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4 Things John McCain's Cable Bill Would Mean for Subscribers | The Wrap TV

 

Sen. John McCain will fundamentally change television if his latest legislation succeeds: It would allow consumers to pay for only the channels they want to watch, instead of being forced to plunk down lots of cash for a full cable package of negligible offerings.

 

The Arizona Republican's bill faces lots of hurdles and will likely be subjected to fierce opposition from the cable industry, so passage is far from assured. Cable companies like the current system, because it allows them to force subscribers to pay for less popular channels if they want to keep watching ESPN.

 

Cable networks want to keep the status quo in place so they can continue bundling their top channels like AMC or MTV with their less desirable ones.

 

Before the mudslinging gets fierce, here's a look at four things that the legislation, dubbed the Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013, would accomplish -- besides potentially taking a big chunk out of Comcast's profits.

 

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How Big Telecom came to fear one Tennessee town | Yahoo!.com

How Big Telecom came to fear one Tennessee town | Yahoo!.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A Tennessee city with fewer than 200,000 residents has arguably become private cable companies' worst nightmare. How? The city of Chattanooga's public electric utility provides super-fast broadband Internet service to residents at competitive prices. Now, the utility -- the EPB -- is trying to expand its reach beyond city limits. Private sector telecom companies are fighting this effort and appear worried other cities will follow Chattanooga's lead.


To expand to more residents in a state where one in five are without Internet access, the EPB needs the Federal Communications Commission to preempt a statute that prohibits the utility from competing with private telecom companies outside its current market. David Sirota, senior writer at International Business Times, tells us in the video above telecom companies are trying to get the FCC to not to preempt this law.


As for why this issue exists, Sirota argues "private cable companies don't like publicly-owned municipalities to compete with them," and so have successfully lobbied for passage of laws in 20 states that ban or restrict local governments from offering Internet service.

Check out the video to see how Chattanooga, known as "Gig City," has been able to offer what analysts say is the fastest Internet in the country -- 50 times the average speed for homes in the rest of the U.S. -- for $70 a month.


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Entrepreneur's 'iCloak' Gadget Aims to Boost Internet Privacy | GovTech.com

In an age when online privacy is elusive at best, an Orlando. Fla. tech entrepreneur has launched a project to protect your cyber self from the prying eyes of government, criminal hackers and data marketers.


Eric Delisle and his startup company have created the iCloak Stik — a pinky-sized USB drive that offers online anonymity for the layperson — and they're doing it with support from the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter. A little more than halfway into the four-week funding effort, it has drawn more than 1,300 backers from 30 countries and $70,000 of its $75,000 goal.


That ranks iCloak in the top 20 among more than 150,000 Kickstarter campaigns.


"It has been insane — in a good way," said Delisle, CEO of DigiThinkIT Inc., a custom-software developer. "I totally underestimated the response."


Delisle, 43, said he began stewing about the need for such a tool in recent years as government "intrusion" in civilian life and well-financed corporate influence seemed to grow. The leaks by former National Security Agency subcontractor Edward Snowden revealing an extensive NSA surveillance program targeting American citizens were the final impetus.


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Microsoft verging on single OS across all devices | Tim Greene | NetworkWorld.com

Microsoft verging on single OS across all devices | Tim Greene | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Microsoft seems on the brink of announcing a major enhancement to its operating system lines, namely merging them into a single OS that could bring big benefits for corporate users.


The next version of Windows will pull together the company’s three Windows OSes – Windows for PCs and tablets, Windows Phone and Xbox One – to enable apps that span all types of devices and that are available in a single Microsoft store, CEO Satya Nadella told investors and journalists during the company’s Q4 earnings meeting this week.


While this is something he has talked about before, this time he gave it some immediacy. “We look forward to sharing more about our next major wave of Windows enhancements in the coming months,” he says, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of the conference call. He didn’t say how many months.


The company already announced support for Universal Apps that can be written to the Windows Runtime architecture, and have the bulk of the code reused for an app that runs on all other Windows devices. Combined with developer support to write such apps and buying into Microsoft cloud services like Office 365, OneDrive for Business and Azure could give businesses new apps that workers can access and sync from anywhere so long as they have Internet connections.


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Charter Business Will Cover Early Termination Fees | Multichannel.com

Charter Business Will Cover Early Termination Fees | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Looking to entice potential commercial customers to switch service providers, Charter Business announced that it will start to buy out the early termination fees associated with business customers that are seeking an alternative.

 

"Business customers who would like to experience the higher internet speeds and robust suite of products offered by Charter Business often feel trapped in their current contracts." said Don Detampel, EVP and president for Charter Communications, in a statement. "Charter has taken the worry of early termination fees out of the equation for our new customers so business owners can try Charter Business with confidence."

 

Charter announced that it had launched a dedicated web site for the offer at http://www.charterbusiness.com/ContractBuyout, though it did not appear to be active as of this writing.

 

Update: The link is now live, directing visitors to a downloadable Contract Buyout form (PDF) that outlines the three-step process. Once those steps have been completed and Charter Business verifies eligibility, it will issue a check in the amount equal to the early termination fee charged by the customer's previous provider, but in an amount that is capped at $500.

 

Charter is putting the new policy in place as commercial services continue to represent a key growth engine for cable operators.


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AT&T: State Reviews of DirecTV Merger Complete | Multichannel.com

AT&T: State Reviews of DirecTV Merger Complete | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

AT&T CFO John Stephens told Wall Street Wednesday that the states that have been reviewing its proposed merger with DirecTV have concluded those reviews without proposing any conditions. Those states are Arizona, Louisiana and Hawaii, all of which had "unique statutes or commission rules for the transfer," said a source familiar with the reviews.

 

Stephens also confirmed Wednesday (July 23) that Brazil's antitrust regulator has approved the DirecTV deal, also without any restrictions. DirecTV's satellite service includes to almost 18 million subs in Latin America, including in Brazil.

 

As part of the proposed deal, AT&T is divesting its interest in América Móvil, a telecom company based in Mexico.

 

Stephens was talking to analysts on an earnings call Wednesday when he made the point that the deal process was moving along, using those as examples. He said AT&T was focused on working with regulatory agencies to get the deal done.


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NY District Court Signals FilmOn Likely In Contempt | Multichannel.com

NY District Court Signals FilmOn Likely In Contempt | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York appears poised to grant broadcasters motion finding online TV station signal streamer FilmOn in contempt for continuing to deliver network TV station signals over the Internet after the Supreme Court found similar service Aereo in violation of copyright.

 

The company says it has since stopped.

 

In a hearing Tuesday (July 22), judge Naomi Buchwald, who has already found FilmOn in contempt once, said she was likely to do so again. Her court had enjoined FilmOn from delivering TV station signals, but after the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (in New York) overturned an injunction against Aereo, FilmOn concluded it, too, could deliver signals with remote antennas in areas under the New York court's purview.

 

Buchwald has plenty of history with the issue. In 2011, she enjoined a similar service, ivi TV from streaming TV stations signals, indicating it, too, would not likely be deemed a cable system under copyright law. That decision was ultimately upheld in a federal appeals court.

 

CBS and Fox, which sought the contempt finding, also want attorneys fees and a $10,000-per day penalty Buchwald previously threatened to propose for further contempt.


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How CEO Pay Incentives Could Pave the Way for Media Megadeals | Variety.com

How CEO Pay Incentives Could Pave the Way for Media Megadeals | Variety.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The prospect of 21st Century Fox acquiring Time Warner has Wall Street and Hollywood bracing for a wave of mergers and acquisitions to hit the media sector. Conventional wisdom holds that entertainment conglomerates must bulk up to counter the size of tech giants like Google and the pending combinations of Comcast/Time Warner Cable and AT&T/DirecTV.


But there’s another factor that’s been overlooked: high-ranking executives whose employment contracts are larded with “change in control” clauses. Think of these as the gold standard for golden parachutes, provisions that trigger huge payouts in the event of an ownership change that ousts the selling corporation’s senior management.


If Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes had accepted Rupert Murdoch’s $85-per-share bid last week, for instance, he could have collected incentives worth more than $95 million, according to calculations based on a Time Warner proxy filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission in April. Of course, if the price goes higher, so does Bewkes’ payout.


And Bewkes is hardly alone; his chief lieutenants would have also collected additional millions of dollars. No wonder change in control has drawn criticism for potentially incentivizing CEOs to engage in M&A that may be more beneficial to themselves than to the companies they represent.


“These compensation packages run the risk of motivating CEOs to go after bad deals because of the personal profit involved,” said Sanjay Sanghoee, a former investment banker who worked on many media pacts while with Lazard Freres and Dresdner Bank.


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Connected TV devices in U.S. to double by 2017, study says | FierceCable.com

Connected TV devices in U.S. to double by 2017, study says | FierceCable.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Signaling that a major shift in the way Americans watch television is accelerating, the NPD Group predicts that the number of connected TV devices in the U.S. will double by 2017 to 204 million.


Releasing the figures in its Connected Home Forecast, NPD's "connected device" definition encompasses everything from over-the-top hardware like Roku, Apple TV (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Chromecast, to videogame consoles like the Xbox, to Internet-connected Blu-ray players and smart TVs.


Beyond there being more devices--about twice as many as there currently are U.S. broadband homes--more of them will be turned on and connected. While 60 percent of Internet-capable TV devices are currently connected to the Internet, NPD expects the figure to jump to 76 percent by 2017 as makers improve interfaces and develop apps that prompt users to connect.


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Fiber: It's good for your digestion and your home value! | GigaOM Tech News

Fiber: It's good for your digestion and your home value! | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Here at Gigaom, we already know fiber to the home broadband connections are awesome. I don’t know what I will do with a gigabit connection when Google finally gets its FTTH service in Austin, but I know I need it. And aside from the faster broadband connections, a survey released Wednesday from the FTTH Council (it obviously really likes fiber) says that homes with fiber connections come with a $5,000 premium in terms of home value.


The survey also notes that there are 58 fiber-to-the-home providers in the U.S. offering gigabit speeds and that the total number of fiber-to-the-home connections is at 10.4 million. I’m actually pretty disappointed in the overall growth of FTTH connections, which grew only by about 700,000 homes or 7 percent from a year ago.


But if you have FTTH service you are apparently happier and more fulfilled as an internet customer, spending less time waiting for content to load. The survey puts that time saved as 49 hours per year, but I have no idea what the comparison is. I hope I’m not spending that kind of time waiting for sites to load. That’s more time than I spend brushing my teeth in a year.


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FCC bid to boost broadband competition faces attack over “constitutionality” | Ars Technica

FCC bid to boost broadband competition faces attack over “constitutionality” | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Federal Communications Commission will face a lawsuit if it tries to invalidate state laws that restrict the ability of cities and towns to offer Internet service, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) wrote in a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler yesterday. Such a move would infringe on states' rights protected by the Constitution, the group claimed.


Wheeler has said he intends to "preempt state laws that ban competition from community broadband," relying on authority detailed in a court decision that overturned the FCC's net neutrality rules. These state laws make it difficult or impossible for municipalities to create their own broadband networks that compete against private Internet service providers like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon.


The US House of Representatives has already approved a budget amendment that would prevent the FCC from invalidating these laws.


If that doesn't stop the FCC, the NCSL said it "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 or prevent additional states from exercising their well-established rights to govern in the best interests of the voters. Aside from the Constitutional challenges, such an attempt disregards the countless hours of deliberation and votes cast by locally elected lawmakers across the country and supplants it with the impulses of a five- member appointed body in Washington, D.C. As you have conceded previously, 'I understand that the experience with community broadband is mixed, that there have been both successes and failures.' Your words in mind, is it that unreasonable policymakers in 21 states have responded by enacting safeguards on municipal networks to mitigate the pitfalls associated with entry?"


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Apple “inadvertently admitted” to iOS backdoor: forensics expert | John Cox | NetworkWorld.com

Apple “inadvertently admitted” to iOS backdoor: forensics expert | John Cox | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Apple has “inadvertently admitted” to creating a “backdoor” in iOS, according to a new post by a forensics scientist, iOS author and former hacker, who this week created a stir when he posted a presentation laying out his case.


Apple has created “several services and mechanisms” that let Apple -- and, potentially, government agencies or malicious third parties -- extract lots of personal data from iOS devices, says Jonathan Zdziarski. There is, he says, no way to shut off this data leakage and there is no explicit consent granted by endusers.


He made his case in a talk, "Identifying back doors, attack points, and surveillance mechanisms in iOS devices,” [available in PDF] at the annual HOPE X hackers conference last week in New York City. The talk was based on a paper published in the March issue of “Digital Investigation,” which can be ordered online.


Essentially, Zdziarski says that Apple over time has deliberately added several “undocumented high-value forensic services” in iOS, along with “suspicious design omissions…that make collection easier.” The result is these services can copy a wide range of a user's personal data, and bypass Apple's backup encryption. That gives Apple, and potentially government agencies, such as the National Security Agency, or just bad people intent on exploiting these service, the ability to extract personal data without the user knowing this is happening.


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CA: Oakland's Sudo Mesh Looks to Counter Censorship and Digital Divide With a Mesh Network | TechPresident.com

CA: Oakland's Sudo Mesh Looks to Counter Censorship and Digital Divide With a Mesh Network | TechPresident.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In Oakland, a city with deep roots in radical activism and a growing tech scene at odds with the hyper-capital-driven Silicon Valley, those at the Sudo Room hackerspace believe that the solution to a wide range of problems, from censorship to the digital divide, is a mesh net, a type of decentralized network that is resilient to censorship and disruption and can also bring connectivity to poor communities.


Sudo Room and one of their working groups, Sudo Mesh, is currently building a mesh network called the People’s Open Network. Mesh networks are a type of decentralized network connected by nodes, which can be wifi routers or other transmitters, that share the connection, thereby creating a communication network far more resilient to natural disasters and censorship because there is no single cut-off point.


In this way, the People’s Open Network is a web within a web: it includes all the benefits of the global internet but is a community-run, more robust, and free network. (For a simple and clear visualization of a mesh net, watch the first 40 seconds of this video.)


Currently, the Sudo Mesh team is still very much in the testing phase, ensuring that the hardware and software will run smoothly before doing serious community outreach. While 74 sites in the Bay Area have offered to host a node, currently there are only two active nodes, both run by Sudo Mesh volunteers. As Pete Forsyth, Principal at Wiki Strategies and Sudo Mesh volunteer told me over the phone, “we want to get to a technical place where anyone can join easily, instead of doing outreach first and disappointing people.”


When the mesh network is publicly launched, the team will encourage adopters to donate a node for someone who can’t afford one. When this happens they will find a home in an under-connected area that would like a free node installed. This allows the technically proficient and often wealthier early adopters to assist with spreading the network in an inclusive way. The team eventually wants to offer free classes and workshops to anyone hosting a node, to help them understand, maintain, and share their connection.


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Comcast CEO Roberts: AT&T/DirecTV ‘Powerful Combination’ | Multichannel.com

Comcast CEO Roberts: AT&T/DirecTV ‘Powerful Combination’ | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts told analysts Tuesday that he believes AT&T’s pending deal to acquire DirecTV is a “powerful combination,” adding that the $67 billion merger validates the idea that the market is changing rapidly.


Roberts, speaking on a conference call with analysts to discuss second quarter results, said the two companies are “part of the reason we have lost video subs,” over the past six years.


“And it sort of for me validates the changing and dynamic nature of the market that we are living in, the technological changes, the consumer behavior changes that are happening at very fast speeds,” Roberts said.


AT&T’s May decision to acquire DirecTV in a cash and stock deal was a direct response to Comcast’s own pending $69 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable. The TWC deal will create a cable operator with about 30 million subscribers, still well ahead of the 26 million the combined AT&T/DirecTV will amass.


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It's Put Up or Shut Up Time For FCC On Community Broadband | DSLReports.com

It's Put Up or Shut Up Time For FCC On Community Broadband | DSLReports.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

New FCC boss Tom Wheeler has now stated several times he's going to take aim at incumbent-ISP state laws that ban or prohibit towns and cities from deploying their own broadband -- even in cases where nobody else will. Chattanooga utility EPB broadband is ready for Wheeler to actually start following through with this promise any day now, and is giving the FCC boss the opportunity to show his rhetoric on the subject isn't empty.


The city utility wants to expand their successful 1 Gbps municipal broadband service to additional users, but finds themselves running up against protectionist Tennessee laws literally written and purchased by the likes of Comcast. This week EPB formally filed a request with the FCC (pdf) urging them to overturn a portion of Tennessee's law, one of twenty such laws nationwide.

Under said law, EPB is allowed to offer voice service anywhere in the State, but the law prohibits the company from using those very-same lines to offer broadband outside of their current electrical area. That restriction obviously only really benefits Comcast, who tried to sue the project out of existence before turning to the state legislative process.

The group, via lawyer Jim Baller (who I've talked to about this issue many times over the last decade), argues that the FCC's mandate is to ensure the deployment of broadband "in a reasonable timely basis," and as such they can and should declare the restrictive portion of the law unenforceable:


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Meet Executive Order 12333: The Reagan rule that lets the NSA spy on Americans | WashPost.com

Meet Executive Order 12333: The Reagan rule that lets the NSA spy on Americans | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In March I received a call from the White House counsel’s office regarding a speech I had prepared for my boss at the State Department. The speech was about the impact that the disclosure of National Security Agency surveillance practices would have on U.S. Internet freedom policies. The draft stated that “if U.S. citizens disagree with congressional and executive branch determinations about the proper scope of signals intelligence activities, they have the opportunity to change the policy through our democratic process.”


But the White House counsel’s office told me that no, that wasn’t true. I was instructed to amend the line, making a general reference to “our laws and policies,” rather than our intelligence practices. I did.

Even after all the reforms President Obama has announced, some intelligence practices remain so secret, even from members of Congress, that there is no opportunity for our democracy to change them.


Public debate about the bulk collection of U.S. citizens’ data by the NSA has focused largely on Section 215 of the Patriot Act, through which the government obtains court orders to compel American telecommunications companies to turn over phone data. But Section 215 is a small part of the picture and does not include the universe of collection and storage of communications by U.S. persons authorized under Executive Order 12333.


From 2011 until April of this year, I worked on global Internet freedom policy as a civil servant at the State Department. In that capacity, I was cleared to receive top-secret and “sensitive compartmented” information. Based in part on classified facts that I am prohibited by law from publishing, I believe that Americans should be even more concerned about the collection and storage of their communications under Executive Order 12333 than under Section 215.


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US House E&C Committee Republicans: Something Smells Rotten at FCC | Broadcasting & Cable

US House E&C Committee Republicans: Something Smells Rotten at FCC | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The leadership of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and Communications Subcommittee said Wednesday that something "smells rotten on the [FCC's] 8th Floor" — where the commissioner offices are located — and that a report about a waiver related to an upcoming auction raises "a cloud of favoritism."


Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the full committee and subcommittee, respectively, were responding to a Bloomberg News story that the FCC had granted a waiver to a private equity firm and Obama supporter, Grain Management, and had done so in a nonpublic 3-2 vote.


According to Grain, it invests in media and communications for "leading academic institutions, endowments, and public pension funds," as well as managing wireless infratructure for commercial and government customers.


"The waiver would permit Grain to circumvent commission rules designed to ensure the independence of small businesses that receive bidding credits in FCC auctions," they said.


"Process rules are in place for a reason," they added, "and there is a transparent process available if the commission wants to pursue changes to the rules. Instead, a troubling pattern of process neglect is emerging, leaving a commission that too often shrouds its work in secrecy and takes shortcuts to impose its desired policies. This action raises additional questions about the decision-making process at the FCC and underscores the need for additional transparency and process reform.”


Grain sought the waiver in March, and an FCC source points out it was unopposed when it was put out for public comment. Grain contended that the rule was “overly broad” and could deny DE benefits to entities, like itself, that Congress intended should receive them. The Minority Media & Telecommunications Council supported Grain's petition, though it would ultimately like to see the rule go away, the FCC pointed out in approving the waiver. 


The FCC released its decision late Wednesday. It said the waiver applied only to the specific circumstances presented by Grain, concluding that "Grain’s transaction with AT&T and Verizon Wireless would result in public interest benefits, 'including by promoting spectrum license opportunities for entrepreneurs and other small businesses.'"


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How Serious Is James Clapper About Cybersecurity When His Office Can't Even Get Its SSL Certificate Right? | Techdirt.com

How Serious Is James Clapper About Cybersecurity When His Office Can't Even Get Its SSL Certificate Right? | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

James Clapper and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) have been among the loudest FUD-spewers concerning the "threats" to cybersecurity out there, and the need for massively dangerous "cybersecurity" legislation that would really just open up the ability for the Intelligence Community to get more access to private data.


However, security researcher and ACLU guy Chris Soghoian noticed yesterday that the SSL security certificate on the ODNI website isn't even valid:


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The FCC reminds ISPs they can't mess with broadband without telling the consumer | GigaOM Tech News

The FCC reminds ISPs they can't mess with broadband without telling the consumer | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Federal Communications Commission issued a reminder today to ISPs that they are supposed to be open and transparent about anything they do that might impact a consumer’s broadband experience. Presumably this also includes notifying them if they can’t stream Netflix because the network is congested, letting them know if their data caps are not accurate and making sure their terms of service are intelligible.


A spokeswoman at the FCC explained that the notice was not directed at any one practice but was issued in response to complaints that the agency has received from consumers related to their broadband. “We’ve received hundreds of complaints in the last year where consumers are concerned that they are left in the dark in terms of what they are receiving, so this is a reminder to ISPs to disclose all of the aspects of the services they provide.”


The transparency rule is the one element of the 2010 Open Internet Order that wasn’t struck down by the courts, so it has been and will continue to be in effect no matter what happens with network neutrality. The FCC has the power to censure and fine a company that violates the transparency order.


FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler issued this statement on the Enforcement Advisory:


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World Broadcasting Unions unite against TV spectrum release | Advanced-Television.com

The World Broadcasting Unions (WBU) – the coordinating body for broadcasting unions who represent broadcaster networks across the globe – has released an official joint position on radio spectrum allocation, stating their support to maintain the allocation of UHF frequencies (470 to 694 MHz) currently used for terrestrial TV broadcasting.


The WBU says that broadcasters from all over the world are resolved about the importance of the UHF band because it provides the only set of air waves which are globally available for digital terrestrial broadcasting. “Long-term certainty about the availability of the UHF band is also necessary to ensure continued investment and innovation by broadcasters. Whether or not 4K television will be available to the general public will, for example, heavily depend on the sufficient availability of radio spectrum for television broadcasting,” it advises.


The WBU statement also outlines support for the preservation of the C-band frequencies (3.7 to 4.2 GHz), which is used for fixed satellite services essential to broadcasters’ operations around the world.


The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) is one of eight broadcasting unions that make up the WBU. Regional differences on the use of spectrum can make agreeing on a common position difficult, but the unions are united in this statement in the run up to the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) World Radio Conference in 2015.


The WBU’s Technical Committee has already expressed concerns that the release of more TV broadcasting spectrum to mobile operators will cause serious problems for many broadcasters, limiting both the content and quality of transmission. Additionally, there could be unwanted social and economic consequences if free-to-air broadcasting becomes severely limited.


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One Million Net Neutrality Comments Vs. $42 Million in ISP Lobbying | Re/Code.net

One Million Net Neutrality Comments Vs. $42 Million in ISP Lobbying | Re/Code.net | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Newly released lobbying figures show that broadband providers are still far outpacing Internet companies on spending in D.C., as federal regulators consider how to write new rules for Internet lines.


Collectively, Internet service providers (and their trade associations) have spent $42.4 million so far this year lobbying lawmakers and regulators, according to federal disclosure forms. In the second quarter, Comcast* spent $4.45 million on lobbying, while the cable industry’s trade group, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, spent another $4 million.


Internet companies have spent significantly less on lobbying, some $25.9 million so far this year. About a third of that total was spent by Google, which increased its spending in the second quarter to $5.03 million, compared to $3.82 million in the first three months of the year.


The discrepancy between the spending by the two industries — which is nothing new — continues to be a potential problem for net neutrality advocates who are hoping to convince federal regulators to adopt strong rules on Internet lines to prevent broadband providers from discriminating against some traffic.


Net neutrality advocates have passion on their side — last week the Federal Communications Commission announced it had received a total of 1.07 million comments about its controversial fast-lane net neutrality plan, which would allow Internet providers to charge content companies for prioritized service to subscribers. But the newly released lobbying figures show that broadband providers continue to far outspend companies that support stronger net neutrality rules.


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Twitter diversity report, 'we have a lot of work to do' | TheNextWeb.com

Twitter diversity report, 'we have a lot of work to do' | TheNextWeb.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Like the rest of tech sector, Twitter has released its diversity report. Also like the rest of the sector, it’s a largely white, male dominated company.


In today’s report, Twitter’s Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Janet Van Huysse stated that says that she will now focus on efforts to create a more diverse work force that’s inclusive.


Currently, the leadership team at Twitter is 79 percent male. Overall, the company skews 70 percent male. The overall ethnicity of the company is 59 percent white, 29 percent Asian, with African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and others hitting only three or less percent.


Twitter is being pro-active to remedy the situation. It has in-house employee-led groups like WomEng (women in engineering), Blackbird (Tweeps of color), Alas (Latino and Latina employees), and TwitterOpen (LGBTQ folks). The company also says that it is partnering with organizations to improve its diversity including, Girls Who Code, Out for Tech (an LGBT program to develop leaders), and it says it is aware of the “critical importance” of recruiting from historically black colleges.


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Verizon Gets Snarky, But Basically Admits That It's The One Clogging Its Networks On Purpose | Techdirt.com

Verizon Gets Snarky, But Basically Admits That It's The One Clogging Its Networks On Purpose | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

So the war of words over interconnection has continued. Last week, we wrote about the back and forth between Verizon and Level 3 on their corporate blogs concerning who was really to blame for congestion slowing down your Netflix video watching. As we noted, Level 3 used Verizon's own information to show that Verizon was, in fact, the problem. Basically, in spite of it being easy and cheap, Verizon was refusing to do a trivial operation of connecting up a few more ports, which Level3 had been asking them to do so for a long time. In other words, Verizon was refusing to do some very, very basic maintenance to deliver to its users exactly what Verizon had sold them.

Earlier this week, Verizon went back to its blog with another blog post from David Young, this one even snarkier than the last. Snark can be fun, but if the underlying message is completely bogus, you're going to run into trouble. In fact, Young's underlying message is so weak, that he more or less admits to absolutely everything that Level 3 was claiming in its post -- while pretending it's Level 3 that actually admitted fault!


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GA: Statesboro and Hinesville getting lots of fiber | StatesboroHerald.com

GA: Statesboro and Hinesville getting lots of fiber | StatesboroHerald.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

With about 125 miles of fiber optic cable now being laid to serve Statesboro and Hinesville, Hargray Communications will become the fifth provider of fiber-based, high-speed Internet service in the Statesboro market.


That total mileage includes cables being buried across rural stretches to connect the two new markets to Hargray's existing system from points near Savannah and Pooler.


Locally, the system will consist at first of a 15-mile loop encompassing most of Statesboro, said Chris McCorkendale, Hargray Communications' vice president for operations.


"We will initially build a fiber optic ring around and through Statesboro and put that network into service in order that we can serve customers off of that ring," he said, explaining that side cables will be installed to meet demand.


In both Statesboro and Hinesville, the company will initially focus on bringing businesses "last-mile optical fiber" to provide high-speed data, voice and video.


"We certainly wouldn't rule out residential services, but as we initially enter a market, we enter for purposes of being an alternative fiber-based provider for the business community," McCorkendale said.


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Another Reason For Defending Net Neutrality: NSA Surveillance | Techdirt.com

Another Reason For Defending Net Neutrality: NSA Surveillance | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The net neutrality debate has been underway for many years now, but more recently it has entered the mainstream. The main arguments in favor of preserving net neutrality -- that it creates a level playing field that allows innovation, and prevents deep-pocketed incumbents from using their financial resources to relegate less well-endowed startups to the Internet slow lane -- are familiar enough.


But PC World points us to a fascinating paper by Sascha D. Meinrath and Sean Vitka in the journal "Critical Studies in Media Communication" that offers a new and extremely important reason for defending net neutrality: that without it, it will be hard to fight back against blanket surveillance through the wider use of encryption (pdf). Here's the main argument:


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Verizon Eyes 2015 For LTE Multicast Video | Multichannel.com

Verizon Eyes 2015 For LTE Multicast Video | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Shedding some light on its future plans involving the distribution of live video over its mobile network, Verizon Wireless plans to “go commercial” with an LTE multicast product as early as 2015, company CFO Fran Shammo said on the company’s second quarter earnings call on Tuesday.

 

“The network will be ready by the end of the third quarter to actually launch multicast,” he said. “We won’t go commercial with that until 2015, but the network will be ready.”

 

From there, it will be a matter of getting handsets out that can use the technology. Verizon expects to start to embed chips with those capabilities into handsets later this year, Shammo said.

 

LTE Multicast is a technique that delivers live TV signals wirelessly to mobile devices without gobbling up all of the cell site’s bandwidth. Instead of delivering unicast streams to each person viewing the video, Verizon’s multicast approach will rely on a dedicated portion of LTE spectrum to place the live event that can be seen by multiple devices that are connected to the cell site. Verizon demonstrated LTE Multicast in January in New York in the week leading up to the Super Bowl matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos.

 

Verizon also views LTE Multicast as a technology that enable the delivery of live events to consumers without the need for a separate pay-TV service.


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