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CO: City eyes bonds for broadband build-out | Boulder County Business Report

CO: City eyes bonds for broadband build-out | Boulder County Business Report | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The estimated $40 million to $50 million needed to build-out Longmont’s high-speed broadband network may come in the form of private-activity bonds.

City officials are researching the bond plan, according to Gabe Santos, Longmont’s elected mayor pro-tem. The Longmont City Council is expected to discuss the private-activity bond research at a meeting slated for Tuesday, May 14.

Such bonds are tax-exempt, and can be used for various development purposes, including housing, utility infrastructure and redevelopment of blighted areas, according to information on the Colorado Department of Local Affairs website. The city could sell the bonds, which are allocated by the federal government.

The Platte River Power Authority paid $1.1 million to install the 17-mile high-speed broadband network in 1997. Longmont voters in 2011 approved a measure to allow the city to sell broadband services to the community. The city owns and operates the broadband service.

About 40 companies have expressed interest in signing up for the broadband service so far, said Vince Jordan, broadband services manager at Longmont Power and Communications. An estimated 1,300 companies are within 500 feet of the broadband network infrastructure.

Even though it’s often expensive to run fiber-optic cable to buildings that don’t have it, the local economy is expected to benefit widely from companies having access to less expensive, faster broadband service, Jordan said.

“By putting money back into (company) pockets and upgrading levels of service so they operate more efficiently and effectively, we hope that translates into more jobs,” Jordan said. “We’re trying to make every dollar go a long way.”

 

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Verizon will soon throttle LTE data: here's what you need to know | TheVerge.com

Verizon will soon throttle LTE data: here's what you need to know | TheVerge.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The days of truly unlimited LTE data on Verizon Wireless are coming to a close. Today, the largest US carrier announced that it will begin applying its "network optimization" practices, which previously only affected the 3G network, to unlimited 4G LTE customers starting October 1st. Beginning on that date, the carrier will slow you down if you're "connected to cell sites experiencing heavy demand."


But Verizon's policy is far from straightforward, and it's in no way universal. To risk slower speeds, you must also meet all of the following criteria:


  • You're using a 4G LTE smartphone on an unlimited data plan.


  • Your current data usage falls within the top 5 percent of all Verizon users. This ceiling will almost certainly fluctuate in the future. As of March, hitting 4.7GB in a single month was enough to put you over it.


  • You're a month-to-month customer. Most people probably fall into this category, but if you've somehow managed to renew your plan for another year or two, you don't need to worry about throttling. Of course, renewing an unlimited plan isn't supposed to be technically possible. But where there's a will there's a way, and users have occasionally discovered loopholes that allow re-upping with unlimited data.


If you can check off all those boxes, you'll be subject to throttling and may experience video / music buffering, slower web browsing, and other interruptions that come along with reduced speeds. And it won't for just one month: you'll potentially have to deal with throttling the following month, too. Again, this policy only applies in areas where the network is seeing heavy demand. You might be throttled in one town and experience regular, fast speeds in the next. See? We told you it wasn't straightforward.


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Community Area Network: Chippewa Valley, Wisconsin | YouTube.com

Community institutions in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin pooled their resources to build a high-speed broadband network. The high-speed connections create opportunities to share applications, and open up possibilities for new uses of technology.

A video produced by the ARRA-funded Wisconsin broadband project, Building Community Capacity through Broadband. http://broadband.uwex.edu


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Chattanooga, TN and Wilson, NC Petition FCC to Remove Anti-Competitive Restrictions | community broadband networks

Chattanooga, TN and Wilson, NC Petition FCC to Remove Anti-Competitive Restrictions | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Chattanooga and Wilson, North Carolina, are two of the most successful municipal fiber networks by a variety of metrics, including jobs created, aggregate community savings, and more. This has led to significant demand from surrounding communities for Wilson and Chattanooga to expand. We have profiled both of them in case studies: Wilson and Chattanooga.


Expecting this outcome, the big cable and telephone companies had pressured the states to limit where municipal networks can offer service, unlike the private companies that can invest anywhere. Wilson cannot expand beyond county limits. Chattanooga already serves its entire electrical footprint, which stretches into northern Georgia and includes a few other towns but cannot serve anyone beyond that.


FCC Chairman Wheeler has been quite clear that he intends to remove barriers to competition that limit local authority to build community networks.


Today, Wilson and North Carolina have filed petitions with the FCC to remove restrictions on their ability to expand and offer services to nearby communities. These barriers were created after major lobbying campaigns by Comcast, AT&T, and Time Warner Cable, one of which we chronicled in The Empire Lobbies Back. We have also explained how the FCC can take this action and interviewed Harold Feld on the matter.


Read press statements from Chattanooga EPB and Wilson, North Carolina [pdf]. Also, Wilson's Full Petition and Exhibits [pdf], Chattanooga's Petition [pdf], and Chattanooga's Exhibits [pdf]. Jim Baller worked with them on the filing, so you know the facts are straight.


We issued a press release this afternoon:


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Comcast Ramps Up Ad Campaign Claiming To Support Net Neutrality, Even As It Really Supports Killing It | Techdirt.com

Comcast Ramps Up Ad Campaign Claiming To Support Net Neutrality, Even As It Really Supports Killing It | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

We just wrote about how the FCC is now claiming that it will enforce its "transparency" rules that require some sort of truth in advertising. If that's the case, it might want to take a close look at Comcast's recent "truthy" advertising campaign, which it's running online, in newspapers and on TV, claiming that it's a huge supporter of "net neutrality." In fact, in a recent video ad, Comcast flat out claims that it wants to "extend net neutrality protection."


Comcast defends this position by claiming, first, that it's bound by the original 2010 FCC open internet rules, as part of the conditions of its big merger with NBC Universal. That part is true. Just about everything else is misleading or bogus. First, the FCC's 2010 open internet rules were always a weak sauce. They barely allowed the FCC to do anything and there were tons of loopholes. Being bound by those rules was never really being bound by any true sense of net neutrality.

Also, as Brian Fung at the Washington Post points out, the merger conditions only last a few more years. And then Comcast is free to do whatever it wants within the "new" rules:


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US State Department computer crash slows visa, passport applications worldwide | NetworkWorld.com

US State Department computer crash slows visa, passport applications worldwide | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The U.S. State Department’s main computer system for processing passport and visa applications crashed earlier this week leading to global delays for travel documents.


The problems first surfaced after “routine maintenance” on the consular database, said Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, during a televised briefing Thursday. Harf said the system has been brought back online, but it’s still not back to full capacity.


“We are working urgently to correct the problem and expect our system to be fully operational soon,” she said.


Because the problems occurred after maintenance work, Harf said the U.S. government doesn’t believe the problems are the result of any malicious action, although she acknowledged the department hasn’t identified the root cause of the problem.


“This is worldwide, it’s not specific to any particular country,” she said.


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TX Representative Joe Barton: LPTV Bill Is 'Just Right' | Broadcasting & Cable

TX Representative Joe Barton: LPTV Bill Is 'Just Right' | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

There is no unity in the LPTV community. That is how one witness put it at a Hill hearing in the House Communications Subcommittee Thursday. Subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) agreed, but said that a bill currently before the committee is needed to make sure the FCC does not "squash" LPTVs "just because it can."


One of the subjects of the legislative hearing was a bill, The LPTV and Translator Preservation Act of 2014, introduced by Rep. Joe Barton (pictured above) (R-Texas). The bill, say its backers, is intended to insure that the FCC takes into account the value of low-power TV stations, TV station translators and boosters when it repacks stations after the broadband incentive auctions.


The bill does not change those stations' secondary status—the FCC can force them to go dark if not to do so would adversely affect repacking—which is why some LPTV supporters don't support the bill.


But it would require the FCC to take that value into account when deciding the fate of those stations, which other avowed LPTV supporters say could jeopardize the auction repacking for not much upside given that it does not change their regulatory status.


Louis Libin, executive VP of LPTV group the Advanced Television Broadcasting Alliance, said the bill was at least an effort to prevent the FCC from indiscriminately pulling LPTV license as part of the auction. He called it a step in the right direction.


Harold Feld of Public Knowledge, which generally supports LPTVs, said that he was concerned the bill would cause unneeded confusion that could disrupt repacking and delay the incentive auction—now scheduled for mid-2015. He told the legislators that the FCC needs to begin building real-time auction software on a stable foundation and that the LPTV bill could jeopardize that.


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DOJ: Make Unauthorized Streaming a Felony | Broadcasting & Cable

DOJ: Make Unauthorized Streaming a Felony | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Justice Department continues to press Congress to clarify that Internet streaming can be prosecuted as a felony and not just a misdemeanor.


Felony prosecution would mean larger penalties, and DOJ argues, better deterrence to online pirates.


In testimony before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, David Bitkower, acting deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division at the U.S. Department of Justice, pointed out that bandwidth devoted to streaming unauthorized content had increased 470% between 2010 and 2012.


He said that would likely only continue to increase as streaming became the preferred method of distributing illegal online content.


The White House has been pushing Congress for years to make streaming a felony. Currently, it is treated as an illegal performance, which is a misdemeanor, rather than illegal reproduction and distribution, which is a felony.


Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.) asked whether he thought the lack of a a felony penalty for streaming deterred law enforcement from pursuing unauthorized streamers. Bitkower said yes, and pointed out that the trend was now away from downloading and toward streaming as the pirating technology of choice. He said that streaming clearly implicates the performance right, but that the misdemeanor penalties under that definition are not sufficient to discourage that rising tide of streaming piracy.


Coble asked witness Steven Tepp, an IP lawyer, specializing in legal analysis, counseling, and public policy, whether he thought the general public believed they were essentially entitled to online content.


Tepp said he thought that too many people did not give copyright the respect it deserves. coble said he agreed.


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Federal regulators let utilities gouge customers | David Cay Johnston Opinion | Al Jazeera America

Federal regulators let utilities gouge customers | David Cay Johnston Opinion | Al Jazeera America | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The profit margins that federal regulators set for utilities should be decreasing, given the long downward drift of interest rates and the shrinking cost of capital.


Bizarrely, the opposite is happening: Utilities are raking in stunning profits at the expense of consumers.


Now the first in a raft of cases asserting that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is letting utilities gouge customers by setting egregiously high rates of return may finally get a hearing.


Since utilities are legal monopolies with no market to discipline their pricing, only the vigilance of regulators stops them from causing irreparable economic harm by stifling growth, draining wealth from customers and distorting investment. Court rulings say FERC commissioners must “guard the consumer against excessive rates.”


The legal standard for setting utility rates is known as “just and reasonable.” Profits and prices are supposed to be balanced so both investors and customers get fair treatment.


FERC commissioners, however, disregard the just and reasonable standard, routinely ignore evidence and act more as agents of utilities than fair-minded regulators.


Who are these commissioners? Acting Chairman Cheryl LeFleur was acting CEO of the National Grid utility company. Philip D. Moeller has been the chief Washington lobbyist for utilities Alliant Energy and Calpine. Commissioner John R. Norris is a utility lawyer. Commissioner Tony Clark is a career regulator whose biography emphasizes that “he oversaw regulatory proceedings that permitted more than $5.5 billion in new investment in North Dakota through expanded wind, coal and oil and gas infrastructure.”


Absent from the commission is anyone who represents the rights of consumers.


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Cities Petition FCC In Fight For Municipal Broadband | TechCrunch.com

Cities Petition FCC In Fight For Municipal Broadband | TechCrunch.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Cities like Chattanooga, Tenn., have led the charge of providing public broadband services to local communities. 


Today, Chattanooga and Wilson, N.C., another city that provides municipal broadband, took it a step further by filing petitions to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), asking them to remove state laws that restrict the right to provide broadband services outside their territories, according to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.


Last week, the House of Representatives approved legislation from Republican Marsha Blackburn that would forbid the FCC from removing remove state-level restrictions on municipal broadband networks.


What are municipal networks? It’s when a city decides to build infrastructure to provide the local community with its own broadband network service, rather than people having to rely solely on private companies.


The amendment is a part of the Financial Services appropriations bill and was approved by the House of Representatives and would have to be approved by the Senate and then signed by President Obama. It is unlikely Obama will sign it as he instated FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who is pushing for more municipal broadband networks.


“I have said before, that I believe the FCC has the power – and I intend to exercise that power – to preempt state laws that ban competition from community broadband,” Wheeler said in a meeting of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association in April.


At the meeting, Wheeler mentioned this push for municipal broadband is to drive investment and encourage broadband providers to upgrade their services.


A large part of this push for municipal networks comes because these networks can and are providing faster speeds than private companies. To put things in perspective, Internet speeds in Chattanooga, which offers public broadband to its community, reach up to 1 gigabit per second, which is 10 to 100 times faster than the rest of the U.S. at similar costs compared to companies such as AT&T or Comcast, according to Chattanooga’s Times Free Press.


Unsurprisingly, these telecommunications companies are heavily lobbying against municipal broadband networks, as it would only add competition to their businesses.


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Moody’s: Broadband Subs To Surpass Video in 2015 | Multichannel.com

Moody’s: Broadband Subs To Surpass Video in 2015 | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

High-speed data customers will surpass video customers for cable companies by next year, according to debt rating agency Moody’s Investor’s Service, as cable operators concentrate more on selling higher-margin data services.

 

Already cable HSD and video customers are about even: Moody’s estimates that they both reached about 50 million subscribers in the first quarter of this year. As more and more customers consider broadband service an must-have product – a Pew Research Center study showed that 53% of adults said it would be “very hard or impossible” to give up their broadband service while just 35% said the same for TV – Moody’s predicts that cable operators will make it easier to unbundle broadband offerings.

 

Broadband has become an anchor product for most households and we believe a primary purchase decision for anyone moving into a new residence,” Moody’s wrote in a report by lead author and Moody’s vice president and senior analyst Karen Berckmann.


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Uphill task for Ultra HD TVs | BroadbandTVNews.com

Uphill task for Ultra HD TVs | BroadbandTVNews.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

High pricing is preventing Ultra HD televisions (UHD TVs) from securing a meaningful share of the overall flat-panel TV market through the world.


According to a report entitled TV Systems Databases: Monthly TV Shipments – June 2014 by IHS Technology, among the top 13 brands for liquid-crystal-display televisions (LCDTV) worldwide, the share of UHD TV shipments reached 5% in May, up from 4% in April, 3% in March and 2% in February.


But while UHD TV share has expanded by at least 1 percentage point for the last three months, growth hasn’t increased much since September last year, when the market was already at the 2% level.


The top 13 brands account for more than 75% of total LCD TV shipments, and also represent over 90% of overall UHD LCD TV shipments.


UHD TV shipments this year are projected to grow to 14.5 million units, up from just 2.0 million in 2013, as global brands deploy aggressive marketing efforts and roll out new models.


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Deaf advocacy groups to Verizon: Don’t kill net neutrality on our behalf | Ars Technica

Deaf advocacy groups to Verizon: Don’t kill net neutrality on our behalf | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

No company has lobbied more fiercely against network neutrality than Verizon, which filed the lawsuit that overturned the FCC's rules prohibiting ISPs from blocking and discriminating against Web content. But the absence of net neutrality rules isn't just good for Verizon—it's also good for the blind, deaf, and disabled, Verizon claims.


That's what Verizon lobbyists said in talks with congressional staffers, according to a Mother Jones report last month. "Three Hill sources tell Mother Jones that Verizon lobbyists have cited the needs of blind, deaf, and disabled people to try to convince congressional staffers and their bosses to get on board with the fast lane idea," the report said. With "fast lanes," Web services—including those designed for the blind, deaf, and disabled—could be prioritized in exchange for payment.


Now, advocacy groups for deaf people have filed comments with the FCC saying they don't agree with Verizon's position.


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Making optical cables out of air could boost communication in space | GigaOM Tech News

Making optical cables out of air could boost communication in space | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Under our feet, cables carry data between our homes, offices and data centers at a pace that can match the speed of light. The data travels as light that runs through strings made of materials like glass and plastic.


Researchers at the University of Maryland want to do away with the cable altogether and just use air to guide the light. That’s not as simple as it sounds, because a laser sent through air will spread apart and interact with particles, gradually losing its intensity over time.


The research team instead caused patches of air to mimic a fiber optic cable by creating tubes of dense air surrounded by low-density air. In a fiber optic cable, a laser travels through a string of glass. When it tries to leave the glass, it hits a wall that reflects it back into the center, guiding it along the length of the cable. The cable made of air works in the same way.


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US House Passes Cell Phone Unlocking Bill Under Unanimous Consent | Public Knowledge

US House Passes Cell Phone Unlocking Bill Under Unanimous Consent | Public Knowledge | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This afternoon, the US House of Representatives passed S. 517, the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, under unanimous consent. The bill allows consumers to "unlock" their cell phones so they can take a phone with them from one service provider to another. The bill already passed in the Senate, and will now make its way to the President's desk for signing.

The following can be attributed to Laura Moy, Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge:

"This important legislation responds to hundreds of thousands of Americans who signed petitions, called, and wrote to government leaders asking for the right to unlock devices they legally own.

"We are particularly grateful to Mr. Goodlatte, Mr. Conyers, and Ms. Lofgren for their work on this important issue and their willingness to find a compromise that works for their constituencies, as well as for the wireless industry and public interest groups like ours."


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OK: Startup Rural Broadband Services Corporation Has Big Plans for Tahlequah | Telecompetitor.com

OK: Startup Rural Broadband Services Corporation Has Big Plans for Tahlequah | Telecompetitor.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A startup company known as Rural Broadband Services Corporationhas big plans for rural Tahlequah, Oklahoma – plans that RBSC CEO Roy Choates hopes he will be able to repeat in other rural communities that lack high-speed broadband connectivity.


“We have a philosophy called ‘shared infrastructure,’” said Choates in an interview. “In rural America you don’t need two or three different companies building a fiber network.” For example, he said he expects to supply connectivity to support utility company smart grid deployments, eliminating the need for the utility to deploy its own fiber.


Choates is a long-time telecom engineer and consultant who believed strongly enough in this idea to invest his own money to build a fiber network in Tahlequah, a town with a population of about 16,000. The company also is funded, in part, by an outside investor, but Choates is the majority owner.


He believes broadband will be key to important rural initiatives such as telemedicine, distance learning and the ConnectED program that aims to bring high-speed Internet to the nation’s schools.


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ISPs are spending less on their networks as they make more money off them | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

ISPs are spending less on their networks as they make more money off them | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

How much money do the nation's biggest Internet providers invest in upgrading their networks every year?


The answer can affect how reliable your connections are, what kind of speeds you get and the amount you pay for service each month. And with all the debate about big telecom mergers, net neutrality and the future of broadband, capital expenditures — or the resources companies sink into their networks — offer an important source of insight into how it all works.


It turns out that, as a percentage of the money they pull in, ISPs have generally spent less on infrastructure over time — from a high of 37 percent of revenue in some cases to a low of around 12 percent more recently.


The data, compiled from public filings by Harvard scholar Susan Crawford and telecom analyst Mitchell Shapiro, includes over a decade of information about how ISPs have allocated their resources.


Before you jump to any conclusions about these companies, though, remember that the turn of the millennium was precisely when a lot of modern Internet cabling was being rolled out.


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Behind Comcast’s truthy ad campaign for net neutrality | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

Behind Comcast’s truthy ad campaign for net neutrality | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast has two big goals in Washington this year. The first is to get its merger with Time Warner Cable approved by federal regulators. The second is to forestall what it views as potentially onerous new regulations on its broadband business.


The two goals are interconnected; if Comcast pushes too hard against additional regulation, it might hinder its chances with merger review officials. At the same time, Comcast stands to earn some goodwill with regulators by demonstrating its willingness to cooperate on net neutrality.


So Comcast has been engaged in a public relations battle lately to convince policymakers and the public that it is all in favor of net neutrality, or the idea that Internet traffic should be treated equally by Internet service providers no matter where it came from or what's contained in it.


In an ongoing ad campaign, Comcast touts that it's the only internet service provider (or ISP) legally bound by "full" net neutrality and that the company wants to expand that commitment to even more people. This sounds great for consumers; it's the kind of thing that might convince skeptical regulators to give Comcast the benefit of the doubt. But the advertising claims come with some big, unstated caveats that could be confusing to consumers who already find the net neutrality debate a jumble of jargon and rhetoric.


None of what Comcast has claimed is factually untrue. But the company omits some facts in its advertising that gives the impression that it is unconditionally committed to "full" net neutrality, whatever that might mean, when the bigger picture is somewhat more complicated.


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TX: AT&T Preps Summer GigaPower Debut In Dallas/Ft. Worth | Multichannel.com

TX: AT&T Preps Summer GigaPower Debut In Dallas/Ft. Worth | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

AT&T shed some light on its coming launch of fiber-fed “U-verse with GigaPower” services in pockets of Dallas and Ft. Worth, announcing that it’s on track to boot up service this summer.

 

AT&T, which tangles with Time Warner Cable and, to a lesser extent, with Charter Communications, in that area, didn’t pinpoint a launch date, but said the deployment will initially focus on the Dallas-area communities of Highland Park and University Park, offering “speed capability up to 1 Gbps.”

 

In other sections of Dallas and surrounding cities, including Allen, Fairview, Irving and McKinney,  AT&T said it will launch with speeds up to 100 Mbps, noting that customers there “will be eligible to upgrade to speeds of up to 1 Gbps by the end of 2014.”

 

In Ft. Worth, the initial deployment will also be limited to 100 Mbps, with plans to offer up to 1-Gig by year-end. Other nearby cities that will have access to 100-Meg speeds via AT&T later this summer include Arlington, Euless, Granbury, North Richland Hills, Weatherford, and Willow Park.


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State Legislatures to FCC Chairman Wheeler: See You in Court | Broadcasting & Cable

State Legislatures to FCC Chairman Wheeler: See You in Court | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The National Conference of State Legislatures wrote FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler this week to say they would challenge the constitutionality of any attempt to preempt state laws restricting municipal broadband networks.


Wheeler has said those laws are attempts by ISP incumbents, including cable operators, to prevent competition and that he wants to use the FCC's authority to loosen "legal restrictions on the ability of cities and towns to offer broadband services to consumers in their communities."


"On behalf of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), we write to express our opposition to your recent remarks articulating your desire to preempt state laws regulating taxpayer-funded broadband networks," wrote Oregon State Senator Bruce Starr, President of NCSL, and Nevada State Senator Debbie Smith, president-elect. "NCSL will challenge the constitutionality of any action on the part of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seeking to diminish the duly adopted laws of the impacted states [there are 21 with such laws] or prevent additional states from exercising their well-established rights to govern in the best interests of the voters."


Pointing out that Wheeler himself has conceded there have been both successes and failures in community broadband, the NCSL leaders ask: "[I]s it that unreasonable policymakers in 21 states have responded by enacting safeguards on municipal networks to mitigate the pitfalls associated with entry?"


At a recent Hill hearing, Comcast EVP David Cohen said that while as a former city official he hated it when states tried to preempt municipal decisions, he did not agree with the feds preempting the states, either, and that Comcast's general position was that municipal broadband was not the best way to close the digital divide.


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Even the MLB Is Opposed to Internet Fast Lanes | Gizmodo.com

Even the MLB Is Opposed to Internet Fast Lanes | Gizmodo.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The FCC's proposed plan to create pay-to-play internet fast lanes is offending Americans, and now that includes America's Pastime: Major League Baseball's digital media group lobbed a statement to the FCC last week criticizing the proposal.


Uncovered by Re/Code among the flood of comments that overwhelmed the FCC's aging website, MLB Advance Media's beef with the proposed cash-for-fast-lanes is that it'll end up costing consumers:


"Fast lanes would serve only one purpose: for Broadband ISPs to receive an economic windfall. American consumers would be worse off as the costs of fast lanes are passed along to them in new fees or charges where there were none, or higher fees or charges where they existed."


Why is the sport's streaming arm, the one that's happy to charge you $120 for a season's worth of out-of-market online baseball coverage, sweating the idea of faster streaming for 24-karat customers? As Re/Code points out, MLB's digital media branch is one of the largest streaming video providers in the U.S., providing live streaming coverage for WWE and ESPN on top of its own baseball content. MLB.com spokesman Matthew Gould estimates the company will stream 400,000 hours of live programming this year.


So the MLB's media arm has a horse in this race, and it's concerned that the FCC wouldn't be able to control the fast lanes it proposes to allow. From the MLB's comment letter:


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Will spectrum auctions disappear public TV? | Pat Aufderheide | CMSIimpact.org

Will spectrum auctions disappear public TV? | Pat Aufderheide | CMSIimpact.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In an important op-ed in public TV’s industry bible, Current, longtime public TV advocate (and spectrum guru) John Schwartz highlights a grim reality: the FCC’s recent Report and Order on spectrum auctions could jeopardize the future of public TV.


The problem: Public TV stations, like all other TV stations, can put their spectrum up for auction, and do what they like with the proceeds. Some of them are taking the opportunity not only to sell, but to close, as Elizabeth Jensen recently explained in the New York Times. Under the law and the internal regulations of public broadcasting, none of them has any obligation to do more than, say, pay their executives higher salaries with the money. 


And this despite the fact that American taxpayers have invested billions in the existence of a national network of stations with local presence and reach in 98% of the nation. 


Public TV, a headless horseman of a network, has no central planning entity, so there’s no one to coordinate how to maintain a national network of local stations that can air local news, Independent Lens,  or Downtown Abbey.  The Association of Public TV Stations, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS all asked the FCC to create set-asides to ensure that public broadcasting would make the transition alive. But the FCC declined to do so.


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US Senator Jay Rockefeller Wants to Revolutionize How You Watch TV | National Journal

US Senator Jay Rockefeller Wants to Revolutionize How You Watch TV | National Journal | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Sen. Jay Rockefeller is getting ready to settle into retirement. But before he does, he'd like to upend the entire television industry.


Although his ambitious gambit is unlikely to pay off in the final few months of his 30-year career, it could lay the groundwork for future congressional action that could change how Americans watch TV.


Rockefeller's goal is to boost online video services like Netflix to allow them to become full-fledged competitors to cable giants like Comcast. In his view, consumers are paying too much for too many channels they don't watch.

 

"Do people really want to see 500 channels when all they really want to look at are eight, like me?" asked Rockefeller, the chairman of the powerful Senate Commerce Committee, during a hearing last week on the future of the video marketplace.


And things are only going to get worse, Rockefeller fears, with Comcast planning to buy Time Warner Cable and AT&T set to takeover DirecTV.


It's a twist of history for Rockefeller to be standing against the mega-mergers of our era. He is, after all, the great grandson and benefactor of John D. Rockefeller, a man whose company dominated the oil industry to the point of inspiring Congress's first antitrust laws more than a century ago.


But it's not a new position for the West Virginia Democrat, who has been a longtime critic of industry consolidation.


Now, with months left in his last term, the senator is gearing up for one last battle: He argues that providing regulatory protections to online video companies would inject much-needed competition into the TV industry, driving down prices and opening up new choices.


So what would your television experience look like if Rockefeller reigned supreme?


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Aereo Asks 10th Circuit To Lift Injunction, Says DVR Service Legal | MediaPost.com

Aereo might have been shot down by the Supreme Court, but the startup isn't yet ready to close up shop.


Not only is Aereo trying to convince regulators and the courts that it's now a "cable system" -- and therefore entitled to a compulsory license -- but the company is also arguing that it should be allowed to continue offering its DVR service.


Aereo points out that the recent Supreme Court ruling only addressed the company's real-time streaming service, which streamed over-the-air programs to users' smartphones and tablets as the shows were broadcast. The Supreme Court said that those streams were public performances, which infringed broadcasters' copyrights.


But the court didn't rule on Aereo's cloud service, which the company says merely enables “time-shifted playback of recordings by the user.” In fact, the Supreme Court specifically noted that it wasn't taking a position on the legality of Aereo's DVR service.


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Chernin and AT&T Set to Buy Control of Fullscreen YouTube Network | Re/Code.net

Chernin and AT&T Set to Buy Control of Fullscreen YouTube Network | Re/Code.net | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Fullscreen, the YouTube network that has been talking to prospective buyers for months, is ready to make a deal. Sources familiar with the company say it is finalizing a deal to sell a majority stake to Otter Media, the joint venture between AT&T and the Chernin Group.


The deal will value Fullscreen, which says it generates 3.5 billion views a month on YouTube, between $200 million and $300 million, sources say. Last spring, Disney bought Maker Studios, which generates more than 5.5 billion views a month, for $500 million, and could end up paying out up to $450 million more depending on the company’s performance.


The move represents the Chernin Group’s second bet on Fullscreen. In 2013, the company, along with Comcast*, led a $30 million investment round that valued the company at around $110 million.

Sources say Fullscreen CEO George Strompolos, who started the company after working at Google’s YouTube, will continue to run Fullscreen, and will retain a meaningful equity stake.


Representatives for Fullscreen and Otter Media declined to comment.


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Vint Cerf Calmly Explains Why You Should Stop Freaking Out About NTIA Handover Of ICANN | Techdirt.com

Vint Cerf Calmly Explains Why You Should Stop Freaking Out About NTIA Handover Of ICANN | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Back in March, we wrote a story explaining why the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) decision to "relinquish" what little "power" it had over ICANN was no big deal. It's sort of an accident of history that NTIA (a part of the US Commerce Department) even had any "mandate" over the IANA functions -- which manages domain name allocations. The "control" over ICANN/IANA has always been mostly a paper thing. ICANN is really run by a large group of folks -- the so-called "multistakeholders." I think many of us can agree that ICANN policies are currently a mess, but that has nothing to do with the NTIA's technical connection to it.

If anything, the NTIA's paper link to ICANN only served to undermine the goals of good internet governance, because it allowed other countries to falsely imply that the US government "owned" or "controlled" the internet -- opening up dangerous attempts for foreign governments to try to really take control of the internet, wiping out the multistakeholder process and replacing it entirely by governments. That would be dangerous.

Unfortunately, as we expected when we wrote our original "this means absolutely nothing" post, some people decided to freak out about it. They've insisted that NTIA's move is the US handing over the internet, potentially to foreign governments. That those same individuals have previously insisted that things like "net neutrality" are the "government taking over the internet" -- and the inherent contradiction therein -- is never really mentioned. Unfortunately, some in Congress are trying to make a big deal out of this by totally misrepresenting what's been going on.

In response, the NTIA has told everyone to calm down, but the absolute best response has to be from the "father of the internet," Vint Cerf, the guy who set up ICANN in the first place, giving his best "knowing uncle storytime" explanation of why everyone should calm down about all of this, and how, if anything, it should lead to better oversight of the ICANN IANA process. Oh, and if you watch all the way through, you might just see Vint Cerf riding a grumpy cat under a double rainbow. Because this is the internet.


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