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Hurricanes, Tornadoes & Doppler Radars? Old news. | US-Ignite.org

Hurricanes, Tornadoes & Doppler Radars? Old news. | US-Ignite.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

 

Doppler radars are effective, but they’re outdated.

 

While we can detect storms with Doppler, storms are moving faster than those systems can help prepare citizens for. We need more detail on the storms and where they are moving — and we need that data quicker.  With storms as large as Hurricane Sandy, or with tornadoes that have hit downtown areas like Dallas in recent years and suburban Oklahoma City yesterday, we need real-time systems for detecting storms and figuring out exactly what areas they will impact.

 

Enter CASA: the Collaborative Sensing of the Atomosphere (CASA) program. It’s a long name, but it essentially means: predictive storm tracking that gives people in a city much more time to prepare by processing a lot more data more quickly.

 

As UMass Amherst explains, “Having detected a storm, they conduct ‘smart’ scans focused on areas of greatest concern to give a precise location,” providing “data 5  to 10 times more detailed than current radar systems.”

 

But we can’t use these great devices with our current Internet – we need advanced networks with gigabit speeds, software definition, and local cloud capabilities. Next generation applications like those that CASA is developing are especially exciting for us, as they provide tremendous societal benefit, and make the case for why we need to get advanced networks up and running around the country.

 

The latest on the CASA system being installed in Dallas, and in the heart of Tornado Alley, Oklahoma, is below:

 

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Rachel Strauss's comment, July 8, 2013 11:31 PM
This article is telling me about the latest tecnologies that are being installed and if they are going to be better for warnings or is the tecnnology to soon for its time.
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Technology set journalism free, now new platforms are in control | Mathew Ingram | GigaOM Tech News

Technology set journalism free, now new platforms are in control | Mathew Ingram | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Emily Bell, the former Guardian digital editor who now runs the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, gave a speech recently at the Reuters Institute in the UK about the crossroads at which journalism finds itself today. It’s a place where media and journalism — and in fact speech of all kinds — has never been more free, but also paradoxically one in which speech is increasingly controlled by privately-run platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

I was glad to see Emily addressing this issue, because it’s something I’ve written about a number of times — both in the context of Twitter’s commitment to being the “free speech wing of the free-speech party,” and also in the context of Facebook’s dominance of the news and how its algorithm can distort that news in ways we still don’t really appreciate or understand, because it is a black box.


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5 regular people explain why they support net neutrality | Selena Larson | The Daily Dot

5 regular people explain why they support net neutrality | Selena Larson | The Daily Dot | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A massive downpour couldn’t prevent around 100 net neutrality supporters from congregating on the steps of San Francisco City Hall on Thursday night for Bay Area Speaks, an event organized by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to hear from Bay Area residents and activists about why they support an open Internet.

For an hour, activists held both signs and umbrellas, and shouted their support for an open Internet, one that exists without restrictions or fast lanes imposed by Internet service providers with the power to throttle data.

By 6:40pm, the rainstorm had turned into a drizzle, and supporters filed in through security and up into a room on the third floor of City Hall, shrugging out of coats while a clipboard circulated, asking supporters to write to the Federal Communications Commission about why they should support net neutrality.

President Obama recently announced his support for net neutrality and reclassifying the Internet as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. But the debate is still largely happening in Washington D.C., even though creating fast and slow lanes for Internet connectivity would affect everyone across the U.S. That’s why groups including the EFF, Free Press, the Media Action Grassroots Network, and the Media Alliance organized Thursday’s event: to show lawmakers that the Bay Area cares.

Of the four million Americans who communicated their support of net neutrality to the FCC earlier this year, more comments came from the Bay Area than almost anywhere else, said Corynne McSherry, intellectual property director at the EFF. And some of those people spoke out at City Hall Thursday evening, sharing their own personal stories about why net neutrality matters.


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AWS-3: Bids Up, Total Up, Auction Rolls | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

AWS-3: Bids Up, Total Up, Auction Rolls | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

With bidding over for a busy and productive week for FCC auctions, the AWS-3 auction of 65 MHz of wireless spectrum ended the week on a high note.

Bids were up over the previous round at 505; the total value of new bids was up, at $1,123,634,800; and the total after round 27 was $34,082,759,300.

The auction began on Nov. 13, with some predicting it to generate $15 billion or so—the reserve was $10.587 billion. Having more than doubled that, the auction is being seen as a good sign for valuations of broadcaster spectrum in the incentive auction, and for companies already with wireless spectrum reserves, like Sprint or Dish.

The auction begins again Monday morning, with $35 billion-$40 billion appearing not to be an unreasonable target for a final tally. There are 70 bidders, including AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.

It is one of three auctions whose proceeds will go toward funding an emergency communications network (FirstNet) and other projects as well as deficit reduction.


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Verizon teams up with Georgia Tech on Internet of Things, wearables | Monica Alleven | Fierce Wireless Tech

Verizon teams up with Georgia Tech on Internet of Things, wearables | Monica Alleven | Fierce Wireless Tech | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Verizon Wireless has entered into a multiyear research partnership with the Georgia Institute of Technology, with the objective of fostering development of new technology solutions in for the Internet of Things (IoT), including the areas of telematics, wearables and LTE network enhancements.

"The wireless industry relies on constant innovation. Verizon's technology platforms, including 4G LTE, enable this innovation, allowing us to take wireless technology out of the phone and integrate it into new areas such as transportation, healthcare, green energy, education, wearable computing, and much more," said Jonathan LeCompte, president of the Georgia/Alabama region for Verizon Wireless, in a press release. "Our partnership with Georgia Tech's world-class research and development and exceptional students will prove to be a critical component in the advancement of new wireless solutions for the 'Internet of Things' era."

While rival AT&T historically has been more vocal about its commitment to M2M and making the IoT a priority, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo shared a little more about the company's thinking around the IoT during a wide-ranging discussion at the Wells Fargo investor conference in New York City this week.


A lot of the things heard around the industry are about connectivity, and the problem with that is it's good business, but you need "millions and millions and millions" of devices to actually start to generate a lot of revenue because it's cents on the dollar, he said.


"What we're trying to do is with the Hughes Telematics acquisition, we're playing at level above that," he said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. By expanding beyond connectivity, the company can go outside the U.S. and not necessarily be the network provider, he said.


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Meet Regin, Super Spyware That's Been Attacking Computers for Years | Darren Orf | Gizmodo.com

Meet Regin, Super Spyware That's Been Attacking Computers for Years | Darren Orf | Gizmodo.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In case you needed more affirmation that the internet is not a safe place, Symantec published a report today detailing a sophisticated form of spyware known as Regin.

But this isn't just another entry into the continually growing list of viruses, Symantec says this malware "displays a degree of technical competence rarely seen." The researchers refer to Regin as being similar to the Stuxnet computer worm, also discovered by Symantec in 2010, that was allegedly used to attack Iran's nuclear centrifuges. The only conclusion is that this tool was developed by a nation with some considerable technological means, as Symantec describes:

It is likely that its development took months, if not years, to complete and its authors have gone to great lengths to cover its tracks. Its capabilities and the level of resources behind Regin indicate that it is one of the main cyberespionage tools used by a nation state.

Regin has been out in the digital wild since at least 2008, operates much like a back-door Trojan, and has been used against governments, internet providers, telecom companies, researchers, businesses, and private individuals, says Symantec. Regin affects Windows-based computers and operates in five stages, giving the attacker a "powerful framework for mass surveillance" and offers flexibility so attackers can customize the packages embedded within the malware.

However, no reported instances of Regin have been found in the U.S. Symantec's provided geographic breakdown shows Saudi Arabia and Russia as primary targets of Regin spyware, taking up more than half of all recorded cases. Other countries include Mexico, Iran, Afghanistan, India as well as European countries like Belgium and Ireland. It's speculated that most infections came from people visiting "spoofed versions of well-known websites," says Symantec, though one case confirms Yahoo! Messenger was also involved.

In an interview with Re/Code, Symantec researcher Liam O'Murchu said that they know it was created by a technologically advanced country. Of course, the short list points to two obvious possibilities, the U.S. or China, but it's impossible to say for sure as there's much left to learn

Is it surprising that massive spyware systems exist on the web that we use every day? Unfortunately, not really, but when you actually see all the details laid out in front of you, it can be pretty frightening. [Symantec via Re/code]

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Google Fiber promises Austin's public housing residents free 5Mbps Internet for 10 years | Emil Protalinski | VentureBeat.com

Google Fiber promises Austin's public housing residents free 5Mbps Internet for 10 years | Emil Protalinski | VentureBeat.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google today announced its participation in Unlocking the Connection, a new initiative by the Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA) to “help close the digital divide for the 4,300 people who live in public housing.” The company promises to give Austin’s public housing residents free Google Fiber connections for 10 years.

Unlocking the Connection’s goal is to make the web more available and relevant to Austin citizens who aren’t online today. That includes an affordable Internet connection, access to devices, basic computer skills training, and opportunities to better understand how the Web can help them in their daily lives. Google Fiber is one of 20 national and local partners in the program.

Here are the pertinent details:

Google Fiber will bring state of the art infrastructure to Austin’s public housing; we will provide a free fiber connection to any existing HACA property in a neighborhood that meets its signup goal to get Google Fiber. If a family in one of these properties signs up for our Basic Service, they get an in-home Internet connection at today’s basic broadband speeds, free for ten years after construction.

Google Fiber Basic Service, which provides up to 5Mbps download and 1Mbps upload speeds, is normally free. It does, however, require a one-time $300 construction fee (or $25 per month for a year). That’s the part Google is waiving here, though the company notes families will be able to upgrade to gigabit speeds at any time by subscribing ($70 per month).


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Football Fans Are Going Even Bigger Toward Mobile Than You Probably Think | Chris Heine | AdWeek.com

Football Fans Are Going Even Bigger Toward Mobile Than You Probably Think | Chris Heine | AdWeek.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

We knew going into this season that fantasy football diehards were probably going to be glued to their smartphones and tablets like never before.

But now that the actual numbers are in, the year-over-year growth in the space last month should still get marketers' attention, with publishers such as Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports and Sporting News seeing triple-digit percentage jumps, per comScore's October data.

What's more, the Reston, Va.-based researcher found that desktop traffic dropped across the board. ESPN (down 10 percent), Sports Illustrated (down 15 percent) and Sporting News (down 25 percent) saw the biggest year-over-year dips, indicating a shrinking number of people are tethered to their home or work computers.

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Stern words for AT&T's tantrum over broadband regulation | David Lazarus | LATimes.com

Stern words for AT&T's tantrum over broadband regulation | David Lazarus | LATimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If AT&T can't get its way, it'll just take its toys and go home.

The company's chief executive, Randall Stephenson, told an investment conference last week that AT&T will stop work on expanding super-fast Internet access nationwide because of President Obama's push for more oversight of broadband networks.

"We can't go out and just invest that kind of money," Stephenson said, "not knowing under what rules that investment will be governed."

An AT&T spokeswoman declined to elaborate on Stephenson's comments, not that any clarification was needed.

The telecom giant is basically saying that it doesn't have to eat any broccoli if it doesn't want to.

This is a marked difference from the more mature AT&T we saw in April, when the company announced a "major initiative" to expand super-speed Internet access to 100 cities, including Los Angeles and San Diego.

A spokeswoman said at the time that AT&T was committed to "delivering advanced services that offer consumers and small businesses the ability to do more" and "help communities create a new wave of innovation."

Now Stephenson is saying that "we have to pause, and we have to just put a stop on those kind of investments."

His childish behavior followed AT&T's warning last week that any attempt to treat broadband network providers like public utilities — as Obama is seeking to do — would be tantamount to "government control of the Internet."


As I wrote then, it wouldn't. It simply would be an attempt to redefine 20th century telecom regulations for 21st century technology.

The only thing the president is proposing is a handful of rules to ensure a fair and competitive broadband marketplace, with the Federal Communications Commission serving as referee — as it's done for decades with phone service.

The FCC was so taken aback by AT&T's tantrum that it sent the company a request for more information. Specifically, to how many households does it now plan to offer broadband service?

This was exactly the right question because AT&T has yet to reveal how much it plans to spend, or where it plans to spend it, in expanding its network.


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FCC weighs laws blocking local internet providers from competing with telecoms | Sam Thielman | The Guardian

FCC weighs laws blocking local internet providers from competing with telecoms | Sam Thielman | The Guardian | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Tom Wheeler has a problem. By 2015, the regulator wants at least one city in every state to have super-fast internet. The companies that provide that service? Not so much.

As he contends with calls from from no less than President Obama to mandate net neutrality, Wheeler is reviewing a challenge to state laws that have blocked municipalities from starting – or expanding – their own internet services.


The attack is led by municipally owned internet service providers (ISPs) in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Wilson, North Carolina: cities with lightning-fast internet speeds of one gigabit a second, about 50 times better than the US average. Neighbors in rural counties want to sign up, and that’s where the trouble starts.

Chattanooga’s EPB and Wilson’s Greenlight are challenging state laws similar to those that exist in 20 states that restrict or bar local governments from offering broadband, so setting precedent is one goal here.


The bans have been lobbied for, furiously, by cable and telecoms firms that argue competition from public networks is unfair to private industry, while companies like Netflix have lobbied against them.

Consumers are begging for the services. “We feel it’s as necessary as water,” John “Thunder” Thornton, the developer behind a 9,000-acre property near Chattanooga, recently told the Times Free Press. “If I could move our mountain and office to a location that was within EPB’s footprint, I would do it in a heartbeat, but we’re held hostage due to the current legislation.” Eighty-nine percent of those polled by the paper said EPB should expand its service.

It’s not hard to see why. A dozen counties in eastern Tennessee have no access to broadband at all, and four more never get above 3mbps. Even where commercial operators have a presence, the EPB’s networks are faster.


The population in rural Tennessee isn’t dense enough to quickly repay the kind of investment a commercial provider would need to make to lay fiber-optic cable for the first time.


Though there are about 85,000 potential customers with no broadband access at all, they’re spread over a gigantic area. An additional 173,000 don’t get the web at “minimum speed targets being used by the FCC,” according to the EPB.


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New Report Says Smart TV Industry Reaching ‘Point of No Return’ | Karen Fratti | Lost Remote

New Report Says Smart TV Industry Reaching ‘Point of No Return’ | Karen Fratti | Lost Remote | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

According to an industry analysis done by Futuresource Consulting, smart TV manufacturers aren’t really benefiting from all the consumer activity around them, and that the industry is reaching a “point of no return.” Really?

The report says that:

In developed regions 30% of homes will own a smart TV by the end of 2014, rising to 70% by 2018. And people aren’t just buying the feature, they’re using it too. At present, around 80% of the smart TVs in people’s homes are connected to the internet, with the pervasion of embedded Wi-Fi and auto-boot on track to lift this figure to over 90% by 2016.

But manufacturers are seeing “limited returns and a shift in focus to UHD,” which means rethinking their designs. It says:

This smart TV juggernaut may mean more TV brands gravitate towards Android TV, as Google would share the load of future development and support. Sony has already confirmed that it will launch Android sets in 2015, as have two Chinese brands, TCL and TPVision. Samsung has a sufficiently high share in smart TV to maintain its own platform and apps program, as well as seeking exclusive content, but is also promoting Tizen as an open OS alternative to Google.

Senior analyst Jack Wetherill elaborated via email, saying that you can only push it so far without seeing a revenue returns:

TV manufacturers are continuously innovating with interactive Smart TV features like dynamic EPG updates and advanced user interfaces like gesture and voice control. These enhance sales appeal and can influence market share, but do not normally generate a discrete revenue stream per se.

You can read a summary of the report here. It’s sort of a shame, passing the buck over to Google and Apple to develop all the new smart televisions, but from this report, it seems like the smart TV “juggernaut” is moving and evolving too rapidly for anyone else to take the time (and use the money) to innovate or plan to far ahead.


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RCN Launching 330 Mbps Service in NYC | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com

RCN Launching 330 Mbps Service in NYC | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Not to be outdone by Time Warner Cable's recent "Maxx" upgrades, New York-area overbuilder RCN today announced they're going to soon start offering a 330 Mbps tier of their own.


According to the company announcement, the 330 Mbps down, 20 Mbps up tier will be made available to the company's entire New York City footprint starting in December.


According to RCN, the service will run new customers $65 per month, with no long-term contracts and a three-year price assurance.


"With our new 330Mbps service running across our fiber-rich network, RCN customers will enjoy seamless and smooth Internet connectivity, which is essential for streaming, uploading and downloading without interruptions,” proclaims the company.

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Austin, TX: Grande Unfazed in Crowded Gigabit Market | Jason Meyers | Light Reading

Austin, TX: Grande Unfazed in Crowded Gigabit Market | Jason Meyers | Light Reading | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Grande Communications is living proof that Google's launch of ultra-high-speed broadband services has accelerated competition in the broadband sector.

"In all honesty, Google was a bit of a wakeup call for us," says Matt Rohre, Senior Vice President of Operations and General Manager for Grande Communications , referring to Google Fiber Inc.'s targeting of the Austin region for a gigabit network buildout. "We had the position as the fastest network in town. When someone comes in and threatens that, you have to make a decision."

Grande's decision was to evolve its network faster than it had originally planned, to become the first gigabit service provider in the region by making 1Gbit/s service available to about 20% of its market.


Meanwhile, Austin has become a hotbed of sorts in the Gigabit Cities race, with Time Warner Cable Inc.and AT&T Inc. targeting the area in addition to Google.

In the rapidly developing Gigabit Cities sector, Austin is likely to be closely watched to see if the promise of gigabit networks can actually support multiple competitive operators over the long term.


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Cities Look to Technology for Answers to Growing Challenges | Nanette Byrnes | MIT Technology Review

Cities Look to Technology for Answers to Growing Challenges | Nanette Byrnes | MIT Technology Review | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Cities around the globe, whether rich or poor, are in the midst of a technology experiment. Urban planners are pulling data from inexpensive sensors mounted on traffic lights and park benches, and from mobile apps on citizens’ smartphones, to analyze how their cities really operate.


They hope the data will reveal how to run their cities better and improve urban life. City leaders and technology experts say that managing the growing challenges of cities well and affordably will be close to impossible without smart technology.

Fifty-four percent of humanity lives in urban centers, and almost all of the world’s projected population growth over the next three decades will take place in cities, including many very poor cities. Because of their density and often strained infrastructure, cities have an outsize impact on the environment, consuming two-thirds of the globe’s energy and contributing a large share of its greenhouse-gas emissions. Urban water systems are leaky. Pollution levels are often extreme.

But cities also contribute most of the world’s economic production. Thirty percent of the world’s economy and most of its innovation are concentrated in just 100 cities. Can technology help manage rapid population expansion while also nurturing cities’ all-important role as an economic driver? That’s the big question at the heart of this Business Report.

Selling answers to that question has become a big business. IBM, Cisco, Hitachi, Siemens, and others have taken aim at this market, publicizing successful examples of cities that have used their technology to tackle the challenges of parking, traffic, transportation, weather, energy use, water management, and policing. Cities already spend a billion dollars a year on these systems, and that’s expected to grow to $12 billion a year or more in the next 10 years.


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Court Bars FCC From Diclosing How Much Comcast, DirecTV Pay Broadcasters | Chris Morran | Consumerist

Court Bars FCC From Diclosing How Much Comcast, DirecTV Pay Broadcasters | Chris Morran | Consumerist | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Last week’s last-minute legal battle between just about every major TV broadcaster and the FCC came to quietly disappointing conclusion this morning, with a federal appeals court refusing to allow the government to share confidential details about the mergers of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, and DirecTV and AT&T.

For those coming to this story late, here’s the “previously on…” version:

The FCC is currently scrutinizing these two mergers and had decided to make confidential information — most importantly, the contracts that the pay-TV companies have with TV networks — available for private viewing by lawyers for parties with a direct interest in the deals.

The broadcasters asked the FCC to please rethink its position, arguing that this data is highly confidential and could damage their businesses.

A slim majority at the FCC said no, arguing that the disclosures “will aid the Commission in the expeditious resolution of these proceedings.”

And so the broadcasters — CBS, Disney, Fox, Time Warner, Viacom, Univision — asked a federal appeals court in D.C. to issue a stay preventing the FCC from going through with its plan. The court agreed last Friday, but gave the FCC the chance to make its case before ultimately deciding on whether to make the stay permanent pending judicial review.

Thus, on Monday the FCC filed its response [PDF], arguing that the broadcasters had failed to show that they would be likely to prevail in court on the merits of its claim.

The Commission points out that the networks are not challenging that this information is relevant to the merger review process or that the FCC should have access to it. They just want to block participating third parties from seeing it.

“Given the need for access, Petitioners’ challenges to the protective orders are doomed to failure,” writes the FCC.

One major concern by the broadcasters is that the confidential information would be shared with people beyond the scope of the FCC order, but the Commission claims that its directives “contain multiple safeguards against unwarranted disclosure” and that the broadcasters’ “fears are without any basis.”

The networks offered to provide anonymized documents that would omit the most sensitive data, but the FCC says it determined that this would result in too many redactions and would be “unrealistic and inappropriate.”

Finally, the FCC tried to make the claim that the broadcasters had failed to show that they would suffer irreparable harm by revealing this confidential information to select individuals under controlled conditions. If anything argued the response, a stay would harm consumers and slow the review process.

“Staying the order pending appeal will materially disrupt the current schedule for the Commission’s expeditious review and resolution of the proposed mergers,” concludes the response, “and by itself, could impact the outcome of these applications. Delay would inevitably prolong the regulatory uncertainty associated with the applicants’ business plans, and thereby disserve the public interest.”

In the end, the court settled the matter with only a couple of sentences.


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Netflix Starts To Play 4K On Panasonic TVs | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com

Netflix Starts To Play 4K On Panasonic TVs | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Netflix’s 4K horizons expanded a bit last week after Panasonic announced that its AX802-series LED-TVs are now compatible with the OTT giant’s small, but growing, Ultra HD library.

Netflix, which launched its 4K offering in April, doesn’t break down how many titles it offers in the format, though the library does include season two of House of Cards, Breaking Bad, movies such as Smurfs 2, Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2, and a selection of nature documentaries from Moving Art. A Netflix official noted that nearly all of the company's original live-action series will be delivered in 4K, where available, including season one of Marco Polo, which is scheduled to debut on Netflix on Dec. 12.

In addition to the Panasonic’s AX802-series, Netflix 4K streaming is also compatible with certain Ultra HD TV models from Samsung, LG Electronics, Sony, Vizio, and Toshiba. According to Netflix’s 4K FAQ, the recommended broadband speed for UHD streaming is “at least 25 Mbps.”


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Amazon Closing In On Ad-Based OTT Service: Report | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com

Amazon Closing In On Ad-Based OTT Service: Report | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Amazon is preparing to launch a new ad-supported video streaming service “early next year” that will operate separately from Amazon Prime, a subscription-based service that features a large OTT library, the New York Post reported Friday.

The Wall Street Journal reported in March that Amazon was considering an ad-supported video and music streaming service, but today’s report suggests that Amazon is closing in on a launch.

Amazon has implemented some advertising into the Amazon Instant Video service, but has not outlined any plans for something beyond that.

“We currently offer the first episode of some television shows free with ads through our First Episode Free feature on Amazon Instant Video, and there are display ads on some short videos such as movie and game trailers,” an Amazon spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. “We’re often experimenting with new offers and experiences for customers, but we have not announced any plans to offer an ad-supported video streaming service.”

Amazon’s Prime Instant Video offering already competes with subscription-based OTT services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus, but a new advertising-based offering could enable Amazon to put more heat on other free, ad-supported online VOD services such as Sony-owned Crackle and TubiTV, which launched in April. Depending on the quality of its ad-supported library, Amazon’s purported new offering might also lock horns with MVPD-delivered VOD.


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US Senator Rand Paul doesn't stand | David Nather | Politico.com

US Senator Rand Paul doesn't stand | David Nather | Politico.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

US Senator Rand Paul says he wants surveillance reform. Instead, he helped sink it.

And now he’s under fire from the civil liberties groups who have been his strongest allies in his war on the NSA’s domestic spying program.


If Paul really wanted to help the cause of reining in the NSA, critics say he could have broken with his party and voted to let the bill move ahead — a headline-grabbing moment that would make him stand out from the rest of the Republican presidential field.


Instead, the Kentucky senator — the GOP’s most famous libertarian — voted to block the bill from even being debated.


“He could have voted against the bill on final passage. That would have been a completely different thing than shutting down the debate,” said Laura Murphy of the American Civil Liberties Union, one of Paul’s strongest allies on the issue. Both have filed lawsuits against the NSA surveillance programs.


This type of criticism may become a recurring theme as Paul’s presidential campaign blossoms — the purist libertarian beliefs that built the Paul brand are going to keep crashing into traditional Republican standards, especially on national security.


His “no” vote on NSA reform even raised suspicions that Paul just didn’t want to have the debate.


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NM: Local tech leaders weigh in on Obama's net neutrality push | Dan Mayfield | Albuquerque Business First

NM: Local tech leaders weigh in on Obama's net neutrality push | Dan Mayfield | Albuquerque Business First | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The net neutrality issue is complicated on many levels, but the FCC has asked the public for comments on how it should manage the Internet and broadband connections. So far, more than 4 million people have commented at fcc.gov on the issue.

"I think it will have no effect either up or down, and the reason is we're a poor state and the adoption rate is strictly monetary," said Richard Majestic, the president of the High Tech Consortium of Southern New Mexico. Being both poor and rural, he said, affects broadband and Internet access, though the state is making strides.

"Net neutrality doesn't mean anything if the ISPs don't increase the speed, the access or anything that gets us onto the network," Majestic said.

Andrea Quijada, the executive director of the Media Literacy Project in Albuquerque, said Monday that her group also supports net neutrality.

"Obama is clearly listening to the people across the country, and to all of us in New Mexico. New Mexicans have always fought for our resources — just as we have struggled for our land and water, we have been fighting for the reclassification of the Internet, too. For us, achieving true net neutrality is a path to our digital sovereignty," Quijada said.


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Retailers Say A Ton Of Customers Are Using Apple Pay -- And Other Mobile Wallets Too | Shelly Palmer | TalkMarkets.com

Retailers Say A Ton Of Customers Are Using Apple Pay -- And Other Mobile Wallets Too | Shelly Palmer | TalkMarkets.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For years, tech companies have dreamed of a future in which people ditch their wallets and pay for things with their smartphones. And for years, that has not happened.

But Apple may be on to something.

In the three weeks since the company released Apple Pay, its first stab at a mobile wallet, some major retailers are seeing a wave of consumers eager to check out at the register with their iPhones.

And even some of Apple’s competitors, like Google and Softcard, say Apple has helped create general awareness of mobile payments, including for their services.

Whole Foods Markets, the high-end grocery chain, said it had processed more than 150,000 Apple Pay transactions. McDonald’s, which accepts Apple Pay at its 14,000 restaurants in the United States, said Apple Pay accounted for 50 percent of its tap-to-pay transactions. And Walgreens, the nationwide chain of drugstores, said its mobile wallet payments had doubled since Apple Pay came out.

Apple Pay is still far from a dominant payment system. But the retailers’ numbers are the first faint signs of a mainstream willingness to stray from cash and cards. Apple, analysts say, has tapped into something.


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Syntonic’s ‘sponsored data’ stirs net-neutrality debate | Brier Dudley | Seattle Times

Syntonic’s ‘sponsored data’ stirs net-neutrality debate | Brier Dudley | Seattle Times | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

President Obama may have done a big favor for a Seattle startup last week.

Inadvertently.

By weighing in on the net-neutrality debate, the president made the geeky subject a dinner-table topic for America as we head toward the 2016 election.

We’ll now spend a year or more debating whether and how to regulate broadband, preserve the equal-access character of the Internet and limit the control telecom companies have over their networks.

As we hash this out, a little outfit in Pioneer Square called Syntonic may be part of the conversation.

Quietly started two years ago by veterans of RealNetworks, Syntonic is now emerging — and getting national media attention — with technology that adds a new dimension and complexity to the net-neutrality discussion.

The 15-person Pioneer Square company is building tools that content providers, nonprofits and corporations can use to provide “free” access to mobile broadband networks. These tools enable new business models to cover the cost of data delivery.

A movie studio, for instance, could use Syntonic to cover the data costs when people view its trailers on a mobile device.

A newspaper or magazine could offer a service bundle with “free” access: pay an extra dollar per month, and downloads won’t count against monthly data limits.

Phone companies have just started dabbling with this approach, called “sponsored data” or “zero rating” — as in “pay zero rates” to access certain content.


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Google Fiber Is Going After Cable's Small Business Customers | Tim Brugger | Motley Fool

Google Fiber Is Going After Cable's Small Business Customers | Tim Brugger | Motley Fool | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In addition to connection speeds as much as 100 times the speed of traditional broadband Internet solutions, Google Fiber has the added benefit of providing customers with a non-cable solution. It's no secret cable providers like Comcast and Time Warner are at the bottom of customer service lists year in and year out.

Since the concept of Google Fiber was first announced in 2010, and started rolling out to select markets a few years later, the cable industry has continually pooh-poohed Fiber's faster speeds for a lower cost, and seemed genuinely bemused at the very notion of Google infringing upon their cozy, little world. Turns out, Google isn't content with simply stepping on cable's toes in the battle for consumer's homes, now it's introducing Fiber for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).


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Longmont, CO: Town creates high-speed revolution, one home at a time | USA Today

Longmont, CO: Town creates high-speed revolution, one home at a time | USA Today | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Last week, Pete Rishel joined an exclusive club thanks to city workers who drilled a hole through the brick wall of his raised-ranch home and into his downstairs man cave to install an ultra-high-speed, fiber-optic Internet connection.

The connection allows Rishel, a tech worker who often telecommutes, to download Internet data at nearly 1 gigabit — 1,000 megabits — a second. Most home Internet connections served by cable or phone companies top out at about 20 Mbps. The Nextlight service costs Rishel just $50 a month, and it's unique not just because it's so cheap and so fast, but also because it's run by the same local government that provides his electricity and water, and hauls away his trash.

"We've got a teenage son and he likes to watch a lot of YouTube," Rishel said as city workers pulled the flexible glass cable through his snowy yard. "And we've all got iPads and mobile devices."

This small city near Boulder earlier this month began connecting its residents to a long-built but underused fiber optic Internet network ringing the city. Area businesses had long been allowed to rent space on the network, which was built in 1997 by the power company the city co-owns with its neighbors.

A law mirrored in 18 other states initially barred Longmont from selling access to that network to its residents. The network is so fast that users can download an entire HD movie in about 30 seconds.

Longmont's elected officials first asked voters to approve Nextlight in 2009 but found themselves bitterly opposed by telecommunications companies, which spent nearly $200,000 to defeat the measure. It was, at the time, the single most expensive election in city history — until 2011, when telecommunication companies poured more than $400,000 to fight the plan a second time.


That time, however, voters OK'd the proposal, and then two years later approved a $45.3 million bond issue to build the network, which uses pulses of light, instead of electricity, to transmit data. Today, city crews are busily installing the service in central Longmont, with hundreds of customers waiting. The service is funded solely through revenues it generates, said Tom Roiniotis, the director of Longmont Power and Communications.


Roiniotis argues that high-speed Internet access should be treated no differently than the electricity or the water that his city colleagues deliver to Longmont's approximately 90,000 residents.


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Why Isn't There a Cable Headend in the Cloud? | Doug Dawson | POTs and Pans

Why Isn't There a Cable Headend in the Cloud? | Doug Dawson | POTs and Pans | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

I saw an article earlier this year that said that some smaller triple-play providers have decided to get out of the cable business. Specifically the article mentioned Ringgold Telephone Company in Georgia and BTC Broadband in Oklahoma. The article said that small companies have abandoned over 53,000 customers over the last five years, with most of this being recent.

I’m not surprised by this. I have a lot of small clients in the cable business and I don’t think any of them are making money with the cable product. There are a myriad of outlays involved such as programming, capital, technical and customer service staff and software like middleware and encryption And all of these costs are climbing with programming increasing much faster than inflation. And there is pressure to keep up with the never-ending new features that come along every year like TV everywhere or massive DVR recorders. I have a hard time seeing any cable company that doesn’t have thousands of customers covering these costs.

But small cable providers are often in a bind because they operate in rural areas and compete head-to-head with a larger cable company. They feel that if they don’t offer cable that they might not survive. But it is getting harder and harder for a company who doesn’t have stiff competition to justify carrying a product line that doesn’t support itself.

I’ve written several blogs talking about how software defined networking is going to change the telecom industry. It is now possible to create one cable TV head-end, one cell site headend or one voice switch that can serve millions of customers. This makes me ask the question: why isn’t somebody offering cable TV from the cloud.

There are big companies that already are doing headend consolidation for their own customers. For instance, it’s reported that AT&T supports all of its cable customers from two headends. A company like AT&T could use those headends to provide wholesale cable connections to any service provider that can find a data pipe to connect to AT&T – be that a rural telephone company, a college campus or the owner of large apartment complexes.

This wholesale business model would swap the cost of owning and operating a headend for transport. A company buying wholesale cable would not need a headend, which can still cost well over a million dollars, nor technical staff to run it. In place of headend investment and expense they would pay for the bandwidth to connect to the wholesale headend.


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Tennessee Leaders Call on the FCC to Axe State Broadband Restrictions | Brian Heaton | GovTech.com

Tennessee Leaders Call on the FCC to Axe State Broadband Restrictions | Brian Heaton | GovTech.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Without gigabit connectivity, small towns will suffer economic hardships in the coming years, according to elected officials speaking at a rally on high-speed broadband expansion on Tuesday, Nov. 18, in Chattanooga, Tenn.


State representatives, mayors and private-sector leaders all gathered in “Gig City” to support recent petitions to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that would vacate state restrictions on community broadband operations in Tennessee and North Carolina. The pundits stressed that rural areas with limited or no access to broadband will be unable to develop, attract and retain bright young minds and new businesses unless cities are free to operate publicly owned networks.


Tennessee Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, called the Internet “the essential utility of the 21st century,” adding that Tennessee’s restriction on expanding Chattanooga’s gigabit network needs to be lifted.

“What needs to [happen] is removing the restriction of the electronic footprint, so anybody who wants to provide accessible, high-speed broadband will not be encumbered by unnecessary regulations,” Bowling said.

The Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, Tenn., and Wilson, N.C., filed petitions with the FCC earlier this year asking it to vacate state laws that are preventing cities from providing and expanding communications services. The filings are in response to years of the cable industry lobbying state lawmakers to enact barriers to municipal networks under the premise that local governments have a competitive advantage under established state regulations.

While the FCC hasn’t indicated that it will take up the petitions, the issue has become widespread throughout the U.S. Nineteen states currently have legislative barriers that discourage or prevent municipal broadband networks, according to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, an organization that advocates for equitable community development.

Also at the hearing, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke expressed pride at how a city he couldn’t wait to leave in the 1980s has now become what he feels is the “greatest mid-size city in America,” thanks to the foresight of city leaders to build a smart grid with fiber optics extended to every home and business.

Berke noted, however, that increased connectivity beyond Chattanooga’s borders will be necessary to further develop the area’s economic future.


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Bringing the FCC's Lifeline Program into the 21st Century | John Horrigan | Benton Foundation

Bringing the FCC's Lifeline Program into the 21st Century | John Horrigan | Benton Foundation | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Last week, Federal Communications Commissioner Mignon Clyburn outlined five principles to bring the Lifeline program, which subsidizes phone service for low-income Americans, into the broadband age. The principles focus on two things we all care about.


First, they call for the FCC to improve how the program functions so that more funds go to those who need it, while lessening administrative burden on the companies that provide the benefit to eligible consumers.


Second, the principles provide a vision of what consumers and taxpayers get in return. In Commissioner Clyburn’s words: “Broadband is the greatest equalizer of our time.”

Now, such a sweeping statement about a technology some people think is good mainly for viewing cat videos might seem like a stretch. But the statement stands up when thinking about the benefits that come with home broadband access. The opportunities Commissioner Clyburn identifies are familiar to Benton readers: economic and educational opportunity, civic engagement, social inclusion, and more.

I want us to take a look at two other kinds of benefits that are crucial to the digital inclusion equation. The first is time management. There was a short piece in the Wall Street Journal over decade ago which was entitled “Technology and Time for the Poor.”(1) Simple transactions that can be carried out quickly for those with online access – applying for a government benefit, looking for a job, renewing a driver’s license, or shopping for groceries – eat up enormous amounts of time for low-income individuals with lengthy commutes on public transportation and jobs with little flexibility.


It is no surprise that my 2012 survey of Illinois residents found that 70% said “saving time on day-to-day activities” was an important benefit to having a home high-speed Internet subscription. The efficiencies broadband brings to the household can seem even more magical to low-income families that must spend a lot of time carrying out common tasks.

The second benefit has to do with expectations. In my 2014 survey of low-income households who had recently gotten home broadband access through Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, 83% said their children’s schools expected them to have broadband at home and two-thirds (65%) said banks and financial institutions expected that they had broadband at home, and 53% said this about health insurance companies.

Improving time management and becoming aligned with society’s expectations are crucial pathways to making people “digitally ready” for a society where broadband mediates so many interactions and transactions.


New Internet users grow to trust the Internet when home access means they don’t have to take time out of their workday to deal with the health insurance company. Parents gain a sense of efficacy when they can give an email address to their child’s school to receive the same online newsletters about school activities that others do. This gives people an immediate sense of the value of connectivity.

Yet the benefits I’ve discussed underscore the challenges to getting non-broadband adopters to subscribe. Feelings of efficacy and improved time management make broadband an “experience good”; consumers know the value of such a good only after they have consumed it.


That’s why music distributors today let people sample music online and why record stores of yesteryear often had booths for people to listen to music before buying. This mitigates the risk to a consumer to buying a good whose future value is uncertain.


For broadband – especially when a household’s disposable income is limited – the benefits to subscribing to service may not be clear absent experience with what the Internet offers. This is why getting the price subsidy right for non-adopters – which is an important aim of Lifeline reform – will only get us so far in attracting new broadband adopters.


We need “boots on the ground” to help non-adopters learn the value of connectivity and thus change how they assess the decision to subscribe to a new service.


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