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Cable Companies are a lot like Internet Companies | Cable Tech Talk

Cable Companies are a lot like Internet Companies | Cable Tech Talk | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

 

From their inception in the 1950’s, cable companies have been fearlessly diving into the latest technology and risking big on the future of information and entertainment. When examined closely, it’s apparent that cable companies have, for the last 60 years, behaved a lot like today’s top Internet companies – always on the lookout for the next big thing to optimize the user experience. And like successful Internet companies, cable knows that the trick is to be agile enough to spot trends, shift course, and stay on top of razor-edge technology as it is redesigned.

 

A classic example is in 1974 when Coaxial Communications offered the very first Pay Per View experience to customers in Columbus, Ohio. The service was called Telecinema and provided movies in the home for $2.50 each. Rather than resisting investments and risk, cable companies embraced a new business model (and a whole new way to argue about what to watch on TV), betting that the living room cinema experience was the wave of the future. They were right, and today pay-per-view services contribute $2.7 billion to cable revenue.

 

In the 1990s, the Internet was transitioning from a nascent communications tech delivering university documents to a must-have service required for starting a business, getting an education, and random daily activities like finding yoga classes for half price. Rather than attempting to slow the Internet from blossoming, cable did more than any other industry to bring America into the broadband era. Cable started a massive nationwide rebuild of its network, investing $200 billion in facilities and equipment that enabled the always-on platform we have today. This progress has sparked a media and cultural evolution that has forever changed communications and entertainment.

 

Perhaps the greatest shift to home entertainment since color TV was revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show in 1999, when the world was first introduced to digital video recorders (DVRs). Companies like ReplayTV and TiVo were the first to enter the game, providing consumers with a way to time shift programming. This could have disrupted the traditional cable model, but operators embraced DVR technology and today, along with on-demand offerings, cable consumers have instantaneous, flexible access to content in a way that was practically unimaginable a decade ago.

 

And cable is not done innovating. The writing is on the walls and in short time, we’ll be watching most of our video over IP and on multiple Internet-connected devices. Cable is embracing new technology and working towards a comprehensive TV-everywhere experience. From cable operator services that offer live and on-demand viewing on multiple platforms to the popular channel-based apps like Watch ESPN and HBO Go, cable is delivering consumers flexible TV viewing on almost any IP connected device.

 

Whether it’s a new technology or an industry trend, cable companies are not threatened by innovation; they’re leading the charge. It’s an entrepreneurial spirit that began in the 1950’s and one that continues strong today. What will come next? If we can imagine it, technology innovators like cable will deliver it.

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Eds, Meds, and the Feds | Tracy Ross | Center for American Progress

Eds, Meds, and the Feds | Tracy Ross | Center for American Progress | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The growth of U.S. cities is largely rooted in the nation’s industrial past. As industry boomed, local governments constructed roads, sewers, and water systems, making it easier to live and work in densely populated areas. An increasing number of factories opened, public transportation expanded, and workers formed neighborhoods nearby. In short, cities grew alongside their businesses, and these firms employed workers, paid taxes, and purchased goods and services from other businesses. Not only did businesses make economic contributions to these cities, their owners and management teams provided civic leadership that, in some cases, served as a powerful enabler for taking on visionary projects.

The role of businesses in cities has become markedly different over the past few decades. Suburbanization, technological innovations, and globalization have each shifted the idea that businesses are rooted in communities. Communities across the country continue to experience the devastating effects of factory closings, and many of the jobs lost during the 2007 Great Recession will not return as businesses are forced to adapt to a new economic climate. Furthermore, only about one-quarter of low- and middle-skill jobs are accessible within a 90 minute-commute in metropolitan areas.

However, some institutions—including colleges, universities, and hospitals—maintain and foster strong connections to the places where they are located and serve many of the same functions as early industry leaders. They participate in local and national markets, employ hundreds—if not thousands—of workers, and purchase from other businesses. These institutions are often referred to collectively as “Eds and Meds,” or anchor institutions, as they are rooted in the communities where they are located.


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U.S. senator asks Internet providers to commit to no 'fast lanes' | Alina Selyukh | Reuters.com

U.S. senator asks Internet providers to commit to no 'fast lanes' | Alina Selyukh | Reuters.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy on Thursday pressed large Internet providers to pledge that they will not strike deals that may help some websites load faster than others or give similar "fast lanes" to affiliated services.

As regulators work on new so-called "net neutrality" rules, Leahy wrote to chiefs of AT&T Inc, Verizon Communications Inc, Time Warner Cable Inc and Charter Communications Inc.

In his letters, similar to one sent to Comcast Corp on Monday, Leahy asked the leading Internet service providers (ISPs) to formally commit to no so-called "paid prioritization" deals in which content companies could pay Internet providers to ensure smooth and fast delivery of their traffic.

The Federal Communications Commission has received 3.9 million comments after it proposed new web traffic rules that would prohibit ISPs from blocking content, but suggested allowing some "commercially reasonable" paid prioritization deals.

Large ISPs, including Verizon, Comcast and AT&T, have been asserting that they had no plans for such paid prioritization arrangements and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said he would not tolerate anti-competitive or anti-consumer prioritization deals.

Nonetheless, consumer advocates and other critics are concerned that opening the door for paid prioritization, could create "fast lanes" for some content and so relegate other websites and applications to "slow lanes."

"These types of arrangements pose a significant threat of dividing the Internet into those who can afford to compete and those who cannot," Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, wrote in his letters.


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MS: Hiwassee fibrehood in Starkville qualifies for C Spire FTTH | TelecomPaper

MS: Hiwassee fibrehood in Starkville qualifies for C Spire FTTH | TelecomPaper | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

C Spire has announced that Starkvile's Hiwassee fibrehood, which extends from the city centre to the northern edge, reached its 45 percent pre-registration target on 23 October and now joins the South Montgomery, Timbercove and Cotton District fibrehoods, which qualified earlier this year for the new suite of services. The four areas in Starkville, MS, along with five areas in the cities of Horn Lake, Ridgeland and the entire town of Quitman, will be the first in Mississippi with internet access up to 100 times faster than the national average broadband speeds.

Construction started in June in the South Montgomery and Timbercove areas of Starkville and is scheduled to begin soon in the other two areas of the city that have qualified for the service. C Spire Fibre crews began laying fibre optic cable for last mile connections in three areas of Ridgeland in May and Quitman in June.

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Cities in Kentucky and Massachusetts Want a Say In Comcast/Time Warner Cable Merger | community broadband networks

Cities in Kentucky and Massachusetts Want a Say In Comcast/Time Warner Cable Merger | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As the feds continue to evaluate the wisdom of the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger, local communities in several states are attempting to throw a wrench in the federal approval machine.

In Worcester, Massachusetts, the City Council recently refused to approve the transfer of the city's cable television license to Comcast. In order to sweet-talk the federal agencies concerned the merger may create too much market concentration, Comcast has worked out a deal with Charter Communications to transfer customers in certain geographic areas. Charter is the current incumbent in Worcester.

According to a Telegam & Gazette article, the City Council does not need to approve the transfer for it to take affect. Nevertheless, the City Council voted 8-3 on October 14 to urge City Manager, Edward M. Augustus Jr., not to approve the transfer of the license. If Augustus makes no determination, the transfer will automatically be approved.

The city can only examine the transfer based on four criteria including company management, technical experience, legal experience, and financial capabilities. Management and poor customer service are the sticking points for Worcester:

District 5 Councilor Gary Rosen said the City Council should not welcome Comcast to Worcester because of its "deplorable and substandard" customer service across the country.

"It's a terrible company," he said. "In my opinion, they should not be welcome in this city. Comcast is a wolf in wolf's clothing; it's that bad. They are awful, no doubt about it. Maybe we can't stop it, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't speak out."

A similar scenario is playing out in Lexington, Kentucky. The community is the second largest city served by Time Warner Cable in the state. They are concerned existing customer service problems will worsen if Comcast becomes their provider.


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In win for broadcasters, court shuts down Aereo’s live TV feature | Cyrus Farivar | Ars Technica

In win for broadcasters, court shuts down Aereo’s live TV feature | Cyrus Farivar | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A New York federal judge has sided with a group of major broadcasters—including Twentieth Century Fox and the Public Broadcasting System—and shut down TV-over-the-Internet startup Aereo’s "Watch Now" system.


"The Supreme Court has concluded that Aereo performs publicly when it retransmits Plaintiffs' content live over the Internet and thus infringes Plaintiffs' copyrighted works," Judge Alison Nathan wrote in her 17-page opinion and order on Thursday.


"In light of this conclusion, Aereo cannot claim harm from its inability to continue infringing Plaintiffs' copyrights. In addition, in light of the fact that Plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success on the merits rather than just sufficiently serious questions going to the merits, they need no longer show that the balance of hardships tips decidedly in their favor."


As Ars reported in June 2014, the tenacious firm was badly damaged after it lost before the Supreme Court case on a 6-3 vote. The Supreme Court said Aereo's strategy of using tiny antennas to push over-the-air TV though the Internet looked too much like a cable company to avoid paying copyright royalties.


But Aereo didn't give up, and ran with that ruling, arguing it should be allowed to pay the same retransmission rate that cable companies pay by law, which is around one percent of revenue. That strategy has already failed once, when a company called Ivi tried it a few years back. The Copyright Office has refused to license Aereo as a cable company until a court rules otherwise.

"Doing its best to turn lemons into lemonade, Aereo now seeks to capitalize on the Supreme Court's comparison of it to a [cable] TV system to argue that it is in fact a cable system that should be entitled to a compulsory license under Section 111," Judge Nathan added. "This argument is unavailing for a number of reasons."


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Sprint Realizes Not Everyone Wants a $200 Cell Phone Bill: Announces $20, 1GB Family Data Plan | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Sprint Realizes Not Everyone Wants a $200 Cell Phone Bill: Announces $20, 1GB Family Data Plan | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If your family budget cannot handle a $200 monthly cell phone bill from AT&T or Verizon and you can keep your data usage to around 1GB, Sprint has a deal for you.

On Wednesday, Sprint unveiled a low-end family data plan offering 1GB of data for $20 a month, an improvement over the 600MB data option Sprint used to offer. It’s also a better deal than the 500MB $20 buys you on Verizon’s network or the piddling 300MB AT&T delivers on its budget plan.

“This entry-level sharable data allowance reinforces Sprint’s commitment to offering customers the best value in wireless,” said Marcelo Claure, Sprint CEO. “We’re offering customers a choice – whether they need a small amount of data or are a high-end data user.”

Customers can build their own plan in three steps.


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The internet of things is in a bubble phase, says IBM internet of things exec | John Jeff Roberts | GigaOM Tech News

The internet of things is in a bubble phase, says IBM internet of things exec | John Jeff Roberts | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The idea of an internet-connected toaster is, for now, a stupid idea: the average person doesn’t care how many Pop Tarts they consume, and no one wants to rewire their entire home to make all their devices talk to each other.


That’s the perspective of Paul Brody, VP of internet of things at IBM, who offered up some refreshing skepticism about the much-hyped IOT while speaking at Gigaom’s Structure Connect event in San Francisco on Wednesday.


“[It's] a classic bubble phase,” said Brody, referring to a glut of half-baked business plans that are based on connecting an everyday device to the internet, and then selling the harvested data.


He added that it’s a waste of time for companies to start storing every piece of data they can get their hands on, and that some firms say they want to do this just because they hear that’s what everyone else is doing.

“Most of what we’re storing is useless, and the amount of money people will spend on it is zero,” Brody told Gigaom Research director Caroline McCrory.

He also cast doubt on the value, for now, of the connected home and the utility of product darlings like Nest. Brody remarked that, while he was among the first to wire his locks and his lights to the internet, his family finds the experience a nuisance.


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The Inside Story: He Criticized Comcast and the Cable Company Complained; Result=Termination | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

The Inside Story: He Criticized Comcast and the Cable Company Complained; Result=Termination | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A few weeks ago, Stop the Cap! reported on the story of Conal O’Rourke, a Comcast customer billed for equipment he didn’t order, service he didn’t receive, and collection agents he didn’t deserve. When O’Rourke dared to complain to senior Comcast management in the company’s Controller’s Office, the controller himself called a senior partner at his employer and days later O’Rourke was fired.

Now O’Rourke is taking his case to court, claiming he lost his job because Comcast forced his employer – PricewaterhouseCoopers – to weigh his benefit against a $30 million consulting contract Comcast has with the major accounting firm.

The complaint names names and gives plenty of new details about how Comcast ruthlessly deals with customers who dare to bother its top executives with petty little service problems like $1,800 in unjustified billing, credit score-ruining collection activity, and the impossibility of canceling service.

The fateful call to Comcast’s Controller’s Office occurred back in February, and consisted mostly of his complaint that in the almost one year that he had been a Comcast customer, he had not received a single bill in which the charges were correct.

When he mentioned the constant billing errors might be of interest to the independent Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, it was the first time in more than a year Comcast efficiently targeted O’Rourke’s complaint for its brand of resolution: retaliation.


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Verizon Wireless injects identifiers that link its users to Web requests | Robert Lemos | Ars Technica

Verizon Wireless injects identifiers that link its users to Web requests | Robert Lemos | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Cellular communications provider Verizon Wireless is adding cookie-like tokens to Web requests traveling over its network. These tokens are being used to build a detailed picture of users’ interests and to help clients tailor advertisements, according to researchers and Verizon’s own documentation.

The profiling, part of Verizon’s Precision Market Insights division, kicked off more than two years ago and expanded to cover all Verizon Wireless subscribers as part of the company’s Relevant Mobile Advertising service. It appends a per-device token known as the Unique Identifier Header (UIDH) to each Web request sent through its cellular network from a particular mobile device, allowing Verizon to link a website visitor to its own internal profiles. The service aims to allow client websites to target advertising at specific segments of the consumer market.

While the company started piloting the service two years ago, privacy experts only began warning of the issue this week, arguing that the service is essentially tracking users and that companies paid for a fundamental service that should not be using the data for secondary purposes.


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Michael Wolff on HBO, CBS Streaming: TV Is Disrupting the Internet | Hollywood Reporter

Michael Wolff on HBO, CBS Streaming: TV Is Disrupting the Internet | Hollywood Reporter | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The solipsism of the tech community sees the CBS and HBO migrations to stand-alone streaming services as a satisfying disruption of the TV business. But that's a striking inversion of what's actually happening: TV is disrupting the Internet.


A funny thing happened during the Internet's seemingly epochal displacement of mainstream media. While digital media was becoming overwhelmingly ad-supported — a mass-media model reminiscent of the three-network era — television gained a subscription revenue stream. Paid television — that is, cable subscriptions — became the most powerful growth driver in the media world, producing a new kind of high-value, culture-shaping programming.


Meanwhile, digital media, from Yahoo to BuzzFeed to the websites and apps of magazines and newspapers — and including even Google and Facebook — found itself overwhelmingly reliant on advertising income. Because of the glut of space, new automated ways of buying and reaching audiences in digital venues and persistent complaints about the caliber of digital attention, ad rates largely have continued to sink — meaning, in a terrible cycle, content must be cheaper and must grow broader in an ever-dumbed-down effort to reach a larger and larger audience, for which advertisers pay less and less. This downward trend now is moving almost every significant Internet platform and media site into the video business, with its higher ad rates and opportunities for user fees.


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Republican House Majority Leader McCarthy blasts 'Truthy' Twitter project | Mario Trujillo | The Hill

The furor in the House GOP over a university project studying Twitter trends is growing as House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) added his name to the list of critics.

McCarthy on Thursday afternoon became the most high-profile Republican to come out against Indiana University's "Truthy" project, which is partly funded by a grant from the federal National Science Foundation (NSF).

"Government funding of this project is not only a waste during a time of budgetary constraints, it is also a danger to free society better suited for a George Orwell book than a country founded on the idea of liberty," he said.

The project is aimed at understanding how information spreads online. It samples real-time public tweets to identify and study trending topics, political and otherwise. An important area of interest for the project is "how social media can be abused."

Much of its early work explored the partisan differences in social media use and the spread of misinformation online, and has broadened since then,


McCarthy's blog post, “#killingfreespeech,” on his leadership website echoes concerns from others like Republican Federal Communications Commission member Ajit Pai and House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who said his panel is investigating the grant. 


"Most Americans would agree that the federal government should not encroach on free speech or play any role in determining what classifies as ‘social pollution’ and ‘political smears,’—other subjects Truthy wishes to monitor," McCarthy said. 


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CBS Launching New Over-the-Air Network: "Decades" Will Feature Classic TV Series from 50s-80s | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

CBS Launching New Over-the-Air Network: "Decades" Will Feature Classic TV Series from 50s-80s | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

MeTV is getting some quasi-competition starting in the second quarter of next year as CBS and Weigel Broadcasting launch “Decades,” a new over-the-air television network that CBS is calling “the ultimate TV time capsule.”


Weigel will handle affiliation agreements with non-CBS owned stations, most likely CBS affiliates owned by other companies. Weigel already programs MeTV, so the two networks will probably avoid direct duplication of each other, but the formats are expected to be similar.


The agreement gives Weigel expanded access to CBS’ library of produced and acquired classic television shows including I Love Lucy, Star Trek, Cheers, Happy Days and other shows generally out of syndication. Decades will also feature some original programming, such as Decades Retrospectical, that will include clips from CBS News and Entertainment Ton

The new network will launch as a digital sub-channel on many CBS-owned local television stations:


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Time Warner Cable Unveils $26/Mo 6-Tuner, 1TB DVR in Los Angeles, New York Maxx Markets | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Time Warner Cable Unveils $26/Mo 6-Tuner, 1TB DVR in Los Angeles, New York Maxx Markets | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Time Warner Cable’s enhanced DVR is here, at an enhanced price starting at $26/month.

Time Warner customers have long waited for an upgraded DVR capable of storing and recording more shows, and the Arris DCX 3600 is the result.

Available soon in Los Angeles and New York (and later in other TWC Maxx-upgraded markets), the enhanced DVR includes six tuners and 1TB of storage, enough to keep around 150 hours of HD programming.

The DVR includes QAM/RF-capability and a DOCSIS 3 modem built into the box. Time Warner Cable has set the monthly price for the box at $15.99 for single room DVR service, $19.99 a month for whole-house DVR service. An additional equipment rental fee also applies: $10.25/mo for the box and remote control, $11.75/mo if you are subject to Time Warner’s “additional outlet service fee.” That means customers will pay up to $31.74 a month for the DVR alone. Customers who subscribe to a bundled service package will likely pay significantly lower rates for the enhanced DVR.

Time Warner arrives very late to the DVR competition wars. Its current boxes can usually record only up to two shows at once and storage space, usually enough for 80 hours, may require customers to clear out older shows to make room for new ones.

Time Warner’s competitors are still able to beat Time Warner’s new DVR:


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Power of Universities and Hospitals for Community Change | Ted Howard | TalkPoverty.org

Power of Universities and Hospitals for Community Change | Ted Howard | TalkPoverty.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Communities across the country are recognizing the tremendous resources nonprofit anchor institutions—such as hospitals and universities—can provide as engines of inclusive and equitable economic development. Increasingly, cities—often led by Mayors—are launching comprehensive strategies to leverage these institutions to address challenging problems of unemployment, poverty, and disinvestment. In 2014, several cities, including Chicago, Baltimore and New Orleans, have launched community building and job creation strategies that revolve around anchor institutions; and in Cleveland, a decade old collaboration of philanthropy, anchor institutions, and the municipal government continues to rebuild economies in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the city.

The ongoing fiscal crisis at all levels of government is putting tremendous stress on local economic development efforts designed to create family-supporting living wage jobs, revitalize local economies, and bring back wealth to our communities. Through their procurement and investment practices, anchor institutions represent a new source of economic development financing, but their enormous potential is so far largely unrealized. Unfortunately, the federal government has been largely missing in action in terms of creating the right policies to support cities in harnessing the full economic might of their anchor institutions.

Nearly 20 years ago, Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter noted that urban university expenditures were nine times greater than spending on all federal urban job and business development programs combined. That number is surely much greater now.

Today, universities, hospitals and other anchor institutions wield considerable economic power in a community. Hospitals and universities are responsible for more than $1 trillion of our nation’s $17 trillion economy (about 6% of GDP). In addition, these “eds and meds” control well over $500 billion of endowment investments and they employ roughly 8% of the national workforce.


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Research Shows Mass Surveillance Fails 'Drastically' In Striking Balance Between Costs And Benefits To Society | Glyn Moody | Techdirt.com

Research Shows Mass Surveillance Fails 'Drastically' In Striking Balance Between Costs And Benefits To Society | Glyn Moody | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

One of the many problems with the debate on mass surveillance is that it is largely driven by emotions, on both sides. Facts are few and far between -- much is secret, for obvious reasons -- which makes objective discussion hard. What is needed is some rigorous research into this area. Surprisingly, it turns out the European Union has been funding just such a project, called "Surveille," a name derived from "Surveillance: Ethical Issues, Legal Limitations, and Efficiency." Here are the project's aims:

1. To provide a comprehensive survey of the types of surveillance technology deployed in Europe.

2. To assess the benefits and costs of surveillance technology. 'Benefits' refers to the delivery of improved security; 'costs' to the economic costs, negative public perceptions, negative effects on behaviour and infringement of fundamental rights.

3. To identify, elaborate and assess the whole range of legal and ethical issues raised by the use of surveillance technology in the prevention, investigation and prosecution of terrorism and other crime -- including those related to fundamental rights.

4. To communicate continuously the results of the research to a representative sample of stakeholders: European decision-makers, law enforcement professionals, local authorities, and technology developers, and to receive feedback to inform continuing research.

A post on the Just Security site by Professor Martin Scheinin, the coordinator of the Surveille project, gives a good summary of the latest results of the research, which have been released as a 50-page paper entitled "Assessing Surveillance in the Context of Preventing a Terrorist Act". Here's what he writes:


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Latest In Cable Astroturfing: If You Squint, Twist, Spin And Mislead With Apples To Oranges Comparisons, US Broadband Is Great! | Mike Masnick | Techdirt.com

Latest In Cable Astroturfing: If You Squint, Twist, Spin And Mislead With Apples To Oranges Comparisons, US Broadband Is Great! |  Mike Masnick | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For the past few months, I'd been pitched a few times from people (often somehow, if in murky ways, connected to the broadband industry) arguing that all those stories about how the US is far behind in broadband is untrue if you just looked at certain states.


The basic argument is that since the US is so large, it's not fair to compare it to, say, South Korea. Instead, they claim, if you just look at a few states in the US, those states compare quite well to this country or that country. Of course, to make a total fruit basket out of mixed metaphors, this is pretty blatant cherry picking apples to compare to oranges.


We haven't written any of those stories, but apparently someone went and created a misleading infographic to try to make the point on a site called "the Connectivist."


However, as Chris Morran brilliantly dissects over at Consumerist, the whole argument is bogus:


The only way to do a true apples to apples comparison would be to look at the data for areas with similar conditions, including population size and area, which the Connectivist doesn’t do.

The site simply glosses over the fact that while broadband in the U.S. is improving, it’s still not a world leader in deploying high-speed Internet access to its citizens.

Even though nearly three-quarters of the U.S. has access to what the FCC currently defines as “broadband,” meaning at least 4Mbps downstream, that’s still not a high enough percentage to get it into the top 10 globally. In fact, that percentage barely puts the U.S. in the 40 of all nations.

Likewise, only 39% of Americans have access to 10 Mbps service, which is what many people now consider the minimum acceptable standard for broadband. That ranks higher, putting the U.S. within the top 15 worldwide, but still pales in comparison to world leaders like Sweden (56%), the Netherlands (52%), and Romania (50%).


Morran notes, sarcastically, that the Connectivist seems to ignore all of this... and then suggests a reason why:


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CO: LPC Residential Gig Service in Longmont Has A New Name; Available November 3rd | community broadband networks

CO: LPC Residential Gig Service in Longmont Has A New Name; Available November 3rd | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Big changes are happening in Longmont as the LPC builds out its network expansion. In addition to new services and new pricing, LPC for residents has a new name - NextLight. At a recent city council meeting, LPC announced that a number of residents in south central Longmont will be able to enroll for NextLight services as soon as November 3rd.

Homeowners who sign up within the first three months that service is available in their area, will get 1 Gbps symmetrical service for about $50 per month or half the regular residential price. Those customers, considered Charter Members, will keep the introductory price as long as they keep their service and will take that rate to their new home while also reserving that rate for the home they leave. The Times Call reports:


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Secretive funding fuels ongoing net neutrality astroturfing controversy | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com

Secretive funding fuels ongoing net neutrality astroturfing controversy | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The contentious debate about net neutrality in the U.S. has sparked controversy over a lack of funding transparency for advocacy groups and think tanks, which critics say subverts the political process.

News stories from a handful of publications in recent months have accused some think tanks and advocacy groups of "astroturfing" -- quietly shilling for large broadband carriers. In a handful of cases, those criticisms appear to have some merit, although the term is so overused by people looking to discredit political opponents that it has nearly lost its original meaning.

Critics of astroturfing -- defined as hiding the sponsors of a message or group as a way to make it appear to have grassroots support -- say it twists political debate by making some positions appear to be more popular with the public than they really may be.

Groups that hide their funding open themselves up to accusations of astroturfing and questions about credibility. An IDG News Service investigation has found a mixed record of funding transparency at prominent think tanks and advocacy groups involved in the net neutrality debate.

Our investigation found that major groups opposing U.S. Federal Communications Commission reclassification and regulation of broadband as a public utility tend to be less transparent about their funding than the other side. Still, some big-name advocates of strong net neutrality rules also have limited transparency mechanisms in place.

Strong regulations are needed to prevent large players from harming competition by throttling bandwidth of smaller service providers and competitors, proponents of net neutrality rules say. Opponents of strong regulation say it would dampen investment and business' ability to compete as they see fit.

It's important for groups trying to influence U.S. policy to be up front about who they are speaking for, said Jennifer Lappin, U.S. outreach and advocacy director for Transparify, a transparency advocacy group funded by Open Society Foundations, a foundation started by liberal philanthropist George Soros.

Think tanks and advocacy groups "play a very prominent role in both policy formation and public policy debates," she said by email. "Think tanks need funding to operate and undertake research, and there is nothing wrong with accepting money from a variety of private and/or public sources to do so. However, hidden funding can create the appearance -- or the actuality of -- hidden agendas."

The top four funding transparency scores in IDG News Service's rating of 14 groups went to groups advocating for strong net neutrality rules, while a handful of pro-neutrality groups received mid-level grades or lower. Meanwhile, no major group opposing strong net neutrality regulations earned better than a mid-level grade.


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Expert View: If the Internet is Working Well, Don’t Add New Regulations | Gerald Faulhaber & Dave Faber | MIT Technology Review

Expert View: If the Internet is Working Well, Don’t Add New Regulations |  Gerald Faulhaber & Dave Faber | MIT Technology Review | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Demands for network neutrality have reached fever pitch in Washington, D.C., as many voices stress the need for the Federal Communications Commission to save our open Internet. They claim that broadband Internet service providers can block data flow from selected websites, charging content providers for delivering content to customers and establishing paid “fast lanes” for some and slow lanes for everyone else (see “The Right Way to Fix the Internet”). Is the Internet suddenly in great danger?

The term “network neutrality” was coined by a legal scholar in 2002, harking back to the seminal paper “End-to-End Arguments in System Design,” which called for network operators to be “dumb pipes” carrying the bits they are given with no changes whatsoever. After decades of pledging “hands off the Internet,” the FCC took up the network neutrality challenge and issued its first order in 2010. Although only two violations had been documented, the FCC went ahead with “prophylactic” regulations. This order was struck down by the D.C. Circuit Court on jurisdictional grounds, and the FCC is going back for a second round, leading to the current brouhaha.


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Beyond Neutrality - Enabling a World of Connected Things | Bob Frankston | Frankston.com

Beyond Neutrality - Enabling a World of Connected Things | Bob Frankston | Frankston.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This article is based on the talk I gave at a joint meeting of the IEEE CE, Communications and Computer Societies and the ACM. It is based on my Connectivity Policy essay as well as the column I wrote for the IEEE/CE Magazine.

The growing interest in the “Internet of Things” is forcing us to think beyond the web to a much larger world of connected devices. We can tolerate the many barriers to connectivity because we expect that someone can provide the necessary credentials to log in to the providers’ services and to adjust Wi-Fi access keys whenever the access point changes or simply to click “agree” at a hotspot.


This doesn’t work for “things” which can’t recognize a sign-on or “agree screen”. This may not be obvious at first because it’s easy to demonstrate an automated house if you set “things” up just right and don’t change anything but the illusion quickly disappears after the cameras are turned off and real people try to live in the home. Many of the wearables on the market stop working as soon as you walk away from your phone or change phones.


The Internet represents a fundamental shift from thinking about services inside a network to services created outside the network by users with their intelligent (AKA programmable) devices. By using the intelligence in our devices we are able to create solutions that do not depend on a provider.


VoIP works by taking advantage of opportunities and as the capacity of the Internet grows (thanks to applications like the web) high quality voice with video become more likely. In the talk I cite an IEEE article on VoLTE (Voice over LTE) which depends on every carrier in the path doing the right thing – very old paradigm.


This is why it is important to understand what I call the three stages of digital. With telegraphy we could carry messages over any distance but the introduction of analog telephony made distance difficult and required a different infrastructure for each kind of content.


In the second stage communication technology addressed this issue by encoding the analog signal digitally. As with any new technology it emulated the old technology and its business model. More subtly, it kept the assumption that speech was maintained within channels and could be measured in bits. We assumed that communications in the sense of “speech” and communications as a technology were the same.


Today we are in the third generation of digital in which we use intelligent devices to create our own solutions without depending on providers. We are no longer emulating the old phone networks.


Yet the assumptions of analog telephony are still implicit in today’s polices even as the intelligence is in our devices rather than in the network and speech is no longer confined to channels. Communications technology and communications as speech are no longer the same.


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Ello makes a bold promise for an ad-free social network, but omits key details | John Jeff Roberts | GigaOM Tech News

Ello makes a bold promise for an ad-free social network, but omits key details | John Jeff Roberts | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Ello, a would-be Facebook rival, scored a big marketing coup on Thursday with its announcement that it is now a “public benefit corporation” whose charter forbids it from selling user data or paid advertising. For now, though, the pledge means little from a legal standpoint.

In case you’re unfamiliar, Ello and its promise of a non-intrusive social network became the flavor of the week in tech circles last month. On Thursday the company announced a $5.5 million funding round and, more significantly, a new corporate structure.

That structure means the duties of Ello’s directors will now extend beyond shareholders to also take account of a “public benefit” set out its in charter. While other feel-good companies like Etsy and Warby Parker have also embraced a public benefit mission, they did so through a certificate process — similar to the one used for “Fair Trade” — that is symbolically important but does not have legal implications.


Ello, though, went further and recast itself a bona-fide “Public Benefit Corporation,” a form of corporation that became available under Delaware state law in 2013, and one that few other companies have so far embraced. The halo effect for Ello was immediate, and produced headlines that it was under a “legally binding” duty to never sell ads.


For now, though, Ello’s leaders and lawyers are being cagey about just what its new charter says, and how its anti-ad pledges will get enforced.


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The Internet of Things Will Change Your Company, Not Just Your Products | Joey Fitts | Harvard Biz Review

The Internet of Things Will Change Your Company, Not Just Your Products | Joey Fitts | Harvard Biz Review | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

I have had a front row seat as companies have struggled to enter the emerging world of the Internet of Things — first, 10 years ago as a vice president at Ambient Devices, an MIT Media Lab spinoff that was a pioneer in commercializing IoT devices, and then as a consultant.

One of the biggest obstacles is that traditional functional departments often can’t meet the needs of IoT business models and have to evolve. Here are some of the challenges that I’ve observed:


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Half of AT&T's Customers Are Paying $100 for 10GB Data; Unlimited Customers Still Throttled After 3-5GB | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Half of AT&T's Customers Are Paying $100 for 10GB Data; Unlimited Customers Still Throttled After 3-5GB | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

More than half of AT&T’s wireless customers are paying at least $100 a month for 10GB or more of wireless data on AT&T’s Mobile Share Plans at the same time AT&T continues to throttle its legacy unlimited data customers who use more than 3GB of data on its 3G network or 5GB of data on its 4G LTE network.

AT&T claimed in 2012 it implemented its “fair usage policy” for unlimited customers to assure all could receive reasonable service during peak usage times when cell towers become congested.

AT&T also blames “a serious wireless spectrum crunch” for the speed throttling, implying access to more spectrum could help ease the problem. But there is a much faster way to overcome AT&T’s “spectrum crunch:” agree to pay them more money by ditching that $30 unlimited plan for a tiered plan.

John Stephens, AT&T’s chief financial officer, told investors Wednesday that nothing boosts revenue more than pushing customers into usage-cappped data plans that customers are regularly forced to upgrade.

“On the ARPU (average revenue per user/customer) story, I think the biggest issue with the improvement is people buying the bigger [data] buckets and buying – upping plans,” said Stephens. “We had over 50% of the customer base at the 10GB or bigger plans.”

Stephens added that AT&T benefited from customers upgrading to 4G LTE devices that are handled more efficiently by AT&T’s mobile data network.

Increased usage and upgraded data plans delivered a 20% increase in data billings over the last quarter.


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T-Mobile: AT&T Gouges Us With Data Roaming Rates 150% Higher Than Average | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

T-Mobile: AT&T Gouges Us With Data Roaming Rates 150% Higher Than Average | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

T-Mobile has asked the Federal Communications Commission to investigate AT&T’s “artificially high roaming rates” charged when its customers travel outside of T-Mobile’s home service area.

T-Mobile is heavily reliant on AT&T for roaming service outside of major cities and the country’s smallest national wireless carrier complains AT&T is using their market power to put it at a major disadvantage, which could force new limits on roaming access in some areas.

T-Mobile provided examples of the damage already done by AT&T’s roaming rates:

“Limitless Mobile has severely restricted its customers’ access to AT&T’s network ‘for the sole reason that AT&T’s data roaming rates are too high and by continuing roaming access, Limitless could not maintain a commercially competitive retail wireless data offering to the general public,’” T-Mobile told the FCC.

The Rural Wireless Association noted that competing carriers “cannot sustain the provision of data roaming services if [they] must provide that service at a loss.”


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Community Broadband Media Roundup - October 17 | community broadband networks

Community Broadband Media Roundup - October 17 | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This week, cities took the stage and made some very important moves to restore their local authority.


From cities resisting big media mergers, to those choosing to join the new Next Century Cities initiative, it is a good time to be a part of municipal government efforts.


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