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The 3 big U.S. Internet infrastructure policy choices | EldoTelecom.com

The 3 big U.S. Internet infrastructure policy choices | EldoTelecom.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The United States now has three major policy options on the build out of Internet infrastructure to serve all American homes, businesses and institutions:

 

1. Continuation of the status quo of investor-owned Internet infrastructure and associated private market failure that will leave significant numbers of premises lacking affordable Internet access over the long term and potentially permanently.


2. A well funded federal aid program including technical assistance grants for community fiber to the premise network construction projects, funded by existing programs such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service, a program jointly administered by multiple agencies or by a newly created, dedicated agency.  In addition, federal preemption of state laws barring local governments from constructing, owning or operating Internet infrastructure.

 

3. De-privatization of all Internet infrastructure (either immediately or over a period of years) combined with a fast track federal construction project to build out fiber to serve all U.S. premises, similar to the 1950s interstate highway project.

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A look at California's effort to build an H-1B firewall | Patrick Thibodeau | NetworkWorld

A look at California's effort to build an H-1B firewall | Patrick Thibodeau | NetworkWorld | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

California lawmakers are considering a bill that would make it difficult for state-regulated utilities to replace U.S. workers with H-1B workers. It may be one of the most significant anti-offshoring measures in years.

In the absence of federal action, states have long tried to put the brakes on the shift of jobs to offshore. Legislative efforts began in earnest with the burst of the dotcom bubble in 2001. Many state bills were never adopted, but that hasn't stopped some from trying.

In New Jersey, for instance, lawmakers in 2012 approved legislation intended to impede call center outsourcing. The Communication Workers of America, which spurred the effort, said that it had represented about 3,000 New Jersey call center workers in 2002, but by 2012, that figure had fallen to 725.

The New Jersey CWA said telecommunications providers, notably Verizon, were shifting DSL call-center support jobs to India and other countries. New Jersey lawmakers responded by passing, in both houses, the "Save New Jersey Call Centers Jobs Act." But Gov. Chris Christie, who announced Tuesday that he is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, vetoed the bill with little explanation.

The New Jersey bill required any employer relocating a call center to a foreign country to notify the state, and give up any grants, loans or tax benefits. A similar bill first introduced in Congress in late 2011, the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, gained nearly 140 co-sponsors, mostly Democrats, but was not adopted. The bill was subsequently reintroduced in the following Congress, and once again failed to pass.

California's anti-offshoring bill (AB 853), sponsored by Assembly member Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina), is aimed at IT operations. It requires an electric or gas company "to use direct employees for any work associated with the design, engineering, and operation of its nuclear, electrical, and gas infrastructure, including all computer and information systems, to the extent feasible."


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MN: Pennington County Broadband 2014 Update: 92% coverage despite $15.33 per Megabit to connect to the Internet backbone | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

MN: Pennington County Broadband 2014 Update: 92% coverage despite $15.33 per Megabit to connect to the Internet backbone | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

I’m working on a County-by-County look at the State of Broadband in MN. My hope is to feature a county a day (in alphabetical order). In November, Connect Minnesota released their final report on broadband availability. Here is how Pennington County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 9.4
  • Number of Households: 5,836
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 91.64%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 91.64%


Pennington is doing pretty well. And we have a unique look at the situation in Pennington because it was used as an example in the last Minnesota Task Force report to demonstrate the inequity in cost to a provider to connect to the Internet backbone based on location…


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Coalition formed to free consumers from cable set-top boxes | Kathryn Bachman | Katy on the Hill

Coalition formed to free consumers from cable set-top boxes | Kathryn Bachman | Katy on the Hill | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

TiVo, Google, Vizio, and DC advocacy groups like COMPTEL and Public Knowledge are forming the Consumer Video Choice Coalition to free consumers from having to rely on cable and satellite set-top boxes for subscription video content.

In addition to promoting alternative ways for consumers to receive subscription video content, the group is also looking to influence the FCC’s Downloadable Security Technical Advisory Committee, a technical advisory committee formed to develop recommendations for software security solutions to replace set-top box and other hardware solutions.

The FCC formed DSTAC soon after Congress effectively killed the cable card with the passage of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization (STELAR) late last year.

Many of the same members of the new coalition wrote to the FCC in May urging the agency to expand DSTAC’s mission to include competitive issues.


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Comcast's New Voice-Controlled Remote Starts Marketing Movies To Your Kids | Karl Bode | Techdirt

Comcast's New Voice-Controlled Remote Starts Marketing Movies To Your Kids | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For years, broadcasters and cable operators have tried to push the boundaries of good taste and advertising revenue generation. Whether that's trying to prevent consumers from skipping ads to patenting technology that will use cameras embedded in set tops to watch you watching TV, there's a relentless thirst for new realms of ad revenue.


As a sense of futility extends into the quest for more meaningful privacy protections in the new age of smart hardware and deep packet inspection, cable operators continue to nudge the boundaries of revenue collection ever further.

Comcast's latest foray into this arena is its new voice-controlled remote, which lets users give some basic keywords to control the company's set top box. Like similar services, it's a relatively useful concept, though if it works as well as most such efforts, most people will stick with old-fashioned buttons. Meanwhile, Comcast has apparently started using the technology to strike deals that market certain films to kids:

"Just say the word ‘banana’ into the remote and you’ll get a list of food programs as the minions talk back. Saying ‘kudos’ will take you to the Despicable Me 2 movie, and the minions will say ‘kudos!’ right back. Test out other words in Minionese to see what comes up, and keep checking the Xfinity and Minions social channels for new commands as they’re added. And if you want to get ready for the movie that comes out on July 10, just say ‘Minions’ to see the trailer."

To be clear, I don't think this is all that big of a deal, even though I understand the concerns of those who aren't thrilled about direct marketing to (and data collection of) children (as we recently saw with the new Wi-Fi-connected Barbie). After all, Minions ads are everywhere. Amazon's featuring the yellow pill-shaped little rabblerousers on their boxes during a limited cross-promotion. This is just kind of cute, right?


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VPN users, beware: You may not be as safe as you think you are | Katherine Noyes | NetworkWorld.com

VPN users, beware: You may not be as safe as you think you are | Katherine Noyes | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It’s become common practice to use virtual private networks for extra privacy and security in this era of mass surveillance, but a study published this week suggests such networks may not be as safe as they’re commonly made out to be.

In fact, because of a vulnerability known as IPv6 leakage, many of them can expose user information to prying eyes, according to a paper from researchers at Sapienza University of Rome and Queen Mary University of London.

Entitled “A Glance through the VPN Looking Glass: IPv6 Leakage and DNS Hijacking in Commercial VPN clients,” the report describes a study conducted late last year that examined 14 popular commercial VPN providers around the world.

Specifically, the researchers tested the VPNs by attempting two kinds of attacks: passive monitoring, whereby a hacker might simply collect the user’s unencrypted information, and DNS hijacking, where the hacker would redirect the user’s browser to a controlled Web server by pretending to be a popular site like Google or Facebook.

What they found was unnerving: 11 of the 14 providers leaked information, including the websites the user was accessing and the actual content of the user’s communications. The only three that didn’t were Private Internet Access, Mullvad and VyprVPN. TorGuard offered a way around the problem, they noted, but it wasn’t enabled by default.


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Petition Backs TWC Shareholder Proposal | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

Petition Backs TWC Shareholder Proposal | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Advocacy group SumOfUs.org has launched a petition backing a resolution from some Time Warner Cable shareholders calling on the company to disclose its political spending and "end the funding of shadow organizations opposed to net neutrality."

They want the company to disclose how much it contributes to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association--it is one of the largest members-- citing NCTA's support for Broadband For America, which opposed net neutrality regs. They also want TWC not to fund groups opposing net neutrality rules.

NCTA has made not secret of its opposition to the FCC's new network neutrality order, having joined with other ISPs to challenge the FCC's Title II reclassification.

SumOfUS.org says it has almost 20,000 signatories on its petition.

TWC shareholders are meeting in New York this week, where the resolution will be proposed.

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MA Update: 22 towns authorize $34.5M for fiber. 6,700+ deposits on service | Monica Webb | WiredWest

MA Update: 22 towns authorize $34.5M for fiber. 6,700+ deposits on service | Monica Webb | WiredWest | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

After creating a telecommunications coop to bring broadband to rural communities in Western Mass, and completing four years of planning, WiredWest member towns have signaled they’re ready to move forward with a regional fiber-optic network.


Over the last two months, 22 WiredWest communities have passed bond authorizations totaling $34.5 million for their towns’ portions of costs to build a fiber-optic network. The votes have been characterized by record attendance and passage by overwhelming margins, including three unanimous town votes.


On June 29th, the Town of Goshen became the 20th town to authorize their funding with a record turnout of 240 voters. In fact, the meeting had to move from Town Hall to the nearby Congregational Church in order to accommodate everyone, which is the second meeting of a WiredWest town on the bond authorization that has had to do so.


According to WiredWest Delegate, Bob Labrie, “Our family has lived in Goshen for almost 30 years. Over that time during town meeting, we’ve debated the costs of a fire truck, an ambulance, several highway trucks and police cruisers, capping our dump, a new elementary school, an addition to the high school and now the construction of a regional broadband network. Never in the history of Goshen have we had to change the venue of the meeting because so many people turned out.”


All 240 voters were unanimous in their support of the bond authorization. In Labrie’s words, “In the end, history was made. Never before had the town been so galvanized on a topic like this. Never before had there been a unanimous vote in favor of a project of this magnitude. Some might call it divine intervention. I just think of it as the right thing to do for the future of our region.”


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Fine Print Fun: Sprint Backs Off From Throttling All Wireless Video Traffic to 600kbps | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Fine Print Fun: Sprint Backs Off From Throttling All Wireless Video Traffic to 600kbps | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Sprint’s all-new “All-In” wireless plan was supposed to simplify wireless pricing for consumers by bundling a leased phone, unlimited voice, data, and texting for a flat $80 a month, but customers slogging through the fine print discovered speed throttling and roaming punishments were silent passengers along for the ride:

To improve data experience for the majority of users, throughput may be limited, varied or reduced on the network. Streaming video speeds will be limited to 600Kbps at all times, which may impact quality. Sprint may terminate service if off-network roaming usage in a month exceeds: (1) 800 min. or a majority of min.; or (2) 100MB or a majority of KB. Prohibited network use rules apply—see sprint.com/termsandconditions.

Although many smaller wireless carriers also have limits on off-network roaming usage, none have proposed to permanently throttle web videos to a frustratingly slow 600kbps. At those speeds, Sprint customers could expect buffering delays or degraded HD video.

Many customers contemplating switching to the All-In plan considered the speed throttle a deal-breaker and let Sprint know through its social media accounts. Even websites friendly to Sprint were very critical of the plan:


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Last-Mile FTTH Via Nonprofit Networks in New York State | community broadband networks

Last-Mile FTTH Via Nonprofit Networks in New York State | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Western New York residents are welcoming the presence of a new Internet service provider, Empire Access, competing directly with Time Warner Cable and Verizon. Besides satisfied customers, no data caps, and no usage-based billing, Empire is different from the incumbents in another way - it uses nonprofit network infrastructure to deliver services.

StopTheCap writes that Empire Access utilizes the Southern Tier Network (STN) to connect to communities in Steuben, Chemung, and Schuyler Counties in its southern service area. STN's 235-mile backbone was deployed when fiber-optic manufacturer Corning contributed $10 million to build the network and the three counties contributed the remaining $2.2 million. Construction on the open access network was finished in the spring of 2014.

Axcess Ontario provides the fiber route in the northern region of the Empire Access service area. The network is also a non-profit model and similarly developed to serve business, community anchor institutions, and ISPs. The organization began 10 years ago with the establishment of the nonprofit. The Ontario County Office of Economic Development /Industrial Development Agency provided startup costs to deploy the $7.5 million middle-mile open access dark fiber network. Axcess Ontario is also over 200 miles long.

For now, the locally-owned company that began in 1896 with one telephone and grew from there, is taking a different approach then its much larger competitors. From StopTheCap:


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Tennessee State University Students Pay for Comcast Whether They Want It Or Not | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Tennessee State University Students Pay for Comcast Whether They Want It Or Not | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The average student of Tennessee State University living in on-campus housing will pay between $1,780-2,900 per academic year for housing, a meal plan, and Comcast’s Xfinity on Campus, an 80-channel cable television service that students pay for as part of their room and board.

TSU is the first college in Tennessee to launch the cable television service, which permits students off campus to use their university credentials to authenticate and access online programming from TV Everywhere websites and apps, such as WatchESPN and FXNOW.

Many students do not object to the Comcast service, in fact many appreciate it. Few know exactly how much it actually costs them, however, as its price is not broken out. Students cannot opt out of paying their share of the service either.

Universities respond positively to the program because it is administered and maintained by Comcast, which reduces the workload for campus employees.


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Pew continues to survey as if it's 1999 on "Internet adoption" | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom

Pew continues to survey as if it's 1999 on "Internet adoption" | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Pew: Internet Penetration Reaches Saturation Levels – For Some - Telecompetitor: Internet penetration in the U.S. has reached saturation levels, at least for some groups, according to an analysis of 15 years of data collected by a Pew Research Center unit that has been tracking and studying Internet adoption and use in the U.S. since 2000.

The Internet saturation point has been reached for Americans – young Americans especially – with high levels of education and those who live in more affluent households, Pew highlights in “Americans’ Internet Access: 2000-2015.”

More than 8 in 10 of all American adults – 84 percent – now use the Internet, up from about half in 2000. Seventy percent of young U.S. adults used the Internet in 2000. That has increased steadily since 2000: Today 96 percent of young U.S. adults use the Internet. In contrast, it wasn’t until 2012 that more than half of U.S. adults 65 and older said they do.

These surveys of "Internet adoption" are growing increasingly irrelevant as the Internet delivers various types of services including data, video, voice, telemedicine, distance learning and control of home systems. The Internet is not a distinct service but rather a means of delivering multiple services -- and is now classified as a common carrier telecommunications service by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

That Pew continues to do these retrospective, backward looking surveys is puzzling in 2015. It does fit nicely however with the strategy of the legacy incumbent telephone and cable companies and their outmoded metallic Internet infrastructures to keep the concept of "the Internet" as it was in 1999 when it was used solely for data such as email and the then relatively new World Wide Web.


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Audit Reveals Verizon Tried To Corner NYC Broadband Market By Striking Exclusive Landlord Deals | Karl Bode | Techdirt

Audit Reveals Verizon Tried To Corner NYC Broadband Market By Striking Exclusive Landlord Deals | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As we recently noted, New York City only just woke up to the fact that the lucrative 2008 Verizon franchise deal the city thought would bring fiber broadband to 100% of all five boroughs, has only resulted in Verizon cherry picking about half of the city's residents.


Of course as we pointed out, if the city had actually bothered to read the closed-door agreement struck with former Mayor Mike Bloomberg (or listened to a few local reporters at the time), leaders could have noticed at any time that it contains oodles of loopholes allowing Verizon to wiggle over, under and around most of the obligations contained therein.

While most people know by now that taking subsidies and tax breaks for fiber that never gets delivered is Verizon's MO in Pennsylvania and New Jersey (ok, well everywhere), the city only just appears to be realizing the scope of Verizon's shenanigans.


In addition to discovering that Verizon failed its build out obligations, analysis of the NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications' audit (pdf) indicates that Verizon also tried to cajole landlords into exclusivity deals that may violate FCC rules:


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The forgotten origins of Greece’s crisis will make you think twice about who’s to blame | Ana Swanson | WashPost.com

The forgotten origins of Greece’s crisis will make you think twice about who’s to blame | Ana Swanson | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

The Greeks, Italians, Spaniards and Irish walk into a bar, where the French and Germans are the bartenders. It’s happy hour, and the Germans and the French are serving half-price drinks. Although everyone quickly drinks too much, the bartenders keep on serving. Eventually, the inebriated customers head home and get into all kinds of trouble -- fights, car accidents, some broken windows.

So who’s to blame? Clearly, the Greeks shouldn’t have drunk so much. However, the French and Germans also shouldn’t have served the Greeks when they were clearly drunk -- especially if the French and Germans mind having broken glass in their neighborhood.

Unfortunately, this isn’t much of a joke. After an extended binge, Greece is now mired in financial crisis and is dragging the European economy down with it. In the last few days, Greece has defaulted on a important payment to the IMF and shuttered its banks to prevent massive flows of money from leaving the country. On Sunday, the country is slated to hold a referendum on whether to approve tough austerity measures demanded by Europe -- a decision that could determine whether Greece will stay in the euro zone.

Some of the reasons for the crisis are obvious to anyone who looks. Greece has a lot of well-recognized economic problems: Its public sector is bloated and marred by corruption, and many analysts say that the country cooked its books to hide the real amount of debt from the rest of Europe.

There are also many well-documented problems stemming from the design of the euro zone itself – that the countries share a common currency even though they have different tax-and-spending policies. So that means that even though Greek workers aren’t as economically competitive as Germans, Greece can’t lower the value of its currency to make its products cheaper abroad and stimulate exports.

The same holds true for inflation, where Greece might benefit from a higher inflation rate that would make debt in today's prices become cheaper, while Germany has a historic unease with any policy that might stimulate inflation.

There are some other ideas about the deeper origins of the Greek crisis that you may be less familiar with.


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Wi-Fi password-sharing feature in Windows 10 raises security concerns | Blair Hanley Frank | NetworkWorld.com

Wi-Fi password-sharing feature in Windows 10 raises security concerns | Blair Hanley Frank | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

With the launch of Windows 10, anyone who walks into your house and gets your Wi-Fi password for their PC could potentially let all their friends onto your network, thanks to a new feature that has ignited controversy online.

Called Wi-Fi Sense, the feature is designed to make it easier for people to get Internet access for their devices while they’re on the go by automatically logging them into wireless hotspots. It does so with a two-pronged approach: by logging users into select open networks and also by allowing them to share secured connections with their friends (and vice versa). Perhaps unsurprisingly, that has drawn the ire of people who care about wireless security.

If someone with a Windows 10 device logs on to a new network, they can check a box to share that access with their contacts, who could include their Facebook friends, Outlook.com contacts and people on their Skype contact list. This isn’t exactly a new feature—Microsoft introduced it with Windows Phone 8.1 last year, but it didn’t make much of a splash at the time because not that many people use Windows Phone.

Craig Mathias, a principal at the Farpoint Group who specializes in wireless technology, said in an email that the feature was “a cheap hack.” He went on to say that the Wi-Fi Alliance’s Passpoint technology, which makes it possible for some devices to connect securely to wireless networks without going through a login process, is “more important.”

“And no one should ever leave Wi-Fi access wide open,” he said.


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San Francisco to Host Free Antenna Giveaway | Tom Butts | TVTechnology.com

San Francisco to Host Free Antenna Giveaway | Tom Butts | TVTechnology.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

TVFreedom.org and Antennas Direct will give away over 300 indoor digital broadcast TV antennas in San Francisco's Chinatown on Friday, July 3, 2015 at 9:00 A.M. PT.


The giveaway will be held in conjunction with this week's 2015 OCA National Convention. This is the latest stop in the TVfreedom.org/Antennas Direct joint TV Liberation Tour that was launched last year and will include several new, yet-to-be-announced, tour stops in 2015.

The event will feature a tour bus with big picture screen HD TV's, information on the local broadcast TV channels available to San Franciscans and other promotional giveaway items such as t-shirts and discount coupons to purchase additional antennas online.

Antennas Direct will be giving away its ClearStream Eclipse TV antennas which will allow viewers to watch dozens of local broadcast TV channels in the San Francisco Bay area for free.

TVFreedom.org and Antennas Direct have hosted similar giveaways in the past year, including one in Washington D.C. last November in which they gave away more than a thousand antennas. .


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Chicago Residents Now Stuck With A New 9% "Cloud Tax" On Netflix And Other Streaming Services | Kate Cox | Consumerist

Chicago Residents Now Stuck With A New 9% "Cloud Tax" On Netflix And Other Streaming Services | Kate Cox | Consumerist | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

There used to be a whole world of brick-and-mortar retail stores and transactions a city could gather some sales tax from and build into a revenue stream. As more and more goods instead become online services, though, those streams have dried up. Now one city wants to go back to gathering its cash… from your transactions in the cloud.

The Verge reports that residents of the Windy City are about to have to start paying a premium on Netflix and their other streaming services, as a new “cloud tax” takes effect in Chicago today.

The logic goes something like this: In the long-gone ancient era of “twenty whole years ago,” when you went down to your corner video store for some rentals and some popcorn, you’d leave a few cents of sales tax behind with your purchase. Those nickels and pennies added up, and your town, city, or county got some revenue out of it.

But now, you’re streaming all your media, not buying it, and as a result there’s no sales tax going anywhere. Worse: record stores, video stores, and bookstores are in large part going the way of the dodo, and cities can’t collect business or property taxes on businesses that don’t exist. So this, then, is Chicago’s attempt to recoup some of those losses.

As The Verge explains, the new tax is actually a pair of rules put together. One covers “electronically delivered amusements” and the other, “nonpossessory computer leases.” The former targets your streaming video and radio sites, and the latter is meant to cover remote computing platforms like Amazon Web Services.


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WSJ gets it wrong on Title II Internet universal service obligation | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom

WSJ gets it wrong on Title II Internet universal service obligation | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

How Fast Internet Affects Home Prices - WSJ: Telecom companies by law are required to make telephone service available to every residence in their service areas, but the same isn’t true for all high speed Internet providers.

The Federal Communications Commission's newly issued Open Internet rules that took effect June 12 reclassified Internet service from an optional information service to a mandatory common carrier telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act, thereby bringing Internet service under the same universal service obligation as telephone service.

This is a glaring example of how the mainstream and much of the info tech media have buried and lost this quintessential Title II requirement as it was termed by Harold Feld of Public Knowledge under the rubric of "net neutrality."

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After Uber ruling, pressure mounts on companies to reclassify contractors | John Ribeiro | NetworkWorld.com

After Uber ruling, pressure mounts on companies to reclassify contractors | John Ribeiro | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The pressure on app-based companies to reclassify their contractors as employees is picking up, with more of them getting sued this week.

The California Labor Commission ruled last month that a driver of Uber Technologies was an employee and not a contractor, when driving for the company, and was hence entitled to reimbursement on certain expenses. The ride-hailing company said it had appealed the decision.

Postmates, Shyp, and Washio were sued by workers this week, arguing that they should be classified as employees and not independent contractors, according to Shannon Liss-Riordan who is an attorney in these cases. The actions against Shyp and Postmates were filed as “class action arbitration” demands in arbitration courts.

The suits all aim to be class actions, according to Liss-Riordan, who has been involved in separate lawsuits against Uber, Lyft and food delivery service Caviar.

On Wednesday, Shyp, an app-based shipping service that was targeted in one of the arbitration cases, said its couriers would now be considered as employees. The company will pay them workers’ compensation and vehicle expenses, in addition to their unemployment, Social Security, and Medicare taxes, as it does for its satellite drivers and warehouse employees. Depending on hours worked, Shyp said it will also provide benefits like health care.


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FCC's Sohn: 25 Mbps Is Snail's Pace in Fiber World | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

FCC's Sohn: 25 Mbps Is Snail's Pace in Fiber World | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Gigi Sohn, counselor to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, told a fiber-to-the-home conference in California this week that the FCC was ready to step in to preempt any more state laws that hampered municipal fiber buildouts, and would give cities money to do that building if the big telecoms don't step up.

And Sohn made it clear she did not think commercial broadband networks were cutting it.

"It’s not hard to see that current networks are not up to the task to meet the needs of today’s Internet users," she told the FTTH Connect conference in Anaheim, Calif., June 30. Sohn talked bout the folks that can't get 25 Mbps broadband (1 in 6 Americans, she said), what she pointed out chairman Wheeler has called table stakes for "full use" of the Internet.

She pointed out that the FCC had upped its baseline for high speed to that 25 Mbps. But she also said even that was a "snail's pace" in a world of fiber.

The FCC earlier this year preempted state laws limiting municipal broadband buildouts in Chattanooga and Wilson, N.C., where she said there had been substandard service or none. Sohn said the FCC was ready to do so again if needed.

"Now the FCC respects the important role of state governments in our federal system and we don’t take preemption of state laws lightly. But when state laws directly conflict with Federal laws and policy, we are not afraid to take action," she said.

But she also pointed to efforts that did not involve the FCC's intervention.

"In cities and towns where incumbent broadband access providers have not stepped up to provide their customers with the reliably fast service they need at a reasonable price, community leaders are taking matters into their own hands," she said.

But the FCC is also ready to invest in those builds. Sohn pointed out that the FCC has Universal Service Fund subsidies that municipalities can access if the major telecoms, who get first crack at the funds, pass on the money.


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Will the FCC Ignore Our Complaint? Did AT&T Commit Perjury, Claiming it had Covered 100 Percent of 21 States With Broadband? | Bruce Kushnick Blog | HuffPost.com

Will the FCC Ignore Our Complaint? Did AT&T Commit Perjury, Claiming it had Covered 100 Percent of 21 States With Broadband? | Bruce Kushnick Blog | HuffPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Rumors are flying that the proposed AT&T-DirecTV merger is a done deal. And yet, it appears that the FCC ignored our complaint, which outlined that AT&T may have committed perjury during the previous AT&T-BellSouth merger. In 2008, AT&T claimed it had fulfilled a merger commitment to have 100% of their 21 state territory covered with broadband, (albeit slow at 200 Kbps). Based on US Census and FCC data, this would mean that AT&T would have had about 77 million 'locations' -- i.e., businesses and residential customers, covered in 21 states.

But, as we pointed out, over the last 5 years, in statement after statement, AT&T claimed it did not have 100 percent coverage of broadband -- and we believe that the FCC must investigate this BEFORE any new merger is consummated.

Allowing the company to con the FCC is one thing. But, the bottom line is -- There are no 'commitments' in place to make sure that AT&T does anything whatsoever after the ink is dry on the agreement. And history shows that AT&T may, can and will simply walk away from anything they said they would be doing, just to get this deal through.

And this is also an important issue now as the FCC's leadership, including Democrat Chairman Tom Wheeler, and Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai each claim that they have the right plan to make sure that rural areas get broadband. Ironically, they both just want to throw money, read your tax dollars and fees, at the problem instead of asking --Wasn't AT&T supposed to have upgraded rural areas? Neither regulator mentioned AT&T's requirement, of course. Moreover, all of the major incumbent phone companies, AT&T, Verizon and Centurylink, had commitments to do upgrades in most states, which included rural areas, which were never done, even though customers were hit with rate increases and the phone companies got tax perks to do the work. And the FCC has never investigated any state commitments for broadband upgrades, much less rural areas.

But I digress, as this is about the fact that AT&T's own statements condemns AT&T's actions. As we discussed in our complaint, AT&T claims it still does NOT cover 25 percent (or 15 million locations) with broadband -- and that's one of the reasons it needs to merge with DirecTV.


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Seattle City Council Member Urges Grass Roots Broadband Revolution After Ten Years Of Failing To Fix Broken Broadband Duopoly | Karl Bode | Techdirt

Seattle City Council Member Urges Grass Roots Broadband Revolution After Ten Years Of Failing To Fix Broken Broadband Duopoly | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For most of the last decade Seattle, like many U.S. cities, has been painfully unhappy with its broadband options. If they're "lucky," Seattle residents have the choice of apathetic telco CenturyLink (formerly Qwest), or everybody's favorite dysfunction monolith, Comcast.


CenturyLink historically can barely be bothered to upgrade its aging DSL networks, resulting in most of its users paying an arm and a leg for 3 to 6 Mbps DSL (which was quite cutting edge in 2003). And while Comcast has done a relatively better job upgrading its networks, their customer service documentably qualifies for inclusion as a new circle of hell.

So Seattle has, since 2005 and before, pondered whether it should get into the broadband business itself. The city has conducted study after study on building a citywide fiber ring to feed municipal operations and residential and business service, yet these efforts consistently die under the weight of bureaucratic incompetence and Comcast and CenturyLink pressure.


At one point, Seattle even paid a company by the name of Gigabit Squared $55,000 in exchange for absolutely nothing of note (Gigabit Squared magically evaporated after also taking money from Chicago in exchange for doing nothing).

So basically year after year slips by, and each new Seattle politician publicly laments the horrible state of broadband competition to score political points, but, like most cities, nothing gets fixed.


That's in large part courtesy of incumbent ISP lobbyists, who work tirelessly to make sure city politicians don't disrupt the profitable and uncompetitive status quo.


Last year, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray (the money he received from Comcast was a hot topic leading up to his election) proudly proclaimed that he would be the one to fix Seattle's broadband woes:


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TN: Chattanooga Video Explains Potential Gigabit Expansion Process | community broadband networks

TN: Chattanooga Video Explains Potential Gigabit Expansion Process | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Following up on our post last week noting the new video from Tennessee Fiber Optic Communities, another video recently posted explains what needs to change in Tennessee law for Chattanooga to expand Internet access beyond the current footprint.


EPB Chief Operating Officer David Wade also explains the process the municipal electric distributor will use to connect nearby communities.


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VT: KeepBTLocal Working on Plan to Purchase BT | community broadband networks

VT: KeepBTLocal Working on Plan to Purchase BT | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Burlingtonians love their municipal network. We have reported in the past that, prior to the sale of the network to Blue Water LLC, a group of locals organized to create the KeepBTLocal cooperative. Recently, the organization reaffirmed its commitment to purchase the network when it goes up for sale, a condition of the Blue Water LLC transaction.

A customer satisfaction survey in April revealed that BT customers are more than twice as satisfied with their provider as those obtaining service from competitors. The VTDigger reported survey results:

  • 87% customer satisfaction with BT’s Customer Service;


  • 24% of customers chose BT’s services after being recommended by a friend or family member; and


  • General impression of BT by non-BT customers saw a 10% “positive” increase over their 2014 impression.


The survey also reported that customers with other providers were 40% satisfied with their service.

BT offers 150 Mbps for $55 per month and gigabit service for $85 per month or $70 per month with a 12 month contract. All speeds are symmetrical.


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City and School Board Partner for Fiber in Maryland | community broadband networks

City and School Board Partner for Fiber in Maryland | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Cumberland and the Allegany Board of Education are collaborating to improve educational, municipal, and business connectivity in the city's downtown area, reports GovTech.

The district's 23 schools are all connected, but the Maintenance and Facilities Warehouse is not yet connected. The location of the facility and the proposed fiber route will create an ideal opportunity to install fiber in a commercial corridor where ISPs can tap into the infrastructure, notes Cumberland's economic development coordinator Shawn Hershberger:

“It will expand upon the solid resources we already have and make us more competitive for future economic development projects,” said Hershberger

The project will cost approximately $220,000. Half of the funding will come from a federal Appalachian Regional Commission grant. The school board and the city will split the remaining cost.

The city will connect its public service buildings and provide splice points for ISPs, who will be responsible for the cost to connect the last mile to the customer.


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Growing Interest in Dark Fiber and Pricing Details | community broadband networks

Growing Interest in Dark Fiber and Pricing Details | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Dark fiber is a growing business for both private and publicly owned networks. Data transport, data centers, ILECs, and CLECs are some of the most common users. Increasingly, wireless providers are turning to dark fiber for backhaul.

A May Fierce Telecom article reports that 14 percent of Zayo's wireless backhaul services are dark fiber solutions:

"We're seeing a shift with wireless backhaul contracts to dark fiber to the tower and we're starting to see that show up as the trend over the last couple of quarters," [Chairman and CEO Dan] Caruso said … "And you see it more pronounced in the current quarter where 14 percent of our product mix for fiber to the tower is dark fiber to the tower and you see that's grown and taken on a bigger piece of the pie."

Dark fiber leases have played an important role in developing revenue for municipalities that have invested in fiber infrastructure. Dark fiber leasing can be the only option in places where state barriers limit local options.

Santa Monica, Columbia in Missouri, and Maryland's Howard County, are only a few communities that lease dark fiber to ISPs and other commercial customers. A few networks, including Metronet Zing in Indiana, offer only dark fiber services. It is worth noting that, as Santa Monica discovered, the vast majority of businesses and residents prefer and easy, affordable, and reliable lit service rather than dark fiber. But the dark fiber niche is growing.

As more customers look for the service, negotiating leases and pricing models can be challenging. Municipal networks seeking guidance can start with a 2012 report from CTC Technology & Energy, Dark Fiber Lease Considerations [PDF].


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