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Rosemount, MN High School Site Council Parents Team Up with FTTH Communications to Broadcast Sports, Other Events | Enhanced Online News

 

Fiber To The Home (FTTH) Communications is teaming with Rosemount High School (RHS) Site Council parents to bridge the missing link between the school and the stadium, as well as creating an “Irish” channel on FTTH’s network. The Irish channel will allow, for the first time, stadium games and events, such as graduations, concerts and awards programs, to be broadcast within the community.

 

Rosemount High School, Rosemount School Site Council Parents, and FTTH are launching "Irish Up!"— a fundraising partnership to help pay for the new fiber optic line. The goal is to generate $10,000, which also would create and maintain the RHS channel. Along with stadium events, it would showcase academic and artistic events.

 

For each new subscriber in FTTH’s fiberhoods (Evermoor and Harmony Village), FTTH will donate $50 to the cause. Current subscribers who upgrade their services will earn the project $25. If more than 100 new subscribers sign up, FTTH will increase the bounty to $75, topping out at 200 new subscribers.

 

"Improving coverage of Rosemount High School activities fits with our goals of supporting the communities we serve, growing our business and adding jobs to the local economy," said FTTH CEO Jeffrey Feldman.

 

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Behind the Bulletproof Glass: More Misadventures at Comcast’s Customer Service Center | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Behind the Bulletproof Glass: More Misadventures at Comcast’s Customer Service Center | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast customer Timothy Lee made a grave error in judgment. He decided to return his Comcast-owned cable modem to a Comcast customer service center… on a Saturday!


Long-time Comcast customers know only too well a Saturday visit to Comcast represents a major outing, with long lines that often extend outside and up to an hour or more waiting time.


Lee compared his visit to waiting in line at the post office, but that’s not really true except during the holidays — the post office is better organized and usually lacks the heavy-duty bulletproof glass and surly attitudes that separate Comcast’s “customer service agents” from their unhappy customers.


Predictably, Lee waited more than 30 minutes before his number was up.

Lee’s predicament is all too familiar. His only choice for high-speed Internet access is Comcast, and the cable company knows it. So just like your local Department of Motor Vehicles, there is no harm done if Comcast opens a customer service center with 10 available windows staffed by only two employees, one happily munching on pretzels ignoring the concert-length line during his 20-minute break.


Time Warner Cable’s service centers are not much better, although they usually have fewer windows to keep customers from getting their hopes up. Comcast’s bulletproof glass is also not in evidence at TWC locations, although the burly bank-like security guard is very apparent at some centers in sketchy neighborhoods. Time Warner Cable also offers seating, but visit wealthier suburban locations when possible, where comfortable couches replace the nasty hard benches or plastic furniture often found downtown.


Comcast was instantly ready to offer up the usual excuses:


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Why Free Marketeers Want To Regulate the Internet | James Heaney | De Civitate Blog

Why Free Marketeers Want To Regulate the Internet | James Heaney | De Civitate Blog | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Like most Americans, conservatives do not know very much about Net Neutrality.

What they do know about it makes it sound like a terrible idea: a bunch of Silicon Valley elites, backed by the Google panopticon and the Mozilla jerks who publicly executed Brendan Eich over his quiet support for traditional marriage, are demanding that the FCC impose sweeping regulations on the companies who bring the Internet to your door.


With help from their close ally President Obama, these shysters have made tremendous forward progress against the so-called “evil” corporations who (in reality) own, develop, and generally manage the series of tubes that make up the Internet – corporations who have, in short, ushered in the entire Internet Age and all the good it entails.


The only people in this drama who are holding off the regulators are the valiant heroes at the Wall Street Journal and the National Review, who are not afraid to stand athwart the regulatory agenda yelling “stop!,” demanding free markets and free peoples and not an iota less.

Given that narrative, it seems odd for a conservative – whether an old-guard big-business Bush-era conservative or a new-guard Paulite libertarian conservative – to support Net Neutrality.

Except I do Internet for a living, and I am one of the lucky ones who actually knows what Net Neutrality means and what it’s responding to. And, folks, I’m afraid that, while L. Gordon Crovitz and Rich Lowry are great pundits with a clear understanding of how Washington and the economy work, they don’t seem to understand how the Internet works, which has led them to some wrong conclusions.


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FCC May Make Comcast/Time Warner Merger Contingent on Carriage of More TV Channels | Phil Dampier |

FCC May Make Comcast/Time Warner Merger Contingent on Carriage of More TV Channels | Phil Dampier | | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Just when you thought the cable television lineup could not possibly get any larger,  insiders at Comcast are anticipating one of the possible conditions that could be imposed by the Federal Communications Commission in return for approval of its merger with Time Warner Cable is an agreement to carry more independently owned cable television channels.


One of the most vocal groups of consumers opposed to the merger deal have been viewers of independent Omaha, Neb.-based RFD-TV, which has landed carriage deals with Time Warner Cable but has been largely ignored by Comcast. For most of the summer, RFD-TV encouraged viewers to pelt the FCC with complaints about the merger deal, insisting that more networks not owned or operated by the top five media conglomerates get equal treatment on the Comcast cable dial. Thousands of viewers responded.


Comcast vice president David Cohen told Congress Comcast already carries more than 170 small or independent networks, although Comcast counts international networks distributed to customers at premium rates.


“It sounds wonderful. But when you peel back the onion . . . it’s really nothing at all,” Pat Gottsch, founder of RFD-TV told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Very few [independent] channels have full distribution, other than BBC World News and Al Jazeera.”


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FCC's Wheeler: Only On-Record Info Will Be Used to Vet Deal Merits | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

FCC's Wheeler: Only On-Record Info Will Be Used to Vet Deal Merits | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says the FCC will only use information placed on the record when it renders decisions on mergers.

In a letter to Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), he assured him that the FCC agrees with the senator's admonition that "when orders that have significant impact on the industry are crafted based on information provided in secret and go unchallenged, I believe it can undermine the effectiveness of that order."

That is why Wheeler assured him that, per the Administrative Procedures Act, "[The] FCC uses only information that is placed on the record when it renders a decision on whether to allow a transaction to proceed, with or without conditions."

He said the exemption "for entities who seek confidentiality 'due to fear of possible reprisal or retribution'" was only one way entities can present information not on the public record — another is meeting safter a transaction has been announced but before it is put on public notice.

He said that while the exempted communications can't be used to make a decision on the merits of a deal, "it could be used, however, to help the Commission formulate appropriate questions to applicants or other parties; questions (and subsequent responses) which could be placed on the record. Alternatively, it could be used as a means of encouraging persons or entities to put their information on the record."


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Don't call it broadband | Fred Pilot Blog | Eldo Telecom

Don't call it broadband | Fred Pilot Blog | Eldo Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It's time to relegate the term "broadband" to the history books. Along with "high speed Internet." The reason is these terms are no longer appropriate in the 21st century when fiber optic cables can deliver 1 gigabit and greater bandwidth to customers.

Exhibit A in the case against "broadband" is none other than the legacy incumbent telephone companies that coined the term in the 1990s to differentiate what was then called "advanced services" from dialup narrowband service. They want to dictate to consumers what constitutes "broadband" and "high speed" and what they consider good enough using technologically obsolete and rapidly outdated standards. Their other motivation is to preserve pricing schemes based on contrived scarcity that treat Internet service like a consumption-based utility where consumers pay more for higher speeds and bandwidth tiers similar to those used in water and electricity service.

Using the terms "broadband" and "high speed Internet" allows the legacy telephone and cable companies to control the conversation by defining what constitutes "broadband" and "high speed Internet."

It also misdirects resources. If the United States had uselessly wasted time and effort in the 1920s and 1930s debating the definition of electric power service (the number of volts, amps, etc.), electrification of much of the nation would have been significantly delayed.

It's time for consumers to take control and define for themselves what constitutes high quality Internet telecommunications services that meet their needs and provide good value and service for their money.

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Sinclair Challenges Incentive Auction in Court | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

Sinclair Challenges Incentive Auction in Court | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Sinclair Broadcasting has challenged the FCC's broadcast incentive auction order in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, essentially reading it the riot act.

Sinclair said that as a broadcaster it was “aggrieved and otherwise injured" by the decision.

Sinclair did not lay out an elaborate case for what it thought was wrong, or make any suggestions for how it could be fixed, as did the National Association of Broadcasters and noncommercial outlets in their respective petitions challenging portions of the order. Noncoms petitioned the FCC for the change, while NAB, like Sinclair, sought review by the D.C. court.

Sinclair took aim at it all.

Sinclair seeks review of the order on the grounds that it "was adopted in excess of the Commission's authority; violates the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012....is arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion under the Administrative Procedure Act and violates Section 5(c) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. § 155(c); and is otherwise contrary to law."

It asked to “hold unlawful, vacate, enjoin, and set aside the Order and grant such additional relief as may be necessary and appropriate.”

Sinclair has been one of the strongest voices against auction participation and for pushing the FCC to give broadcasters the flexibility to be players in the broadband future without giving up their broadcast spectrum.


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Get ready for mobile payments | Alan Mutter Blog | Reflections of a Newsosaur

Although wide-screen iPhones and curvy iWatches have gained the most attention as the buzz builds around Apple’s product announcement on Tuesday, the biggest game changer of all may be the company’s effort to launch a mobile payments system.

Assuming the chatter is correct, Apple will seek to supplant credit cards with a wireless payment system embedded in its next-gen gizmos, thus revolutionizing the way consumers pay for things – and merchants track their customers. It is widely reported in the press that American Express, MasterCard and Visa have agreed to join the Apple initiative.

If mobile payments take off as Apple and its putative partners hope, this frictionless new way of transacting business will disintermediate the media as never before, as discussed in the following Newsosaur post from Aug. 9, 2011.

There are a couple of updates to the archived post.


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Why Hasn't The Obama Administration Weighed In On The FCC's Net Neutrality Comment Period? | Mike Masnick | Techdirt.com

Why Hasn't The Obama Administration Weighed In On The FCC's Net Neutrality Comment Period? | Mike Masnick | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Marvin Ammori has a good article over at Slate questioning why the Obama White House does not appear to have submitted comments with the FCC concerning net neutrality. As you know by now, the FCC received over 3 million comments when the commenting period finally closed on Monday -- but so far, it does not appear that the Obama administration weighed in (it's possible that not all comments are in the database yet, but still...). While you might think this isn't a huge deal -- Obama has said he supports net neutrality (indeed, campaigned heavily on it originally), Ammori notes that it is somewhat odd. The administration frequently does submit its own comments on other FCC issues:

"While President Obama campaigned heavily on net neutrality and recently reiterated his support for it, he hasn’t filed a thing to the FCC. The president has alluded to the FCC being an independent agency, and therefore suggested he should not publicly encourage the commission to fulfill his campaign promises. Yet since becoming president, his Executive Branch has submitted more than 200 filings to the FCC in over 80 proceedings. (If you want proof, see this spreadsheet.)

If the administration were to file comments, it might come through a White House office, such as the National Economic Council or the Office of Science & Technology Policy, or the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). In 2009, the NTIA submitted comments telling the FCC that the “NTIA expects to offer views on the issues presented in [the network neutrality] rulemaking at the appropriate time.” You would think that we have reached the appropriate time. But President Obama has stood largely silent while his FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, barrels toward dismantling an open Internet and threatening the entire economy that now rides atop it."

The commenting period seems like it would have been the appropriate time for at least some part of the administration to weigh in. Even with 3 million other comments, a comment coming from the administration would not get lost in the process. Instead, the President seems to be more or less admitting that his campaign promises on net neutrality were simply empty promises.


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Inside Levi’s Stadium, high-tech home of the San Francisco 49ers | NetworkWorld TV | YouTube.com

The new $1.2 billion Levi's Stadium offers fans the type of high-tech game experience you’d expect from a sports venue in Silicon Valley.


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CEA Unveils New Logos For 4K Ultra High-Definition Displays | Deborah McAdams | TVTechnology.com

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) announced new logos to designate 4K ultra high-definition TVs, monitors and projectors for the home that meet its voluntary core characteristics for 4K Ultra HD display products announced earlier this year.

As devised by CEA’s Ultra HD Communications Working Group and approved without any objections by CEA’s Video Division Board, the logos are specifically designed to assist consumers in identifying these 4K Ultra HD products in the marketplace.

The logos will be made available for voluntary use by manufacturers for product packaging, marketing materials and promotional activities. Two logos will be made available for use—4K Ultra HD and 4K Ultra HD Connected—mirroring CEA’s voluntary characteristics, which were designed to address various attributes of picture quality and help move toward interoperability, while providing clarity for consumers and retailers alike.

CEA also announced today that its Video Division Board approved the use of 4K Ultra HD as terminology to be used by CEA to describe the emerging category of display products with more than eight million pixels—four times the resolution of Full HD. This updates the terminology adopted by CEA in October 2012 to provide more consistency across the market.

“The new logos mark another important milestone as the inevitable evolution to 4K Ultra HD continues,” said CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro. “These logos and consistent nomenclature will help consumers navigate the 4K Ultra HD marketplace and assist them in having a great experience at retail and at home.”


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OTT Faces Challenges, Consumers Stay With Linear TV | Wayne Friedman | MediaPost.com

OTT Faces Challenges, Consumers Stay With Linear TV | Wayne Friedman | MediaPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Although proponents of over-the-top TV -- OTT platforms and services -- are seeing strong growth, there are some near-term impediments.


A new report from IPG Mediabrands’ IPG Media Lab and Magna Global says a major problem is diverse services that don’t work together: “The landscape is cluttered with different, incompatible ecosystems that are difficult to understand.” 


In addition, the report is concerned about limited flexibility for OTT services, given the legacy deals between traditional TV content providers and TV distributors -- especially when it comes to offering channel-by-channel deals in “a la carte” offerings.


Two other problems: Behaviorally, many media consumers -- while experimenting with digital media -- are still stuck on “linear” television consumption. IPG Media Lab says “baby boomers” in particular seem to want to hang on to the ways of the past.


The report also says high-speed communication technology isn’t consistent and/or widespread, especially in rural areas.


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MS: Small Town, Big Story? | Norm Jacknis, Senior Fellow, ICF | LinkedIn.com

MS: Small Town, Big Story? | Norm Jacknis, Senior Fellow, ICF | LinkedIn.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Can a town of 2,300 people in the countryside of Mississippi create a future for itself with broadband?


The answer is yes if you speak to the visionary leader of Quitman – its Mayor, Eddie Fulton – and about two dozen community leaders from business, education, churches, health care and other fields.


Quitman is not what you might think of as the likely star of a broadband story. It has suffered de-population, economic difficulties, community tensions and all the other problems people in many small towns across America have witnessed.


Then along comes the Mississippi-based telecommunications company, C-Spire, who announced it would deploy gigabit Internet connection through fiber to the home in a small number of communities. The key requirement was that a fairly sizable percentage of the community’s residents had to sign up for the service in advance.


Quitman was the smallest town to take on this challenge. It would not normally be considered because of its size, but they had such a strong commitment to building on broadband that the company decided to make the investment. Now, Quitman is ahead of the others in deployment and plans for developing their community.


Anyone who has ever been involved in a big technology project knows that the biggest obstacles to success are not technical issues, but human issues. That’s why the chances that Quitman will succeed are good. They have the necessary leadership, motivation and willingness to innovate.


They’ve also been helped by one of the long forgotten secrets of America’s agricultural and economic success – the extension service. In particular, Professor Roberto Gallardo at Mississippi State University Center For Technology Outreach has helped to educate the community and been their adviser.


And so it was that last week I was in Quitman leading what the Intelligent Community Forum calls a Master Class, as part of its community accelerator program.


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US Senate Judiciary Committee Debates Net Neutrality | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

US Senate Judiciary Committee Debates Net Neutrality | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard from both sides of the network neutrality debate Wednesday in a hearing on the implications of the FCC's efforts to restore network neutrality rules — deadline for comment on that effort was Sept. 15).


Sen. Richard Blumenthal raised the specter of ISP's suppressing speech, while Sen. Ted Cruz, suggesting things don't go better with net neutrality, likened FCC regs to nanny-state restrictions on the size of soft drinks.

 

Democrats pushed for Internet rules of the road, while Republicans argued the virtuous cycle of investment and innovation would be threatened.

 

Net neutrality fan Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who is no fan of paid priority, went beyond the economics to argue about speech concerns. He suggested that under such a regime, Comcast could favor its NBC News by making sure subs got it faster than other news sites.

 

Witness Robert McDowell, former Republican FCC chairman and now with Wiley Rein, said that there were already ways to deal with that hypothetical under antitrust and breach of contract laws and terms of service protections. He pointed out that ISPs have made enforceable network management promises against blocking or unreasonably discriminating, something the ISPs have pointed out the FCC can enforce under the FCC's Open Internet transparency rule still on the books.

 

Witness Nuala O'Connor of the Center for Democracy & Technology, who said Blumenthal's point about content discrimination was a central issue, said she thought there were "precious few" antitrust remedies for small artists or startups with network neutrality complaints.

 

Given the debate over whether the FCC should use Title I or Title II authority, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) asked whether Congress should be talking about a new Title.

 

Sen. Hirono: Should we be talking about a new, more flexible, Title, rather than Title I or the relatively heavy hand of Title II? O'Connor said her group would welcome that.


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Report: Verizon FiOS claimed public utility status to get government perks | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica

Report: Verizon FiOS claimed public utility status to get government perks | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Verizon and the rest of the country's biggest Internet service providers joined forces this month to argue that so-called "common carrier" regulations for utilities shouldn't be applied to broadband. Such rules would force the ISPs to innovate less and spend less money than they do today on network upgrades, they argue.


Yet Verizon obtains a variety of perks from the government for its FiOS Internet service by using public utility rules to its advantage, a new report drawing on public documents says.

This isn’t a new practice and it isn’t illegal, but it could become part of the debate over network neutrality rules and the transition from heavily regulated landline phone networks to Internet-based voice service.

“It's the secret that's been hiding in plain sight,” said Harold Feld, senior VP of consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge and an expert on the FCC and telecommunications. “At the exact moment that these guys are complaining about how awful Title II is, they are trying to enjoy all the privileges of Title II on the regulated side.”

“There's nothing illegal about it,” Feld, who wasn’t involved in writing the report, told Ars. However, “as a political point this is very useful.”

The FCC classifies broadband (such as FiOS) as an information service under Title I of the Communications Act, resulting in less strict rules than the ones applied to common carrier services (such as the traditional phone system) under Title II. But since both services are delivered over the same wire, Verizon FiOS is able to reap the benefits of utility regulation without the downsides.
Verizon checks its privileges, finds them quite nice

The US has long applied common carrier status to the telephone network, providing justification for universal service obligations that guarantee affordable phone service to all Americans and other rules that promote competition and consumer choice. In exchange, phone companies are granted certain kinds of legal immunity, easements over private property and public rights of way, pole attachment rights, access to the phone number system, and the right to interconnect with other networks.

The report by telecom analyst Bruce Kushnick says the following:


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

This is a repost of this Ars Technica article but is still relevant the Congressional hearings and FCC rule making currently happening in DC.

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Atlantic Broadband Goes For 1-Gig In Miami | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com

Atlantic Broadband Goes For 1-Gig In Miami | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Atlantic Broadband has jumped on the 1-Gig wave after launching a speedy offering to residential customers in Indian Creek Village, a well-to-do segment of the Miami-Dade area. The MSO is now “evaluating expansion opportunities.”

Pricing for the service and the number of homes that have access to the new 1-Gig offering was not immediately known, but Atlantic Broadband did say that the service is not encumbered with a data cap, and that it is offering it in tandem with a TiVo-powered video package featuring more than 350 channels and integrated access to the Netflix streaming service, and a phone service that includes unlimited local and domestic calling and up to four phone lines.

 

Update: About 40 properties in the Indian Creek Village area have access to the new 1-Gig offering, an Atlantic Broadband spokeswoman said via email. “As for pricing, the needs of Indian Creek Village were unique so custom service packages were created that include all of Atlantic Broadband’s TV services, Gigabit Internet and four phone lines. Currently, there is not a published a standalone price for Gigabit Internet,” she added.

 

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Google Fiber Taps New Leader | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com

Google Fiber Taps New Leader | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Dennis Kish, an exec who is late of chipmaker Qualcomm, has been tapped to head up Google Fiber, taking over for Milo Medin, a cable broadband industry vet who is staying on with Google as a VP for access services and will continue to serve as an advisor to Google Fiber, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Google Fiber was not immediately available for comment Wednesday morning, but Kish’s Linked In page notes that he joined Google in July in the role of vice president, fiber. He spent the previous three years-plus as an SVP at Qualcomm. Kish reports to Craig Barratt, Google’s senior vice president, access and energy, according the WSJ.

Putting Kish at the helm is an indication that Google Fiber is gearing up for expansion. In February, Google Fiber announced it was exploring an expansion to nine metro markets and up to 34 cities. Google Fiber, which has been engaged with local franchise authorities since it made that announcement in February, has previously said that it expects to make its expansion picks before the end of 2014.

Google Fiber has rollouts of broadband and video services underway in Kansas City Mo., and Kansas City, Kan.; is extending and upgrading services in Provo, Utah; and has already started its buildout in Austin, Texas, and expects to launch services there later this year.


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Cable Is #1 in Profits: 41% Cash Flow Margin Tops TV, Movies, Music, and Publishing Industries | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Cable Is #1 in Profits: 41% Cash Flow Margin Tops TV, Movies, Music, and Publishing Industries | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Cable operators leveraged their near-monopoly on high-speed broadband and commercial business services to lead the entertainment and publishing industry in profitability, according to a report from consultant EY (formerly Ernst & Young.)


Cable companies now earn EBITDA (cash flow) margins of 41%, thanks primarily to their broadband divisions. Cable companies have managed to raise prices for Internet access, charge new fees to lease equipment, and monetize broadband usage with usage caps and usage-based billing while their costs to offer broadband service continue to decline rapidly.


“We are seeing that digital is very much driving profits now, instead of disrupting it,” said EY’s Global Media & Entertainment Leader John Nendick. “Companies are figuring out how to monetize the migration of consumers to a variety of digital platforms, and this insatiable demand for content is fueling growth throughout the industry.”


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STAVRA Bill Passes US Senate Commerce Committee | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

STAVRA Bill Passes US Senate Commerce Committee | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

With entangling amendments dropping like flies in deference to the retiring committee chairman and the need to get a bill that would pass, the Senate Commerce Committee swiftly and without drama approved a relatively clean version of the STAVRA satellite reauthorization bill Wednesday.

A number of cable-unfriendly amendments, and some broadcasters didn't like, had been proposed by a variety of senators that would have delayed the ban on integrated set-tops, gotten the FCC more deeply involved in enforcing customer service, probed sports perograming costs, and more.

But one by one those were withdrawn after their sponsors got to take the floor and make their case, and the bill, S. 2799, The Satellite Television Access and Viewer Rights Act, passed by voice vote.

Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) sympathized with many of those, and thanked their sponsors for understanding the need to push those to another time or bill so that STAVRA could pass by the end of the year. If not, he pointed out, 1.5 million satellite customers could lose access to TV station signals.


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Apple will no longer unlock most iPhones, iPads for police, even with search warrants | Craig Timberg | WashPost.com

Apple will no longer unlock most iPhones, iPads for police, even with search warrants | Craig Timberg | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Apple said Wednesday night that it is making it impossible for the company to turn over data from most iPhones or iPads to police — even when they have a search warrant — taking a hard new line as tech companies attempt to blunt allegations that they have too readily participated in government efforts to collect user information.

The move, announced with the publication of a new privacy policy tied to the release of Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 8, amounts to an engineering solution to a legal quandary: Rather than comply with binding court orders, Apple has reworked its latest encryption in a way that prevents the company — or anyone but the device’s owner — from gaining access to the vast troves of user data typically stored on smartphones or tablet computers.

The key is the encryption that Apple mobile devices automatically put in place when a user selects a passcode, making it difficult for anyone who lacks that passcode to access the information within, including photos, e-mails and recordings. Apple once maintained the ability to unlock some content on devices for legally binding police requests but will no longer do so for iOS 8, it said in the new privacy policy.

“Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data,” Apple said on its Web site. “So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”


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From #Ferguson to #OfficerFriendly | Susan Crawford | Bloomberg View

From #Ferguson to #OfficerFriendly | Susan Crawford | Bloomberg View | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In the tiny town of Jun, Spain, (population: 3,000) meeting rooms in city hall have their own Twitter accounts. When residents want to reserve them, they send a direct message via Twitter; when it's time, the door to the room unlocks automatically in response to a tweet. Jun's mayor, Jose Antonio Rodriguez, says he coordinates with other public servants via Twitter. Residents routinely tweet about public services, and city hall answers. Every police officer in Jun has a Twitter handle displayed on his uniform.

Now the New York Police Department, the largest in the U.S., is starting a broad social media initiative to get every precinct talking and listening online via Twitter, to both serve citizens and manage police personnel. The question is whether the kind of positive, highly local responsiveness the residents of Jun expect is possible across all parts of local government -- not just from the police -- in a big city. If it works, the benefits to the public from this kind of engagement could be enormous.

In the age of Michael Brown's death in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner's in New York, when police abuses can be easily documented by citizens wielding smartphones, relationships between police departments and the communities they serve can quickly become strained. And social media use by the police runs the risk of being initially dismissed as a publicity stunt. But after decades of losing the trust of important New York City communities, this step may help the department gain civic support.

There will be bumps along the way. Last spring, the NYPD kicked off a social media campaign, asking people to share photos accompanied by the Twitter hashtag #myNYPD. Within 24 hours the hashtag was famous worldwide, as activists posted pictures of clashes between residents and the police. But Commissioner Bill Bratton brushed off the criticism, calling the pictures old news and saying the media event was not going to cause the NYPD to change its plans to be active on social media. "I welcome the attention," he said.

Bratton will roll out a long list of social media efforts in the coming months. The NYPD is training its dozens of commanding officers to understand and use Twitter on their own, both to ask questions and to respond timely to comments and concerns. For example, police in New York City spend a lot of time looking for missing people; now they will be able to get assistance from eyes on the street.

As Boston's experience with the marathon bombing showed, Twitter can be extraordinarily useful in getting the word out about public safety dangers. And businesses already know that a customer service function using Twitter can increase the likelihood that problems will be identified early before they fester; now block-by-block engagement by police online can help communities operate on a playing field that will be more level than before.

There are several layers of trust wrapped up in this approach. For starters, the NYPD is trusting its officers to speak independently, beginning by providing training about what Twitter does and how its natives act. The people of the city will need to trust that these voices are authentic and that someone is paying attention to concerns they tweet back.


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Senators hear calls on the FCC to step back from net neutrality rules | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com

Senators hear calls on the FCC to step back from net neutrality rules | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission should abandon its efforts to pass net neutrality rules because new regulations would hurt investment and the deployment of broadband, a parade of Republican senators and advocates said Wednesday.


Advocates of strong net neutrality rules have pointed to few problems that justify intrusive new regulations, several Republican senators argued during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Net neutrality would amount to the FCC taking “control” of the Internet, said Senator Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican. “Without government regulation the Internet is growing,” he said. “So what’s the problem? What is broken? What is it that needs to be fixed?”

Instead of questioning witnesses, Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, gave a six-minute speech about what he sees as the evils of a “nanny state” of growing government regulation.

Every time the net neutrality debate returns to Washington, D.C., “it stirs up an interesting debate between government regulation versus, to some, the terrifying freedom of the Internet,” Cruz said. “I think the American people don’t find that freedom all that terrifying.”

The Judiciary Committee hearing has no direct impact on the FCC’s ongoing net neutrality rulemaking proceeding, although senators and witnesses on both sides used the time to restate long-held positions on the issue. Republicans in Congress have tried to pass legislation preventing the FCC from taking action, but a bill is likely to pass in the Senate, where Democrats hold a majority.

Several Democratic senators and three hearing witnesses defended net neutrality rules, saying rules are needed to keep the Internet free from selective traffic slowdowns by broadband providers seeking to pump up profits through paid traffic prioritization deals.


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The Book of Broken Promises: $400 Billion Broadband Scandal and Free the Net | Bruce Kushnick Blog | HuffPost.com

The Book of Broken Promises: $400 Billion Broadband Scandal and Free the Net | Bruce Kushnick Blog | HuffPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it
Welcome to The Book of Broken Promises: $400 Billion Broadband Scandal & Free the Net". It is being pre-released as a PDF version because these are critical times in communications.

It is the third book in a trilogy that started in 1998 and it details some of the largest scandals in American telecommunications history.

So let me tell you a story, which is told in all of its gory details in the book.

$400 Billion Broadband Scandal

By the end of 2014, America will have been charged about $400 billion by the local phone incumbents, Verizon, AT&T and CenturyLink, for a fiber optic future that never showed up. And though it varies by state, counting the taxes, fees and surcharges that you have paid every month (many of these fees are actually revenues to the company or taxes on the company that you paid), it comes to about $4000-$5000.00 per household from 1992-2014, and that's the low number.

You were also charged about nine times to wire the schools and libraries via state and federal plans designed to help the phone and cable companies.

And if that doesn't bother you, by year-end of 2010, and based on the commitments made by the phone companies in their press statements, filings on the state and federal level, and the state-based 'alternative regulation' plans that were put in place to charge you for broadband upgrades of the telephone company wire in your home, business, as well as the schools and libraries -- America, should have been the world's first fully fibered, leading edge broadband nation.

In fact, in 1992, the speed of broadband, as detailed in state laws, was 45 Mbps in both directions -- by 2014, all of us should have been enjoying gigabit speeds (1000 Mbps).

Instead, America is not number 1 or 2 or 5 or even 10th in the world in broadband. As of Monday, September 15th, 2014, one of the standard testing companies of the speed of broadband, worldwide, Net Index by Ookla, pegged America at 25th in the world in download speeds and 40th in upload speeds. Though this accounting varies daily, America's download speeds are never in the top 20 countries.

The Information Superhighway to Nowhere (1991-2004)

Starting in 1991, the Clinton-Gore ticket proposed a visionary plan which Al Gore dubbed the "Information Superhighway": Simply put:


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New Study Confirms: Internet Is Contributing To Massive Profit Levels At Legacy Entertainment Firms | Mike Masnick | Techdirt.com

New Study Confirms: Internet Is Contributing To Massive Profit Levels At Legacy Entertainment Firms | Mike Masnick | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Our own research has shown this over the past few years, but contrary to the doom-and-gloom stories from the big entertainment companies about how awful the internet has been for their business, the truth is that it's enabling tremendous growth and profits. A few months ago, a study of the major record labels showed that they remained tremendously profitable.


There's some up and down in there, but there's fairly consistent profitability, with pretty massive profitability from the two biggest ones, Universal Music and Sony. The report also notes a big increase in the profit margins that these companies are making, able to squeeze a lot more money out of existing resources.

A new, much larger, study from Ernst & Young shows that this is true across the media business these days -- and that a lot of the profitability is coming... from the internet. A quote from the report's lead author sums it up:


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New Company Transparency Reports Help Quantify DMCA Abuse | Parker Higgins | EFF.org

t's a sign of the times that online companies’ transparency reports are starting to include a new section: the Hall of Shame. Automattic, the company behind WordPress, is the latest to do so, highlighting examples of copyright and trademark overreach by prominent figures like Janet Jackson, as well as more local businesses, organizations, and individuals attempting to silence criticism and other noninfringing speech.


It even highlighted one example we've written about—and even dedicated a short video to—in which a baked goods company misused trademark to go after bloggers talking about derby pie, a common regional dessert in the Southern U.S. And WordPress is only the latest company to name-and-shame takedown abusers—the Wikimedia Foundation made a major splash last month when it highlighted the copyright sagabehind a notorious monkey selfie.


We've kept up a Takedown Hall of Shame of our own for years. But these cases of egregious abuse tell only part of the story, and transparency reports also help call attention to a more subtle issue: a large percentage of takedown requests that do not result in content removal. That is to say, services routinely receive large numbers of bogus takedown demands.


There's a real trend here. According to the latest numbers, Twitter does not comply with nearly 1 in 4 takedown notices it receives; Wikimedia complies with less than half; and WordPress complies with less than two-thirds. Each organization explains in its report that the notices with which they don't comply are either incomplete or abusive.


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3.7 Million Comments Later, Here's Where Net Neutrality Stands | Elise Hu | KUNC.org

3.7 Million Comments Later, Here's Where Net Neutrality Stands | Elise Hu | KUNC.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Now, we wait.


The window for the public to weigh in on how federal rule-makers should treat Internet traffic is closed, after a record 3.7 million comments arrived at the FCC. The Sunlight Foundation analyzed the first 800,000 and found that fewer than 1 percent were opposed to net neutrality enforcement.


The principle of net neutrality generally means that all Internet traffic is treated equally.


But whether the weight of popular opinion can overcome the significant lobbying heft of Internet service providers fighting against stronger net neutrality rules is a huge question mark. An analysis by San Francisco-based data firm Quid found that Verizon alone spent $100 million to lobby Congress on net neutrality since 2009. (That kind of money could buy you 793 houses or 4 million bottles of Maker's Mark.)


The proposal before the five-member Federal Communications Commission, led by Chairman Tom Wheeler, would allow broadband providers such as Time Warner and Verizon to engage in "commercially reasonable" traffic management. That means they could potentially charge content companies (like Netflix) to get their content to you faster — paid prioritization, or "fast lanes."


Internet advocates want equal treatment of all Internet traffic, and some, like advocacy group Free Press, have pushed for a reclassification of the Internet as a public utility under Title II, which could give the FCC more enforcement power to keep the Internet open. A broad coalition of telecom and cable companies has opposed this, arguing it would create unnecessary obstacles to broadband deployment. Reclassification would be "unlawful, unnecessary and profoundly unwise," the National Cable and Telecommunications Association wrote in its filing.


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