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MI: Broadband dedication crosses the Great Lakes | Cheboygan Daily Tribune

A fiber-optic infrastructure dedication to celebrate the completed segments of a Broadband stimulus project and a connection between the two peninsulas took place Tuesday.

 

Merit Network, Inc. held the event in both the Mackinaw Area Public Library and the St. Ignace Public Library simultaneously on Tuesday. The two locations hosted key stakeholders for the project, who made comments on the positive impacts the project will have on Northern Michigan. Speakers at each location were shown via video at both places to show what the new fiber was capable of.

 

Senator Carl Levin made some opening comments over video conferencing from Washington, D.C. Other representatives from Merit Network, libraries, schools, townships, political offices and the Mackinac Bridge Authority also made statements.

 

Merit Network Public Relations Communications & Community Development Director Patty Giorgio has said although there is still work left to do in the western Upper Peninsula, the three partner universities in the Upper Peninsula, including Lake Superior State University, Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan University, are now tied into Lower Peninsula universities with a 10 gigabyte connection.

 

Cheboygan County was included in Round II of the project, of which several segments are complete. J. Ranck Electric of Mt. Pleasant was the primary contractor for the six segments of the fiber optic build that touch Cheboygan County.

 

Merit is a middle-mile provider, which means it only coordinates the running of the main fiber. It will be up to local Internet service providers and sub-recipients to bring Broadband service to homes and businesses. Fifty-two counties make up the project service area.

 

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Google’s plan to spread the Internet with massive balloons is coming to America | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

Google’s plan to spread the Internet with massive balloons is coming to America | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The mission of Google's Project Loon may be to bring Internet connectivity to the developing world. But someday, perhaps soon, even some of the richest countries on Earth could benefit from Google's big, floating balloons.


In an interview with MIT Review, Loon project lead Mike Cassidy says the project would help parts of America get connected:


As for bringing Loon to places like the U.S. that are already largely connected but could still use improved Internet connectivity, Cassidy says that will also happen.


“Even in my house, I don’t have a cell signal,” he said. “We’re going to come to the United States, too.”


When the airborne network is complete, users will be able to surf the Web from LTE signals beamed to earth by Google. What's less clear is whether the U.S. deployment will also involve the drones and satellites Google will likely need to power its global network of Internet access.

The company didn't address this when I reached out for a comment. But Google said in a statement that within the next year, it will begin testing Loon more widely by setting up a string of floating access points around the world.

Google has been pressing federal regulators for greater flexibility in how it develops Loon. It's been getting approvals from the Federal Communications Commission to test radio transmissions in certain spectrum bands in different regions. And it's active in an FCC proceeding aimed at studying how drones can help spread Internet access from high altitudes.


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Americans hate Internet and cable providers even more than airlines | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

Americans hate Internet and cable providers even more than airlines | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Hitting a seven-year low, Internet providers and pay-TV companies were literally just ranked as the least popular industries in America.

Those businesses come tied in last place in the latest update to the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, which ranks 43 industries on a 0-to-100 scale. The country's most hated industries, each with a score of 63, fall behind the U.S. Postal Service (69), wireless carriers (70) and even airlines (71).

That's a drop from even two years ago, when subscription television scored a 68 and Internet providers got a 65. (Then, as now, they were still the least popular industries on the index.)

Claes Fornell, ACSI's chairman and founder, attributes much of the recent decline with a growing share of options for consumers who are fed up with the industries' business models.


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Obama’s push on trade splits Democrats along economic lines | David Nakamura | WashPost.com

Obama’s push on trade splits Democrats along economic lines | David Nakamura | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

On their annual pilgrimage to Silicon Valley, a group of moderate congressional Democrats got an earful recently from some of the tech industry’s most powerful players about why they should support President Obama’s Pacific Rim trade accord.

During stops at Apple, Cisco Systems and GoPro, among others, members of the New Democrat Coalition heard from frustrated tech executives who pleaded with them to help boost global growth and demanded to know why the president’s party was not lining up behind his trade push.

“They were obviously perplexed that trade has become so contentious and so difficult,” said Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), chairman of the congressional coalition.

The emerging support for Obama’s trade initiative in Silicon Valley, a liberal-leaning enclave of cutting-edge businesses, stands in sharp contrast to the fierce opposition from the labor unions that represent the working-class heart of the Democratic Party. The tension reflects mounting anxiety within the party over the nation’s widening income gap and a fear that the trade deal will produce a clear set of winners and losers among U.S. industries.

In making his case for the sweeping, 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Obama has sought to reframe the debate, away from a narrow focus on traditional manufacturing jobs to encompass sectors that are ascendant and, in his view, critical to maintaining the United States’ competitive edge in an increasingly interconnected and high-tech global economy.

But the president has run into staunch resistance from his own party, threatening to derail the trade deal, which Obama has made a legacy priority of his second term. The White House also regards the TPP as an important tool in confronting a rising China, because it would shift more U.S. attention to the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region.

The argument between the president and progressive Democrats has gotten barbed and personal, and only a small fraction of House Democrats — about 17 so far — have said they will support the fast-track trade legislation, which was narrowly approved by the Senate last month.


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The barrier to rural broadband is sometimes ideology | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

Supporting rural broadband has been a bipartisan goal in Minnesota. We saw this in the debates last fall. We’re seeing less of it this spring. The issue I think has much less to do with broadband than it does in how people feel about investing public money.

Some folks just want no taxes. They see them as an expense, not an investment. President Obama spoke eloquently about this on a panel at Georgetown University, using broadband as an example…

I think it is important for us at the outset to acknowledge if, in fact, we are going to find common ground, then we also have to acknowledge that there are certain investments we are willing to make as a society, as a whole, in public schools and public universities; in, today, I believe early childhood education; in making sure that economic opportunity is available in communities that are isolated, and that somebody can get a job, and that there’s actually a train that takes folks to where the jobs are — that broadband lines are in rural communities and not just in cities. And those things are not going to happen through market forces alone.


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Comcast Was So Incredibly Full Of Crap During Its Merger Sales Pitch, The Government Is Considering Additional Punishment | Karl Bode | Techdirt

Comcast Was So Incredibly Full Of Crap During Its Merger Sales Pitch, The Government Is Considering Additional Punishment | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

While Comcast's attempted acquisition of Time Warner Cable may be dead in the water, information revealed during the company's ugly but often entertaining merger sales pitch may come back to haunt it. When Comcast started selling regulators on the idea of the Time Warner Cable merger, you'll recall it highlighted repeatedly how Comcast should be trusted because it had done such a bang up job adhering to the conditions placed on its acquisition of NBC Universal. Except when regulators tried to verify this M&A claim (which is already rare enough in telecom), they discovered that not only did Comcast write most of the conditions itself, it still somehow managed to repeatedly fail to adhere to them.

For example Comcast had to be fined $800,000 by the FCC for failing to offer and clearly advertise a relatively paltry 5 Mbps, $50 per month broadband tier. Similarly, the company's Internet Essentials program, which promised 5 Mbps, $10 broadband for low income communities and was a phenomenal PR boon for Comast -- at one point resulted in Philadelphia street protests for being hard to find, qualify, and sign up for. It was also revealed that Comcast ignored conditions intended to keep the company from hamstringing Internet video competitor Hulu, which it acquired as part of the NBC deal.

So yes, Comcast, you're really great at adhering to merger conditions, just as long as nobody actually bothers to look at how well you adhere to merger conditions. Given how closely the FCC had looked at whether companies adhered to merger conditions in the past (as in: not at all), Comcast's hubris here was understandable.


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Verizon tops another consumer satisfaction poll, but pay-TV metrics slide 3% overall | Daniel Frankel | Fierce Cable

Verizon tops another consumer satisfaction poll, but pay-TV metrics slide 3% overall | Daniel Frankel | Fierce Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Just one day after Consumer Reports found declining consumer satisfaction among American consumers using pay-TV services, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) released a report nearing mirroring the unhappy findings.

In the annual independent survey of 70,000 U.S. consumers, Verizon FiOS (NYSE: VZ) finished atop pay-TV services, with its "71" score rising 4 percent over 2014 and placing it just ahead of AT&T U-verse (flat with last year's results).

Notably, Verizon also finished atop Consumer Reports' telecom satisfaction report, which was released Monday.

ACSI, which polled customers on everything from picture quality to the ease to which they understand their bill to call center responsiveness, ranked DirecTV, down 1 percent, third in the poll and Dish Network fourth, with a score flat with 2014.

A flat Cablevision and Charter Communications, up 5 percent, led the moribund cable sector, with Time Warner Cable (down 9 percent) finishing dead last behind Mediacom (flat).

Those two final MSOs also finished last in the Consumer Reports study, with Mediacom at the absolute bottom.


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Source: Dems Not Backing Effective-Competition Change | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

Source: Dems Not Backing Effective-Competition Change | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

With a June 2 deadline from Congress for an order streamlining its effective-competition petition process, a federal Communications Commission source speaking on background at press time said three votes had been cast on the effective-competition order, and another source said they did not include the two Democrats -- commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler circulated the order, and the Republicans support it, while an FCC source said Clyburn would not be voting to approve, and Rosenworcel likely will not support it either.

The order is expected to be voted by the other two commissioners by June 2 and pass 3-2 in a split decision.

Currently, to get out from under basic-cable rate regulation, a cable operator has to petition the FCC for a ruling that it is subject to effective competition. As part of the STELAR satellite license reauthorization bill, Congress directed the FCC to come up with a streamlined effective competition process for smaller, particularly rural, operators. But since the FCC has granted ll such requests, in whole or in part, since 2103. The FCC in March proposed reversing it for all cable operators and the chairman circulated an order to that effect.


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Hulu Rebrands Itself; Dropping "Plus" Name In Effort to Reduce Consumer Confusion; Ad Loads Under Review | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Hulu Rebrands Itself; Dropping "Plus" Name In Effort to Reduce Consumer Confusion; Ad Loads Under Review | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Although Hulu Plus ($7.99/mo) has managed to attract a claimed nine million active subscribers, it has never drawn as much attention as its rivals Netflix and Amazon, and Hulu’s CEO believes that is because consumers, including his mom, are confused about the difference between Hulu and Hulu Plus.

Hulu is the advertiser-supported free side of Hulu and Hulu Plus offers a deeper catalog of content (and the right to view it on mobile devices) in return for a monthly fee. But the premium side of Hulu has always been plagued with complaints it collects money from customers and still forces them to watch paid advertising.

“Even when I was a subscriber, Hulu Plus didn’t make much sense,” said Scott Beggs of FilmSchoolRejects. “You signed up, gave them your credit card information, scored an account, and the commercials were still there. Shame on all of us who assumed that paying eight bucks a month would let us avoid watching the same heartburn medication commercials five times per Daily Show episode, I guess.”


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Exploring the Amazon | The Economist

Exploring the Amazon | The Economist | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

NOT long after Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, said he would pay $250m of his own money for the chronically loss-making Washington Post, in August 2013, he sat next to the newspaper’s editorial-page editor, Fred Hiatt, at a dinner. It was a perfect opportunity to influence the Post’s line, but Mr Bezos reportedly preferred to talk about other things on his mind, such as exploring the dark side of the moon.

Technology, not journalism, is Mr Bezos’s passion. So far he has been the sort of proprietor newshounds dream of, with a light touch on editorial matters and a willingness to finance experimentation and bear losses. After years of shrinking ambitions and cost-cutting under its old owners, the Graham family, Posties are experiencing a period of expansion and excitement under Mr Bezos. As other American papers have continued to cut staff, the Post has hired more than 100 newsroom employees since the takeover was announced.


In its revamp, the Post is following some of Amazon’s tactics. Much as Mr Bezos has made his e-commerce firm concentrate on building scale first, and worrying about profits later, he is making his newspaper concentrate first on building a broader national and international audience. Its website’s traffic in America has doubled since he announced the takeover, to 51m unique visitors in April. It is promoting its journalism more assiduously on social networks, is offering readers curated content from elsewhere on the internet, and is making its web pages load faster.


The Post has introduced a “partner” programme, in which it offers free access to its articles for subscribers of other papers such as the Dallas Morning News, if they sign in with their e-mail addresses. Logged-in readers like these are more valuable to a paper and its advertisers than anonymous ones, because the ads can be tailored to match whatever is known about their interests. So far more than 270 papers have signed on. This resembles how Amazon achieves dominance in its markets by gathering data on customers, the better to sell them stuff. Some newspaper bosses are cautious. “It’s a Trojan horse,” says one, who thinks publishers are unwise to share their subscriber lists with the Post and its advertisers. Another initiative is to study and predict reader behaviour, so as to offer each website visitor a tailored landing-page, as is the case at a certain e-commerce site.


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USA Freedom Act Passes Senate | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

USA Freedom Act Passes Senate | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Senate voted 67 to 32 Tuesday to pass the USA Freedom Act, which limits NSA bulk data collection.

That came after amendments were voted down that would have forced a re-vote in the House, which passed it overwhelmingly.

The bill can now go to the President, who has signaled he would sign it ASAP. Not long after passage the President tweeted: "Glad the Senate finally passed the USA Freedom Act. It protects civil liberties and our national security. I'll sign it as soon as I get it."


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First Time Warner Cable Executive Departs After Announced Charter Deal: CFO Artie Minson Leaves Today | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

First Time Warner Cable Executive Departs After Announced Charter Deal: CFO Artie Minson Leaves Today | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

After serving just two years as the chief financial officer of Time Warner Cable, Arthur Minson today left the cable company to become president and chief operating officer of WeWork, a shared office space provider.

Time Warner Cable isn’t announcing a permanent replacement. Instead, William F. Osbourn, Jr., who now serves as senior vice president-controller and chief accounting officer, and Matthew Siegel, who currently serves as senior vice president and treasurer, will serve as acting co-CFOs.

Last year Minson made $13 million, after receiving an effective 137% raise over 2013. He reportedly has $1,826,915 in awarded Time Warner Cable stock and option awards worth $1,767,619. If Comcast had successfully purchased Time Warner Cable, Minson would have walked away with a $27 million golden parachute. Charter has not yet disclosed what it intends to pay Time Warner Cable executives in exit bonuses.


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Who should get the blame in IRS breach? | Patrick Thibodeau | NetworkWorld.com

Who should get the blame in IRS breach? | Patrick Thibodeau | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If cybercrime is visualized as a river, its headwaters may be in a doctor's office in places such as South Florida. It's here where a cellphone photograph of a medical form filled out by a patient can be sold for a minimum of $10.

With that information, fraudsters add other data streams from publicly accessible databases, social media sites and other sources, such as stolen credit records. It's this now-river of data that was used to attack an Internal Revenue Service application called Get Transcripts and access the records of more than 100,000 taxpayers.

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing today on this breach. The IRS will put some of the blame on lawmakers, at least indirectly. The agency has suffered big budget cuts, including to its cybersecurity program, and has lost some key IT personnel.

But does IRS budget-cutting, from $12.15 billion in 2010 to $10.9 billion this year, fully explain the breach?

If the IRS is asked to explain the security processes it will describe "a multi-step process to check identities" for its Get Transcript program. The first part involves submitting personal information about the taxpayer, including Social Security number, date of birth, tax filing status and street address. There are also "out-of-wallet" questions, questions "based on information that only the taxpayer should know, such as the amount of their car payment or other personal information," said the IRS.

But one former IRS IT manager, who didn't want his name used, said that IRS cybersecurity officials "would have preferred to implement a more dynamic and aggressive security framework that would have stopped the fraudsters from being able to get in using the information they stole from the third party." IRS senior leadership favored, instead, an approach to keep the process simpler to encourage use, this manager claimed.

A more complex authentication system would have involved a multi-factor authentication approach - "biometrics, dynamic questions using non-public information rather than static or simple out-of-wallet questioning," said this former IRS manager.

But there's no easy approach here. Even if the government were to implement some form of biometrics, it faced potential problems.


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Competition Works: América Móvil Plans $50 Billion Fiber to the Home Network in Mexico | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Competition Works: América Móvil Plans $50 Billion Fiber to the Home Network in Mexico | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

With AT&T’s arrival in the Mexican wireless marketplace with its purchase of Iusacell and Nextel, América Móvil is responding with plans to build a new state-of-the-art $50 billion fiber-to-the-home network for Mexican consumers.

According to El Economista, América Móvil has a five-year plan to construct a 311,000 mile fiber network that will offer phone, broadband, and television service. The move comes in response to media reports AT&T is exploring delivering a video package over its acquired wireless networks within the next two years. The network will support broadband speeds that are faster than what most Americans along the border with Mexico can receive from AT&T and CenturyLink’s prevalent DSL services.

In comparison, U.S. phone companies like Verizon have stopped expanding its FiOS fiber to the home network and AT&T largely relies on a less-capable hybrid fiber/copper network for its U-verse service.

Competition in Mexico has forced providers to upgrade their networks to compete for customers while those in the United States tend to match each other’s prices or advocate for industry consolidation to maximize revenue and keep their costs as low as possible.

América Móvil’s broadband service Infinitum Telmex has already attracted 22.3 million broadband customers — a number likely to rise once it can enhance its online video streaming service Clarovideo.


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No More Subsidies on iPhones at Verizon or AT&T: Buy Your Own Phone on a Payment Plan | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

No More Subsidies on iPhones at Verizon or AT&T: Buy Your Own Phone on a Payment Plan | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

AT&T and Verizon Wireless are ditching subsidies for the popular (and expensive) Apple iPhone in favor of straight installment payment plans.

9to5Mac reports Apple has sent a memo to employees outlining major changes in how iPhones will be sold to AT&T and Verizon Wireless customers.

Apple iPhones sold via AT&T and both Apple’s retail and online stores will shift exclusively to AT&T’s Next financing plans this month and end device subsidies. AT&T Next allows customers to buy a device at retail price and pay it off in 20, 24, or 30 installments on their AT&T bill. The primary benefit of the Next plan is it permits customers upgrade to a newer device after 12, 18, or 24 installment payments. For now, customers transitioning away from their existing plan to Next will be able to keep their unlimited AT&T data plan.

Verizon Wireless is also planning to drop its two-year subsidy programs, perhaps entirely across all devices, as early as the end of this summer. That will force Verizon Wireless customers onto the Edge installment payment program unless they are willing to pay for a device upfront.


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After Seeing Broadband-a-Plenty in Longmont, Fort Collins, Colorado Wants Public Broadband Too | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

After Seeing Broadband-a-Plenty in Longmont, Fort Collins, Colorado Wants Public Broadband Too | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It’s an acute case of broadband envy.

Residents of Fort Collins, Colo., that have an excuse to take an hour’s drive south on U.S. Route 87 to visit Longmont and experience the Internet over the community’s public broadband service can’t believe their eyes. It’s so fast… and cheap. Back home it is a choice between Comcast and CenturyLink, and neither will win any popularity contests. While large parts of Colorado have gotten some upgrades out of Comcast, Fort Collins is one of the communities that typically gets the cable company’s attention last.

The city of Longmont took control of its digital destiny after years of anemic and expensive service from Comcast and CenturyLink. Longmont Power & Communications’ NextLight Internet service delivers gigabit fiber to the home service to the community of 90,000. The service was funded with a $40.3 million bond the city issued in 2014, to be paid back by NextLight customers, not taxpayers, over time. It remains a work in progress, but is expected to start construction to reach the last parts of Longmont by next spring.


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WikiLeaks raising $100k bounty for a copy of the Trans-Pacific trade pact | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com

WikiLeaks raising $100k bounty for a copy of the Trans-Pacific trade pact | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

WikiLeaks wants to raise US$100,000 to offer as a reward for whoever leaks the full text of the controversial free trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The news leaks website launched a fund-raising campaign Tuesday to come up with the bounty money. The free trade agreement, involving the U.S., Japan, Canada, Australia and eight other countries, has been negotiated in secret, and just three of its 29 chapters have been leaked.

“The transparency clock has run out on the TPP,” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said in a statement. “No more secrecy. No more excuses. Let’s open the TPP once and for all.”

With the TPP bounty, WikiLeaks also launched a new competition system that allows the public to pledge prizes towards each of the world’s most wanted leaks.

Supporters of the TPP say the agreement will make it easier for companies to sell their products to the nations involved in the deal.

Opponents in the U.S. say the trade deal will make it easier for domestic companies to ship jobs to countries with much lower minimum wages and to set up manufacturing facilities in countries with looser environmental regulations.

In addition, leaks have shown that the U.S. and some other countries are pushing for signatory nations to adopt strong new intellectual property laws. The proposed intellectual property protections would require some signatory countries to rewrite their existing laws, criminalize noncommercial sharing of works protected by copyright, and, critics say, create new criminal penalties for whistleblowers and journalists who access computer systems without permission.


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Wireless Bills are Rising: Prices Up More than 50% Since 2007 and Will Head Even Higher When 5G Arrives | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Wireless Bills are Rising: Prices Up More than 50% Since 2007 and Will Head Even Higher When 5G Arrives | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Without dramatic changes in wireless pricing and more careful usage, owning a smartphone will cost an average of $119 a month per phone by the year 2019.

Ever since the largest players in the wireless industry decided to monetize wireless data usage by ending unlimited use data plans, the average monthly phone bills of smartphone users have been on the increase. In 2013, the average cell phone bill was $76 a month, according to Bureau of Labor statistics. That’s up 50% from the $51 a month customers paid in 2007, the first year the iconic Apple iPhone was offered for sale.

Although wireless companies claim their current 4G (largely LTE) networks are robust enough to sustain the growing demand for wireless data until more spectrum becomes available, the transition to next generation 5G technology will dramatically increase the efficiency of wireless data transmission, delivering up to 40 times the speed of existing 4G networks. But if providers are not willing to slash prices on 5G data plans, average usage and customers’ phone bills are likely to soar to new all-time highs, costing a family of four smartphone owners an average of $476 a month.


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USA Freedom Act Passes: What We Celebrate, What We Mourn, and Where We Go From Here | Cindy Cox & Mark Jaycox | EFF.org

USA Freedom Act Passes: What We Celebrate, What We Mourn, and Where We Go From Here | Cindy Cox & Mark Jaycox | EFF.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Senate passed the USA Freedom Act today by 67-32, marking the first time in over thirty years that both houses of Congress have approved a bill placing real restrictions and oversight on the National Security Agency’s surveillance powers. The weakening amendments to the legislation proposed by NSA defender Senate Majority Mitch McConnell were defeated, and we have every reason to believe that President Obama will sign USA Freedom into law. Technology users everywhere should celebrate, knowing that the NSA will be a little more hampered in its surveillance overreach, and both the NSA and the FISA court will be more transparent and accountable than it was before the USA Freedom Act.

It’s no secret that we wanted more. In the wake of the damning evidence of surveillance abuses disclosed by Edward Snowden, Congress had an opportunity to champion comprehensive surveillance reform and undertake a thorough investigation, like it did with the Church Committee. Congress could have tried to completely end mass surveillance and taken numerous other steps to rein in the NSA and FBI. This bill was the result of compromise and strong leadership by Sens. Patrick Leahy and Mike Lee and Reps. Robert Goodlatte, Jim Sensenbrenner, and John Conyers. It’s not the bill EFF would have written, and in light of the Second Circuit's thoughtful opinion, we withdrew our support from the bill in an effort to spur Congress to strengthen some of its privacy protections and out of concern about language added to the bill at the behest of the intelligence community.

Even so, we’re celebrating. We’re celebrating because, however small, this bill marks a day that some said could never happen—a day when the NSA saw its surveillance power reduced by Congress. And we’re hoping that this could be a turning point in the fight to rein in the NSA.


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John Malone: Charter-Time Warner Cable Deal Won't Face "Material" Regulatory Issues | Georg Szalai | The Hollywood Reporter

John Malone: Charter-Time Warner Cable Deal Won't Face "Material" Regulatory Issues | Georg Szalai | The Hollywood Reporter | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Liberty Media chairman John Malone said Tuesday that he sees no "material" regulatory issues for the Charter Communications-Time Warner Cable deal.

"The deal will not have major regulatory" issues, he reiterated later during the annual shareholder meeting of Liberty Broadband, which holds Liberty's stake in Charter. "If i thought we were [facing major hurdles], we wouldn’t have done this deal," Malone said.

Malone said the company has "carefully" looked at all the complaints against the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal. He emphasized that "in each case Charter is an entirely different situation" than the Comcast-TW Cable deal. He said the Charter transaction will create a company with smaller size and market power than Comcast would have had. He said there are not the same vertical and horizontal consolidation concerns that the Comcast deal included. The vertical integration concerns revolved around Comcast's ownership of entertainment giant NBCUniversal.

Malone said "it's true I have a few investments on the content side," such as Discovery Communications. "But I don't control either side."

He said that if Time Warner Cable had acquired the smaller Charter, there would "clearly not" be any regulatory concern at all.


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AT&T is prepared to abide by the new net neutrality rules under the DirecTV deal | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

AT&T is prepared to abide by the new net neutrality rules under the DirecTV deal | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In a few weeks, federal regulators are likely to approve AT&T's $49 billion purchase of DirecTV. To seal the deal, AT&T is expected to make several promises to soothe concerns that the acquisition could hurt consumers.

Among the deal's so-called conditions is expected to be something fairly simple. AT&T is prepared to accept aspects of the net neutrality rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission earlier this year, according to people familiar with the negotiations, who declined to be named because the deliberations are private.

AT&T has publicly opposed making the agency's newest net neutrality rules a condition of the acquisition. It said when it first proposed the merger that it was prepared to abide by an older version of net neutrality. But in negotiations with the FCC, which must approve the deal, AT&T may be willing to go further.

If AT&T ultimately followed the newer rules for Internet providers, it would be committing to at least three things. It would honor the FCC's ban on the slowing of Web sites, as well as a ban on blocking Web sites. It would also comply with a ban against taking payments from Web site operators to speed up their content, a practice known as "paid prioritization."

It is unclear how long AT&T would be required to abide by such a commitment, said the people familiar with the plans.

AT&T is part of an industry coalition suing to roll back the net neutrality rules. But if regulators approve the deal with an AT&T commitment to net neutrality, the company would be bound by the rules for the duration of the agreement no matter what happens to the court case.


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Quick fix for an early Internet problem lives on a quarter-century later | Craig Timberg | WashPost.com

Quick fix for an early Internet problem lives on a quarter-century later | Craig Timberg | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

By the time a pair of engineers sat down for lunch together in Austin, the Internet’s growing pains had become dire. Once a novelty for computer scientists, the network was now exploding in size, lurching ever closer to a hard mathematical wall built into one of the Internet’s most basic protocols.

As the prospect of system meltdown loomed, the men began scribbling ideas for a solution onto the back of a ketchup-stained napkin. Then a second. Then a third. The “three-napkins protocol,” as its inventors jokingly dubbed it, would soon revolutionize the Internet. And though there were lingering issues, the engineers saw their creation as a “hack” or “kludge,” slang for a short-term fix to be replaced as soon as a better alternative arrived.

That was 1989.

More than a quarter-century later — a span that has seen the fall of the Berlin Wall, the rise of the smartphone and an explosion of hacking — the “three-napkins protocol” still directs most long-haul traffic on the global network despite years of increasingly strenuous warnings about critical security problems. The three-napkins protocol has become the kludge that never died.

“Short-term solutions tend to stay with us for a very long time. And long-term solutions tend to never happen,” said Yakov Rekhter, one of the engineers who invented the “three-napkins protocol.” “That’s what I learned from this experience.”

The Internet can appear as elegantly designed as a race car as it immerses us in consuming worlds of sight and sound. But it’s closer to an assemblage of kludges — more Frankenstein than Ferrari — that endure because they work, or at least work well enough.


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MN: Cable Franchising: Learn more about it through Dakota County’s process | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

Cable franchising is always a prickly topic. Providers would often like to do away with or at least streamline the process of cable franchising. Local government is not always interested in losing control or revenue that stems from franchising.

Northern Dakota County is looking at cable franchising now. They recently sent an email out to residents about CenturyLink’s application for franchising. I think there’s a lot to be learned in the email – about the process in Northern Dakota and beyond…

Residents Feedback Wanted

Northern Dakota County Cable Communications Commission (“NDC4″) has received a Cable Television Franchise Application from CenturyLink, the local incumbent telephone exchange carrier operating in the Commission’s seven-city franchise area. Residents and businesses of Inver Grove Heights, Lilydale, Mendota, Mendota Heights, South St. Paul, Sunfish Lake, and West St. Paul are encouraged to submit comments or questions relating to CenturyLink’s franchise application via one of the following options:


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USA Freedom Vote Targeted for June 2 | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

USA Freedom Vote Targeted for June 2 | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

According to Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the USA Freedom Act will be reintroduced with three amendments, the first essentially a replacement bill with two changes, plus a couple of amendments to that new bill. That will likely come on Tuesday (June 2), with Burr's hope that it can pass Tuesday afternoon.

If the amendments are agreed to, the House will have to revote the bill, which was passed without amendments in that body under the threat that any changes would have killed it.

The Patriot Act Sec. 215 bulk metadata surveillance by the NSA expired May 31, and will have to wait at least another day before being revived in a different form in the USA Freedom Act, if it passes, as most expect.

The amendments in the substitute bill would do a couple of things.


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FCC Seeks Input On Mobile Wireless Competitiveness | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

FCC Seeks Input On Mobile Wireless Competitiveness | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The FCC is seeking input on just how competitive the mobile wireless market is.

That came in a Public Notice seeking info for the annual State of Competition in the Mobile Wireless Market report.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has made promoting wireless as a competitor to wired broadband a priority, but has said it is not yet a substitute.

The FCC is seeking comment on a number of issues, including coverage, usage, pricing, speed, latency, and how service is differentiated.

It also wants information on participation by women and minorities in the business, on privacy and security and whether consumers are willing to pay for such protections, and is looking for any comparisons of the U.S. market with other countries.

The commission is looking for data from the second half of 2014 and into 2015 and wants to hear back by July 14.


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The NSA’s domestic phone records program is dead for now. But the government has many ways to get phone data. | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com

The NSA’s domestic phone records program is dead for now. But the government has many ways to get phone data. | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A controversial program that allowed the government to collect Americans' phone records has ended, at least temporarily. The Senate adjourned Sunday without coming to an agreement about the future of the program — letting the legal authority for several national security programs expire.

Three different parts of the USA Patriot Act sunset — but it was Section 215, the provision used to authorize the National Security Agency program that collected the phone records of millions of Americans, that was at the heart of debate.

Members of the Obama administration have warned that the lapse of the program could harm national security. "These tools give us better ability to see the tactical moves that various terrorist groups or individuals are making," said CIA Director John Brennan during a "Face the Nation" appearance Sunday.

But several reviews of the phone record programs have found it ineffective — including the group President Obama assembled to review government surveillance programs and a majority of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent executive branch board.

And even with the sunset of the provisions the government will still have the ability to get much of the same information, although not in the exact same way or as quickly.

"It's obviously not good, and irresponsible — but I wouldn't be surprised, especially if this only lasts a week or two, that the government can't patch together what it needs," said Stewart Baker, a former NSA general counsel who also served assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security from 2005 through 2009.

The administration could use a "grandfather clause" built into the current version of the USA Patriot Act to keep collecting data for investigations that began before the provisions expired. Because the government often pursues broad investigations that can go on for years, there may a lot of chances for the government to use that clause.

"Any investigation that began before today can use all of the expired authorities," Baker said.


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