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Is It Time to Overturn Net Neutrality Rules? | Wall Street Journal

Is It Time to Overturn Net Neutrality Rules? | Wall Street Journal | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

 

This is an old fight in a new ring. It's about whether regulators or Internet service providers should be trusted to manage the Web.

 

In December 2010, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve a framework for rules enforcing "net neutrality," in effect saying that Internet service providers must treat all Internet traffic equally, and that they can't deliberately block or slow traffic depending on the company that created it or where the traffic is going.

 

In January 2011, Verizon Communications Inc.filed a lawsuit attempting to overturn those rules, saying the FCC had overstepped its bounds. The suit, along with a similar one by MetroPCS Communications Inc., was dismissed a few months later, on grounds that its objections were premature: The FCC rules weren't even officially in place at the time.

 

The companies refiled their lawsuits, however, and Verizon's challenge is now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. If the court rules in Verizon's favor, the FCC's efforts to police Internet providers would disintegrate. That would likely prompt Congress to look at changing the rules. What's at stake, some argue, is the future of innovation on the Net.

 

Arguing against the net-neutrality rules is Thomas W. Hazlett, professor of law and economics at George Mason University in Fairfax County, Va., where he directs the Information Economy Project. Dr. Hazlett previously served as chief economist of the Federal Communications Commission. Taking a stance in favor of the net-neutrality rules is Gigi Sohn, president and chief executive of Public Knowledge, an open-Internet advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.

 

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Mr. Wheeler, tear down these walls: The economic case for removing barriers to muni broadband | Craig Settles Blog | GigaOM Tech News

Mr. Wheeler, tear down these walls: The economic case for removing barriers to muni broadband | Craig Settles Blog | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler clearly wants to protect communities from state intrusion by having the legislative barriers to public-owned networks in 19 states removed or heavily curtailed. Those who see high-speed internet services strengthening local economies, transforming medical and healthcare delivery, improving education and increasing local government efficiency agree with him.


How would removing these walls to progress not only impact states with public network restrictions as well as other states? Community broadband history indicates this would unleash competitive forces so that, according to Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, “prices go down dramatically. All of a sudden, the two private sector incumbents find a way to lower prices.” Constituents in urban as well as rural communities also would get much faster speeds.


Over 400 public-owned networks operate in the United States, according to the Institute of Local Self-Reliance, including 89 fiber and 74 cable community-wide networks, and over 180 partial-reach fiber networks covering business districts, industrial parks and medical and university campuses. Evaluating these networks’ impact on job creation, education and stirring innovation, as well as their financial sustainability, uncover hundreds of success stories that can be replicated once the barriers in those 19 states drop.


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Internet Industry Hate Taken To Insane Levels: Ridiculous Proposals To 'Nationalize' Successful Internet Companies | Techdirt.com

Internet Industry Hate Taken To Insane Levels: Ridiculous Proposals To 'Nationalize' Successful Internet Companies | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Over the last few years, there's been a ridiculous rise in a bizarre form of anti-Silicon Valley populism, in which people are encouraged to hate successful internet companies for... being successful. Usually, when you dig into the details, the attacks on the firms are a combination of general fear of "bigness," hatred/jealousy of success and a fundamental misunderstanding of economics.


Now, let's be clear: big companies with too much power do have a rather long history of bad behavior and companies should be watched carefully if they abuse their position. But the anti-internet populism seems incredibly misplaced, especially given that the companies they're attacking are often companies that have clearly improved the lives of those doing the attacking. I'm always worried about old "enabling" companies becoming the new gatekeepers, but I'm also confident in the ability of a brand new generation of enablers to undermine business models of the last generation of internet giants as well -- especially if they start making moves that actually harm the public.

But, it seems, this general hatred of Silicon Valley is being taken to nearly parodic levels with two new articles, one in Salon and one in Slate, both of which call for "nationalizing" some of the internet's most popular companies. First up, we have Richard "RJ" Eskow saying that we should nationalize Amazon and Google because the original internet was publicly funded, and thus, apparently, everything built after that should be owned by the federal government.


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Google may bring Wi-Fi to New York City pay phones | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com

Google may bring Wi-Fi to New York City pay phones | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google may be among the hopefuls vying to turn the New York City phone booths of the past into “communication points” of the future with free Wi-Fi and cellphone charging.


The dominant search company was among 60 entities that attended a meeting on May 12 to discuss a project to replace or supplement as many as 10,000 pay phones around the city. The list came to light in a Bloomberg News report on Monday. Other participants included Samsung, IBM, Cisco Systems, Verizon Wireless, Cablevision and Time Warner Cable.


Responses to the “request for proposals” (RFP) from vendors were due Monday. Google, or any other participant in the May 12 meeting, may have pulled out of the process before filing one. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


But it seems likely the company will at least submit a plan, given the opportunity to blanket much of New York’s streetscape with Wi-Fi. Despite some false starts and headaches in free public Wi-Fi in the past, Google looks more serious than ever about providing new forms of Internet access.


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OH: Hudson Issues RFP for Broadband Needs Assessment, Business Plan | community broadband networks

OH: Hudson Issues RFP for Broadband Needs Assessment, Business Plan | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Hudson, Ohio, located in the Akron area, recently released a Request For Proposals (RFP) for a Broadband Needs Assessment and Broadband Business Plan. The community of 22,000 hopes to connect all municipal facilities, connect business parks, and eventually implement an FTTH network.


A May 4 Hub Times article covered an April city council discussion to expand existing fiber resources throughout the city. Internet Service Manager Bill Hillbish described a plan to connect traffic, security cameras, and possibly provide Internet access to other entities in Hudson. The original plan was to spend approximately $47,000 for fiber and hardware to connect remaining municipal facilities with Hudson Public Power managing the expansion.


At that meeting, the City Council also discussed using the network to connect local businesses and, eventually, residents. Apparently, local businesses are not happy with the incumbent provider:


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Free Speed Upgrades, 3000th Customer for North Carolina’s Community-Owned Fibrant | Stop the Cap!

Free Speed Upgrades, 3000th Customer for North Carolina’s Community-Owned Fibrant | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Salisbury’s community-owned fiber network has tripled its subscriber base in three years, signing up its 3,000th customer in the community of 33,000 and is already turning a profit.


Fibrant, despite facing intense opposition from corporate-backed, conservative special interest groups with financial ties to its competitors and a state law passed at the behest of Time Warner Cable that limits its future growth opportunities, has proven very successful delivering improved Internet access to a community that received the back of Time Warner’s hand when it requested service upgrades.


Salisbury invested $33 million to install more than 250 miles of fiber in and around the community and began hooking up customers to its all-fiber network in late 2010. By the following summer, 1,200 customers signed up. Today, Fibrant serves more than 3,000 homes in the community.


WCNC-TV in Charlotte reports Fibrant is likely to break even this year after losing $4.1 million the year before — a loss Fibrant attributes to normal start-up costs faced by almost every new business.


Dale Gibson has been thrilled to be a Fibrant customer since the beginning and is even happier now that Fibrant offers gigabit speeds.


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GA: Comcast Expands Cloud DVR To Atlanta | Multichannel.com

GA: Comcast Expands Cloud DVR To Atlanta | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Atlanta is the next launch site for Comcast’s cloud DVR and in-home multiscreen live TV streaming – features that are relatively new to the MSO’s IP-capable X1 platform.

 

The launch in Atlanta follows earlier debuts in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Comcast has also rolled out in-home live TV streaming in the Bay Area, but has yet to pair it with its new cloud DVR offering.

 

Atlanta is the first market in Comcast’s southern region to get the new cloud-based offerings. In addition to enabling playback of shows recorded to the cloud storage system and the ability to stream and view most of the MSO’s linear TV lineup on PCs, tablets and smartphones, the in-home cloud-based feature also lets users to “check out” DVR recordings by sideloading them to those devices for later playback.

 

Under Comcast’s present policy, X1 subs are allowed to download up to 10 recordings per device, and is available for playback for up to 30 days. Like a library book, those sideloaded recordings must be checked back in before they are available on the TV and other authorized devices.


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CA: Time Warner Cable Promises Possible 1Gbps Upgrade for Los Angeles by 2016 | Stop the Cap!

CA: Time Warner Cable Promises Possible 1Gbps Upgrade for Los Angeles by 2016 | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Assuming Comcast doesn’t take over Time Warner Cable and change priorities, the city of Los Angeles is getting a commitmentTime Warner will “be in a position to offer” gigabit broadband speeds to homes and businesses in the city no later than 2016.


“Over the last four years, Time Warner Cable has invested more than $1.5 billion to enhance our infrastructure and services in Los Angeles. This significant investment coupled with new ‘Gigasphere’ technology positions us to be able to introduce gigabit-per-second speeds in 2016,” said Peter Stern, executive vice president and chief strategy, people and corporate development officer at TWC. “Leveraging our existing network allows us to deliver these speeds faster and with less disruption than any other provider.”


The new gigabit broadband service will be deployable with an upgrade to DOCSIS 3.1 technology, which offers cable operators a more efficient way to deliver broadband over current cable system infrastructure.


“We believe the introduction of consumer gigabit speeds in our near future will facilitate even greater innovations among students, entrepreneurs and many industries powering the Los Angeles economy,” said Dinni Jain, chief operating officer at TWC. “Cable was the first to bring broadband Internet to the masses nearly 20 years ago, and thanks to the dynamic nature of our fiber-rich network, we foresee endless new possibilities as we roll-out gigabit speeds to all of Los Angeles.”


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Major Verizon FiOS Speed Upgrade: Upstream Speed Now Equals Downstream

Major Verizon FiOS Speed Upgrade: Upstream Speed Now Equals Downstream | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Verizon Communications today announced its FiOS Internet customers will be getting free speed upgrades that match upload and download speeds — the only provider in FiOS markets to offer speed equality.


Verizon will start transitioning qualifying current residential customers to higher upload speeds for free throughout the coming months, but we can help get you higher on the upgrade list if you keep reading. Later this year, existing and new FiOS small-business customers also will receive this upgrade.


“Faster upload speeds means better sharing experiences,” said Mike Ritter, Verizon’s chief marketing officer for consumer and mass business. “All Internet sharing – whether videos, large photo files or gaming – starts with uploading. FiOS all-fiber-optic technology offers a unique opportunity to enhance our customers’ Internet experience on a mass scale by increasing our upload speeds to equal to our industry-leading download speeds. As the Internet of Things becomes a reality, equal download and upload speeds will become essential.”


Verizon’s upgrade also lets the company point out a shortcoming of most of its cable competitors, upstream speeds lag far behind downstream speeds. Many cable operators still only offer no better than 5Mbps upload speeds, even while offering 50, 100, or 150Mbps for downloads.


Verizon says it noticed upload activity has been on the increase for some time, and with the upstream speed upgrades, it expects double the upload activity it sees today by 2016.


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GCI – Alaska’s Outrageous Internet Overcharger; Customers Paying Up to $1,200 in Overlimit Fees | Stop the Cap!

GCI – Alaska’s Outrageous Internet Overcharger; Customers Paying Up to $1,200 in Overlimit Fees | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Nearly 10 percent of GCI’s revenue is now earned from overlimit fees collected from Alaskan broadband customers who exceed their cable or wireless usage limits.


GCI is Alaska’s largest cable operator and for many it is the only provider able to deliver stable speeds of 10Mbps+, especially to those who live too far away for comparable DSL speeds from ACS, one of GCI’s largest competitors.


The result has given GCI a de facto monopoly on High Speed Internet (10+ Mbps) access, a position that has allowed the company to dramatically raise prices and slap usage limits on broadband users and charge onerous overlimit fees on those who exceed their allowance.


GCI already charges some of the highest broadband service prices in the country and has insisted on imposing usage caps and overlimit fees on even its most expensive plans, creating high profits for them and enormous bills for customers who have no reliable way to consistently track their usage. GCI’s suspect usage meter is often offline and often delivers usage estimates that customers insist are far from accurate. GCI says it has the last word on the accuracy of that meter and has not submitted its meter to independent testing and verification by a local or state regulatory body specializing in measurement accuracy.


GCI also makes it extremely difficult for customers to understand what happens after customers exceed their usage limits. The website only vaguely offers that overlimit fees vary from “$.001 (half penny) to $.03 (three cents) per MB,” which is factually inaccurate: $.001 does not equal a half-penny. It can equal bill shock if a customer happens to be watching a Netflix movie when their allowance runs out.


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EFF releases Chrome, Firefox plugin to block third-party tracking | Zach Miners | NetworkWorld.com

EFF releases Chrome, Firefox plugin to block third-party tracking | Zach Miners | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital privacy rights group, has released a downloadable plugin for Chrome and Firefox designed to stop third parties from tracking people’s Web browsing.


The tool, Privacy Badger, is in beta and comes following an alpha launch several months ago. Since then more than 150,000 people have installed it, the EFF said Monday.


The extension is not meant to block online ads outright. It’s a broader privacy tool designed to stop third parties from gathering a record of the pages people visit across the Web.


“Our aim is not to block ads, but to prevent non-consensual invasions of people’s privacy because we believe they are inherently objectionable,” the group says.


However, because third-party trackers often exist to serve ads, Privacy Badger users will likely see less of them.


The tool is also designed to stop the tracking that happens when people click on social media widgets such as the Facebook “like” or Twitter tweet button on sites outside of Facebook or Twitter.


Third-party trackers are companies that embed different content like images, scripts and advertising into websites. The companies often use digital files or “cookies” stored in people’s browsers to keep track of their browsing activity. The content these trackers embed on sites often exists alongside the site’s own content, such as news articles on nytimes.com.


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Fox Mulls Using Sky Sale to Boost Time Warner Bid | Bloomberg.com

Fox Mulls Using Sky Sale to Boost Time Warner Bid | Bloomberg.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox Inc. is considering using proceeds from the sale of its Italian and German pay-TV assets to boost its offer for Time Warner Inc., according to two people familiar with the matter.


Fox may reach an agreement to sell its wholly-owned Sky Italia unit and its 57 percent stake in Sky Deutschland AG to British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc in the next two weeks, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. The assets could be valued at about 10 billion euros ($13.5 billion), people familiar with the matter said in May. Fox owns a 39 percent stake in BSkyB.


The proceeds could give Murdoch additional cash for a Time Warner bid without having to borrow more. While Fox is willing to pay more than $75 billion after Time Warner’s board rejected its $85 per-share bid, no final decision has been made on whether to bump the offer, the people said. JPMorgan & Chase Co., the biggest U.S. bank by assets, and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the fifth-biggest, will help Murdoch finance the bid.


BSkyB and Fox disclosed their talks about a European transaction in May, weeks before Fox approached Time Warner.


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NAACP, Major Union Side With Cable Companies On Net Neutrality | HuffPost.com

NAACP, Major Union Side With Cable Companies On Net Neutrality | HuffPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The NAACP and a major union last week endorsed an FCC plan that could effectively end net neutrality, a position that aligns them with major broadband providers like AT&T and Comcast.


The union and the NAACP seem to be banking on the broadband companies' claims that money earned from charging websites like Netflix for fast Internet access will be reinvested to create jobs, especially for African-Americans. But one progressive net neutrality proponent blasted that position as a "baffling" embrace of "trickle-down economics."


In a joint comment to the FCC on Tuesday, the NAACP and the Communications Workers of America argued against regulations that could "have the unintended consequence of dampening the private investment needed to build the next-generation broadband networks."


For years, broadband companies have similarly argued that they would be unable to invest in building out their networks if Internet providers are reclassified as public utilities, thus prohibiting discrimination between websites based on price.


Instead of taking that step, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has instead opted to adopt a plan that could open the door to paid prioritization, which would allow broadband companies to charge websites like Netflix for speedier access to their customers. Net neutrality activists argue that would divide the Internet into preferential "fast lanes" and disadvantaged "slow lanes" for online traffic.


The NAACP and CWA did not take an outright position on reclassification, but they did argue that paid prioritization won't lead to those fast and slow lanes. More money flowing to the big broadband companies for investing in capital improvements, they claimed, will lead to better service for all.


Shifting the cost of Internet access to "edge providers" like Netflix will provide broadband companies with a new "revenue stream," the groups argued, and could result in "lowering end-user subscriber rates for broadband service, thereby reducing cost barriers to adoption of broadband services."


"With high-sped networks, there is enough capacity for everyone, and concerns about 'fast lanes' and 'slow lanes' disappear," the African-American advocacy group and the union asserted.


Rashad Robinson is the executive director of Color of Change, an online group for African-American advocacy that has repeatedly criticized the NAACP for its position on net neutrality. He said the FCC comment is a misstep that borrows ideas from "trickle-down economics."


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After a terrible season, Fox is destroying the wall between networks and studios | Vox.com

After a terrible season, Fox is destroying the wall between networks and studios | Vox.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Since former Fox network president Kevin Reilly left his job (officially, it was his decision, but with the low ratings the network posted last season, it seems likely he isn't exactly being mourned on the lot) in May, the network has taken its time plotting out just what its future will look like. The past year has been one of the worst in recent memory, with even old stalwart American Idol plummeting in the ratings (though it's still one of the network's highest rated shows). For every bright spot, like the performance of Sleepy Hollow, there were three or four dark clouds, like the collapse of the ratings for the Tuesday comedies. It seems time for a change.


Fox has come up with an unorthodox solution. 20th Century Fox, the corporation that owns the Fox TV network, has restructured itself so that Dana Walden and Gary Newman, co-presidents of 20th Century Fox TV, will now head up the Fox Television Group, which will oversee both the studio and network sides of the business.


This is super confusing, I know, so let me break it down and explain both why this is important to the future of television and why it became the major theme of this morning's executive session with Peter Rice, the Fox Network Group CEO and Chairman, and Walden and Newman's boss. (Walden and Newman had previous commitments and were unable to attend.)


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FCC attempts to establish ‘protection zones’ ahead of AWS-3 auction | TeleGeography.com

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has updated a number of rules governing the use of the AWS-3 spectrum that is set to be auctioned off to cellular operators later this year.


According to RCR Wireless, the updates include the establishment of ‘protection zones’ designed to reduce interference concerns between commercial wireless networks and the satellite-based communications services that will continue in select AWS-3 bands.


As such, the watchdog said that it has set up 27 protection zones in areas where 47 ‘federal earth stations’ will continue to receive satellite signals using the 1675MHz-1695MHz and 1695MHz-1710MHz spectrum bands. Licence users with base stations in those protection zones and operating near those bands will be required to coordinate services to ensure that interference concerns are mitigated.


The hastily introduced rules did not go down well with FCC commissioner Ajit Pai, who fired off a formal letter stating his objection to the process. RCR Wireless quotes Pai as saying: ‘My position is simple. I can’t cast an informed vote on new coordination zones if I don’t know what those coordination zones are. Voting first and then learning about what you’ve voted on is irresponsible. Unfortunately, others disagreed; the item was pulled from the full commission and pushed out at the bureau level today. This is no way to run a railroad’.


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New Surveillance Whistleblower: Another Way the NSA Violates the Constitution | TheAtlantic.com

New Surveillance Whistleblower: Another Way the NSA Violates the Constitution | TheAtlantic.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

John Napier Tye is speaking out to warn Americans about illegal spying. The former State Department official, who served in the Obama administration from 2011 to 2014, declared Friday that ongoing NSA surveillance abuses are taking place under the auspices of Executive Order 12333, which came into being in 1981, before the era of digital communications, but is being used to collect them promiscuously. Nye alleges that the Obama administration has been violating the Constitution with scant oversight from Congress or the judiciary. 


"The order as used today threatens our democracy," he wrote in The Washington Post. "I am coming forward because I think Americans deserve an honest answer to the simple question: What kind of data is the NSA collecting on millions, or hundreds of millions, of Americans?"


If you've paid casual attention to the Edward Snowden leaks and statements by national-security officials, you might be under the impression that the Obama administration is already on record denying that this sort of spying goes on. In fact, denials about NSA spying are almost always carefully worded to address activities under particular legal authorities, like Section 215 of the Patriot Act or Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. An official will talk about what is or isn't done "under this program," eliding the fact that the NSA spies on Americans under numerous different programs, despite regularly claiming to be an exclusively foreign spy agency.


Executive Order 12333 is old news to national-security insiders and the journalists who cover them, but is largely unknown to the American public, in part because officials have a perverse institutional incentive to obscure its role. But some insiders are troubled by such affronts to representative democracy. A tiny subset screw up the courage to inform their fellow citizens. 


Tye is but the latest surveillance whistleblower, though he took pains to distinguish himself from Snowden and his approach to dissent.


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Net neutrality defenders actually fine if Internet users decide what goes fast | WashPost.com

Net neutrality defenders actually fine if Internet users decide what goes fast | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As the Federal Communications Commission wraps up its open comment period for its net neutrality proceedings, AT&T is in with its 99-page contribution. And there's one section in particular that has caught the attention and earned the ire of some fans of neutrality regulations. It has to do with the idea that in some cases, some of its customers might chose to, say, dedicate more of the bandwidth that they pay for to certain applications, effectively degrading others. Here's AT&T:


"For example, an AT&T customer might choose to prioritize latency- and jitter-sensitive VoIP packets or video conference packets over ordinary web browsing packets, and AT&T would honor those designations over that customer's "last mile" Internet facilities. There is no conceivable reason that such services, demanded and used widely by business customers today, should be foreclosed by regulatory fiat."


More simply put, you, AT&T broadband customer, might choose to curate your broadband connection so that your Vonage calls generally ring through with a quickness but are delayed a bit when you're engaged in a heavy "World of Warcraft" session.


That can sound a lot like the "paid prioritization" that is at the heart of today's net neutrality debate, and the tech site Ars Technica has branded what AT&T has in mind as a "giant loophole" in a "'fast lane' ban."


But AT&T cites support for such "user-directed prioritization" on the part of high-profile net neutrality advocacy groups like the Washington-based Center for Democracy and Tech and the Massachusetts-based Free Press. And there's good reason for that: Those groups are perfectly okay with the idea.


"The issue comes down to who's deciding what gets priority," says Andrew McDiarmid, a senior policy analyst at CDT. "It's much less of an issue if a user makes the technical decision about what gets priority, and it's not the same thing as a ISP being in the position of deciding winners and losers." Matt Wood is the policy director at Free Press, and perhaps no group has been as energetically and vocally in favor of the FCC adopting aggressive net neutrality regulations. Even he says: "People should be free to use their connection any way they want. That's the point of all this."


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Harlem: New York's new tech hub? | CNNMoney.com

Harlem: New York's new tech hub? | CNNMoney.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

When people think of the fast-growing New York City tech scene, they think Silicon Alley in the posh neighborhoods of lower Manhattan -- not 125th Street.


Yet Harlem is getting a tech-led makeover, thanks to a new series of economic development initiatives aimed at combating the neighborhood's infamous high unemployment rates and widespread poverty.


"Our mission is transforming the community into a tech hub," said Clayton Banks, executive producer of Silicon Harlem. "We can eliminate crime, increase employment opportunities, and give the community another Renaissance."


Silicon Harlem, a nonprofit community organization launched in 2013, is partnering with local and national politicians and entrepreneurs to help develop Harlem's tech scene. They're supporting tech education initiatives, building up the neighborhood's broadband infrastructure and attempting to lure innovators to the neighborhood.


The first step: free Wi-Fi. Continuing an initiative started by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Mayor Bill De Blasio's administration is deploying the largest, continuous free Wi-Fi network in the United States -- right in the center of Harlem. The network will cover 95 city blocks.


According to Banks and his fellow executive producer Bruce Lincoln, providing free access to the Internet is a means of democratizing innovation and education, and bringing Harlem into the 21st century economy.


But free Internet isn't the only advantage of building a startup in Harlem. The neighborhood is undergoing a significant transformation, with new high-rise condos, a rapidly expanding Restaurant Row and a changing demographic makeup.


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Meet the Online Tracking Device That is Virtually Impossible to Block | ProPublica.org

Meet the Online Tracking Device That is Virtually Impossible to Block | ProPublica.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Update: A YouPorn.com spokesperson said that the website was "completely unaware that AddThis contained a tracking software that had the potential to jeopardize the privacy of our users." After this article was published, YouPorn removed AddThis technology from its website.


This story was co-published with Mashable.


A new, extremely persistent type of online tracking is shadowing visitors to thousands of top websites, from WhiteHouse.gov to YouPorn.com.


First documented in a forthcoming paper by researchers at Princeton University and KU Leuven University in Belgium, this type of tracking, called canvas fingerprinting, works by instructing the visitor’s Web browser to draw a hidden image. Because each computer draws the image slightly differently, the images can be used to assign each user’s device a number that uniquely identifies it.


Like other tracking tools, canvas fingerprints are used to build profiles of users based on the websites they visit — profiles that shape which ads, news articles, or other types of content are displayed to them.


But fingerprints are unusually hard to block: They can’t be prevented by using standard Web browser privacy settings or using anti-tracking tools such as AdBlock Plus.


The researchers found canvas fingerprinting computer code, primarily written by a company called AddThis, on 5 percent of the top 100,000 websites. Most of the code was on websites that use AddThis’ social media sharing tools. Other fingerprinters include the German digital marketer Ligatus and the Canadian dating site Plentyoffish. (A list of all the websites on which researchers found the code is here).


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Comcast Opens ‘Labs’ Section On X1 | Multichannel.com

Comcast Opens ‘Labs’ Section On X1 | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast confirmed that it added a section on its X1 interface that gives customers a way to try out apps and features under development at its Comcast Labs division.

 

Comcast said it rolled out the feature to all X1 customers last week, and that it intends to provide access to new apps-in-the-making every month.


GigaOm first shed light on the the new X1 app test environment on Monday, reporting that Comcast will use it to receive feedback and data on them before the team decides which ones will be launch commercially on the cloud-based, IP-capable platform.

 

Comcast has since posted a blog about the effort, noting that the new Comcast Labs subsection is offered on X1 under "Settings/Preferences" and that it will serve as a "sandbox" where cusotmers can beta test new features before they go live.

 

Early on, Comcast is allowing X1 subs to experiment with the following four apps, which are all available on an opt-in basis:


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TX: Gig Austin is gaining traction | Businessweek.com

Jessica Swanson got a taste of high Internet speeds a few years ago.


As a Kansas City, Mo., native, she got to use Google Fiber, a high-speed fiber optics network that provides broadband Internet speeds hundreds of times faster than average Internet at a friend's house about two years ago. She was blown away by how fast everything seemed online. It was a big reason why she decided to volunteer with Vision 2020's Community Wide Technology committee less than two years after moving here.


"Craig Jones had mentioned something to me. He barely said five words and I exploded," she said with a laugh.


Swanson, a human resources officer with The Hormel Institute, is craving faster Internet like many people today. Vision 2020 has a plan to meet that need, with a proposed project to install a 1 gigabit-per-second data fiber network within the Austin Public Schools district. That network would boost Austin Internet speeds many times higher than surrounding areas through direct home connections to an underground network of glass wires designed to transmit massive amounts of data.


The plan, called Gig Austin, is an ambitious attempt by the community improvement initiative to transform the Austin area over the next few years. It carries some risk and there's still many unanswered questions.


Yet if volunteers successfully build a data fiber network, it could mean more than just a better Netflix connection. Gig Austin could bring more economic development and foster a tech-friendly atmosphere to create more opportunities in the area.


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Time Warner Adopts Anti-Takeover Measure | Broadcasting & Cable

Time Warner Adopts Anti-Takeover Measure | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Time Warner, which last week said it rebuffed a takeover offer from 21st Century Fox, has made changes in its corporate bylaws that may make a buyout tougher.


In a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, Time Warner said its directors voted on Monday to remove bylaw provisions that enabled stockholders to cause the board to call a special meeting of stockholders. The new rules say the CEO or a majority of directors may call a special meeting.


It also said it intends to reinstate the provisions at 2015 annual shareholder meeting.


The move signals that Time Warner is looking to fight a takeover by Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch. Although the first offer was rejected, Wall Street analysts expect a new, higher priced offer to follow.


Under the old rule 15% of Time Warner stockholders could call a meeting. At such a meeting a takeover offer, such as Fox’s, could have been considered and approved.


Under the new rules, no proposal not favored by the board could be considered until the next annual meeting.


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CA: Startup claims it will build fiber network in LA and wireless throughout US | Ars Technica

CA: Startup claims it will build fiber network in LA and wireless throughout US | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A startup has told Los Angeles city officials that it wants to build a citywide fiber-to-the-home broadband network and that it also hopes to build nationwide Wi-Fi and cellular networks.


The proposal sounds unlikely to succeed, but it's certainly ambitious. It comes in response to a Los Angeles city government request for information (RFI) regarding a plan to build a fiber and Wi-Fi network. The Los Angeles request itself struck telecom experts as unrealistic. The city wants a vendor to build a fiber network at an estimated cost of $3 billion to $5 billion, offer free Internet to all residents (while charging for faster speeds), and make the infrastructure available to any other service provider on a wholesale basis.


The RFI deadline passed Friday, and only one company has made its full response to the city public. It's a Dutch company called Angie Communications, which claims it will build fiber and mobile networks in the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, France, and the US.


You can read Angie's 18-page response to LA here. The company says it will cost $2.5 billion to reach the break-even point in its plans, which "will mainly come from investors, suppliers and builders." The "lifetime" cost of Angie's nationwide network is estimated at a whopping $70 billion.


Angie says it has €50 million ($67.6 million) from investors, which isn't enough to get started on building. That money "will be used by the Company from November 2014 onwards to pay for initial operations (salaries, retail operations, marketing, etc.) in its markets as well as to raise funds by way of a six-month road show."


Angie says it would build the entire LA fiber network, "including the backbone, the metro and street access infrastructure," within five years. Speeds would hit 1Gbps or 10Gbps and not be limited to Los Angeles. Angie wants its fiber to pass "at least five (5) million premises (homes, offices, businesses) nationwide in its own 'rolled out' markets." Angie last year said it would build fiber in San Jose.


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Mediacom Urges FCC To Unbundle | Multichannel.com

Mediacom Urges FCC To Unbundle | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Mediacom Monday asked FCC to adopt new rules that would prevent volume-based discounts in program carriage deals, insure access to content online, and require the disclosure of rates.

 

That came in a petition for expedited rulemaking filed by the cable operator. The FCC is under no obligation to act on the petition, but it puts Mediacom's asks on the table.

 

Mediacom said the relationship between programmers and distributors is broken, that the marketplace as it has evolved thanks to Washington is anti-competitive and anti-consumer, and that Washington needs to fix it. It even co-opts some network neutrality language usually used by content providers towards ISPs, saying one thing the FCC needs to do is prevent programmers from blocking or restricting access to online content.

 

Mediacom wants the FCC to unbundle deals dominated by "six "media giants" who control more than 125 cable nets, including must-have programming. Mediacom even added the recent talk of a possible News Corp./Time Warner Cable merger to make its point that big companies are getting bigger, adding that broadcast groups are heavying up, too.


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The rise of the Internet of things | USAToday.com

The rise of the Internet of things | USAToday.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Here's a phrase you're about to hear a lot more of — if you haven't already: the "Internet of Things."


Why? It's about to be the next big thing. What does it mean? It's not just computers and phones that are linked up to the Internet — it's your stuff: refrigerators and glasses and trains and buildings.


The buzz about the Internet of things really took off earlier this year, when Google acquired smart thermostat and smoke alarm company Nest for $3.2 billion. What else is a member of this new club? Wearable devices like the Fitbit and Nike FuelBand trackers that monitor our physical activity and store that data in the cloud, Google Glass and more.


But the surprising twist is that the big money in this next big thing may lie in a slightly less sexy arena than you'd think. The real future of devices that talk to each other may lie not in Google users but in smart-ifying, formerly clunky industrial companies.


Folks who have worked on building automation, railroads, heating efficiency and more are stepping full force into the Internet of Things space. Companies like Cisco ("Internet of Everything"), GE ("Industrial Internet") and others in the Valley that were around long before the dot-coms showed up now have the chance to make big-time bucks by smartening up a bunch of hefty, old-school stuff that affects our daily lives.


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US Chamber of Commerce backs Senate cyber bill | TheHill.com

US Chamber of Commerce backs Senate cyber bill | TheHill.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pressuring the Senate to take up and “expeditiously” pass a Senate cybersecurity bill that would encourage companies to share information about cyber threats with each other and the federal government.


The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act “would strengthen the protection and resilience of businesses’ information networks and systems against increasingly sophisticated and malicious actors,” the Chamber said in a letter Monday.


The bill — from Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Vice-chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) — passed through the Intelligence Committee earlier this month by a 12-3 vote.


The group praised the bill’s protections for companies that share information about cyber threats.


It’s “targeted protections — including limited liability, disclosure, regulation, and antitrust — should constructively influence businesses’ decisions to share cyber threat data and countermeasures more quickly and frequently,” the letter said.


That bill has faced backlash from privacy advocates, who warn that it would let government agencies, including the National Security Agency, share and use information without adequate restraints and say it would give private companies too much leeway in identifying and responding to cyber threats.


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