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Rosenworcel: Viewers Should Get Refunds For Long Retrans Blackouts | Broadcasting & Cable

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel suggested that viewers who lose channels due to extended retrans blackouts should get refunds, and that the FCC should use its authority to require good faith negotiations to do something about those extended blackouts.

Her comments came in an interview for C-SPAN's Communicators series.

"The vast majority of retransmission consent negotiations...go on uneventfully," Rosenworcel said when asked about the state of retrans by co-interviewer Howard Buskirk. "We never hear about them. But every now and again we do have these disputes, and when the disputes get heated, sometimes consumers will turn on the television set because they want to turn on the news, game, or their favorite show and they'll find they get a dark screen. Just like the consumers recently did in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas."

Her remarks were in reference to the just-resolved dispute between CBS and Time Warner Cable.


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What are we? Chopped Liver? The Comcast Time Warner Merger in Ohio | Lev Gonick | LinkedIn.com

What are we? Chopped Liver? The Comcast Time Warner Merger in Ohio | Lev Gonick | LinkedIn.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Don’t you love your cable guy, even if he now looks a lot like Coach Cowher?


Beyond the hype, the story of our broadband future along the north coast is not as rosy as you might think. While Crain’s Cleveland got the story, the prospects of the very big, and not well understood news about Charter Communications taking over household and business internet services in Ohio begs the question whether we’re just chopped liver out here along Lake Erie.


I’ll cut to the chase – while lots of promises are being made in Washington DC and elsewhere, if one digs a little deeper, we in Cleveland are unlikely to see the benefits. We should demand better and we deserve better and we can do better.


Akamai has just published its most recent State of the Internet and while the access across the country continues to improve, Akamai cautions that “Year-over-year changes were … positive across the whole country, with only Ohio and Vermont seeing lower (peak) speeds, dropping 14% (to 25.5 Mbps) and 17% (to 39.4 Mbps) respectively.” And more specifically, “Despite a 31% quarterly increase, Ohio’s 25.5 Mbps average peak connection speed placed it as the state with the lowest average peak connection speed in the first quarter of 2014.”


It’s not only an Ohio at large problem. In data available through Ookla’s Net Index, Cleveland’s household broadband speeds are the very lowest in the State. Clevelanders have 20% slower download speeds than households in Columbus and 11% slower than the average household in Cincinnati. It may get worse quickly, with Cincinnati Bell announcing a gig service in some areas of town.


This is not just a rust-belt reality check. What’s going on? Every day, we hear that the incumbent cable and telephone companies are investing billions in better networks. Indeed, if you follow the issue of Internet choice being debated in the hallowed halls of the FCC, this is the refrain that the lobbyists for the incumbents truck out to exorcise any chance that regulators and legislators might embrace local Internet choice. After all, the argument goes, the incumbents are spending more money and they are better run then any local internet operator might, especially, those supposedly unfairly supported, publicly subsidized local internet providers.


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The Internet of Everything. | Matthew Hughes | LinkedIn.com

The Internet of Everything. | Matthew Hughes | LinkedIn.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It’s easy to forget the internet is not a single network. The internet is made up of millions of publicly accessible, interconnected, local networks which which serve over a billion client devices overall. Historically the internet has been viewed as essentially made up of clients and servers, where, for instance, your client laptop or smartphone connects to server to view an organisation’s website, retrieve files or run queries on an app. But this server/client view of the internet is on the cusp of changing in a fundamental way. Today we can now think of the internet in three layers:


  • The Core Internet – This has millions of nodes. It is made up of the servers and routers themselves. Client devices use these servers to access data and run server/web applications. The physical composition of the core internet changes relatively slowly and has extremely high capacity. There is an increasing trend for these servers to be based in huge purpose built data centers. The advent of cloud computing has brought down the barrier of entry to the SME and consumer market to store their own data and run apps in such facilities.


  • The Fringe Internet – This now has billions of nodes. It is made up of the client computers (desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones) used by the end users. These are people centric devices. The amount of devices in the fringe internet is limited to a few billion as the devices themselves require people to use. The topology of the fringe changes rapidly.


  • The Internet of Things (IoT) – It is made up of IP-enabled, totally embedded applications within devices that connect to the network. This includes sensors, machines, active positioning tags, radio-frequency identification (RFID) readers and building automation equipment to name but a few. Here there is the potential for trillions of nodes. Imagine every device in your home and workplace, every crucial component in an industrial machine, connected to the internet. This layer of the internet is only just emerging and will completely eclipse the internet as we know it today in terms of scale.


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Charter Closes on $3.5B Loans | Mike Farrell | Multichannel.com

Charter Closes on $3.5B Loans | Mike Farrell | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Charter Communications said Friday it has closed on $3.5 billion in terms loans, proceeds of which will be used to finance its purchase of cable subscribers from Time Warner Cable, itself an offshoot of Comcast’s pending merger with TWC.


In a statement, Charter said the loans will be used to finance Charter’s acquisition, from Comcast, of cable systems serving approximately 1.5 million Time Warner Cable video customers. Those sales are part of larger agreements the parties reached in April that will double Charter’s footprint through a series of sales, swaps and a 33% stake in spin-off GreatLand Connections.


 Charter had previously announced that it had entered into commitments for up to $8.4 billion of loans. The $3.5 billion is a portion of that commitment, with the remaining commitment continuing.


Goldman Sachs Bank USA, BofA Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC and Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. served as the Joint Lead Book Runners and Joint Lead Arrangers for the new facilities.

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Republican group convinces 772,000 people to oppose “Internet regulation” | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica

Republican group convinces 772,000 people to oppose “Internet regulation” | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A Republican advocacy group called "American Commitment" said today that 772,000 Americans have signed its petition asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to avoid "regulating the Internet"—a reference to the agency's current net neutrality proceeding.


"Regulating the Internet has always been a solution in search of a problem," says the petition, which is addressed to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. "By trying for a third time to regulate the Internet, the FCC is demonstrating that it is no longer acting in the interests of the American people. Instead of doing its real job—providing more spectrum for wireless users or deregulating wireline telephone service—it is trying to move backward in time to 1930s-era phone regulation. If the FCC drags 2014 technology back into 1930s regulations, the Internet will suffer, and so will the American people. Do not regulate the Internet."


The petition's website rotates through several pitches to make its case. One accuses the FCC of "usurping the legislative powers of the Congress by attempting to rewrite the laws passed by Congress." Signing the petition submits it as a comment to the FCC's net neutrality proceeding.


The message is unusual in advocating for an end to all regulation of the Internet. Even big Internet service providers like Comcast and AT&T support some form of net neutrality rules, while arguing that Internet service should not be treated as a utility. Smaller ISPs have argued for more expansive rules that also prevent content providers from abusing their market power.


American Commitment is a nonprofit and doesn't have to disclose its donors, the Center for Responsive Politics wrote last year. The group, which may have ties to the conservative billionaire Koch brothers, lobbies for Republican candidates and against Democrats.


The group's petition drive over the past three weeks followed massive support for net neutrality rules. An analysis of 800,000 public comments by the Sunlight Foundation found that fewer than one percent were clearly opposed to net neutrality and that two-thirds of commenters objected to the FCC's plan to allow paid "fast lanes" under which websites can buy preferential access from Internet service providers. The American Commitment petition could change those percentages.


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Broadcast-Friendlier STAVRA Bill Circulated | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

Broadcast-Friendlier STAVRA Bill Circulated | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A new version of the Satellite Television Access and Viewer Rights Act (STAVRA), which is scheduled to be marked up Sept. 17 in the Senate Commerce Committee, was circulated late Friday, according to a copy obtained by B&C.


The draft dropped retrans reforms opposed by TV stations in an effort to get the must-pass bill passed.


As previously reported, the draft was shorn of the "Local Choice" retrans remake proposal, which had been backed by cable and satellite operators while broadcasters were fighting it tooth and nail.


A copy of the managers amendment from committee cochairs Jay Rockefeller (D- W. Va.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) — essentially a substitute bill — obtained late Friday had been pared back even further, likely to a form broadcasters can live with.


A spokesperson for the National Association of Broadcasters said it was "reserving comment until [NAB has] a chance to fully review the language in the manager's amendment," but added: "From what we understand, the Senate Commerce legislation appears to be much less hostile to free and local broadcasting than the STAVRA draft."


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Why cloud security is something businesses must take into their own hands | Zulikar Elastica | GigaOm Tech News

Why cloud security is something businesses must take into their own hands | Zulikar Elastica | GigaOm Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Security in the cloud is on a lot of people’s minds following the hacking of celebrities’ iCloud accounts. When we hear about user accounts on cloud services and SaaS applications getting compromised, we start thinking more about he types of security capabilities that cloud providers offer versus what they leave unaddressed, and where responsibility should lie.


Although many people think that security is a monolith, in reality it’s much more of a mosaic — full of nuances and subtleties. There are undoubtedly various kinds of threats associated with cloud services. From the perspective of the cloud service provider, the most pressing security issue involves protecting its back-end infrastructure from outside attackers. An attacker who can break in through the back door can abscond with a wealth of data.


Businesses using SaaS services, or individual users of iCloud, have other concerns. Account compromise through the back door is worrying, but in particular, organizations must worry about attacks through the front door. User accounts may be compromised through phishing attacks (targeted or otherwise). There’s a risk of devices being lost or stolen. Or end-user systems may be infected with malware that results in session hijacking.


Let’s also remember that not all threats originate from the outside. What happens if malicious insiders decide to purloin sensitive data, like customer names and intellectual property, as they get ready to leave the company? And, along similar lines, how do you address inadvertent insiders — who may simply succumb to human error by mistyping an email address that causes data to be shared with someone who shouldn’t have access to it? The list goes on.


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Uber Caves To Striking Drivers' Demands | Johana Bhuiyan | BuzzFeed.com

Uber Caves To Striking Drivers' Demands | Johana Bhuiyan | BuzzFeed.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Early into the second day of a group of Uber drivers’ work “strike,” Uber sent out an email indicating that it was meeting one of the group’s demands: Drivers of premium cars — either black cars or SUVs — could now opt out of receiving less lucrative Uber X requests.


As BuzzFeed News reported yesterday, the Uber Drivers Network of NYC — a group made up primarily of SUV and black car drivers — were fed up with either being penalized with a temporary suspension for not accepting Uber X requests or attempting to appease the company and accepting so many Uber X requests (at least 90% of all requests) that they did not have time to pick up passengers requesting a black car or an SUV.


The company rolled out this program for premium drivers to opt into receive requests for Uber X rides earlier this summer but only made it mandatory for all drivers, whether or not they opted in, earlier this month. In the email drivers received today, Uber wrote that the company was returning to its “opt in” policy where drivers could choose to receive Uber X requests.


However, drivers still have unaddressed complaints, namely the summer discount that pegs Uber X rates below that of yellow cabs and other taxis. It’s an issue specific to New York City where the company has driven up demand for Uber X rides with its decrease in Uber X rates.


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MN: Strut Your Stuff Tour: Lake County uses technology to connect youth and seniors and prepare for FTTH | Blandin on Broadband

On Wednesday the Blandin Broadband Team visited Lake County and Lake Connections to hear about the Blandin Broadband Community projects. Lake County received money to build out Fiber to the Home (FTTH). Building that network was an arduous battle – but they are moving forward and they are starting to sign up customers. But the process has been slower and no one gets fiber as fast as they want. One attendee noted that this work was good but it would be even better if we could build the network with the snap of a finger. So the BBC community has been the balance that acts as cheerleader for the network and primes the pump to take advantage of opportunity as soon as it’s available.


We heard about the many successful projects they have been able to create – “ to take the network and find uses for the common good.” They found computers for low income families, they provided hours of training to a wide range of people, they have community iPads to get people started. A couple of things that struck me in their meeting – the technology has really been used as a tool to build bridges between young and old. Bridges have been built in the community through intergenerational training. Bridges have also been built between aging parents living in the area and kids who have moved away. One attendee spoke passionately about broadband being a tool to keep in touch but also to demonstrate to kids in other areas that mom and dad are doing OK in Two Harbors – no need to move in with anyone in the Cities!


Also the meeting included a number of people who had been through the Blandin Leadership training. I haven’t been through the training but have heard only good things. It was clear that the attendees yesterday had a deeper experience and appreciated the reach of the tool because the understood the potential of leadership.


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Why Google and the FCC are bringing wireless back into the net neutrality fight | Stacey Higginbotham | GigaOM Tech News

Why Google and the FCC are bringing wireless back into the net neutrality fight | Stacey Higginbotham | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This week the Chairman of the FCC and Google both seemed to come out in favor of holding wireless internet to the same network neutrality standards we hold the wired internet. This has long been the goal of net neutrality advocates since back in 2010 when the FCC was writing the rules that would prevent last-mile broadband access providers from discriminating against traffic on their networks.


After Google caved on the wireless issue, in what looked to be a realization that its business interests were tied to Verizon and others thanks to the nascent Android operating system, the FCC backed off the effort to make sure wireless networks were held to the same standards. But the FCC and Google are apparently changing their minds.


In a speech before the CTIA Tuesday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler made a veiled threat to the wireless industry, saying:


"The Commission’s previous Open Internet rules distinguished between fixed and mobile, and our tentative conclusion in this new rulemaking suggested the Commission should maintain the same approach going forward. In this proceeding, however, we specifically recognized that there have been significant changes in the mobile marketplace since 2010. We sought comment about whether these changes should lead us to revise our treatment of mobile broadband services. The basic issue that is raised is whether the old assumptions upon which the 2010 rules were based match new realities."


He didn’t come out and say the FCC was going to rethink how it views wireless in the net neutrality debate, but he certainly hinted that it was an option. And many in DC are heartened by Wheeler’s comments.


“Wheeler is really from the Ben Bernanke school of signaling before you do something crazy,” said Harold Feld, a lawyer with consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge. “He is signaling that he is looking to up the rules on net neutrality on wireless.”


Google apparently is too. Jon Brodkin over at Ars Technica noticed earlier this week that Google is apparently back on the table as supporting network neutrality for both wireless and wireline access. That’s a significant shift from its 2010 position, although Google didn’t mention it in its most recent net neutrality filing from June 13. However, several internet lobbying groups such as the Internet Association and several tech firms (including Google) back in May have also made statements about bringing wireless back into the network neutrality discussion.

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Cybersecurity technologies being developed, implemented to advance smart grid, new report says | Stephanie Kanowitz | FierceGovernment.com

Technologies with built-in cybersecurity functions are in development and in some cases rolling out across the nation's electricity grid as it's being transformed into a smart grid, according to the Energy Department's new status report.


"Though cybersecurity remains a critical challenge, government and industry are actively developing the tools, guidance and resources necessary to develop robust cybersecurity practices within utilities," according to the "2014 Smart Grid System Report" (pdf) released last month.


Massive public and private sector investments are trying to modernize the century-old, stressed U.S. power grid by using advanced digital technologies to improve its reliability, efficiency and security. The new Energy Department report provides an update on various aspects of smart grid developments and deployments across the country, including cybersecurity.


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After a key Supreme Court decision this summer, courts are shredding software patents and trolls | Jeff John Roberts | GigaOM Tech News

After a key Supreme Court decision this summer, courts are shredding software patents and trolls | Jeff John Roberts | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Most people would find it absurd to grant 20-year patent monopolies on ideas like “up-selling” a customer or using a guarantor in a sales transaction. Now, the courts finally think so too.


In a fit of common sense, federal court are using a landmark Supreme Court decision from this summer to invalidate a host of silly patents that involve no more than old ideas performed on a computer.


In the the short term, the recent court decisions amount to victories for companies like Googleand Amazon that have been plagued by so-called patent trolls. In the long term, they may help restore some credibility to America’s troubled patent system.


In a major decision known as Alice, the Supreme Court finally offered some clarity in June about when software can be patented. The court did not, as many hoped, ban software patents altogether, but it did impose a strict test to limit them.


The Alice case itself involved a patent that described the ancient concept of escrow implemented on a computer. The Supreme Court affirmed a long-standing rule that abstract ideas can’t be patented and, importantly, added that simply using a computer processor to carry out the idea didn’t change that fact. The escrow patent was no more.


Now, other patents are meeting the same fate. Earlier this month, the country’s patent appeals court sided with Google in a dispute over whether the idea of using a computer to introduce a guarantor to a sales transaction should count as “patent eligible subject matter.”

The appeals court emphatically declared it should not, stating that the “claims in this case do not push or even test the boundaries” of an eligible patent, and added that the idea of a guarantor is “beyond question of ancient lineage.”


Amazon, meanwhile, enjoyed a similar victory this month in a dispute with a patent troll named Tuxus Technologies LLC that claimed to own the idea of using a computer to ask customers to make another purchase once they had chosen to make a first one.


A federal court in Delaware, pointing to the Alice decision, chose to shred the troll’s patent:

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Uber, allies kick off campaign to brand ‘Big Taxi’ | Nancy Scola | WashPost.com

The battle over the future of the taxi industry is in many ways an information war. And the latest salvo in it has launched: an online campaign called "Taxi Facts," backed by several groups including ride service Uber, the libertarian advocacy group TechFreedom and D.C. based trade group The Internet Association. The hashtag -- of course there's a hashtag -- is #hailfail, and whether or not it's the work of former Obama campaign strategist David Plouffe, it fulfills one of the central rules of politics: define your opponent before your opponent gets a chance to do it.


"In an era of scare tactics and corporate intimidation," reads the group's statement of purpose, "we believe the public deserves to know the truth about Big Taxi."


One of the reasons you might see this campaign now is that the mix of opinion swirling around over Uber indicates that it's operating on a still very unsettled playing field. The company, of course, wants the public behind it as it faces regulatory challenges across the country. There are score of people who love Uber. And there are scores of people unsettled by the aggressive tactics they seem to be using to recruit drivers. But the Venn diagram of those two constituencies seems to overlap considerably. And that presents for both sides what political organizers like to talk about as a crisitunity.


And so a big part of what we're seeing is a language war. The pro-Uber side is doing its darnedest to brand the existing taxi industry as a monolithic "Big Taxi," a la Big Oil or Big Tobacco, tapping into the idea that the powers-that-be in the industry aren't individual drivers but taxi fleet owners and operators.


Rhetoric is central focus on the other side, too. There exists a "Who's Driving You?" campaign, backed by the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association. One of that side's core tactics is to reject the idea that "ride-sharing" is what Uber, Lyft and others are up to. Instead, they are, to borrow their phrase, simply "unregulated taxi services."


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MN Company Digi makes strides in wearable for healthy living | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

I’m a fan of wearbles. I hate to admit that I get a lot more use out of my $120 Fitbit than my $1500 Google Glass – but I think I’m the norm.


I think it does demonstrate that there’s real potential to promote healthy decisions (as well as monitor health) with wearables.


I was excited to see Digi, a Minnesota company, take the lead in making that happen.


Good for health, good for economic development…


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FCC Monday Morning Quarterbacks the Sports Blackout Rule | Andy Schwartzman | Benton Foundation

FCC Monday Morning Quarterbacks the Sports Blackout Rule | Andy Schwartzman | Benton Foundation | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

On September 30, the Federal Communications Commission will vote on whether to repeal its sports blackout rules. The outcome is a forgone conclusion - the FCC will repeal the rules.


The immediate impact of repeal will be minimal, since the practical effect would only be felt a few times a year in a handful of TV markets where professional football games do not sell out all the time. (While the rule technically affects professional baseball, hockey and basketball as well, only football has aggressive blackout policies.) Even so, the proposal to end the blackout rule generated widespread popular support as well as an intense pushback from the National Football League (NFL), which generated a last minute lobbying campaign that recruited a number of large institutional supporters, including several major civil rights organizations.


Today, local blackout policies are largely determined by private contractual relationships between sports leagues or individual teams and the networks, local TV stations and pay-TV operators which carry the games. The sports blackout rules effectively extend, and protect, these contracts. However, the legal underpinnings of the blackout rule are rooted in historic regulation of television, and show how the impact of television has changed sports over the decades.


Once upon a time, television royalties were a secondary revenue source for sports teams, as ticket sales were the principal source of revenue. To insure that fans would buy tickets, the NFL imposed several blackout restrictions, most notably one which prohibited televising home games in the local market. (It was common in those days for New York Giants fans to drive to bars and restaurants in Connecticut, where the Hartford TV station carried the games.) After the NFL lost several antitrust rulings against elements of its blackout policies, it successfully lobbied Congress to enact the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961, which exempts professional football, baseball, hockey and basketball leagues from certain antitrust restrictions. That law expressly permits blackouts of home games within a team’s home territory. (The law also attempted to restrict professional football games from being played on Friday nights, which is reserved for high school football.)


As football became more popular, and sellouts were increasingly common, complaints against blackouts grew into a major consumer issue. Thus, in 1973, Congress amended the law to prohibit home game blackouts only if the game was not sold out 72 hours in advance of game time. Although the statute was effective only for two years, the NFL has voluntarily continued the 72 hour policy ever since.


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DirecTV Readies OTT Service Targeted To Hispanics | Mike Farrell | Multichannel.com

DirecTV Readies OTT Service Targeted To Hispanics | Mike Farrell | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

DirecTV, not to be outdone by over-the-top announcements from Sony, Verizon  and Dish Network, will launch its own Netflix-like online video service aimed at the Hispanic market by the end of the year.


The announcement should come as no surprise – DirecTV CEO Mike White had hinted at an over-the top service in December.  DirecTV also was one of the bidders for online video service Hulu, which pulled its auction in 2013, opting instead to invest an additional $750 million in the company.


White offered few details on Ya Veo today at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference, but it is expected that the service will include content from Spanish Language network Univision and others.


Online opportunities abound for the satellite company – which is in the throes of the regulatory approval process regarding its proposed merger with AT&T. White said DirecTV also is investigating offering its NFL Sunday Ticket out of market professional football package to college campuses and apartments – locations that don’t normally have access to satellite – online.


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In The FCC's Own Words: Chairman Wheeler Has Proposed Online Discrimination, Paid Prioritization, And Exclusive Deals | Marvin Ammori | Techdirt.com

In The FCC's Own Words: Chairman Wheeler Has Proposed Online Discrimination, Paid Prioritization, And Exclusive Deals | Marvin Ammori | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Last week, we showed how the Verizon court decision made it clear that without Title II reclassification, the internet would be open to discrimination, paid prioritization and exclusive deals. This week, we're looking at how FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's claims back that up, despite his attempts to argue otherwise.

Chairman Wheeler claims to oppose discrimination and a two-tiered Internet of fast lanes and slow lanes.


Chairman’s speech on 5/15/14: “This agency supports an Open Internet. There is ONE Internet. Not a fast internet, not a slow internet; ONE Internet. … The potential for there to be some kind of ‘fast lane’ available to only a few has many people concerned. Personally, I don’t like the idea that the Internet could become divided into ‘haves’ and ‘have nots.’ I will work to see that does not happen. In this Item we specifically ask whether and how to prevent the kind of paid prioritization that could result in ‘fast lanes.’”


But his proposal would authorize discrimination and a two-tiered Internet of fast lanes and slow lanes.


Chairman’s proposal: “[W]e propose to adopt the text of the no-blocking rule that the Commission adopted in 2010, with a clarification that it does not preclude broadband providers from negotiating individualized, differentiated arrangements with similarly situated edge providers (subject to the separate commercial reasonableness rule or its equivalent). So long as broadband providers do not degrade lawful content or service to below a minimum level of access, they would not run afoul of the proposed rule. We also seek comment below on how to define that minimum level of service. Alternatively, we seek comment on whether we should adopt a no-blocking rule that does not allow for priority agreements with edge providers and how we would do so consistent with sources of legal authority other than section 706, including Title II.” (para. 89)


That is, the rule proposed would allow for cable and phone companies to offer and cut new deals with websites and applications, and those deals do not have to treat similar companies similarly. These priority arrangements could be for a fee, and wildly different fees for each site. As an "alternative" to the proposal, the FCC agreed to ask whether it should adopt a rule that forbids "priority arrangements," but that is certainly not Wheeler's official proposal.

Further, Wheeler is also proposing exclusive deals, with merely a rebuttable presumption against a very small subset -- between an ISP and a website it owns. So Verizon-Amazon or Comcast-Apple exclusives would be legal.


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This Is How An Ad Gets Placed In Your Facebook News Feed | Matthew Lynley | BuzzFeed.com

This Is How An Ad Gets Placed In Your Facebook News Feed | Matthew Lynley | BuzzFeed.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Fidji Simo and Hong Ge have, quite arguably, some of the most important jobs at Facebook.


It’s their job — and their team’s job — to pick from the tens of millions of ads running on Facebook every day and winnow the glut down to the hypothetical 10 or so ads that each Facebook user sees in their News Feed every day. To do that, the team has had to build a complex algorithm that not only maximizes value for advertisers, but also ensures that the user experience stays pleasant.


The process of placing an ad on News Feed is a complicated dance. Facebook has to decide not only which ad to show to its users, but when to show it to them. There isn’t a dedicated “slot,” so to speak, for an ad in News Feed, so the team must time the ads based what the user is doing on Facebook at that given moment.


Each day, there are between 11 and 12 million active ads on Facebook, from roughly 1.5 million advertisers running campaigns, Simo told BuzzFeed News. Part of the reason for that glut of advertisers is thanks to the trove of data that Facebook has from its users over the social network’s 10 years that can be used to target ads more effectively, eMarketer principal analyst Debra Williamson said.


"One of the things that has set Facebook apart from other media platforms is the information it has about its users,” she said. “Right from the start, Facebook was able to develop an ad platform that took advantage of actual, real information as opposed to guesses and estimates of who was looking at the page, where they were coming from.”


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AT&T Tries to Keep the Axing of Millions of DSL Users a Secret | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com

AT&T Tries to Keep the Axing of Millions of DSL Users a Secret | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

We've discussed at length how AT&T's "IP transition" is being framed as some sort of evolutionary transition toward a "glorious all-IP future," but is really largely about AT&T gutting regulations in order to hang up on POTS (plain old telephone) and DSL users they simply don't want to upgrade. The name of the game is terminating these unwanted users and pushing them users toward significantly more expensive (and capped) LTE wireless service.


To make this dream a reality, AT&T and Verizon have been going state by state, trying to convince local governments that if they kill off regulations requiring they keep providing POTS and DSL, those communities will somehow enter telecom infrastructure investment Utopia, where they're suddenly awash in improved technology, networks and opportunity.

AT&T's even gone so far as to pay a slew of people (like Steve Forbes and Rick Boucher) to pen editorials circulating in national newspapers claiming again that if we allow AT&T to kill off DSL and POTS lines, we'll enter some type of golden era of telecom investment.

What's actually going to happen is that AT&T and Verizon are going to leave these markets with less competition than ever before. As a result, potentially tens of millions of DSL users will ultimately face the choice of either very expensive wireless (over which Netflix streaming is impractical), or a cable operator emboldened by a now total lack of any price competition whatsoever (making prices higher and support worse than ever before). Assuming they can get a wireless signal in the home, or even have access to a cable competitor.

The "IP transition" requires serious public discussion, and it's possibly the most important shift in telecom in thirty years.


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Cheaper Internet Service Could Be On its Way: Should AT&T and Comcast Be Scared? | Michael Nielsen | Motley Fool

Cheaper Internet Service Could Be On its Way: Should AT&T and Comcast Be Scared? | Michael Nielsen | Motley Fool | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Are you fed up with overpriced, underperforming Internet service? So is the Federal Communications Commission.


Inspired by a request from the city of Wilson, N.C., and utility EPB of Chattanooga, Tenn., the FCC has pledged to make it easier for municipalities to offer their own broadband services.


The agency hopes municipal broadband will lower prices for consumers by increasing competition in the telecom industry.


This probably sounds great to the 87% of Americans who use the Internet, but what does increased competition mean for companies such as AT&T and Comcast?


According to the Net Index by Ookla, the United States ranks 25th among nations in Internet download speeds, with an average of 29.54 megabits per second, or Mbps. How could this be? 


Many believe America's lagging Internet is the result of limited competition between Internet service providers. 


Because of the relatively poor performance of American ISPs, it should't come as a surprise that many municipal governments want to offer their own broadband services. But telecom companies have fought hard to prevent this from happening.


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Uber Drivers "Strike" — And Switch To Lyft — Over Fares And Conditions | Johana Bhuiyan | BuzzFeed.com

Uber Drivers "Strike" — And Switch To Lyft — Over Fares And Conditions | Johana Bhuiyan | BuzzFeed.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Uber drivers gathered outside of Uber’s Long Island City offices on Monday to protest the low fares.


A group of Uber drivers, who say they number about a thousand, are attempting to organize a strike against the booming taxi company over complaints of falling fares and unfair working conditions.


The drivers, who are mostly comprised of SUV and black car drivers, have planned a protest outside of the Long Island City Uber Office on Monday morning after refusing to drive for the service — and in some cases, switching to rival Lyft — Thursday, Friday and Saturday. This is the second protest the group, called Uber Drivers Network NYC, will be staging in a week against the company.


One major grievance is that Uber has extended a summer discount into the fall, cutting deep into drivers wages and forcing them to work extra hours to compensate. Another complaint, according to an organizer and SUV driver who gave his name only as Belal, is that both SUV and black car drivers have been forced to accept requests for UberX — the non-luxury counterpart to Uber’s black car service that charges a lower rate — if they are within the area.


SUV and black car drivers never received UberX requests until earlier this summer when the company rolled out a program that allowed these premium car drivers to opt into being listed as both a black car and UberX service with the promise of a 35% to 50% increase in hourly income.


According to Belal, he and many other drivers tried this option once or twice and realized they could not make as much as they did in the time they normally would work just being a black car driver exclusively and tried to email and text the company to opt out. But he and other drivers continue to receive UberX requests despite his attempts to return to just being a premium driver.


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MN: State pulls the plug on fiber-optic line to governor's mansion | Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal

MN: State pulls the plug on fiber-optic line to governor's mansion | Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A plan to create a high-speed Internet link to the Minnesota governor's mansion in St. Paul has been shelved amid questions about its purpose and $261,000 price tag.


Minnesota Public Radio reports on the project, which would have connected the mansion to the state's existing fiber network and which had been in the works since 2013. An official said the decision to put the network on hiatus was based on ""ensuring the most cost-effective solution to meet long-term needs."


The effort may have been seen as less necessary since CenturyLink announced it would introduce its own high-speed Internet service to the Twin Cities.

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

I guess these folks in MN don't realize that CenturyLink's so-called FTTP plans are just Fiber to the Press Release (FTTPR)!

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At Medicine X, four innovators talk teaching digital literacy and professionalism in medical school | Michelle Brandt | Stanford.edu

At Medicine X, four innovators talk teaching digital literacy and professionalism in medical school | Michelle Brandt | Stanford.edu | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

One of my favorite talks yesterday at Stanford’s Medicine X was “Fostering Digital Citizenship in Medical School,”where four esteemed panelists talked about the innovative programs they’ve put in place at their institutions.


The physicians joked several times that a good panel often involves controversy or conflict among speakers – but the four of them weren’t in disagreement about much. They all believe that things like understanding social media and knowing how to build one’s digital footprint are crucial skills for doctors-to-be, even if those aren’t an obvious focus for the students themselves.


“We can’t expect students to understand” this, said Warren Wiechmann, MD, an associate dean at UC Irvine School of Medicine. “They’re focused on learning core forms of medicine.” (Wiechmann started in 2010 a program to provide each incoming medical student with an iPad and has since added to the school’s curriculum courses on topics such as social media, wearables, and new digital trends in medicine.)


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Comcast Declares War on Tor? | Nathan Wold | Deep Dot Web

If you needed another reason to hate Comcast, the most hated company in America, they’ve just given it to you: they’ve declared war on Tor Browser.


Reports have surfaced (Via /r/darknetmarkets and another one submitted to us) that Comcast agents have contacted customers using Tor and instructed them to stop using the browser or risk termination of service. A Comcast agent named Jeremy allegedly called Tor an “illegal service.” The Comcast agent told its customer that such activity is against usage policies.


The Comcast agent then repeatedly asked the customer to tell him what sites he was accessing on the Tor browser. The customer refused to answer.


The next day the customer called Comcast and spoke to another agent named Kelly who reiterated that Comcast does not want its customers using Tor. The Comcast agent then allegedly told the customer:


"Users who try to use anonymity, or cover themselves up on the internet, are usually doing things that aren’t so-to-speak legal. We have the right to terminate,   fine, or suspend your account at anytime due to you violating the rules. Do you have any other questions? Thank you for contacting Comcast, have a great day."


How did Comcast know its customers were using Tor in the first place? Because Tor Browser provides online anonymity to its users,  This would mean that Comcast is monitoring the online activities of its users, to (among other things) check if they are following their Acceptable Use Policy.


Comcast has previously been listed by the Tor project as a Bad ISP. The users of the Tor project listed Comcast as a bad ISP that is not friendly to Tor. The Tor project cited Comcast’s Acceptable Use Policy for its residential customers which claims to not allow servers or proxies under “technical restrictions.”:


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Senate Judiciary Committee chairman urges PACER to restore access to removed case archives | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman urges PACER to restore access to removed case archives | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If you want digital access to U.S. court documents, PACER will likely be your first stop. It's a sort of digital warehouse for public court records maintained by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, or the AO.


The service charges 10 cents per page of search results within its databases and 10 cents per actual page of public court records. Public domain and freedom of information advocates have long criticized the charges, along with the system's difficult-to-navigate interface, and have tried to create free alternative archives.


But on Aug. 10, PACER unceremoniously announced that archives for five courts -- four of them federal courts of appeals -- would no longer be available through the system.


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The Guardian Visits Chattanooga, TN | community broadband networks

The Guardian Visits Chattanooga, TN | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Guardian recently ran an article covering Chattanooga EPB's fiber network. The article tells the story of the birth of the network, the challenges the community faced to get its gigabit service, and how the network has sculpted the community.


Reporter Dominic Rushe, mentioned how the city has faced legal opposition from incumbents that sued to stop the network. They continue to hound the EPB today, most recently by trying to stop the city's FCC petition to expand its services. But even in a fiercely competitive environment, EPB has succeeded. From the article:


"The competitive disadvantage they face is clear. EPB now has about 60,000 residential and 4,500 business customers out of a potential 160,000 homes and businesses. Comcast hasn’t upgraded its network but it has gone on the offensive, offering cutthroat introductory offers and gift cards for people who switch back. “They have been worthy competitors,” said [Danna] Bailey,[vice president of EPB]. “They’ve been very aggressive.”


Rushe spoke with Chris:


"In DC there is often an attitude that the only way to solve our problems is to hand them over to big business. Chattanooga is a reminder that the best solutions are often local and work out better than handing over control to Comcast or AT&T to do whatever they want with us,” said Chris Mitchell, director of community broadband networks at advocacy group the Institute for Local Self-Reliance."


A key difference between a Comcast or an AT&T and EPB goes beyond the numbers. Rushe described the artistic renaissance happening in Chattanooga with the help of top notch service from EPB:


"The city is making sure schools have access to devices for its children to get online. Fancy Rhino, a marketing and film production firm backed by Lamp Post, has been working with The Howard School, an inner-city school, to include them in the city’s renaissance.

...


Bailey said EPB could afford to be more community minded because of its structure. “We don’t have to worry about stockholders, our customers are our stockholders. We don’t have to worry about big salaries, about dividends. We get to wake up everyday and think about what, within business reason, is good for this community,” she said.


“The private sector doesn’t have that same motivation. It’s perfectly fair, they are motivated by profits and stockholders. they have a lot of capital already invested in existing infrastructure. It would be costly to overbuild themselves.”


The local business environment is, naturally, shifting toward a high tech center. Rushe checked in with one of the many incubators, Lamp Post, in the once abandoned downtown district:


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