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CA: Silicon Valley uses growing clout to kill a digital privacy bill | LATimes.com

CA: Silicon Valley uses growing clout to kill a digital privacy bill | LATimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

 

Silicon Valley has wielded its growing political clout at the state Capitol to kill a digital privacy bill that would have given consumers access to information about them being collected online.

 

Had the Right to Know Act become law, California would have been the first state to take direct aim at an online industry that stockpiles and trades in a wide range of personal data about nearly every adult in the United States.

In a major defeat for consumer groups and privacy watchdogs, AB 1291 will instead become a two-year bill, effectively putting it into a deep freeze until next year.

 

Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) said she preferred to wait rather than "water down" the substance of her bill.

 

"Californians don't need to be persuaded that they should be able to ask a business what it knows about them and who it's sharing that information with. But in the Legislature, it has become clear that we still have our work cut out for us," she said.

 

The bill faced vehement opposition from a powerful coalition of technology companies and business lobbies that included Facebook Inc., Google Inc., the California Chamber of Commerce, insurers, bankers and cable television companies as well as direct marketers and data brokers. Their members collectively give millions of dollars to lawmakers and politicians.

 

Looking to sway public policy, the technology industry has significantly ramped up its presence and spending in Sacramento as it has in Washington. Silicon Valley companies now employ a phalanx of lobbyists in the state Capitol and, in the last six years, have more than doubled spending on lobbying to about $18 million in the 2011-12 legislative session from $8 million in 2005-06.

 

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UT: Google Fiber Targets Small Businesses In Provo | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel

UT: Google Fiber Targets Small Businesses In Provo | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Expanding on a “Early Access” program introduced in Kansas City last November, Google Fiber has launched a service tailored for small businesses in Provo, Utah, where the provider tangles with incumbent network operators Comcast and CenturyLink Communications.

Under that program, prospective small businesses in Google’s “fiberhoods” can sign up for 1-Gig broadband for $100 per month. Google Fiber, which is waiving its construction fee, is offering guaranteed pricing for one year. It’s also selling optional static IP addresses – one for $20 per month, or five for $30 per month.

Google Fiber also has network buildouts underway in Austin, Texas. In January, it announced plans to expand its mix of broadband and pay-TV offerings to 18 new cities across four metro areas in the Southeast U.S. – Atlanta, Ga.; Charlotte, N.C.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Raleigh-Durham, N.C.


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ACA’s Gessner: FCC’s ISP Branding an Insult | John Eggerton | Multichannel

ACA’s Gessner: FCC’s ISP Branding an Insult | John Eggerton | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

American Cable Association chairman Bob Gessner, president of MCTV, does not like being branded an evil operative by the FCC.

Asked why the FCC seemed to be viewing ISPs instead as “asps,” or the snakes in the virtuous circle that includes content/edge providers and consumers, Gessner was not shy about weighing in.

At the American Cable Association summit in Washington, Gessner told reporters at a press briefing that he was insulted by the way the FCC treated ISPs in its preamble to the Title II vote, basically redefining them from innovators and entrepreneurs to a threatening force that puts profits above the public interest.

He called it a cruel and intentional strategy to portray ISPs as evil. He said he has always wondered about another name for ISPs — broadband Internet access providers (BIAS), suggesting the FCC had a bias against ISPs who have been “nothing but innovators.”

He said it was cable operators who had provided competition in video, then competition in phone service, and competition in broadband, yet the FCC portrays them as evil gatekeepers.


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Lawmakers target data brokers in privacy bill | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com

Lawmakers target data brokers in privacy bill | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Four U.S. senators have resurrected legislation that would allow consumers to see and correct personal information held by data brokers and tell those businesses to stop sharing or selling it for marketing purposes.

The Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act, introduced by four Democratic senators Thursday, also would require the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to craft rules for a centralized website for consumers to view a list of data brokers covered by the bill.

Data brokers collect personal information about consumers, often without their knowledge, and resell it to other businesses.

The bill is needed because data brokers are a “shadow industry of surreptitious data collection that has amassed covert dossiers on hundreds of millions of Americans,” Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts, a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “Data brokers seem to believe that there is no such thing as privacy.”

Other sponsors of the bill are Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Shelden Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Al Franken of Minnesota. The new version of the DATA Act is similar to a 2014 bill co-sponsored by Markey that failed to pass in the Senate.

Blumenthal, in a statement, called data brokers “insidious, invisible threats” to privacy on the Internet.


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Mille Lacs County Broadband 2014 Update: Lots of adoptions programming, but need more deployment | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

Mille Lacs County Broadband 2014 Update: Lots of adoptions programming, but need more deployment | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For the upcoming weeks I’m working on a County-by-County look at the State of Broadband in MN. My hope is to feature a county a day (in alphabetical order). In November, Connect Minnesota released their final report on broadband availability. Here is how Mille Lacs County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 14.9
  • Number of Households: 10,166
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 44.03%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 55.99%


*note: for the eagle eye readers, I am sneaking Mille Lacs in out of alphabetical order upon request. (I will get back to Koochiching next.) A colleague is gathering info on Mille Lacs so this info is helpful to her and she was able to share some with me – so we get a very complete look at Mille Lacs. (Also – if you have info you want me to include on a county please feel free to send it! atreacy@treacyinfo.com)

The schools in Mille Lacs are good users of broadband; Marc Erickson of ECMECC spoke recently about their work at the Minnesota Broadband Task Force meeting. The problem Marc points out is that while the schools are generally well served, students have uneven access at home. If they live in town, they have affordable, decent access; if they outside of town their options are limited an expensive. This makes is difficult for teachers to base homework on having access – although think of an assignment that wouldn’t benefit from broadband access.

Mille Lacs has been working on boosting broadband adoption through participation in the Blandin Broadband Communities (BBC) program. I learned at one of the BBC meetings that affordability is a big issue in Mille Lacs. Not only is affordability always an issue with non-adopters but broadband connection start at $75 per month in the area – where a similar connection might be $50 per month in the Twin Cities. They are working on programs that would provide low income homes with free computers through PCs for People and free or reduced broadband access – at least for a trial period. But the other side of the issue is that poverty rates in Mille Lacs County are high…


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Pew Study: Local TV Remains Go-To News Source | John Eggerton | Multichannel

Pew Study: Local TV Remains Go-To News Source | John Eggerton | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Local broadcast TV news remains "the single most visible presence in the news space" and still draws a far bigger audience than TV websites.

That is according to a just-released study, Local News in the Digital Age, of print, broadcast and online news outlets in a trio of geographically diverse U.S. markets. The study was conducted by the Pew Research Center and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The study, which analyzed news outlets in Denver; Macon, Ga.; and Sioux City, Iowa, found that traffic, weather and sports segments accounted for about a third of the airtime on local TV news, and that short anchor reads rather than longer stories comprised about two-thirds of of the remainder.

In fact, brevity was the order of the day in all three markets. Nearly half (45%) of non-sports, weather and traffic stories in Denver were 30 seconds or less, compared with 29% in Sioux City and 17% in Macon. More than 80% of the stories in all the markets were less than two minutes long.

In addition to the legacy mainstream media, the study looked at "neighborhood and community newspapers, ethnic and alternative media outlets, civic organizations, nonprofits and municipal institutions."


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This just in: We still love news, and we get it in new ways | Mark Harden | Denver Business Journal

This just in: We still love news, and we get it in new ways | Mark Harden | Denver Business Journal | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Here's the maddening truth for those of us who deliver news for a living -- and for those of you who love to consume it.

Nearly nine out of 10 people crave local news -- it "matters deeply to the lives of residents," says a new study from the Pew Research Center.

But what people want from local news providers, and where they go to get it, and which groups want what kind of news, has never been more fractured.


In Denver, just over half of residents usually get local news from a TV station, and less than a quarter get it from a daily newspaper.


To try to excavate some insight into how people consume news today, Pew studied three markets -- Denver; Macon, Georgia; and Sioux City, Iowa; a big, medium and small market. They surveyed residents last July and August and audited local news content (Pew counts no fewer than 143 local news providers in Denver, including this one).


The findings about Denver -- released late Wednesday MST -- are astounding. Here are just a few that jump out:


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FCC a 'referee,' not a regulator, of the Internet, Wheeler says | Matt Hamblen | ComputerWorld.com

FCC a 'referee,' not a regulator, of the Internet, Wheeler says | Matt Hamblen | ComputerWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Tuesday defended the commission's recent vote in support of net neutrality, saying it isn't regulation as some critics contend it is, but instead sets up the Federal Communication Commission as a kind of referee.

"If the Internet is the most powerful pervasive platform in the history of the planet, can it exist without a referee?" Wheeler said. "There needs to be a referee with a yardstick ... isn't that something that makes sense? It's not a regulatory structure but a structure that says Internet activity should be 'just and reasonable' and with somebody to throw a flag when they aren't."

Wheeler spoke during an onstage appearance at Mobile World Congress and was interviewed by Anne Bouverot, director general of the MWC's governing organization, GSMA.

Bouverot asked Wheeler to explain some of the arcane points of the Federal Communications Commission vote on net neutrality for the international audience. For one, she wondered how Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 became a central tenant of the vote by reclassifying Internet broadband providers as a type of utility.

Wheeler said that the FCC actually modernized Title II and relied on that portion of the 1934 law because it was used to regulate wireless carriers more than a decade ago.

"We didn't go off half-cocked, we said, 'let's find a model that works,'" Wheeler said. At one point, he said that Title II in the original law has 48 sections, of which 19 sections weren't used to regulate the wireless industry in 1993. With net neutrality, the FCC didn't use 27 of the 48 sections to oversee broadband Internet providers --both wired and wireless.

"We are being less regulatory" than with the wireless industry, he said.


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Internet.org hopes to reach 100 countries in a year, up from six now | Matt Hamblen | ComputerWorld.com

Internet.org hopes to reach 100 countries in a year, up from six now | Matt Hamblen | ComputerWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Internet.org, which is already offering free Internet service in six countries, has ambitious plans to connect to 100 countries in the next year.

"We like big, ambitious goals at Facebook," said Chris Daniels, head of Internet.org in a discussion with several reporters at Mobile World Congress (MWC).

Facebook and several partners founded Internet.org two years ago; it is already serving 7 million customers in Columbia, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, India and Zambia. Many of those who were originally connected for free are now paying some fee for more advanced data services.

Daniels, a vice president at Facebook in charge of Internet.org, said the conversion of free Internet users to paying customers is critical to the carriers who provide the Internet infrastructure that makes the service possible.

He sounded the same refrain that Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg offered on Monday in a keynote presentation at MWC with three onstage carriers, including Airtel Africa, which has offered Internet.org in Ghana, Kenya and Zambia. Millicom, another partner, saw a 30% increase in data users when free data data was launched in Paraguay.

While the goal of 100 countries in a year is ambitious, Daniels said it is achievable, partly because Internet.org has figured out how to work with carriers to offer online services for free that don't cannibalize the paid services that are the lifeblood of many carriers.


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UT: HB414 proposes a new state broadband agency | FreeUptopia.org

UT: HB414 proposes a new state broadband agency | FreeUptopia.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Is Utah finally getting serious about broadband? Maybe. Rep. Stephen Handy is proposing a new Utah Broadband Outreach Center to spur more development in the state. Like the Utah Broadband Project, it would be attached to GOED and have a director appointed by the agency. Its stated purposes are to coordinate between state and local agencies to ensure best practices (like proactively notifications of open trenches) and make policy recommendations to both the governor and legislature.

This is one of those two-edged swords depending on who the agency chooses to involve. If existing players get to dominate the conversation, we’ll get more incumbent-protecting legislation and little improvement in service or competition. If they involve local ISPs and other stakeholders, it could actually do some good. Given that both Comcast and AT&T have expressed support of the bill, they seem to think they have a shot at gaming it, so it would be critical, if this bill were passed, to make sure the agency hears from you about how it should operate.


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Give us the last mile and we will prosper | Mimi Pickering Opinion | Kentucky.com

Give us the last mile and we will prosper | Mimi Pickering Opinion | Kentucky.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The promise of high-speed broadband is that we can connect, create and contribute from wherever we are. Mountain kids can be more competitive in school, health providers can get information they need to keep us well, and we can bring our goods and services to a worldwide market.

Kentucky, however, ranks 46th in broadband availability; 23 percent of rural areas do not have access at all.

Even in our towns we struggle. At my Whitesburg home I upgraded to the fastest AT&T service available, yet efforts to download a software update for my cell phone timed out during four attempts. Today at the office the computer told me it would take 5 hours. It actually took 6.5 hours for the 280 MB file.

A friend recently moved to a house along U.S. 23 between Prestonsburg and Paintsville and a mile from a large hospital. When he contacted the provider asking for Internet service, he was told the best they could offer was DSL, and he would have to go onto a DSL wait list. They would not tell how long the wait would be.

Gov. Steve Beshear and Rep. Hal Rogers are to be commended for making reliable, accessible high-speed Internet throughout eastern Kentucky a top SOAR priority. In January they announced the Next Generation Kentucky Information Highway Plan, a public-private partnership to develop a fiber "backbone" infrastructure throughout the state, starting in the east.

The project will build the main lines — what is called the "middle mile" — with the goal of having fiber connected to anchor institutions like state government buildings, universities, community and technical colleges in all Kentucky counties.

Here is the rub — the plan does not deliver high speed broadband to our homes and businesses. With the notable exception of many of the region's rural telephone cooperatives, the major Internet providers have not seen fit to invest in infrastructure or to offer genuine high-speed Internet in every mountain community. Will that change with the Kentucky Information Highway?

There are also opportunities. The network will be open-access, allowing current providers, cities, partnerships and others to tap into the "middle mile" lines to complete the "last mile" with service to individual homes and businesses. And the leases will not be limited to one provider per county or community, thus increasing potential for competition. East Kentucky entrepreneurs — both for- and non-profit — need to jump on this chance.


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Comcast Blocks HBO Go From Working On Playstation 4, Won't Coherently Explain Why | Karl Bode | Techdirt

Comcast Blocks HBO Go From Working On Playstation 4, Won't Coherently Explain Why | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

About a year ago we noted how Comcast has a weird tendency to prevent its broadband users from being able to use HBO Go on some fairly standard technology, including incredibly common Roku hardware. For several years Roku users couldn't use HBO Go if they had a Comcast connection, and for just as long Comcast refused to explain why. Every other broadband provider had no problem ensuring the back-end authentication (needed to confirm you have a traditional cable connection) worked, but not Comcast. When pressed, Comcast would only offer a generic statement saying yeah, it would try and get right on that:

"With every new website, device or player we authenticate, we need to work through technical integration and customer service which takes time and resources. Moving forward, we will continue to prioritize as we partner with various players."

And the problem wasn't just with Roku. When HBO Go on the Playstation 3 was released, it worked with every other TV-Everywhere compatible provider, but not Comcast. When customers complained in the Comcast forums, they were greeted with total silence. When customers called in to try and figure out why HBO Go wouldn't work, they received a rotating crop of weird half answers or outright incorrect statements (it should arrive in 48 hours, don't worry!).

Fast forward nearly a year since the HBO Go Playstation 3 launch, and Sony has now announced an HBO Go app for the Playstation 4 console. And guess what -- when you go to activate the app you'll find it works with every major broadband ISP -- except Comcast. Why?


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Netflix won’t count against iiNet broadband caps in Australia | Janko Roettgers | GigaOM Tech News

Netflix won’t count against iiNet broadband caps in Australia | Janko Roettgers | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

So much for net neutrality: Netflix has struck a deal with Australia’s iiNet ISP to exempt its traffic from iiNet’s broadband caps. This means that iiNet subscribers will be able to watch as much Netflix as they want, without the fear that their viewing will lead to any overage charges. But it’s also bad news for any upstart trying to compete with Netflix, and it runs counter to the company’s long and very public defense of net neutrality.

Netflix said on Monday that it is going to launch on March 24 in Australia and New Zealand. As part of the announcement, iiNet revealed that it will exempt any Netflix traffic from its customers’ monthly bandwidth quotas.

iiNet currently has a 100GB cap for its cheapest broadband plans, and charges customers who exceed that quota $0.60 AUS (about $0.47) per additional gigabyte. The company also has 300GB, 600GB and 1TB plans. Netflix estimates that its customers use up to 7GB of data per hour for the company’s best-looking 1080p HD streams. However, averages are typically much lower.

In the past, Netflix has taken a strong stance against broadband caps. In 2012, its CEO Reed Hastings said that Comcast was violating net neutrality priciples by exempting its own online video services from its broadband caps. “Comcast should apply caps equally, or not at all,” Hastings wrote on his Facebook page back then.

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Comcast Looking for Legislative 'Solution' to FCC Broadband Vote | Erik Gruenwedel | Home Media Magazine

Comcast Looking for Legislative 'Solution' to FCC Broadband Vote | Erik Gruenwedel | Home Media Magazine | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Perhaps no company could be more impacted by the Federal Communication Commission’s vote to reclassify broadband as a utility than Comcast. As the nation’s No. 1 cabler, it also controls a large percentage of household Internet connections, including broadband.

Yet while the FCC’s historic 3-2 vote Feb. 26 in favor of reclassification made headlines, few people have actually seen the more than 300 pages of the order, including Comcast.

Speaking March 3 at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom confab in San Francisco, Comcast CFO Michael Angelakis reiterated company statements in support of net neutrality, transparency, anti-throttling, blocking and tiered access.

“We don’t do any of those things,” he said.

Angelakis, like most ISP executives, doesn’t like the ominous role government and regulation (especially through an 80-year-old law) could play in how broadband is shepherded going forward.

“We haven’t seen the order, so we have to read it very carefully. We’ll look very carefully at the forbearance, which obviously is very important,” Angelakis said.


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Sohn: Title II Shouldn't Adversely Impact Small Ops | John Eggerton | Multichannel

Sohn: Title II Shouldn't Adversely Impact Small Ops | John Eggerton | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Gigi Sohn, a top aide to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, said Wednesday that the FCC’s Title II order was a light-touch approach to new regulations that should not have any adverse impact on smaller cable operators.

That came in a discussion with American Cable Association exec Ross Lieberman at the association’s annual summit in Washington. Lieberman said he would have to agree to disagree with Sohn on that point. Elsewhere at the convention, ACA execs said Title II would likely mean rate regulation and it had not ruled out suing the FCC.

Sohn said the chairman believes that “Light-touch Title II is not going to affect your businesses in any negative way.” She said the FCC is not applying 27 of 43 provisions, and the ones it is applying are on things like privacy protections, protections against billing fraud, and protections for the disabled. She said she hoped they could all agree those were important values, and as cable operators they were subject to privacy protections already. “I don’t want to be so glib as to say these are 'sleeves off the vest,’ because they are requirements,” she said, “but I don’t think you will find them burdensome.”


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Stakeholders Spar Over Comcast/TWC, AT&T/DirecTV | John Eggerton | Multichannel

Stakeholders Spar Over Comcast/TWC, AT&T/DirecTV | John Eggerton | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Parties on both sides of the Comcast/Time Warner Cable and AT&T/DirecTV deals in particular and consolidation in general lined up to gauge the status of those deals inside the Beltway.

That came at a panel session at the American Cable Association Summit in Washington.


Panel participants included Jon Lebowitz, of Davis Polk (which represents Comcast), and former Federal Trade Commission Chief; John Bergmayer of Public Knowledge; Jeff Blum from Dish; Hank Hultquist from AT&T and Ross Lieberman from the American Cable Association.


Blum, Bergmayer and Lieberman were arrayed against the deals.


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China says its new cybersurveillance proposal mimics U.S. practices | Michael Kan | ComputerWorld.com

China says its new cybersurveillance proposal mimics U.S. practices | Michael Kan | ComputerWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

China is scratching its head over why the U.S. is opposing a new anti-terror law relating to cybersurveillance when the U.S. and other countries have also requested that tech companies hand over data to help stop terrorists.

On Wednesday, China's parliamentary spokeswoman tried to play down the impact the proposed legislation might have on foreign tech businesses, in the face of U.S. fears it would require companies to hand over sensitive data to the country's government.

The anti-terror law is still under review, but if passed, it would require tech companies to give encryption keys to the authorities, and create "back doors" into their systems for government surveillance access.

On Monday, President Barack Obama said in an interview with Reuters that he's urged the country to change the legislation, and even raised the matter directly with China's president.

"We have made it very clear to them that this is something they are going to have to change if they are to do business with the United States," Obama said.

But on Wednesday, Fu Ying, the spokeswoman of China's National People's Congress, said that the U.S. probably misunderstands the proposed regulations.


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Rep. Walden backs legislative fix for network neutrality | Brian Santo | CED Magazine

Rep. Walden backs legislative fix for network neutrality | Brian Santo | CED Magazine | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Speaking at the ACA Summit, Rep. Greg Walden called the FCC’s decision to reclassify broadband as a communications service subject to Title II of the Communications Act a “total overreach,” adding that the decision was “illogical” and “illegal.”

Those who oppose broadband reclassification have kept up a steady verbal assault against the maneuver since it was first telegraphed.

The arguments against Title II classification have consistently relied on anti-regulatory and anti-government rhetoric (“overreach,” “illogical,” and “illegal,” along with “onerous” and the like), and on casting the Communications Act of 1934 as out of date.

The ACA has appealed to the FCC for exemptions for its membership, on the basis of concerns that the costs of compliance could be financially crippling for smaller companies. The FCC has often enough accepted this argument as legitimate in the past; it has not with this issue – at least not yet.


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Netflix Insists It Hasn’t Changed Its Net Neutrality Stance | Amy Schatz | Re/Code.net

Netflix Insists It Hasn’t Changed Its Net Neutrality Stance | Amy Schatz | Re/Code.net | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Netflix insists its position on net neutrality hasn’t changed, despite comments made by a senior executive Wednesday morning that suggested otherwise.

Netflix Chief Financial Officer David Wells said the company wasn’t thrilled that the Federal Communications Commission last week passed tough new net neutrality rules that re-regulate broadband lines. He made the comments at a Morgan Stanley media and technology conference.

“Were we pleased it pushed to Title II? Probably not. We were hoping there would be a non-regulated solution,” Wells said, according to Variety, which first reported the comments. He was referring to use of Title II of the Communications Act, which was written for old phone lines, as the source of regulatory authority.

Since Netflix was one of the main proponents of the FCC re-regulating Internet lines and expanding net neutrality rules to also cover middle-mile Internet connections, Wells’ remarks raised a few eyebrows. They also came just a day after Netflix ran afoul of some net neutrality advocates for a deal it struck in Australia to allow subscribers to watch its videos without it applying to their monthly data caps.

Netflix went into damage control Wednesday afternoon, with a company spokeswoman saying that Wells was “trying to convey the evolution of our position on net neutrality in recent years.”

In a statement, the company said it “supports the FCC’s action last week to adopt Title II in ensuring consumers get the Internet they paid for without interference by ISPs. There has been zero change in our very well-documented position in support of strong net neutrality rules.”


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This new GOP bill would completely gut the FCC’s net neutrality rules | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

This new GOP bill would completely gut the FCC’s net neutrality rules | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Even as top Republican lawmakers vow to keep working with Democrats on a bipartisan net neutrality bill, a splinter coalition of conservative lawmakers are developing their own answer to the Federal Communications Commission's new rules for Internet providers.

The idea is simple: Roll everything back.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), has the support of 31 co-sponsors, all Republicans. It would undo the FCC's aggressive regulations that aim to prevent Comcast, Verizon and other Internet providers from speeding up or slowing down Web sites. And it would prohibit the FCC from overseeing those companies with utility-style rules in the future.

The legislation "will put the brakes on this FCC overreach and protect our innovators from these job-killing regulations," Blackburn said in a statement.

It isn't likely to get very far, if only because Democrats, who largely support the FCC, are loath to play ball. But Blackburn's legislation is significant for other reasons: It highlights how many Republicans aren't convinced by — or perhaps actively dislike -- the effort by establishment Republicans to find a middle-ground approach.

That middle-ground proposal, backed by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.), would also block the FCC from using Title II of the Communications Act, as Blackburn's bill does. But it still enshrines many of President Obama's net neutrality principles into law. For conservatives who are opposed to greater regulation on principle, this is a bit of a concession.

Washington lobbyists have recently taken to pointing out how far mainstream Republicans have come on net neutrality in just the past year. Once opposed to any new regulations, many in the GOP now acknowledge the need for some rules of the road (just written by Congress, not the FCC).


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Historic FCC Vote Casts a Wide Net: People Power Prevails--For Now | Lauren-Glenn Davitian | Center for Media and Democracy

Hopefully, by now you’ve heard of the historic decision by the FCC to reclassify the Internet as a “common carrier”-- requiring Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to offer service to the public and their competitors as if they were a freeway--not a private toll road. Our friends in the public interest community call the ruling a "triumph of the public interest over big money”. Conservative politicians and pundits see it as “Obamacare for the Internet”.

We agree with long-time open Internet lawyer Harold Feld’s assessment that:

“This is, overwhelmingly, the biggest defeat for vested interests I can recall in my 15 years working in this sector. It was against the conventional wisdom, over the united objections of every major industry constituency, without significant support from major industry players such as Google and Facebook or Microsoft. This is bigger than stopping SOPA/PIPA in 2012, because we actually pushed the FCC to do something affirmative, rather than just stopping Congress from making a giveaway to the industry.” (1)

Quick History: For more than 80 years, the FCC has regulated telephone and broadcasters in order to assure the broadest reach of communications technologies. Open access and universal service policies have been essential to promote widespread technology use and significantly contributed to our nation’s economic prosperity. But when both the telcos and the cable companies got into the new Internet business in the 1990's, the FCC, not sure how to regulate the new creature, made up an entirely new classification.

As an “Information Service”, Internet regulation lacked meaningful public interest protections and allowed the ISP’s to discriminate against content they did not own. Cable companies started to slow down connections for customers sharing video files with each other, and wireless companies tried to block their customers from using services like Skype and FaceTime. There were no requirements to stop them. But open media advocates began to make their voices heard and carefully, over many years and struggles, laid the groundwork for a national outpouring.


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5G, net neutrality may be headed for a showdown | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com

5G, net neutrality may be headed for a showdown | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Net neutrality and 5G may be on a collision course as the mobile industry tries to prepare for a wide range of mobile applications with differing needs.

The net neutrality rules passed by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission last week have raised some eyebrows at Mobile World Congress this week. The full text of the rules isn’t public yet, but mobile movers and shakers are having their say. The latest questions involve 5G, the next-generation standard that everyone here is trying to plan for.

The most common thing they think 5G will have to do is to serve a lot of different purposes. Regulators’ attempts to ban “fast lanes” and other special treatment might make that impossible, people who’ve been thinking about 5G said Wednesday.

Industrial sensors, self-driving cars and other emerging uses of the Internet have needs that can’t be met by a general-purpose network, Ericsson Group CTO Ulf Ewaldsson said during a panel discussion. That’s driving a global discussion on a so-called “industrial Internet” alongside the regular Internet that’s grown up around the Web and other consumer activities, he said.

Regulatory efforts like the FCC’s rules don’t see a distinction, Ewaldsson said. He didn’t slam the agency for this but said the mobile industry needs to do a better job of explaining what it’s trying to do. Most importantly, it’s not trying to block or throttle people’s access to the Internet, he said.

On Monday at the show, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the Internet needs a referee to determine what’s “just and reasonable.” That gives hope to Balasz Bertenyi, who leads part of the technical specifications group in the 3GPP, which will play a key role in 5G. He said there are already mechanisms in 4G to make sure voice calls get the right quality of service, so special treatment for special kinds of traffic are likely to be allowed.

However regulators may look at it, something will have to be done if 5G is going to serve all mobile needs, said Chaesub Lee, director of the International Telecommunication Union’s Standardization Bureau. Today, all traffic is defined as either broadband or not, he said. “Our treatment of traffic is not smart enough to support all the business models,” Lee said.

There’s such a thing as too broad a standard, Ericsson’s Ewaldsson said. He hopes 5G leaves some mobile applications to others.


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After net neutrality: Could Comcast's big merger be in jeopardy? | Julian Hattem | The Hill

After net neutrality: Could Comcast's big merger be in jeopardy? | Julian Hattem | The Hill | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The tough regulations for net neutrality are a wild card when it comes to the $45 billion merger of the nation’s two biggest cable companies, industry observers say.

On the one hand, some analysts argue that the new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations will eliminate many of the harms that might come from combining Comcast and Time Warner Cable, giving regulators reason to approve the deal.


But if the new rules are a symptom of a larger trend at the FCC of cracking down on big companies, it could spell trouble going forward.

“I think we’ve seen an FCC that has been much firmer with the broadband industry than a lot of people expected a year ago,” John Bergmayer, a senior staff attorney at Public Knowledge and an opponent of the merger, told reporters on Monday.

“It shows that you have an FCC and a chairman at the FCC who is really not afraid to take on established industry [and] do what he thinks is right.”


In recent weeks, as the regulatory review of the merger has stretched on at both the FCC and the Justice Department, some analysts have begun to downgrade their expectations that the deal will be approved. 


They have pointed to not just the net neutrality rules, which treat broadband Internet like a public utility, but also recent moves to block state laws limiting towns from expanding their own government-run Web services and the FCC's decision to increase the internal benchmark for what qualifies as high-speed broadband.


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Net Neutrality Won’t Stop Some Of The Worst Things About The Internet | Lauren Williams | Think Progress

Net Neutrality Won’t Stop Some Of The Worst Things About The Internet | Lauren Williams | Think Progress | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Long live the open internet! That was how advocates and net neutrality supporters reacted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passing its Open Internet Order last week. Net neutrality supporters quickly heralded it as a victory for startups and consumers who would be shielded from having their content and internet access slowed, banned or blocked by broadband providers.

It’s unclear how far the net neutrality rules go — details of the FCC’s plan won’t become public for several weeks — but that won’t stop make internet access cheaper, or even stop fast lanes in all forms hikes from ISPs that undermine the spirit of a free and open internet. Just because internet activists scored a win by getting net neutrality reinstated, doesn’t mean internet services will become any cheaper any time soon.

“Net neutrality doesn’t address the harms that the Comcast merger with Time Warner could create,” Jeffrey Blum, senior vice president and deputy counsel of Dish Network, said on a media conference call Monday. “Over-the-top (OTT) services compete with Comcast-Time Warner, and they don’t want to compete with Sling TV, etc. They have a greater ability to sabotage over-the-top if they merge. Most of this is not addressed at all through net neutrality.”

OTT services include the likes of Netflix and Hulu that stream video content over the internet, bypassing cable companies and instead relying on ISPs to conduct their business. Over the years, ISPs and big companies have become one and the same through multi-billion-dollar media mergers, which have been on the rise in recent years.

Sprint and T-Mobile tanked a merger deal last year that would have created serious competition for top wireless providers Verizon and AT&T. AT&T withdrew its bid to buy T-Mobile in 2011, but is looking to merge with DirecTV. And lastly, Comcast is waiting to merge with Time Warner. The FCC halted both deals to determine how beneficial the deals are to the public interest and is expected to make final decisions in March.

The Comcast-Time Warner deal has one key distinction from AT&T-DirecTV: A merger would make the Comcast not only the top cable provider, but the top internet service provider (ISP).

“Once you’re at that scale, you have the opportunity to do things those other providers can’t do,” said John Bergmayer, senior staff attorney for Public Knowledge, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C., that focuses on the open internet, digital and telecom law. “With Comcast, they can take advantage of the number of subscribers on their network and dictate terms, price on why you should pay more.”

With the merger, Comcast would have a virtual monopoly over and video programming and interconnection. Interconnection or peering, lets services such as Netflix pay an ISP like Comcast or Verizon for direct access to their network. Multiple companies can pay this toll to plug into the ISP’s network, like paying to use a single socket on a surge protector.

But the result is that some traffic is prioritized over others on the ISP’s physical network — a violation of the spirit of net neutrality but completely legal.


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Cutting the final cord: How wireless power and wireless charging works | Christopher Null | NetworkWorld.com

Cutting the final cord: How wireless power and wireless charging works | Christopher Null | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In the 1890s, Nikola Tesla captured the imagination of the world with his invention of the Tesla coil, a device that could transmit electricity through the air, no wires required. More than 100 years later, the world has responded by adapting this breakthrough technology… mainly to recharge their electric toothbrushes.

But things are changing rapidly in the world of wireless power, with some new ideas coming to the forefront in the last few years. As more and more gadget makers get hip to the idea of a world without power bricks, this is a technology category that’s about to explode.

How will your phone, your lights, and even your electric car someday be powered without a wire? Here’s a primer on how wireless power works.


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Net Neutrality Rules Don't Protect AT&T In Battle Over Throttling, FTC Argues | Wendy Davis | Media Post

Net Neutrality Rules Don't Protect AT&T In Battle Over Throttling, FTC Argues | Wendy Davis | Media Post | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Federal Trade Commission says in new court papers that it is entitled to continue pursuing a lawsuit against AT&T, despite the new net neutrality rules.

The agency argues in court papers filed on Monday that the net neutrality rules, which were passed last week by the Federal Communications Commission, don't “relieve AT&T of liability for its unfair and deceptive throttling program.”

The FTC's papers come less than one week after a different agency -- the FCC -- voted to reclassify broadband as a common-carrier service, which is regulated under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. That decision enabled the FCC to prohibit broadband providers from discriminating among content providers -- such as by creating fast lanes. At the same time, it also appears to strip the FTC of the power to bring enforcement actions, because the FTC lacks authority over common carriers.

But the FTC argues in its new court papers that even if the net neutrality regulations prevent it from bringing future enforcement actions against AT&T, the rules don't apply retroactively.


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