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AT&T boosts Uverse speeds for some Californians | Steve Blum's Blog

AT&T boosts Uverse speeds for some Californians | Steve Blum's Blog | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

California and Nevada are the next stops on AT&T’s deployment of its pair-bonded VDSL2 Uverse upgrade. The company announced the roll out of 45 Mbps service here in a carefully worded press release, and also held out the eventual prospect of delivering up to 100 Mbps to homes and businesses via copper wires.


It’s part of a plan announced last fall to focus on upgrading “high potential” cities and neighborhoods to maximum speed levels that are on a par with what cable companies claim to provide. Which is why the press release doesn’t actually say that all AT&T Uverse customers, let alone subscribers in legacy DSL service areas, will be able to get the higher speeds. If your street looks like a low potential kind of place, Uverse at any speed or even new DSL service, might not be in your future at all.


If you can get it, it could be a very good deal. Jumping from 12 Mbps to 45 Mbps service costs an extra $25 per month ($51 versus $76) once the $50 promotional rate expires. Assuming it’s actually delivered, that’s enough bandwidth to do pretty much anything most residential or small business customers want to do, including streaming multiple channels of high definition television. Presumably, bandwidth caps still apply, but there’s no indication that AT&T has started enforcing those limits on Uverse subscribers.


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Riding the Back of the Digital Bus | Preeti Vissa Blog | HuffPost.com

Riding the Back of the Digital Bus | Preeti Vissa Blog | HuffPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Major telecommunications firms (think Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and the like) want to be able to send you to an Internet slow lane if you don't have enough money pay for topflight service -- or if they simply don't like the information you're sending out.

That's bad for everyone who's not a wealthy corporation, and it's especially bad for low-income folks and communities of color, who could almost literally be made to ride at the back of the digital bus.

The Federal Communications Commission is pondering what to do about the issue of "net neutrality," a rather blah term that describes a simple idea: The company that connects you to the Internet -- whether it's through your computer, your phone, your tablet or whatever -- shouldn't get to pick and choose what information you have access to. Until now, consumers have been able to use any device and access any content on the Internet on an equal basis -- the same access and same treatment whether you're General Motors, Google or a working mom running a home-based business. Providers were not allowed to block websites, slow down access to those websites, or tell you can't connect unless you use the device they want you to use.

Those protections could all go away, depending on what the FCC decides. Not surprisingly, the commission has been deluged with comments -- some three million of them -- from people on all sides of the issue, including the big telecom companies.

What the companies want, it turns out, is no rules at all -- or at least rules so weak and vague that they can't be enforced in any meaningful way.


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Upcoming Keynote: LOCATION LOCATION CONNECTIVITY | Carlini's Corner

Upcoming Keynote: LOCATION LOCATION CONNECTIVITY | Carlini's Corner | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In October, I will be the Keynote Speaker at HetNet Expo in Chicago on October, 15th. The conference will be held at the Chicago Hilton and I expect a good cross-section of professionals will be there.

Why? There is a convergence of Real Estate, Infrastructure, and Technology going on and it is all focused on impacting the regional economic stability and sustainability of every municipality worldwide. To compete in the 21st century marketplace, broadband connectivity and redundant power are key intelligent amenities organizations must have in order to support their mission critical applications. In addition, most people are using Smartphones and Tablets as their new “edge technology.” Broadband connectivity is a “must have” in commercial buildings, and not a “hoped for” by this tech-dependent market segment.

Most commercial buildings do not offer redundant power sources or redundant high-speed network access from two different carriers. Real estate owners and property management companies have to address buildings which cannot compete for 21st century tenants.

Those who are selling WiFi, DAS and integrated Smartphone solutions must realize the market is wide-open for their business solutions.


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Proposed "Netflix tax" divides Canadians at key TV hearings | Jeff John Roberts | GigaOM Tech News

Proposed "Netflix tax" divides Canadians at key TV hearings | Jeff John Roberts | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Should Netflix and other U.S.-based companies that provide “over-the-top” internet services be subject to a TV tax that subsidizes Canadian culture? The issue has been a source of contention as Canada’s broadcast regulator holds hearings over how to revise TV regulations for the digital era.

The notion of special taxes to subsidize national culture is a strange idea for many Americans, but such fees have long been the norm to the north, where “high quality Canadian content” is considered by some to be a prophylactic of sorts to help ward off U.S. mass culture.

Netflix warned the Canadian government this summer not to apply the cultural levy, and is likely watching the issue with unease, especially as it expands to Europe where some countries also use such subsidies.

At the “Let’s Talk TV” hearings now underway before Canada’s broadcast regulator, provincial governments like Ontario and Quebec have argued that Netflix should be subject to the levy. The country’s powerful cable industry and the national broadcaster, the CBC, have made the same arguments, arguing that companies like Netflix and iTunes should not get a free pass when their own services must pay for Canadian content.


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Netflix Is Under Pressure To Ban VPN Use | Ian Morris | Forbes.com

Netflix Is Under Pressure To Ban VPN Use | Ian Morris | Forbes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

According to Torrentfreak and CNET, the Australian rights holders of US-produced shows and movies are trying to put a stop to the use of Netflix via VPNs. Virtual Private Networks allow users to access services by using a server based in the US to make it appear that they are physically located there. This is important to Australian users, because Netflix has not officially launched in that country yet.

Banning all VPN access is, however, totally impossible. Netflix could, if it wanted, stop people connecting from IPs known to be associated with VPN services. Hulu has recently done something similar, in a move that apparently affects US users of its service too. Additionally, cutting out VPN use will also block US subscribers who travel for work and like to watch their local version of Netflix. While this might not be strictly allowed, it’s a harmless process that’s totally different to a resident of a non-US region accessing the US service.

More than that though, there is no way to prevent people from accessing their own server on US soil and using that as a VPN. Shared VPS (virtual private server) boxes are incredibly cheap these days, and allow a vaguely competent user to build their own VPN with free software. This would allow you to freely access any geo-locked US service, as if you were in the States yourself. Of course, you’d need to be pretty dedicated to the cause of streaming TV and movies to bother with this, but there are plenty who are, and many who would do it just for the challenge.


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Fight for the Future and Namecheap have parked a truck with a giant video billboard directly across the street from the FCC!

Fight for the Future and Namecheap have parked a truck with a giant video billboard directly across the street from the FCC! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This just in! We’ve teamed up with our friends at domain registrar Namecheap to bring the overwhelming public outcry for real net neutrality protections directly to the agency’s doorstep.

As the hours count down to the FCC’s net neutrality comment deadline, we have obtained a permit to park a truck with a giant video billboard on top directly across the street from the FCC facing the agency’s headquarters! It’s amazing! We’re attracting tons of attention already.

Got something to say to the FCC? Send us a link to your video and we’ll play it on the billboard!

Are you in Washington, DC? Join us, Free Press, and Popular Resistance on Tuesday, September 16th as we gather near the billboard to call for the FCC to get out of DC and listen to the public! More info here.

We’ll be here until the end of the day Tuesday playing a steady stream of videos about net neutrality. The FCC needs to hear from everyone — but not everyone can make it to DC to speak out. The billboard gives us all a platform from which to speak, just like the free and open Internet!


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An Open Letter to Comcast | Paul Goodman | The Greenlining Institute

An Open Letter to Comcast | Paul Goodman | The Greenlining Institute | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

I was checking for telecommunications news over at Ars Technica this morning, as I do every day, when I saw the article “Comcast allegedly trying to block CenturyLink from entering its territory.” Now, I’m a sucker for articles about Comcast and the cable/broadband industry (the series over at The Verge is currently my particular favorite).


Recently I’ve been shocked – just shocked – to learn that your industry is not robustly competitive. Who knew? And now, to my surprise, I read in Ars Technica that you opposed CenturyLink’s building competing cable systems in Comcast’s markets, because CenturyLink’s buildouts wouldn’t serve the entire community, meaning that CenturyLink might not serve low-income customers.


I was particularly impressed to see you use the word “redlining.” You might know that the name of our organization, Greenlining, is the opposite of redlining.


I think a great deal of my surprise stemmed from the fact that your past behavior has pretty clearly indicated that you don’t care about low-income customers at all. I’m sure you’ve read Greenlining’s arguments to the Federal Communications Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission, so I’ll just summarize them by pointing out that (1) you’ve made it clear that you don’t want to participate in low-income programs, and (2) Internet Essentials, your program to increase broadband adoption by low-income households, has been an abject failure.


Apparently, however, times have changed, and you’re now a staunch defender of low-income customers! That’s so great!  However, I’d like a little more detail, so could you please answer the following questions:


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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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Apple may have quietly signaled that it's received a secret Patriot Act order | Colin Lecher | The Verge

Apple may have quietly signaled that it's received a secret Patriot Act order | Colin Lecher | The Verge | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Under the Patriot Act, the US government can demand information from companies and ask them to keep the order secret, but there's a clever legal feint that can sidestep this: a so-called "warrant canary." Now it appears Apple may have sent up the signal.


In its first transparency report, where it documents legal requests, Apple included this footnote: "Apple has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us." Many believed this to be a canary — a line that would disappear if and when Apple received a Patriot Act order, silently (and, although it hasn't been tested in court, perhaps legally) informing close readers. As flagged by GigaOm, Apple's last two transparency reports, which include the last half of 2013 and first half of 2014, dropped the canary — or at least changed the language in it — suggesting the company may have been ordered to hand over records under the Patriot Act. Now the report only reads this: "To date, Apple has not received any orders for bulk data."


Several tech companies recently fought for the right to begin disclosing national security requests, but won only the option to disclose them in certain numbers. If less than 1,000 requests have been sent, for example, the company may only disclose that the number of requests was between zero and 999.


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CA: How the CPUC's regulate ISPs as common carriers, oops, never mind drama played out | Steve Blum's Blog

CA: How the CPUC's regulate ISPs as common carriers, oops, never mind drama played out | Steve Blum's Blog | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The California Public Utilities Commission spent more than an hour listening to a presentation and then discussing net neutrality and broadband regulation issues on Thursday, before voting 3 to 2 to tell the FCC that it should treat broadband infrastructure companies as common carriers – no different, in concept, than electric, gas, water or, indeed, telephone companies.

But then something happened, as you can see on the video:


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Authentication is not the hurdle for TV everywhere | Michelle Clancy | RapidTVNews.com

Authentication is not the hurdle for TV everywhere | Michelle Clancy | RapidTVNews.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

TV everywhere (TVE) is finally gaining consumer acceptance: according to research from The Diffusion Group (TDG), only 7% of TVE users now view the process of authentication negatively, with less than 1% ranking the process as 'very difficult.'

"From a consumer's perspective, this is simply 'logging in,' like they do several times a day for a variety of Web services," said Michael Greeson, TDG president and director of research, in a statement. "It is a commonplace activity which we consider a normal part of using the Internet."

He added: "Unfortunately, authentication has been demonised by industry executives as a key reason TVE use is not more widespread. Unfortunately, pointing to authentication as the cause of slow TVE uptake is a red herring, distracting attention from the real culprits: poor marketing and the inconsistent availability of the newest shows."

Greeson noted that even among former and would-be TVE users, having to authenticate in order to view their home TV programs online is not viewed negatively. Only 11% of former TVE users point to authentication-related factors as the reason they stopped using the service, while 9% of non-users said similar factors have kept them from engaging TVE.

If not authentication, what then is responsible for the slow uptake of TVE? According to TDG's research, non-users are more likely to cite a lack of interest in viewing TV programmes on small screens; the perception that viewing TVE is not compelling; and a poor understanding of the availability and benefits of the services.


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Microsoft Backs AT&T/DirecTV Deal | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

Microsoft Backs AT&T/DirecTV Deal | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Microsoft is down with the AT&T/DirecTV deal, and it is all about the broadband.

In a filing at the FCC, Microsoft said that the deal would help deploy broadband infrastructure critical to innovation.

Microsoft points out that AT&T has committed to increasing broadband deployment by boosting its fiber to the premises wireline service to two million more customer locations, and to deploying fixed-wireless local loop technology, boosting broadband speeds to 15-20 Mbps to 13 million mostly rural customers outside AT&T's current footprint or where current customers don't get the U-Verse bundle of broadband and video.

And while Microsoft gave the FCC credit for advancing deployment through the Universal Service Fund and E-rate subsidies, it suggested the deal would be a good venue for expanding on that.


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FCC looks to upgrade IT as net neutrality comments clog system | Alex Howard | Tech Republich

FCC looks to upgrade IT as net neutrality comments clog system | Alex Howard | Tech Republich | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Over the years, activists have repeatedly warned that the actions of government agencies or Congress will "break the internet." This past year, we've mostly seen how huge surges of traffic have overwhelmed poorly designed or ancient government websites, from Healthcare.gov to the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC's) Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS).

This summer, the FCC's ancient online system for filing comments went down when comedian John Oliver encouraged viewers to comment on the agency's controversial proposed rules for regulating how broadband internet service providers handle traffic. A week later, the FCC's system went down again on the last day in the comment period, leading the agency to extend the deadline for submitting net neutrality comments. Months later, "Internet Slowdown Day" sent hundreds of thousands of comments to the same online system, with much the same result.

This weekend, I joined Government Matters, a public affairs show produced by DC's local ABC News affiliate and distributed on the Armed Forces Network, to talk about how moving rulemaking online has led to the participation of millions of people in the process. While there are reasons to be cautious about the ease of sending millions of form letters over email and advocates using templates, the number of unique comments filed to date also highlights the promise of involving more engaged citizens in governance processes using new technologies.

Today, on the last day of the reply comment period, more comments will flow to the FCC, potentially adding up to four million by the midnight deadline (the FCC has received three million comments on this docket). Despite the campaign and increased public awareness, however, there's no certainty that the regulator will shift its policy based upon the prevailing sentiment, an outcome that could well drive even more cynicism in an electorate that is already deeply mistrustful of the federal government and its policies toward powerful corporate interests.


The resulting dynamic seems perfectly designed for comedic satire and public frustration: the US seems to be a nation based upon 19th century laws, government entities using 20th century technology, populated by citizens using 21st century tools to organize and communicate but not, just yet, shifting the balance of power between the government and the governed.


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Net Neutrality Is Not 'The Government Takeover Of The Internet' -- Or Why Republicans Should Support Reclassification | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

Net Neutrality Is Not 'The Government Takeover Of The Internet' -- Or Why Republicans Should Support Reclassification | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it
One of the general rules that we try to follow here on Techdirt is to avoid anything that has to do with "partisan politics" or debates that involve "Democrats" v. "Republicans." Thankfully, many of the tech issues that we discuss don't fall neatly into one camp or the other -- issues around intellectual property, privacy, innovation and surveillance seem to have supporters and detractors on both sides of the traditional aisle.


Sometimes that's because the issue is so "new" that it hasn't been twisted and distorted into a partisan fight yet. Sometimes (more frequently) it's because these issues aren't ones that get enough attention at all. Net neutrality was like that in the early days, a decade ago.


It was a legitimate concern that was being raised about broadband providers potentially abusing market power. Somewhere around 2004 or 2005, however, something shifted in the debate, and it suddenly became a "partisan" issue with Democrats tending to be "for" net neutrality and Republicans tending to be against it. At this point, the debate became stupid. This often seems to happen with partisan issues. Once the "Parties" take over (and this is true of both parties), pretty much all debate on the relevant facts goes out the window, and it all becomes hyperbole and rhetoric. That has absolutely been the case with the net neutrality debate as well.

So, while we don't normally dive into any kind of partisan spin on things, because the rhetoric has become absolutely ridiculous on net neutrality, it seemed worth discussing why the Republican claims that reclassification under Title II is some sort of "government takeover of the internet" or "regulating the internet" are just wrong.


And we'll go one step further and point out why Republicans should actually be standing right along side their Democratic colleagues in supporting reclassification. This shouldn't be a partisan issue at all, but a bipartisan effort to make sure that the internet remains free and open for true innovation and competition (the kind of thing that both parties should agree on).


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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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