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FCC Nominee to Divest AT&T, Verizon to Avoid Conflict | Bloomberg.com

 

Tom Wheeler, President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the FCC, agreed to sell holdings of $500,001 to $1 million in both AT&T Inc. (T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) to resolve possible conflicts of interest before taking office.

 

Wheeler, a former head of wireless and cable trade groups, disclosed his holdings and willingness to divest from 78 companies that also include Google Inc. (GOOG) and smartphone maker Apple Inc. (AAPL) in documents released yesterday by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics. He also reported stakes in top cable company Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) worth $2,002 to $30,000 that he would sell.

 

As head of the Federal Communications Commission, Wheeler would regulate broadcast and cable companies, review industry mergers and help set rules for auctioning airwaves coveted by leading U.S. telephone company AT&T and No. 2 Verizon for the wireless services powering their growth.

 

Wheeler, 67, reported income of at least $1,105,189 from sources including salary, advisory fees, and serving as a director of companies including Earthlink Inc. (ELNK) In a letter accompanying his disclosure form, Wheeler said he would resign from Atlanta-based Earthlink’s board and sell shares of the Internet-service provider if he wins Senate confirmation.

 

Wheeler also said he would sell his holdings in wireless provider Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) and its partner Clearwire Corp. (CLWR) which are seeking merger permission before the agency. Media companies he listed for divestiture include cable providers Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC) and Cablevision Systems Corp. (CVC), along with broadcasters CBS Corp. (CBS) and Walt Disney Co. (DIS), which owns the ABC television network.

 

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Canada: Why the Crull Controversy Is a Symptom of Bell's Bad Bundles Bet | Michael Geist Blog

Canada: Why the Crull Controversy Is a Symptom of Bell's Bad Bundles Bet | Michael Geist Blog | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The furor over Bell Media President Kevin Crull’s banning of CRTC Chair Jean Pierre Blais from CTV news coverage following the pick-and-pay decision made for a remarkable news day yesterday.


From the initial Globe report to the unprecedented response from Blais to the Crull apology, it was a head-spinning day. While Bell presumably hopes that the apology brings the matter to a close, that seems unlikely to be the case as there are bigger implications for Crull, CTV News, and Bell more broadly.

Crull’s future has been the subject of much talk, with some calling for his resignation, particularly since there is evidence that this is not the first instance of the editorial interference. Assuming it has occurred before (the reference to “re-learning” in the Crull apology is telling),


CEO George Cope was undoubtedly aware of the practice and must surely have condoned it, suggesting that Crull will survive. However, Crull’s bigger problem may be that his ability to represent Bell Media before the CRTC has been irreparably damaged.


Bell could have Cope represent the company rather than Crull (indicating the seriousness of the issues), but Crull will struggle as the public face of the company before the regulator for as long as Blais remains chair.

The CTV News problem is that the Crull apology does not address the broader systemic problems of editorial interference. Unless it plans to have Robert Fife cover all telecom and broadcast matters, its future coverage will be subject to intense scrutiny and skepticism over whether it is unbiased.


As Steve Faguy argues, an independent investigation and stronger walls between editorial and corporate executives is needed. Moreover, Peter Nowak calls for an independent ombudsman within the company to address editorial independence.


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How to end a fight over who should regulate Internet providers | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

How to end a fight over who should regulate Internet providers | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Federal officials are discussing an end to the Federal Trade Commission's legal prohibition on regulating Internet providers and telecom companies — a move that could give Washington wider authority to police perceived abuses and consumer harms in an increasingly important part of the economy.

If the idea moves forward, it could mean that both the FTC and the Federal Communications Commission would have the power to go after misbehaving carriers. It could also mean greater cooperation between the two agencies as the lines between telecommunications, business and entertainment continue to merge on broadband networks.

Here's why the issue is so important: When the FCC last month decided to start regulating Internet providers more closely under net neutrality, it turned them into what the agency calls "common carriers." But the FTC's congressional charter carries an exemption for common carriers — a provision that effectively prevents the FTC from taking enforcement actions against such firms and reserves that right for the FCC.

Senior FTC officials have complained that the FCC's new rules would put Internet providers out of their reach — and rob the FTC of the ability to protect consumers.

"If an entity is a common carrier providing common carrier services, we can't bring actions against them," said Republican FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen in September.

The common carrier exemption has become a source of friction between the two agencies. And whether consumers are better off when Internet providers are policed by clear rules laid out by the FCC, or overseen on a case-by-case basis by the FTC, has been a core part of the wider net neutrality debate.

Top officials from the FTC and FCC on Wednesday endorsed ending the "common carrier exemption" in the FTC's congressional charter. Asked by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) in a House Judiciary Committee hearing whether they would support congressional efforts to end the ban, FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler — both Democrats — said they would.


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AT&T hopes to squeeze more milk from the pay TV cow to boost earnings and pay dividends -- not to fund network CAPex | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom

AT&T hopes to squeeze more milk from the pay TV cow to boost earnings and pay dividends -- not to fund network CAPex | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

New Services Cloud AT&T’s Bet on Pay TV - WSJ: AT&T Inc. knew it was buying a melting ice cube when it agreed to acquire satellite-TV company DirecTV last year for $49 billion. But recent moves by HBO, Apple Inc. and the National Football League have turned the temperature up a few degrees.

A wave of new TV services delivered over the Internet allow Americans to get prime programming like the hit HBO series “Game of Thrones” and ESPN sports without paying a big cable or satellite bill. That, in theory, means fewer customers for bundles of TV channels like those sold by DirecTV. And unlike cable companies, DirecTV doesn’t have a significant broadband business to fall back on.

AT&T is aware of the risks. Chief Strategy Officer John Stankey says the telecom giant figured when it did the deal that demand for traditional bundles of TV channels probably had peaked. But AT&T is betting the decline will be slower than many people think—a gradual 34-degree melt, as opposed to a 75-degree one— and that it will be able to milk the cash produced by the declining satellite business in the meantime to fund upgrades in its networks. (Emphasis added)

It's an unlikely bet since given AT&T's business structure and strategy. Milking the pay TV cow boosts earnings and pays fat dividends, not CAPex.


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Congressional Net neutrality hearing examines a false choice on antitrust | Joshua Stager Opinion | The Hill

Opponents of net neutrality, still stinging from their recent defeat at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), have taken their fight to Congress in a two-week marathon of hearings that concluded today in the House Judiciary Committee. Today's hearing, provocatively titled "Wrecking the Internet to Save It?", examined whether antitrust law can address net neutrality better than the FCC's recently approved rules.


This argument, a favorite of House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), presents a false choice. In truth, Americans need both antitrust enforcement and the regulatory process to protect the Open Internet. Policymakers should reject this false choice and embrace the benefits of both approaches.

The benefits of dual oversight are evident in the FCC's synergistic relationship with the nation's chief antitrust enforcers, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Over the past century, these agencies developed complementary expertise that protects consumers in different ways.


The FCC's primary tool is the Communications Act, which includes a congressional mandate to promote broadband deployment and protect the public interest; the Department of Justice uses the Sherman Act and Clayton Act to protect consumers from anticompetitive harm in all industries; and the Federal Trade Commission Act empowers the FTC to investigate business practices that are unfairly anticompetitive or deceptive.


Collectively, these statutes give the government a robust toolkit for protecting consumers and the Internet. Eliminating the FCC's role in net neutrality would undermine this regulatory framework.

Net neutrality is a pro-competition ideal, but competition alone cannot fully protect the values of Internet openness and freedom. A net neutrality regime that relies solely on antitrust analysis would be narrowly focused on pricing harms, such as those found in cartels and monopolies. Such a legal theory may prevent some paid prioritization schemes, but it cannot address the non-economic goals of net neutrality such as free speech, political participation and viewpoint diversity.


The FCC is empowered to protect this broader array of social benefits. An antitrust-only approach would be piecemeal at best, as remedies are typically applied to a single actor rather than as industry-wide rules. This approach can be useful in some contexts, but it shouldn't be the only tool in the government's toolkit.


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Republican Net Neutrality budget amendment modified to win Dem support | Julian Hattem | The Hill

A bipartisan pair of senators is planning to introduce a nonbinding amendment on net neutrality during Thursday’s “vote-a-rama” on the budget.

The brief amendment, originally written by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), was modified on Thursday in order to attract the support of his committee’s ranking member, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).

The measure originally called for a deficit-neutral reserve fund “to preserve and protect the open Internet in a manner that provides the Federal Communications Commission with targeted and robust enforcement mechanisms... protects against regulatory overreach and does not rely on public utility regulations."

But the new version, obtained by The Hill on Thursday afternoon, abandons any mention of either the FCC or “public utility regulations.”


Instead, it would create the fund “to preserve and protect the open Internet in a manner that provides clear and certain rules...” The new version of the amendment also includes “consumer protection, competition, innovation” and “investment” as issues that the rules should not jeopardize.


Like all other amendments during Thursday’s marathon voting session, the measure is purely symbolic, nonbinding and will have no force of law. However, it offers a chance for lawmakers to register where they stand on the concept of net neutrality, which is the notion that federal rules should prevent Internet service providers such as Comcast or Verizon from interfering with people’s access to the Web.


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Verizon CEO McAdam tells Congress to step up to the plate | Julian Hattem | The Hill

Lawmakers in Congress have largely ceded their ground to regulatory bureaucrats, the head of Verizon told legislators on Friday.

In a letter to the bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate Commerce committees, CEO Lowell McAdam lent support to congressional efforts to update the 1996 Telecommunications Act, saying the existing telecommunications laws and regulatory processes are “outdated and broken.”

“It is time for Congress to re-take responsibility for policymaking in the Internet ecosystem,” he wrote.

“It is time for Congress to assert its longstanding role of setting, in a bipartisan fashion, public policies for the communications sector that both protect consumers and provide incentives for investment and innovation in new products and services.”


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Five things that could kill Internet rules | Julian Hattem | The Hill

Five things that could kill Internet rules | Julian Hattem | The Hill | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The tough net neutrality rules adopted by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are under attack on a variety of fronts.

While the FCC under chairman Tom Wheeler last month decided to treat Web providers such as Comcast and Verizon like public utilities, there’s no guarantee the rules will survive a series of challenges that could see them struck down, replaced or simply rendered toothless.

Just this week, major Internet service providers filed a first lawsuit aimed at killing the rules

Here are five threats facing the regulations, from the courts to Congress.


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NASA study looks to the ionosphere to improve GPS communications | Chris Wood | GizMag.com

NASA study looks to the ionosphere to improve GPS communications | Chris Wood | GizMag.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A new NASA study focusing on irregularities in Earth’s upper atmosphere may help scientists overcome disruptions in GPS communication. The findings provide an insight into the causes of the disruptive regions, and represent the first time that such observations have been made from space.

The ionosphere is a barrier of charged ions and electrons, collectively known as plasma, produced by a combination of impacting particles and solar radiation. When signals pass through the barrier, they sometimes come into contact with irregularities that distort the signal, leading to less accurate data.

The NASA observations, carried out by the Canadian Space Agency’s Cascade Smallsat and Ionospheric Polar Explorer (CASSIOPE) satellite, focused on the Northern Hemisphere. They compared turbulence in the auroral regions – narrow, oval-shaped areas outside the polar caps that are bombarded with particles from the magnetosphere – with that observed at higher latitudes, above the Arctic polar cap.

It was found that irregularities tend to be larger in the auroral region – where they were measured to be between 1 and 40 km (0.62 to 25 miles) – than at higher latitudes, where they measured between 1 and 8 km (0.62 to 5 miles).

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MO: Carl Junction official announces broadband deal | Wally Kennedy | Joplin Globe

MO: Carl Junction official announces broadband deal | Wally Kennedy | Joplin Globe | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Aire Fiber and Carl Junction have adopted a community broadband agreement that was unanimously approved by the Carl Junction City Council.

The new service will deliver high-speed Internet to the businesses and residents of Carl Junction for $49.99 per month.

"Aire is very excited to have this opportunity to build a network in a community where faster Internet service is in high demand,'' said Ben Koeneker, Aire Fiber's chief executive officer.

"This network, once built, will be the first of its kind in the state of Missouri,'' he said. "We are looking forward to providing free public Wi-Fi at various public locations around Carl Junction and being a good community partner.''

In announcing the new agreement on Monday, Carl Junction City Administrator Steve Lawver said: "We think this is a big step forward for the city — now high-speed broadband Internet connection will be available to all citizens of Carl Junction, no matter what their address is.''

Lawver said Media Com, the city's cable television company, does not offer Internet service in all areas of the town. AT&T only serves parts of the city, he said.


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UT: CenturyLink plans to equip 505 Salt Lake housing developments with FTTH | Sean Buckley | Fierce Telecom

UT: CenturyLink plans to equip 505 Salt Lake housing developments with FTTH | Sean Buckley | Fierce Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

CenturyLink may be facing new competition from Google Fiber in Salt Lake City, but the telco has some ambitious plans to expand its 1 Gbps fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) service by bringing it to 505 new multi-unit housing developments this year in Utah.

But even before Google Fiber lays one fiber on a pole this year, it's clear that the telco has a wide a lead over whatever the search engine giant's plans are for Salt Lake City.

"By end of year, we will build Gig into 505 developments across Utah," said Jeremy Ferkin, vice president of Utah operations for CenturyLink, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "If you think in terms of average size of development that's north of 100 homes, you're looking at a fairly sizeable deployment of 1 Gbps services in the residential market."

Ferkin added that in the Salt Lake City metro area, one of the initial markets where it began offering 1 Gbps fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) services to business customers, "we are looking at 300 developments that have Gig to the home all new over the last 18 months total."

The service provider is not going about it alone in expanding its FTTH service to more residential users. It is also working with master plan community developers like Daybreak.

In late February, CenturyLink announced that it made its 1 Gbps service available to 3,600 residents of Daybreak.


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Is U.S. Broadband Working? The Administration Is Working On It | Kevin Taglang | Benton Foundation

Is U.S. Broadband Working? The Administration Is Working On It | Kevin Taglang | Benton Foundation | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Back in January we reported on a series of speeches by President Barack Obama in the run up to the State of the Union address. In those speeches, the President indicated that the Internet would play a central role in his 2015 policies.


This week, the Administration offered an update on its progress since January and outlined the next steps in “promoting investment and rewarding competition.” Although the Federal Communications Commission’s network neutrality order is still the headliner-grabber, this week we review the Administration’s most recent announcements.

[One quick aside: we don’t mean to ignore the importance of the recent net neutrality activity. USTelecom -- a group that includes some of the nation's largest Internet providers -- and Alamo Broadband, a small, Texas-based Internet provider, launched the first legal challenges to the new rules. USTelecom’s suit was filed in Washington (DC), while Alamo Broadband sued the FCC in New Orleans.


In addition, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has faced a long gauntlet of Congressional oversight hearings that focused much of their attention on the FCC’s decision and the process it used to reach it.


All the news from those hearings can be found here, here, here, here, here, and (gasp, gasp) here.]


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California Delays Consideration of Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger, Charter Realignment Until May | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

California Delays Consideration of Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger, Charter Realignment Until May | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Californians get a reprieve from the menacing Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger with an announcement from the California Public Utilities Commission it is putting further consideration of the merger deal on hold until later this spring.

Consumer groups loudly protested the PUC for holding its single public hearing on the merger in San Francisco, which has been served almost exclusively by Comcast for years. Most of the impact of the merger will be felt in Los Angeles, where Time Warner Cable provides service to around 1.8 million customers. The deal also involves Charter Communications customers in the region, who will also end up as Comcast customers if the deal is approved.

The PUC eventually agreed to hold a meeting in Los Angeles, but then scheduled it for Good Friday. Now it has changed the date for the four-hour public input session to April 14, one day before tax returns are due. No specific information about the time of the meeting could be located on the CPUC website, but we do know it will be held in the auditorium of the Public Utilities Commission’s building at 320 West 4th St. in downtown Los Angeles.

That the CPUC seems to be heading towards approving the deal does not come as much of a surprise. The CPUC has been surprisingly friendly to the communications companies it regulates, in the past approving questionable statewide video franchise reforms on behalf of AT&T and generally permitting most of the merger and consolidation transactions that arrive at the commission for review.

An advising administrative law judge attached a long list of recommended temporary conditions that should be included in any approval, covering everything from lobbying about municipal broadband to discount Internet service for the poor.


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Time Warner Cable Restoring Service in Parts of SE Texas Nine Years After Hurricane Rita | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Time Warner Cable Restoring Service in Parts of SE Texas Nine Years After Hurricane Rita | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Nine years after Hurricane Rita swamped parts of the Golden Triangle region of southeastern Texas, Time Warner Cable is finally getting around to restoring service to parts of Orange County that haven’t had cable broadband since 2005.

A warm spring has allowed crews to start construction to parts of Orange County affected by the storm that wreaked havoc on the area nearly a month after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. Although some properties were severely damaged by the hurricane, other utilities restored service to the area years ago. Time Warner Cable is the last, and it cannot come soon enough for Chelsey Walters.

The Orange, Tex. resident is forced to get usage-capped DSL broadband from AT&T, and her last monthly bill reached over $750.

“Both of my car notes are less than that and even with our Internet you cannot do anything because it drops and there are times when it does not work,” Walters told KBMT-TV in Beaumont. “When we first moved out there, they (Time Warner) came out and ran all the cables in my house, then called us and said – oh we do not service that area.”

The construction schedule for Orange County, Tex.:


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A Growing Chorus Is Trying To Rewrite The History Of Net Neutrality -- And Blame Absolutely Everything On Netflix | Karl Bode | Techdirt

A Growing Chorus Is Trying To Rewrite The History Of Net Neutrality -- And Blame Absolutely Everything On Netflix | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

With either an ISP lawsuit or a 2016 party shift the only way to kill our new net neutrality rules, neutrality opponents have some time to kill. As such, they're in desperate need of somewhere to direct their impotent rage at the foul idea of a healthier Internet free from gatekeeper control.


Step one of this catharsis has been to publicly shame the FCC for daring to stand up to broadband ISPs in a series of increasingly absurd and often entirely nonsensical public "fact finding" hearings.


Step two is to push forth a series of editorials that tries to rewrite the history of the net neutrality debate -- with Netflix as the villainous, Machiavellian centerpiece.

A few weeks ago, Netflix CFO David Wells told attendees of an investor conference that Title II was "probably not" what the company wanted at the outset. This resulted in an endless stream of stories about how Netflix had "flip-flopped" on its net neutrality position and simply could not be trusted.


Except if you actually bothered to read the transcript of his comments, he goes on to note the company is very pleased where things have wound up, and happy to have a viable regulatory mechanism at the FCC to file complaints over things like interconnection:

"Were we pleased that it pushed to Title II, probably not, right? I mean, we were hoping that, there might be a non-regulated solution to it. But it seems like companies that are pursuing their commercial interests including us have to arrive at something like that. So we're super pleased that there is now a notion, at least a vehicle, for a complaint...So I would say we are very pleased with what's been accomplished."

Wells pretty clearly explains that while it would have been nice if we could have protected net neutrality without regulation, it became pretty clear that Title II was the only way regulators could adequately police anti-competitive behavior in the broadband sector.


That's what Title II supporters have been saying for months: while Title II isn't perfect, it's the best option we have given the lack of broadband competition in the sector (which despite a lot of rhetoric isn't improving anytime soon). There's nothing hypocritical -- or even shocking -- about what Wells said.


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Bankrupt RadioShack wants to sell off user data. But the bigger risk is if a Facebook or Google goes bust. | Andrea Peterson | WasPost.com

Bankrupt RadioShack wants to sell off user data. But the bigger risk is if a Facebook or Google goes bust. | Andrea Peterson | WasPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The demise of RadioShack left techies with one less place to congregate and buy obscure batteries and soldering equipment. And if that wasn't bad enough, now the bankrupt company is trying to sell off the devotees' data.

After filing for bankruptcy in early February, RadioShack is currently making its way through the painful process of figuring out how creditors will be paid back -- auctioning off real estate and trademarks. Also on the list is more than 13 million e-mail addresses and 65 million customer names and physical addresses -- as well as potential information about customers shopping habits.

How much that data could be worth to a buyer is still unclear, but the proposed sale is drawing protests from consumer advocates and raising potentially disturbing questions about how data about shoppers is handled.

In the Internet Age, people leave a near constant trail of digital bread crumbs about their lives. And it's clear that data has value: The entire online advertising industry is based on collecting it. But what happens if a company that has amassed a huge trove of data on nearly every aspect of a person's life gets sold off for parts?

Radio Shack declined to comment about its bankruptcy's process.

The company was a pioneer in collecting customer data, said Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "Radio Shack was the first company that routinely asked for phone numbers. The privacy policy was critical to maintain consumer confidence," he said.

And in its privacy policy, RadioShack told customers that it wouldn't sell or rent their personally identifiable information to third parties -- which should make this a pretty clear issue, Rotenberg said.

But as Bloomberg News noted, a Web site for Hilco Streambank, a company serving as an intermediary for RadioShack in the bankruptcy process, listed the retailer's "customer databases" as among the assets for sale. Hedge fund and RadioShack creditor Standard General won an auction for the company's assets, according to Bloomberg. But the deal must still be approved by a bankruptcy court in Delaware and is facing several challenges.


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New mobile-malware detection technique uses gestures | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com

New mobile-malware detection technique uses gestures | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Mobile malware is a growing problem, but researchers from University of Alabama at Birmingham have figured out a new way of detecting when shady mobile apps get up to no good, such as trying to call premium-rate numbers unbeknowst to a phone’s owner.

The technique relies on using the phone’s motion, position and ambient sensors to learn the gestures that users typically make when they initiate phone calls, take pictures or use the phone’s NFC reader to scan credit cards.

Some mobile malware programs already abuse these services and security researchers expect their number will only increase.

The technology developed by the UAB researchers can monitor those three services and can check whether attempts to access them are accompanied by the natural gestures users are expected to make. If they’re not, they were likely initiated by malware.


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FCC switches control of LNPA of the phone system numbers, despite opposition | Jullian Hattem | The Hill

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously voted to switch control of a key technical system for phone numbers, over the concerns of outside groups.

“There are significant savings in this for American consumers,” agency Chairman Tom Wheeler said during Thursday’s meeting.

The action will hand over control of the little-known system that allows people to keep hold of their phone number after they switch from one provider to another, such as from AT&T to Verizon.

The current operator of that system, known as the Local Number Portability Administrator (LNPA), is Neustar, but it is being replaced with Telcordia, a subsidiary of Ericsson, the massive Swedish consumer electronics company.

“When you compare the numbers, the answer is clear,” said Ajit Pai, a Republican commissioner on the five-member panel. While the Neustar contract cost about $460 million last year, he said, Telcordia would cost the government just about $143 million annually.


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FCC Chairman Wheeler predicts FCC 'will prevail' in court | Mario Trujillo | The Hill

FCC Chairman Wheeler predicts FCC 'will prevail' in court | Mario Trujillo | The Hill | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler maintained confidence Friday that the agency's new Internet rules "will be upheld by the courts."

Wheeler has been arguing for months that the commission's net neutrality rules were written with litigation in mind, but his comments Friday are the first on the subject since the U.S. Telecom Association filed the opening lawsuit against them.

The commission addressed the major hangup that led to an appeals court striking down previous rules, Wheeler said, by reclassifying broadband under authority governing traditional telephones.

"We have addressed that issue, which is the underlying issue in all of the debates we've had so far. That gives me great confidence going forward that we will prevail," he said in prepared remarks at Ohio State University.

Critics have asserted the new net neutrality regulations are ripe for a court challenge, pointing to the substance and process in which they were passed. The U.S. Telecom Association and a Texas-based provider both filed lawsuits this week.


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NY Senator Schumer’s rise could boost tech industry | Julian Hattem | The Hill

NY Senator Schumer’s rise could boost tech industry | Julian Hattem | The Hill | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

New York Sen. Charles Schumer’s apparent crowning as the next Senate Democratic leader could be a boon to the tech industry.

The wily New Yorker, whom Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) endorsed to succeed him on Friday, hours after announcing he will retire at the end of his term, has come to the industry’s aid on major issues in recent years.

“He’s just really just been a champion, and technology is at the forefront of his thinking as he legislates,” said Vince Jesaitis, the head of government affairs for the Information Technology Industry Council. The trade group represents scores of tech industry giants including Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo.

“He’s shown, on many occasions, a willingness to engage on the issues and be thoughtful,” echoed Josh Ackil, an industry lobbyist who co-founded the Franklin Square Group. “Issues like patent reform, immigration, net neutrality — he tends to kind of get the importance of innovation and tech.”

In particular, Schumer has been one of the Senate’s biggest supporters of broad reforms to the nation’s patent laws.


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25 Cloud Experts' Thoughts On Cloud Infrastructure Mistakes | Willian Toll | ProfitBricks Blog

25 Cloud Experts' Thoughts On Cloud Infrastructure Mistakes | Willian Toll | ProfitBricks Blog | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Given that there are so many proven benefits of having a cloud infrastructure for your business, including but not limited to collaboration, better access to analytics, increasing productivity, reducing costs, and speeding up development cycles, it’s hard to think of reasons why a company wouldn’t want to invest in a cloud infrastructure. And due to huge advances in our familiarity with the cloud, the security capabilities available in cloud and the emergence of new cloud infrastructure providers, doing business in the cloud today is no longer as risky an endeavor as it might have been just a few years ago.


But that doesn’t mean that creating and maintaining a safe and efficient cloud infrastructure is always easy or that it is without risk when doing business with various providers of infrastructure. There are many factors to consider and when looking at cloud computing infrastructure options, many companies are increasingly looking for cloud providers that offer painless cloud infrastructure.


Since ProfitBricks provides comprehensive cloud services to support all kinds of businesses with a very varied set of applications and workloads, we wanted to share some top cloud infrastructure tips. More specifically, we wanted to get advice from cloud infrastructure professionals on some of the most common (and avoidable) mistakes businesses and individuals make when it comes to either building, managing, or maintaining their cloud infrastructure. To do this, we asked 25 cloud experts to answer this question:


“What is the biggest mistake people make with cloud infrastructure?”


Most of these experts are not ProfitBricks customers, but they responded to a request we published to provide some expert advice. We’ve collected and compiled their advice into this comprehensive guide on how to avoid cloud infrastructure mistakes. See what our experts said below:


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CTIA Asks FCC to Give Broadcasters More Auction Flexibility | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

CTIA Asks FCC to Give Broadcasters More Auction Flexibility | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Wireless companies have historically been big supporters of the FCC's incentive auction, but they have a number of bones to pick with the way the FCC's has teed up the upcoming incentive auction framework and says FCC it should make it easier for broadcasters to participate.

"The Commission can and should do more to provide broadcasters with the incentive and ability to participate, including by providing broadcasters with greater flexibility to adjust their bids during the auction," CTIA said.

And while it was the National Association of Broadcasters that used to advise the FCC not to rush the auction, wireless carriers are now cautioning the FCC about getting it done right rather than done fast.

CTIA: The Wireless Associations, in reply comments to the FCC, says the FCC should make broadcasters' election of auction options more of a two-way street.

Currently, there are several ways to be compensated, including by giving up spectrum and getting out of the business, sharing a channel, moving from a UHF to a VHF channel, or moving from a high VHF assignment to a low assignment.


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The president wants to 'fast track' two massive trade deals. Congress should slow him down. | David Grewal OpEd | LATimes

The president wants to 'fast track' two massive trade deals. Congress should slow him down. | David Grewal OpEd | LATimes | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

President Obama is asking Congress to grant him trade promotion authority, the ability to "fast track" two massive trade deals with Europe and Asia: the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. This would allow him to pass those deals just as his negotiators will soon deliver them.


Fast track commits Congress to an up-or-down vote on whatever the administration negotiates, without the possibility of filibuster or amendments. It essentially excludes Congress from oversight and enables an efficient, executive-driven approach to international commerce. The purpose of this special treatment is to keep the House and Senate from inflicting death by a thousand cuts on delicate negotiating positions and specific concessions. Fast-track authority also bolsters the U.S. negotiating position with its foreign partners.

Most U.S. trade deals have been passed using fast-track authority, but the Asian and European partnerships under consideration now aren't like the fast-tracked deals of the past. In significant respects, they're not really trade agreements at all. Their new target is not trade tariffs but "behind-the-border" domestic regulations. Fast-tracking that kind of agreement would be a mistake.

Fast track was invented by President Franklin Roosevelt, and it became central to Depression-era trade policies and the liberalized post-World War II economic order. The original version of fast track allowed the president to enter into reciprocal deals that reduced tariffs within congressionally set limits. Congress pre-approved the broad terms of any agreement and otherwise delegated negotiating authority to the executive branch.

These trade policies — buoyed by fast track — were successful. Tariffs and export subsidies have mostly disappeared, except in the difficult and contentious case of agriculture. But instead of declaring victory, the trade agenda has become far more amorphous and consequential. What trade agreements now seek is to harmonize regulatory standards across countries. Fast track now serves a new purpose: not governance of trade but governance through trade.


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Cable Companies Won't Let Cord Cutters Go Without A Fight | Timothy Stenovec | HuffPost

Cable Companies Won't Let Cord Cutters Go Without A Fight | Timothy Stenovec | HuffPost | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Your options for how to watch TV continue to grow, but cable companies could make you pay dearly if you want to “cut the cord.”

Sony and Dish have recently launched services that allow you to watch live TV streamed over the Internet without subscribing to a cable or satellite package, and Apple is rumored to be working on its own live TV product that will be available this fall. HBO and Showtime will offer standalone streaming services later this year that will allow people to subscribe to the premium networks without paying for TV packages.

The slew of new offerings could prompt some of the millions of households that don’t pay for traditional TV to start buying subscriptions to new services. The new options could also spur others to cut the cord -- that is, to ditch their expensive set top boxes in favor of paying Sony, Dish or even Apple, instead of their cable provider, to watch TV.

But try as they might, most people will still be tethered to their cable company.

The majority of Americans who have a wired high-speed Internet connection get it through cable, meaning they pay a cable company each month for their Internet connection.

And because there’s even less competition for broadband than there is for TV -- according to the Federal Communications Commission, 74.7 percent of American homes have one or fewer options for broadband -- cable companies could simply raise the prices of their standalone Internet packages as an increasing number of people choose to cut the cord.

"I expect that as the market continues to shift towards the faster broadband speeds that only cable companies can offer, these providers will continue to raise broadband prices in order to offset their declining pay TV revenues," Derek Turner, research director at the advocacy group Free Press, told The Huffington Post.


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U.S. Sees 10Mbps Jump in Average Broadband Speed | Paul Lilly | MaximumPC

U.S. Sees 10Mbps Jump in Average Broadband Speed | Paul Lilly | MaximumPC | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Cover your eyes if you live way out in the boondocks or anywhere else where broadband Internet access is about as mythical as a unicorn, this might sting a little. It turns out the U.S. is seeing faster download speeds. According to data pulled from Ookla's Speedtest, the average download speed for broadband (not including mobile) in the U.S. is 33.9Mbps. That's up a full 10Mbps from April of 2014.

As Cord Cutters News points out, the recent surge in broadband is doing wonders for where the U.S. ranks in the world. It's no secret the U.S. trails several other territories, but the 10Mbps boost in the past year pushed the U.S. ahead of several others, including the U.K. (30.18Mbps), Germany (29.95Mbps), Spain (28.28Mbps), Russia (27.7Mbps), and Ireland (27.29Mbps).

That said, the U.S. ranks 27 out of 199 countries and still trails some others by a wide margin, particularly Japan at 60.49Mbps and South Korea at 84.31Mbps. And that's after factoring in Google's Fiber rollout to several different locations.

As for speeds stateside, Washington leads the way with an average broadband connection of 45.6Mbps, followed by Missouri (41.21Mbps), New York (40.86Mbps, California (40.8Mbps), and Utah (40.47Mbps.)

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Muni broadband fight isn't over yet | Esme Vos | MuniWireless

More than 10 years ago, I started MuniWireless. I thought I would be writing strictly about large-scale municipal Wi-Fi projects, but soon after I launched the site, I became drawn into battles in the United States between the cable-telco duopoly and everyone else (business owners, residents, tech companies, and certain officials in states, counties and cities) who wanted more competition in the market for broadband services.

A number of US states have laws that restrict communities from building their own broadband networks — wired and wireless. These laws have been written by lobbyists for cable and telecom companies and passed by legislators who think this is the best way to ensure that their constituents have the best broadband available for the best price.


Everyone (except the legislators who pass these laws and their incumbent friends) knows this is ludicrous, but somehow these battles continue and the incumbents, helped by their legislator friends, continue to block true competition.


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