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McCain bill sparks conflict between ACA and NCTA | FierceCable.com

McCain bill sparks conflict between ACA and NCTA | FierceCable.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Lobbying groups representing big and small cable operators offered conflicting views on the Television Consumer Freedom Act proposed by Sen. John McCain (R.- Ariz.) Thursday.

 

The National Cable Television Association, whose biggest member is Comcast, called the bill a "lose-lose proposition." But the American Cable Association, which represents small and mid-sized cable operators, said it supported everything in the bill except a provision that would require cable operators to offer consumers a-la-carte programming options.

 

ACA has been lobbying Congress and the FCC to make it illegal for programmers that own both TV stations and broadcast networks--including Comcast, Walt Disney Co. and News Corp.--to tie retransmission-consent deals for TV stations with carriage deals for cable networks.

 

McCain's bill would ban that practice, and could also prevent programmers such as Viacom from requiring operators that want to carry popular networks such as Comedy Central and MTV to strike broader deals that include distribution of ancillary networks such as VH1 Classic and Paladia.

 

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Global Project Looks At Takedown Notices Across The Internet | Intellectual Property Watch

The Takedown Project is a recent initiative bringing the research community together to explore how the notice-and-takedown procedure in cases of alleged online copyright infringement are handled by internet service providers around the world. The project aims to create greater transparency in order to improve the quality of this global regulatory system.


The project was launched in 2013 by Joe Karaganis, vice-president of the American Assembly at Columbia University and Jennifer M. Urban, assistant clinical professor of law and director of the Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law.


Presently, the project comprises more than 35 affiliated researchers from US, Europe, Middle East and Australia and seven partner organisations, including the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Its first meeting took place in Amsterdam in June 2013.


A takedown notice is defined by Urban as “a notification sent to an online service provider, requesting that content or links to content be removed,” in case of infringement of copyright and related rights.

In the US, under Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), this procedure is one of the requirements for internet service providers (ISPs) to benefit from an exemption from liability. But in the European Union, there is no consensus on this point.


However, this Section 512 model has been increasingly replicated in other jurisdictions and followed formally or informally for other – non-copyright – claims, like privacy or trademarks, Urban told Intellectual Property Watch.


Over the years, the practice has also dramatically changed. Search takedown requests to Google, for instance, have increased from hundreds per year to millions per week, she said.


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In the battle for the Internet, which side are you on? | OpenMedia.ca

In the battle for the Internet, which side are you on? | OpenMedia.ca | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A couple weeks ago, thousands of OpenMedia supporters joined with open Internet advocates and legal experts at Free Press to challenge the Internet slow lane plan being pushed by U.S. Big Telecom giants. Free Press’ team filed a legal challenge in response to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s July 15 deadline for initial comments on proposed net neutrality rules that stand to end the Internet as we know it.


After filing the claim with the FCC, Free Press also published the document on their website. Coming in at over 150 pages, the media reform group has called it “The Definitive Case for Net Neutrality”. While we invite those of you with an appetite for “legalese” to take a close look, here are two key high-level takeaways for those of you who want to be spared the full 150 page experience.


First, to squash the threat of slow lanes on the Internet, and guarantee authentic net neutrality, we have only one choice: reclassify broadband Internet as a Title II common carriage service. Or, to put it simply, we need to pass laws that allow the Internet to be treated the same way as highways, where no company (or other gatekeeper) can say which types of traffic can drive on which roads, and when.


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Congress passes bill to make unlocking cellphones legal, shining new sunlight on White House e-petitions | e-Pluribusunum.com

Congress passes bill to make unlocking cellphones legal, shining new sunlight on White House e-petitions | e-Pluribusunum.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

When the U.S. House of Representatives passed S.517 today, voting to send the “Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act” that the U.S. Senate passed unanimously last week, the legislative branch completed an unprecedented democratic process: a bill that had in its genesis in a White House e-petition signed by more than 100,000 consumers was sent back to the White House for the President’s signature.


If signed into law, the bill would 1) make it legal for consumers to unlock their cellphones in January 2015, reversing a controversial decision made by the Librarian of Congress in 2013 by reinstating a 2010 rulemaking and 2) direct the Librarian to consider if other mobile devices, like tablets, should also be eligible to be unlocked.


As Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy’s staff highlighted, the ranking members and chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees started cooperating on the issue in 2013 after the White House responded to the e-petition.


“I thank the House for moving so quickly on the bill we passed in the Senate last week and for working in a bipartisan way to support consumers,” said Leahy, in a statement. “The bipartisan Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act puts consumers first, promotes competition in the wireless phone marketplace, and encourages continued use of existing devices. Once the President signs this bill into law, consumers will be able to more easily use their existing cell phones on the wireless carrier of their choice.”


In the annals of still-embryonic American experiments in digital democracy, I can find no ready equivalent or precedent for this positive outcome for the people petitioning their government. The closest may be when the White House responded to an e-petition on the Stop Online Piracy Act in 2012, taking a position on anti-piracy bills that posed a threat to online industry, security and innovation.


Even then, it the voices of millions of people activated online to change Washington and the votes of members of Congress. It’s critical to note that there’s a much deeper backstory to why Internet activism worked: the people behind the e-petition didn’t stop with a response from the White House. After making a lot of noise online, activists engaged Congress over a year and a half, visiting Capitol Hill, sitting in on phone calls and hearings, and being involved in the democratic process that led to this positive change.


This is an important lesson in why “clicktivism” alone won’t be enough to make changes to laws or regulations emanating from Washington:  people who want to shifts in policy or legislation have to learn how Congress works and act.


That doesn’t mean that this e-petition didn’t matter: its success was a strong signal for policy makers that people cared about this issue. That’s also important: in the years since the launch of White House e-petitions in September 2011, the digital manifestation of the right of the people to “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States has come in for a lot of grief.


While White House e-petitions do sometimes work, 10% of successful e-petitions remain unanswered months or even years after they passed the threshold for a response, with activity in 2014 leading some critics to call “We the People” a “virtual ghost town.” Many of these criticisms remain founded in fact: popular epetitions do remain open. The longer these e-petitions remain open, the higher the chance that the platform will drive public disillusionment in “We the People,” not confidence that public participation of the people matters.


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FCC Official Says Million People Commenting Won’t Matter | LA Progressive

FCC Official Says Million People Commenting Won’t Matter | LA Progressive | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

More than a million people have spoken out in favor of real Net Neutrality in public comments. More than 3.4 million took some kind of action before the rulemaking began urging Net Neutrality. This has been the biggest public response the FCC has ever gotten on a policy matter … but is the FCC listening? Will the voices of a million people make a difference?


Sadly, a top official at the FCC, Gigi Sohn, told NPR: “A lot of these comments are one paragraph, two paragraphs, they don’t have much substance beyond, ‘we want strong Net Neutrality.” So, 1,067,779 people commenting will not make much difference. It is a very sad commentary on democracy in the United States.


We have always known that, so we occupied the FCC, interrupted their meetings, protested outside of it and supported other protests – and we know that is not enough. The FCC received so many phone calls and comments that their system could not handle it.


Our protests forced the FCC to listen and include our proposal for the Internet being reclassified as a public utility in their rulemaking. But, to win we need to build a mass movement that cannot be ignored, that balances the influence of big corporations like Comcast and Verizon.


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Facebook is no longer a social network. It’s the world's most powerful news reader | Pando Daily

Facebook is no longer a social network. It’s the world's most powerful news reader | Pando Daily | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It was barely two years ago that things were starting to look absolutely awful for Facebook.


Its stock was hitting one new low after another, at one point falling to half of its IPO value. General Motors announced that Facebook ads were basically useless. The same people who named Mark Zuckerberg the Person of the Year began the calls for him to resign. And the whole “teens hate Facebook” line began to emerge, along with accusations that the company overpaid for Instagram.


The perception was that Facebook was sick, and the list of symptoms could have filled a Pepto Bismol commercial. What’s more, the company’s app and gaming platform, which at one point had seemed so promising, was falling apart as Zynga collapsed.


But the disease itself could not have been more clear — Facebook’s mission statement and core value proposition were not working. Maybe people didn’t want to connect with their friends and family anymore. Perhaps all those years of baby pictures and FarmVille sheep had turned them off from The Stream. Or could it have been that youngsters were paranoid about Mom and Dad spying on their social life? Some argued that an “everybody in one place” social network was giving way to specialized niche networks — a clear sign that Facebook was the next AOL or Yahoo.


Everybody was right, insofar as every dissatisfied user probably had a different reason for losing interest.


But as Facebook was losing tens of billions of dollars in valuation, a company thousands of miles away was growing like a weed — BuzzFeed. In fact, during the worst of Zuckerberg’s trials, CEO Jonah Peretti was in the process of raising big dollars at valuations rarely seen in media companies.


We didn’t fully realize it at the time, but BuzzFeed was giving Facebook the ultimate lesson. Through a combination of data savvy, content experimentation, and an almost shameless desire to win, Jonah Peretti was proving that what Facebook users really wanted… was to read shit.


Nobody will give BuzzFeed credit for making us human beings feel better about our species. Even the executives in Palo Alto confess their frustration at how the typical user would prefer a funny cat listicle over a long-form Mother Jones investigation on lead poisoning… by a margin of about 100-to-1. But that isn’t relevant. What BuzzFeed proved was that all people — young, old, black, white, male, female, gay, straight — find great delight in a story that resonates with them. Enough to keep coming back to Facebook.


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New network coding technique could boost internet speeds tenfold | GizMag.com

New network coding technique could boost internet speeds tenfold | GizMag.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Researchers at Aalborg University, MIT and Caltech have developed a new mathematically-based technique that can boost internet data speeds by up to 10 times, by making the nodes of a network much smarter and more adaptable. The advance also vastly improves the security of data transmissions, and could find its way into 5G mobile networks, satellite communications and the Internet of Things.


Data is sent over the internet in "packets," or small chunks of digital information. The exact format of the packets and the procedure for delivering them to their destination is described by a suite of protocols known as TCP/IP, or the internet protocol suite, designed in the early 70s.


Back when it was conceived, the internet protocol suite was a tremendous leap forward that revolutionized our paradigm for transmitting digital information. Remarkably, 40 years on, it still forms the backbone of the internet. However, despite all its merits, few would say that it is particularly efficient, secure or flexible.


For instance, in order for a TCP data transmission to be successful, the recipient needs to collect the packets in the exact order in which they were sent over. If even a single packet is lost for any reason, the protocol interprets this as a sign that the network is congested – the transmission speed is immediately halved, and from there it attempts to rise again only very slowly. This is ideal in some situations and terribly inefficient in others. The issue is that the protocol doesn't have the intelligence to know what the right thing to do is.


Also, although the packets could take a theoretically infinite number of paths to travel between point A and point B in a network, it turns out that data in a TCP connection always travels along the same path – which makes it quite easy for an eavesdropper to spy on your communications.


An interesting proposal that might offer the solution to these problems is so-called network coding, which aims to make each node in the network much smarter that it currently is. In TCP/IP, the nodes of the network are just simple switches that can only store data packets and then forward them to the next node along their predetermined route; by contrast, in network coding each node can elaborate packets as needed, for instance by re-routing or re-encoding them.


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Proliferation of new online communications services poses hurdles for law enforcement | WashPost.com

Proliferation of new online communications services poses hurdles for law enforcement | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Federal law enforcement and intelligence authorities say they are increasingly struggling to conduct court-ordered wiretaps on suspects because of a surge in chat services, instant-messaging and other online communications that lack the technical means to be intercepted.


A “large percentage” of wiretap orders to pick up the communications of suspected spies and foreign agents are not being fulfilled, FBI officials said. Law enforcement agents are citing the same challenge in criminal cases; agents, they say, often decline to even seek orders when they know firms lack the means to tap into a suspect’s communications in real time.


“It’s a significant problem, and it’s continuing to get worse,” Amy S. Hess, executive assistant director of the FBI’s Science and Technology Branch, said in a recent interview.


One former U.S. official said that each year “hundreds” of individualized wiretap orders for foreign intelligence are not being fully executed because of a growing gap between the government’s legal authority and its practical ability to capture communications — or what bureau officials have called “going dark.”


Officials have expressed alarm for several years about the expansion of online communication services that — unlike traditional landlines and cellphone communications — lack intercept capabilities because they are not required by law to build them in.


But the proliferation of these services and a greater wariness — if not hostility — toward government agencies in the wake of revelations about broad National Security Agency surveillance have become a double-whammy for law enforcement and intelligence agencies, according to FBI officials and others.


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GAO: FCC Should Improve the Accountability and Transparency of High-Cost Program Funding | Benton Foundation

The Federal Communications Commission has implemented four industry- wide reforms and the initial phases of two carrier-specific reforms for the Universal Service Fund’s (USF) high-cost program.


However, the FCC has encountered delays implementing the subsequent phases and more complex carrier-specific funding reforms that require extensive cost modeling and stakeholder input.


This Government Accountability Office (GAO) report examines 1) the extent to which the FCC implemented funding reforms, 2) the extent to which the FCC is collecting data to determine the effectiveness of the reforms, and 3) what changes, if any, states have made in USF funding.


The GAO recommends that the FCC demonstrate how high-cost funds were used to improve broadband availability, service quality, and capacity.


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MA: MBTA to add new wireless service on all boats and trains | EnterpriseNews.com

MA: MBTA to add new wireless service on all boats and trains | EnterpriseNews.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Metropolitan Boston Transit Authority (MBTA) announced Thursday that a new WiFi system will be installed on all 14 commuter rail lines, commuter boats and South, North and Back Bay Stations.


At no cost to the MBTA or its customers, inMOTION Wireless will build a $5.6 million system that will expand and improve both the availability and quality of the existing WiFi service. 


Under a 22-year license agreement, inMOTION will install, operate, and maintain a neutral, private, and dedicated WiFi network on all MBTA passenger coaches and ferries. 


Riders will have free access to the internet, as well as a live television feed.  Premium WiFi service, which allows customers to stream data and video, will be available for $15 per month.  The MBTA will receive 7.5 percent of net revenue received from the WiFi program.


Installation will begin this fall, and the full system will be in place within 18 months.

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Kumo Is Raising $50 Million To Break The TV Bundle | TechCrunch.com

Kumo Is Raising $50 Million To Break The TV Bundle | TechCrunch.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Despite Aereo’s trouble in the Supreme Court, the hope of disrupting the TV industry is still alive in the tech world.


A new startup led by Aol and Dish veteran Neil Davis is in the process of raising $50 million to fill that void. The startup is called Kumo, and it’s still in stealth, so details are limited.


However, a source very close to the matter told TechCrunch that Kumo hopes to provide a la carte television content to users. That would give viewers the opportunity to purchase access to specific channels as opposed to buying them bundled from cable companies, or getting access to an incomplete library of content long after it’s released through Netflix or Hulu.


Of course, this is a notable task considering that the oligopoly of content creators and owners profit wildly from the bundling of their channels, as opposed to asking people to pay for just what they watch.


But founder Neil Davis has the experience to navigate these turbulent waters.


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Investment analyst: Murdoch would take HBO out of pay TV bundle, target Netflix | FierceCable.com

Investment analyst: Murdoch would take HBO out of pay TV bundle, target Netflix | FierceCable.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Rupert Murdoch and 21st Century Fox haven't even come back with a follow-up offer to their rejected $80 billion bid for Time Warner Inc. But there's plenty of speculation already as to what Murdoch will do if he acquires his prize.


According to Mediatech Capital Partners managing director Porter Bibb, among all of Time Warner's assets, HBO is the one Murdoch covets the most. And if he gets his hands on it, he'll take it out of the pay TV bundle and have it compete directly with Netflix 


"It's amazing to me why [Time Warner CEO] Jeff Bewkes is not using the tremendous archive of fantastic content that HBO has [to go] head-to-head against Netflix," Bibb told the Bloomberg Surveillance radio program, adding that he does not believe Murdoch would make that same mistake." (Hat tip to SNL Kagan's Sarah Barry James for the original pick-up.)


Other analysts have speculated that it's the Turner Networks sports rights--the NBA and NCAA March Madness, specifically--that Murdoch really covets. But Bibb called HBO "the Holy Grail that Rupert had his eye on," adding "it's the Netflix killer no one has come up with." Fox, which has had an output deal with HBO for decades, values the premium network at around $20 billion all on its own, Bloomberg notes.


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Rabbit TV willing to pay $5 per sub retrans to broadcasters for online feeds | RapidTVNews.com

Rabbit TV willing to pay $5 per sub retrans to broadcasters for online feeds | RapidTVNews.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

FreeCast Inc, Rabbit TV's operating company, has offered to pay $5 monthly per-subscriber retransmission fee paid by cable companies in the No 1 market, New York City, across all 210 DMA markets nationwide.


The company also said that it's prepared to provide an agnostic platform for the networks to distribute their content, which will also in theory bring more revenue to their existing ad-supported video-on-demand (VOD) libraries and pay per view selections.

The company's announcement comes after a recent Supreme Court ruling on Aereo's cloud-based television service, which inadvertently opened new doors for Web-based television services by comparing Aereo to a cable system.


This new interpretation led Aereo to seek compulsory licences to become a local cable provider, and despite their subscriber base of less than 100,000, CBS's president Les Moonves publicly expressed his willingness to enter talks.


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Microsoft wants you to forget Windows 8 | Gregg Keizer | NetworkWorld.com

Microsoft wants you to forget Windows 8 | Gregg Keizer | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As talk of the next Windows begins to build and some details of what most are calling for now either Windows 9 or Threshold come into focus, it's worthwhile to take a moment to remember Windows 8.


Because Microsoft will want everyone to forget it. And we will.


Unless the Redmond, Wash. technology company radically changes its habits, it will throw Windows 8 down a memory hole even before the successor ships. Just like it made Vista persona non grata in its official messaging in 2009, it will shove Windows 8 so far into the background that we'll need the Hubble telescope to find it.


Not that that's unusual. All companies fake amnesia to a stunning degree, even when what they want to forget -- more importantly, what they want customers to forget -- was once trumpeted with Joshua's band. Ford tossed the Edsel into the don't-mention file, Coca-Cola did the same with New Coke, Apple erased the Performa and Ping from its corporate memory, and IBM would be hard pressed to admit it ever knew the PCjr or OS/2.


It's always about next year's shiny object, not last year's.


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How to Decipher Your Cable Bill | Sam Gustin | Motherboard.vice.com

How to Decipher Your Cable Bill | Sam Gustin | Motherboard.vice.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Do you find your cable bill baffling? You're not alone. Every month, millions of people receive bills for cable and broadband service from the likes of Comcast, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable that are filled with opaque and vaguely worded charges, fees, and taxes. As a result, virtually everyone who has cable or broadband service ends up paying substantially more than the advertised "sticker price" for their service.


Ambiguous and confusing bill statements are one of the reasons that cable and broadband providers are held in such low esteem by the American public. Corporate giants like Comcast and Time Warner Cable—which are current seeking regulatory approval for their proposed $45 billion merger—routinely rank at the bottom of national customer service surveys.


The Federal Communications Commission, which regulates cable and telecom companies, has made increasing transparency for consumers a key priority. On Wednesday, the agency released a statement "reminding" broadband providers of their obligations under the Open Internet Transparency Rule, which, among other things, "applies to pricing, including monthly prices, usage-based fees, and any other additional fees that consumers may be charged."


But there are reasons to be skeptical about how effective the FCC will be in increasing cable and broadband service provider transparency, as veteran tech policy journalist Karl Bode points out.


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Revolving Door: Main Architect Of PIPA (Senate Version Of SOPA) Now... Lobbying For The MPAA | Techdirt.com

Revolving Door: Main Architect Of PIPA (Senate Version Of SOPA) Now... Lobbying For The MPAA | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A couple of years ago, we wrote about an interview with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, in which he explained one of his most effective strategies in getting legislation in his favor. The key trick: find key staffers working for elected officials and tell them they had a job waiting for them whenever they wanted it. Here was the key bit:


"And he would ask them: "When do you want to start?" If they said "two years," he knew that the guy was already working for him, but on the inside. As he says "I really hired him that day," even though he went on for two more years working as a chief-of-staff to someone in Congress."


Just yesterday, we wrote about Rep. Howard Berman -- famous for his support of ever expanding copyright law -- who has now been hired to lobby for the MPAA. Berman, the former Congressman, is obviously the headline piece. But, along with that news came some further news that didn't get as much attention -- which is that in hiring the firm that Berman works for, Covington & Burling, the MPAA didn't just hire Berman, but also Aaron Cooper, who was Senator Patrick Leahy's chief intellectual property staffer, and the main guy behind the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), the Senate's version of SOPA.


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Leading Civil Rights Group Just Sold Out on Net Neutrality | The Nation

Leading Civil Rights Group Just Sold Out on Net Neutrality | The Nation | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Last Friday, just before the Federal Communication Commission closed its comment period for its upcoming rule on “network neutrality,” a massive coalition of Asian, Latino and black civil rights groups filed letters arguing that regulators should lay off of Internet Service Providers regarding Title II reclassification and accept FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s original plan. In other words, something close to half of the entire civil rights establishment just sold out the Internet.


The civil rights groups letters argue that Title II reclassification of broadband services as a public utility—the only path forward for real net neutrality after a federal court ruling in January—would somehow “harm communities of color.” The groups wrote to the FCC to tell them that “we do not believe that the door to Title II should be opened.” Simply put, these groups, many of which claim to carry the mantle of Martin Luther King Jr., are saying that Comcast and Verizon should be able to create Internet slow lanes and fast lanes, and such a change would magically improve the lives of non-white Americans.


The filings reveal a who’s who of civil rights groups willing to shill on behalf of the telecom industry. One filing lists prominent civil rights groups NAACP, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Urban League, the National Council on Black Civil Participation and the National Action Network. The other features the Council of Korean Americans, the Japanese American Citizens League, the National Black Farmers Association, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, OCA, Asian Pacific American Advocates, the National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce, the Latino Coalition and many more.


Of course, the groups listed on these filings do not speak for all communities of color on telecom policy, and there are civil rights groups out there that actually support net neutrality, including Color of Change and Asian Americans Advancing Justice. Joseph Torres with Free Press told Vice that communities of color believe a free and open Internet is essential in the digital age, especially when most non-whites do not own radio stations, broadcast outlets or other forms of mass media. “Protecting real net neutrality is critical for people of color because an open Internet gives us the opportunity to speak for ourselves without having to ask corporate gatekeepers for permission,” Torres says.


A number of K Street consultants have helped make this epic sell-out possible.


The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) coordinated many of the participants in the anti–net neutrality filings sent to the FCC last week. Last year, the Center for Public Integrity published an investigation of MMTC, showing that the group has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from Verizon, Comcast, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and other telecom sources while reliably peddling the pro-telecom industry positions. For instance, the group attacked the Obama administration’s first attempt at net neutrality, while celebrating the proposed (and eventually successful) merger between Comcast and NBC.


Martin Chavez, the former mayor of Albuquerque, now works with a group called the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP) to corral Latino civil rights groups into opposing net neutrality. Last month, Chavez hosted a net neutrality event on Capitol Hill to call on legislators to oppose Title II reclassification. As Time recently reported, Chavez is on the staff of one of Verizon’s lobbying firms, the Ibarra Strategy Group.


“HTTP is nothing more than an industry front-group that is at best misinformed and at worst intentionally distorting facts as it actively opposes efforts to better serve the communications needs of Latinos,” says Alex Nogales of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, which strongly supports net neutrality. His group has filed its own letter to the FCC.


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A classic example of Big Telecom screwing over the Canadian public | OpenMedia.ca

A classic example of Big Telecom screwing over the Canadian public | OpenMedia.ca | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It appears as though Big Telecom is mismanaging funds collected explicitly to deliver Internet services to rural and remote communities across Canada. In a letter to telecom giants, the CRTC has expressed concern that the companies will be unable to meet their August 2014 deadline for building new access to nearly 272 rural towns and cities across the country.


At present, Big Telecom have failed to deliver high speed services to nearly 40% of the targeted communities, with little sign they’ll make up the remaining 104 communities in the next week and a half.


This is a big deal: the expansion of service is funded by money collected from everyday Canadians, and put into what the CRTC calls “deferral funds”. Basically, the money is collected from each Canadian telephone and Internet subscriber and put into funds that Big Telecom providers (and only incumbent Big Telecom providers) can use to expand networks to rural areas.


In addition to being a Big Telecom-exclusive pot of money (to the tune of nearly half a billion dollars), this fund carries another major perk: as the CRTC rightly points out, the communities were chosen and approved “...on the basis that they would not be served by a competitor in the near future, possibly causing some competitors to avoid these communities…”


In other words, Big Telecom got handed big money (your money) to serve these communities – but if they don’t follow through on their word, nobody will step in to deliver services. This would be a serious loss for small towns, villages, and rural areas across the country.


Now, when it comes to deploying high-speed networks in these communities, there are two major components: bring high-speed networks to the community, and then deploying them across the ‘last mile’. Basically, this is the difference between having the network up on nearby telephone poles, and having it actually connect to your house. Without this ‘last mile’ connection residents experience service that’s far slower and unreliable.


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goTenna lets you send text messages when there's no network available | GizMag.com

goTenna lets you send text messages when there's no network available | GizMag.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

When a mobile network is down, overloaded or simply out of range, it can be certainly be inconvenient or potentially much worse. goTenna aims to keep mobile devices connected regardless of network status by creating its own network over which users can send messages to each other.


goTenna is somewhat reminiscent of the Be-Bound mobile app, which uses SMS messaging to provide internet access when there is no 3G or Wi-Fi availability. Where Be-Bound allows users to use email, check the weather and read the news, amongst other functionality, goTenna was developed with more serious applications in mind.


The device was conceived in the US towards the end of 2012 in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. According to the Federal Communications Commission, the storm knocked out around a quarter of cell towers across a 10 state area, leaving people unable to communicate when it was most critical. Siblings and goTenna founders Daniela and Jorge Perdomo saw that there would be a benefit to people being able to communicate in such situations via their mobile phones regardless of mobile network service.


"Our mission is twofold: to let people communicate whenever and wherever they want, on their own terms, and also to make sure that in times of a true emergency, people are able to reach others around them," says Daniela Perdomo.


Prototype devices were created at Brooklyn hackspace NYC Resistor and continued development was followed by seed funding in late 2013. Investors include Bloomberg Beta, Collaborative Fund, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and MentorTech Ventures.


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Minnesota Broadband Task Force Budget Discussions: July 23 | Blandin on Broadband

Sadly I was not at the July Task Force meeting – but I have been able to learn the following:  


The Task Force met in the Cities and it sounds as if the main topic on the table was the opportunity to provide input to DEED’s budget planning for the next biennium relevant to state funding for broadband-related investments.


Danna MacKenzie from the Office of Broadband Development (OBD) updated the Task Force on the office’s activities since the Task Force last met.  Danna and her team have been focused on the design and launch of the Border to Border Infrastructure Fund created by the legislature during its most recent session. Danna shared details about the process in a recent Blandin Foundation-sponsored webinar. She is also touring Minnesota communities to talk more about the opportunity.


The Task Force agreed on two budget recommendations for Commissioner Sieben’s consideration:


  1. $200 million over two years for Broadband Deployment Fund
  2. $2.9 million over two years for the Office of Broadband Development; that includes $1.4 million for continued mapping (but with no reference to a specific vendor) and the remaining for operating funds (including staff) and program delivery.


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E-rate Reform: Making the Conversation (Wi-Fi) Accessible | Lindsey Tepe | EdCentral | NAF.org

E-rate Reform: Making the Conversation (Wi-Fi) Accessible | Lindsey Tepe | EdCentral | NAF.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Sitting in Atlanta International Airport, the terminal is brimming with travelers connecting to the airport’s free wireless Internet. Upon connecting, passengers are greeted with the message “Wi-Fi Before You Fly” across the homepage. This isn’t an anomaly. Free public Wi-Fi has rapidly expanded from coffee shops to an increasing share of businesses, parks, and dozens of other public spaces—so why shouldn’t public schools have Wi-Fi too?


The proposal from Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler—passed this past Friday on a 3-2 party-line vote—tries to move our schools one step closer to that ideal by prioritizing Wi-Fi investment for this modern update of the E-rate program.


The approved changes to the E-rate program will phase down support for telecommunications services like telephone service, while dialing up support over the next five years for wireless connectivity (Wheeler has reassured stakeholders that this will not crowd out funding for basic connections to schools). The first two years will be paid for through $2 billion in funding that the FCC has already identified—and those last three years will be filled in with savings from phasing out old telecommunications services and cost-savings from increased program efficiencies.


The two Republican members of the Commission seem skeptical of Wheeler’s funding plan and voted against the proposal (for the record, the two other Democrats seem a bit skeptical on parts of the plan as well). To his credit, Wheeler has indicated that later this fall (most likely after midterm elections) the Commission will revisit the issue of sustainable program funding through a new public notice. Funding aside though, the simpler message of “Wi-Fi to the Schools” may obscure larger structural challenges for schools and libraries of providing high-speed Internet service.


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Privacy Oversight Board Turns Its Sights On The Real Problem: Executive Order 12333 | Techdirt.com

Privacy Oversight Board Turns Its Sights On The Real Problem: Executive Order 12333 | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

We've written plenty of times about the dangers of Executive Order 12333, which is the Presidential order signed by Ronald Reagan that gives the NSA tremendously broad powers of surveillance, so long as the work is done overseas. And as long as information is collected overseas, it is used to spy on many Americans.


Senators Wyden and Udall have implied that Executive Order 12333 enables the CIA to get around prohibitions on spying on Americans, and just last week a (recent) former top State Department Official, John Napier Tye, revealed that the real surveillance powers happen under Executive Order 12333 -- and the other programs we've all been debating (Section 702 and Section 215) are merely used to "backfill" what can't be collected under EO12333.

The Washington Post has now revealed that the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is turning its attention to EO 12333 -- which is important. Unlike Sections 215 and 702, Congress doesn't (currently) have any oversight over activities done under EO 12333. Basically, there is no oversight at all.


The Congressional intelligence committees have flat out admitted that they receive no reports concerning the kind of surveillance done under that authority, as it's not under their mandate. The Washington Post has also published a graphic from the Snowden files, that highlights how EO 12333 is the main surveillance program, and everything else is just the exception.


It's a "decision tree" where the focus is on using EO 12333 for as much as possible and only resorting to other programs if absolutely forced to:


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Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB to Merge with German and Italian Sister Companies to Create Pay-TV Giant | Variety.com

Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB to Merge with German and Italian Sister Companies to Create Pay-TV Giant | Variety.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Rupert Murdoch-controlled U.K. pay-TV operator BSkyB announced deals Friday to take control of its German and Italian sister companies to create a pan-European pay-TV giant. The total value of the deals will be £5.35 billion ($9.09 billion).


Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox owns a 39% stake in BSkyB, 100% of Sky Italia and 57% of Sky Deutschland. The proposed deals will see BSkyB acquire Fox’s stakes in Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland. It also will bid for the remaining Sky Deutschland shares.


Fox said it will net after-tax cash proceeds of $7.2 billion on completion of the transactions, which are subject to regulatory approvals, the approval of BSkyB shareholders and usual closing conditions.


Industry analysts have speculated that 21st Century Fox would use the cash from the Sky deals to sweeten its bid for Time Warner above its initial $85 per share. But Fox says the proceeds will support its operating principles, including funding share buybacks. The conglom said it will continue its share repurchase program in 2015, with details to be announced Aug. 6 when it reports fiscal 2014 earnings. Fox has returned $12 billion to shareholders over the last three years.


“Our renewed authorization for our share buyback program will be executed regardless of any potential acquisition or investment activity by the company,” Rupert Murdoch said in a statement. “21st Century Fox’s number one priority is increasing shareholder value in a disciplined manner and, as a result, we will only consider transactions that fully support this objective.”


The acquisition of Sky Italia will cost £2.45 billion ($4.16 billion) with approximately £2.07 billion ($3.51 billion) to be paid in cash, and the balance to be secured through the transfer of BSkyB’s 21% stake in National Geographic Channel Intl. to Fox at a value of £382 million ($649 million).


The acquisition of Fox’s shareholding in Sky Deutschland will cost £2.9 billion ($4.92 billion) in cash, valuing Sky Deutschland at €6.75 ($9.09) a share. BSkyB will offer Sky Deutschland minority shareholders that price for the remaining shares.


The total worth of the deals to buy Sky Italia and 57% of Sky Deutschland would be £5.35 billion ($9.09 billion). Depending on how many Sky Deutschland minority shareholders accept the offer for their shares, the total cash consideration overall may be up to approximately £7 billion ($11.9 billion).


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Does Time Warner Need CBS To Thwart A Fox Takeover? | Deadline.com

Does Time Warner Need CBS To Thwart A Fox Takeover? | Deadline.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes has a problem. Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch is preparing to sweeten his offer for the owner of Warner Bros, CNN, and HBO after it rejected an $80B cash-and-stock proposal last month.


And Bewkes, who says he wants to keep Time Warner independent, has few takeover defenses. What can he do? Here are a few of the leading options that Time Warner execs and their advisors at Citigroup are weighing.


Combine with CBS: This would make Time Warner toxic for Fox: The FCC would not allow Murdoch to control two of the four biggest networks, and two of the largest TV station groups with overlaps in the nation’s largest markets.


And the business logic of a Time Warner-CBS combination is compelling. CBS chief Les Moonves would like to diversify his company to make it less dependent on domestic TV advertising. (He has already said that he’d like to buy CNN if Fox prevails with Time Warner and puts the news channel on the block.)


Moonves also has made it clear that he’d like to play a bigger role in movies — his CBS Films appears to be struggling to figure out its identity. CBS  could address these concerns by blending with Time Warner’s cable channels and movie studio.


The chief obstacle is that CBS is controlled by Sumner Redstone, who also owns Viacom. He hasn’t wanted to give up either property, and some bankers believe he’d prefer to recombine the companies he split in 2005 than do something with Time Warner.


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Cable companies: We’re afraid Netflix will demand payment from ISPs | Ars Technica

Cable companies: We’re afraid Netflix will demand payment from ISPs | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

While the network neutrality debate has focused primarily on whether ISPs should be able to charge companies like Netflix for faster access to consumers, cable companies are now arguing that it's really Netflix who holds the market power to charge them.


This argument popped up in comments submitted to the FCC by Time Warner Cable and industry groups that represent cable companies. (National Journal writer Brendan Sasso pointed this out.)


The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), which represents many companies including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Cox, and Charter wrote to the FCC:


"Even if broadband providers had an incentive to degrade their customers’ online experience in some circumstances, they have no practical ability to act on such an incentive. Today’s Internet ecosystem is dominated by a number of “hyper-giants” with growing power over key aspects of the Internet experience—including Google in search, Netflix and Google (YouTube) in online video, Amazon and eBay in e-commerce, and Facebook in social media.


"If a broadband provider were to approach one of these hyper-giants and threaten to block or degrade access to its site if it refused to pay a significant fee, such a strategy almost certainly would be self-defeating, in light of the immediately hostile reaction of consumers to such conduct. Indeed, it is more likely that these large edge providers would seek to extract payment from ISPs for delivery of video over last-mile networks."


ISPs making payments to online video companies would be similar to the payments cable TV providers make to programmers. But in practice it hasn't worked that way. Cable TV and Internet providers have less incentive to ensure that Netflix and YouTube work well on their networks because online video competes against their own video services and because the cable companies face little competition in each local market.


All talk of "fast lanes" has centered on ISPs potentially charging Web services for better access to consumers over the last mile of the network. The FCC's latest proposal would let ISPs charge for fast lanes as long as they provide a minimum level of service to all Internet users and Web services. Network neutrality proponents have urged the FCC to pass stronger rules that would ban such prioritization. Yet the issue is even more complicated than that because ISPs could still degrade bandwidth-heavy services like video by refusing to upgrade infrastructure that connects their networks to the rest of the Internet.


Nonetheless, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings noted in an earnings call this week that "the question comes up—should we over time be charging ISPs for the privilege of carrying our data to their customers, and charging for that?"


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Fox To Sell Satellite Interest To BSkyB | Multichannel.com

Fox To Sell Satellite Interest To BSkyB | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As expected, 21st Century Fox said Friday that it would sell its interests in European satellite companies Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland to British Sky Broadcasting Group, in a deal valued at $9.3 billion, including a hefty cash component that could help fuel another bid for Time Warner Inc.

 

Analysts have expected Fox to sell the European assets to BSkyB, of which it owns 39% -- for months. With the deal, Fox also receives $8.6 billion in cash ($7.2 billion after taxes), money that could be used to beef up another bid for Time Warner. Fox had made an $80 billion offer for Time Warner in June, which was rejected as too low.

 

That deal involved about $35 per share in cash and $50 per share in non-voting Fox stock.

 

With the additional funds, Fox could theoretically increase the cash component by as much as $8 per share without having to increase its leverage ratio.


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