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Obama walking into political minefield as he taps new FCC chairman | The Hill's Hillicon Valley

Obama walking into political minefield as he taps new FCC chairman | The Hill's Hillicon Valley | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

President Obama is walking into a political minefield as he decides whom to nominate for chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

Industry groups, consumer advocates and Democrats are splintering over the contenders, putting Obama in a bind as he narrows his short list for the powerful post.

"You're going to offend a whole lot of people no matter which way you go," one communications industry source said.

Obama is looking to replace Julius Genachowski, who is leaving the chairman’s post after a controversial tenure that included the creation of new rules for Internet providers.

 It’s an important choice for Obama, as the next chairman will face difficult decisions over how to provide enough airwaves for mobile devices, preserve the openness of the Internet and promote competition.


Tom Wheeler, a venture capitalist and fundraiser for Obama, was considered the clear favorite for the job just last week. But then a coalition of public interest groups sent a letter to the president bashing him, and 37 senators signed a letter supporting an alternative pick: FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.

"Wheeler is still the front runner, but it isn't as secure as it was a week or two ago," another industry watcher said.


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NY: High-speed ‘White Space’ broadband debuts in Thurman | Thom Randall | DenPubs.com

NY: High-speed ‘White Space’ broadband debuts in Thurman | Thom Randall | DenPubs.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A dozen households in rural Thurman, NY that for years endured unreliable or ultra-slow access to the Internet, now have high-speed, non-throttled broadband as the town’s innovative “white space” broadcast service was launched recently.

A number of Thurman residents reported this week that they are pleased with their new broadband access, provided by the town’s long-awaited white space project that calls for connecting up to 90 households in its first phase.

White-space broadband involves broadcasting data signals over unused electromagnetic frequencies between old analog television channels. The technology has been implemented successfully in Europe.

The public-private partnership, supported by a $200,000 state grant, has received national attention as a way to bring affordable, reliable Internet access to rural, sparsely settled communities across the nation.

The Thurman households now connected to white space broadband are located on South Johnsburg and Valley roads. The 12 subscribing households, connected several weeks ago, are paying $50 per month for the service, plus an up-front equipment charge of $292.

John Schroeter of Kenyontown is one of the new subscribers. For nearly 15 years, he’s endured dial-up service, which is one tiny fraction the speed of modern broadband.

“The white space service is truly amazing,” he said, noting that he uses the Internet a lot for genealogical research. “I can go from one web page to another without waiting forever,” he said noting that often web pages would fail to load, even after hours of waiting. “I can accomplish what would have been days of research in only an hour, right at home without traveling 15 miles.”


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PA: Another missed opportunity for Philadelphia to take on Comcast | Jeff Gelles | Philly.com

PA: Another missed opportunity for Philadelphia to take on Comcast | Jeff Gelles | Philly.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As Philadelphia faces its once-in-15-years franchise renewal talks with Comcast, you may be worried that city officials are just a little too cozy with Philly's 1st Corporate Citizen - a reasonable concern after I reported last week that the mayor's office has been sitting on a report likely to embarrass the company.

Well, here's one more reason to fret. Just as complaints about Comcast's customer-service flubs were boiling over publicly this winter, the company quietly won certification from the Federal Communications Commission that all four of its Philadelphia franchises were subject to "effective competition."

That designation - granted on Jan. 26 without challenge from the city - frees Comcast's franchises here from the last remnants of rate regulation: caps on charges for equipment and basic cable.

Effective competition? Before you stop laughing, here's something to bear in mind: The FCC's definition, adopted more than two decades ago after one of Congress' many zigzags on cable policy, may not measure up with yours or mine. Or, say, English.

For example, federal law says a cable company can claim that satellite services provide effective competition if they offer "comparable video programming" and serve at least 15 percent of a market's households.

This is where weak goes to laughable. Under a 1993 FCC rule, all the satellite service must offer to prove "comparable video programming" is a dozen channels, including at least one that's not broadcast television. DirecTV and Dish Network have long offered much more.

Were the city's hands completely tied?


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EFF questions US government's software flaw disclosure policy | Jeremy Kirk | NetworkWorld.com

EFF questions US government's software flaw disclosure policy | Jeremy Kirk | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It’s not clear if the U.S. government is living up to its promise to disclose serious software flaws to technology companies, a policy it put in place five years ago, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

The digital watchdog said on Monday it received a handful of heavily redacted documents from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which it sued last July after it and the National Security Agency moved too slowly on a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Last year, the EFF sought documents related to the U.S. government’s efforts to beef up its Vulnerability Equities Process (VEP), a framework for notifying companies about zero-day vulnerabilities.

Those type of software flaws are considered the most dangerous since attackers are actively using the flaws to compromise computers, and there are no patches ready.

But there has been concern that the U.S. government may hold onto that kind of information for too long, putting at risk organizations that it is supposed to protect from foreign adversaries who may discover the vulnerabilities on their own.

The U.S. government has said it notifies companies of software flaws unless there is a compelling national security reason to withhold the information, such as to disrupt a planned terrorist attack, wrote Michael Daniel, cybersecurity coordinator and a special assistant to President Obama, in a blog post on the White House’s website last July.

The EFF’s FOIA request sought documents that showed how the U.S. had, as termed in Daniel’s blog post, “re-invigorated” the VEP. The results were “surprisingly meager,” wrote Andrew Crocker, a legal fellow with the EFF’s civil liberties team.

The most useful document the EFF received was from 2010 but only recounted a brief history of the VEP. Other documents were so heavily redacted that the EFF had a hard time parsing the content, Crocker wrote.


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Dish Network Expands Smart Home Services to Amazon Customers | Mike Farrell | Multichannel.com

Dish Network Expands Smart Home Services to Amazon Customers | Mike Farrell | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Dish Network said Monday that it has expanded its Smart Home Services home entertainment installation services to Amazon customers, coinciding with the online giant’s launch of Amazon Home Services.

Amazon launched Amazon Home Services on March 30, which provides customers with the ability to compare offers from service providers across multiple industries. Customers do not need to subscribe to Dish’s satellite TV service in order to take advantage of the installation service.

"Amazon excels at getting products like a flat screen TV to your doorstep, and now in addition to the familiar Amazon box, a Dish expert technician can come to your door to remove the frustration of how to hang it on the wall," said Dish executive vice president of operations Erik Carlson in a statement. "We deliver professional, no mess installation respecting your time and home by calling ahead to let you know when we'll arrive and wearing boot covers on our feet to keep your living room clean."

Dish teamed up with Amazon during the platform's development as a national service provider installing TV, audio and in-home wireless networks in select markets as Amazon prepared to launch the new service offering nationwide.

As customers explore qualifying products, the option to view available installation offers from Dish and other reputable service providers will appear. With just three clicks, customers can add installation to their purchase and schedule a convenient appointment.


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Charter To Buy Bright House For $10.4B | Mike Farrell | Multichannel.com

Charter To Buy Bright House For $10.4B | Mike Farrell | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Charter Communications started the cable consolidation wave a little early, agreeing to buy Bright House Networks in a deal valued at about $10.4 billion.

News of the deal comes a few weeks after speculation that the two were talking about a deal first surfaced. By agreeing to buy Bright House, which has about 2 million customers in Florida, California, Alabama, Indiana and Michigan, Charter removed the cloud surrounding the Advance-Newhouse owned cable company after its partner, Time Warner Cable, is acquired by Comcast. Bright House buys its programming under the same deals as TWC. There was some doubt as to whether that agreement would continue after the Comcast deal is closed.

The agreement, which will take place after Comcast completes its $67 billion TWC acquisition, also is a signal that the parties are confident a transaction will be consummated. Analysts had lowered the odds that the deal would receive Federal Communications Commission approval to about 50-50 after consumer groups and regulators blasted the deal.

The business will be conducted through a partnership (the "Partnership") of which Charter will own 73.7%, and of which Advance/Newhouse will own 26.3%. The consideration to be paid to Advance/Newhouse by New Charter will include common and convertible preferred units in the Partnership, in addition to $2 billion in cash. The partnership units owned by Advance/Newhouse will be exchangeable for common shares of New Charter. The deal is subject to several conditions, including Charter shareholder approval, the expiration of Time Warner Cable's right of first offer for Bright House, the close of Charter's previously-announced transactions with Comcast and regulatory approval.


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MN: CenturyLink is focusing on fiber – but where and when? | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

MN: CenturyLink is focusing on fiber – but where and when? | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

I watched as “someone” strung fiber all around my neighborhood last week. Then on Friday I finally saw a CenturyLink truck cruising the work. Mystery solved. I had heard rumor about the possibility of an upgrade last summer – but I wasn’t sure how that was going to shake out, especially after the City of St Paul hitched their wagon to Comcast.

It’s nice to live in an area that’s seeing some action and competition. But I think of the areas that aren’t as lucky and it was through that lens that I read a recent article from CCG Consulting on CenturyLink’s interest in fiber. So the good news is that there’s someone who is invested in maintaining wired connectivity…

But in reading between the lines I think they really want to invest in fiber. CenturyLink inherited possibly the worst local network in the country when they merged with Qwest. Qwest had been in marginal financial shape for so long that they had let the networks in most markets deteriorate significantly. Qwest instead invested on long-haul and large city downtown fiber to make money in transport, long distance and sales to large businesses. And they did okay in those areas and have one of the best nationwide fiber networks.

CenturyLink has the most to lose of the large ISPs. AT&T and Verizon have become cellular companies that also happen to be in the landline business. The cable companies have captured the lion’s share of the residential data market almost everywhere. But CenturyLink has no fallback if they lose landline-based revenues. They inherited a network that lost the residential battler everywhere in head-to-head competition with the cable companies. And in every large city they have significant competition for business customers from CLECs, cable companies and fiber providers.

So I think CenturyLink has hit upon the right strategy. In every market (or at least in every neighborhood) there is likely to only be one fiber provider who is willing to build to everybody. Over time, as households and businesses want more data, fiber is going to be the only long-term network that will be able to satisfy future data demand.

And that’s a good thing as the article points out that gigabit wireless may be overly optimistic…


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Sling TV Subject To Content Restrictions | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com

Sling TV Subject To Content Restrictions | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Dish Network confirmed that certain shows offered on A&E and some other channels aren’t available to Sling TV subscribers because of digital rights restrictions.

“Certain content on A&E and LMN and other select channels can't be streamed on Sling TV due to rights restrictions,” a Sling TV spokesperson said via email. “However, when possible, these channels will offer other programming in place of the restricted content.”

TechHive, citing posts on the Reddit cord-cutters forum, reported on this limitation with the Sling TV service on Friday (March 27), noting that some but not all of shows such as Criminal Minds on A&E are restricted, and the same is true with certain movies and episodes of Intervention on LMN. On Monday morning (March 30) at 10 a.m. ET, Criminal Minds (a show originally produced by CBS) on A&E was not available on Sling TV due to those rights restrictions, and it appeared that the content had been replaced by a sales pitch for a pressure cooker.


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Former Federal Agents Charged With Bitcoin Money Laundering and Wire Fraud | OPA | Department of Justice

Former Federal Agents Charged With Bitcoin Money Laundering and Wire Fraud | OPA | Department of Justice | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Two former federal agents have been charged with wire fraud, money laundering and related offenses for stealing digital currency during their investigation of the Silk Road, an underground black market that allowed users to conduct illegal transactions over the Internet. The charges are contained in a federal criminal complaint issued on March 25, 2015, in the Northern District of California and unsealed today.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California, Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson of the FBI’s San Francisco Division, Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) San Francisco Division, Special Agent in Charge Michael P. Tompkins of the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General Washington Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Lori Hazenstab of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General in Washington D.C. made the announcement.

Carl M. Force, 46, of Baltimore, was a Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Shaun W. Bridges, 32, of Laurel, Maryland, was a Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service (USSS). Both were assigned to the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force, which investigated illegal activity in the Silk Road marketplace. Force served as an undercover agent and was tasked with establishing communications with a target of the investigation, Ross Ulbricht, aka “Dread Pirate Roberts.” Force is charged with wire fraud, theft of government property, money laundering and conflict of interest. Bridges is charged with wire fraud and money laundering.


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TX: San Antonio’s size proving to be a challenge for Google Fiber | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom

TX: San Antonio’s size proving to be a challenge for Google Fiber | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

San Antonio’s size proving to be a challenge for Google Fiber - San Antonio Business Journal:


One of the challenges for Google is developing the infrastructure needed to support a new fiber-optic network, including a system of equipment shelters. That process is complicated because of land mass and topography.

But Google officials insist that the company continues to work with San Antonio officials and expects to have a progress report on the Alamo City’s expansion status before the end of the year.

Reading between the lines, it appears Google Fiber is facing the classic demand muni officials have made of cable providers in franchise negotiations, i.e. that the providers serve all addresses and not just some per Google Fiber's walled garden "fiberhood" infrastructure deployment strategy.

As Google Fiber looks to expand, it will likely increasingly confront this demand and choose to walk away, especially if state public utility commissions back up local governments by enforcing the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's recently adopted rules designating Internet services as common carrier utilities subject to a universal service mandate. That factor along with its limited financial resources to build costly telecommunications infrastructure will significantly limit Google Fiber's U.S. expansion under its current "own the customer" business model.


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Open access fiber networks offer way to boost access to Internet services | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom

Open access fiber networks offer way to boost access to Internet services | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The United States suffers from costly and disparate Internet access due to a vertically integrated business model based on the old copper telephone network. Under that model, the network infrastructure and the telecommunications services sold over it are provided by a single company such as AT&T or Verizon. It’s the same model used by cable companies, where the network operators that bring the cable to customer premises “own” the customer and bill for separate or bundled services on a monthly subscription basis. Google Fiber also operates under this business model.

That business model is inherently limited because it can expand and upgrade service only to the extent new customers and revenues can be added quickly enough to generate a rapid return on the money invested to build out the infrastructure. That circumstance and the high cost of constructing telecommunications infrastructure naturally make telcos and cable companies very conservative when it comes to expanding their networks.

That risk aversion in turn has brought about widespread market failure. There are potential buyers clamoring for service but the telephone and cable companies decline to provide it. This is essentially where the U.S. has been stuck for the past decade, creating massive frustration for consumers and for state and local governments hoping to improve Internet telecommunications access that has grown increasingly vital for their communities and economies.

Fortunately, there is a way out of the mire with open access fiber networks as Andrew Cohill of Wide Open Networks explains in this article appearing in the March/April issue of Broadband Communities magazine. Highly recommended reading for government officials and consumers.


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Comcast: Apple Hasn’t Approached NBCU About OTT Play | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel

Comcast: Apple Hasn’t Approached NBCU About OTT Play | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Despite a report to the contrary, NBCUniversal hasn’t held back programming for a new OTT service Apple is reportedly developing, nor has Apple even approached NBCU about obtaining programming rights for it, Comcast told the FCC in a letter issued Thursday (March 26).

The letter was penned in response to an ex parte filed on March 25 by Stop Mega Comcast, the coalition formed in December that is seeking to block the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger.Re/code first reported of Comcast's response letter earlier on Friday (March 27).

“Comcast may be withholding affiliated NBCUniversal (“NBCU”) content in an effort to thwart the entry of potential new video competitors,” the coalition said, citing a recent story in The Wall Street Journal claiming that Apple wasn’t holding talks with NBCU due to a past “falling-out between Apple and NBCUniversal parent company Comcast.”

Comcast said that's not the case. “Notably, the plain facts undermine SMC’s latest salvo. Not only has NBCUniversal not “withheld” programming from Apple’s new venture, Apple has not even approached NBCUniversal with such a request,” Francis Buono, counsel for Comcast, wrote, adding that NBCU has been working with other online video distributors, including PlayStation Vue, Sony’s recently launched service. "Meanwhile, NBCUniversal has licensed substantial amounts of content to Apple in connection with the platforms for which Apple has approached NBCUniversal," Buono said.


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Movistar launches Panama's second 4G network | TeleGeography.com

Following in the wake of rival Cable & Wireless Panama (C&WP), which launched 700MHz Long Term Evolution-based (LTE-based) services earlier this month, Movistar Panama has now inaugurated its own 4G network.

With the company claiming to have deployed the largest numbers of LTE-compatible sites in the capital, coverage is initially limited to Panama City, while Movistar has also confirmed that it is not charging any additional fee for 4G connectivity.


Customers in the coverage area need only to upgrade their SIM card and have a compatible handset in order to utilise their existing data usage allowances.


Pre-paid data usage plans start from PAB1.99 for a 250MB allowance (valid for two days), rising to PAB8.99 for 1GB (valid for 15 days).


All of the cellco’s post-paid ‘Libre’ plans also allow customers to connect to the LTE network, assuming they have a compatible device, with costs starting at PAB30 per month for a plan offering a 2GB data usage allowance, as well as 450 minutes of calls via the 2G/3G network, with a top-tier tariff providing a 10GB data cap and 1800 minutes of calls for PAB100 per month.

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British Airways notifies frequent flyers of possible breach of their accounts | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com

British Airways notifies frequent flyers of possible breach of their accounts | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Over the last few days, a large number of British Airways customers have found that reward points they accumulated for flights, called Avios, have disappeared from their accounts. Others have been locked out of their accounts completely.
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Affected users have gathered on the flyertalk.com forum to share their experiences after calling the company’s call center, which according to reports, has been giving out “contradictory” information at times.

It seems that the incident is the result of hackers gaining access to a large number of accounts.

A user posted an email message he received from British Airways’s Executive Club team saying that the company “has become aware of unauthorized activity” on his account. The Executive Club is the name of BA’s frequent flyer program.

“This appears to have been the result of a third party using information obtained elsewhere on the Internet, via an automated process, to try to gain access to your Executive Club account,” the email said. “We understand this was login information relating to a different online service which you may have also used to access your Executive Club account.”

It is not unusual for hackers to try to access user accounts on multiple services once they obtain a large database of usernames and passwords from a hacked website. That’s because many users tend to use a single email address and password to log in on different online accounts, a practice that security experts have long advised against.


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Canada: Fibre optic cable battle: Smaller players want in on Big 3 networks | Aaron Saltzman | CBC.ca

Canada: Fibre optic cable battle: Smaller players want in on Big 3 networks | Aaron Saltzman | CBC.ca | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If you want a fibre optic cable – the latest, hottest connection to the internet – brace yourself for some surprises.

When Eric Rosenquist and his wife were downsizing from their sprawling, rural acreage, they had a few items on their wish list.

For Rosenquist, a software engineer with between 30 and 40 devices in his home connected to the web, a strong, fast internet connection was essential.

He found that in Richardson Ridge, a housing development still under construction in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata.

"Being a newer neighbourhood, Bell wired it with fibre right into the home," says Rosenquist, "so it's great, because you've got the most modern type of conductivity."

But there's a downside. Because Bell laid down the fibre to the home (FTTH), they're not obligated to open it to third parties.

"So if I want internet service — or any service — over that fibre line, it has to be from Bell," says Rosenquist.

For years, the big telcos and cable companies have been compelled to allow their competitors access to their copper and coaxial networks. But Bell, Rogers and Telus have been upgrading their networks to fibre optic technology, and if you want that high-speed cable coming directly into your home, you have to go with one of the Big Three.


The fight over FTTH (some call it FTTP or Fibre-to-the-premises) is now before the CRTC, with many of the same arguments for access being presented by both sides.


In its presentation to the CRTC, Bell says it only builds the final leg, or fibre drop, to the home when a customer subscribes. It says that represents up to a third of the capital costs. Bell says opening up those lines to wholesale access would deter investment.


"Those who invest in facilities would be forced to incur capital expenditures purely for the benefit of their competitors," Bell says. "Expanding mandated access rules threatens to create or accentuate a digital divide, where only some Canadians benefit from a competitive choice of next generation networks. That would be an unfortunate outcome."


CRTC rules that forced the Big Three to share their wiring paved the way for independent service providers such as Start CommunicationsTekSavvyVMedia and a host of others to offer internet, phone and TV service, often at lower prices than the Big Three.


But these smaller providers say without access to FTTH, they can't compete.


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IBM to pump $3 billion into new IoT business unit | Joab Jackson | NetworkWorld.com

IBM to pump $3 billion into new IoT business unit | Joab Jackson | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Hungry for a bigger piece of the Internet of things market, IBM will invest US$3 billion over four years to establish a new business unit dedicated to providing IoT systems and services to enterprises.

“We’re only at the very beginning of an amazing revolution. If we thought we were dealing with big data now, we haven’t seen anything yet,” said Erick Brethenoux, IBM director of analytics.

IBM General Manager Chris O’Connor will oversee the new unit, which will initially court enterprises in travel, logistics, insurance, public utilities, transportation and retail, Brethenoux said.

IBM will also tailor a new cloud service, the IBM IoT Cloud Open Platform, providing a way for enterprises to build their own data-driven systems, Brethenoux said. Over time, it will also develop specialized packages for specific fields like the insurance industry.

IBM will offer a customized section of its Bluemix platform service, to be called the Bluemix IoT Zone, where developers will be able to create specialized business logic to handle and analyze data streaming from IoT devices and sensors.

It will also work with partner companies in a range of industries to align more closely in all aspects of IoT, from hardware to data. It has signed deals with AT&T, chip design company ARM, and semiconductor manufacturer Semtech.

Another partner is the Weather Company, which will provide access to a rich trove of data to it can be ingested by other systems. Predictive maintenance systems could use weather records and predictions to determine when equipment needs to be serviced, for instance.

By 2021, as many as 28 billion IoT devices will be installed around the world, IDC has estimated. General Electric has predicted that IoT systems will add up to $15 trillion to global annual Gross Domestic Product over the next 20 years.

IoT is just the latest area IBM is targeting to breath new life into its business, which has been struggling as sales from some of its traditional on-premises products, particularly hardware, decline. Just last month it said it would invest $4 billion in cloud, mobile and analytics technologies.


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What happens with data from mobile health apps? | Kenneth Corbin | NetworkWorld.com

What happens with data from mobile health apps? | Kenneth Corbin | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

There is no shortage of interest in mobile health applications, which span everything from pedometers to Wi-Fi-enabled pacemakers, but what happens with all that data?

The New American Foundation, a Washington think tank, waded into that debate with a pair of recent panel discussions where experts acknowledged that the security risks around health IT systems are high, and the medical profession, as a whole, has a ways to go to get its cyber house in order.

Kevin Fu, who directs the Archimedes Research Center for Medical Device Security at the University of Michigan, argues that within the medical community -- as in many other industries -- there is a broad lack of awareness about basic cybersecurity practices, often enabling garden-variety malware to infiltrate systems that house sensitive data.

"Medical professionals are not too different from every other person in the country when it comes to cybersecurity hygiene. So they're taught to wash their hands in between patient encounters, but they're not taught as well as to the cybersecurity hygiene. I'd say we have a very long way to go," Fu says. "The bar is very low right now."

The glut of health data being generated and collected by mobile devices and applications also raises some significant privacy concerns, particularly when that information is outside of the scope of HIPAA and other federal statutes governing personal information.

"I think the key risk that we have is that we will create a pool of extremely sensitive health data that is totally unregulated and that is shared broadly without our knowledge and used in ways that we do not know," says Alvaro Bedoya, executive director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown University.


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Judge Suggests Attorney General Jim Hood Is Unconstitutionally Threatening Google 'In Bad Faith' | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

Judge Suggests Attorney General Jim Hood Is Unconstitutionally Threatening Google 'In Bad Faith' | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

About a month ago, we noted that a federal court had granted a temporary injunction blocking a subpoena issued by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, demanding all sorts of information from Google. At the time, the judge only said that Google's argument was "stronger" than Hood's, but said a full ruling would come out in time.


That full ruling [pdf] is now out, and boy, does it make Jim Hood's anti-Google vendetta look questionable -- specifically saying that there is "significant evidence of bad faith" on the part of Hood to try to use his government position to unconstitutionally coerce Google into making changes to its service that it has no legal obligation to make.

If you don't recall, Hood has a long-standing obsession with Google, despite having an astounding level of ignorance about how the search engine actually operates. In his anti-Google rants, Hood makes statements that are blatantly false and repeatedly argues that Google is to blame merely because its search engine finds websites that Hood's office doesn't like and doesn't think should exist at all. And that doesn't even touch on the now known fact that the MPAA secretly funded Hood's investigation and wrote nearly every word of the threatening letters sent to Google.

While Hood and various MPAA supporters have insisted that he's clearly in the right, at least federal judge Henry Wingate doesn't see much to support that. Hood tried desperately to keep this issue out of federal court, using a variety of claims, including the so-called "Younger Abstention" which argues that federal courts should stay out of certain issues. However, as Wingate notes, that only applies in three specific cases, none of which apply to Hood's campaign against Google -- and, even if any of them did apply, there's a further exception for "bad faith" -- and Wingate is pretty convinced that Hood is acting in bad faith:


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CA: AT&T Plugs GigaPower Into Cupertino | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com

CA: AT&T Plugs GigaPower Into Cupertino | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

AT&T announced Monday that it has rolled out its fiber-based, 1-Gig capable fiber-based platform to parts of Cupertino, Calif., the tech-savvy city that serves as the home of Apple.

AT&T, which counts Comcast among its competitors there, also announced that GigaPower subs in Cupertino will get an upgraded WiFi gateway.

In Cupertino areas that are eligible, AT&T will sell its “Premier” 1-Gig service starting at $110 per month, if customers agree to participate in AT&T Internet Preferences, the telco’s targeted ad program taps into a customer's Web search terms and Web site visits. The 1-Gig/TV bundle starts at $150 per month, and a triple-play package with 1-Gig starts at $180 per month. AT&T is also pitching a 300 Mbps version that starts at $80 per month. The stand-alone services and TV bundles come with a one-year price guarantee, and the triple-play packages come with a two-year price guarantee, according to AT&T, which estimates that it has invested $475 million in wireless and wired networks in San Jose between 2012 and 2014.

The launch in Cupertino followed the recent debut of AT&T GigaPower in pockets of Kansas City, where AT&T is offering a stand-alone version of the 1-Gig service for $70 per month, a price that matches up with Google Fiber’s standalone gigabit plan.


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AT&T's de la Vega: DirecTV merger will help us simplify convoluted digital content deals | Phil Goldstein | Fierce Cable

AT&T's de la Vega: DirecTV merger will help us simplify convoluted digital content deals | Phil Goldstein | Fierce Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

AT&T will be in a much better position to renegotiate content licensing deals with content owners once it closes its $49 billion acquisition of DirecTV, according to AT&T executive Ralph de la Vega. AT&T's goal is make it much easier for consumers to get TV content on their smartphones and tablets without having to worry about whether or not they will be able to do so because of content rights, he said.

The FCC and Department of Justice still need to approve the DirecTV deal, but AT&T expects that to happen in the second quarter. De la Vega, CEO of AT&T's Mobile & Business Solutions Group, said that setting aside the deal, AT&T is seeing a great consumer demand for video.

"What customers want is video on their terms on their device, on their schedule," he said in an interview with FierceCable at AT&T's foundry here. "And I think that's a huge challenge for industry to address because of the licensing." De la Vega noted that every time a piece of content is shown today, carriers need to get licensing for TVs, tablets and smartphones, and each device may have different digital rights.

Over time, de la Vega said, AT&T wants that to change. "We hope that with time, that as these contracts get reworked, that we can provide a really smooth transition," he said. "And with the DirecTV deal behind us I don't know anybody that will be in a better place to make that happen."

Currently, according to de la Vega, content licensing agreements make it "too cumbersome" for consumers to negotiate the digital content landscape. "I can understand why a content provider would want to make sure they have all of their bases covered," he said. "But I think it's hindering the adoption."


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Philadelphia, PA is near the bottom in proportion of homes with broadband service | Bob Fernandez | Philly.com

Philadelphia, PA is near the bottom in proportion of homes with broadband service | Bob Fernandez | Philly.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Dr. Ethel Allen Elementary School in Strawberry Mansion lets out at 2:49, and not long afterward, on most afternoons, 40 to 50 boys and girls stream through the white door of Pastor Hezekiah Lampley's North 31st Street church for free soda, bags of chips, and a quick prayer.

Some days, some of those same kids also climb the creaky stairs to the second floor of Lampley's Morning Star Church of God in Christ, where the pastor keeps six broadband-connected desktop computers.

Lampley inherited the computers as castoffs six or seven years ago, but they are still serviceable for research or writing school papers. As Kysheem, Tianna, Kasim, Gemini, and others looked through the fridge for sodas or waited to hold hands for prayer, Lampley asked them individually one day last week, "Do you have a computer at home?"

Most said no. They used computers at the local library branch, or at a grandmother's house, an aunt's house, a community center, or the church.


And that's not unusual.


The headquarters city of Comcast Corp., the nation's largest broadband provider, also has one of the nation's lowest broadband-penetration rates, an Inquirer analysis of U.S. Census data shows. Philadelphia ranks 23d of the 25 largest U.S. cities.


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FCC: Title II Suits Jumped Gun | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

FCC: Title II Suits Jumped Gun | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

FCC lawyers say the lawsuits filed against the commission's new Title II based network neutrality rules were filed prematurely and should be rejected on procedural grounds.

US Telecom and Alamo Broadband filed suit last week, the first of several such suits expected in the wake of the hotly debated and, from the ISP side, heavily criticized decision.

The FCC had signaled last week that it thought the filings were jumping the gun, and the letter made it official.

In a March 27 letter to the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, which will choose the federal appeals court that will hear the rule challenge, FCC Deputy Associate General Counsel Richard Welch said that in its view both petitions were premature since they were filed before the decision was published in the Federal Register.

"We believe that because the order in question was issued in a notice-and-comment rulemaking proceeding, the period for seeking judicial review of the order does not commence until the order is published in the Federal Register," Welch told the panel, which will oversee the choice of circuit since the challenges were filed in two different courts, the Fifth in the case of Alamo and the D.C. court in the case of US Telecom.

Welch said the FCC expected the decision on dismissing the suits would be made by the circuit hearing the case, which will be randomly selected by the panel, but said he wanted to let the panel know in case the FCC was incorrect in that assumption.

USTelecom filed in the same court that rejected the FCC's 2010 attempt to adopt network neutrality rules, saying the new version is "arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion." Alamo agreed, but picked the court whose jurisdiction includes Texas, where the company is based.


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Community Broadband Media Roundup - March 27 | community broadband networks

Community Broadband Media Roundup - March 27 | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This article is so good, it was hard not to quote the whole thing. Do yourself a favor and check out the article for yourself-- this is exactly why we can’t trust big cable and telephone companies to serve our communities.

New Homeowner Has To Sell House Because Of Comcast’s Incompetence, Lack Of Competition by Chris Morran at the Consumerist:

Only months after moving into his new home in Washington state, Consumerist reader Seth is already looking to sell his house. He didn’t lose his job or discover that the property is haunted. No, Seth can’t stay much longer because no one can provide broadband service to his address; even though Comcast and CenturyLink both misled him into thinking he’d be connected to their networks and in spite of the fact that his county runs a high-speed fiberoptic network that goes very near to his property.

New homeowner selling house because he can’t get Comcast Internet:

"I accidentally bought a house without cable," writes man who works at home.

by Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica

While Comcast, the country's biggest cable company, tells the federal government it faces so much competition that it should be allowed to merge with the second biggest cable operator, a government database designed to tell consumers what options they have for Internet service is offering inaccurate information.

The National Broadband Map lets you enter any address in the US to find out what Internet access options are available. The database shows 10 options at Seth's house, including mobile and satellite, but they're all either inadequate for home Internet service or unavailable.

Google Fiber will leave the duopoly intact and only change the players
by Jesse Harris, Free UTOPIA


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Latest Assault on Net Neutrality Launched at Telecom Industry-Funded Think Tank | Lee Fang | The Intercept

Latest Assault on Net Neutrality Launched at Telecom Industry-Funded Think Tank | Lee Fang | The Intercept | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., last week addressed the Free State Foundation to announce his new plan to undermine recently enacted net neutrality rules by going after the funding of the Federal Communications Commission, the agency behind the decision.

The FCC’s approach to net neutrality represents “potential untenable rules and regulatory overreach that will hurt consumers,” said Walden, the chair of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, speaking at the foundation’s annual Telecom Policy Conference. Walden outlined a plan to limit FCC appropriations, cap its other revenue sources, and change the hiring process for the FCC’s inspector general.

David Segal, co-founder of Demand Progress, a pro-net neutrality group, said Walden’s remarks “underscore his allegiance to corporate interests.”

Walden’s choice of venue is telling. According to tax filings by two cable and wireless trade associations, the Free State Foundation has received nearly half a million dollars from the trade associations over the last five years. CTIA-The Wireless Association — representing Verizon, AT&T and Motorola, among others — gave the foundation $213,750. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the trade group for Comcast and other major cable companies, provided $280,000 to the foundation. The two trade groups intend to file a lawsuit to block the FCC’s net neutrality rules.

The Free State Foundation raised $797,500 total in 2012 but is not legally required to disclose its donors and, unlike many think tanks, does not do so voluntarily on its website. PCWorld gave the foundation an “F” rating for donor transparency. As of publication, the Free State Foundation has not responded to questions about its funders.

The Free State Foundation, founded by Randolph May, a former telecommunications attorney in Washington, D.C., describes itself as “an independent, non-profit free market-oriented think tank.” Consumer advocates have long complained that the foundation routinely lobbies on behalf of telecom industry positions. The group, in addition to working against net neutrality regulations, has pushed to block municipal broadband choices for consumers and heavily promoted major industry mergers, including the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal.

At the event, shortly after Walden gave his speech, the foundation hosted a panel with two representatives from its telecom trade group funders CTIA and NCTA. “Because we have competition,” said Jot Carpenter, vice president for government affairs at CTIA, “our view is that we don’t need a lot of regulation.”


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The LightSquared at the end of the tunnel: wireless start-up finally exits bankruptcy | TeleGeogrraphy.com

Ill-fated open access 4G start-up LightSquared secured court permission to exit bankruptcy late last week, Bloomberg reports, ending a three-year battle for control of the company’s future.


The ruling followed a trial in which hedge fund investors and Charlie Ergen – boss of satellite TV giant-turned-aspirant wireless player – argued over the value of the airwaves, which are estimated to be worth around USD4.5 billion.


The judge’s decision noted that ‘more than a dozen plans have been announced or proposed’ over the course of the bankruptcy, involving ‘countless hours of human capital’.

At one point, in late-2013, Ergen was the only bidder for the company’s assets, offering USD2.22 billion, although he later withdrew the offer.


The new plan, as approved by the court, will give Centerbridge Capital Partners, Fortress Investment Group and a unit of JPMorgan Chase & Co. control of most of the company, with LightSquared founder Philip Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners taking a minority stake of the new equity.

Ergen will be repaid in full and in cash after his fund agreed to withdraw its objection to the plan. As the legal tussle unfolded, the DISH boss was said to have quietly amassed more than half of LightSquared’s USD1.7 billion worth of secured loans, prompting Harbinger to sue him for using ‘improper tactics’ to acquire the airwaves at a below-market price.


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Big broadband firms want 'unfettered power' over Internet: FCC chief | Jim Puzzanghera | LATimes.com

Big broadband firms want 'unfettered power' over Internet: FCC chief | Jim Puzzanghera | LATimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The nation's biggest broadband providers oppose tough net neutrality regulations because they want “unfettered power” over the Internet, the head of the Federal Communications Commission said Friday.

In his most robust defense so far of the new rules, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler predicted court challenges by the telecommunications industry would fail.

And he said the “avalanche of arguments” against regulations designed to ensure the free flow of online traffic showed that the industry’s major firms had ulterior motives.


“We should conclude that the biggest broadband providers in the land have one objective — to operate free from control by their customers and free from oversight from government,” Wheeler said in a speech at Ohio State University.


“If they succeed, then, for the first time in America’s communications history, private gatekeepers will have unfettered power to control commerce and free expression,” he said.


Wheeler crafted the controversial regulations that the Democratic-controlled FCC approved last month on a party-line 3-2 vote.

They prohibit broadband providers from blocking, slowing or selling faster delivery of legal content flowing through their networks to consumers.


In five congressional hearings over eight days through Wednesday, Wheeler defended the FCC's actions in the face of intense criticism from the industry and Republicans that increased federal regulation would hinder investment in broadband networks and services.


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