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AT&T Imposes New 'Mobility Administrative Fee' - Yet Another Sleazy Below-The-Line Fee to Jack Up Service Price | DSLReports.com

AT&T wireless users are being informed that they'll be charged yet another service fee starting in May. According to the notification (sent to me by Broadband Reports reader lacibaci ), AT&T in May will begin charging users a $0.61 "Mobility Administrative Fee" for Consumer and Individual Responsibility User (IRU) lines. What exactly does the "Mobility Administrative Fee do? According to the AT&T website, the fee:

 

...helps defray certain expenses AT&T incurs, including but not limited to: (a) charges AT&T or its agents pay to interconnect with other carriers to deliver calls from AT&T customers to their customers; and (b) charges associated with cell site rents and maintenance.

 

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BOOK REVIEW: Brain Gain: How Innovative cities create job growth in an age of disruption | Bill Coleman | Blandin on Broadband

BOOK REVIEW: Brain Gain: How Innovative cities create job growth in an age of disruption | Bill Coleman | Blandin on Broadband | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

I have been a fan of the Intelligent Community forum for quite a while now. I have attended their annual conference many times and led Dakota County’s Intelligent Communities’ initiative that led to three consecutive years recognition as a Smart 21 Intelligent Community. I also brought the Intelligent Community concept to the Blandin Foundation to serve as the framework for their Minnesota Intelligent Rural Community project. Most recently, I worked with ICF co-founder Robert Bell on a project with three rural Louisiana communities. I provide all of this background to let readers know that I have a favorable bias towards the ICF concept and team.


I recently read Brain Gain: How Innovative cities create job growth in an age of disruption. The authors, ICF co-founders Robert Bell, John Jung and Louis Zacharilla, provide numerous interesting stories about communities creating their own positive future. The stories are quite varied, but share common threads woven together into the quilt of the Intelligent Community elements – broadband, innovation, knowledge work, digital inclusion and marketing/advocacy.


The stories are from great urban centers, suburbs and rural regional center communities. The common element is smart and sometimes heroic leadership, often shared across business, government and education sectors. Shared vision, collaborative strategy, long-term commitment-these are at the heart of the all of these success stories. All involve creating an environment that can support business development and entrepreneurship. The themes are similar to those expressed in the book “The Rain Forest” by Hwang and Horrowitt.


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A federal court rejects Aereo’s request to argue it’s a cable company | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

A federal court rejects Aereo’s request to argue it’s a cable company | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Aereo's seemingly last-ditch argument to save itself won't be given an airing in court, according to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.


Instead, if the shuttered streaming video company wants to keep fighting for its survival, procedural reasons require that it do so at the district court level, officials said in a document filed Thursday.


The decision is a win for broadcasters, who had sought a ban on Aereo from the beginning. Initially, the district court decided against an injunction. But a ruling from the Supreme Court earlier this summer reversed that decision. Now the appellate court, following procedure, has also followed suit. Aereo declined to comment; a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


How significant is this move? Seeing as Aereo had already voluntarily shut its doors after the Supreme Court verdict, a preliminary injunction doesn't mean much for the company operationally. But the Second Circuit is effectively telling Aereo that if it wants to argue that it's a cable company only for the purposes of copyright law — and therefore qualified to pay lower royalties — it's currently making the argument to the wrong people.


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Why Internet Access Monopolies Harm Innovation | Techdirt.com

Why Internet Access Monopolies Harm Innovation | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

When antitrust stories make headlines—as the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger has—even well-intentioned analysis often confuses harm to competitors with harm to competition. Viewing antitrust law through a "competition" lens, as opposed to a "competitors" lens, is not intuitive: consumers are harmed not by being denied access to existing services, but by being denied new ones.


In antitrust law there is a debate, known as Schumpeter-Arrow—based on the initial intellectual adversaries, Joseph Schumpeter and Kenneth Arrow—which concerns whether monopoly power leads to innovation. On the pro-monopoly side, Schumpeter believed that companies with market power have economies of scale and financial stability, which allow them to invest more capital into R&D. By contrast, more competitive firms have to focus their energy—and money—into maintaining their competitiveness. On the other side of the debate, Arrow argued that monopolists have no incentive to innovate. Anti-monopolists preach the gospel that competition begets innovation. Consumers will gravitate towards companies that are offering new and better services.


In reality, each view holds some validity, depending on the specific market at issue. In some markets, market power might have a more positive effect on innovation. For example, in certain markets—usually referring to patents—many believe that monopolies are sometimes necessary. The most commonly mentioned market of this nature is the development of new pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceutical companies claim they need the promise of a monopoly on their work if they are going to invest enormous research dollars into a new drug (whether or not this is actually true is another discussion for another day).


In most other markets, however, monopoly power is likely to do more harm than good. For example, in the market for Internet services, the Schumpeterian view that companies with dominant market power will invest their profits into innovation is both implausible and disproven. As Brendan Greeley wrote in Business Insider:


The utterly consistent position from the ISPs has been this: Guarantee us a higher income stream from a more concentrated market, and we'll build out new infrastructure to reach more Americans with high-speed Internet. A decade ago, this argument had at least the benefit of being untested.


A graph published by the National Communications and Telecommunications Association confirms that consolidation has not resulted in increased infrastructure expenditures.


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Consumer Groups Urge FCC to Reject Comcast/Time Warner Cable Deal | TheWrap

Consumer Groups Urge FCC to Reject Comcast/Time Warner Cable Deal | TheWrap | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Two big consumer groups — Consumers Union and Common Cause — on Thursday urged the Federal Communications Commission to reject Comcast's deal for Time Warner Cable. It sounds a warning that the transaction would give Comcast too much control over video choices.


“This merger would harm competition, impede innovation by online video distributors, threaten innovation in equipment and platforms and reduce the diversity of information sources and services to the public, all to the detriment of consumers and contrary to public interest,” the groups said in a joint filing with the agency.


The organizations also struck out at a key argument the two companies have employed in asking the FCC and the Justice Department to approve the deal. That previous request claimed that the combination doesn't harm competition because TWC and Comcast operate cable systems in different markets.


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Cox not interested in T-Mobile or going public says President Pat Esser | Reuters.com

Cox not interested in T-Mobile or going public says President Pat Esser | Reuters.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Cox Communications Inc. is not interested in merging with wireless carrier T-Mobile US Inc or rival cable providers, Cox President Pat Esser said on Tuesday, dispelling rumors recently swirling about the private company.


"We're not in any discussions to buy T-Mobile," Esser told Reuters. "I don't see a movement inside of our company that we feel like we have to pony up or match up with a wireless company."


Asked whether Cox, the third-largest U.S. cable and broadband company, was considering a merger with one of its smaller cable rivals, such as Charter Communications Inc or perennial takeover target Cablevision Systems Corp, Esser said family-owned Cox was not looking to become a publicly traded company.


"I would never say we'll never be public in the future. But right now where the family's at, where [parent company] Cox Enterprises is at, they like being private," Esser said. "We have a very, very healthy balance sheet, we have a lot of capacity and we can do most of that inside of our current balance sheet and still remain private."


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Netflix Hacks Up 3D Virtual-Reality Demo Using Oculus Rift | Todd Spangler | Variety.com

Netflix Hacks Up 3D Virtual-Reality Demo Using Oculus Rift | Todd Spangler | Variety.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Someday, you might be able to sit down to watch Netflix’s “House of Cards” with a virtual-reality helmet strapped to your head, to see around corners and experience the political machinations in a 3D environment.


Or maybe not.


Whether VR is the future of entertainment — or just a passing fad — Netflix is among those tinkering with the technology.


Last week, a team of the company’s engineers worked up a demo of “Oculix,” a 3D virtual room of the Netflix interface using Facebook’s Oculus Rift VR headset. The app included gesture support, so that when the viewer turns his or her head, the view of the “room” shifted accordingly. Facebook, for one, has placed a $2 billion bet on VR with its acquisition of Oculus (before the startup had shipped a consumer version of its product).


The Oculix demo emerged from Netflix’s latest Hack Day, held Aug. 14-15 at its headquarters in Los Gatos, Calif. More than 150 Netflix engineers participated in the event and produced more than 50 ideas — some jokey, and others that may hold commercial promise.


“If something interesting and useful comes from Hack Day, that is great, but the real motivation is fun and collaboration,” the event’s organizers wrote in a post on Netflix’s tech blog, noting that the concepts may never progress into actual products or services.


Other hacks that Netflix highlighted:


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MN: State’s telecommunications industry continues to expand broadband | Mike Martin and Brent Christensen | People's Press

Minnesota’s telecommunications industry remains committed to providing broadband coverage from Ada to Zumbrota. The 2014 repeal of the sales tax on broadband equipment made a real difference and continues to help foster additional investment that benefits Minnesotans. The industry has invested over $5 billion since 2006 and continues to invest all across the state with dozens of projects underway. These investments include new service as well as constant efforts to improve existing systems and Internet speeds. We are also proud to report that over 50 percent of these investments were spent in isolated communities.


As telecommunications stakeholders — including the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband, members of the media, legislators and the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development — continue to look at ways to improve our state’s broadband coverage, it is important to remember that Minnesota has great coverage today with 98 percent of all homes and businesses with service levels at or above the FCC’s definition of broadband. Almost 90 percent of homes have access to broadband at speeds of 10 mbps download/ 3 mbps upload. These numbers continue to improve with each construction season.


In 2014, the Legislature also created a $20 million Border–to-Border Broadband Grant Program to foster additional coverage in areas that today are not served or underserved. These funds require the grantee to provide a 50 percent match. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s Office of Broadband Development is in the process of touring the state with information on the grant program and specifics of the application procedures.


While this new fund has a role to play in helping expand broadband coverage, Minnesotans will be best served if these funds are dedicated toward areas of our state that lack service today. And, with a 50 percent match required, the state’s telecommunications industry looks forward to leveraging these new grant funds to expand in areas of our state that currently do not have service. Leveraging these public funds with private investment will foster the right kind of partnerships to expand coverage. This is the most cost-effective approach, and it will guarantee long-term success in these areas.


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OpenGovHack Night: weekly event builds community tools & capacity – worth replicating | Blandin on Broadband

OpenGovHack Night: weekly event builds community tools & capacity – worth replicating | Blandin on Broadband | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This week I had the opportunity to attend the OpenGovHack Night in Chicago, IL. It happens every Tuesday night from 6-10 pm. They have free pizza and between 50-100 (or more) attendees each week! The meeting is part scheduled agenda and part time to meet with your group and work on ideas. It seems like a great way to create civic tools, promote tools and build skills within the community.


I would love to find a way for smaller communities to find a way to make similar meetings happen – so I took pretty good notes with an eye to helping that happen. Also, I know similar meetings happen on monthly basis in the Twin Cities (Open Twin Cities) – maybe these notes will be informative to those folks too.


The meeting started with brief introductions. There were about 50 people in attendance – including seasoned coders, new and wannabe coders, government and city employees with an interest in using technology to solve their problems and reporters. People come to be helpful and/or learn. Some are very passionate about a given project and they can really drive a project; some are less driven but certainly committed enough to show up for four hours on a Tuesday night!


The meeting started with brief introductions. I’d say 12 people were brand new and probably 12-15 come every week. I think there were as many as 10 women. Lots of different ages. People were friendly.


After introductions were announcements, which included the introduction of some cool tools, so I’ll include those:


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Snowden reveals automated NSA cyberwarfare program | Grant Gross | ComputerWorld.com

Snowden reveals automated NSA cyberwarfare program | Grant Gross | ComputerWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The U.S. National Security Agency has a cyberwarfare program that hunts for foreign cyberattacks and is able to strike back without human intervention, according to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.


The NSA cyberwarfare program, called MonsterMind, uses software to look for traffic patterns indicating possible foreign cyberattacks, according to Snowden, quoted in a lengthy profile in Wired.


MonsterMind could automatically block a cyberattack from entering the U.S., then retaliate against the attackers, according to the Wired story.


Snowden, when he was working as an NSA contractor, was concerned that MonsterMind could lead to misdirected counterattacks. "These attacks can be spoofed," he told Wired. "You could have someone sitting in China, for example, making it appear that one of these attacks is originating in Russia. And then we end up shooting back at a Russian hospital. What happens next?"


MonsterMind also creates privacy problems, because it would have to access nearly all the communications coming into the U.S. in order to work, Snowden told Wired. "If we're analyzing all traffic flows, that means we have to be intercepting all traffic flows," he said. "That means violating the Fourth Amendment, seizing private communications without a warrant, without probable cause or even a suspicion of wrongdoing. For everyone, all the time."


A program such as Snowden described would raise major concerns, the American Civil Liberties Union said.


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MA: Boston City Council votes to ban Haystack parking app | Boston Business Journal

MA: Boston City Council votes to ban Haystack parking app | Boston Business Journal | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In a move that effectively bans parking app Haystack from doing business in Boston, the City Council voted Wednesday to bar companies seeking to lease publicly owned space to others.


The Haystack app allows drivers to sell their on-street parking spaces to others willing to pay a fee. Kate Norton, a spokeswoman for Mayor Marty Walsh, said the mayor would sign the proposal into law.


"The city can encourage innovation and undertakes new innovations every day, but we cannot allow for the equal and fair access of public ways to be diminished by private enterprises seeking to profit from or reserve public amenities they do not own or lease themselves, and have no right to profit from or reserve," said Norton in a statement.


Last week, during a hearing on the ordinance, city officials overwhelmingly spoke out against the app, which they said was not legal and could create safety issues.


Eric Meyer, CEO of the Baltimore-based company behind the app, previously said about 1,000 transactions have occurred as a result of Haystack in both Boston and Baltimore. He said the app has "hundreds" of customers in both cities, the only two places where the firm does business. He has also maintained that the app does not sell parking spaces, just information leading to those parking spaces.


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Tell the FCC to Stop Comcast from Taking Over | Public Knowledge

Tell the FCC to Stop Comcast from Taking Over | Public Knowledge | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast is seeking FCC permission to merge with Time Warner Cable. This would result in a giant corporation with control of around half of the high-speed Internet access market in the country -- an unprecedented consolidation of internet providers’ power over their customers’ ability to access what they want over the internet, when and how they want.


The deadline to make your voice heard to the FCC is August 25th, so take action now!


Also, political support makes it easier for the FCC to do the right thing. You can tell Congress you oppose the merger here.


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Comcast incompetence inspires more painful tales from customers | Ars Technica

Comcast incompetence inspires more painful tales from customers | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The hapless, rude Comcast employee who was recorded by a customer during what we can only hope was his worst moment couldn’t have imagined what was about to unfold over the next month. Since then, annoyed Comcast customers have been recording calls and publicly shaming the company into giving them what they were unable to get from long, cringe-worthy conversations with customer service representatives.


One of the latest examples came yesterday from Comcast customer Douglas Dixon of Sacramento County, who spoke with a half-dozen Comcast representatives over an hour and a half. Dixon posted a recording on the Internet and described the experience on reddit. After telling employee #6 that he was recording the call and would post it on the Internet if Comcast couldn’t fix his problem, she said, “That’s fine. There’s no need for you to threaten anybody.”


Dixon’s call was spurred by Comcast’s promise to him and other customers that their speeds would be increased. In Dixon’s case, an e-mail from Comcast on August 5 said his service would be boosted from 50Mbps to 105Mbps as soon as he restarted his modem.


That didn’t work. Dixon waited a week before trying again, and it didn’t work that time either. He eventually called Comcast on August 19 to fix a separate pricing problem.


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Is Comcast’s Awful Service Grounds For Blocking The TWC Deal? Yes, Actually. | Tales of the Sausage Factory | Wetmachine.com

Is Comcast’s Awful Service Grounds For Blocking The TWC Deal? Yes, Actually. | Tales of the Sausage Factory | Wetmachine.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The last few months have brought us a spate of Comcast horror stories and Comcast-hate. As captured by this totally not safe for work “Comcast — We Don’t Give a F—” video from Funny or Die, the announcement that Comcast would acquire Time Warner Cable (TWC) has brought to boil a great deal of simmering resentment.


Most recently, a recording of a subscriber spending 20 minutes trying to disconnect his Comcast service has prompted some investigating into Comcast’s service and employment practices. In particular, Adrianne Jefferies at  The Verge has been running an excellent series called “Comcast Confessions” based on hundreds of interviews with current and former Comcast employees showing that these long-standing customer service problems are not a blip but the result of systemic problems and deliberate business and strategy decisions pursued by the company (first three articles published so far herehere and here).


In particular, I want to highlight this article in particular that puts together the pieces and shows how the TWC acquisition makes things worse.

 

From an academic standpoint, the wealth of data coming to light provides a great study on how conflicting economic incentives and difficulties in melding together a giant company by merger create awful customer service despite the persistent efforts of Comcast top management to improve customer service.


But this blog isn’t about industrial organization and business practices for the fun of it. For me at the moment, the hot question is: does Comcast’s awful customer actually provide legal grounds for the FCC to block the Comcast/TWC merger?


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US lawmaker wants to rebrand net neutrality | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com

US lawmaker wants to rebrand net neutrality | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A U.S. lawmaker wants to rebrand the term net neutrality because its definition is confusing to many people.


Representative Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat and backer of strong net neutrality rules, launched a rebranding contest on Reddit.com Thursday.


"Internet users know what they want and expect from the Internet, but these days all the jargon about net neutrality rules is making it difficult to know what box to check that advances their best interest," Eshoo said in statement. "If Internet users care about their right to uninhibited access to the Internet, [the contest] their opportunity to have an impact on the process, to help put the advantage back in the hands of the Internet user, and to ensure that the free and open Internet prevails."


The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is considering new net neutrality rules after a U.S. appeals court earlier this year threw out a large portion of the agency's old version of the rules. In addition, to Eshoo's contest, people interested in the issue have until Sept. 15 to submit comments to the FCC.


In Eshoo's contest, the most popular post in the rebranding thread on Reddit will be the winner.


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Rural Gigabit Boom Expected Thanks to GPON Upgrades | Telecompetitor.com

Rural Gigabit Boom Expected Thanks to GPON Upgrades | Telecompetitor.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Gigabit network announcements involving Tier 2 and Tier 3 carriers have been coming out more and more frequently – and we may be seeing just the tip of the iceberg.


Adtran, a company that makes a variety of equipment underlying fiber-to-the-home networks, expects to see its equipment deployed in gigabit networks in 50 communities before the end of 2014 and in 150 additional communities in 2015.


“Many of these networks we have already won and we’re just waiting for them to deploy or make the decision to flip the gigabit switch on the existing rollout of gig-ready solutions,” said Kurt Raaflaub, who heads up product marketing for Adtran’s carrier networks division. I talked to him yesterday about gigabit network deployments and he also answered some follow-up questions by email.


A key reason that we’re seeing so much gigabit activity among Tier 2 and Tier 3 telcos is that many of them already have deployed FTTH, which means they’ve already done a large part of the work involved in deploying gigabit service.


I talked to Raaflaub about what’s involved in upgrading these systems to support gigabit service.


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Eight charts that put tech companies’ diversity stats into perspective | GigaOM Tech News

Eight charts that put tech companies’ diversity stats into perspective | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The latest hot-button subject in tech, hotter even than ephemeral apps, is diversity. Or at least, if not actual diversity, the act of releasing employee diversity statistics. From Apple to Twitter, almost all the big names in Silicon Valley are doing it. Google fell first in May, and with some pushing by activist organizations the rest soon followed suit.


We’ve broken down some of the top players – Apple, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, eBay, LinkedIn, CiscoIntel, and HP – comparing their overall gender and ethnicity demographics. Then we went a step further to look specifically at the tech and leadership roles. Where relevant, we also charted the demographic information of the U.S. labor force and the graduating computer science class.


Please note that the numbers in the company charts come from a range of sources — federal EEO-1 data, company blog posts, and annual corporate reports. In some cases, particularly diversity in leadership roles, the companies have slight differences in how they collect and categorize their demographic data (For example: counting a global workforce versus just U.S. based).


In other words, it’s not entirely parallel information. But our charts represent the best comparisons we could draw among the companies. When appropriate, we explained the differences in the footnotes.


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Cable's New Business Model: Lower Ratings, Higher Revenue | Paul Bond | The Hollywood Reporter

Cable's New Business Model: Lower Ratings, Higher Revenue | Paul Bond | The Hollywood Reporter | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The stats are sobering: Seven of the 10 most profitable cable channels have seen total viewership fall significantly in both primetime and full-day averages during the past 12 months, the exceptions being ESPN, Discovery and TBS. At the same time, THR reported Aug. 4 that cable upfront deals for the 2014-15 season dipped 4.7 percent to $9.7 billion, the first drop since the recession ended in 2009.


But the metric that matters most — profits — keeps climbing. At Disney Channel, cash flow in 2014 will be up 5 percent compared with 2013, estimates SNL Kagan, even though Nielsen says primetime viewership is off 12 percent. Cash flow at USA should be up 5 percent, MTV up 3 percent and FX up 4 percent, yet all have had smaller audiences. In fact, of the top 10 cable channels based on cash flow, just one — ESPN — is expected to decline in 2014 (albeit by less than 1 percent).


It's enough to ask: What's going on in the cable TV business?


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Comcast's Cohen to regulators: 'Don't make us the next Blockbuster' | Daniel Frankel | FierceCable.com

Comcast's Cohen to regulators: 'Don't make us the next Blockbuster' | Daniel Frankel | FierceCable.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Stumping for regulatory approval of his company's proposed $45 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable, Comcast executive VP David L. Cohen reached for a rather interesting simile: federal regulators' decision in 2005 to stop Blockbuster from acquiring Hollywood Video.


"Regulators have to assess these issues in a world where technology is changing so fast that whole industries seem to come and go in no time," Cohen told the TPI Aspen Forum on Monday, Aug. 18. (His remarks were outlined in a filing to the Securities Exchange Commission, as all Comcast public comments are in these merger-vetting times.)


"In 2005," Cohen noted, "Blockbuster looked so dominant in home video that FTC antitrust concerns barred it from acquiring a competitor Hollywood Video.  Has anyone seen any Blockbusters around recently? Today, virtually the entire bricks and mortar video rental industry has all but disappeared."


Those who critique the proposed merger, Cohen said, "ignore complex but very real dynamics when they analyze the state of the market today. They too often rely on an overly simplistic and anachronistic model--where edge companies create content and services, ISPs provide pipes that bring services to consumers, and consumers sit in front of their computer and passively take them in."


Referring to the merger as the "800-pound elephant in the room" (editor's thought: that's pretty light for an elephant), Cohen took the opportunity to issue some blanket dismissals of common criticisms.


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New website aims to publicly shame apps with lax security | Robert Lemos | Ars Technica

New website aims to publicly shame apps with lax security | Robert Lemos | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The amount of personal data traveling to and from the Internet has exploded, yet many applications and services continue to put user information at risk by not encrypting data sent over wireless networks. Software engineer Tony Webster has a classic solution—shame. 


Webster decided to see if a little public humiliation could convince companies to better secure their customers' information.


On Saturday, the consultant created a website, HTTP Shaming, and began posting cases of insecure communications, calling out businesses that send their customers' personal information to the Internet without encrypting it first.


One high-profile example includes well-liked travel-information firm TripIt. TripIt allows users to bring together information on their tickets, flight times, and itinerary and then sync it with other devices and share the information with friends and co-workers. Information shared with calendar applications, however, is not encrypted, Webster says, leaving it open to eavesdropping on public networks. Among the details that could be plucked from the air by anyone on the same wireless network: a user's full name, phone number, e-mail address, the last four digits of a credit card number, and emergency contact information. An attacker could even change or cancel the victim's flight, he says.


So far, TripIt and 18 other applications and services have made the shaming list, many submitted by other people fed up with the security missteps of companies, Webster says.


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Yes, there's a tech bubble: Facebook's mobile ad success proves it | Fredric Paul | NetworkWorld.com

Yes, there's a tech bubble: Facebook's mobile ad success proves it | Fredric Paul | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Take a quick glance at the mobile ad world and you might think everything is hunky dory. Fueled by a big uptick in mobile ads, Facebook stock is testing all-time highs. Looks good, right?


But where’s all that money being spent on ads actually coming from?


Facebook has made no secret of the fact that much of its mobile revenue is coming from so called click-to-download ads for other mobile apps. These have been far and away the most effective and lucrative part of Facebook’s mobile ad business -- so much so that Google is working hard to emulate that success. (Note that Facebook took pains to downplay the dominance of these app install ads in its July earnings call, claiming that they don’t represent “all of the revenue or a great majority of revenue.” But company COO Sheryl Sandberg didn’t really offer more specifics beyond that.)


Click-to-download ads make a lot of sense; because the ads are being viewed on a mobile device, consumers can just click to download the app right to their phone. The user gets the app, the app gets a user, and Facebook gets paid. Everybody wins, right?


Well, sure, except here’s the dirty little secret -- the vast majority of those apps aren’t making any money off those new users they’re acquiring. They’re pretty much all trying desperately to achieve scale, and plan to worry how to monetize things later. That makes sense, too, because if those apps can’t acquire millions of users, then nothing else they do really matters. They’re dead, period.


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The UPS Store says malware found on systems of 51 stores | Jeremy Kirk | NetworkWorld.com

The UPS Store says malware found on systems of 51 stores | Jeremy Kirk | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The UPS Store said Wednesday that malicious software was found on the systems of 51 of its franchises in 24 U.S. states, although no fraud has been detected yet.


The subsidiary of United Parcel Service, which has 4,470 U.S. stores, said in a notice that customer names, postal and email addresses and payment card information may have been exposed.


The earliest evidence of malware found on a system dates to Jan. 20, The UPS Store said. Most of the 51 stores were affected between March 26 and Aug. 11, when the malware was removed. The UPS Store said it is now safe to use payment cards at its franchises.


“We know it is our responsibility to protect customer information, and we have taken a number of steps to ensure that customers can remain confident about doing business with The UPS Store centers network,” it said.


Credit monitoring and identity theft services will be provided to customers for one year. An internal review is underway, and The UPS Store said it has retained an IT security firm.


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TDS completes ARRA broadband projects in Michigan, Minnesota | Telecompaper.com

TDS completes ARRA broadband projects in Michigan, Minnesota | Telecompaper.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

TDS Telecom has completed its American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus-funded broadband internet projects in parts of Michigan and Minnesota. As a result of the project's completion, businesses and more than a combined 1,250 households gain access to broadband service. TDS is receiving funding for 44 projects, including these two, from the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) as part of the ARRA. 


TDS' stimulus-funded project in Michigan, which impacts parts of Augusta and Medina, is now complete. TDS installed nearly 10 miles of fibre optics cabling and six cabinets in these area, which is part of its Communication Corporation of Michigan company. 


In late January TDS announced a portion of this project, around Augusta, was complete. Now the entire project is finished and provides nearly 350 area residents with access to internet service. TDS projected the cost at more than USD 1.6 million. The RUS grant covered 75 percent of the cost and TDS invested the remaining 25 percent (about USD 400,000) to expand broadband to more businesses and residents. 


The stimulus-funded project in Minnesota is also now complete and impacts customers in parts of Cass and Crow Wing counties. TDS reported in October 2013 that a portion of this project, in TDS' Arvig Telephone Company, was complete. The project included installing nearly 100 miles of fibre optics cabling and twenty cabinets in order to connect more than 900 area residents to broadband. TDS projected the cost at more than USD 6.7 million. The company invested 25 percent (nearly USD 1.7 million) and the RUS grant covered 75 percent.

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FCC Republican wants to let states block municipal broadband | Ars Technica

FCC Republican wants to let states block municipal broadband | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is going to have a fight on his hands if he tries to preempt state laws that limit the growth of municipal broadband networks.


Matthew Berry, chief of staff to Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai, argued today that the FCC has no authority to invalidate state laws governing local broadband networks.


In a speech in front of the National Conference of State Legislatures, Berry endorsed states' rights when it comes to either banning municipal broadband networks or preventing their growth. He also argued that the current commission, with its Democratic majority, should not do something that future Republican-led commissions might disagree with.


"If the history of American politics teaches us anything, it is that one political party will not remain in power for perpetuity. At some point, to quote Sam Cooke, 'a change is gonna come,'" Berry said. "And that change could come a little more than two years from now. So those who are potential supporters of the current FCC interpreting Section 706 [of the Telecommunications Act] to give the Commission the authority to preempt state laws about municipal broadband should think long and hard about what a future FCC might do with that power."


Arguing that municipal broadband networks could discourage investment by private companies, Berry said, "It’s not hard, then, to imagine a future FCC concluding that taxpayer-funded, municipal broadband projects themselves are barriers to infrastructure investment. So if the current FCC were successful in preempting state and local laws under Section 706, what would stop a future FCC from using Section 706 to forbid states and localities from constructing any future broadband projects? Nothing that I can see."


Twenty states place at least some limits on the ability of cities and towns to offer Internet service to residents through laws passed as favors to cable companies and other ISPs. Wheeler argues that because Section 706 gives the FCC authority to promote competition in local telecommunications markets by removing barriers to investment, the commission can preempt laws that prevent cities and towns from creating their own broadband networks that compete against private companies.


The Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the city of Wilson, North Carolina, which both say local laws prevent them from expanding Internet service to surrounding areas, have filed petitions asking the commission to do just that.


Berry, who previously served as the FCC's general counsel, argued that states are within their rights to restrict municipal broadband and that the federal government cannot interfere unless given a more specific mandate to do so by Congress.


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Two weeks after their merger talks collapsed, T-Mobile and Sprint are at each others’ throats again | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

Two weeks after their merger talks collapsed, T-Mobile and Sprint are at each others’ throats again | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

That was quick.


It wasn't long ago that Sprint and T-Mobile were supposed to be linking up. Then — though not to analysts' surprise — the deal fell through in the face of regulatory skepticism. Now, T-Mobile has turned right around and is now trying to undermine Sprint by stealing away its customers.


As part of a new promotion, T-Mobile is offering free unlimited LTE data to customers who convince Sprint users to switch. The promotion applies both to the referrer as well as to the Sprint customer coming over to T-Mobile.


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Sensors, sensors everywhere (but especially in the fields): FarmLink raises $40M | GigaOM Ag Tech News

Sensors, sensors everywhere (but especially in the fields): FarmLink raises $40M | GigaOM Ag Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Agriculture is taking on a whole new look thanks to the emergence of ubiquitous sensors and big data technologies, as farmers are now able to collect and analyze data about nearly every aspect of their operations. The latest evidence of how big the agriculture-meets-data market might be in the future came on Wednesday, when a Kansas City, Missouri-based company called FarmLink announced it has closed a $40 million round of venture capital, led by OpenAir Equity Partners.


FarmLink collects data from sensor-equipped combines and then analyzes it to determine the maximum yield for any given tract of land. After this summer’s harvest, the company claims in a press release, it will have “more than 5 million acres of real yield data, along with more than a trillion data elements.”


But FarmLink is just one example of a company trying to reinvent farming by way of data. We have covered others, including Blue River, Farm Intelligence, Granular and BioConsortia. The latter is particularly interesting: It’s using next-generation DNA sequencing technologies to identify microbes that could help improve crop yields. Agribusiness giant Monsanto bought big-farm-data startup Climate Corporation for $930 million last year.


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