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FCC: This is What a Net Neutrality Violation Looks Like | Public Knowledge

FCC: This is What a Net Neutrality Violation Looks Like | Public Knowledge | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

News broke today that ESPN is in negotiations with at least one major wireless carrier to pay to exempt ESPN content from data caps.  This type of structure, where content providers who pay get better access to customers, is exactly what net neutrality is designed to prevent.

 

At its core, net neutrality is all about making sure that the company that connects you to the internet does not get to control what you do on the internet (if you ever forget that, just head on over to WhatIsNetNeutrality.org for a reminder).  Imposing data caps on consumers and then allowing wealthy content holders to buy their way around them is a recipe for stagnation online.

 

What kinds of problems does this create?  Fortunately, in its Open Internet Order, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provided us with a taste of what may happen (“edge providers” are anyone who creates content like ESPN, Facebook, local governments, and personal websites):

 

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Charter Customers Warn: Don't Be Suckered By Their Promises of Better Service - "Charter Blows" | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Charter Customers Warn: Don't Be Suckered By Their Promises of Better Service - "Charter Blows" | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

“I thought I was watching Comedy Central,” said Ralph Wilson, a longtime Charter customer in suburban Los Angeles. He was actually watching a Bloomberg News interview with the CEO of Charter Communications regarding yesterday’s formal merger announcement. “What cable company was Thomas Rutledge talking about when he said Charter would bring better service to Time Warner and Bright House? Charter blows.”

Wilson is just one of several unimpressed Charter customers responding to the news their cable company is about to grow more than four times larger with the acquisition of the larger Time Warner Cable and the smaller Bright House Networks.

“They promise you 60Mbps and you are lucky to see 40Mbps unless it is raining,” said Aaron Peters, a Charter customer in Texas. “Then you are lucky if you get anything. You sure won’t get anyone on their support line.”

“I’d rather have my fingernails pulled out than have to deal with Charter,” writes Betty, a 74-year old Stop the Cap! reader in Wyoming. “I’ve had cable out sometimes for five days and when the last time it was out, the slobs that showed up to fix it were shabbily dressed and one had his zipper down. It’s disgraceful.”

“Maybe it will go from F-minus to an F,” Terence Allen of Atlanta told the New York Times. Allen, among others, recited a litany of service problems familiar to many Charter customers around the country: Screen freeze and pixelation, unresponsive remote controls, uneven broadband speeds, slurring and skipping over dialogue, and problems getting a real person on the phone.

For Time Warner Cable customers in particular, it is unlikely that prayers for better service from a new owner are going to be answered.

“‘Not quite as bad’ may be about as good as they can get with this deal,” reflected the Times.

“Charter is not going to revolutionize Time Warner’s service quality, because Charter’s service quality is not that much better,” said Mark Cooper, director of research at the Consumer Federation of America.


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Motivated Seller: Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus Stands to Win $97 Million Golden Parachute on Latest Deal | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Motivated Seller: Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus Stands to Win $97 Million Golden Parachute on Latest Deal | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If you were wondering what motivated Time Warner Cable CEO Robert Marcus to move so quickly from a failed merger with Comcast to a new deal with Charter Communications, follow the money.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Marcus is set to receive a handsome payout:

The value of Mr. Marcus’s exit package should he leave within two years of a change in control will be around $97 million, according to an analysis of his employment agreement by Mark Reilly, head of executive compensation practice for Verisight Inc., a human resources consultancy. The analysis was conducted at the request of The Wall Street Journal. To be sure, the parties could reach a settlement with different terms than those laid out in his employment agreement.

If that amount is confirmed, it is equal to asking each of Time Warner’s 15.4 million customers to kick in $6.30 apiece to cover Marcus’ golden parachute.

Most of the rest of Time Warner Cable executives will also each likely receive a generous exit package, although not likely to approach the amount payable to Marcus if the deal wins regulator approval.


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Drahi Readies His Next Move: "If I Buy Five Smaller Cable Companies, I Am as Big as Time Warner Cable" | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Drahi Readies His Next Move: "If I Buy Five Smaller Cable Companies, I Am as Big as Time Warner Cable" | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Patrick Drahi, the billionaire ruthless cost-cutting owner of Altice SA told a French parliamentary hearing he didn’t go ahead with a serious bid for Time Warner Cable because he lacked enough management talent to run a huge cable company in a country he only recently entered.

“I didn’t follow up on the exchanges we had on Time Warner Cable that were mentioned in the media because we were not ready,” Drahi told a French parliamentary hearing on Wednesday.

Drahi testified French-owned banks were ready to help finance a deal that would have stolen Time Warner Cable away from Charter Communications. Instead, Drahi has decided to spend a little time digesting his acquisition of Suddenlink to gain experience in the U.S. cable market before he moves on other cable operators. Drahi believes he will be the only buyer left to cut major cable consolidation deals.

“Time is on our side” for the U.S. expansion,” Drahi said. “The two leaders Comcast and Charter will not be able to buy anything else because of their size so we will have an open boulevard ahead of us. If I buy five small operators, I can be as big as Time Warner Cable.”

The five most-likely cable operators Drahi will pursue, according to a business editor at RFI, the French overseas broadcaster: Cablevision, Cox, Mediacom, WOW!, and Cable One. Cox and Mediacom are privately held and Cablevision is tightly controlled by its founding Dolan family, so Drahi will likely have to sweeten deals to convince all three to sell.


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Comcast in Talks to Acquire Vox Media, The Verge | Karl Bode | DSL Reports

Comcast in Talks to Acquire Vox Media, The Verge | Karl Bode | DSL Reports | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

With Comcast's attempt to acquire Time Warner Cable blocked by regulators, the company will likely be looking to a series of smaller acquisitions to get its M&A fix. The cable giant is apparently in on again, off again talks to acquire Vox Media, which owns a number of websites including popular tech outlet The Verge.

The talks have stalled occasionally due to asking price, but recently warmed up again:

quote:


Comcast has been engaged in halting negotiations to acquire Vox Media, according to several people close to the talks. The sticking point, as always, is price, with Vox Media seeking a valuation close to $1 billion. Negotiations fell apart when it became clear Comcast didn’t want to pay that much, but the two sides have talked again recently.

Vox this week acquired tech outlet ReCode for an undisclosed sum. That deal was apparently encouraged by Comcast, which is an investor in both ReCode and Vox already. Should the deal go through, it should be interesting to see if The Verge's sharp editorial tone toward Comcast shifts.

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'Sleeper' ransomware laid dormant on victim PCs until this week | Colin Neagle | NetworkWorld.com

'Sleeper' ransomware laid dormant on victim PCs until this week | Colin Neagle | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A new strain of ransomware that had laid dormant on infected devices suddenly "woke up" at midnight on Monday, May 25, security firm KnowBe4 said in an alert issued today.

Ransomware encrypts all the files on the devices it infects and demands a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key to give the content back to the original owner.

KnowBe4 CEO Stu Sjouwerman says this new strain of malware, dubbed Locker, is "very similar to CryptoLocker," the first successful modern form of ransomware that was released in late 2013 and was thwarted last year. Locker is a "sleeper" strain of malware, meaning that victims may have unintentionally downloaded it earlier, but that their devices were not encrypted until the ransomware was activated earlier this week.

PC help site Bleeping Computer has seen hundreds of reported Locker victims worldwide already, and believes it has a large installed base, KnowBe4 said in its alert. Sjouwerman says some reports indicate that the ransomware could have originated in a "compromised MineCraft installer."

Once Locker encrypts an infected device's files, it issues a warning against users and IT professionals who might try to find another way around paying the ransom:

"Warning any attempt to remove damage or even investigate the Locker software will lead to immediate destruction of your private key on our server!" the notice reads.


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TiVo CEO Drops More Aereo Hints | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com

TiVo CEO Drops More Aereo Hints | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

TiVo’s plan to create a service along the lines of Aereo, but “done legally and better,” as TiVo CEO and president Tom Rogers put it recently, is still murky, though the company is expected to reveal all at an event in San Jose sometime in July.

In a brief interview Wednesday, Rogers wouldn’t let the cat out of the bag, but dropped some hints suggesting that whatever TiVo does have in mind, expect it to build on what it’s started with the Roamio OTA, a new DVR model sans CableCARD slot that's targeted to cord-cutters, enabling them to combine over-the-air TV with over-the-top video and essentially create their own video service bundles.

“We haven’t been very specific about it,” Rogers acknowledged, “but it will certainly build on what we currently are doing in the OTA space, fully recognizing that there are…consumers out there that are going beyond where Aereo was when it came to recording network signals.”

Notably, TiVo acquired only Aereo’s trademarks and customer lists for about $1 million in March following a bankruptcy auction. Other parties snapped up Aereo’s patents and some of the now-defunct company’s equipment and technology.


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Wireless demand to fuel spectrum feeding frenzy | Thomas Mocarshy | Katy on the Hill

Wireless demand to fuel spectrum feeding frenzy | Thomas Mocarshy | Katy on the Hill | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The broadcast incentive auction can’t come soon enough, if Cisco’s annual forecast of U.S. and global internet traffic, comes to pass.

From 2014 through 2019, all Cisco’s arrows are pointing up—way up—for the number of U.S. internet users, the mobile devices they carry or use, and the data they consume. Broadband speeds will accelerate, the share of internet traffic that transit wireless networks of all types will explode. And video will rule them all.

As Americans’ habits shift towards mobile and broadband digital, policymakers in Washington, especially the Federal Communications Commission, are struggling to keep up, from the FCC’s planned broadcast incentive auction in 2016 to get more mobile spectrum in the marketplace, to proposals governing broadband and mobile networks.

Last year, Internet video accounted for 39.4 percent of all internet protocol (IP) traffic. (IP traffic includes video on demand sent to your cable box, as well as data traffic your OTT device like Roku and Apple TV, which is classed as Internet video.) Cable plus Internet video currently accounts for 79 percent of the 14.4 exabytes/month of data transiting to your cable box.

By 2019, IP traffic will balloon to 45.7 exabytes/month and video will account for 85 percent of that volume.


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MI: Mixed-use projects point to continued interest in downtown Kalamazoo | Nick Manes | MIBiz.com

MI: Mixed-use projects point to continued interest in downtown Kalamazoo | Nick Manes | MIBiz.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The mixed-use projects beginning to take shape around Kalamazoo’s central business district and its nearby neighborhoods point the way forward for the city’s growing commercial real estate market.

Building off the momentum created by major institutional investments in the city, developers are planning numerous projects, including some forward-thinking residential options, to serve people coming into the city for work or study. At the same time, the institutional investments and the renewed commercial development activity in the region have helped general contractors grow their business.

Industry professionals say the combination of commercial and institutional projects could be a game-changer for Southwest Michigan’s largest city.

The city’s overall revitalization has led Kalamazoo-based NoMi Developers LLC to consider some new and experimental forms of living that are only now catching on in much larger metropolitan areas such as New York, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

NoMi Developers plans a 45-unit mixed-use development with 16 micro-apartments at 508 East Frank Street, near the downtown’s East End neighborhood. The 300-square-foot units will rent for $500 per month with all utilities included, said NoMi principal Jon Durham. The units will include a small refrigerator, and tenants will have access to a common kitchen area.

Micro-apartments have been difficult to develop in many cities because the small units are often under the minimum size allowed by zoning regulations. Durham said Kalamazoo officials worked with his company and changed the zoning code to allow the project to move forward.

“The city has been very welcoming, actually,” Durham said. “They know that affordable housing is needed. … There’s nothing like that in a brand-new, really cool, safe environment in the city, and that’s what we are trying to test and see how those things go.”


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KS: Fiber to the Home plan boosting economy in Cherokee County | Brian McDowell | The Chanute Tribune

KS: Fiber to the Home plan boosting economy in Cherokee County | Brian McDowell | The Chanute Tribune | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

At a time when many communities in Southeast Kansas are struggling economically, things are going well in Columbus. With a population around 3,200 in its immediate area located in Cherokee County, Columbus is home to a new Wal-Mart store, a bustling downtown with no empty or vacant storefronts, and the main headquarters of one of the biggest heavy contractor firms in the region – Crossland Construction.

For this recent increase in economic development in the community, Trish Carroll credits the effort to bring high-speed Internet to businesses and homes. Carroll is the general manager of the Columbus Telephone Company, a private-sector cooperative that has been meeting the communication needs of people in that city since 1905. She said that if it weren’t for fiber connectivity, a company like Crossland would not be able to send architectural drawings around the country in the timely fashion necessary for a business that size.

While efforts by the City of Chanute to bring high-speed Internet to homes proved politically controversial and are currently at a stalemate, Carroll’s company launched an effort to bring one gigabyte Internet service directly to all homes and businesses in Columbus in 2004. The project was self-funded through the cooperative, eventually costing approximately $6 million.

“Today, I don’t know that the build would have cost what it cost back then,” Carroll said. “More and more people are putting fiber in, so its cost is coming down. It’s the cost of installation – the labor side of it – that’s the expensive part of it. We’re fortunate that we’re working with a really good contractor here.”

Even spending this kind of money, Carroll said that the fiber network didn’t stay in the red for very long.

“With that kind of investment, you can imagine the depreciation expense,” Carroll said. “So from a cash-flow perspective, we were doing really well. That’s to be expected when you make that kind of investment, and now our customers here in Columbus just expect this kind of speed. If we were to go back to the days of dial-up or DSL, we would have an uproar.”


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HISPASAT, GlobalSat team up for Mexican broadband project | TeleGeography.com

Spanish satellite provider HISPASAT has announced that it has signed an agreement with the Mexican telecom firm GlobalSat to provide broadband access to more than 8,700 public spaces in rural or remote Mexican towns and villages.


This number encompasses three of the four areas that form part of the ‘10K Network’, an initiative set up by the Mexico Conectado project, which was itself set up by the Secretariat of Communications and Transport (SCT).

The new satellite network aims to provide internet access to more than 10,000 schools, health centres, libraries, community centres and other public facilities in Mexico located in towns and villages that do not currently have broadband connectivity.


Since 2013, the HISPASAT Group’s Amazonas 2 satellite has been delivering services to the so-called ‘fourth area’ identified by the 10K Network, which covers around 1,700 points.

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Google's wireless service leaves bandwidth rationed business model undisturbed | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom

Google's wireless service leaves bandwidth rationed business model undisturbed | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google's soft launch today of its Project Fi mobile wireless offering won't be a game changer for homes and small businesses unfortunate enough to be located outside the limited footprints of landline Internet service providers (or not in a Google Fiber "fiberhood") and reliant on wireless premise Internet service such as Verizon's 4G Installed service offering.

While Project Fi does allow the creation of wireless hot spots at a customer premise, it retains the metered pricing schemes of existing wireless providers wherein end users must purchase monthly bandwidth allowance levels, referred to as "bandwidth by the bucket."

That makes the service a poor value for premises service. It's easy to blow through the bandwidth allowances and end up with a large bill via software updates and video streaming. Parents in homes with teenage children who stream video such as Netflix have been shocked by jaw dropping bills. Or who do class work online, which has been spotlighted by Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel as a key issue in America's Internet access disparities.

The Project Fi Plan and Pricing FAQ states:


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Sony Uses Copyright To Force Verge To Takedown Its Copy Of Sony's Spotify Contract | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

Sony Uses Copyright To Force Verge To Takedown Its Copy Of Sony's Spotify Contract | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Well, well. A few days ago, the Verge got a huge scoop in the form of Sony's original US contract with Spotify, leading to a ton of discussion (mostly focused around the huge "advances" that Spotify guaranteed Sony, and the related question of whether or not Sony actually passes those advances on to musicians).


The debate raged on for a couple days, and late last night, Paul Resnikoff over at Digital Music News noticed something interesting: the original contract was now missing, and The Verge's own website claims it's due to a copyright threat from Sony:


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Good News! Dianne Feinstein Is Here To Reform The Section 215 Program By Making Everything Worse! | Tim Cushing | Techdirt

Good News! Dianne Feinstein Is Here To Reform The Section 215 Program By Making Everything Worse! | Tim Cushing | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As Section 215 dies a rather noisy death (OR DOES IT? An emergency session convenes on May 31st, a day normally filled with the quiet emptiness of the extended Memorial Day holiday.), the defenders of the mostly-useless surveillance program are out in force, hoping to keep this part of the Patriot Act from expiring.

Mitch McConnell's hope for a no-questions-asked reauthorization is as dead as Section 215 (in its original form) appears to be. The USA Freedom Act stumbled in the Senate, falling three votes shy of being brought to the floor. Now, everyone seems to have a "fix" they'd like to offer. Unfortunately, some of those offering fixes aren't really interested in cutting back the metadata program.

Like Dianne Feinstein, for instance. About the only thing she's found contemptible about our nation's intelligence agencies is the CIA's proclivity for torturing detainees. And the longer she defends the NSA's intrusive programs, the more it gives off the impression that her main problem with the CIA's torture program is that it was ineffective.

She's offering her own "surveillance reform" bill in the wake of much legislative blood shedding, and much like her last "reform" offering, it does nothing of the sort.

[F]einstein’s bill, first reported by the Empty Wheel blog, rolls back a number of key provisions in the USA Freedom Act…

Rather than restrict the NSA (and the FBI, which benefits from the collection and issues the requests to the FISA Court in its name) to seeking metadata from service providers on a case-by-case basis, her bill introduces data retention requirements that amount to little more than simply relocating the metadata storage.


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Sick of telemarketers and robocalls? The FCC is poised for a crackdown. | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

Sick of telemarketers and robocalls? The FCC is poised for a crackdown. | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Twelve years ago, the federal government took aim at pesky telemarketers whose annoying phone calls interrupted dinnertime conversations everywhere. The result was the Do-Not-Call list — a national registry that, if you signed up, told telemarketers they couldn't contact you.

Now the Federal Communications Commission wants to roll out additional measures to meet a new flood of telemarketing complaints. The agency says it now gets thousands of angry letters and calls every month about abusive marketing, which last year added up to more than 215,000 complaints from the public.

Under the new rules, which FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed to his fellow commissioners Wednesday, you'll be allowed to opt out of telemarketing calls with as little as a verbal order not to call again. That might sound like an obvious step. But many who've been hit by unwanted calls can't find relief without filling out complicated forms or jumping through other hoops, said a senior FCC official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly.

Other steps are designed to thwart robocalls and automated dialing. One measure encourages phone carriers to adopt off-the-shelf products that can block robocalls automatically and offer them to consumers as a service. That proposal comes after phone companies and 39 attorneys general asked the FCC whether offering the technology was legal.


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This prank message can crash your iPhone. (Don’t worry, you can recover.) | Hayley Tsukyama | WashPost.com

This prank message can crash your iPhone. (Don’t worry, you can recover.) | Hayley Tsukyama | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In weird Apple news today, it turns out there's a text message that you can send iPhone users that will shut down their phones. Just sending the message -- which we won't include here but is incredibly easy to find online -- includes Arabic and other non-Roman characters and causes the recipient's phone to restart and make it impossible for them to open their Messages app.

Apple is aware of the problem. A company spokeswoman said in a statement that, "We are aware of an iMessage issue caused by a specific series of unicode characters and we will make a fix available in a software update.”

While it's alarming to think that someone can attack your device this way, sending the message isn't exactly destructive. Your phone doesn't become inoperable, it just reboots. You can even open your messages again, as long as your prankster sends you another message -- your enemies, of course, may not be so obliging. In that case, you can also send yourself a text message, via Siri.


But it is somewhat baffling: how can a string of text automatically shut down your device?


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AT&T Pleased Google Fiber Made Cherry Picking Fashionable Again | Karl Bode | DSL Reports

AT&T Pleased Google Fiber Made Cherry Picking Fashionable Again | Karl Bode | DSL Reports | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

AT&T's been fairly amusing in terms of downplaying how Google Fiber has pushed the company to compete more intensely in many markets, even if a lot of that competition is fiber to the press release. For example, when Google announced Google Fiber in Austin, for example, AT&T quickly followed suit with its "Gigapower" offering, but pretended that the timing of the announcement was coincidental.

Google Fiber shows competition works: AT&T Gigapower service is notably cheaper in Google Fiber markets.

But speaking at an investment conference this week, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said Google Fiber has a been a good thing, at least in terms of helping make cherry picked broadband deployments fashionable again.

Those of you who've been around for a decade or so may recall that regulators and the press used to criticize ISPs for broadband deployment cherry picking, and towns used to demand uniform deployment of broadband services across a municipality. That changed in part when telcos got into the TV business, and were able to push statewide video franchise bills that often came with some notable downsides, including the elimination of many consumer protections.

While video franchise reform made cherry picking legal again, Google Fiber can be thanked for making broadband deployment cherry picking truly fashionable, notes Stephenson:


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U.S. Senate to return early to debate phone dragnet | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com

U.S. Senate to return early to debate phone dragnet | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The U.S. Senate will return early from a week-long recess in a last-ditch effort to extend provisions of the Patriot Act that the National Security Agency have used to collect millions of domestic telephone records over the past nine years.

The Senate is scheduled to resume debating whether to extend or amend Section 215 of the Patriot at 4 p.m. ET Sunday, hours before that part of the counterterrorism law is due to expire. The Senate was previously scheduled to return from an extended Memorial Day break on Monday, but Section 215 of the Patriot Act expires at 12:01 a.m. that day.

It’s unclear what direction the Senate debate will take. As of Wednesday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hadn’t announced what votes will be taken Sunday evening.

Last Saturday, before the break, senators rejected both a two-month extension of Section 215, which would allow the NSA’s phone records collection program to continue without changes, and also the USA Freedom Act, a bill passed by the House of Representatives aimed at ending the agency’s bulk collection of domestic phone records. The USA Freedom Act would allow the NSA to continue to collect domestic phone records by naming specific targets for surveillance.

McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has pushed for a straight extension of Section 215 by arguing that any narrowing of the phone records program would hurt U.S. efforts to combat terrorism. Other senators, including Rand Paul, also a Kentucky Republican, and Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, have argued that the mass collection of U.S. phone records violates the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures.

On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch urged senators to pass the USA Freedom Act, saying the NSA’s phone records program will be shut down on Sunday unless the Senate acts. “Without action from the Senate, we will experience a serious lapse in our ability to protect the American people,” she said during a press conference.

Representative Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, and Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, also urged the Senate to pass the USA Freedom Act.


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John Malone Reclaims Cable Crown with Charter-TW Cable Deal | Cynthia Littleton | Variety.com

John Malone Reclaims Cable Crown with Charter-TW Cable Deal | Cynthia Littleton | Variety.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

More than a year after getting outfoxed by Comcast’s Brian Roberts in the hunt for Time Warner Cable, patience and perseverance have paid off for media giant John Malone.

Charter Communications’ three-way deal to acquire TW Cable and Bright House Networks promises to create a cable and broadband footprint that will rival Comcast’s size and scope and put Charter in the prime real-estate territory of New York and Los Angeles. Malone’s Liberty Broadband, through its investment in Charter, will be able to exert meaningful influence again in the MVPD marketplace thanks to this bigger footprint. Assuming the transactions are approved by regulators, Liberty Broadband will be Charter’s largest shareholder, owning about 20% of the equity and controlling 25% of the voting shares.

The complicated transaction, if completed, will amount to a comeback for Malone, who abdicated his throne as cable’s undisputed king in 1998 with the sale of his Tele-Communications Inc. to AT&T (which swiftly sold its cable holdings to Comcast in 2001). It’s also a big rebound for Charter, which slogged through bankruptcy in 2009 after piling up some $21 billion in debt under previous owner Paul Allen. The company has been in rehab ever since, improving it reputation with customers and the quality of its systems. The drive has been led by Tom Rutledge, who surprised the biz by moving from Cablevision to the St. Louis-based Charter as CEO in late 2011.

Malone was dubbed “Darth Vader” in the 1990s for the fearsome power he wielded over programmers as the gatekeeper of TCI, then the nation’s largest cable operator. He was able to exact small equity slices in numerous channels as a price of admission to TCI’s airwaves.

But this time around, Malone returns to the cable business at a time when operators are increasingly focused on the broadband side of their ledger rather than the video business. The enlarged Charter will emerge with more broadband subscribers (19.4 million) than video subscribers (17.3 million). In broadcast, Charter will be a close No. 2 to Comcast, which counts 22.4 million broadband subs at present.

As margins in the video business shrink, the future for cable operators is seen as cable harnessing the advantage of its fat pipe directly into the home to offer wireless and mobile services. Malone is said to be dismayed that the industry has failed to marshal its forces against the challenge posed by the rapid rise of Netflix and spread of other OTT offerings. Rutledge, in selling the deal to Wall Street analysts in a conference call Tuesday, went so far as to say the proposed Charter combo would lead to a “better industry” overall because fewer companies will make for easier coordination of industry-wide initiatives such as allowing subscribers easy access to cable-provided mobile Wi-Fi networks.


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Eleven Questions the FCC Must Answer | Dave Seyler | Radio & Television Business Report

Eleven Questions the FCC Must Answer | Dave Seyler | Radio & Television Business Report | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The 13 groups who co-authored a letter to the prime occupants of the FCC 8th Floor urged the Commission to dispense with its plans to institute a presumption of competition for the MVPD Industry.


And it issued a list of questions the FCC must carefully consider before instituting such a presumption.

From the coalition, here are theOutstanding Questions Regarding Proposed Effective Competition Presumption Switch.


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Marked Increase In Connected-TV Internet Homes | Wayne Friedman | MediaPost.com

Marked Increase In Connected-TV Internet Homes | Wayne Friedman | MediaPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Now more than half of all U.S. TV homes have at least one TV set connected to the Internet.

Leichtman Research Group says 56% of all U.S. homes have at least one television set connected to the Internet from a smart TV, video game set-top box, blu-ray player, and/or an Internet-connected TV-video device, such as Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, or Amazon Fire TV. This is up from 44% in 2013, and 24% in 2010.

Research also says nearly 30% of adults watch Internet-delivered video via a connected TV at least weekly -- compared to 17% in 2013, and 5% in 2010.


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Cincinnati, OH: Incline Theater opens June 3, setting the stage for further redevelopment in Price Hill | Julie Engebrecht | SoapBox Media

Cincinnati, OH: Incline Theater opens June 3, setting the stage for further redevelopment in Price Hill | Julie Engebrecht | SoapBox Media | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

They remember the date exactly: Feb. 29, 2012.

It was the day three years ago that this bunch of dreamers — Cincinnati Landmark Productions’ Tim Perrino, Doug Ridenour and Rodger Pille — first imagined a theater set atop the hill in East Price Hill’s Incline District. Landmark already was producing theater at the Covedale Center for the Peforming Arts and on the Showboat Majestic.

The spark was a news report: The latest project for the site, a medical office building championed by then-developer/now-Mayor John Cranley, had fallen through for good. A couple days later, Perrino, Ridenour and Pille had breakfast at Price Hill Chili with Cranley and two of his partners.

“The idea was born,” Perrino says.

Shortly after the breakfast, Landmark’s board agreed to spend $10,000 to explore the feasibility and cost of building a theater in place of the office building. There were plenty of obstacles to raising money for the land and building, but it wouldn’t hurt to explore. In a journey of 1,000 steps, they weren’t even at step one, says Ridenour, president of Federal Equipment Company and board president of Cincinnati Landmark Productions.

If an answer was “no” at any step, the theater was done.

“Every time we got to something where, if we don’t get this support or this grant or even this opportunity to make this proposal, we’re dead,” Perrino says. “And every time we’d get the opportunity, we’d get the support.”

Support from the nonprofit Cincinnati Development Fund (CDF) was critical early on. The organization pledged a $6 million allocation of New Markets Tax Credits, the funding mechanism 10 times more in demand than supply.

“We were willing to do this because we believe so strongly in the future of Price Hill,” says CDF Executive Director Jeanne Golliher. “It was just a no-brainer. They had the track record, and they had had the support. We know the quality of the shows.”

Along the way, the state of Ohio added a $550,000 capital fund grant, the city of Cincinnati added $2 million for a parking garage, Warsaw Federal bank purchased naming rights and hundreds of other donors stepped up.

Now the men are focused on a new date: June 3, 2015, opening night for Cincinnati’s newest performance space, the 229-seat, $6 million Warsaw Federal Incline Theater. The Producers is nearly sold out for its three-week run. Tickets for the two other “Summer Classic Series” shows, 1776 and 9 to 5, are more than 80 percent sold. A four-show “District Series” — with titles like Rent and Glengarry Glen Ross — opens in September.


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TN: EPB and Chattanooga Will Lower Price of Internet for Low Income Students | community broadband networks

TN: EPB and Chattanooga Will Lower Price of Internet for Low Income Students | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In an effort to extend the benefits of its gigabit network to lower income Chattanooga school kids, Mayor Andy Berke announced that the EPB will soon offer the "Netbridge Student Program."

WDEF reports that children will qualify for the program if they are enrolled in Hamilton County schools and are currently enrolled in the free or reduced price lunch program. Comcast's Internet Essentials uses the same eligibility criteria. Households that qualify will be able to sign up for 100 Mbps service for $26.99 per month. Details are still being discussed.

Last year, Hamilton County schools replaced a number of textbooks with iPads in an attempt to take advantage of Chattanooga's fiber asset to improve student performance. The move revealed a grim reality - that many students' access to that incredible gigabit network (or any network) stopped when they walked out of the school. Educators found that children with Internet access at home made significant strides while those without fell behind. From a December 2014 article on Internet and Chattanooga students:

In the downtown area, for example, only 7 percent of potential customers subscribe to high-speed broadband Internet. In economically depressed areas such as Alton Park and East Lake, only 15 percent of residents have high-speed Internet, according to EPB.

We spoke with Danna Bailey, Vice President of Corporate Communications from EPB, to get some details on the plan and she confirmed that the program is still in its infancy; officials at EPB plan to have it ready for students by the fall. She told is that the rate of $26.99 is what EPB must pay to bring 100 Mbps to a customer when it is unbundled. The regular rate is $57.99.


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Congress should modernize highway funding with 'chips,' not 'concrete' | Drew Clark Op-Ed | Deseret News

Congress should modernize highway funding with 'chips,' not 'concrete' | Drew Clark Op-Ed | Deseret News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

So much of politics here in the nation's capital is about moving money from someone's pocket to someone else's. As a result, the threat of generational or sectional warfare frequently lurks below the surface of budget debates.

That's why it’s refreshing when think tanks and politicians disseminate ideas that can expand — rather than redistribute — the nation's economic pie. They do this by enabling policies that unlock value-creation.

Take federal transportation funding. The worthy idea of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation is to direct no less than 5 percent of federal highway funding to information technology-based transit projects.

The concept is not yet implemented into law. But developments here this week could tee up the idea for the future.

On Tuesday, the House passed a two-month extension of the Highway Trust Fund. The stopgap measure keeps federally funded highway projects from coming to a halt on May 31. Congress now has until July to consider the question: How will the nation pay for new highways?

It’s a question about how to carve up the economic pie. President Obama wants to fund $478 billion of highway construction through a 14 percent tax on foreign earnings of U.S. companies. A small number of Republicans, although not a majority, want to raise the federal gas tax beyond its current 18.4 cents per gallon level. Interestingly, however, Republicans are not adverse to raising gas taxes at the state level, as was recently done in Utah and Iowa.

But the issue of growing the economic pie was raised at an ITIF event hosted on Capitol Hill here Tuesday. Dubbed "From Concrete to Chips: Bringing the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act Into the Digital Age," the event accompanied an ITIF report about how next-generation communications technologies can enhance driver and pedestrian safety, deliver environmental benefits and boost economic growth.


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Report: FBI's PATRIOT Act Snooping Goes Beyond Business Records, Subject To Few Restrictions | Tim Cushing | Techdirt

Report: FBI's PATRIOT Act Snooping Goes Beyond Business Records, Subject To Few Restrictions | Tim Cushing | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A report by the FBI's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) on the agency's use of Section 215 collections has just been released in what can only be termed as "fortuitous" (or "suspicious") timing. Section 215 is dying. It was up for reauthorization on June 1st, but the Obama administration suddenly pushed that deadline up to the end of this week. Sen. Mitch McConnell took a stab at a clean reauth, but had his attempt scuttled by a court ruling finding the program unauthorized by existing law and the forward momentum of the revamped USA Freedom Act. And, as Section 215's death clock ticked away, Rand Paul and Ron Wyden engaged in a filibuster to block any last-second attempts to ram a clean reauthorization through Congress.

The report focuses mainly on the FBI's 2007-2009 use of the program in response to previous OIG recommendations and alterations ordered by the FISA court. As is to be expected in anything tangentially-related to the NSA, it's full of redactions, especially in areas where a little transparency would go a long way towards justifying the FBI's belief that the program should continue in a mostly-unaltered state.

Redactions like this do absolutely nothing to assure the public that the program is useful and/or considerate of citzens' rights.


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Community Broadband Media Roundup - May 22 | community broadband networks

Community Broadband Media Roundup - May 22 | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

North Carolina sues FCC over Wilson community broadband decision by Rick Smith, WRAL TechWire

"Attorney General Cooper must not realize the irony of using state taxpayer dollars to ensure less money is invested in rural broadband, but we certainly do," said Christopher Mitchell, the directory of Community Broadband Networks at the Minnesota-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance. "State leaders should stand up for their citizens' interests and demand good broadband for them, rather than fighting alongside paid lobbyists to take away those opportunities."

The group accuses telecommunications and Internet provides in North Carolina of not providing wide-spread high-speed access in the state.

"Rural areas in North Carolina already suffer from some of the slowest speeds in the nation because the big telecom giants see no financial reason to connect them," the Institute said. "The FCC ruling will help communities that will never be covered by these corporations to finally have Internet access beyond dial-up service."

North Carolina sues FCC for right to block municipal broadband by Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica

Residents stuck with slow Internet while state fights on behalf of private ISPs.

North Carolina Sues FCC To Keep Limits On Municipal Broadband by Chris Morran, The Consumerist

North Carolina's Broadband Policy: Wasting Tax Dollars Pretending To Care About Wasting Tax Dollars from the dynamic-duopoly-defenders dept by Karl Bode, TechDirt.


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