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Why ESPN's Offer To Pay To Have Its Content Bypass Data Cap Meters Plays Right Into The Hands Of Wireless Providers | Techdirt

Why ESPN's Offer To Pay To Have Its Content Bypass Data Cap Meters Plays Right Into The Hands Of Wireless Providers | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

 

ESPN has been making a little bit of noise recently about being willing to throw a few bucks towards wireless providers in exchange for letting its content roll through to users without affecting their data caps. While this may sound like a good deal for sports fans stuck with low data caps, there's a whole lot wrong with this "offer," above and beyond the obvious "pay-to-skirt-net-neutrality" issue. Chris Morran has a good rundown of the negative side effects ESPN's data subsidy would unleash. First and foremost, ESPN offering to help out users with data caps plays right into the industry's talking points.

 

Subsidizing wireless usage in this way would only give rise to this myth that smartphone data plans are capped because of congestion and a supposed high cost of moving data. However, studies show that the cost of delivering content to wireless customers has dropped while the user base has increased.


Morran's right. The last thing the wireless providers need is someone granting credence (albeit in a very roundabout way) to their ongoing myth of congestion and costs. This allows these providers to continue dining out on this story while simultaneously casting themselves as "good guys" in the new narrative. "See, we're allowing you to access popular content without using up a chunk of your data plan!" ESPN gets preferential treatment, the providers make more money and everyone wins. Well, almost.

 

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Former GOP Rep. to lead tech company push against ‘fast lanes’ | Julian Hattem | The Hill

A former Republican member of Congress has signed on to lead a number of tech companies, realtors and start-ups pushing for strong rules for the Internet.


Former Rep. Chip Pickering (R-Miss.), who currently leads the Comptel communications trade group, is leading the new Internet Freedom Business Alliance, the group announced on Thursday.


Companies including Tumblr, Reddit and Etsy have signed on as founding members of the alliance, which is singularly focused on net neutrality, the concept that Internet service providers should be prohibited from giving people different service depending on which websites they visit.


The group seems to be targeting conservatives by pushing a “free market” agenda.


Many of the companies, however, have urged the FCC to enact tough regulations on the Internet by turning to the section of the law that it uses to police traditional wired phone lines, which many Republicans and other critics have warned would amount to government stifling of innovation on the Web.


“As the leading association of competitive communications service providers, we know firsthand that solid open Internet protections will promote, not hinder, broadband investment and innovation,” Pickering argued in a statement. “Internet openness enables a self-reinforcing cycle of investment and innovation — and we’re ready to take this message to bipartisan policymakers with our new alliance of conservatives, Main Street, small businesses and technology companies.”

The steering committee will include Comptel as well as the National Association of Realtors, the Computer and Communications Industry Association and startup advocacy group Engine.


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Obama’s Presidential Moment | Susan Crawford | Backchannel @ Medium.com

Obama’s Presidential Moment | Susan Crawford | Backchannel @ Medium.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

I keep saying that telecom policy is blood and guts stuff — giant principles of equity, speech, and the importance of free markets run headlong into the extraordinary political powers wielded by Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner Cable, and AT&T. All too often the drama is buried in an avalanche of acronyms and incremental influence.


Then came yesterday’s message from President Obama. Here was our best Obama, telling the FCC in plain language that it should consider acting like a regulator. The message actually brought a tear to my eye. It’s the equivalent of the moving part of the war movie when the gruff but effective leader calls his troops to their better selves, reminding them why they’re there in the first place.

So although the president sounded like the law-professor-in-chief yesterday (“I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act”), to me it was a General Patton moment. This is a battle cry designed to give heart to his administration — and particularly the corner of the executive branch crouching in terror behind the walls of the FCC.

It’s a big deal; it’s like the leadership that FDR wielded when he took on the giant private electrical companies that were controlling electrification — perfectly legally, at the time, but with terrible consequences for the nation — in the 1930s. The fight over whether high speed Internet access should have a cop on the beat is our version of the battle over electricity that dominated presidential politics nearly a century ago. Left to their own devices, the electrical trusts were systematically gouging richer Americans, leaving out poor and rural markets, and extracting profits wherever possible.


There is nothing malign about this behavior — it is the natural tendency of profit-seeking companies to act this way when it comes to high-fixed cost physical infrastructure — but the incentives of the companies involved are not necessarily aligned with the country’s interest in competing and flourishing on the world stage. We are recapitulating the early story of electrification when it comes to high-speed Internet access. It has to stop.

And finally our president is saying: stop it. His message goes beyond the narrow context of net neutrality, although it comes out of that Twister-like legal story.


What he’s saying is that the FCC should use the perfectly good statute Congress passed in 1996 when it is adopting rules about high speed Internet access, rather than trying to build a house of cards based on a patchwork of authority.


A risk-averse FCC has tried this — twice — and both times the DC Circuit told the agency that it can’t deregulate with one hand (by removing the “Title II” label from high-speed Internet access) while regulating with the other (by adopting “Open Internet” rules).


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Cox Communications Whips Up Western WiFi | Alan Breznick | Light Reading

Cox Communications Whips Up Western WiFi | Alan Breznick | Light Reading | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Fresh off its launch of 1-Gig broadband service in Phoenix last month, Cox Communications is now deploying several thousand WiFi hotspots to complement its wireline offering in the large Arizona market.

Cox Communications Inc. , the third-biggest cable operator in the US with about 4 million broadband customers, announced that it has deployed 500 hotspots in the Phoenix area. Plans call for deploying another 1,200 access points in the market by the close of the year and 2,500 more in metro Phoenix by the end of 2015.

The Phoenix access point deployment comes as Cox seeks to ramp up the number of public hotspots installed across the US. The MSO, which earlier this year announced the installation of 2,500 hotspots in Omaha, Neb. and sections of Connecticut and Virginia, has now deployed about 25,000 hotspots throughout the nation.

That number pales in comparison to some of its fellow large US MSOs. For instance, Comcast Corp. has deployed more than 5 million hotspots throughout the US and Cablevision Systems Corp., which is a bit smaller than Cox, has deployed more than 1 million in the New York metro area alone. Even Bright House Networks , which is much smaller than Cox, has deployed more hotspots so far.

But Cox, which got off to a later start in WiFi than most of its cable counterparts, seems determined to start catching up now, especially with the introduction of its new GigaBlast 1-Gig service. The MSO intends to follow up its rollout of GigaBlast in each new market with substantial deployments of WiFi, starting with Las Vegas later this year.


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Why carrier Wi-Fi will make the mobile market more competitive | Colin Gibbs | | GigaOM Tech News

Why carrier Wi-Fi will make the mobile market more competitive | Colin Gibbs | | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Progress in the creation of standards is laying the foundation for a carrier Wi-Fi market that will be worth nearly $8 billion by 2019, ABI Research predicted this week.


Cisco and Ruckus Wireless are the leading equipment vendors in these early days, and Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson and Nokia are also vying for a piece of the pie. “More than 12” Next Generation Hotspot (NGH) networks are active worldwide, according to ABI, and Asia-Pacific has more installed hotspots than any other geographic market.

Wi-Fi’s worldwide footprint is massive, but the technology still isn’t carrier-grade. Several industry consortia are making in progress toward changing that, however, and creating a Wi-Fi user experience that mirrors cellular.


Last month the Wi-Fi Alliance – which includes dozens of major players in tech, media and telecom – introduced features for its Passpoint standard aimed at making Wi-Fi easier and more effective for both users and service providers.


The association streamlined the sign-up process for new users at the point of access; it introduced secure registration and provisioning to ensure users connect to the right network; and it rolled out support for operator policies such as which network users should join and in which priority.


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WA: Small ISP Expands Seattle Gigabit Network | Jason Meyers | Light Reading

WA: Small ISP Expands Seattle Gigabit Network | Jason Meyers | Light Reading | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

While the City of Seattle struggles to find the right business model to get ultra-high-speed broadband for its residents, a small ISP has broadened its own efforts to supply gigabit-level services.

CondoInternet , a subsidiary of Wave Broadband , passes 20,000 condos and apartments in Seattle with its fiber network and has been providing gigabit capabilities to those residents since 2008. The entity, which also provides high-speed connectivity to businesses and data centers, will now expand its fiber-to-the-home network to offer symmetrical gigabit pipes to all residents of Seattle's Eastlake neighborhood, starting in December. According to Amy Thompson, CondoInternet's director of marketing, the 2013 acquisition by Wave helped fuel the expansion.

Seattle as a whole can use the gigabit boost. The city partnered last year with the now-defunct Gigabit Squared -- which also bailed on a project in Chicago -- to pursue buildout of a municipal network. CenturyLink Inc. began implementing 1Gbit/s service in the market last August, and according to a spokesperson it is available in some areas now and will be accessible to tens of thousands of customers in 2015.


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Local Action, State Support Needed for Muni Broadband Expansion | Angela Siefer Blog | CitiesSpeak.org

Local Action, State Support Needed for Muni Broadband Expansion | Angela Siefer Blog | CitiesSpeak.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

According to the Institute for Local Self Reliance, over 400 communities in the United States have a publicly owned broadband network. But how did they get there? How did they access the poles? Where did they find existing assets? Are those assets available for anyone to use? How was the network paid for? In some cases, these projects were made possible with support from state partners. Since our past blog posts in this series provided a basic overview of municipal networks, this post will focus on how local officials can work with state policymakers. As you may have guessed, it can get complicated.

Projects that increase broadband availability, affordability and adoption tend to occur at the local level but they need state level support. That support can come in the form of access to open networks, state rights of way, dig once policies and facilitating coordination. To date, 19 states have legislated barriers that discourage community broadband projects. Since broadband deployment tends to occur at the local level, states that avoid placing restrictions on who can own and operate a broadband network leave more options open for local entities to implement innovative solutions.

If you think of the Internet as a highway system, the middle mile is the highway and the on/exit ramps and the streets are the last mile. Government funded broadband build-out (by the National Telecommunications Information Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture) tends to focus on middle mile construction. Owners of middle mile networks choose whether or not to make their fiber open to use by competitors. State governments that mandate their fiber be open to use by anyone (at reasonable cost based rates) can help decrease the cost of build-out, whether by for-profit companies, non-profits or governmental entities.

Here are several examples of state level policies supporting local work to build out community broadband networks:


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FCC to prevent phone companies from screwing over copper customers | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica

FCC to prevent phone companies from screwing over copper customers | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Amid complaints that phone companies such as AT&T and Verizon are letting copper networks deteriorate, the Federal Communications Commission today said it will examine the allegations and develop rules that maintain customers' access to emergency services even after old copper networks are discontinued.


Today’s vote is one of the first steps in planning for the discontinuation of the primarily copper-based Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). The PSTN is being replaced by Internet Protocol (IP)-based voice services that rely on network technologies such as fiber, cable, and wireless. AT&T and Verizon are anxious to make the transition because they want to shed costly infrastructure and century-old utility rules that likely won’t apply to Voice over IP (VoIP) services. Customers from around the country have complained that the companies are letting the copper networks rot in order to push them onto largely unregulated services.


Keeping VoIP phones running during power outages is perhaps the biggest concern. Copper lines conduct electricity and supply power to phones from central offices, potentially keeping phones running for weeks on end during outages. This system isn’t foolproof because damage to lines or the central office could result in loss of power, but backup options for VoIP phones are more limited, consisting of batteries in customers’ homes. When the power is out and the batteries for landline phones and cell phones have run out, customers won’t be able to call 911.

Carriers must seek permission before discontinuing services, the FCC said. A declaratory ruling approved today “clarif[ies] that the circumstances in which carriers must seek approval to discontinue a service depend upon the practical impact of its actions, not the fine print of an aging tariff filing,” the FCC said. “This ensures that there will be a public process to evaluate a proposed discontinuance before a choice is removed from the market, regardless of how the carrier has written its tariff.”

Secondly, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) lays out some general goals for next-generation networks and asks the public for information on numerous topics. On the question of whether consumers are being harmed today, it “asks for facts and data about whether carriers are, in effect, retiring copper networks without giving notice simply by failing to maintain them [and] asks about allegations that carriers are not being clear with consumers about the options available when the copper network is shut down,” the FCC announcement said.


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California Emerging Technology Fund Helps Bridge the State’s Digital Divide | Austin Allen | BroadbandBreakfast.com

Although some believe that the digital divide is not a problem, there are Americans who have not adopted broadband due to the cost or lack of access. Some states have played an active role in getting their citizens online, and one such organization is the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), which has been working since 2008 to help increase broadband adoption among Californians.

CETF currently has more than 15 active projects, mostly in rural and low income communities. The foundation’s latest campaign, Internet for All Now, reminds people that the digital divide is still real and that affordable Internet access for rural and low income individuals is essential for participating in our society and the modern economy.

The campaign urges Americans to tell the FCC to include social benefit clauses in the conditions of its approval of the proposed Comcast-Time Warner merger, which would hold “Comcast accountable for improving and expanding its existing affordable Internet offer, Internet Essentials.” Comcast is actively opposing it, CETF Senior VP Susan Walters told Broadband Breakfast, and is sending representatives out to school district board meetings to urge members to not sign on to CETF’s initiative.

CEFT was created in 2006 by the California Public Utilities Commission as a condition to their approval of the telecom mergers of SBC with AT&T and Verizon Communications with MCI. The parties and channeled $60 million — $45 million from SBC and $15 million from Verizon – into the new foundation.

Although CEFT was created by the state PUC, the entity operates as a separate, non-profit foundation with the goal of closing the digital divide in a sustainable way to keep the state competitive.

“You can take all of the terrain where people live and didn’t have broadband, it would be the size of Kentucky,” said Susan Walters, senior vice present of CETF, on California’s broadband adoption rate in 2008

CETF’s work started in 2008 with its first annual survey that measured the digital divide across the state by measuring adoption rates of home broadband. It found that the state adoption’s rate was 55 percent. Los Angeles had one of the lowest rates at 48 percent. In order to find out where the gaps were located, CETF started to look at the state’s demographics. They worked to find ways to make it cost effective for companies to build out infrastructure in the different areas of the state. Over the past six years, CETF has helped to increase the adoption rate to 75 percent.


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Americans believe they live in a privacy dystopia, report finds | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com

Americans believe they live in a privacy dystopia, report finds | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Americans are very worried about governments and private businesses tracking their online behavior in the post-Snowden era, a new report from the Pew Research Center found, and most want to do more to protect their privacy online.

Eight in 10 Americans believe the public should be concerned about the government's monitoring of phone calls and Internet communications according to a survey conducted by the organization in January. Some 61 percent said they "would like to do more" to protect the privacy of their personal information online.

And it's not just the government consumers worry about: Americans increasingly feel they aren't in control over how private companies collect and use information about them. Over 90 percent of those surveyed by Pew agreed or "strongly" agreed that they have lost control over how their personal data is collected and used by companies. Nearly two-thirds believe the government should do more to regulate advertisers while over 60 percent were skeptical that providing personal information to companies made their online experiences better in a meaningful way, disagreeing with the statement: “I appreciate that online services are more efficient because of the increased access they have to my personal data.”

But 55 percent agreed they were willing to share some information in exchange for free online services. This type of cognitive dissonance explains how even as consumers become more and more wary of the ways data about them is being hoarded, the underlying economic model of most online services continues to rely on turning user data into a commodity that can be sold to advertisers.

Distrust of advertisers is widespread according to Pew. Only 1 percent of respondents to the survey said they trusted advertisers to do what's right "just about all of the time," with an additional 11 percent trusting advertisers "most of the time." The government fares only slightly better in terms of public perception, with 2 percent trusting them almost all the time and 16 percent most of the time.


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An FCC Commissioner's Reddit AMA Went About as Terribly as You'd Expect | David Griner | AdWeek.com

An FCC Commissioner's Reddit AMA Went About as Terribly as You'd Expect | David Griner | AdWeek.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Passionate support of net neutrality and vocal skepticism of government regulators are two of the few opinions shared by a majority of Redditors, as an FCC commissioner learned first-hand in a Friday AMA.

Reddit's AMA ("Ask Me Anything") sessions have become frequent stops on the PR train for everything from new movies and music to startups and sports. Most of the public figures subjecting themselves to the questioning get responses ranging from fawning worship to fuming hatred.

The reaction FCC commissioner Mignong Clyburn received, however, was all fuming and no fawning.

"This AMA looks to me like a political stunt to say something along the lines of, 'Yeah, I went on that interweb thing and talked to the American people! We had discussions about everything from Net Neutrality to Eminem!'," Noted the top-voted comment. "However, I haven't seen one solid, thought out answer to any of the big questions here. The majority of your replies, Ms. Clyburn, seem to me to be rushed, half-assed, and quite vague."


Clyburn answered 29 questions over two hours, though she took no polarizing or strongly phrased stances on the issues of net neutrality or corporate influence on the regulation process. Most questioners and observers felt her answers fell far short of insightful.


Take, for example, this direct question from one participant: "Why do I only have one option for high speed internet and television at my house?"


Clyburn's unsatisfying answer, which was downvoted deep into the negative, was: "Our goal is to create incentives for more competitive options, particularly as technologies transition. For example, some electric utilities have started to offer broadband service. Wireless and satellite companies are offering alternatives, and their services continue to improve. We hope that over time, sound policies will lead to more choices."


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Meet the Fortune 500 companies funding the political resegregation of America | Andy Kroll | Mother Jones

Meet the Fortune 500 companies funding the political resegregation of America | Andy Kroll | Mother Jones | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Over the past four to five years, the United States has been resegregated—politically. In states where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans and presidential races can be nail-biters, skillful Republican operatives have mounted racially-minded gerrymandering efforts—the redrawing of congressional and state legislative districts—that have led to congressional delegations stacked with GOP members and yielded Republican majorities in the state legislatures.

In North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, to name just three, GOPers have recast state and congressional districts to consolidate black voters into what the political pros call "majority-minority districts" to diminish the influence of these voters. North Carolina is an especially glaring example: GOP-redistricting after the 2010 elections led to half the state's black population—1.1 million people—being corralled into one-fifth of the state legislative and congressional districts. "The districts here take us back to a day of segregation that most of us thought we'd moved away from," State Sen. Dan Blue Jr., who was previously North Carolina's first black House speaker, told the Nation in 2012.

A major driving force behind this political resegregation is the Republican State Leadership Committee, a deep-pocketed yet under-the-radar group that calls itself the "lead Republican redistricting organization." The RSLC is funded largely by Fortune 500 corporations, including Reynolds American, Las Vegas Sands, Walmart, Devon Energy, Citigroup, AT&T, Pfizer, Altria Group, Honeywell International, Hewlett-Packard. Other heavyweight donors not on the Fortune 500 list include Koch Industries, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and the US Chamber of Commerce. At the same time these big-name firms underwrite the RSLC's efforts to dilute the power of black voters, many of them preach the values of diversity and inclusion on their websites and in corporate reports.

As part of its Redistricting Majority Project—which, tellingly, is nicknamed REDMAP—the RSLC, starting in 2010, poured tens of millions of dollars into legislative races around the country to elect new GOP majorities. Next it provided money and expertise to state officials redrawing political boundary lines to favor the Republican Party—and to shrink the clout of blacks, Hispanics, and other traditionally Democratic voters. Unlike its Democratic equivalent, the RSLC has vast sums at its disposal, spending $30 million during the 2010 elections, $40 million in 2012, and $22 million in 2014.

Here is a partial list of RSLC donors—how much they donated to the group in the past four years and what they each have had to say about their own efforts to foster diversity.


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FCC Proposes Some Consumer Protections As They Inch Closer To Killing Off Copper Landlines | Kate Cox | Consumerist

FCC Proposes Some Consumer Protections As They Inch Closer To Killing Off Copper Landlines | Kate Cox | Consumerist | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Phones are wireless, consumers are cutting back, and copper is expensive: all are reasons why the big phone companies want permission from the FCC to walk away from old-fashioned landline networks and to keep moving toward an internet-based future. The FCC tentatively agrees, and voted 3-2 today to take another baby step in the process that will end up making the nation’s century-old copper landline network obsolete.

Formally, the FCC adopted a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that sets down the broad strokes of the commission’s requirements for the next steps in what’s known as the IP transition (where voice service moves from copper wires to internet protocol). The key areas the FCC’s proposal addresses are:

  • Protecting consumers’ ability to call 911 from their home phones in a power outage
  • Requiring transparency to consumers about the transition to new tech
  • Making sure new tech actually works before old tech is allowed to be discontinued
  • Preserving competition among services that use and rely on copper networks when those networks are shut down


The commission also clarified that carriers will need to seek approval to discontinue “legacy” service based on “the practical impact of its actions,” rather than based on existing regulatory fine print. The declaratory ruling “ensures that there will be a public process to evaluate a proposed discontinuance,” or, in English, guarantees that companies like Verizon and AT&T can’t just disappear landline phone service overnight all at once because they said so.

The specifics of the proposed rule put forward today address several areas of consumer concern. Verizon in particular has been accused in the past of permitting their copper-wire networks to degrade in order to push consumers into adopting VoIP services whether they want to or not.

The FCC and consumer advocates have also voiced concern about the ability to contact emergency services in a power outage. Copper-wire landline phones still work in most outages, but internet-based phones need to rely on a backup battery with a much shorter lifespan.

Today’s vote was the latest step in a long process that the FCC has been moving through for some time. In January of this year, the commission approve limited regional tests replacing old-fashioned landlines with new tech to see how they went. That process is still underway.

The NPRM adopted today doesn’t change anything yet. First, like every FCC rulemaking, it has a pleading and public comment period to go through. Then the commission gets to work crafting and voting on a final version of the rule.


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Net neutrality looks doomed in Europe before it even gets started | David Meyer | GigaOM Tech News

Net neutrality looks doomed in Europe before it even gets started | David Meyer | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Here come more leaks, and more reasons to suspect that the European Union is not going to get the hard-won net neutrality law it seemed likely to get just months ago.

After last week’s letter from new European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker to his commissioners, suggesting that former digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes’s “Telecom Package” will be pulled and started again as a “Digital Single Market Package”, digital rights group EDRi has published documents that appear to show the neutering of that legislative package’s net neutrality provisions.

A quick recap on how this all works: Commissioner Kroes came up with the Telecom Package, which also proposed the abolition of intra-EU roaming fees and the harmonization of radio spectrum across the union. The package then went to the European Parliament, which strengthened the net neutrality provisions by giving strong definitions to both the term “net neutrality” and the kinds of “specialized services” that carriers would be able to treat differently from normal internet services – the point being that a carrier couldn’t just decide that Netflix, for example, is a “specialized service” and treat it differently from other video-streaming services.

The final stage of the legislative process involves negotiations between the Commission and the Council of the European Union, which includes representatives of all the member states. The Council has a rotating presidency, and at the moment Italy has it. The leaked documents EDRi published on Thursday — and EDRi has been reliable on this stuff in the past — come from the Italian presidency, which sent them to delegations from the member states for comment.

Gone: The definition of “net neutrality”. Gone: The definition of “specialized services”. Instead, the documents say that discussions are “converging” around a “principles-based approach, in order not to inhibit innovation and to avoid technological developments making the regulation obsolete.”


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Republican lawmakers tell FCC it can’t treat broadband as a utility | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica

Republican lawmakers tell FCC it can’t treat broadband as a utility | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Republican members of the US Senate and House of Representatives are trying to convince the Federal Communications Commission that it lacks the authority to reclassify broadband as a utility.

In a letter yesterday to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, the lawmakers claimed that classifying broadband as a utility "under Title II of the Communications Act to create legally enforceable rules to regulate Internet access... is beyond the scope of the FCC's authority and would defy the plain reading of the statute... Put simply, reclassification would require the Commission to find that Internet access is a telecommunications service, not an information service. These are not matters of opinion but distinctions made in the text of the Communications Act, the plain language of which precludes regulation of the Internet under Title II."

The "plain language" Republicans pointed to "makes it US policy to 'preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet... unfettered by Federal or State regulation.'"


The Republicans pointed out that the commission's previous attempt to issue network neutrality rules was thrown out in court. But in fact, the federal appeals court that invalidated the previous rules said the FCC erred by trying to impose such rules without first reclassifying broadband as a utility or "common carrier" service.


The GOP lawmakers correctly noted that reclassifying broadband would likely be followed by a lawsuit. AT&T and Verizon have already threatened to sue over the use of Title II, just as Verizon sued in 2011 when the FCC used the less restrictive Section 706 to issue net neutrality rules.


While ISPs such as Comcast claim that Section 706 gives the FCC all the authority it needs to ban discrimination against Internet traffic, the congressional Republicans say the opposite, writing that using Section 706 "to impose a bright-line non-discrimination rule" would be "unsupported in law." That, at least, agrees with the federal appeals court ruling.


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AT&T vs. Verizon Video Strategy: How Important is Linear Video? | Joan Engebretson | Telecompetitor

AT&T vs. Verizon Video Strategy: How Important is Linear Video? | Joan Engebretson | Telecompetitor | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The nation’s two largest telecom service providers AT&T and Verizon have considerably different views on consumer video opportunities, as illustrated today by comments made by AT&T Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson and Verizon Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo at the Wells Fargo Tech, Media & Telecom Conference in New York today (also webcast).

AT&T is hoping its impending acquisition of DirecTV will give it the scale to make its U-verse video offerings profitable–which, according to Stephenson, is not currently the case. A linear video offering is essential to gaining broadband subscribers but “when you’re sub-scale, content costs eat up all the margins,” said Stephenson.

DirecTV’s national footprint, in combination with AT&T’s national wireless footprint, also should help the combined company gain mobile video rights from content providers, Stephenson argued.

Shammo disagreed. Noting that there is a “perception that if you have a great relationship in linear, you will have a better [relationship] in wireless,” he said, “we view it as two different opportunities.”

Verizon is the only company to have wireless rights to video that aren’t pinned to a linear video subscription, Shammo said. He also noted that the company sees an opportunity to use multicast technology to deliver live events such as concerts “extremely efficiently.”


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NJ: Bringing Local Businesses, Community, Anchor Institutions and Key Stakeholders Together in Jersey City | Aleksandra Lacka & Amanda Charleson | SaintPeters.edu

NJ: Bringing Local Businesses, Community, Anchor Institutions and Key Stakeholders Together in Jersey City | Aleksandra Lacka & Amanda Charleson | SaintPeters.edu | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Local Economy Working Group with the support of Ignite Institute at Saint Peter’s University and Rising Tide Capital, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses, strives to gain a deeper understanding of entrepreneurs and small business owners in Jersey City.


The ultimate goal is to help design programs and initiatives that will effectively reshape the local economy and revive Jersey City’s business environment. Aleksandra Lacka, with assistance of Amanda Charleson, designed and conducted a multi-phase primary research study that is uncovering key insights around challenges Jersey City entrepreneurs are facing.

This research study has consisted of: 1). An ongoing Facebook Community of Jersey City entrepreneurs; 2). Series of in-depth individual interviews with twenty entrepreneurs in their homes or work environments; 3). A group ideation workshop hosted by Ignite Institute at Saint Peter’s University, in which entrepreneurs took part in structured brainstorming exercises to identify key challenges and come up with creative solutions to address them.

During this workshop, entrepreneurs identified the following as the key challenges they currently face: the lack of vision for development in some Jersey City neighborhoods; the lack of common working spaces, such as kitchens, office space, and artist studios; the lack of local funders and investors; and the lack of a centralized database that lists all local funders, investors, and business grant programs. The entrepreneurs brainstormed a range of innovative and creative solutions to address their challenges.

Many of the entrepreneurs are offering unique products and services in the local marketplace and looking for opportunities to build local partnerships and access capital and expertise. Some of the local entrepreneurs in attendance who are working to build a more vibrant entrepreneurial community include Lenore Holtz, owner of Brownstone Concierge; Angela McKnight, owner of Angela Cares, Inc.; Niambi Cacchioli, owner of Bloombsbury Sq. and co-proprietor of 942 Summit; Tim Keating, owner of Earthbilt, LLC; and Stephanie Kumar, owner of Yoga in the Heights; Daniel Grunes, owner of Taproot Organics; Beatrice Johnston, owner of Brand Excitement; Kate Howe, 6th Borough Market.

In order to create a vision for development, the entrepreneurs believe that the community members and city officials must come together to research the different neighborhoods, understand the history of these neighborhoods, and develop a common vision for future development. The new vision should first be executed in the most challenging neighborhood, and then be continued in other neighborhoods. A significant contribution would be the collective buy-in of key stakeholders. Also, institutions such as Saint Peter’s University have great potential to serve as incubators to help implement the new vision.


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Verizon's Shammo: We could do 1 Gig today, but the demand isn't there | Sean Buckley | Fierce Telecom

Verizon's Shammo: We could do 1 Gig today, but the demand isn't there | Sean Buckley | Fierce Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Verizon has yet to jump on the 1 Gbps fiber-to-the premises (FTTP) bandwagon by adding it as a speed option in its FiOS Internet service suite, but it can get there if it sees a demand for that speed.

Speaking at the Wells Fargo 2014 Tech, Media & Telecom Conference, Fran Shammo, EVP and CFO of Verizon, said that the company has put in the network infrastructure to support 1 Gbps, but he does not see a market for it today.

"We're now offering 500 Mbps in the home and you could take it to a Gig even though there's no application today that would ever need a Gig in the home," Shammo said.

But even with speeds that range from 15 Mbps to 500 Mbps, the service provider is seeing more of its younger generation customers, otherwise known as "millennials," purchase broadband as a standalone service.

In the New York City market, Verizon conducted a program where it allowed potential users to pick more TV stations or higher speeds, and the study found that they wanted the higher speeds to view video and connect to social media sites like Facebook.

"If you look at millennials in New York City, we did this trial where they could pick whether they wanted more TV stations and obviously they chose speed because they want the highest speed that they can get," Shammo said. "They are viewing their content through the broadband connection and don't have linear TV connections."


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MS: C Spire Celebrates First Commercial 1 Gbps Fiber to the Home Customer Launch in Ridgeland | MarketWatch.com

MS: C Spire Celebrates First Commercial 1 Gbps Fiber to the Home Customer        Launch in Ridgeland | MarketWatch.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Ridgeland, Mississippi is poised to become home to the world’s fastest Internet as C Spire activates the town’s first customers today on its ultra-high speed 1 Gbps (Gigabit per second) consumer broadband Internet network.

C Spire, a Ridgeland-based diversified telecommunications and technology services company, turned up service for its first commercial Fiber to the Home customers in Ridgeland, making the metropolitan suburb one of the first in Mississippi and one of only a handful nationwide with access to fiber-based broadband Internet that is 100 times faster than the national average along with super HD TV and related home phone services.

Local government, business and community leaders joined C Spire executives to celebrate the historic technology milestone at a news conference Wednesday outside the home of Ridgeland resident Gerald McKinney, who is among the first Gigabit Internet customers in the town.

Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee, whose city already has a reputation as Mississippi’s most tech-friendly town, said the technology infrastructure will help attract business investment and new residents looking for next-generation Internet and related services.

“It’s exciting to know that Gigabit Internet is now a reality in our city,” McGee said. “I really believe this is going to help us qualify other areas in the city more quickly now that people know it is available.”

McKinney said residents are pleased about getting improved services and for the prospect of helping the city become a hub for technology investment, economic expansion and a better quality of life. “I’m excited about this technology and I know my friends and neighbors are, too,” he said.

The city was one of the first to qualify for the next-generation services earlier this year along with areas in the cities of Quitman and Starkville. C Spire already has turned up service for its first commercial customers in Quitman and activated service today in Starkville and Ridgeland.


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Iowa: Uber discusses plans for Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Corridor | B. A. Morelli | KCRG.com

Iowa: Uber discusses plans for Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Corridor | B. A. Morelli | KCRG.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Uber — the fast-growing ride-sharing service that has faced a string of criticisms this week — was nonetheless met with enthusiasm Thursday, when the company discussed plans to launch in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City in the coming months.

Representatives of Uber, a company that connects ride seekers with drivers through a smartphone app, met with economic leaders in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City on Thursday to answer questions and discuss logistics.

“We are still working through things on the regulatory side. We’ve been working with Iowa City,” Jasmine Almoayed, an economic development liaison for Cedar Rapids, told the representatives during a meeting at the Economic Alliance office on Thursday.

She said she sees Uber as a regional transportation service for the Corridor.

Pooneet Kant, a general manager for Uber in the Midwest, said during the meeting the company is actively accepting driver applications in the area. KCRG-TV9 reported some advertisements promised up to $18 per hour for drivers.

He described the launch process unfolding in the coming weeks or months. Local officials declined to predict how soon Uber will be available, noting it will take time to draft sound regulation that will set a precedent if other companies in the Uber model come to the area.

Kant said he doesn’t see Uber competing with existing transportation options. Instead, it would play a role as people look to leave behind their personal vehicle.

“When you start contemplating the idea of not driving a personal vehicle, you start using all of the other options more,” he said.

Kant said the company is also looking at offering service in the Quad Cities.


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Worcester, MA to Providence, RI 'The JetBlue of commuter rail commuting' is envisioned | George Barnes | Worcester Telegram

Worcester, MA to Providence, RI 'The JetBlue of commuter rail commuting' is envisioned | George Barnes | Worcester Telegram | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Already practically sister cities, Worcester, MA and Providence, RI may soon have a new connection — this time over the rails.

Boston Surface Railroad Co. has been formed for the specific purpose of creating a commuter rail service between the two New England cities. Vincent Bono, the largest stockholder and general manager of the new company, said plans are in the first stages of developing what he hopes will eventually be three trains per day traveling between the two cities.

"We are here today to celebrate getting funded for an engineering study to see what improvements are needed on the line for a 70-minute trip time," Mr. Bono said, as he waited at Union Station with friends and business associates to take a symbolic trip to Providence on a Providence and Worcester Railroad train.

"Our goal is to be the JetBlue of (rail) commuting," he added.

Mr. Bono, who comes to the railroad business from the technology industry, said studies show the need for the commuter service and he wants his Arlington company to provide a comfortable trip between the two cities. The first step is to conduct a study, which is expected to take six months. If the project proves feasible, an agreement would have to be forged with Providence and Worcester Railroad Co. to use its tracks, and possibly to operate the trains. If all goes well, the service could begin within 18 months.

The trains would be owned by Boston Surface Railroad Co., which would offer commuter service between the two cities. It projects only one other stop, in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, 15 miles outside Providence.

The service, which would be on a level with Amtrak's regular business class, would address what is already a significant flow of commuters now using roadways to get between the cities on the route. There are an estimated 32,800 daily commuters between Worcester and Providence and 10,000 between Woonsocket and Providence.

Mr. Bono said the line would be a good match with Worcester's population, the second largest in the state, and the fast-growing business community in Providence.


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Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker voices support for net neutrality principles | Nancy Scola | WashPost.com

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker voices support for net neutrality principles | Nancy Scola | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Before a room full of start-up entrepreneurs in Washington, D.C., on Monday morning, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker was asked about her department's role in the ongoing debate over net neutrality, or the idea that all online content should be treated the same by Internet service providers.

The question matters because some of the 111-year-old Commerce Department's natural constituents -- big, entrenched telecommunications companies like AT&T and Comcast — have had a strong negative reaction to President Obama's call, issued a week ago, for the Federal Communications Commission to adopt the "strongest possible rules" to prevent Internet service providers from accepting money to make some Web sites and online services, like Netflix, run faster.

In response, Secretary Pritzker focused on her support for the ambitions of that proposal rather than on the controversial mechanics of Obama's approach.

"I think that what was really important were the principles that the president put out," said the secretary. "As you know, the president has supported net neutrality since he was a candidate in 2008. And really what we're focused on, and what has been our role, we have had a seat at the table in terms of making sure that these principles were well-articulated, which is really no blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization, and increased transparency throughout the connectivity that goes into the effectiveness of the Internet."

Questions were submitted on index cards by both the media and the general audience; Pritzker took three, but wasn't presented by the event's moderator with one (from this reporter) about Obama's call for the FCC to apply the far-reaching authority included in Title II of the Communications Act to ensure net neutrality and its impact on the innovation economy.


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NH: Faster Internet is here; or is it? | Editorial | Keene Sentinel Source

NH: Faster Internet is here; or is it? | Editorial | Keene Sentinel Source | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For years, The Sentinel has been advocating for expanded access to broadband Internet service in this region. In February 2013 we noted the importance of such access to local students and teachers. We’ve also mentioned, quite often, how important businesspeople consider bandwidth in deciding where to locate and whether they can expand.

Being a somewhat rural part of a generally rural state means not being at the top of the list when telecommunications firms decide to throw money into infrastructure.

So we were understandably surprised to find the U.S. Census Bureau considers New Hampshire to rank No. 1 among states in high-speed Internet access.

That’s right. According to the bureau’s “Computer and Internet Use in the United States: 2013” report, issued last week, 85.7 percent of Granite Staters live in a household that has high-speed Internet available.

But wait, you say. Wasn’t it just weeks ago that The Sentinel was citing the state’s low ranking in terms of attracting and keeping young adults, based on a study that used, in part, the criterion of broadband access? Well played, careful reader!

But here’s the rub, at least potentially. The Census study defines high-speed Internet as “an Internet service other than dial-up alone.” That’s a pretty broad band, indeed. In fact, it includes digital subscriber lines, or DSL, which can run at speeds as low as 256 kilobits/second.


Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission pegs 4 megabits/second as the threshold for “adequate” Internet service, and for many young adults — much less business needs — that’s still tortoise-slow.

Whatever the speed, it’s still a surprise to find New Hampshire at the head of the class in high-speed access. At least until you think about how Census statistics work — they’re based on population.


Two things to remember: The state ranks first in the percentage of residents who have access to high-speed Internet at home; also, of the state’s 1.3 million or so residents, more than 1 million live in Grafton, Hillsborough, Merrimack, Rockingham and Stafford counties — the most urban parts of the state and in some cases essentially suburbs of Boston, one of the most Internet-accessible metropolitan areas in the country.

Now the study makes sense.

But it poses a potential problem. Sometimes federal grants, or even legislation, are based on such findings. In the case of this ranking, the access question ought not to be parsed by state, but by population density.


Cable companies, cell-tower builders and other firms investing in the necessary infrastructure for better broadband access base their decisions largely on the return on their investment.


Fewer people means less chance of recouping the major outlay to run fiber-optic or other expensive lines through a region. So they focus on the most-populous regions, at the expense of rural areas.


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Fixing The Broadband Market And Protecting Net Neutrality By Prying Open Incumbent Networks To Meaningful Competition | Karl Bode | Techdirt

Fixing The Broadband Market And Protecting Net Neutrality By Prying Open Incumbent Networks To Meaningful Competition | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

While Title II is the best net neutrality option available in the face of a lumbering broadband duopoly, it still doesn't fix the fact that the vast majority of customers only have the choice of one or two broadband options.


It's this lack of competition that not only results in net neutrality violations (as customers can't vote down stupid ISP behavior with their wallet), but the higher prices and abysmal customer service so many of us have come to know and love.


Stripping away protectionist state laws can help a little, as can the slow rise of services like Google Fiber. But even these efforts can only go so far in blowing up a broadband duopoly, pampered through regulatory capture and built up over a generation of campaign contributions.

One solution is the return to the country's barely-tried implementation of unbundling and network open access, or requiring that the nation's subsidy-slathered monopolists open their networks to allow other competitors to come in and compete. There are many variations of this concept, and it's something Google Fiber promised in its markets before backing away from it (much like their vocal support of net neutrality).


Obviously being forced to compete is an immensely unpopular concept for the nation's incumbent ISPs. Given that those companies dictate and often literally write the nation's telecom laws, these requirements were eliminated in a number of policies moves starting in 2001 and culminating in the FCC's Triennial Review Remand Order of 2004 (pdf).

This was amazingly presented at the time as a way to improve competition and spur investment, but primarily resulted in a bloodbath as dozens of consumer-friendly, smaller independent ISPs and CLECs were killed off, perpetuating and further cementing the noncompetitive duopoly we have today.

One of the few small ISPs to manage to run that gauntlet and survive it was California's Sonic.Net, which has since proceeded to not only build a sizable regional network of its own in California, but to manage to treat consumers well while doing it (Sonic has been praised by the EFF repeatedly for consumer-friendly data disclosure policies). In a blog post last week, Sonic.net CEO Dane Jasper notes that neutrality issues are just a symptom of the lack of competition, and to fix these we're going to need to start thinking differently:


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Aterlo Networks wants to put a Netflix cache in your router | Janko Roettgers | GigaOM Tech News

Aterlo Networks wants to put a Netflix cache in your router | Janko Roettgers | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Netflix has more than 37 million subscribers in the U.S., but for millions more, the service is still out of reach because of data caps. A small Canadian startup called Aterlo Networks wants to change that by tricking out off-the-shelf Wi-Fi routers to turn them into Netflix caching appliances.

Aterlo Networks specifically targets uses of satellite broadband services. Those customers sometimes have data plans of as little as 10GB per month. “They really can’t use Netflix at all,” said Aterlo CTO Scot Loach during a recent interview.


However, there is a loophole: Some satellite broadband providers offer unlimited data consumption between midnight and 5 a.m. That’s why Aterlo is now testing a product dubbed Nightshift that caches your Netflix movies and TV shows in the middle of the night, and has them ready for you to view the next day.

Consumers use Nightshift by simply plugging a USB flash drive into a compatible router. The company is initially targeting Asus routers, but plans to expand to other routers capable of running the open source DD-WRT router firmware in the future.

Nightshift then keeps tab of a consumer’s Netflix viewing, and automatically starts to cache content he is interested in during free, off-peak hours. For example, if a Nightshift user watches the first episode of House of Cards on their iPad, smart TV or other device of their choice, Nightshift is automatically going to cache the next three episodes up during the following night.


And if a user starts to watch a few seconds of a movie, then he will be able to watch the rest the coming day in full HD, without the need to fear costly overage fees. “If you know how to use Netflix, you can use Nightshift,” said Aterlo Networks CEO Gerrit Nagelhout.


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I’m Terrified of My New TV: Why I’m Scared to Turn This Thing On — And You’d Be, Too | Michael Price | Brennan Center for Justice

I’m Terrified of My New TV: Why I’m Scared to Turn This Thing On — And You’d Be, Too | Michael Price | Brennan Center for Justice | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

I just bought a new TV. The old one had a good run, but after the volume got stuck on 63, I decided it was time to replace it. I am now the owner of a new “smart” TV, which promises to deliver streaming multimedia content, games, apps, social media, and Internet browsing. Oh, and TV too.

The only problem is that I’m now afraid to use it. You would be too — if you read through the 46-page privacy policy.

The amount of data this thing collects is staggering. It logs where, when, how, and for how long you use the TV. It sets tracking cookies and beacons designed to detect “when you have viewed particular content or a particular email message.” It records “the apps you use, the websites you visit, and how you interact with content.” It ignores “do-not-track” requests as a considered matter of policy.

It also has a built-in camera — with facial recognition. The purpose is to provide “gesture control” for the TV and enable you to log in to a personalized account using your face. On the upside, the images are saved on the TV instead of uploaded to a corporate server. On the downside, the Internet connection makes the whole TV vulnerable to hackers who have demonstrated the ability to take complete control of the machine.

More troubling is the microphone. The TV boasts a “voice recognition” feature that allows viewers to control the screen with voice commands. But the service comes with a rather ominous warning: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.” Got that? Don’t say personal or sensitive stuff in front of the TV.

You may not be watching, but the telescreen is listening.

I do not doubt that this data is important to providing customized content and convenience, but it is also incredibly personal, constitutionally protected information that should not be for sale to advertisers and should require a warrant for law enforcement to access.

Unfortunately, current law affords little privacy protection to so-called “third party records,” including email, telephone records, and data stored in “the cloud.” Much of the data captured and transmitted by my new TV would likely fall into this category. Although one federal court of appeals has found this rule unconstitutional with respect to email, the principle remains a bedrock of modern electronic surveillance.


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