to Boingo, which has run the airport’s Wi-Fi since 2008. Now it’s become one of the first airports to implement Passpoint, the standard that lets users of some devices get on networks and roam between them without entering a username and password. The Cisco network that supports Passpoint can also use location technologies for additional services.

Travelers don’t even need to get on the network to take advantage of the security-wait warning system. A forecast for how long each line will take appears on screens right outside the security checkpoint. And any traveler who goes through security with a device that has Wi-Fi or Bluetooth turned on also helps to make the system work, according to Boingo CTO Derek Peterson. Boingo has launched the wait-sensing technology at three airports, all in trial mode, and Austin’s is the first facility where it’s displaying the information.


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Once Again: The Sky Is Rising When It Comes To Creative Output | Mike Masnick | Techdirt.com

Once Again: The Sky Is Rising When It Comes To Creative Output | Mike Masnick | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A few years ago, we released our Sky is Rising report, looking at the state of the global entertainment industry, in which we found that, contrary to the story of gloom and doom that was being spread by some special interests, the real story was quite exciting.


What we found when we looked at the actual numbers was that we are in a true renaissance of creativity, with massively more content -- video, movies, books, music and video games -- being produced these days than ever before.


Perhaps more importantly, we saw that the amount of money being spent on these things also continued to increase -- though it didn't always flow through the same channels as in the past. This combination of factors -- more content producers, many new channels -- often led some people to insist that the industry was collapsing, rather than the truth, that it was growing rapidly, just in more distributed ways.


That represented certain challenges for many people in the creative industries -- but from a public policy standpoint, it certainly suggested that things were pretty good -- not deathly bad, as was often implied.


Last year, we came out with a follow up report that focused on Europe -- noting a similar pattern in various European countries, though with some countries facing unique and interesting challenges. However, one interesting aspect of that report was that we saw a stronger pattern of success in those areas where innovation was allowed to thrive and flourish, rather than be held back.

Today we're launching the third report in this series, The Sky is Rising, 2014 Edition, focused on the United States in particular. And, once again, we see the same basic story. Lots of growth.


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New NBA Deal to Raise Everybody's TV Rates | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com

Over the last few years, arguably the biggest factor for rising cable bills can be attributed to the price of sports programming. DirecTV is spending close to $1.5 billion annually to offer the NFL Sunday Ticket. Time Warner Cable spent $8 billion acquiring SportsNetLA, a Los Angeles Dodgers only channel.

Now, Disney and Time Warner are paying the NBA $24 billion for nine additional years of TV rights. One research company (The Diffusion Group) notes that the deal by itself will likely “raise the average American’s pay-TV bill by a couple dollars per month.”

Based off the continued sky-rocketing prices being paid by the TV providers for sports programming, is it any wonder why so many are cutting the cord? As the research company notes, the overall price of sports TV deals, like the NBA deal, will likely “lead to greater incumbent subscriber loss."

The NBA deal does in fact show some forward thinking in that it anticipates a new OTT service that would make NBA games available to viewers outside of the pay-TV (TV Everywhere) framework. Currently, those with the NBA’s existing League Pass service are forced to deal with restrictive blackout rules and the exclusion of all national broadcast games.

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Half of AT&T's Customers Are Paying $100 for 10GB Data; Unlimited Customers Still Throttled After 3-5GB | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Half of AT&T's Customers Are Paying $100 for 10GB Data; Unlimited Customers Still Throttled After 3-5GB | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

More than half of AT&T’s wireless customers are paying at least $100 a month for 10GB or more of wireless data on AT&T’s Mobile Share Plans at the same time AT&T continues to throttle its legacy unlimited data customers who use more than 3GB of data on its 3G network or 5GB of data on its 4G LTE network.

AT&T claimed in 2012 it implemented its “fair usage policy” for unlimited customers to assure all could receive reasonable service during peak usage times when cell towers become congested.

AT&T also blames “a serious wireless spectrum crunch” for the speed throttling, implying access to more spectrum could help ease the problem. But there is a much faster way to overcome AT&T’s “spectrum crunch:” agree to pay them more money by ditching that $30 unlimited plan for a tiered plan.

John Stephens, AT&T’s chief financial officer, told investors Wednesday that nothing boosts revenue more than pushing customers into usage-cappped data plans that customers are regularly forced to upgrade.

“On the ARPU (average revenue per user/customer) story, I think the biggest issue with the improvement is people buying the bigger [data] buckets and buying – upping plans,” said Stephens. “We had over 50% of the customer base at the 10GB or bigger plans.”

Stephens added that AT&T benefited from customers upgrading to 4G LTE devices that are handled more efficiently by AT&T’s mobile data network.

Increased usage and upgraded data plans delivered a 20% increase in data billings over the last quarter.


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T-Mobile: AT&T Gouges Us With Data Roaming Rates 150% Higher Than Average | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

T-Mobile: AT&T Gouges Us With Data Roaming Rates 150% Higher Than Average | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

T-Mobile has asked the Federal Communications Commission to investigate AT&T’s “artificially high roaming rates” charged when its customers travel outside of T-Mobile’s home service area.

T-Mobile is heavily reliant on AT&T for roaming service outside of major cities and the country’s smallest national wireless carrier complains AT&T is using their market power to put it at a major disadvantage, which could force new limits on roaming access in some areas.

T-Mobile provided examples of the damage already done by AT&T’s roaming rates:

“Limitless Mobile has severely restricted its customers’ access to AT&T’s network ‘for the sole reason that AT&T’s data roaming rates are too high and by continuing roaming access, Limitless could not maintain a commercially competitive retail wireless data offering to the general public,’” T-Mobile told the FCC.

The Rural Wireless Association noted that competing carriers “cannot sustain the provision of data roaming services if [they] must provide that service at a loss.”


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Community Broadband Media Roundup - October 17 | community broadband networks

Community Broadband Media Roundup - October 17 | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This week, cities took the stage and made some very important moves to restore their local authority.


From cities resisting big media mergers, to those choosing to join the new Next Century Cities initiative, it is a good time to be a part of municipal government efforts.


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Call to Action: Support Stronger Rules for Mobile 911 | community broadband networks

Call to Action: Support Stronger Rules for Mobile 911 | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

An increasing number of Americans are abandoning their landlines for the convenience and economy of mobile devices. Unfortunately, doing so also makes it more difficult to locate the caller in an emergency. In order to correct the problem, the FCC has proposed a stronger set of rules that will increase location accuracy for 911 calls.

As can be expected, 911 Dispatchers and First Responders support the proposed rules. Public Knowledge recently wrote about the changes that could save an additional 10,000 lives per year.

Currently, wireless companies are not required to use specific cell tower information to lead emergency medical personnel to an apartment or the floor from which a call originates. They need only to supply specific information if the call is made from outdoors. As more and more people depend on mobile devices, both indoors and out of doors, our rules need updating.

Public Knowledge has posted a call to action to support stronger rules and ensure more successful rescues:


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Judge: The Supreme Court Has Said Aereo Must Die, So Go Die | Mike Masnick | Techdirt.com

Judge: The Supreme Court Has Said Aereo Must Die, So Go Die | Mike Masnick | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This isn't a huge surprise, given Judge Alison Nathan's recent comments during the Aereo hearing, but Judge Nathan has now basically granted the networks what they want -- a pretty broad injunction (pdf) against Aereo.

Judge Nathan doesn't buy the "okay, the Supreme Court said we looked like a duck, so now we'll pay like a duck" argument.

To begin with, Aereo's argument suffers from the fallacy that simply because an entity performs copyrighted works in a way similar to cable systems it must then be deemed a cable system for all other purposes of the Copyright Act. The Supreme Court's opinion in Aereo III avoided any such holding.

[....]

the Supreme Court in Aereo III did not imply, much less hold, that simply because an entity performs publicly in much the same way as a CA TV system, it is necessarily a cable system entitled to a § 111 compulsory license.... Stated simply, while all cable systems may perform publicly, not all entities that perform publicly are necessarily cable systems, and nothing in the Supreme Court's opinion indicates otherwise.

The court also makes quick work of Aereo's DMCA defense, noting that Aereo never even bothered to make a complete showing for how it could possibly be eligible for the DMCA's safe harbors. The judge doesn't fully grant the networks' request, but comes pretty close.


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Fiber Networks & The New Digital Divide | Pablo Valerio | Network Computing

Fiber Networks & The New Digital Divide | Pablo Valerio | Network Computing | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Three months ago, my wife and I moved to a new apartment in Barcelona. A week after our telephone line and DSL service were installed, our ISP offered us fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) service without additional cost. We didn't think twice and are now enjoying a very high-speed connection, high-definition Skype calls, music and video that stream smoothly, and the ability to have several devices connected simultaneously without any service degradation.

Having some type of fiber or high-speed cable connectivity is normal for many of us, but in most developing countries of the world and many areas of Europe, the US, and other developed countries, access to "super-fast" broadband networks is still a dream.

This is creating another "digital divide." Not having the virtually unlimited bandwidth of all-fiber networks means that, for these populations, many activities are simply not possible. For example, broadband provided over all-fiber networks brings education, healthcare, and other social goods into the home through immersive, innovative applications and services that are impossible without it.

Recently, both the US Federal Communications Commission and Ofcom (the British telecom regulator) have been trying to raise the minimum speed that can be offered as "broadband" in order to meet the current demand for speed that today's applications require. In the US, ISPs can sell 4 Mbit/s as broadband, while Ofcon defines anything over 2 Mbit/s as broadband and over 25 Mbit/s as super-fast broadband.

Verizon and AT&T are fighting the FCC's proposed 10 Mbit/s broadband minimum speed, claiming that most customers don't need such fast connections. But the reality is quite different. Most broadband users have several devices (laptops, smartphones, tablets, game consoles, smart TVs). The bandwidth delivered by DSL -- or even cable -- is not enough for heavy users.


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Frontier Sued in West Virginia for Dismal Service | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com

Frontier Sued in West Virginia for Dismal Service | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Already under investigation in West Virginia for possible mishandling of government subsidy money, Frontier Communications is now facing a new class action in the state for failing to offer the services they advertised. According to the Charleston Gazette, the suit complains of frequent outages and accuses Frontier of failing to deliver speeds paid for. Of specific note is Frontier's 12 Mbps "High Speed Internet Max," which often struggles to deliver users 1 Mbps downstream:

quote:


Frontier advertised a service called “High-speed Internet Max,” which provides speeds up to 12 megabits per second. But the company “throttled” back Internet speeds, particularly in rural areas, without properly notifying customers, according to the lawsuit. Some customers were receiving speeds below 1 megabit per second, but paying for the faster service, the suit alleges. Frontier’s “false advertising” violates the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act, according to the complaint.

Frontier claims they tested all of the plaintiffs' lines and insists those users are getting the speeds they pay for. Plaintiffs disagree, insisting Frontier has "a monopoly on Internet services in most of West Virginia," while also noting Frontier received $42 million in federal stimulus funds that didn't appear to improve service for users.


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Collection of new cord cutting techs make it easier to snip that CATV tether | Jennifer Tuohy | NetworkWorld.com

Collection of new cord cutting techs make it easier to snip that CATV tether | Jennifer Tuohy | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

"I want to watch what I want, when I want, wherever I want, and I don’t want to pay through the nose for it."

This is the mantra of the so-called cord cutters, consumers looking for ways to free themselves from traditional cable in favor of streaming content from the Internet.

Whether you've ditched your cable or not, Internet television is likely already part of your entertainment line-up. From Netflix’s "House of Cards" to instructional Minecraft videos on You Tube, there aren't many households that don't rely on Internet video for some portion of their entertainment needs. However, streaming Internet video to your big screen has been far from the perfect replacement for traditional cable TV.

But that is beginning to change. Electronics retailers nationwide are reporting big increases in sales of HDMI cables, set top boxes, HD antennas and other cord cutting paraphernalia as consumers start upgrading and incorporating alternatives to cable.

What started as a way of cost cutting in response to out-of-touch increases in cable bills has morphed into a lifestyle choice. Being able to watch what you want, when you want on whatever device you want, without paying for what you don't, is not an unreasonable goal.

But — and there's always a 'but' when it comes to cord cutting — even though most of the content cord cutters want is easily accessible, the experience is not. Cable TV still has a lock on the "sit back and watch" experience of television viewing.

While setting up an Apple TV or plugging a Google Chromecast into an HDMI port is a simple procedure, cutting the cord cuts away many conveniences. DVR capabilities disappear. One (or two) simple remote controls are replaced by four or five fiddly pieces of plastic and an array of smartphone apps. The comprehensive, easily navigable TV guide vanishes and in its stead are five or six different search screens to contend with. And that 24/7 service evaporates (even if you might have to wait around all day for the cable guy, at least he'll actually come. Have you ever tried calling Google?).

For the dream of cord cutting to become a reality, we need bona fide replacements to address and deliver on the four comforts of Cable TV: quality, ease of use, on demand over-the-air (OTA) content, and choice.

Are we there yet?


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FBI Director Says Congress Will Fix Phone Encryption 'Problem;' Congress Says 'Bite Us' | Tim Cushing | Techdirt.com

FBI Director Says Congress Will Fix Phone Encryption 'Problem;' Congress Says 'Bite Us' | Tim Cushing | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

James Comey's pleas that something must be done for the [potentially-molested] children of the United States seem to be falling on mostly deaf ears. Mostly. After realizing that there's nothing in current laws that compels Google and Apple to punch law enforcement-sized holes in their default encryption, Comey has decided to be the change he wishes to force in others.

Having set the stage with a Greek chorus comprised of law enforcement officials chanting "iPhones are for pedophiles," Comey is now making overtures to legislators, targeting an already-suspect law for further rewriting: CALEA, or the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act.


As it stands now, the law specifically does NOT require service providers to decrypt data or even provide law enforcement with the means for decryption. Up until this point, the FBI's director seemed to consider Congressional support a foregone conclusion.

Last week, FBI director James Comey suggested that encryption "threatens to lead all of us to a very dark place" and suggested that if Apple and Google don't remove default encryption from iOS and Android then "Congress might have to force this on companies."

Now, Congress members are firing back at Comey, reminding him that Congress doesn't have to do shit.


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Meet ‘forbearance,’ the obscure governing tool that just might resolve the net neutrality debate | Nancy Scola | WashPost.com

Meet ‘forbearance,’ the obscure governing tool that just might resolve the net neutrality debate | Nancy Scola | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The net neutrality debate might soon, mercifully, be wrapping up, as the Federal Communications Commission prepares to issue a new round of rules. And as the FCC does so, it's exceptionally likely that we'll hear one word again and again: forbearance.

While we prep for the home stretch, it's worth taking a moment to understand exactly what that deceptively dull concept means and where it came from. For that, we turn to Harold Feld. A senior vice president at the advocacy group Public Knowledge (which supports strong net neutrality regulation), Feld lived through the telecom debates of the '90s and aughts. He can cite the proper dates, details and provisions of the U.S. legal code without pausing to double-check his notes. In short, he's the right person for the job.

"Forbearance" means much the same in normal English as it does in telecommunications law -- to restrain oneself from doing something. In short, it might be key to resolving the net neutrality fight. And yet it is one of modern governing's most poorly-understood tools.

Where forebearance becomes important in the net neutrality debate is where it is being proposed as a sort of negotiated settlement. Take the approach advocated by Silicon Valley Democrat Rep. Anna Eshoo on Wednesday as a "light touch." The plan would move broadband Internet into Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.


That's the more heavily regulated title, the one that includes landline telephones. But under Eshoo's plan, the FCC would choose not to enforce some of the act's several dozen provisions that broadband providers find the most onerous, such as imposing limits on how telecom products can be priced. That's forbearance.


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Top senator demands explanation from Whisper after user tracking revelations | Paul Lewis & Dominic Rushe | The Guardian

Top senator demands explanation from Whisper after user tracking revelations | Paul Lewis & Dominic Rushe | The Guardian | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The chair of the Senate commerce committee has said revelations about how the “anonymous” social media app Whisper is tracking its users raise “serious questions” over privacy and demanded an explanation from the company.

Senator Jay Rockefeller wrote to the chief executive of Whisper to ask for a detailed, in-person briefing for his committee staff. He emphasised his concern over the location tracking of supposedly anonymous users of the app and demanded documents from Whisper.

Rockefeller’s intervention comes a week after the Guardian revealed how Whisper is tracking the location of its users, including some who have specifically asked not to be followed by opting out of geolocation services. Privacy experts have already called for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to examine the app’s business practices.

In his letter to Whisper CEO Michael Heyward, Rockefeller notes that as chairman of the committee on commerce, science and transportation, he has “jurisdiction over the Federal Trade Commission and consumer protection issues including online privacy”.

Whisper initially denied the Guardian’s reports, denouncing them as “100% false” and “a pack of vicious lies”. However, over the weekend, Heyward, who previously claimed his app was “the safest place on the internet”, released a statement that did not dispute the accuracy of the Guardian’s reporting and added: “We realise that we’re not infallible”.

Heyward later indicated he has launched some kind of investigation into the disclosures made about practices at his company, WhisperText.

The Guardian, which was previously exploring the possibility of a journalistic collaboration with Whisper, witnessed the company’s location-tracking practices during a three-day visit to its Los Angeles headquarters last month.

Buzzfeed, the Huffington Post and Fusion have suspended their pre-existing partnerships with Whisper in the wake of the Guardian’s revelations.

Rockefeller wrote in his letter: “It is questionable, at best, whether users seeking to post anonymously on the ‘safest place on the internet’ would expect that WhisperText has information sharing relationships with third parties such as media organisations.”


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VT: Gov. Shumlin, Mayor Weinberger, tech businesses announce upcoming Tech Jam | Susan Allen | VTDigger

VT: Gov. Shumlin, Mayor Weinberger, tech businesses announce upcoming Tech Jam | Susan Allen | VTDigger | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Joined by Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, tech business owners, economic development officials and others at the new business Ello in Burlington, Gov. Peter Shumlin today touted the upcoming 2014 Vermont Tech Jam being held on Friday and Saturday, and highlighted Vermont’s growing high-tech industry and national recognition.

“We’re at Ello today because this company – the hottest new social media site since Facebook — is a great example of this booming part of our economy,” Gov. Shumlin said. “Ello is not alone. There are new companies across Vermont looking for employees to take these cutting-edge jobs. The growing popularity of Vermont Tech Jam is a testament to this thriving sector of our economy.”

Ello, which was co-founded by CEO Paul Budnitz, is an ad-free social network site with the motto “Beautiful, Simple and Ad-Free.” The site has seen exponential growth since its launch, particularly from people seeking an alternative to Facebook.

“Like Vermont, Ello is beautiful. Also like Vermont, Ello does not allow billboard advertising of any kind,” said Budnitz. “Ello is a very Vermont business — this is a state with a long history of successful businesses that take a stand for what they believe in, and make money doing it.”


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