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MA: Leverett bushwhacks its own route | The Recorder

MA: Leverett bushwhacks its own route | The Recorder | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If there’s a “poster child” for broadband development in rural western Massachusetts, it’s Leverett, which last month signed a $2.7 million contract to build a “last-mile” fiber-optic network along its 40 miles of roads, for universal telecommunication service that’s expected to be up and running sometime next year.

 

“It’s a real milestone,” Selectboard member Peter d’Errico says. “It’s taken us almost two years in the making. “As far as we’re aware, we’re still out front in getting this done first.”

 

In fact, while the town won a critical $40,000 grant from Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) that paid for a detailed design study by G4S — the same company that won the $2.7 million construction contract — the journey has taken much longer. It’s also meant taxpayers agreeing to shoulder the burden of paying to have their network built, in part to assure that their home values keep up with the ever-growing demand for affordable high-speed telecommunication.

 

Robert Brooks, who chairs the town Broadband Committee, has been working on trying to bring high-speed telecommunications to the town for 10 years. Working with Shutesbury, Leverett began by approaching Verizon and Comcast to extend service, with little satisfaction.

 

“Out of our own internal sense of frustration of trying to deal with Verizon,” recalled d’’Errico, “it was pretty clear we were going to have to do it on our own. (Brooks) was the point person for exploring other avenues, saying, ‘We can work this out. If Leverett wants to do it, Leverett is going to have to do it.”

 

The town’s frustrations over telecommunication weren’t limited to simply bringing high-speed Internet service to its residents. Residents’ reports of interruptions in service, static and other noises that interrupted phone conversations and problems using the town’s reverse-911 calling system led to complaints against the telephone company to the state Department of Telecommunications and Cable.

 

“Any time we had any moisture or rain, whole sections of town would have no telephone service,” d’Errico said.

 

Similar complaints, brought by a variety of towns, including Rowe and Shutesbury, eventually led to a settlement that required Verizon to repair its copper phone wires, and those problems have largely abated, according to d’Errico. He emphasized that telephone service and Internet service are treated differently, however: DTC oversees land-line telephone, but not cellphone or broadband service.

 

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Congress should modernize highway funding with 'chips,' not 'concrete' | Drew Clark Op-Ed | Deseret News

Congress should modernize highway funding with 'chips,' not 'concrete' | Drew Clark Op-Ed | Deseret News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

So much of politics here in the nation's capital is about moving money from someone's pocket to someone else's. As a result, the threat of generational or sectional warfare frequently lurks below the surface of budget debates.

That's why it’s refreshing when think tanks and politicians disseminate ideas that can expand — rather than redistribute — the nation's economic pie. They do this by enabling policies that unlock value-creation.

Take federal transportation funding. The worthy idea of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation is to direct no less than 5 percent of federal highway funding to information technology-based transit projects.

The concept is not yet implemented into law. But developments here this week could tee up the idea for the future.

On Tuesday, the House passed a two-month extension of the Highway Trust Fund. The stopgap measure keeps federally funded highway projects from coming to a halt on May 31. Congress now has until July to consider the question: How will the nation pay for new highways?

It’s a question about how to carve up the economic pie. President Obama wants to fund $478 billion of highway construction through a 14 percent tax on foreign earnings of U.S. companies. A small number of Republicans, although not a majority, want to raise the federal gas tax beyond its current 18.4 cents per gallon level. Interestingly, however, Republicans are not adverse to raising gas taxes at the state level, as was recently done in Utah and Iowa.

But the issue of growing the economic pie was raised at an ITIF event hosted on Capitol Hill here Tuesday. Dubbed "From Concrete to Chips: Bringing the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act Into the Digital Age," the event accompanied an ITIF report about how next-generation communications technologies can enhance driver and pedestrian safety, deliver environmental benefits and boost economic growth.


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Report: FBI's PATRIOT Act Snooping Goes Beyond Business Records, Subject To Few Restrictions | Tim Cushing | Techdirt

Report: FBI's PATRIOT Act Snooping Goes Beyond Business Records, Subject To Few Restrictions | Tim Cushing | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A report by the FBI's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) on the agency's use of Section 215 collections has just been released in what can only be termed as "fortuitous" (or "suspicious") timing. Section 215 is dying. It was up for reauthorization on June 1st, but the Obama administration suddenly pushed that deadline up to the end of this week. Sen. Mitch McConnell took a stab at a clean reauth, but had his attempt scuttled by a court ruling finding the program unauthorized by existing law and the forward momentum of the revamped USA Freedom Act. And, as Section 215's death clock ticked away, Rand Paul and Ron Wyden engaged in a filibuster to block any last-second attempts to ram a clean reauthorization through Congress.

The report focuses mainly on the FBI's 2007-2009 use of the program in response to previous OIG recommendations and alterations ordered by the FISA court. As is to be expected in anything tangentially-related to the NSA, it's full of redactions, especially in areas where a little transparency would go a long way towards justifying the FBI's belief that the program should continue in a mostly-unaltered state.

Redactions like this do absolutely nothing to assure the public that the program is useful and/or considerate of citzens' rights.


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Community Broadband Media Roundup - May 22 | community broadband networks

Community Broadband Media Roundup - May 22 | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

North Carolina sues FCC over Wilson community broadband decision by Rick Smith, WRAL TechWire

"Attorney General Cooper must not realize the irony of using state taxpayer dollars to ensure less money is invested in rural broadband, but we certainly do," said Christopher Mitchell, the directory of Community Broadband Networks at the Minnesota-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance. "State leaders should stand up for their citizens' interests and demand good broadband for them, rather than fighting alongside paid lobbyists to take away those opportunities."

The group accuses telecommunications and Internet provides in North Carolina of not providing wide-spread high-speed access in the state.

"Rural areas in North Carolina already suffer from some of the slowest speeds in the nation because the big telecom giants see no financial reason to connect them," the Institute said. "The FCC ruling will help communities that will never be covered by these corporations to finally have Internet access beyond dial-up service."

North Carolina sues FCC for right to block municipal broadband by Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica

Residents stuck with slow Internet while state fights on behalf of private ISPs.

North Carolina Sues FCC To Keep Limits On Municipal Broadband by Chris Morran, The Consumerist

North Carolina's Broadband Policy: Wasting Tax Dollars Pretending To Care About Wasting Tax Dollars from the dynamic-duopoly-defenders dept by Karl Bode, TechDirt.


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AT&T Will Try To Make First Amendment Case Against Net Neutrality | Chris Morran | Ars Technica

AT&T Will Try To Make First Amendment Case Against Net Neutrality | Chris Morran | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

When you think of the Internet and First Amendment issues, your mind probably conjures up images of people being able to freely express themselves online through websites, videos, and social media. But if you’re AT&T, the First Amendment was created to give Internet service providers the authority to have some sort of editorial control over the data they carry.

AT&T is one of the many plaintiffs suing the FCC in the hope of gutting net neutrality a second time. And in a document [PDF] filed with the court last week, the company outlines the issues to be raised in its lawsuit.

And right there under item #1 is: “Whether the FCC’s reclassification of broadband Internet access service as a telecommunications service subject to common carrier regulation under Title II violates the terms of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and the First and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.”

AT&T also plans to raise First and Fifth Amendment issues with regard to interconnectivity (i.e., the connection of ISP networks to the backbone of the Internet) and whether wireless smartphone data should be classified as broadband.

The document sheds little light on AT&T’s actual arguments in these matters, but as Ars Technica’s Jon Brodkin points out, Verizon tried something similar in its lawsuit that ultimately neutered the original net neutrality rules.


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Thieves stole data on 100,000 taxpayers through IRS app | Katherine Noyes | NetworkWorld.com

Thieves stole data on 100,000 taxpayers through IRS app | Katherine Noyes | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Criminals stole sensitive information about roughly 100,000 taxpayers through the Internal Revenue Service’s “Get Transcript” application, a major data breach at the U.S.’s national tax agency.

The thieves first stole information including Social Security details, dates of birth and street addresses from an outside, non-IRS source, the government agency said Tuesday. They then used that information to clear a multistep authentication process and access the IRS site, along with all the personal tax details stored there.

The matter is now under review by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and the IRS’ Criminal Investigation unit. The Get Transcript application has also been temporarily shut down.


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Sen. Bennet Asks FCC to Rethink Effective Competition | John Eggerton | Multichannel

Sen. Bennet Asks FCC to Rethink Effective Competition | John Eggerton | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Add Colorado Democratic senator Michael Bennet to the list of congressional Senate Democrats who have registered concern with FCC's proposal to presume cable operators face local market competition for traditional video unless a franchisee can prove otherwise.

The chairman has circulated an order reversing the "effective competition" presumption given that the FCC has granted, in whole or in part, every such petition since 2013, primarily due to the presence of two national video competitors, Dish and DirecTV.

A finding of effective competition triggers basic cable rate deregulation regulation and removes the requirement that retrans stations be on that basic tier.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, Bennett said that he was concerned that able opeators could move "less profitable local stations" from the basic tier, leading to less choice and higher prices, especially for rural and low income Coloradans.

The FCC is under an early June deadline to take steps to streamline the effective competition process for smaller and rural cable operators per the STELAR satellite reathorization legislation, but decided to streamline it for all operators given the recent track reford of petitions.

It is still only a presumption, and franchisees can make the case that a market still isn't competitive.


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RadioShack, U.S. states reach agreement on sale of customer data | John Ribeiro | ComputerWorld.com

RadioShack, U.S. states reach agreement on sale of customer data | John Ribeiro | ComputerWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

RadioShack has reached agreement with U.S. states over the sale of customer data, by consenting to limit the number of email addresses to be sold and giving customers the opportunity to be removed from the list.

A coalition of 38 U.S. states, led by Texas, objected to the sale of personally identifiable information by the bankrupt electronics retailer, citing its online and in-store privacy policies. The customer data, which was withdrawn from an earlier sale of assets that included RadioShack stores, was included in a second auction this month.

The bulk of the consumer data will be destroyed, and no credit or debit card account numbers, social security numbers, dates of birth or phone numbers will be transferred to General Wireless Operations, the winner of both auctions, said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a statement Wednesday.

RadioShack also filed in court on Wednesday the result of the mediation talks that started on May 14, in which the states, the prospective buyer and the retailer participated.

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NM: Santa Fe's Targeted Fiber Investment - Community Broadband Bits Podcast 152 | community broadband networks

NM: Santa Fe's Targeted Fiber Investment - Community Broadband Bits Podcast 152 | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

After Santa Fe, NM found its residents and businesses were often paying the same rates for connections at half the speed of peers in Albuquerque, the City began investigating the local broadband market. This week on Community Broadband Bits, Sean Moody joins us to discuss the situation and what Santa Fe is doing to spur more investment.

Sean works in the Economic Development Division of the City as a Special Projects Administrator. He explains the bottleneck in middle mile access that allowed CenturyLink to charge higher rates for backhaul than are common in similar communities.

The City decided to invest $1 million in a new fiber link that would bypass the choke point and allow various independent companies to have a better choice for access to the wider Internet. Along the way, the City partnered with the state for additional benefits.


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Charter-Time Warner deal would get tough regulatory scrutiny | Matt Hamblen | NetworkWorld.com

Charter-Time Warner deal would get tough regulatory scrutiny | Matt Hamblen | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Charter Communications' planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable faces a regulatory review by the same federal officials who were widely blamed for nixing the recent proposed merger of Time Warner with Comcast.

The $55 billion deal (plus $23 billion in debt) between TWC and Charter, announced Tuesday, led immediately to an unusual three-sentence challenge by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler that succinctly stated: "The Commission will look to see how American consumers will benefit if the deal were to be approved."

Wheeler's statement also made it clear that the FCC reviews mergers on their merits to determine if they are in the public interest, noting somewhat ominously that "an absence of harm is not sufficient."


Apparently anticipating that kind of tough regulatory posture, Charter and TWC laid out their case for regulatory approval in a conference call, noting that consumers would benefit from the merger with fast broadband services for online video and gaming.


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Over 4 billion people still have no Internet connection | Mikael Ricknas | NetworkWorld.com

Over 4 billion people still have no Internet connection | Mikael Ricknas | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The number of people using the Internet is growing at a steady rate, but 4.2 billion out of 7.4 billion will still be offline by the end of the year.

Overall, 35.3 percent of people in developing countries will use the Internet, compared to 82.2 percent in developed countries, according to data from the ITU (International Telecommunication Union). People who live in the so-called least developed countries will the worst off by far: In those nations only 9.5 percent will be connected by the end of December.

This digital divide has resulted in projects such as the Facebook-led Internet.org. Earlier this month, Facebook sought to address some of the criticism directed at the project, including charges that it is a so-called walled garden, putting a limit on the types of services that are available.

Mobile broadband is seen as the way to get a larger part of the world’s population connected. There are several reasons for this. It’s much easier to cover rural areas with mobile networks than it is with fixed broadband. Smartphones are also becoming more affordable.

But there are still barriers for getting more people online, especially in rural areas in poor countries.

The cost of maintaining and powering cell towers in remote, off-grid locations, combined with lower revenue expected from thinly spread, low income populations, are key hurdles, according to the GSM Association. Other barriers include taxes, illiteracy and a lack of content in local languages, according to the organization.

At the end of 2015, 29 percent of people living in rural areas around the world will be covered by 3G. Sixty-nine percent of the global population will be covered by a 3G network. That’s up from 45 percent four years ago.


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NHK and FIFA to hold 8K live public viewings | Robert Briel | Broadband TV News

NHK and FIFA to hold 8K live public viewings | Robert Briel | Broadband TV News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

NHK will produce 8K (Super Hi-Vision)broadcasts of ten matches at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015.

The coverage will include Japan v Cameroon and the final, as joint productions with FIFA, and present most of these as live public viewings at two venues in Japan, two in the US and one in Canada.

Access to the viewing will be free, but prior application is required to participate in these events. Recorded 8K content will be screened at other times when there is no live feed.

The games will be played in the period between Tuesday, June 9 and Monday, July 6.

In the US, the viewings will be held at the NBC Television Network Headquarters, Rockefeller Center (New York, NY) and at the Zanuck Theater (Los Angeles, California). Ub Canadaat the International Broadcasting Center in Vancouver, and in Japan at the Aeon Cinema, Kohoku New Town, Tsuzuki-ku, Yokohama City, and at SKIP City Sai-no-Kuni Visual Plaza (Kawaguchi City).

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Delaying Net Neutrality Rules Threatens 'Edge Economy,' FCC Says | Wendy Davis | Media Post

Delaying Net Neutrality Rules Threatens 'Edge Economy,' FCC Says | Wendy Davis | Media Post | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

AT&T, CenturyLink and a coalition of trade groups recently asked a federal appellate court to stay a portion of the Federal Communications Commission's historic decision to impose net neutrality rules.

AT&T and the others say they are not asking to nix all of the new regulations. Specifically, the companies aren't asking to delay the three new “bright line” rules, which prohibit providers from blocking or degrading traffic and from creating paid fast lanes. Instead, AT&T and the other challengers hope to stay the FCC's decision to regulate broadband as a utility.

But the Federal Communications Commission and Justice Department say in new legal papers that the bright-line rules won't be enforceable on their own.

“Make no mistake,” the FCC and DOJ say in their papers opposing the request for a stay. “If petitioners obtain a stay of the FCC’s decision to reclassify broadband ... those bright line rules will be temporarily gone.”

The FCC and DOJ point out that the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals voted in 2014 to invalidate a prior version of open Internet rules. Those rules prohibited broadband providers from blocking or degrading traffic, and also prohibited wireline (but not wireless) providers from engaging in unreasonable discrimination. The appellate court nixed those regulations on the grounds that the FCC only had authority to prohibit operators of common-carrier services from blocking or degrading traffic.


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PSAC Meeting Set for June 1, To Include Public Session | Vicki Lee | First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet)

PSAC Meeting Set for June 1, To Include Public Session | Vicki Lee | First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) will meet on Monday, June 1, during which FirstNet will receive updates from the Committee and discuss with its members a number of key issues related to the planning and development of the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN).

During the PSAC meeting, FirstNet will convene a session from 3:15 pm – 5:00 pm Pacific Time that will be open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis and broadcast via webcast. The session will include general updates from the PSAC Tribal and Early Builder Working Groups, as well as general updates from the PSAC on the priority and preemption, public safety grade, and user equipment assignments.


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Google's wireless service leaves bandwidth rationed business model undisturbed | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom

Google's wireless service leaves bandwidth rationed business model undisturbed | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google's soft launch today of its Project Fi mobile wireless offering won't be a game changer for homes and small businesses unfortunate enough to be located outside the limited footprints of landline Internet service providers (or not in a Google Fiber "fiberhood") and reliant on wireless premise Internet service such as Verizon's 4G Installed service offering.

While Project Fi does allow the creation of wireless hot spots at a customer premise, it retains the metered pricing schemes of existing wireless providers wherein end users must purchase monthly bandwidth allowance levels, referred to as "bandwidth by the bucket."

That makes the service a poor value for premises service. It's easy to blow through the bandwidth allowances and end up with a large bill via software updates and video streaming. Parents in homes with teenage children who stream video such as Netflix have been shocked by jaw dropping bills. Or who do class work online, which has been spotlighted by Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel as a key issue in America's Internet access disparities.

The Project Fi Plan and Pricing FAQ states:


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Sony Uses Copyright To Force Verge To Takedown Its Copy Of Sony's Spotify Contract | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

Sony Uses Copyright To Force Verge To Takedown Its Copy Of Sony's Spotify Contract | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Well, well. A few days ago, the Verge got a huge scoop in the form of Sony's original US contract with Spotify, leading to a ton of discussion (mostly focused around the huge "advances" that Spotify guaranteed Sony, and the related question of whether or not Sony actually passes those advances on to musicians).


The debate raged on for a couple days, and late last night, Paul Resnikoff over at Digital Music News noticed something interesting: the original contract was now missing, and The Verge's own website claims it's due to a copyright threat from Sony:


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Good News! Dianne Feinstein Is Here To Reform The Section 215 Program By Making Everything Worse! | Tim Cushing | Techdirt

Good News! Dianne Feinstein Is Here To Reform The Section 215 Program By Making Everything Worse! | Tim Cushing | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As Section 215 dies a rather noisy death (OR DOES IT? An emergency session convenes on May 31st, a day normally filled with the quiet emptiness of the extended Memorial Day holiday.), the defenders of the mostly-useless surveillance program are out in force, hoping to keep this part of the Patriot Act from expiring.

Mitch McConnell's hope for a no-questions-asked reauthorization is as dead as Section 215 (in its original form) appears to be. The USA Freedom Act stumbled in the Senate, falling three votes shy of being brought to the floor. Now, everyone seems to have a "fix" they'd like to offer. Unfortunately, some of those offering fixes aren't really interested in cutting back the metadata program.

Like Dianne Feinstein, for instance. About the only thing she's found contemptible about our nation's intelligence agencies is the CIA's proclivity for torturing detainees. And the longer she defends the NSA's intrusive programs, the more it gives off the impression that her main problem with the CIA's torture program is that it was ineffective.

She's offering her own "surveillance reform" bill in the wake of much legislative blood shedding, and much like her last "reform" offering, it does nothing of the sort.

[F]einstein’s bill, first reported by the Empty Wheel blog, rolls back a number of key provisions in the USA Freedom Act…

Rather than restrict the NSA (and the FBI, which benefits from the collection and issues the requests to the FISA Court in its name) to seeking metadata from service providers on a case-by-case basis, her bill introduces data retention requirements that amount to little more than simply relocating the metadata storage.


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Google Fiber’s botched software update locks out users, disables Wi-Fi | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica

Google Fiber’s botched software update locks out users, disables Wi-Fi | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Many Google Fiber customers have been reporting that a software update turned off their Wi-Fi and prevented them from logging into the Google Network Box's administration panel. Customers can still get online using Ethernet connections.

Customers in Kansas City and Provo, Utah have been affected and took to Twitter and sites including DownDetector.com to describe the problem.

I'm not eradicating disease with my @googlefiber internet connection, but it would sure be nice for it to work after a 24-hour-long outage.

— Sam Hartle (@Sam_Hartle) May 22, 2015

We have had way more outages with @googlefiber than we ever had with @comcast. Google needs to step up its game.

— Austin Graff (@AustinLGraff) May 21, 2015

A DSLReports forum member from Kansas City wrote yesterday, "Having an issue today with my network box. It lost my custom IP address scheme and went back to default. Now I can't access the advanced menu." A few hours later, the customer had been able to talk to Google Fiber support. "GF Support had to factory reset my network box so I could get in. They acknowledged that a software update this morning caused the issue," the customer wrote.

Doing a factory reset hasn't worked for all customers, though. "Google Fiber Support for Provo confirmed Wi-Fi problems. Said they're working to fix, but didn't have an ETA," one customer wrote yesterday on DownDetector.com. "I tried the factory reset on the Network Box, but that didn't work."


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The Big Meh | Paul Krugman Op-Ed | NYTimes.com

The Big Meh | Paul Krugman Op-Ed | NYTimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Remember Douglas Adams’s 1979 novel “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”? It began with some technology snark, dismissing Earth as a planet whose life-forms “are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.” But that was then, in the early stages of the information technology revolution.

Since then we’ve moved on to much more significant things, so much so that the big technology idea of 2015, so far, is a digital watch. But this one tells you to stand up if you’ve been sitting too long!

O.K., I’m snarking, too. But there is a real question here. Everyone knows that we live in an era of incredibly rapid technological change, which is changing everything. But what if what everyone knows is wrong? And I’m not being wildly contrarian here. A growing number of economists, looking at the data on productivity and incomes, are wondering if the technological revolution has been greatly overhyped — and some technologists share their concern.

We’ve been here before. “The Hitchhiker’s Guide” was published during the era of the “productivity paradox,” a two-decade-long period during which technology seemed to be advancing rapidly — personal computing, cellphones, local area networks and the early stages of the Internet — yet economic growth was sluggish and incomes stagnant. Many hypotheses were advanced to explain that paradox, with the most popular probably being that inventing a technology and learning to use it effectively aren’t the same thing. Give it time, said economic historians, and computers will eventually deliver the goods (and services).

This optimism seemed vindicated when productivity growth finally took off circa 1995. Progress was back — and so was America, which seemed to be at the cutting edge of the revolution.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the techno-revolution. We did not, it turned out, get a sustained return to rapid economic progress. Instead, it was more of a one-time spurt, which sputtered out around a decade ago. Since then, we’ve been living in an era of iPhones and iPads and iDontKnows, but even if you adjust for the effects of financial crisis, growth and trends in income have reverted to the sluggishness that characterized the 1970s and 1980s.

In other words, at this point, the whole digital era, spanning more than four decades, is looking like a disappointment. New technologies have yielded great headlines, but modest economic results. Why?


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Free Press: Charter/TWC Faces High Hurdle | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

Free Press: Charter/TWC Faces High Hurdle | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Seeming to pick up on FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's statement that the proposed Charter/Time Warner Cable deal will need to be pro consumer, rather than just not lack anticompetitive harms, Free Press was quick to brand the deal of no benefit to cable/broadband customers and no boost to competition.

Free Press research director Derek Turner used the "C" word--Comcast--to register the group's concerns about the deal, which Charter is valuing at $78.7 billion, though Free Press cited a $56.7 billion valuation.

Turner said Free Press would look at Charter's arguments for the deal's pro-competitiveness, but says a simple invocation of scale--creating a stronger number two to Comcast's number one--would be needed.

"These potential mergers won't make Charter as massive as a merged Comcast-Time Warner Cable would have been but they raise similar public interest concerns, and the FCC should apply the lessons learned in its prior review here," Turner said.

Comcast pulled the plug on its attempted purchase of Time Warner Cable after the FCC signaled its combination of broadband subs made it problematic. The FCC under FCC Chairman Wheeler has made it clear that the more broadband subs one company owns, the more incentive and opportunity it has as to be a "gatekeeper" to access to broadband.


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Why Your Cable Company Doesn't Always Know If Your New Address Gets Service | Kate Cox | Consumerist

Why Your Cable Company Doesn't Always Know If Your New Address Gets Service | Kate Cox | Consumerist | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

There’s a story we hear far too often: someone is buying a house. Before they put any money down, they do their research. They call the local cable/Internet provider to make sure they can get broadband service at this new address. They double-check. They triple-check. They search the property for wires, call back, and make sure they’ll be okay. Then they take out the mortgage, move in, and… surprise! There’s no broadband service after all, there won’t be any, and now they’re up a very expensive creek.

This problem isn’t relegated to one ISP or one region of the country. In the last year, we’ve brought you stories about consumers caught in this trap with Comcast and with AT&T, in two different states.

It might feel like there’s a legion of evil customer service representatives out there at ISP call centers just waiting for a chance to tell bald-faced lies to would-be customers, but as tempting as it is to believe that, the problem is not with the humans. Instead, CSRs and consumers alike are all pulling from one pool of data.

Whether you call an 800-number or check an ISP’s website, you’re checking an address against a single database and are effectively being told, “Yes, there is service here,” when in reality, there may not be.

That database suffers from the classic, timeless data-management problem of “garbage-in, garbage-out” — they can’t give accurate info if they don’t get it to begin with. And short of going out to look at every property in a region and measuring its distance from existing infrastructure, there is no real way to know which data you should keep, and which is junk.

So why is the information wrong, why does it keep happening, and is there anything consumes and ISPs can do?


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Charter Acquires Time Warner Cable, Promises It Will Suck Less Than Blocked Comcast Merger | Karl Bode | Techdirt

Charter Acquires Time Warner Cable, Promises It Will Suck Less Than Blocked Comcast Merger | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Driven by the relentless M&A lust of company chair and cable industry mainstay John Malone, Charter Communications has announced that the company will be spending $55 billion to acquire Time Warner Cable.


Malone and Charter had been pursuing Time Warner Cable for two years, but found their ambitions blocked when Comcast made a better offer. With Comcast's merger attempt blocked by federal regulators, Charter got a second chance.


The deal was accompanied with the usual assortment of prepared CEO statements promising that this merger will surely be the one that magically makes the cable industry suck less:


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Public Private Partnerships: A Reality Check | community broadband networks

Public Private Partnerships: A Reality Check | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

When Westminster, a community of 18,000 in rural Maryland, found itself with poor Internet access that incumbents refused to improve, it decided to join the ranks of a growing trend: public-private-partnerships between local governments and private companies to invest in next-generation Internet access. They are now working with Ting - one of a growing number of private sector firms seeking partnerships with cities – though how partnerships are structured varies significantly across communities.

In building an infrastructure intended to serve the community for decades, city leaders knew Westminster should retain ownership of the network to ensure it would remain locally accountable. Ting is leasing fiber on the network and providing Internet services to the community with plans to offer some type of video in the near future. The public-private-partnership (or “P3”) includes a temporary exclusivity arrangement for two years or when a minimum number of subscriptions are activated. Westminster will then have the ability to open up its network to other providers in an open access arrangement.

Communities are realizing that if they want better connectivity, they need to take matters into their own hands. As local leaders wade through the complex process of planning, financing, and deploying Internet network infrastructure, P3s are becoming more common. Communities with little or no experience in managing fiber optic networks may assume that P3s are safer or easier. That may be true or not depending on the specific P3 approach; the data is only starting to come in. P3s have been relatively rare compared to the hundreds of local governments that have chosen to build their own networks in recent decades.

Partnerships will continue playing a larger role when improving local connectivity but this area is still maturing – there are already a few examples of successful P3s though many will also recall the failed Gigabit Squared P3 approach.

P3s are more established in municipal public works projects involving other areas of infrastructure. A November 2013 Governing article by Ryan Holeywell examined the pros and cons of transportation P3s. Many of the lessons apply to other areas of the economy, including efforts to improve Internet access.


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Quid Pro Quo: Boys & Girls Club That Supported Comcast/TWC Merger Gets $8 Million from Comcast CEO | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Quid Pro Quo: Boys & Girls Club That Supported Comcast/TWC Merger Gets $8 Million from Comcast CEO | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

One of Comcast’s most enthusiastic supporters for its (failed) merger deal with Time Warner Cable has just received a multi-million dollar donation from Brian Roberts, the CEO of Comcast to build a new state-of-the-art facility in Germantown, a neighborhood in Philadelphia.

The Boys & Girls Club and its various chapters pelted state and federal regulators with letters supporting Comcast at a time when the company was seeking approval of its merger with Time Warner Cable. Just a few weeks after the merger left the headlines, Comcast has announced it will spearhead a $40 million campaign to renovate six clubs in the region. Senior executive vice president David Cohen will serve as campaign chair.

An $8 million contribution from Comcast’s CEO and the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation will cover much of the construction costs for the Germantown facility, which the non-profit group will name the Ralph J. Roberts Boys & Girls Club, in honor of Comcast’s founder.

For much of the 14 months the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger was being reviewed by regulators, Comcast repeatedly name-dropped the non-profit as a supporter of the transaction. The group’s various chapters sent not less than 25 letters of support for the deal:


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USTelecom Takes FCC Side in One Net Neutrality challenge | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

USTelecom Takes FCC Side in One Net Neutrality challenge | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It's complicated. USTelecom, which has challenged the FCC's justification for new open Internet rules, has asked a federal Court for permission to weigh in in support of the FCC.

Specifically, the trade group, which represents telco ISPs, has asked permission of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to intervene on behalf of the FCC in the single challenge of the FCC's Title II-based rules by Full Service Network, which argues the FCC was not regulatory enough.

"Unlike all of the other petitioners that have filed petitions to date, these Petitioners intend to argue that the FCC should have imposed even more regulation on providers of broadband Internet access service, including USTelecom’s member companies," it told the court in explaining why it would be taking the FCC's side.

If it got intervenor status, it could file a brief arguing why the FCC should not have imposed more regs than it did. USTelecom made it clear it was only siding with the FCC against the call for more regs, not against any of the other petitions — like its own — that have been filed against Title II as an over, not under, reach.

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Cable analysts: Altice's Drahi will target Cablevision, Cox, Mediacom | Daniel Frankel | Fierce Cable

Cable analysts: Altice's Drahi will target Cablevision, Cox, Mediacom | Daniel Frankel | Fierce Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

While European telecom magnate Patrick Drahi and his Luxembourg-based firm Altice SA could counter Charter Communications' proposed $56.7 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable, at least one media investment analyst says it's far more likely that he'll turn his attention to another U.S. cable property.

"While it is still possible that Altice counters on TWC, we do not believe that it can match Charter [and backer John Malone's] funding firepower and will ultimately lose out," wrote Macquarie Capital's Kevin Smithen. "In our opinion, Altice is more likely to turn its attention to Cablevision or privately-held Cox or Mediacom, in an effort to gain more fixed-line scale in order to compete against Charter and Comcast."

Cablevision has seen its stock price steadily rise in recent weeks, with CEO James Dolan aggressively stating a desire for a takeover and investors seeing the company as ripe for M&A. Cablevision's trading price was up just over 2 percent to $25.52 a share as of late-day trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock is up over 22 percent since May 19.


In his investor note Monday, Smithen did not rule out a U.S. wireless play by Drahi.

"Unlike Europe, we continue to believe that the U.S. is not yet a 'converged' market for wireless and wireline broadband services but that this trend is inevitable in the U.S. due to increasing need for small cells, fiber backhaul and mobile video content caching closer to the end user. In our view, Altice believes in convergence and so mobile will be a strategic objective in the long-term," Smithen wrote.

Meanwhile, another media analyst, Craig Moffett, lauded Charter's earlier joint acquisition, alongside Arris, of video tech company ActiveVideo.


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