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Canadians Are Fixing Their Internet One Step at a Time | Lindsey Pinto Blog | Huff Post

Canadians Are Fixing Their Internet One Step at a Time | Lindsey Pinto Blog | Huff Post | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

 

Thanks to pressure from hundreds of thousands of Canadians, it looks like independent ISPs like Teksavvy, Distributel, Acanac, and Start are finally gaining the ability to do what citizens need them to do: provide independent affordable Internet services, and in so doing provide a check on Big Telecom price-gouging.

 

For instance, TekSavvy recently announced that they are lowering their DSL prices by about 18 per cent on average. This is a big deal -- and it's been a long time coming.

 

Here's the step-by-step of what happened:

 

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ESPN will cost $36.30 per sub in a la carte world priced by 'reach', analyst says | Daniel Frankel | Fierce Cable

ESPN will cost $36.30 per sub in a la carte world priced by 'reach', analyst says | Daniel Frankel | Fierce Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In a video programming business that will be increasingly dominated by over-the-top distribution and skinnier bundles, "reach"--the actual percentage of viewers that watch a channel over a set time period--will have a much greater role in defining consumer pricing.

And using some complex mathematical formulas, MoffettNathanson analyst Michael Nathanson arrived at some interesting per-subscriber price projections for major cable networks operating in a world where channels get paid based more purely on the amount of people who actually watch them.

As it is with previous speculative models for a la carte pricing, Disney's ESPN is a prime example in Nathanson's study, currently distributed in the vast majority of pay-TV homes and commanding a per-subscriber fee averaging out to around $6.10.

In an a la carte scenario, Nathanson postulates that ESPN's distribution dwindles to about 16.81 percent of TV homes, matching its reach. With the smaller distribution footprint, advertising revenue also goes down.

Disney would have to charge a per-sub fee of $36.30 to maintain its current margins, Nathanson postulates. TNT would cost around $8.95 a sub in this scenario. Disney Channel ($8.25), USA Network ($5.45) and Nickelodeon ($4.99) would also be pricey.


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WiFi, User Interfaces and “The New Comcast for the Internet” | Mitchell Shapiro | Quello Center | Michigan State University

WiFi, User Interfaces and “The New Comcast for the Internet” | Mitchell Shapiro | Quello Center | Michigan State University | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In an earlier post in this series I discussed business issues and opportunities related to a potential launch by Comcast of a WiFi-based service that could:

  • further monetize the company’s investments in millions of in-home dual-SSID WiFi gateway devices;
  • provide it with a relatively low-cost, high-margin entry into the wireless market space;
  • give it a powerful position in the emerging market for nomadic, multiscreen multimedia services and;
  • strengthen its overall market power in the communication sector as a whole.


In this two-part post I’m considering this same topic, but from a public policy perspective.

Viewed in very broad strokes, we have on one hand the potential benefits from what could be a new and attractively priced competitive option in the wireless sector. On the other hand, we have a range of complex and intertwined public policy issues related to the continued expansion of Comcast’s market power across multiple sectors of the communications industry, and the prospects for anti-competitive impacts of that expansion.


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Obama administration continues to ignore US need for ubiquitous FTTP | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom

Obama administration continues to ignore US need for ubiquitous FTTP | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Obama administration continues to ignore the need for ubiquitous fiber to the premise infrastructure serving all American homes and small businesses.

The administration instead is pursuing a PR campaign to shift attention to mobile wireless service that can't accommodate growing premise bandwidth demand as well as pointless activities such as "broadband mapping" and measuring "broadband speeds" that will do nothing to construct the FTTP infrastructure the nation should have been putting in place a generation ago.


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An Alternate Web Based Upon Mesh | Doug Dawson | POTs and PANs

In a blog last week I talked about an alternate model for the Internet that can make it safer to communicate with others. The idea that I explored last week was to base web transactions on block chains, which is a technology that decentralizes communications without needing to pass through centralized servers.

Today, I want to talk about mesh networks as another idea on how to develop safer communications. There is now a movement within the country to create mesh networks as an alternate to the traditional web. Mesh networks have been around a long time. The concept of a mesh is simple. Today’s Internet relies solely upon making every connection for every transaction through an ISP. The ISP, using a series of servers and routers, then directs your traffic to where it’s supposed to go.

But it is these servers and routers that are the weak points in today’s web. First, the ISP is recording everything you do and mining every piece of data you send through them. These servers and routers are also where malicious entities get access to your data, making you vulnerable to everybody from hackers to the NSA.

The idea of a mesh network is to skip these intermediate checkpoints whenever possible. In a mesh network every device in the mesh is able to communicate directly with the other devices within the mesh. Picture, as an example, a neighborhood where all of the households meshed their WiFi networks together. In such a network you could communicate with anybody in the neighborhood and exchange data with them without having to go back to the ISP network. It would function as if you were all on the same WiFi network within a home. Granted there is not generally that much traffic exchanged with your neighbors, so such a network would be of limited use. But it’s an example of how a mesh works.


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Hudson Developing Plans for Muni Fiber Open Access Network in Ohio | community broadband networks

Hudson Developing Plans for Muni Fiber Open Access Network in Ohio | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Hudson, OH is moving ahead with plans to develop a publicly owned fiber network, reports the Hub Times. The City Council recently approved a contract with a consultant to develop a conceptual design, implement the plan, and recruit service providers interested in operating over an open access network.

In January, the town of about 23,000 conducted a residential and business survey to determine the overall state of broadband in the community. At a February meeting, the Council reviewed the survey results. Almost 1,000 residents and 133 businesses answered the survey which revealed that Internet services were lacking in coverage, speed, performance, and reliability. From a February Hub Times article:


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Despite Throwing Money At Congress, Comcast Finds Merger Support Hard To Come By | Karl Bode | Techdirt

Despite Throwing Money At Congress, Comcast Finds Merger Support Hard To Come By | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Poor Comcast. Despite throwing millions of dollars at think tanks, consultants, PR reps, editorial writers, various front groups and a myriad of other policy tendrils, genuine, meaningful support for the company's $45 billion Time Warner Cable acquisition is still apparently hard to come by.


You might recall that last year top Comcast (lobbyist) "Chief Diversity Officer" David Cohen proudly crowed that support for the company's merger was "pouring in" -- though he failed to mention that Comcast was paying people for that support, and that said support largely consisted of regurgitated form letters.

Despite the money spent however, it appears that actual support in Congress for the deal is tepid to non-existent. Comcast's hometown paper the Philadelphia Inquirer points out that whereas the NBC deal saw major support efforts by members of Congress, politicians appear to want nothing to do with this latest merger attempt:


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Philadelphia: City Council Resolution Calling for Hearings on Historic Comcast Communications Franchise | Hannah Sassaman | Cap Comcast!

Philadelphia: City Council Resolution Calling for Hearings on Historic Comcast Communications Franchise | Hannah Sassaman | Cap Comcast! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Today, Councilman Bobby Henon introduced, and City Council passed, a resolution authorizing the committees on Public Property and Public Works, and on Technology and Information Services, to hold hearings on a once-in-a-generation negotiation with the Comcast Corporation.

This resolution is passed at a time when myriad community groups are pushing the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation and Technology (OIT) to release a long-awaited summary of a comprehensive needs assessment they conducted; an assessment surveying Philadelphia residents on their communications needs. In their survey, OIT, working with an independent contractor, asked Philadelphians many questions about their experiences with Comcast. Thousands of people responded to the city’s needs assessment survey, on paper, by phone, or online.

As Comcast’s 15-years-old cable franchise agreement with Philadelphia expires in 2015, the data respondents provided to the City will inform officials as they begin negotiations for a new contract between Comcast and the City; a contract that could allow Comcast to secure near-monopoly access to Philadelphia homes and businesses for another 15 years.

The statement below, released in response to the introduction and passage of this resolution, can be attributed to Hannah Sassaman, Policy Director at Media Mobilizing Project.


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Where are the results of Philadelphia's Comcast survey? | Jeff Gelles | Philly.com

Where are the results of Philadelphia's Comcast survey? | Jeff Gelles | Philly.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The last time you phoned Comcast - yes, I know, this will tickle at least a few readers - did you reach someone within 30 seconds? What's your total monthly Comcast tab? If you've quit Comcast, was it because of cost, service problems, or some other reason?

Nearly two years ago, Philadelphia officials said they were posing those and similar questions to city residents - including to a random sample of 800 Comcast customers and nonsubscribers. They had good reason: All four of the city's Comcast cable franchises expire later this year. Facing a once-in-15-years opportunity, city officials said they were "seeking community feedback" as they prepared to negotiate renewals with Philly's 1st Corporate Citizen.

So where are the results - or the long-promised "needs assessment" they're part of? Seems they've been bottled up in the office of Mayor Nutter, though officials can't really explain the delay.

"All I can say is that it's still in process. We hope to get it out shortly, though I can't put a specific date on it," Mark McDonald, the mayor's spokesman, told me Wednesday.

Are they getting pressure from Comcast to change the report, after sharing a draft with the company? McDonald said the city wanted to know if Comcast objected - "If you have a beef, let's hear it" - but promised that the city's findings would not be edited or redacted at Comcast's request.

"The report is the report," he said. "What they get is the courtesy of knowing what they need to be prepared to answer."

Comcast officials declined to comment. But company critics and at least one Council member are among those urging the report's release.


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Facebook Is Slowly Taking Over the News Business. Here’s Why No One Will Stop It. | Will Oremus | Slate.com

Facebook Is Slowly Taking Over the News Business. Here’s Why No One Will Stop It. | Will Oremus | Slate.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Facebook’s plan to take over the media was first articulated in October, by the New York Times’ David Carr. The social network had become a dominant source of online news for its billion-plus users. But it found that those users were frustrated by the experience of reading news on Facebook, especially on their phones. It required clicking links to third-party media websites, whose pages were slow to load, riddled with ads, and often failed to match the promise of their clickbait headlines.


Facebook has tried to solve this problem from a number of angles, many of which I’ve written about in the past. But the ultimate solution was the one Carr laid out: Facebook would simply host news’ sites content on its own platform, then share a slice of the ad revenue that resulted.

I wrote in depth in January about Facebook’s plan to cut out the middle man, explaining how it might work and why publishers would feel compelled to participate. At the time, Facebook had just published a blog post encouraging publishers to post videos natively on its platform, so that they could play automatically in users’ feeds. (Facebook’s algorithms heavily prioritize native video posts over, say, YouTube videos.) But I predicted that we’d eventually see Facebook nudge media outlets to post full news stories directly to Facebook as well—perhaps by “late 2016.”
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That prediction suddenly looks far too conservative. The Times reported on Monday that Facebook “has been quietly holding talks with at least half a dozen media companies about hosting their content inside Facebook rather than making users tap a link to go to an external site.” And it will start testing the new scheme “in the next several months,” with the New York Times, National Geographic, and BuzzFeed among the likely partners at launch. No doubt others will be lined up to follow their lead.

Skeptics are howling that this is a Faustian bargain—that the media are mortgaging their long-term futures for short-term gain.


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Apple co-founder on artificial intelligence: ‘The future is scary and very bad for people’ | Peter Holley | WashPost.com

Apple co-founder on artificial intelligence: ‘The future is scary and very bad for people’ | Peter Holley | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Super Rich Technologists Making Dire Predictions About Artificial Intelligence club gained another fear-mongering member this week: Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

In an interview with the Australian Financial Review, Wozniak joined original club members Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk by making his own casually apocalyptic warning about machines superseding the human race.

"Like people including Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have predicted, I agree that the future is scary and very bad for people," Wozniak said. "If we build these devices to take care of everything for us, eventually they'll think faster than us and they'll get rid of the slow humans to run companies more efficiently."

Doling out paralyzing chunks of fear like gumdrops to sweet-toothed children on Halloween, Woz continued: "Will we be the gods? Will we be the family pets? Or will we be ants that get stepped on? I don't know about that … But when I got that thinking in my head about if I'm going to be treated in the future as a pet to these smart machines … well I'm going to treat my own pet dog really nice."

Seriously? Should we even get up tomorrow morning, or just order pizza, log onto Netflix and wait until we find ourselves looking through the bars of a dog crate? Help me out here, man!

Wozniak's warning seemed to follow the exact same story arc as Season 1 Episode 2 of Adult Swim's "Rick and Morty Show." Not accusing him of apocalyptic plagiarism or anything; just noting.


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Virginia Beach, VA: Region needs cheap and high-speed Internet | Editorial | PilotOnline.com

Virginia Beach, VA: Region needs cheap and high-speed Internet | Editorial | PilotOnline.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Last week, Virginia Beach agreed to study ways to bring ultra-high-speed Internet service to the city, and possibly the region.

The move is essential if the Beach expects to lure biomedical research and health care businesses.

Councilman Ben Davenport, who made ultra-high-speed access a campaign issue last fall, noted that cities across the country have invested in the next-generation technology to improve economic development, and that Virginia Beach will quickly fall behind if it doesn't.

In fact, last week, Huntsville, Ala., announced plans to become "Gig City" to satisfy the needs of its defense and aerospace industries and to provide ultra-high-speed Internet coverage at a reasonable cost for residents and businesses that want it.

Huntsville's mayor compared the service to basic utilities. Moving data at high speeds is becoming as essential to a city's economic survival as water, sewer and roads, Tommy Battle said.

In recent months, 46 cities and towns in Connecticut have formed a public-private partnership to provide Internet service connections as much as 100 times faster than the state has now. The localities provide infrastructure but are not retail service providers or network operators; those jobs fall to private partners.

The goals, according to the Connecticut State Broadband Initiative: Target commercial corridors "to foster innovation, drive job creation and stimulate economic growth." Provide free or heavily discounted Internet service to underserved and disadvantaged areas. Deliver gigabit Internet service at prices "comparable to other gigabit fiber communities across the nation."

That's what Virginia Beach needs.

Davenport suggests using the Virginia Wireless Service Authorities Act, which allows localities to create broadband authorities to deliver Internet access. The Eastern Shore already has established an authority to build the backbone of a fiber optic network between the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and Maryland. Virginia Beach could join it or create one for the region.

"We have $46 million of fiber optic infrastructure in the ground already," Davenport noted.


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White House making it easier to get an L-1 visa | Patrick Thibodeau | CIO.com

White House making it easier to get an L-1 visa | Patrick Thibodeau | CIO.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The White House has released a memo intended to give clarity over how businesses may use the temporary L-1 work visa, a document derided by critics of the H-1B visa.

The memo was previewed on Monday by President Obama who, speaking at an economic development conference, said the changes "could benefit hundreds of thousands of nonimmigrant workers and their employers; that, in turn, will benefit our entire economy and spur additional investment."

Obama's remarks generated applause from the audience, but the 15-page draft memo on the L-1 visa is getting a more mixed reaction. Final approval of the memo from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) isn't due until August.

The L-1 visa is a cousin of the H-1B visa. The L-1 was designed to allow the temporary transfer – for up to five years – of foreign workers within the office of the same employer, its parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate. There are two types of L-1 visas, the L-1A, which is used for executives and managers, and the L-1B, which is issued for workers with "specialized knowledge."

Specialized knowledge is defined as "beyond the ordinary and not commonplace within the industry," and by requiring it, the government is attempting to restrain the visa's use. But for the past several years, business groups have complained that USCIS adjudicators have made it too difficult to get the L-1 visa.


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Cops To Congress: Please Leave Us And Our License Plates Readers Alone | Tim Cushing | Techdirt

Cops To Congress: Please Leave Us And Our License Plates Readers Alone | Tim Cushing | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Poor dears. A bunch of law enforcement associations are worried that they won't be able to keep all that sweet, sweet ALPR (automatic license plate reader) data for as long as they want to. In fact, they're so worried, they've issued a letter in response to a nonexistent legislative threat.

Despite the fact that no federal license plate legislation has been proposed, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has sent a pre-emptive letter to top Congressional lawmakers, warning them against any future restrictions of automated license plate readers. The IACP claims to be the "world's oldest and largest association of law enforcement executives."

The letter is stained with the tears of law enforcement entities whose thirst for bulk collections is only rivaled by national security agencies.


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Congress wants to open up vast troves of federal airwaves for your cellphone | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

Congress wants to open up vast troves of federal airwaves for your cellphone | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Every time you send a text or receive a mobile phone call, you're using wireless spectrum — invisible airwaves that transport all those bits and bytes from local cell towers to people like you and me. As more Americans become data-hungry consumers, that'll put an incredible load on the nation's cellular networks, which is why carriers such as AT&T have lately spent billions on additional spectrum to upgrade their service.

Now, Congress wants to open up even more spectrum to meet that demand, by looking to the vast swaths of radio frequencies controlled by the federal government. A bill from Reps. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) will seek to do just that on Thursday. In the Senate, Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) are introducing an identical bill Thursday. The resulting auction of government airwaves could be a boon for industry, consumers and federal coffers.

"This legislation would create the first-ever incentive auction for federal agencies and — for once — offer revenue to federal spectrum users," said Matsui in a statement. "It is a game-changer."

The legislation, which was previously considered in the last Congress and has backing from key committee lawmakers such as Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), directs the Federal Communications Commission to set up a sale of federal spectrum. And there's a lot of it: Agencies such as NASA use spectrum to talk to space probes. Same with NOAA, which uses spectrum for weather satellites. The Pentagon uses spectrum for secure radio communications and intelligence gathering.

"Spectrum is the oxygen of the wireless ecosystem, but the surging growth in today’s data-intensive devices and applications is leaving our mobile economy gasping for air," said Markey in a statement. "As demand for wireless devices and services increases, so does the need for additional spectrum for commercial use."

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Canada: Bell censorship: the status quo can't endure | Peter Nowak | AlphaBeatic.com

Canada: Bell censorship: the status quo can't endure | Peter Nowak | AlphaBeatic.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Well, well, well. Bell has been caught censoring the news again.

This means two things. One: there is panic within the company. Two: action is needed to prevent further incidents and to protect the integrity of news reporting in Canada.

If you missed the news, it can be summed up thusly: upset at the CRTC’s big TV decision last week that will force channel unbundling, Bell Media president Kevin Crull issued a ban on CTV journalists airing interviews with Jean Pierre Blais, the regulator’s chairman. The edict rankled some principled individuals at Bell-owned CTV, and they blew the whistle to The Globe and Mail (which is ironically partly owned by Bell as well).

University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist does an excellent job of summing up that first point above, about the company being in panic mode, with this nifty Twitter slideshow titled “What on Earth is happening at Bell?”

Among the reprehensible, anti-consumer things Bell has done in the past two years alone:


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Unions Try To Pressure Verizon Into Expanding FiOS | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com

Unions Try To Pressure Verizon Into Expanding FiOS | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Labor unions have launched a new campaign taking aim at Verizon's stalled (read: stopped) FiOS deployment. As noted previously, Verizon's FiOS expansion has been over for several years, with the exception of franchise build out promises for major cities. Still, some of the forgotten regions in Verizon's footprint (like Alexandria, Baltimore, Buffalo & Boston) continue to hold out hope that the company will eventually decide to extend FiOS a little bit further.

Company executives however continue to state there's no expansion plans. And even in major cities like New York (where Verizon promised 100% coverage by last year), people are only now starting to realize those goals will never be even remotely met. Even though the warning signs in Verizon's contract language were there for those who were paying attention.

Obviously impacted by Verizon's decision to back away from its fixed-line networks, the Communications Workers of America have launched a new "Where's My FiOS? campaign aimed at putting public pressure on Verizon to expand FiOS further -- and therefore spend a little more money on installations and union employees.


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LA: Lafayette Considers Expansion, One Nearby Town Strikes Itself From List | community broadband networks

LA: Lafayette Considers Expansion, One Nearby Town Strikes Itself From List | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

We have long applauded communities that have built their own fiber networks and then elect to expand them to neighboring communities. In Louisiana for example, Lafayette could hoard its network, forcing people that want the best connectivity in the region to move within its borders. But instead, it is preparing to expand the network.

City-Parish President Joey Durel announced that the municipal network would begin expanding beyond Lafayette city limits. An article in The Advocate quoted Durel:

“As I have traveled this parish, one of the most common things I am asked is, ‘When will we get fiber?’ That answer depended in large part on making fiber successful in Lafayette. We’re there,” Durel told the crowd that filled the Cajundome Convention Center.

Durel noted that municipalities that make agreements with Lafayette based on future annexation will be considered if they are willing to pay for the cost of expansion in their communities. Youngsville is reported to be the first town be consider Lafayette's proposal for bringing better local residential and business connectivity.

Any expansion of municipal networks has to answer some of the same important questions of any partnerships - how to allocate risk and benefits. It doesn't seem appropriate for Lafayette to assume the full risk of expanding the network to Youngsville, for example. Those who receive the benefits should assume some risk, and those who assume risk should be compensated in some measure.

One community, Broussard, is balking. Apparently, the town of 6,800 people located just outside Lafayette city limits does not want to contribute to the cost of fiber in their community, reports The Advocate. Understanding these fights from afar is always challenging because neighboring communities have often developed animosity over decades from both real and imagined slights.

Broussard has taken a hard line:


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Map: The state of broadband in the states | Niraj Chokski | WashPost.com

Map: The state of broadband in the states | Niraj Chokski | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Broadband speeds are expanding nationwide and the conditions seem good for even more growth.

All but seven states saw average peak connection speeds grow between the third and fourth quarters of 2014, an indication that Internet connection capacity is growing across the country, according to a new State of the Internet report from Akamai Technologies, which hosts content online.

Delaware held onto its top ranking among the states, with average peak speeds of 75.4 megabits per second. Virginia jumped four spots to claim second place at 73.5 Mbps. D.C. was third at 65.9 Mbps, followed by Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Kentucky unseated Arkansas as the state with the slowest average peak speeds, clocking in at 34 Mbps. Akamai argues that the average peak connection speed is most representative of Internet connection capacity.

Speeds have gained over the past few quarters and that trend is expected to continue, Akamai reports.

“Many of the efforts to increase connection speeds are being taken at a local/municipal level and may not have an immediate state-wide impact upon completion, but are part of ongoing initiatives that are becoming more widespread across the country,” the company noted.

Throughout the fourth quarter a number of municipalities announced the rollout of gigabit-speed Internet, including those in Arizona, California, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Oregon.

At the state level, Kentucky partnered with a private company to build a $250 million to $350 million in fiber backbone throughout the state and a public/private initiative in Connecticut aims to connect roughly half the population to gigabit-speed, fiber-optic Internet, according to the report.

“The fact that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has pushed to change the definition of ‘broadband’ to 25 Mbps from 4 Mbps is also indicative of the continued march towards faster connectivity in more and more places,” they note.


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Hands on: AT&T Velocity hits the WiFi hotspot | Bob Brown | NetworkWorld.com

Hands on: AT&T Velocity hits the WiFi hotspot | Bob Brown | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

I’m using the ZTE-built AT&T Velocity WiFi hotspot as I write up my quickie review of the device here, and sure enough it’s providing me with ample speed as I fact check on the web during this process.

The basic purpose for the device is to provide you with 2.4- or 5-GHz WiFi Internet access – via an AT&T 4G LTE connection -- when you can’t find free or safe WiFi in the wild. You just need to make sure you’re not somewhere that blocks usage of such devices – a practice frowned upon by the FCC.

The product was actually introduced by AT&T this past October, but when ZTE offered out of the blue this month to send us one to try, I figured I should since I’ve been too cheap to invest in a hotspot device of my own (the almost-blooper reel of an unboxing video here). I've been using it off and on for about a week.

The hotspot is designed to connect up to 10 WiFi-enabled devices, and I tried it with up to four (a Windows PC, a MacBook Air, an iPad and an iPhone). I didn’t notice any drop-off in download or upload speed, though according to an Ookla test my speed is actually much faster when connected to the wire or using our in-house WiFi. But it wasn’t as if I was doing any real heavy lifting in terms of what I was accessing on the Web, so like I say, the speed was quite fine, even for watching video.

I found the Velocity simple to get going right out of the box, which in addition to the hotspot device includes a plug-in USB charger and quick start instructions.


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Iowa: iWireless to launch LTE in 2H15 via T-Mobile roaming | TeleGeography.com

Iowa-based mobile service provider iWireless has announced plans to invest over USD35 million in upgrading its 2G and 3G networks, and launching Long Term Evolution (LTE) services in the second half of 2015.


The operator will roll out LTE in the cities of Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Cedar Falls, Waterloo, Marshalltown, Muscatine, and the ‘Quad Cities’ (Davenport, Bettendorf, Moline and Rock Island) via a roaming deal with parent company T-Mobile US.


CEO Craven Shumaker commented: ‘It’s an exciting time for iWireless, and we are pleased to bring LTE technology to our customers both urban and rural.’

Earlier this month, TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate reported that Nokia Networks had been awarded a technology evolution contract by iWireless under which Nokia is modernising the operator’s existing networks and deploying its end-to-end LTE infrastructure.

Headquartered in Urbandale, Iowa, iWireless is a partnership between mobile giant T-Mobile US and Iowa Network Services (INS). The latter is privately owned by a group of 127 independent telephone companies that together serve 500,000 rural Iowans.

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AT&T opposes TN municipal broadband bill | Jamie McGee | The Tennessean

AT&T opposes TN municipal broadband bill | Jamie McGee | The Tennessean | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For many rural Tennesseans, the bills that would allow municipal broadband providers to expand services is a step toward faster Internet. For the telecommunications industry, it is unwanted competition.

AT&T Tennessee President Joelle Phillips has emailed Tennessee employees, encouraging them to reach out to legislators and oppose two bills filed in the General Assembly, versions of which have been killed in at least three previous legislative sessions.

"Government should not compete against the private sector, which has a proven history of funding, building, operating and upgrading broadband networks," she said in the emailed statement. "Rather than delivering more broadband, we believe that this policy will discourage the private sector investment that has delivered the world-class broadband infrastructure American consumers deserve and enjoy today."

Chattanooga, Clarksville, Jackson, Bristol, Morristown, Pulaski, Tullahoma and Columbia are among Tennessee cities that provide broadband access to residents and businesses, but they can connect only those within their electric service limits. The bills, filed by Republican legislators Sen. Janice Bowling of Tullahoma and Rep. Kevin Brooks of Cleveland, would allow the government-owned providers to serve homes outside those boundaries.


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Net neutrality rules let FCC police future ISP conduct | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com

Net neutrality rules let FCC police future ISP conduct | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s new net neutrality rules allow the agency to police future network management practices and business models rolled out by broadband providers, raising concerns among critics that an activist commission will inject itself into ISP board rooms.

The so-called future conduct standard in the FCC’s new rules leave questions about what ISP practices the agency will allow, critics say. Following the FCC’s publication of the new rules last week, the future conduct standard has raised perhaps the most objections, other than complaints about the agency’s decision to reclassify broadband as a regulated, common-carrier service.

“We don’t really know where this is going to go, but the FCC is going to sit there as a referee,” Republican FCC member Ajit Pai said Wednesday, during a Senate hearing. “The problem is, nobody even knows what the game is, what the rules are.”

The future conduct standard will create questions about investing in the broadband market, Senator Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican, said during the hearing. “How can any business that’s trying to innovate have any kind of certainty that they’re not going to be regulated by the FCC under what I view as a very vague rule?” she said.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and other supporters of the net neutrality rules have defended the future conduct standard, saying it’s an attempt by the agency to keep an eye on ISPs without adopting overly restrictive bans on business plans.

The net neutrality regulations contain so-called bright-line rules prohibiting broadband providers from selectively blocking or throttling legal Web traffic and from charging Web-based services from paying for prioritized traffic, but the future conduct standard gives the FCC the authority to prohibit other practices going forward.


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US federal government will have provide substantial funding for Internet infrastructure construction | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom

US federal government will have provide substantial funding for Internet infrastructure construction | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Obama: This federal council will jumpstart broadband - CNET: Obama first introduced this idea in January, when he traveled to Cedar Falls, Iowa to announce his plan to promote "Broadband that Works," a public-private effort to help more Americans get access to speedier broadband.

As part of this new push, he urged the FCC to strike down state laws to ensure communities could build or expand their own 1 gigabit-per-second networks, which offer downloads 100 times faster than conventional connections.

The new council will include 25 federal agencies and departments that will work with private industry to understand how the federal government can help communities increase broadband investment and reduce barriers to deployment. The council will be co-chaired by the U.S. Commerce and Agriculture departments. The council will report back to Obama, within 150 days, with the steps each agency will take to advance these goals, including specific regulatory actions or budget proposals.

The biggest barrier to Internet infrastructure investment is private market failure on the sell side. That's been patently obvious for more than a decade; it doesn't take more than two dozen federal agencies and departments to ascertain that.

What will be truly interesting is what regulatory actions and budget proposals will be recommended. On the regulatory front, the Federal Communications Commission has already acted by deeming the Internet as a common carrier telecommunications service. That leaves it up to fiscal strategies, which should include substantial technical assistance and infrastructure funding for the states along the lines of existing block grant and federal highway programs.


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UT: UTOPIA triangle strangling Orem's options | Genelle Pugmire | Herald Extra

UT: UTOPIA triangle strangling Orem's options | Genelle Pugmire | Herald Extra | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

No matter the ups, downs, positives or negatives of the UTOPIA story, what seemingly appears to be true at this moment is that 51 percent of UTOPIA votes are keeping Orem and other cities out of the fiber game.

That 51 percent, determined by population, involves only three big cities -- West Valley City, Layton and Midvale. The other eight cities in the UTOPIA consortium form 49 percent of the vote, and that puts Orem in a stranglehold, according to Mayor Richard Brunst.

Brunst and Councilman David Spencer participated in lengthy discussions with the UTOPIA board last week. They made suggestions on how to get more revenues, but to no avail.

“After three hours we didn’t make any headway,” Spencer said. “We are still searching for a way for our citizens to get hooked up.

“I sit on the UIA (Utah Infrastructure Agency) board, Orem sits at the table, but we have no voice.”

In a six-page memorandum to the mayor and council, City Manager Jamie Davidson gave updates Tuesday on everything from financials to Salt Lake City getting Google Fiber.

“As a city we’ve been working on several issues over the past few years,” Davidson said. “UTOPIA remains the one we have to tackle.”

Councilwoman Margaret Black posed the question that most council members were thinking.

"Are we getting the short end of the stick because we opted out of Macquarie?" asked Black, referring to Macquarie Capital Group, the investment company looking to negotiate a contract with UTOPIA for buildout of the fiber network.


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Is Cuba On the Verge of a Technology Revolution? | Robert Schoon | Latin Post

Is Cuba On the Verge of a Technology Revolution? | Robert Schoon | Latin Post | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Last week, Cuba got its first free, public WiFi hub. But as significant as that is for the formerly hermetic island nation that's in the process of normalizing relations with the U.S. and others, it may just be the beginning of a much larger coming technology revolution in the country.

The free public WiFi hub in Cuba, however, wasn't exactly the government's initiative. It exists courtesy of Kcho, a famed Cuban artist who set up a modest three-megabit connection at his cultural center, as we previously reported.

That Cuba allowed the relatively decent connection with the outside world to persist is definitely progress, as ComputerWorld noted that heretofore, the Cuban government restricted official Internet access for select purposes and, for general use, to the total of about five percent of the population that can afford to pay $4.50 per hour for online access through the state-run and content-filtered Internet cafes that were set up only a couple of years ago.


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