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3D/DC II: 3D Printing Comes to Washington, DC | Public Knowledge

Apr 24, 2013 05:30 PM - Apr 24, 2013 07:30 PM 

 

Location: Cafeteria of the Rayburn House Office Building

 

Come see the remarkable, disruptive technology of 3D printing in person. Chat with some of the people and companies that make it happen. Mingle with other 3D printing fans and curiosity seekers.

 

This is the second time PK has hosted the 3D printing community to come together in Washington, DC. Don't miss your chance this time around!

 

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Dawn of the Web: an oral history | The Boston Globe

Dawn of the Web: an oral history | The Boston Globe | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In many ways, the world we inhabit today isn’t so dramatically different from the one that existed in 1994. The roads were full of Americans SUVs and Japanese sedans; Congress was mired in partisan dysfunction. Americans vaguely roused their enthusiasm for soccer as their team surpassed expectations in the World Cup. At night you flicked on cable, with hundreds of channels.


And then there was the way you used a computer.


If you had a computer, and many people did, it sat on your desk and ran programs on floppy disks. It connected to the printer and—if you were very tech savvy—to a dial-up service like America Online or Compuserve.


But that year the public began to pick up on rumblings of something new: a piece of technology called the World Wide Web that allowed you to connect to an “Internet” through your phone line. On the “Today” show, Katie Couric described it with skepticism in her voice as a computer thing “that’s becoming really big now.” Vice President Al Gore, in a speech, compared it to an “information superhighway.”


The Web had existed for a couple of years as a kind of insiders’ tech experiment, and the Internet had been around longer. But it was 1994 when the world pivoted, and fast. The number of websites grew from 623 at the beginning of the year, according to one study, to more than 10,000 at the end. E-mail quickly spread from universities to offices and homes.


To illustrate just how far we’ve come since those days, NPR recently published a memo dated April 28, 1994, that was sent to all staff in order to announce, “Internet is coming to NPR!” “If you want to find out what the Internet is, how and when NPR is going to use it, join us for a presentation and discussion [tomorrow] at noon in the Board Room.”


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Aereo: Oh Wait, We’re a Cable System After All | Re/Code.net

Aereo: Oh Wait, We’re a Cable System After All | Re/Code.net | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Video startup Aereo spent years arguing it shouldn’t have to pay local TV broadcasters for the right to stream their channels online like cable operators. One failed Supreme Court challenge later, Aereo has had a change of heart.


The video streaming company told a U.S. district court in New York Wednesday it now thinks it’s entitled to be licensed as a cable system because of the Supreme Court’s decision. That would allow the company to stay alive although it would have to pay licensing fees in addition to costs to restart its stalled business.


Aereo allowed consumers to watch local TV channels over the Internet for a monthly fee of up to $12 until shutting down its service a few weeks ago after the Supreme Court sided with broadcasters and said the company was violating federal copyright laws.


“Aereo has been careful to follow the law and the Supreme Court has announced a new and different rule governing Aereo’s operations last week,” the company wrote in a court filing Wednesday. When the Supreme Court called Aereo a cable system that was significant, the company now argues, because it means it’s entitled to be licensed as such under copyright laws.


Four years ago, a lower court rejected a similar argument from a video streaming startup, Ivi, which wanted to be considered a cable system under the Copyright Act. Aereo argued Wednesday that the Supreme Court’s decision overruled that lower court decision and means it should be allowed to restart its operations as a cable company.


Several industry observers, including BTIG Research’s Richard Greenfield, made a similar point a few weeks ago, suggesting that the high court had possibly opened the door for this sort of argument from online video streaming companies.


But Aereo’s new strategy represents a bit of a leap for a company built around the idea of not paying fees to broadcasters.


“I don’t want to be in the business of buying wholesale content and retailing it to consumers. That doesn’t make sense in the long-term,” Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia, told Re/Code’s Peter Kafka in those heady pre-Supreme Court decision days.


This is the second attempt by Aereo (which famously said it didn’t have a Plan B if it lost at the high court) to find some way to salvage its business.


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The Terrorists Win: Isis Mobile Payment Brand Flees From Its Own Name, Nobody Notices | Stop the Cap!

The Terrorists Win: Isis Mobile Payment Brand Flees From Its Own Name, Nobody Notices | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

“O My Queen,” said the royal sorcerer to Hatshepsut, “with this amulet, you and your descendants are endowed by the goddess Isis with the powers of the animals and the elements. You will soar as the falcon soars, run with the speed of gazelles, and command the elements of sky and earth.”


Three thousand years later, a young science teacher dug up this lost treasure and found she was heir to The Secrets of Isis. Andrea Thomas, teacher, and Isis, dedicated foe of evil, defender of the weak, champion of Truth and Justice.


Three thousand and one years later, AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA, and Verizon Wireless used their respective bank accounts to endow themselves with a mobile payment system called Isis they hoped would soar profits, run up your bill, and command the electronic payment universe. They called it Isis.


Three thousand and two years later a group of strict Wahhabist Muslims operating a terror group called the “Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham” would establish a new caliphate covering sections of Syria and Iraq.

Seconds after they declared the new (generally unrecognized) state, the group set off terrorizing the local infidels and apostates in their midst, a/k/a Shia Muslims and Christians. Although the name of their newly declared independent nation, “Islamic State” is about as catchy as generic paper plates, the group’s abbreviated name was enough to provoke some serious Excedrin headaches.


They call it: ISIS.


Checkmate AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.


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Google’s Chromecast now lets you send anything on your Android screen to your TV | WashPost.com

Google’s Chromecast now lets you send anything on your Android screen to your TV | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google's Chromecast now makes it easy for Android users to send whatever is displayed on their tablets and smartphones straight to their televisions.


Originally, the Chromecast — a small device that plugs into the HDMI port of your television — only let users push content from select apps, such as Netflix, Hulu or YouTube, to the big screen. The company said Wednesday that it's started rolling out a new  feature to select Android devices that lets users show off their screens regardless of what app they're running.


Google first announced that it would include the feature at its developers conference last month. According to a company statement, the new feature is rolling out first to Google's own Nexus-branded products, as well as some of the most popular Samsung, HTC and LG phones and tablets. The company says that support for additional devices is "coming soon." And, no, the feature isn't currently supported on the iPhone or iPad.


Apple fans can already do basically the same thing with Apple TV's AirPlay function. But this little feature makes the Chromecast much more useful to average consumers. Google has done well selling the Chromecast even with its previously limited capabilities. Now they can argue that the device is useful whether you want to share pictures with your family or a spreadsheet with your boss.


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New York City Payphone WiFi Project Presents Opportunities and Challenges | TechPresident.com

New York City Payphone WiFi Project Presents Opportunities and Challenges | TechPresident.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

At his Internet Week keynote speech in May, Mayor Bill de Blasio stressed the need " to shake up the status quo when it comes to broadband" with the goal of bridging the digital divide and improving access to high-speed. Part of that, he pointed out, would involve "introducing more competition into the process" and reexamining the city's franchise agreements with Verizon Fios and Time Warner Cable.


He also highlighted another city project aimed at addressing the challenge, which first emerged under the Bloomberg administration: revamping the existing payphone network, and turning the payphones into innovative terminals with WiFi access.


While some technologists who have experience in the space share the concerns of some New York City Council members and current payphone franchisees that the city's decision to award the project to only one franchisee or one joint venture could hurt the project, the city and one of the companies preparing a response to the Request for Proposals see the approach as the best way to ensure a standard experience, competition and innovation. From both perspectives, the project illustrates how the vision for more accessible WiFi in New York is tied to the potential for innovation within the established procurement system.


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US Senate Judiciary committee approves mobile phone unlocking bill | NetworkWorld.com

US Senate Judiciary committee approves mobile phone unlocking bill | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has voted to approve legislation that would allow mobile phone owners to unlock their devices for the purposes of switching carriers.


The committee, with a unanimous voice vote Thursday, approved an amended version of the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act and sent the bill to the full Senate.


Consumer groups and other advocates have called on Congress to pass a mobile phone unlocking bill after a Library of Congress action in January 2013 removed legal protections for mobile phone unlocking. The library had previously allowed phone unlocking as an exception to the security circumvention provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).


“Consumers should be able to use their existing cell phones when they move their service to a new wireless provider,” committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, said in a statement. “I hope the full Senate can soon take up this important legislation that supports consumer rights.”


The House of Representatives passed a similar bill in February, although some advocates had withdrawn their support for that bill because of changes that they say weakened it.


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NTCA Finds Fast Rural School Broadband | Telecompetitor.com

NTCA Finds Fast Rural School Broadband | Telecompetitor.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It appears that the rural-rural broadband gap applies to schools as well as the broader Internet marketplace.


That seems the best explanation for two substantially different measurements of average school bandwidthin surveys conducted by NTCA- The Rural Broadband Association and EducationSuperHighway, an advocacy organization focused on bringing better broadband to the nation’s schools.


The NTCA yesterday released the results from a survey of its rural telecom service provider members which found that schools served by those companies, on average, purchase broadband connections delivering 65 Mbps downstream and 13 Mbps upstream. But EducationSuperHighway, which surveyed schools nationwide, found a median bandwidth of 33 Mbps.


These results might seem surprising, considering that broadband is generally available more broadly and at higher speeds in metro areas than in rural areas because it is less costly to deploy broadband in metro areas. That phenomenon is known as the rural-urban gap.


But FCC researchers also have noted a rural-rural gap: Rural areas served by small independent telcos generally have better broadband availability and higher speeds than rural areas where the incumbent local carrier is one of the nation’s larger carriers such as AT&T or Verizon.


“The results of this survey are a clear indication that NTCA members and other small, rural providers understand the importance of these anchor institutions having high-quality broadband service,” said NTCA economist Rick Schadelbauer in a press release about the NTCA survey.


A variety of factors contribute to the rural-rural gap.


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Discovery Lobbies on Comcast/TWC Deal | Broadcasting & Cable

Discovery Lobbies on Comcast/TWC Deal | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Discovery Channel has enlisted a pair of Hill vets now with Glover Park Group to lobby on the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger, according to a copy of a lobbying disclosure form obtained by B&C/MultiChannel News.


On the case are Susan Brophy, former chief of staff to retired Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Gregg Rothschild, former key staffer to former Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.).


A Discovery spokesperson confirmed the two were lobbying on the deal, would not comment further.


Discovery has not officially weighed in on, or against, the deal, but it has concerns about merging media in general.


“Consolidation raises some real issues here in the U.S. and everywhere in the world," CEO David Zaslav said at the Sanford Bernstein investor conference in May. "We are taking a look at the Comcast deal. We are studying it. It looks like the timing is going to be longer than everybody thought based on the AT&T-DirecTV piece, based on the fact that the FCC hasn't even begun to take comments yet. What was thought to be an end of year is probably a first or second quarter of next year. So we have some time to take a look at what this means for us and make a determination.”

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Aereo's Plan B: Argue It's a Bonafide Cable Company | DSLReports.com

While Aereo claimed they didn't have a plan B if they lost before the Supreme Court (which they of course did late last month), that doesn't appear to be entirely true. In a letter filed with a lower court, Aereo lays forth their new legal strategy: insist they're a legitimate cable company that shouldn't necessarily be forced to shut down because of the ruling.

"If Aereo is a 'cable system' as that term is defined in the Copyright Act, it is eligible for a statutory license, and its transmissions may not be enjoined," writes Aereo in the letter.

Aereo's effort to stay alive isn't new, and hasn't been particularly successful in the past. Seattle-based Ivi was shut down in 2011 after using loopholes in copyright law to provide a dirt cheap Internet TV service -- provided they forwarded payments on to broadcasters -- eventually.

Aereo's now trying to claim the Supreme Court ruling overturns Ivi's legal defeats, though it's unclear if that argument will go very far. Still, Aereo's putting on an optimistic face for its former customers (whose services no longer work and who saw a refund for the last month of service).

"This has been a challenging journey for our team, but your support has continued to lift and propel us forward," the company said this week in an e-mail to former users. "We remain committed to building great technologies that create real, meaningful alternatives for consumers."

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FCC's Robert Weller Joins NAB | Broadcasting & Cable

FCC's Robert Weller Joins NAB | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Robert Weller, who has been leading the group analyzing spectrum policy for the FCC, has joined the National Association of Broadcasters as VP, spectrum policy, reporting to Rick Kaplan, EVP of strategic planning.


Kaplan, who is NAB's point person on spectrum auction issues, is himself the former chief of the FCC's Wireless Bureau.


Weller joins NAB July 28.


Spectrum policy is a priority at NAB as the association works with the FCC to resolve potential interference issues associated with TV station repacking after the incentive auction.  Weller is said to be an expert on the OET-69 interference-calculation regime that broadcasters argue the FCC is changing in contravention of the statute.


"NAB is excited to add someone of Bob's caliber to our spectrum policy staff," said NAB President Gordon Smith in announcing the hire. "His expertise regarding broadcast spectrum issues and his knowledge of regulatory policy will be valuable resources as the Commission moves forward on proceedings affecting broadcasting's future."


Weller joined the FCC in 1984, left in 1993 to join the engineering consulting firm of Hammett & Edison, then returned to the FCC in 2007.


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Aereo: A Cable System, Subject to Statutory License | Multichannel.com

Aereo: A Cable System, Subject to Statutory License | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Aereo may be down -- its service remains suspended following its defeat in the Supreme Court -- but it's not out.

 

The Supreme Court reversed and remanded a Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision denying an injunction sought by broadcasters, which appeared to settle the underlying copyright challenge brought by broadcasters. But in a joint letter to the New York District Court that has yet to try that case -- but also refused to enjoin the distributor -- Aereo said that since the Supreme Court had ruled it was essentially a cable system, it was entitled to a compulsory license and was in the process of filing "the necessary statements of account and royalty fees."

 

In their portion of the letter, broadcasters say they will ask the court to enjoin Aereo from violating their public performance rights -- the Supremes found that Aereo's delivery of signals was not remote technological facilitation but a public performance.

 

The Supremes directed both parties to write a joint letter to the lower court explaining what they thought that court's next steps should be. The District court denied a broadcaster injunction, but was awaiting the Supreme Court decision before proceeding to try the case.

 

As to Aereo's assertion that it was now a cable system entitled to a Sec. 111 statutory license, broadcasters said that shift in position -- Aereo had said as a technological facilitator it was not a distributor subject to that license or its payments -- made it almost impossible to instruct the court on the best way to proceed. That includes the recovery of damages and/or fees for the harm done to broadcasting while Aereo was allowed to continue to operate.

 

The broadcast plaintiffs blamed Aereo's "refusal to clearly specify whether, when and in what fashion it intends to continue operating," and its "shifting and inconsistent positions."

 

They said that while Aereo permanently pull the plug, a "consensual resolution of the litigation seems more likely."


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For Those in the Digital Dark, Enlightenment Is Borrowed From the Library

For Those in the Digital Dark, Enlightenment Is Borrowed From the Library | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Joey Cabrera stands for part of most evenings on the doorstep of the Clason’s Point Library, near 172nd Street and Morrison Avenue in the Bronx.


There, he taps into the Wi-Fi that seeps out of the library after it closes. He checks in on Tumblr, Snapchat, Facebook — “the usual stuff,” he said — and plays Lost Saga, a video game developed in Korea. “Formerly, I played Minecraft, but this is less mainstream, an inside thing with my friends,” Joey said.


Then there is a basic maneuver in skateboarding that he is mastering, the Pop Shove It. He studies the technique at the library doorstep.


“I’ve gone to YouTube multiple times to see how to do it,” he said.


Like most homes in his part of the Bronx, Joey’s apartment has no Internet access. Even before the library opens for the day, people stand outside, polishing résumés, then dash in at the crack of 10 a.m. to use the printers. “Then they get right on the train for job interviews,” said Wanda Luzon, the manager of the Clason’s Point Branch of the New York Public Library.


Joey, 15, who is going to be a sophomore in high school, arrives at the end of the day, after he is finished at the year-round academic enrichment program he attends in Manhattan. He walks a block from the Westchester Avenue el, then settles in at the library until closing time, which is 7 p.m. on Mondays. Then he continues his online session through the library’s network.


“I’ve got an hour before sunset, when it gets dangerous,” Joey said.

As he spoke, a young woman nearby finished her online sidewalk session and moved on.


The branch library is the village well.


For most of the city, two companies, Time Warner and Verizon, provide broadband access, at an annual cost of close to $1,000 per home. For many houses, that means no access at all. About 2.9 million people in the city were in the digital dark, according to a 2010 study by the Center for Technology and Government at the University at Albany, part of the State University of New York. In the city’s libraries, 68 percent of the people who make under $25,000 and are using the computers do not have Internet access at home.


“Imagine that in the information capital of the world, kids are camped out on the stoops of libraries to do their online math homework,” said Anthony W. Marx, the president of the New York Public Library, the city’s leading provider of free Internet access.


Andrew Rasiej, the chairman of NY Tech Meetup and an advocate for broadband access at low cost, has lobbied Mr. Marx. “I asked him, ‘You let people check out books, why don’t you let them check out the Internet?’ ” Mr. Rasiej said.


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Crypto weakness in smart LED lightbulbs exposes Wi-Fi passwords | Ars Technica

Crypto weakness in smart LED lightbulbs exposes Wi-Fi passwords | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In the latest cautionary tale involving the so-called Internet of things, white-hat hackers have devised an attack against network-connected lightbulbs that exposes Wi-Fi passwords to anyone in proximity to one of the LED devices.


The attack works against LIFX smart lightbulbs, which can be turned on and off and adjusted using iOS- and Android-based devices. Ars Senior Reviews Editor Lee Hutchinson gave a good overview here of the Philips Hue lights, which are programmable, controllable LED-powered bulbs that compete with LIFX. The bulbs are part of a growing trend in which manufacturers add computing and networking capabilities to appliances so people can manipulate them remotely using smartphones, computers, and other network-connected devices. A 2012 Kickstarter campaign raised more than $1.3 million for LIFX, more than 13 times the original goal of $100,000.


According to a blog post published over the weekend, LIFX has updated the firmware used to control the bulbs after researchers discovered a weakness that allowed hackers within about 30 meters to obtain the passwords used to secure the connected Wi-Fi network. The credentials are passed from one networked bulb to another over a mesh network powered by 6LoWPAN, a wireless specification built on top of the IEEE 802.15.4 standard. While the bulbs used the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) to encrypt the passwords, the underlying pre-shared key never changed, making it easy for the attacker to decipher the payload.


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DEA Gets Unchecked Access To Call Records; Taught To Lie About Where They Got Them | Techdirt.com

DEA Gets Unchecked Access To Call Records; Taught To Lie About Where They Got Them | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Shortly after the Snowden leaks began exposing the NSA's massive collection efforts, the New York Times uncovered the DEA's direct access to AT&T telecom switches (via non-government employee "analysts" working for AT&T), from which it and other law enforcement agencies were able to gather phone call and location data.

Unlike the NSA's bulk records programs (which are limited to holding five years worth of data), the Hemisphere database stretches back to 1987 and advertises instant access to "10 years of records." And unlike the NSA's program, there's not even the slightest bit of oversight. All law enforcement needs to run a search of the Hemisphere database is an administrative subpoena -- a piece of paper roughly equivalent to calling up Hemisphere analysts and asking them to run a few numbers. Administrative subpoenas are only subject to the oversight of the agency issuing them.

It's highly unlikely these administrative subpoenas are stored (where they could be accessed as public records) considering the constant emphasis placed on parallel construction in the documents obtained by Dustin Slaughter of MuckRock -- documents it took the DEA ten months to turn over.


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Wireless Commons Part 2: The Possibilities of an Open, Unlicensed Spectrum | community broadband networks

Wireless Commons Part 2: The Possibilities of an Open, Unlicensed Spectrum | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In the first part of this series, we discussed how spectrum could be better managed to allow far greater communications capacity, but only if the FCC abandoned its traditional approach of auctioning spectrum to carriers for monopolistic use. In this part, we’ll discuss how devices could take advantage of a new approach to spectrum management and how it might help to circumvent gatekeepers, whether corporate or government.


With increased unlicensed use of the spectrum, an astonishing range of possibilities emerges. Mobile devices could communicate with each other directly, without reference to a central node controlled by a telecom company or monitored by a government. Access points could be strung together wirelessly to create decentralized ad hoc networks, with each device forwarding data from every other, creating a seamless network throughout an entire neighborhood or city. Commotion Wireless is already attempting this on a small scale with just the existing spectrum.


Such networks already exist in a few places, but access to more unlicensed spectrum and permission to use stronger signals would allow them to grow, potentially creating a more decentralized and democratic way to share information and access the internet; an end-run around data caps, future “fast lane” policies, and other drawbacks of relying on one or two telecom oligopolists as a network owner and gatekeeper.


Another exciting possibility for unlicensed spectrum use can be found in emerging Ultra-Wide Band technologies. These allow devices to use a large swath of spectrum at very low power to send information in bits and pieces over short distances, somewhat similar to bitTorrents, and could allow for nearly instantaneous exchange of gigabits of data. All of this is dependent, however, on access to spectrum with the right characteristics, such as low frequency TV bands that can penetrate physical obstacles like walls or trees especially well.


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Cable’s TV Everywhere Online Viewing Loaded Down by Endless Ads That Often Exceed Traditional TV | Stop the Cap!

Cable’s TV Everywhere Online Viewing Loaded Down by Endless Ads That Often Exceed Traditional TV | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If that one hour show you just watched online seemed to take an hour and ten minutes to watch, you are not dreaming.


Some cable operators are loading up on forced advertising that interrupts the viewing experience and delivers a withering blast of ads in numbers that exceed what you would see on traditional television.


“We watched TNT’s “The Last Ship” last week,” said Rich Greenfield from BTIG Research. “The first 15 minutes were ad-free, that was awesome. The problem is the last 30 minutes of the show is interspersed with 20 minutes of ads, many of them the same ad, and sometimes the ad even plays continuously back to back to back.”


Greenfield believes cable companies like Comcast are trying to enforce the worst of television from five to ten years ago — an ever-increasing advertising load you can’t skip past that cuts into the time available for programs.


“I just think that is really hard to push on consumers,” Greenfield said, noting that many have left traditional linear television for Netflix, Amazon, and the increasingly popular time-shifting DVR, which lets viewers record shows and skip past advertising.


“If you look at online, not only is the ad load not skippable, we are even seeing ad loads that are heavier than on TV itself,” Greenfield added.


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Roku and Chromecast go head-to-head in streaming race, Apple TV falling behind | GigaOM Tech News

Roku and Chromecast go head-to-head in streaming race, Apple TV falling behind | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Roku and Chromecast were the two most successful streaming devices sold in the U.S. in 2013, according to new data from Parks Associates, which puts Apple TV on third place.


Google sold an estimated 3.8 million Chromecast streaming sticks after introducing the product in mid-2013, according to Parks, which also estimates that this about equals Roku’s sales throughout 2013. Apple is trailing, and sold just a bit more than two million devices in the U.S. last year, according to data shared by Parks.


However, the picture looks a little different beyond U.S. borders. Globally, Apple has sold more than 20 million Apple TVs since launching the device in 2007, whereas Roku’s total sales since its launch were 8 million by the end of 2013.


One reason for this discrepancy is that Roku thus far is only available in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Ireland, whereas Apple is selling its Apple TV in dozens of countries. Google is quickly expanding its international reach as well: After launching just in the U.S. in 2013, Chromecast is now available in 19 countries.


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Amazon allowed kids to spend millions on in-app purchases, FTC says | NetworkWorld.com

Amazon allowed kids to spend millions on in-app purchases, FTC says | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Amazon.com has billed parents for millions of dollars’ worth of unauthorized in-app purchases made by their children, the FTC said in a complaint filed Thursday in a U.S. court.


The FTC’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, seeks a court order requiring Amazon.com to refund parents for unauthorized purchases made by their children. The FTC also wants the court to ban the company from billing parents and other account holders for in-app charges without their consent, the agency said in a press release.


Amazon.com keeps 30 percent of all in-app charges, the FTC said in its complaint.


Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the complaint.


The FTC’s lawsuit against Amazon.com echoes a complaint brought by the agency against Apple. In January, Apple agreed to pay at least US$32.5 million to customers in a settlement with the FTC over children’s in-app purchases.


This week, Politico reported that Apple has complained to the FTC that Google allows the same kinds of in-app purchases in its mobile app store.


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Rural Call Completion and the Problem of Network Neuropathy | Tales of the Sausage Factory | Wetmachine.com

I made a passing reference to the rural call completion problem in a post about 2 months ago. I’ve now written a much longer piece explaining the problem of rural call completion, and the nature of the problem, for the Daily Yonder. You can find the article, and the very nice illustrations they added, over here.


To give a very brief recap for why y’all should click through to learn the details of rural call completion — rural call completion is an unexpected side effect of the transition of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) to an all-IP based network.


Using IP-packets gives you greater flexibility to pick how you route calls. To avoid very expensive rural termination fees (which subsidize rural systems and keep them operating), Least Call Router systems can send calls through lots of hops, creating latency or even trapping the call in a perpetual loop.


As a result, calls to some rural systems don’t go through, or quality degrades to where rural areas may not be able to have reliable phone service or reliably reach 9-1-1. The FCC has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to address the problem, and every Commissioner has emphasized that making sure the phone netwok remains reliable is a core mission of the FCC.


My Public Knowledge colleagues and I have emphasized both network reliability and service to all Americans as part of our “Five Fundamentals Framework” to guide the transition of the PSTN to all-IP.


The rural call completion problem demonstrates precisely why we need a framework to guide us, rather than jumping right away into the “deregulation v. regulation” fight so many people want to have instead of focusing on the real issues.


It is also an example of a phenomenon I call “network neuropathy,” how problems in networks may first manifest themselves in failures of service around the extremities.


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IL: Summer storms test ComEd smart grid; how did it do? | Crain's ChicagoBiz

IL: Summer storms test ComEd smart grid; how did it do? | Crain's ChicagoBiz | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Last week's intense storms, featuring seven confirmed tornadoes, were Commonwealth Edison Co.'s first true test of the power-grid improvements it has made since winning the right from the state to hike rates annually to finance its $2.6 billion smart grid program.

So how did the utility do?


At first glance, not so great.


It took ComEd three full days to return the 21st century to the vast majority of the 440,000 customers whose power was knocked out. In the last storm that blacked out about the same number of customers, a June 21, 2011, affair that featured wind gusts exceeding 80 miles per hour, it took ComEd three days, too.


But a deeper look at the two events supports ComEd's contention that its storm response is improving after a series of storms and multiday mass outages in 2011 tested customers' and local politicians' patience.


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MN: Border to Border Infrastructure Grant Program: Webinar Notes from July 10, 2014 | Blandin on Broadband

MN: Border to Border Infrastructure Grant Program: Webinar Notes from July 10, 2014 | Blandin on Broadband | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Thanks to Danna MacKenzie, the Executive Director of the MN Office of Broadband Development, for presenting and for so many good questions from attendees on the Border to Border Infrastructure Grant Program. The big theme – get ready, this is a great opportunity.


Click headline to access the archive of the Blandin webinar and the slide share presentation--

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ICF opens nominations and announces theme for the 2015 Intelligent Community of the Year Awards Program | IntelligentCommunity.org

The Intelligent Community Forum announces the opening of nominations for the 2015 Intelligent Community of the Year Awards Program. The 2015 Awards Program run by the New York-based think tank will name the 17th Intelligent Community of the Year, a community that is a global leader in creating wealth and jobs by seizing the opportunities of information and communications technology (ICT). The 2014 recipient was Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 

Communities large and small, urban and rural, in developing and industrialized nations are all invited to apply. Nominations are accepted from local governments, institutions, companies, non-profit organizations, national government agencies and consular offices. There is no cost to submit a nomination. On average, the Intelligent Community Forum tracks the progress of 400 communities each year through its own research as well as nominations submitted by communities. 

The nominations form is posted at  www.intelligentcommunity.org/nominations There is also a community self-test to determine if a community could be a contender for an award. Nominations will close on Monday, Sept. 22, 2014.


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Broadcasters Supply McCaskill Cable Bill Beef Ammo | Multichannel.com

Broadcasters Supply McCaskill Cable Bill Beef Ammo | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Broadcasters are looking to help out with Sen. Claire McCaskill's (D-Mo.) inquiry into pay TV billing practices and service quality.

 

In a letter to the senator, who chairs the Senate Consumer Protection Subcommittee, TVfreedom.org (network affiliate associations and the National Association of Broadcasters, among others), shared what it said was independent analysis that showed "3,050 substantial service failures experienced by the five largest pay-TV service providers in the United States during the first five months of 2014."

 

McCaskill has launched a cable bill service "beef" site where Missourians can register their complaints, saying it was a prelude to possible legislation.

 

TVfreedom, which has been hammering cable ops over their bills as part of a campaign against retrans reforms, was glad to help out, saying it was in furtherance of that effort that it was submitting its independent findings.

 

This data highlights concerns regarding pay-TV service and broadband network reliability across the nation," said TVfreedom spokesperson Robert Kenny. "In light of increasing profit margins for the nation’s largest multi-billion dollar pay-TV service providers, unreliable service or faulty infrastructure raises questions about the commitment each of these companies has to consumer service quality."

 

National Cable & Telecommunications Association spokesman Brian Dietz suggested the claims were bogus and disingenuous.

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Sprint Testing New Shared Data Plans, More Aggressively Priced Framily Plans to Stay Relevant | Stop the Cap!

Sprint Testing New Shared Data Plans, More Aggressively Priced Framily Plans to Stay Relevant | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Sprint may be feeling the music is about to stop and it doesn’t have a chair at the table.


While AT&T and Verizon Wireless divide up the premium market and T-Mobile goes for the aggressive price championship, Sprint is muddling along with its glacially paced upgrade to 4G LTE and a barely usable 3G experience that has a lot of customers pondering a switch. This spring Sprint lost 364,000 pre-paid and 231,000 valuable postpaid customers.


CNET reports Sprint is now seeking to follow other carriers with a shared family data plan and better pricing on both its Framily and individual plans.


Sprint may be America’s least exciting wireless carrier. While T-Mobile’s CEO gets into hot water with bombastic rhetoric about Verizon and AT&T, he largely ignores Sprint. To more than a few in the wireless industry, Sprint seems to be just plodding along.


“I will be collecting Social Security before Sprint upgrades to 4G around here,” writes suburban Sacramento resident Danny Chiang. “You just keep holding out for something better from Sprint just around the corner, but they never seem to actually get there.”


Chiang and others have endured a heavily congested 3G network while Sprint initially focused on rural and small market 4G network upgrades — hardly intuitive for loyal Sprint customers in urban areas. Today, all Sprint can claim is that it has America’s “newest network.”


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FCC Data: 9 out of 10 Wireless 9-1-1 Calls in D.C. Lack Accurate Caller Location Information | Find Me 911

FCC Data: 9 out of 10 Wireless 9-1-1 Calls in D.C. Lack Accurate Caller Location Information | Find Me 911 | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

New data obtained from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show that nine out of ten wireless 9-1-1 calls made in D.C. in the first half of 2013 were delivered without the accurate location information needed to find callers who are lost, confused, unconscious or otherwise unable to share their location.


According to data filed with the FCC by the D.C. Office of Unified Communications last fall, just 10.3% of the wireless calls made to the District’s 9-1-1 communications center from December 2012 to July 2013 included the latitude-longitude (or “Phase II” location) needed to find a caller.   Of the 385,341 wireless calls made over that period, just 39,805 had that “Phase II” information, while the remaining “Phase I” calls only showed the nearest cell tower, an area too broad to be useful for emergency responders.


“These results reveal an alarming public safety crisis,” said Jamie Barnett, former Chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau and Director of the Find Me 911 Coalition. “When nine in ten emergency callers in our nation’s capital cannot be located on wireless phones, we know that the requirements for location accuracy must be updated immediately.  Thankfully, the FCC has proposed a strong new rule to help find wireless callers in need, both indoors and outdoors, and this should eliminate any doubt about the importance of rapid adoption of that rule.”


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