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Commisso: McCain Is Right, Programming Problem Rests with Wholesalers | Multichannel.com

Commisso: McCain Is Right, Programming Problem Rests with Wholesalers | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Mediacom chairman Rocco Commisso isn't ready to embrace Sen. John McCain's proposal of full-blown a la carte, but has a pat on the back for the Arizona Republican's identification of wholesale distributors (programmers) rather than retailers (cable operators) as the cause of what both Commisso and McCain argue is a broken marketplace.

 

"While I do not think that a 'full' a la carte system - voluntary or mandatory - is necessarily desirable or viable, action that will compel programmers to allow cable companies greater control over how networks are offered would be highly beneficial for consumers," Commisso wrote to McCain and members of the Senate Commerce Committee. The letter comes on the eve of the Communications Subcommittee hearing at which McCain is speaking about his new a la carte bill.

 

"As your comments make clear," said Commisso, "it is the practices of content licensors at the 'wholesale' level that, at the 'retail' level, force consumers to pay billions for channels they do not want."

 

McCain's bill would force broadcasters with co-owned cable channels to unbundle those carriage negotiations, and would also require cable operators to offer broadcast channels a la carte or lose their compulsory license.

 

Commisso has long complained to the FCC and Congress about bundled programming deals and retrans impasses, a point he reiterated in the letter.

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Apple's content delivery network is reportedly live and it's huge | GigaOM Tech News

Apple's content delivery network is reportedly live and it's huge | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Earlier this year we heard that Apple was starting to build its own content delivery network, instead of relying on third-party CDNs like Akamai and Level 3 to deliver iTunes media content and software updates. That plan has come to fruition sooner than expected, according to CDN expert Dan Rayburn: Trace routes from downloads of OS X now show data coming directly from Apple infrastructure.


But that’s not all: According to Rayburn’s sources, this isn’t a standard CDN, it’s positively massive, with ten times the capacity currently needed — multiple terabits per second — ready to be deployed. He estimated the buildout, which includes paid interconnection deals with ISPs, will cost more than $100 million, much of it going to Level 3, which is selling network services to Apple in lieu of the CDN business it stands to lose.


This fall, Apple will release OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, which are free updates to its operating systems. Often, there’s a rush on the first day as millions of iPhones or Macs try to download the huge files. Rayburn thinks Apple will make use of its CDN to deliver these operating system updates this fall.


But yesterday The Information reported that Apple still has designs to launch a TV service that can “make any show available at any time—live broadcasts and old reruns alike—using remote storage.” A service like that would need a burly CDN, but it’s years away if it’s even a possibility. No matter what Apple decides to do with its CDN, it’s certainly an area to watch the Cupertino giant.

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Hacker group targets video game companies to steal source code | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com

Hacker group targets video game companies to steal source code | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A group of attackers with links to the Chinese hacking underground has been targeting companies from the entertainment and video game industries for years with the goal of stealing source code.


The stolen intellectual property is used to “crack” games so they can be used for free, to create game cheating tools or to develop competing products, security researchers from Dell SecureWorks said in an analysis of the group’s activities.


Dell SecureWorks tracks the hacker group as Threat Group-3279 (TG-3279) and believes it has been active since at least 2009.


Information gathered by the company’s researchers while investigating compromises at affected firms suggests that the attack group uses a variety of tools for reconnaissance and persistent access on systems, some of which were developed by members of the group. These tools include an extensible remote access Trojan (RAT) program called Conpee and a rootkit called Etso for hiding network and file activity.


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Pay Different Prices To Access Different Sites: Virgin Mobile Leaps Through Net Neutrality Exemption With Gusto | Techdirt.com

Pay Different Prices To Access Different Sites: Virgin Mobile Leaps Through Net Neutrality Exemption With Gusto | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

We've talked about the mocked upversions of what a non-neutral internet service might look like -- whereby the service provider offers different "packages" to include different websites. There have been a few attempts to show what these graphics looks like.


These graphics were seen as warning signs for what internet access providers desired. But we keep hearing from those who advocate for the big broadband guys that no access provider would ever really want to do that. Well, in the midst of all this fighting over what the FCC should do about net neutrality, Sprint's Virgin Mobile subsidiary has decided to dive into the pool with a bunch of plans that look suspiciously like these graphics


"For about $12, Sprint will soon let subscribers buy a wireless plan that only connects to Facebook.

For that same price, they could choose instead to connect only with Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest—or for $10 more, enjoy unlimited use of all four. Another $5 gets them unlimited streaming of a music app of their choice."


This is all being powered by a startup called ItsOn, which looks designed specifically to break net neutrality to help access providers shake people down. It specifically filters only "approved" (i.e., paid for) services.

So far, it appears that Virgin Mobile and Sprint have wisely avoided marketing graphics like those above, but the plan sounds nearly identical. As with T-Mobile's Music Freedom plan and the famed zero-rated plans that have allowed people in various countries to access Facebook and other apps without incurring data charges, these are all positioned as being pro-consumer. That's done on purpose, but it's bogus.


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Reclassifying Broadband Under Title II Becoming Politically Feasible | Techdirt.com

Reclassifying Broadband Under Title II Becoming Politically Feasible | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

One of the most annoying things about the net neutrality fight -- as we've been noting for over a decade -- is how silly the net neutrality debate was once it became "partisan." An issue that, previously, had been a general one about the future of the internet turned into a ridiculous political circus with Republicans (misleadingly) claiming it was about "regulating the internet."


You'd think that the "pro-business party," as they like to call themselves, would support a policy of an open and free internet that enables so many entrepreneurs and businesses to exist. But, of course, "pro-business" is often code for "pro-big-legacy business." Either way, the unfortunate news is this has become a stupidly partisan issue, and when that happens, reasoned debate often goes out the window.


Given that, one the prevailing narratives in DC circles is that this idea of reclassification of broadband under Title II (basically common carrier status) was "politically impossible," because it would entail a huge partisan fight in Congress, and apparently no one wants to do that.

This argument, too, is kind of stupid and typical of the Jay Rosen-coined concept of the "Church of the Savvy," in which the narrative of the politics becomes much more important than the policy itself. In this case, it's pretty clear that the "fight" is happening no matter what rules the FCC comes out with. The politicians opposed to net neutrality have made it clear that they'll oppose any rules that the FCC adopts, including its currently proposed, ridiculously weak, rules under Section 706, which leave the door wide open to destroying net neutrality and creating fast lanes.

Given that, it seems like the FCC has a choice on its hands:


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FCC to Verizon: Your throttling had better be about managing congestion, not cash | GigaOM Tech News

FCC to Verizon: Your throttling had better be about managing congestion, not cash | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the Federal Communication Commission, isn’t impressed with Verizon’s recently announced plan to throttle the speeds on its unlimited plans. In a letter to CEO Dan Mead, he asked Verizon to respond to three questions about its plans. Verizon’s stated reasons for the new policy is to help it manage its LTE network congestion, but Wheeler’s query indicates he’s pretty skeptical of Verizon’s justification.


My colleague Kevin Fitchard described the plan this way:


"On October 1, Verizon will start throttling back LTE speeds on its heaviest unlimited-plan subscribers when they move into congested cells on its networks. What that means is that when the network gets crowded, Verizon will prioritize 4G customers who buy their data by the gigabyte over unlimited plan customers who fall into the top fifth percentile of monthly data usage."


The letter from Chairman Wheeler is actually pretty scathing, especially for an agency that recently lost a major court case against Verizon over network neutrality. Wheeler writes:


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CA Representative Waxman Takes Issue With Republican Knock on FCC | Broadcasting & Cable

CA Representative Waxman Takes Issue With Republican Knock on FCC | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In his opening statement for a markup on several bills, House Energy & Commerce Committee ranking member Henry Waxman (pictured) (D-Calif.) took issue with a statement from the committee's leadership criticizing FCC process.


Last week, Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), issued a press release saying "the process is clearly broken and something smells rotten on the [FCC's] Eighth Floor [where the FCC commissioners reside].


Waxman cited that press release and its complaints about the FCC using an "irregular process." He said he disagreed with the assessment, then turned the criticism on the committee.


Waxman complained that the committee was marking up bills, including the LABEL Act and an anti-spoofing bill, without subcommittee markups, which is the regular order. Waxman said bad process can produce bad results, but supported those bills as "common sense" legislation, even if he did not support the process.


"While they were not voted on in subcommittee," he said, " I support their passage."

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Comcast Expands School-Focused IPTV Trial | Multichannel.com

Comcast Expands School-Focused IPTV Trial | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Bridgewater College, a school founded in 1880, is about to get access to something new – an emerging multiscreen video service from Comcast that is delivered entirely over IP.

 

Bridgewater College, a Virginia school with about 1,800 students that’s located about two hours from Washington, D.C., has signed on for Xfinity On Campus, a new IP-delivered subscription video service that supports live TV streaming and on-demand content to select iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch models (the AirPlay function is disabled), and browsers running on PCs and Macs. Comcast is working on an Xfinity On Campus app for Android-powered devices.

 

Bridgewater College joins a small batch of east coast colleges that are testing or preparing to test the Xfinity On Campus, which is still technically in the trial stage. Other schools that are on board include Lasell College, the University of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Drexel University, and Emerson College.


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5 Things We Learned From The GAO Report On Broadband Caps | TheConsumerist.com

5 Things We Learned From The GAO Report On Broadband Caps | TheConsumerist.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Broadband data caps might not be affecting everyone just yet, but that could easily changeas the current wave of ISP merger mania continues. A preliminary government report taking a look at data caps, both wired and wireless, was released this week. It finds that ISPs and subscribers are far from being on the same page when it comes to how much data consumers move.


The Government Accountability Office (GAO), at the behest of Rep. Anna Eshoo of California, looked at broadband data caps by examining ISPs policies, conducting focus groups with the public, and interviewing tech experts and public interest advocacy groups.


The report (PDF) is still preliminary; the final version won’t be released until November. Even so, though, the report is a good gauge of the pitfalls and potential benefits of usage-based pricing plans. The short version? Consumers don’t feel they’re getting all of the info they need, and are worried about their home and mobile broadband providers soaking them for extra cash.


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The Power of the Gig | Jason Meyers | Light Reading

The Power of the Gig | Jason Meyers | Light Reading | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

When I answered an incoming customer service call from Comcast yesterday, all I really hoped was that my experience would be better than this guy's. (See What Can We Learn From Comcast's Customer Service Nightmare?)


Turns out it was. For one, my call was from an automated and far less argumentative voice. Also, I wasn't planning to cancel my service (not yet, anyway). And finally, the automaton told me that Comcast Corp. was doubling my internet speed for no additional charge, effective immediately.


I haven't binge-watched House of Cards since I got that call, so I have yet to know if Comcast's action will improve my often frustrating Netflix Inc. experience. But I know this: I feel a little better about Comcast.


Is it a sign of the times, this unsolicited gesture to satisfy customers and stave off churn? It would seem so -- and it's likely a development driven by ever-increasing competitive pressure, especially from the myriad providers now beginning to offer gigabit services.


These providers run the gamut: There's AT&T Inc., which has recently added San Antonio, Nashville, Dallas/Fort Worth, and three North Carolina communities (Charlotte, Winston-Salem, and Raleigh-Durham) to the list of cities that will join Austin in getting its GigaPower service. There's Google Fiber Inc. , which is signing up customers in Kansas City and Provo, Utah, and has Austin and nine more cities on deck, many of which overlap AT&T's GigaPower map.


But then there are the smaller providers -- according to the Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council , 55 in all in the US, including telcos, municipalities, utilities, and even real estate interests. These are the entities bringing gigabit services to smaller cities and towns, stepping up the competitive pressure on the Comcasts, AT&Ts and Google Fibers of the world, whether those larger players are willing to admit it or not -- and adding to the regulatory ruckus while they're at it.


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Singapore: The Social Laboratory | Shane Harris | ForeignPolicy.com

Singapore: The Social Laboratory | Shane Harris | ForeignPolicy.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In October 2002, Peter Ho, the permanent secretary of defense for the tiny island city-state of Singapore, paid a visit to the offices of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the U.S. Defense Department's R&D outfit best known for developing the M16 rifle, stealth aircraft technology, and the Internet. Ho didn't want to talk about military hardware.


Rather, he had made the daylong plane trip to meet with retired Navy Rear Adm. John Poindexter, one of DARPA's then-senior program directors and a former national security advisor to President Ronald Reagan. Ho had heard that Poindexter was running a novel experiment to harness enormous amounts of electronic information and analyze it for patterns of suspicious activity -- mainly potential terrorist attacks.


The two men met in Poindexter's small office in Virginia, and on a whiteboard, Poindexter sketched out for Ho the core concepts of his imagined system, which Poindexter called Total Information Awareness (TIA). It would gather up all manner of electronic records -- emails, phone logs, Internet searches, airline reservations, hotel bookings, credit card transactions, medical reports -- and then, based on predetermined scenarios of possible terrorist plots, look for the digital "signatures" or footprints that would-be attackers might have left in the data space. The idea was to spot the bad guys in the planning stages and to alert law enforcement and intelligence officials to intervene.


"I was impressed with the sheer audacity of the concept: that by connecting a vast number of databases, that we could find the proverbial needle in the haystack," Ho later recalled. He wanted to know whether the system, which was not yet deployed in the United States, could be used in Singapore to detect the warning signs of terrorism. It was a matter of some urgency. Just 10 days earlier, terrorists had bombed a nightclub, a bar, and the U.S. consular office on the Indonesian island of Bali, killing 202 people and raising the specter of Islamist terrorism in Southeast Asia.


Ho returned home inspired that Singapore could put a TIA-like system to good use. Four months later he got his chance, when an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) swept through the country, killing 33, dramatically slowing the economy, and shaking the tiny island nation to its core.


Using Poindexter's design, the government soon established the Risk Assessment and Horizon Scanning program (RAHS, pronounced "roz") inside a Defense Ministry agency responsible for preventing terrorist attacks and "nonconventional" strikes, such as those using chemical or biological weapons -- an effort to see how Singapore could avoid or better manage "future shocks." Singaporean officials gave speeches and interviews about how they were deploying big data in the service of national defense -- a pitch that jibed perfectly with the country's technophilic culture.


Back in the United States, however, the TIA program had become the subject of enormous controversy. Just a few weeks after Poindexter met with Ho, journalists reported that the Defense Department was funding experimental research on mining massive amounts of Americans' private data. Some members of Congress and privacy and civil liberties advocates called for TIA to be shut down. It was -- but in name only.


In late 2003, a group of U.S. lawmakers more sympathetic to Poindexter's ideas arranged for his experiment to be broken into several discrete programs, all of which were given new, classified code names and placed under the supervision of the National Security Agency (NSA). Unbeknownst to almost all Americans at the time, the NSA was running a highly classified program of its own that actually was collecting Americans' phone and Internet communications records and mining them for connections to terrorists. Elements of that program were described in classified documents disclosed in 2013 by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, sparking the most significant and contentious debate about security and privacy in America in more than four decades.


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US Senate committee report: Mobile phone 'cramming' widespread, profits carriers | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com

US Senate committee report: Mobile phone 'cramming' widespread, profits carriers | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Mobile carriers have pulled in hundreds of millions in profits through third-party charges tacked onto customers’ bills without their consent, according to a report from a U.S. Senate committee.


The carriers have been slow to act against scammers tacking third-party charges onto mobile bills even after thousands of complaints by customers and investigations by multiple state attorneys general during the past six years, said the staff report from the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, released Wednesday.


While the mobile industry has suggested unauthorized third-party billing—often called cramming—is a minor problem, the practice has been “widespread and has likely cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars,” according to the committee staff report.


Third-party billing on mobile phone bills has been “a billion dollar industry that has yielded tremendous revenues for carriers,” the committee report said. The four largest U.S. carriers—AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon—generally take 30 to 40 percent of the cut for third-party services, often tacked on as charges of less than US$10 a month, but continuing indefinitely, the report said.


Those four carriers had assured the committee they were taking “robust” steps to combat a minor problem with mobile cramming when the committee began asking about the issue, said Senator John “Jay” Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat.


“There is now overwhelming evidence that these statements were just not true—cramming on wireless phones has been widespread and has caused consumers substantial harm,” Rockefeller said in a statement.


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Verizon’s slowing down data for some of its heaviest users. And the FCC is calling them out on it. | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

Verizon’s slowing down data for some of its heaviest users. And the FCC is calling them out on it. | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Federal Communications Commission has sent a strongly worded letter to Verizon warning that changes in the way it handles mobile Internet traffic may violate federal regulations.


More broadly, the letter by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is the latest sign that the commission is considering applying its new net neutrality rules to wireless carriers.


Last week, Verizon announced that wireless customers on the company's unlimited 4G LTE data plans would become subject to restrictions on that service beginning in October. The most voracious data users — meaning the top 5 percent, the company said — would see their traffic slowed during periods of heavy demand, with the limits lifted once the congestion had passed or the users moved into range of another cell tower. Verizon already does this for 3G users; the new changes would extend the policy to 4G LTE users, too.


"The vast majority of data customers will not see any impact from Verizon Wireless’ Network Optimization policy, and will be able to browse the Internet, stream music and videos, upload pictures and send emails as they always have," Verizon said in a blog post announcing the changes last week.


A Verizon Wireless spokesman said Wednesday that the announcement last week was "highly targeted and very limited."

"We will officially respond to the chairman's letter once we have received and reviewed it," the company said.


But the targeted nature of the slowdowns may be precisely the problem; citing Verizon's Web site, Wheeler accused the company of discriminating against unlimited data customers but leaving its other customers alone. Wheeler said he was "deeply troubled" by the attempt to apply data restrictions on Verizon's "much more efficient" LTE network, and implied strongly that the company was invoking "network management" as an excuse to make more money.


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Rural Indiana Looks to Tax Increment Financing to Build Fiber Networks | community broadband networks

Rural Indiana Looks to Tax Increment Financing to Build Fiber Networks | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Wabash County, Indiana wants to expand its access to high speed internet through a fiber optic network build out, and is planning to use a distinctive financial tool to do so. The Wabash County Redevelopment Commission has begun the process of assigning a special Economic Development Area designation for the purpose of helping to finance new fiber deployment through parts of the mostly rural county of 33,000 people.


Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is method of public financing that uses future gains in property or sales taxes within a defined area to subsidize a redevelopment or infrastructure project. A local jurisdiction can borrow money up front, build the project, and then use the increased tax receipts it generates to pay off the debt over a period of years. The concept is actually pretty simple: capture the value that something will have in the future to build it now.


TIF  has been a popular approach among local politicians around the country for decades as a way to work around tight budgets and finance improvements in blighted areas, often in the form of public infrastructure. It has sometimes drawn criticism, especially in cities like Chicago where it is very heavily used. One downside is that it effectively takes properties off the general tax rolls. 


More important for our purposes, however, is that the use of TIF for next generation fiber optic networks is a fairly new phenomenon. While municipal networks around the country have used a wide range of financing approaches to cover upfront costs, most have revolved in some way around bonds that are repaid from network revenue. Using TIF to capture the increased property value that a fiber optic network would create is an interesting approach.


In the case of Wabash County, it’s not yet clear exactly how the funds would be used. There is a local private incumbent provider, Metronet, which received $100,000 last year to match its own $1 million investment to bring fiber to a town on the north edge of the county. The county also has a cooperative utility (Wabash County REMC) that provides power and telephone services in rural areas and has expressed interest in using TIF to build out a fiber network. Whichever entity ultimately receives TIF money, it does not appear that the county is interested in owning the network itself.


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After CIA Angrily Denied Spying On Senate, CIA Admits It Did And Apologizes | Techdirt.com

After CIA Angrily Denied Spying On Senate, CIA Admits It Did And Apologizes | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Here's a surprise. An internal investigation by the CIA has determined -- just as Senator Dianne Feinstein charged -- that the CIA illegally hacked into the network of Senate Intelligence Committee staffers in order to spy on what they were doing with regards to a report on the CIA's torture program. They did this despite an earlier instance of a similar problem after which the CIA promised it would not touch the Senate Intelligence Committee network any more.

Of course, as you may recall after Feinstein angrily denounced the CIA's actions, and explained them in detail, CIA director John Brennan angrily denied it -- though as we noted, his angry denial really confirmed nearly all of the pertinent details. Still, he specifically stated:


"When the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong."


He also told reporters:


"Let me assure you the CIA was in no way spying on [the Senate Intelligence Committee] or the Senate."


Things got even more acrimonious when both sides reported each other to the Justice Department for possible criminal investigation. The CIA insisted that the Senate staffers mishandled classified information, while the Senate claimed that the CIA illegally hacked into their network. Once again, the Senate side of the story made the most sense -- because it had happened before. As you may recall from Feinstein's original explanation:


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Netflix meets with F.C.C. on net neutrality, Comcast-T.W.C. merger | Capital New York

Netflix meets with F.C.C. on net neutrality, Comcast-T.W.C. merger | Capital New York | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

On Monday, Netflix executives met with Federal Communications Commission staffers to talk about the Commission's "Open Internet" plans, more commonly known as net neutrality.


According to a letter sent to the F.C.C. outlining the meeting, Netflix argued that as part of its open internet plan, the Commission should prohibit internet service providers from charging for direct access to customers. Netflix has in recent months reluctantly signed peering arrangements with Comcast, Verizon and AT&T, agreeing to pay for direct connection to the providers' networks.


Net neutrality, a maxim that holds that internet service providers should treat all traffic with equal weight, would be greatly hampered under proposed F.C.C. regulation changes that would allow I.S.P.s to offer for-pay "fast lanes" to content providers.


"In the traditional telephony ecosystem, the person initiating a phone call with another would be considered 'the caller' and was responsible for paying for the call—no matter which party did the most 'talking' on the call," Netflix told the F.C.C. "The Internet ecosystem is no different. A broadband ISP’s customer 'calls' Netflix and Netflix 'answers the call.' No matter that Netflix’s response causes more data to flow to the originating 'caller.'"


Netflix also responded to charges from providers—notably Comcast and Verizon—that the company deliberately chooses to send its data over congested networks in order to slow down its product and spur consumer complaints.


"This allegation is false," Netflix said. "In the case of Comcast, Netflix purchased all available transit to reach Comcast’s network. Every single one of those transit links to Comcast was congested (even though the transit providers requested extra capacity). The only other available routes into Comcast’s network were those where Comcast required an access fee."


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Title II Rules Poor Choice, ISPs Say | USTelecom.org

Title II Rules Poor Choice, ISPs Say | USTelecom.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it
Sixteen small and medium-sized USTelecom members are among 99 small and medium-sized Telco Internet Service Providers (ISPs)  that sent a letter July 30 to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker expressing concern about applying Title II regulation to broadband services.
 
“The time, regulatory uncertainty and costs associated with a Title II regime would deter investment in new broadband services and discourage our banks from providing capital for deployment of new infrastructure and improvements,” the letter said.  “Given the widely acknowledged challenges this country faces in persuading all Americans to adopt broadband, any policy that results in higher costs for providers and new fees for consumers should be a non-starter.”
 
The companies said they are committed to maintaining an open Internet and “to having an open dialogue with the FCC about how best to create a regulatory framework that maintains openness without sacrificing investment, innovation, and opportunity for all Americans,” the letter said.
 
USTelecom members signing the letter include:

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Free, France’s T-Mobile, Wants To Acquire T-Mobile For $15 Billion | TechCrunch.com

Free, France’s T-Mobile, Wants To Acquire T-Mobile For $15 Billion | TechCrunch.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

France’s disruptive telecom company Free just announced that it wanted to acquire T-Mobile US. The WSJ first broke the story. Free then confirmed the bid in a press release.


Free (also known as Iliad) offers $15 billion in cash for 56.6 percent of the American company at $33 per share. Overall, Free says that it values T-Mobile at a 42 percent premium compared to T-Mobile’s share price of $25.4 before rumors of a Sprint acquisition started making the rounds. Shares opened at $31.02 before rumors of Free’s bid surfaced.


This deal makes a lot of sense as T-Mobile is very reminiscent of Free’s strategy. In fact, T-Mobile’s uncarrier campaign could be inspired by its French counterpart.


Now, T-Mobile investors can expect a bidding war between Sprint and Free. Many were concerned that a Sprint acquistion would create antitrust issues. The Department of Justice already blocked AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile, so it could happen again.


As Free doesn’t operate in the U.S., it doesn’t have a problem on this front. But Free is an even smaller company than T-Mobile.


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US House Energy & Commerce Committee Passes E-LABEL Act | Broadcasting & Cable

US House Energy & Commerce Committee Passes E-LABEL Act | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The House Energy & Commerce Committee has approved the E-LABEL Act (the Enhance Labeling, Accessing, and Branding of Electronic Licenses Act of 2014), which essentially gives the FCC nine months to do what it has already done, which is to allow the manufacturers of electronic devices with integrated screens to opt for on-screen and online labels to provide FCC-required information—like certification and testing—rather than having to affix or etch a physical label.


E-LABEL bills were introduced in the House and Senate at around the same time the FCC announced it was changing its guidelines to allow for onscreen and online labeling of devices with integrated screens, essentially mooting the bills, though the legislation means the FCC could not take the unlikely step of changing its mind and reverting to a physical label mandate.


On July 11, the FCC's Office of Engineering & Technology issued new labeling guidance saying it was authorized to allow alternative means of labeling and it was doing so by advising that all devices with an integral screen can now display that label digitally on that screen, and up to three steps deep into the device menu. The user manual must include information on accessing that FCC info, or it can be on the equipment's website.


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IIA Study: New Network Compact Is Consumer-Driven | Multichannel.com

IIA Study: New Network Compact Is Consumer-Driven | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA) is suggesting that regulators take a fresh look at the so-called network compact and recognize that it should be competition and consumer-driven, with regulation only a targeted means of helping maintain that compact.

 

"The New Network Compact: Consumers Are in Charge," a new study from Anna-Maria Kovacs, visiting senior policy scholar at Georgetown University’s Center for Business and Public Policy, says that regulators, consumer advocates and network providers all agree that there are core values that should apply to communications "ecosystems"--public safety, universal access, consumer protection, and competition.

 

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has invoked that compact in explaining the need regulatory intervention when those values appear to be threatened — from media ownership regs to network neutrality-- but the Kovacs analysis suggests that the competition portion of that compact has now empowered consumers to set their own priorities, which may not match those of regulators.

 

She suggests that the old compact has been enforced in a top-down fashion from "inescapable regulators" to "monopoly providers" to "passive consumers" at the bottom.

 

Now, Kovacs argues, "empowered consumers" are at the top but part of a two-way flow chart including "competitive  providers" and "strategic regulators."


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Cablevision Touts WiFi Milestone | Multichannel.com

Cablevision Touts WiFi Milestone | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Cablevision Systems said its network of WiFi hotspots emitting an “Optimum WiFi” SSID has exceeded the 1 million mark thanks in part to recent deployments at The Coney Island and Long Beach boardwalks and 24 New Jersey Transit rail stations.

 

Cablevision has been deploying quasi-public hotspots with its own SSID in a variety of public and business locations that are also open to other cable operator members of the “Cable WiFi” roaming consortium (Comcast, Cox Communications,  Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks are the other members), as well as in home-side gateways. The breakdown of Cablevision’s WiFi deployment between those location types was not immediately known.

 

In May, Cablevision CEO James Dolan said on the MSO’s first quarter call that Cablevision was rolling out “smart” WiFi routers that would put the company on track to expand its Optimum WiFi footprint to 1 million access points by year-end. “WiFi  is a differentiator for the business,” Dolan said, noting that “you’re going to see some of these products are going to be rather disruptive, most likely to some of the current marketplaces, particularly the wireless data market.”


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CenturyLink: How Dare Cities Challenge The Laws We Paid For | DSLReports.com

CenturyLink: How Dare Cities Challenge The Laws We Paid For | DSLReports.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

CenturyLink, formerly Qwest, has spent much of its life suing community broadband efforts that might spur the company to improve its service offerings.


They've also written (via draft legislation) and paid-to-pass legislation in numerous states that restrict or outright ban a community from deploying its own broadband infrastructure -- even in cases when CenturyLink couldn't be bothered to.

With cities like Wilson, North Carolina and Chattanooga, Tennesee now pushing the FCC to void bills that were written by CenturyLink lawyers and exist solely to protect CenturyLink revenues (at the cost of local citizen rights), CenturyLink is handing out lectures on responsible ethics.


According to CenturyLink, Wilson really isn't playing fair:


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Report Says Backlash From NSA's Surveillance Programs Will Cost Private Sector Billions Of Dollars | Techdirt.com

Report Says Backlash From NSA's Surveillance Programs Will Cost Private Sector Billions Of Dollars | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Open Technology Institute has put together a thorough paper detailing the many adverse effects the NSA disclosures have had, both on American businesses inside and outside of the tech sector, as well as on Americans themselves.

The Open Technology Institute is no stranger to the adverse side effects of the NSA's pervasive surveillance. Its own open-source mesh network project (Commotion) was accompanied by this warning, prompted by the revelations of the Snowden leaks.


Commotion

Cannot hide your identity
Does not prevent monitoring of internet traffic
Does not provide strong security against monitoring over the mesh
Can be jammed with radio/data-interference


So, how much will the NSA leaks cost American businesses? It's tough to say. Although the OTI has done an incredible amount of research, it's difficult to pin down exact losses.


Any time an American company has its bid denied by a foreign country, the NSA's actions have likely played some role. But this will very rarely be stated explicitly. This leads to a rather open-ended estimate of lost sales.


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Countries don't own their Internet domains, ICANN says | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com

Countries don't own their Internet domains, ICANN says | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Internet domain name for a country doesn’t belong to that country—nor to anyone, according to ICANN.


Plaintiffs who successfully sued Iran, Syria and North Korea as sponsors of terrorism want to seize the three countries’ ccTLDs (country code top-level domains) as part of financial judgments against them. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which oversees the Internet, says they can’t do that because ccTLDs aren’t even property.


After the plaintiffs filed papers to ICANN seeking the handover of the domains, the organization said it sympathized with their underlying claims but filed a motion on Tuesday to quash the attempted seizure.


A ccTLD is the two-letter code at the end of a country-specific Internet address, such as .us for the U.S. or .cn for China. There are more than 280 of them, all of which need to have managers, administrative contacts and technical contacts who live in the countries they represent. The domains in this case are .ir for Iran and .sy for Syria, plus Arabic script equivalents for each, and .kp for North Korea.


But the domains aren’t property and don’t belong to the countries they point to, ICANN said. Instead, they’re more like postal codes, “simply the provision of routing and administrative services for the domain names registered within that ccTLD,” which are what let users go to websites and send to email addresses under those domains, ICANN wrote. If ICANN stepped in and reassigned the domains on its own, that would disrupt everyone who uses a domain name that ends in those codes, including individuals, businesses and charitable organizations, the group said.


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MA: Comcast moves to swallow Charter | Telegram.com

MA: Comcast moves to swallow Charter | Telegram.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Charter Communications Inc. could be leaving Massachusetts next year, if an agreement with Comcast Corp. is approved by federal and state officials.

"All assets of Charter in Massachusetts will become Comcast. Charter will carry on until the transaction is complete," said Timothy G. Murnane, vice president of external affairs for the Greater Boston region for Comcast's north central division.

He spoke Tuesday at an Oxford selectmen's meeting.

The complex Comcast/Charter transaction, announced in April, raises questions about the possible impact on cost and service.

Mr. Murnane said, "There will be no effect whatsoever" on prices, at least at first, though new choices, equipment and services will be offered.

The transfer of all 182,699 Massachusetts Charter customers in 53 communities to Comcast, which already has 1,488,659 customers in 246 Massachusetts communities, is one of several results of a merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, which Comcast is purchasing for $45.2 billion.

To gain approval from the Federal Communications Commission, Comcast agreed to divest itself of 3.9 million customers so that its "post-merger subscriber total" will be less than 30 percent of the total national multichannel video programming distributor subscriber base, according to Comcast.


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How Video Is Changing the Internet | Richard Bennett | GigaOM Tech News

How Video Is Changing the Internet | Richard Bennett | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The rise of video streaming is dramatically affecting the Internet, according to a two-year study of Internet traffic trends that Arbor Networks recently presented to the North American Network Operators Group.


Two years ago, Internet traffic was distributed evenly among a dozen Tier-1 network providers, but today the majority of traffic flows through direct peering agreements among large content providers, content delivery networks and ISPs.


Consequently, Tier-1 networks have shifted their business models from simple packet delivery to richer cloud computing and content hosting services, and new players Google and Comcast have joined the top 10 list of Internet traffic producers — and the more traffic they put on the Internet, the more control it gives them over your online experience.


Traffic is growing much faster than the 50 percent year-to-year rate found by studies such as the Minnesota Internet Traffic Study; yet the “exaflood” of video traffic hasn’t drowned the Internet because network operators have found more efficient paths. The dramatic shift in traffic patterns has to do with the rise of what Arbor calls “the Hyper Giants,” 30 large companies that contribute 30 percent of Internet traffic.


Thanks to YouTube, Google alone is responsible for 7 percent of all the traffic on today’s Internet, which puts it in the privileged position of prioritizing its VoIP and video calling services over YouTube without FCC permission.


The onslaught of video is also changing the nature of peering agreements. Traditionally, peering and so-called transit were very distinct from a revenue perspective: Peering agreements were “settlement free” arrangements in which packets changed hands between networks of roughly equal size and scope, but money didn’t.


Fee-based network interconnects were confined to “transit agreements” in which a large network operator connected a small player to the entire Internet for a fee; peering is also strictly a “one network to one other network” arrangement.


The new wrinkle is “paid peering” agreements in which a large operator permits direct connection for a small fee. Paid peering replaces transit fees that run $2-9 per Mbps with direct connection at $1-3, and enhances service, according to an article on Bill Norton’s “Ask Dr. Peering” web site which explains the value of Comcast’s paid peering and its potential collision with net neutrality regulations:


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Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc's insight:

The article by Richard Bennett was published by GigaOM on November 22, 2009 and raises issues now being dealt with yet again by the current FCC NN Rulemaking.

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