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House Judiciary Subcommittee Schedules Satellite Hearing | Broadcasting & Cable

The House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet has scheduled a hearing on satellite legislation, specifically distant signal importation, for Sept. 10, according to a notice from the committee.

The parent Judiciary Committee and Energy & Commerce both have jurisdiction over The Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA), which must be reauthorized by the end of 2014 or it will expire. STELA provides the blanket license allowing for the importation of distant network TV station signals.

Witnesses for the hearing are Stanton Dodge, executive VP and general counsel at DISH; Earle MacKenzie from the American Cable Association; Gerard Waldron from the National Association of Broadcasters; James Campbell, VP, CenturyLink; Robert Garrett from Major League Baseball; and Don Lowery, senior VP, Nielsen.

The House Communications Subcommittee has already held one STELA hearing and is expected to hold a second this month.

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FCC a 'referee,' not a regulator, of the Internet, Wheeler says | Matt Hamblen | ComputerWorld.com

FCC a 'referee,' not a regulator, of the Internet, Wheeler says | Matt Hamblen | ComputerWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Tuesday defended the commission's recent vote in support of net neutrality, saying it isn't regulation as some critics contend it is, but instead sets up the Federal Communication Commission as a kind of referee.

"If the Internet is the most powerful pervasive platform in the history of the planet, can it exist without a referee?" Wheeler said. "There needs to be a referee with a yardstick ... isn't that something that makes sense? It's not a regulatory structure but a structure that says Internet activity should be 'just and reasonable' and with somebody to throw a flag when they aren't."

Wheeler spoke during an onstage appearance at Mobile World Congress and was interviewed by Anne Bouverot, director general of the MWC's governing organization, GSMA.

Bouverot asked Wheeler to explain some of the arcane points of the Federal Communications Commission vote on net neutrality for the international audience. For one, she wondered how Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 became a central tenant of the vote by reclassifying Internet broadband providers as a type of utility.

Wheeler said that the FCC actually modernized Title II and relied on that portion of the 1934 law because it was used to regulate wireless carriers more than a decade ago.

"We didn't go off half-cocked, we said, 'let's find a model that works,'" Wheeler said. At one point, he said that Title II in the original law has 48 sections, of which 19 sections weren't used to regulate the wireless industry in 1993. With net neutrality, the FCC didn't use 27 of the 48 sections to oversee broadband Internet providers --both wired and wireless.

"We are being less regulatory" than with the wireless industry, he said.


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Internet.org hopes to reach 100 countries in a year, up from six now | Matt Hamblen | ComputerWorld.com

Internet.org hopes to reach 100 countries in a year, up from six now | Matt Hamblen | ComputerWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Internet.org, which is already offering free Internet service in six countries, has ambitious plans to connect to 100 countries in the next year.

"We like big, ambitious goals at Facebook," said Chris Daniels, head of Internet.org in a discussion with several reporters at Mobile World Congress (MWC).

Facebook and several partners founded Internet.org two years ago; it is already serving 7 million customers in Columbia, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, India and Zambia. Many of those who were originally connected for free are now paying some fee for more advanced data services.

Daniels, a vice president at Facebook in charge of Internet.org, said the conversion of free Internet users to paying customers is critical to the carriers who provide the Internet infrastructure that makes the service possible.

He sounded the same refrain that Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg offered on Monday in a keynote presentation at MWC with three onstage carriers, including Airtel Africa, which has offered Internet.org in Ghana, Kenya and Zambia. Millicom, another partner, saw a 30% increase in data users when free data data was launched in Paraguay.

While the goal of 100 countries in a year is ambitious, Daniels said it is achievable, partly because Internet.org has figured out how to work with carriers to offer online services for free that don't cannibalize the paid services that are the lifeblood of many carriers.


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UT: HB414 proposes a new state broadband agency | FreeUptopia.org

UT: HB414 proposes a new state broadband agency | FreeUptopia.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Is Utah finally getting serious about broadband? Maybe. Rep. Stephen Handy is proposing a new Utah Broadband Outreach Center to spur more development in the state. Like the Utah Broadband Project, it would be attached to GOED and have a director appointed by the agency. Its stated purposes are to coordinate between state and local agencies to ensure best practices (like proactively notifications of open trenches) and make policy recommendations to both the governor and legislature.

This is one of those two-edged swords depending on who the agency chooses to involve. If existing players get to dominate the conversation, we’ll get more incumbent-protecting legislation and little improvement in service or competition. If they involve local ISPs and other stakeholders, it could actually do some good. Given that both Comcast and AT&T have expressed support of the bill, they seem to think they have a shot at gaming it, so it would be critical, if this bill were passed, to make sure the agency hears from you about how it should operate.


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Give us the last mile and we will prosper | Mimi Pickering Opinion | Kentucky.com

Give us the last mile and we will prosper | Mimi Pickering Opinion | Kentucky.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The promise of high-speed broadband is that we can connect, create and contribute from wherever we are. Mountain kids can be more competitive in school, health providers can get information they need to keep us well, and we can bring our goods and services to a worldwide market.

Kentucky, however, ranks 46th in broadband availability; 23 percent of rural areas do not have access at all.

Even in our towns we struggle. At my Whitesburg home I upgraded to the fastest AT&T service available, yet efforts to download a software update for my cell phone timed out during four attempts. Today at the office the computer told me it would take 5 hours. It actually took 6.5 hours for the 280 MB file.

A friend recently moved to a house along U.S. 23 between Prestonsburg and Paintsville and a mile from a large hospital. When he contacted the provider asking for Internet service, he was told the best they could offer was DSL, and he would have to go onto a DSL wait list. They would not tell how long the wait would be.

Gov. Steve Beshear and Rep. Hal Rogers are to be commended for making reliable, accessible high-speed Internet throughout eastern Kentucky a top SOAR priority. In January they announced the Next Generation Kentucky Information Highway Plan, a public-private partnership to develop a fiber "backbone" infrastructure throughout the state, starting in the east.

The project will build the main lines — what is called the "middle mile" — with the goal of having fiber connected to anchor institutions like state government buildings, universities, community and technical colleges in all Kentucky counties.

Here is the rub — the plan does not deliver high speed broadband to our homes and businesses. With the notable exception of many of the region's rural telephone cooperatives, the major Internet providers have not seen fit to invest in infrastructure or to offer genuine high-speed Internet in every mountain community. Will that change with the Kentucky Information Highway?

There are also opportunities. The network will be open-access, allowing current providers, cities, partnerships and others to tap into the "middle mile" lines to complete the "last mile" with service to individual homes and businesses. And the leases will not be limited to one provider per county or community, thus increasing potential for competition. East Kentucky entrepreneurs — both for- and non-profit — need to jump on this chance.


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Comcast Blocks HBO Go From Working On Playstation 4, Won't Coherently Explain Why | Karl Bode | Techdirt

Comcast Blocks HBO Go From Working On Playstation 4, Won't Coherently Explain Why | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

About a year ago we noted how Comcast has a weird tendency to prevent its broadband users from being able to use HBO Go on some fairly standard technology, including incredibly common Roku hardware. For several years Roku users couldn't use HBO Go if they had a Comcast connection, and for just as long Comcast refused to explain why. Every other broadband provider had no problem ensuring the back-end authentication (needed to confirm you have a traditional cable connection) worked, but not Comcast. When pressed, Comcast would only offer a generic statement saying yeah, it would try and get right on that:

"With every new website, device or player we authenticate, we need to work through technical integration and customer service which takes time and resources. Moving forward, we will continue to prioritize as we partner with various players."

And the problem wasn't just with Roku. When HBO Go on the Playstation 3 was released, it worked with every other TV-Everywhere compatible provider, but not Comcast. When customers complained in the Comcast forums, they were greeted with total silence. When customers called in to try and figure out why HBO Go wouldn't work, they received a rotating crop of weird half answers or outright incorrect statements (it should arrive in 48 hours, don't worry!).

Fast forward nearly a year since the HBO Go Playstation 3 launch, and Sony has now announced an HBO Go app for the Playstation 4 console. And guess what -- when you go to activate the app you'll find it works with every major broadband ISP -- except Comcast. Why?


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Netflix won’t count against iiNet broadband caps in Australia | Janko Roettgers | GigaOM Tech News

Netflix won’t count against iiNet broadband caps in Australia | Janko Roettgers | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

So much for net neutrality: Netflix has struck a deal with Australia’s iiNet ISP to exempt its traffic from iiNet’s broadband caps. This means that iiNet subscribers will be able to watch as much Netflix as they want, without the fear that their viewing will lead to any overage charges. But it’s also bad news for any upstart trying to compete with Netflix, and it runs counter to the company’s long and very public defense of net neutrality.

Netflix said on Monday that it is going to launch on March 24 in Australia and New Zealand. As part of the announcement, iiNet revealed that it will exempt any Netflix traffic from its customers’ monthly bandwidth quotas.

iiNet currently has a 100GB cap for its cheapest broadband plans, and charges customers who exceed that quota $0.60 AUS (about $0.47) per additional gigabyte. The company also has 300GB, 600GB and 1TB plans. Netflix estimates that its customers use up to 7GB of data per hour for the company’s best-looking 1080p HD streams. However, averages are typically much lower.

In the past, Netflix has taken a strong stance against broadband caps. In 2012, its CEO Reed Hastings said that Comcast was violating net neutrality priciples by exempting its own online video services from its broadband caps. “Comcast should apply caps equally, or not at all,” Hastings wrote on his Facebook page back then.

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Comcast Looking for Legislative 'Solution' to FCC Broadband Vote | Erik Gruenwedel | Home Media Magazine

Comcast Looking for Legislative 'Solution' to FCC Broadband Vote | Erik Gruenwedel | Home Media Magazine | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Perhaps no company could be more impacted by the Federal Communication Commission’s vote to reclassify broadband as a utility than Comcast. As the nation’s No. 1 cabler, it also controls a large percentage of household Internet connections, including broadband.

Yet while the FCC’s historic 3-2 vote Feb. 26 in favor of reclassification made headlines, few people have actually seen the more than 300 pages of the order, including Comcast.

Speaking March 3 at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom confab in San Francisco, Comcast CFO Michael Angelakis reiterated company statements in support of net neutrality, transparency, anti-throttling, blocking and tiered access.

“We don’t do any of those things,” he said.

Angelakis, like most ISP executives, doesn’t like the ominous role government and regulation (especially through an 80-year-old law) could play in how broadband is shepherded going forward.

“We haven’t seen the order, so we have to read it very carefully. We’ll look very carefully at the forbearance, which obviously is very important,” Angelakis said.


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MN: How broadband develops here: Local goals, state grants Mitch LeClair | St. Cloud Times

MN: How broadband develops here: Local goals, state grants Mitch LeClair | St. Cloud Times | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Internet connections in the U.S. are on average far faster than ever.


Broadband service, or a connection quicker than dial-up, is spreading to more consumers every month.


But access is lacking, according to some people. Others say we're living in a continuous renaissance.


Models of network development vary, and interest in the subject might be at an all-time high.


One month ago, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced 17 recipients of $19.4 million to develop broadband networks at about 6,300 locations in the state.


Clear Lake-based Palmer Wireless is one of three area recipients. The company that shares management and other resources with CitEscape High Speed Internet in St. Cloud is partnering with sister firm NewCore Wireless to install more than 3 miles of fiber passing 21 businesses and 12 vacant lots in Becker, including the possible future site of a Northstar rail station.


At a meeting last week, the Federal Communications Commission decided to pre-empt restrictive state laws on municipal broadband. That could lead to drastic changes for networks across the nation — the St. Cloud area included.

Minnesota law requires 65 percent of voters or more to pass a referendum allowing local governments to own or operate broadband networks for its citizens.

Residents of 38 municipalities in the state — about 4.5 percent of its cities — have access to government-operated Internet services, according to a recent White House report.

Its four neighbors in the union are home to 36 total.

Information Technology Director Micah Myers said the city of St. Cloud owns and operates about 90 miles of fiber-optic lines that connect the law enforcement center downtown, City Hall and all other government buildings except the airport, which connects to the Internet through T1 lines, a slower, older technology.

Myers said the fiber network, a "co-build with the school district" connects to St. Joseph and Clear Lake. About seven years ago, it prompted a discussion about providing competing Internet service in St. Cloud.

The city "never went anywhere" with the talks, but if more exploration would have occurred in St. Cloud, incumbent providers would have pushed back, Myers said. Entrenched cable television and telephone companies will "make your life a living hell," he said.

The possibility is something cities should evaluate, said Chris Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, though "not every local government should do it."

"If you really want to look at some of the challenges, look at Monticello," Myers said.

The Wright County city began building a municipal broadband network, FiberNet, in 2009, after a year of legal challenges brought on by TDS.

Charter Communications reacted to Monticello's network plans by dropping subscription prices.

The city's network still provides service, but revenues and other factors haven't rolled along as planned.


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Would You Pay $30 to Keep Your Web History Secret? | Greg Ferenstein | The Atlantic

Would You Pay $30 to Keep Your Web History Secret? | Greg Ferenstein | The Atlantic | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

AT&T is conducting an experiment in how much money Americans will pay for privacy. If consumers in Kansas are willing to pay an extra $30 per month for super-fast fiber-optic Internet access, the telecom giant won’t track their online browsing for targeted ads. It turns out, most people opt for the cheaper service, according to AT&T.

"Since we began offering the service more than a year ago the vast majority have elected to opt-in to the ad-supported model," Gretchen Schultz, a spokeswoman for AT&T, told me. In other words, most people are willing to give up privacy in exchange for a lower price tag.

This shouldn’t be surprising. Indeed, it is how humans have behaved for more than 3,000 years.

Privacy was not an issue in hunter-gather societies, because it wasn't even a possibility. “Privacy is something which has emerged out of the urban boom coming from the industrial revolution,” explained Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf at a Federal Trade Commission event in 2013. "Privacy may actually be an anomaly."


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Republican FCC Commissioners Submit Formal Title II Dissents | John Eggerton | Multichannel

Republican FCC Commissioners Submit Formal Title II Dissents | John Eggerton | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly, the two Republican commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission, have submitted their formal dissents to the Feb. 26 vote by the agency's three Democrats to reclassify Internet access as a telecommunications service under Title II common-carrier regulations.

Their submissions advance the process but do not provide a clear timeline for the release of the order.

Sources for both minority commissioners said they had turned the dissents in Monday (March 2), and now the ball is in the chairman's court.

A spokesperson for the chairman had no comment on when the final order would be released and sent to the Federal Register. The rules become effective 60 days after publication in the register.

FCC General Counsel John Salet wrote in in a blog post, "Once the vote on a commission order has been taken, some additional steps remain before the decision is final and ready for public release."

After the submission of those dissents, the order may have to be "clarified" to "address any significant argument made in statements," Salet said.

That's primarily to ensure the order is as challenge-proof in court as FCC lawyers can make it. "[T]he order itself must address any significant argument made in the statements – or risk being overturned in court for failing to address the issue," Salet explained in the post.


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From Lafayette, LA to Wilson, NC: Municipal Fiber Deployment is About “Strengthening America” | Mayor Joey Durel | CLIC

From Lafayette, LA to Wilson, NC: Municipal Fiber Deployment is About “Strengthening America” | Mayor Joey Durel | CLIC | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

CLIC has received permission to post a terrific letter recently written to Wilson’s Mayor Bruce Rose from Mayor Joey Durel of Lafayette, underscoring how municipal deployment of fiber internet is not a partisan issue, it is an infrastructure issue. Local communities need to be able to decide for themselves the best means possible for ensuring that no one in their communities go without access to 21st century infrastructure. (Both Mayor Durel and Wilson’s City Manager, Grant Goings, will be speaking at CLIC’s April 13 event @BBC in Austin.)

March 2, 2015

Dear Mayor Rose:

As Mayor of Lafayette, LA, a city that proudly provides electric and communications services to our businesses and residents, I want to congratulate you, your colleagues, and your constituents on your achievement in delivering world-class Internet services to the residents and businesses of Wilson-and on the strong endorsement you received last week from the Federal Communications Commission.

As in Wilson, the Lafayette community has been united in our support for high-capacity broadband connectivity to the Internet as an essential tool of economic development and as a means of securing our community’s economic future. While some will use any means possible to distract you from achieving your goals for your community, our deeply conservative electorate has consistently supported our electric utility’s great achievement in building a future-proof broadband Internet infrastructure, and this support has been consistently bi-partisan. My Democrat colleagues have joined me and my fellow Republicans in insisting that we in Lafayette should have the right to choose our broadband Internet future. We here in Lafayette will determine how our community engages this essential economic development tool, and we will not have our economic future dictated to us by others.


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Verizon CFO: FCC Ruling 'Cluttered' Broadband Future | Erik Gruenwedel | Home Media Magazine

Verizon CFO: FCC Ruling 'Cluttered' Broadband Future | Erik Gruenwedel | Home Media Magazine | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A promising broadband investment landscape received unwanted intrusion (regulation) following the Federal Communications Commission’s recent 3-2 vote in favor of reclassifying the nation’s ISPs under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, Verizon CFO Francis Shammo told an investor group.

Speaking March 2 at the Morgan Stanley’s 2015 Technology, Media & Telecom confab in San Francisco, Shammo said that while the exact language of the FCC ruling hasn’t been available to the public, the mere specter of regulation is not a good thing.

The CFO said that prior to the FCC vote, Verizon saw an open playing field to invest, innovate and deliver products to the consumer.

“Now, that field has been cluttered up with a lot of obstacles,” Shammo said. “It’s going to be more difficult to invest, more difficult to innovate.”

Specifically, he said that innovation would now require navigating burdensome regulation on select areas of broadband distribution — a reality Shammo said invites confusion.

“I’m pretty much assured [the FCC vote] will have an impact on investment and innovation over the longer term just like we’ve seen in Europe and other places,” he said. “But, you can probably make the assumption there’s going to be a lot of litigation around this one when it’s all said and done.”

Meanwhile, Shammo said the telecom’s pending mobile video over-the-top platform would combine Verizon Digital Media Services, Edgecast and OnCue to deliver a “very viable” consumer product that can do “a lot of things."

“There’s going to be very different models in mobile video than there [is] in the linear TV. You can’t make money paying $5 [to content holders] for every subscriber you have. With 103 million [mobile] subs, it doesn’t make economic sense. And the content holders know that,” he said.

The CFO said the platform would attempt to meld multicast technology as during Verizon’s exclusive mobile wireless distribution rights to the Super Bowl and select IndyCar events.


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Dish, Like AT&T, Won't Pay Extra For Sports | Phillip Swann | TV Predictions

Over the weekend, Fox Sports 1 began blacking out certain sporting events on AT&T's U-Verse over a disagreement regarding programming fees.

Fox Sports 1 obtained the rights to the events after it signed its carriage deal with AT&T and therefore says the telco should now pay additional fees to air them. The skirmish has led to charges that what Fox Sports 1 is doing is unique and singularly punitive.

But the sports network is not the only programmer who has demanded extra fees from a TV provider after the two signed a carriage deal. As Rodney Ho of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes today, Dish is going through the same thing in Atlanta with Fox Sports demanding more money to carry 51 extra weekend games; the dispute, which began in 2013 when Fox bought the game rights from Peachtree TV, is now entering its third year.

Other TV providers serving the Atlanta area, such as DIRECTV, Charter, Comcast and, ironically, AT&T, have played along and agreed to pay the extra money for the Braves. They apparently believe that going without the extra Braves games could trigger subscriber defections.

But not Dish.


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Historic FCC Vote Casts a Wide Net: People Power Prevails--For Now | Lauren-Glenn Davitian | Center for Media and Democracy

Hopefully, by now you’ve heard of the historic decision by the FCC to reclassify the Internet as a “common carrier”-- requiring Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to offer service to the public and their competitors as if they were a freeway--not a private toll road. Our friends in the public interest community call the ruling a "triumph of the public interest over big money”. Conservative politicians and pundits see it as “Obamacare for the Internet”.

We agree with long-time open Internet lawyer Harold Feld’s assessment that:

“This is, overwhelmingly, the biggest defeat for vested interests I can recall in my 15 years working in this sector. It was against the conventional wisdom, over the united objections of every major industry constituency, without significant support from major industry players such as Google and Facebook or Microsoft. This is bigger than stopping SOPA/PIPA in 2012, because we actually pushed the FCC to do something affirmative, rather than just stopping Congress from making a giveaway to the industry.” (1)

Quick History: For more than 80 years, the FCC has regulated telephone and broadcasters in order to assure the broadest reach of communications technologies. Open access and universal service policies have been essential to promote widespread technology use and significantly contributed to our nation’s economic prosperity. But when both the telcos and the cable companies got into the new Internet business in the 1990's, the FCC, not sure how to regulate the new creature, made up an entirely new classification.

As an “Information Service”, Internet regulation lacked meaningful public interest protections and allowed the ISP’s to discriminate against content they did not own. Cable companies started to slow down connections for customers sharing video files with each other, and wireless companies tried to block their customers from using services like Skype and FaceTime. There were no requirements to stop them. But open media advocates began to make their voices heard and carefully, over many years and struggles, laid the groundwork for a national outpouring.


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5G, net neutrality may be headed for a showdown | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com

5G, net neutrality may be headed for a showdown | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Net neutrality and 5G may be on a collision course as the mobile industry tries to prepare for a wide range of mobile applications with differing needs.

The net neutrality rules passed by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission last week have raised some eyebrows at Mobile World Congress this week. The full text of the rules isn’t public yet, but mobile movers and shakers are having their say. The latest questions involve 5G, the next-generation standard that everyone here is trying to plan for.

The most common thing they think 5G will have to do is to serve a lot of different purposes. Regulators’ attempts to ban “fast lanes” and other special treatment might make that impossible, people who’ve been thinking about 5G said Wednesday.

Industrial sensors, self-driving cars and other emerging uses of the Internet have needs that can’t be met by a general-purpose network, Ericsson Group CTO Ulf Ewaldsson said during a panel discussion. That’s driving a global discussion on a so-called “industrial Internet” alongside the regular Internet that’s grown up around the Web and other consumer activities, he said.

Regulatory efforts like the FCC’s rules don’t see a distinction, Ewaldsson said. He didn’t slam the agency for this but said the mobile industry needs to do a better job of explaining what it’s trying to do. Most importantly, it’s not trying to block or throttle people’s access to the Internet, he said.

On Monday at the show, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the Internet needs a referee to determine what’s “just and reasonable.” That gives hope to Balasz Bertenyi, who leads part of the technical specifications group in the 3GPP, which will play a key role in 5G. He said there are already mechanisms in 4G to make sure voice calls get the right quality of service, so special treatment for special kinds of traffic are likely to be allowed.

However regulators may look at it, something will have to be done if 5G is going to serve all mobile needs, said Chaesub Lee, director of the International Telecommunication Union’s Standardization Bureau. Today, all traffic is defined as either broadband or not, he said. “Our treatment of traffic is not smart enough to support all the business models,” Lee said.

There’s such a thing as too broad a standard, Ericsson’s Ewaldsson said. He hopes 5G leaves some mobile applications to others.


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After net neutrality: Could Comcast's big merger be in jeopardy? | Julian Hattem | The Hill

After net neutrality: Could Comcast's big merger be in jeopardy? | Julian Hattem | The Hill | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The tough regulations for net neutrality are a wild card when it comes to the $45 billion merger of the nation’s two biggest cable companies, industry observers say.

On the one hand, some analysts argue that the new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations will eliminate many of the harms that might come from combining Comcast and Time Warner Cable, giving regulators reason to approve the deal.


But if the new rules are a symptom of a larger trend at the FCC of cracking down on big companies, it could spell trouble going forward.

“I think we’ve seen an FCC that has been much firmer with the broadband industry than a lot of people expected a year ago,” John Bergmayer, a senior staff attorney at Public Knowledge and an opponent of the merger, told reporters on Monday.

“It shows that you have an FCC and a chairman at the FCC who is really not afraid to take on established industry [and] do what he thinks is right.”


In recent weeks, as the regulatory review of the merger has stretched on at both the FCC and the Justice Department, some analysts have begun to downgrade their expectations that the deal will be approved. 


They have pointed to not just the net neutrality rules, which treat broadband Internet like a public utility, but also recent moves to block state laws limiting towns from expanding their own government-run Web services and the FCC's decision to increase the internal benchmark for what qualifies as high-speed broadband.


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Net Neutrality Won’t Stop Some Of The Worst Things About The Internet | Lauren Williams | Think Progress

Net Neutrality Won’t Stop Some Of The Worst Things About The Internet | Lauren Williams | Think Progress | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Long live the open internet! That was how advocates and net neutrality supporters reacted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passing its Open Internet Order last week. Net neutrality supporters quickly heralded it as a victory for startups and consumers who would be shielded from having their content and internet access slowed, banned or blocked by broadband providers.

It’s unclear how far the net neutrality rules go — details of the FCC’s plan won’t become public for several weeks — but that won’t stop make internet access cheaper, or even stop fast lanes in all forms hikes from ISPs that undermine the spirit of a free and open internet. Just because internet activists scored a win by getting net neutrality reinstated, doesn’t mean internet services will become any cheaper any time soon.

“Net neutrality doesn’t address the harms that the Comcast merger with Time Warner could create,” Jeffrey Blum, senior vice president and deputy counsel of Dish Network, said on a media conference call Monday. “Over-the-top (OTT) services compete with Comcast-Time Warner, and they don’t want to compete with Sling TV, etc. They have a greater ability to sabotage over-the-top if they merge. Most of this is not addressed at all through net neutrality.”

OTT services include the likes of Netflix and Hulu that stream video content over the internet, bypassing cable companies and instead relying on ISPs to conduct their business. Over the years, ISPs and big companies have become one and the same through multi-billion-dollar media mergers, which have been on the rise in recent years.

Sprint and T-Mobile tanked a merger deal last year that would have created serious competition for top wireless providers Verizon and AT&T. AT&T withdrew its bid to buy T-Mobile in 2011, but is looking to merge with DirecTV. And lastly, Comcast is waiting to merge with Time Warner. The FCC halted both deals to determine how beneficial the deals are to the public interest and is expected to make final decisions in March.

The Comcast-Time Warner deal has one key distinction from AT&T-DirecTV: A merger would make the Comcast not only the top cable provider, but the top internet service provider (ISP).

“Once you’re at that scale, you have the opportunity to do things those other providers can’t do,” said John Bergmayer, senior staff attorney for Public Knowledge, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C., that focuses on the open internet, digital and telecom law. “With Comcast, they can take advantage of the number of subscribers on their network and dictate terms, price on why you should pay more.”

With the merger, Comcast would have a virtual monopoly over and video programming and interconnection. Interconnection or peering, lets services such as Netflix pay an ISP like Comcast or Verizon for direct access to their network. Multiple companies can pay this toll to plug into the ISP’s network, like paying to use a single socket on a surge protector.

But the result is that some traffic is prioritized over others on the ISP’s physical network — a violation of the spirit of net neutrality but completely legal.


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Cutting the final cord: How wireless power and wireless charging works | Christopher Null | NetworkWorld.com

Cutting the final cord: How wireless power and wireless charging works | Christopher Null | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In the 1890s, Nikola Tesla captured the imagination of the world with his invention of the Tesla coil, a device that could transmit electricity through the air, no wires required. More than 100 years later, the world has responded by adapting this breakthrough technology… mainly to recharge their electric toothbrushes.

But things are changing rapidly in the world of wireless power, with some new ideas coming to the forefront in the last few years. As more and more gadget makers get hip to the idea of a world without power bricks, this is a technology category that’s about to explode.

How will your phone, your lights, and even your electric car someday be powered without a wire? Here’s a primer on how wireless power works.


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Net Neutrality Rules Don't Protect AT&T In Battle Over Throttling, FTC Argues | Wendy Davis | Media Post

Net Neutrality Rules Don't Protect AT&T In Battle Over Throttling, FTC Argues | Wendy Davis | Media Post | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Federal Trade Commission says in new court papers that it is entitled to continue pursuing a lawsuit against AT&T, despite the new net neutrality rules.

The agency argues in court papers filed on Monday that the net neutrality rules, which were passed last week by the Federal Communications Commission, don't “relieve AT&T of liability for its unfair and deceptive throttling program.”

The FTC's papers come less than one week after a different agency -- the FCC -- voted to reclassify broadband as a common-carrier service, which is regulated under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. That decision enabled the FCC to prohibit broadband providers from discriminating among content providers -- such as by creating fast lanes. At the same time, it also appears to strip the FTC of the power to bring enforcement actions, because the FTC lacks authority over common carriers.

But the FTC argues in its new court papers that even if the net neutrality regulations prevent it from bringing future enforcement actions against AT&T, the rules don't apply retroactively.


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EOBC Formula Would Boost FCC Opening Bids By Billions | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

EOBC Formula Would Boost FCC Opening Bids By Billions | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition (EOBC) has offered up alternative opening incentive auction bid prices that are billions of dollars higher than the FCC's proposed opening bids.

EOBC, which represents stations interested in participating in the auction at the right price, has recalculated opening bid prices for every station based on an alternative formula, one that takes into account a station's impact on other stations (in the repacking after the auction), an impact EOBC argues goes "far beyond its protected contour." To check out the different between the FCC and EOBC prices, go here.

According to EOBC's analysis of the value of all the stations of major group operators, top owner Sinclair's stations would be worth $15 billion more, Media General's $13 billion and Ion's almost $9 billion.

By that measure, 2,165 stations see a boost in their starting bids and only eight stations would experience a "slight" decrease, but all are owned by station groups that, on balance, would see an overall opening bid gain, says the coalition.

"A single station in New York City can interfere with other broadcasters or wireless operations from Boston to Baltimore," it says. "Our reweighting of the FCC formula gives broadcasters the credit they deserve for the spectrum they occupy beyond their own service area — spectrum that the FCC wants to buy at a discount using its proposed formula."

EOBC concedes that the starting prices will go down as stations compete for the money, but choice is to "go down from a high price or from a low price."

It points out that the higher prices will attract more broadcasters and increase the odds of a successful auction, so it should be in the FCC's interest as well as broadcasters.


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Senate Commerce Committee to Hold First Ever Oversight Hearing on FirstNet | U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, will convene a hearing on Wednesday, March 11, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. entitled “Three Years Later: Are We Any Closer To A Nationwide Public Safety Wireless Broadband Network?” The chairwoman of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), the organization mandated to establish the first nationwide broadband network for emergency responders, and officials from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Government Accountability Office will testify at the hearing.

At the urging of the public safety community, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 created FirstNet, an organization designed to serve as an “independent authority” in the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and to “provide emergency responders with the first nationwide, high-speed network dedicated to public safety." As highlighted by the tragedy of 9/11, the reliance by first responders on separate networks has made communications among public safety professionals problematic during emergencies.

The hearing will examine the progress of FirstNet's nationwide wireless broadband network for emergency responders. Witnesses will discuss progress and challenges in building the network, as well as FirstNet’s future as a self-funding entity as required by the Act.


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Walden: Wheeler Still Signaled Light Touch Regs in Nov.-Dec. | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

Walden: Wheeler Still Signaled Light Touch Regs in Nov.-Dec. | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) says that he has trouble believing FCC chairman Tom Wheeler when he says he was already moving toward Title II by the time the President announced his support for that approach to new network neutrality rules.

"The FCC Certainly changed their view, or at least Tom Wheeler did, on where he was headed once the President sort of tripped him up," Walden told C-SPAN's Communicators series in an interview.

He was asked by co-interviewer Lynn Stanton whether that meant he didn't give credence to the chairman's explanation that he was thinking about Title II last summer and that it was a result of the conclusion that they could not reach the kind of network neutrality protections they wanted without it.

"I am having trouble believing that because of conversations I had with the chairman this fall where he was still in 'light touch,' and then I read he had this ... epiphany on the Eastern Shore in July or August. If he did, it was not what I was led to believe where he was headed in November when I met with him, and December." The President urged the FCC to adopt Title II based rules in a video posted on the Internet Nov. 10.

Wheeler was in Barcelona at a conference and unavailable for comment, according to a spokesperson. But asked if he trusted the FCC to forbear from applying some of the Title II regs, Walden said he thought the FCC would try, but that it was possible the D.C. court could uphold Title II, but not how the FCC chose to forbear from the many parts it planned not to apply — rate regs, unbundling, Universal Service Fund fees and more. "They are now under full Title II regulation because the court says 'you didn't do proper process to forbear."


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House Judiciary Plans March 17 Net Neutrality Hearing | John Eggerton | Multichannel

House Judiciary Plans March 17 Net Neutrality Hearing | John Eggerton | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It may be a time for the "wearin' o' the green," but Republicans are seeing red over the FCC's new net neutrality rules and plan to debate them on St. Patrick's Day.

The House Judiciary Committee has told FCC chairman Tom Wheeler it plans to hold a March 17 hearing on the FCC's new Title II-based network neutrality rules.

In a letter to Wheeler dated the day after the Feb. 26 vote, the majority of Republicans on the committee said they will not "stand by idly as the White House, using the FCC, attempts to advance rules that imperil the future of the Internet."

That is a reference to the President's urging last fall that Wheeler use Title II to restore net neutrality rules thrown out by the court last year.

They called the new rules a "partisan headline for a partisan initiative that is destined for years of litigation, generating years of debilitating uncertainty."

In the letter, they asked, they said, they were hoping he would testify at the hearing, but that it would be held regardless to "allow for public debate regarding the impact of the FCC's rules on the future of competition and the Internet.


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Kittson County Broadband 2014 Update: ARRA funding and MN Broadband Funds help but still only half served | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

Kittson County Broadband 2014 Update: ARRA funding and MN Broadband Funds help but still only half served | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For the upcoming weeks 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 Kittson County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 1.8
  • Number of Households: 1,986
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 43.08%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 43.08%


Kittson County is served, at least in part, by Wikstrom Telephone; they received ARRA funding; in 2012 they celebrated installation of fiber to Wikstrom customers. Earlier this year, Wikstrom received more through the Minnesota Broadband Fund to expand that network..


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FCC got Net neutrality 'right,' but fight isn't over, Franken says | Marguerite Reardon | CNET

FCC got Net neutrality 'right,' but fight isn't over, Franken says | Marguerite Reardon | CNET | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Four years ago, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) was one of the only US lawmakers standing up for rules to keep the Internet open.

Now he's celebrating a victory, along with President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats who applauded the Federal Communications Commission's new Net neutrality rules adopted last week.

For years Franken -- comedy writer, author and talk radio host who became a Democratic US senator for Minnesota in 2009 -- has been calling for regulations that ensure all Internet traffic gets fair and equal treatment. "Let's not sell out," he exhorted Internet entrepreneurs at the 2011 South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) in Texas. "And let's not let the government sell us out. Let's fight for Net neutrality. Let's keep Austin weird. Let's keep the Internet weird. Let's keep the Internet free."

What does keeping the Internet free mean? Net neutrality is the idea that traffic on the Internet should be treated equally. That means your broadband provider, which controls your access to the Internet, can't block or slow down your ability to use services or applications or view websites. It also means your Internet service provider -- whether it's a cable company or telephone service -- can't create so-called "fast lanes" that force content companies like Netflix to pay an additional fee to deliver their content to customers faster.

But the newly approved rules also reclassify broadband as a Title II service under the 1934 Communications Act, which basically means the FCC can regulate the Internet the same way it does telephone service. That reclassification has raised the ire of broadband providers, who say the FCC could now impose new taxes and tariffs and force them to share their networks with competitors. Republicans, who also disapprove, are dubbing the new regulation "Obamacare for the Internet."

Franken and other Net neutrality supporters scoff at that. "No, no, no, no!" FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said Tuesday during a fireside chat at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Wheeler said the Net neutrality rules wouldn't dictate rates, impose tariffs, open up carriers' networks to competitors or meddle with their business.

Franken, Wheeler and others say reclassifying broadband is the only way to make sure the rules stand up to court challenges. Experience has shown they need that legal heft. The current rules replace ones a federal appeals court threw out in January 2014, saying the FCC didn't have the legal authority to impose them.


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