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Canadian Scientists Call Countrywide Protests Against Government Censorship, Found Advocacy Group | Techdirt.com

Canadian Scientists Call Countrywide Protests Against Government Censorship, Found Advocacy Group | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Back in April, we noted that the Canadian government has been trying to muzzle various groups in the country, including librarians and scientists. It now seems that some scientists have had enough, as the Guardian reports:


Researchers in 16 Canadian cities have called protests on Monday against science policies introduced under the government of Stephen Harper, which include rules barring government researchers from talking about their own work with journalists and, in some cases, even fellow researchers.


Nor are these just a one-off, since they build on earlier protests:


"The rallies, on university campuses and central locations in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver as well as other cities, will be the second set of protests in a year by government scientists against the Harper government's science policies.

Like last year, protesters have been asked to wear white lab coats on Monday.
"


There's also a new group called Scientists for the Right to Know:


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MN: 1-gig Internet? Really fast. CenturyLink 1-gig rollout? Really slow | Mark Reilly | Minneapolis / St. Paul Biz Journal

MN: 1-gig Internet? Really fast. CenturyLink 1-gig rollout? Really slow | Mark Reilly | Minneapolis / St. Paul Biz Journal | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The telecom provider has been breathlessly promising super-fast broadband access to Twin Cities homes and small businesses since last fall. But if you're waiting for service in your neighborhood? Don't hold your breath.

That's because Louisiana-based CenturyLink (CTL), the biggest phone provider in the Twin Cities, has wired only a relative handful of areas with the fiber-optic cable that carries the high-speed data, reports the Pioneer Press.

There's no mystery why. Rolling out new cable is really expensive. Wiring the entire market could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and CenturyLink is expanding service in several other cities, too. But for local residents who just want fast Internet, the company's slow pace, and the lack of details on exactly where it will build, make for frustration.

Since the company won't give details, some have taken to building their own maps of 1-gig coverage areas, using data from CenturyLink's website.


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States threaten lawsuit over Obama's municipal broadband plan | Grant Gross | ComputerWorld.com

States threaten lawsuit over Obama's municipal broadband plan | Grant Gross | ComputerWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If the U.S. Federal Communications Commission moves to preempt state laws that limit municipal broadband projects, as President Barack Obama recently asked the agency to do, it will likely end up in court.

States affected by an FCC preemption of municipal broadband laws will almost certainly file a lawsuit if the agency moves to invalidate the 20 state laws that limit municipal broadband projects in some way, said legislators from three states and from three group representing state officials.

The 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving states all power not delegated to the federal government, should make the states' case against the FCC "slam dunk," said Brad Ramsay, general counsel of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners [NARUC]. If a case makes it to the U.S. Supreme Court, "the FCC will lose," he said during a press conference Monday.

In addition to Obama's request to the FCC, announced this month, cities in North Carolina and Tennessee filed petitions in mid-2014 asking the FCC to overturn laws there limiting municipal broadband projects.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, last June, called on the agency to preempt the state laws "in the best interests of consumers and competition." The FCC is still considering the petitions by the two cities in Tennessee and North Carolina.

An FCC spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to a request for comments on a possible lawsuit.

Just last week, three Democratic U.S. senators, including Cory Booker of New Jersey, introduced the Community Broadband Act, which would prevent states from "prohibiting or substantially inhibiting" cities from financing their own broadband networks.

But states have good reasons to put limits on city broadband projects, said state Senator Thomas Alexander, a South Carolina Republican. State legislators want to protect residents from overspending on projects and want to ensure broadband "continuity" across their states, he said.


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MN: Dakota County Broadband 2014 Update: Top marks for anchor tenant access | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

MN: Dakota County Broadband 2014 Update: Top marks for anchor tenant access | 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 Dakota County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 258.9
  • Number of Households: 152,060
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 64.18%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 99.9%


I was surprised at the low coverage in Dakota County when mobile is out of the equation. Dakota County has been a standout in terms of building networks to anchor tenants and to other counties. (David Asp has been instrumental in that effort!) Building a county-wide network has saved Dakota County a ton of money in telecom fees alone; they went from $700,000 to $15,000. Dakota County has received awards for its digital efforts.

But at residential level they are still at only 64 percent coverage without wireless. I know they have had plans to work with third party providers in an open access model to provide broadband to local businesses – perhaps that is an option for residential too.

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HealthCare.gov sends personal data to Twitter, Yahoo and Google | Jeremy Kirk | ComputerWorld.com

HealthCare.gov sends personal data to Twitter, Yahoo and Google | Jeremy Kirk | ComputerWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Information entered into the U.S. government's health insurance website is being passed to companies such as Twitter, Yahoo and Google, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The data includes zip codes, income levels and information about whether people smoke or are pregnant, which users share on HealthCare.gov to get an estimate on the cost of an insurance plan.

The AP's findings were confirmed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which conducted its own tests on Tuesday, said Cooper Quintin, an EFF staff technologist, in a phone interview.

The EFF found that personal health information was sent to 14 third-party domains whose tracking programs are embedded in HealthCare.gov. The domains include those for social media and web analytics companies.

The health data is transmitted in two ways. All 14 domains receive the health data in a referrer, Quintin said. A referrer is information sent from a Web browser that lets another website know what site a person last visited.

In some other cases, the data is embedded in a request string that is sent to the tracking programs, Quintin said. For instance, Google's DoubleClick advertising service receives the data in that way, according to a blog post he wrote.

The worry is that those 14 third-party domains could collect the information and use it to identify users across the Internet for purposes such as targeted advertisements.

"This information, I would say, would be gold for any online advertising company," Quintin said.

There is no evidence that the companies that have trackers are misusing the information, however, and it's unclear if the data is being transmitted intentionally or as the result of an oversight by developers.


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Sen. Commerce Committee to Vet Internet of Things | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

Sen. Commerce Committee to Vet Internet of Things | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled a hearing on the Internet of Things (IoT), a hot topic in Washington, particularly after it was such a hot topic at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month.

“The Connected World: Examining the Internet of Things" is scheduled for Feb. 11 at 10 a.m.

The Federal Trade Commission Monday released a staff report with recommendations on how to insure the safety and security of personal information in that interconnected Web of communicating devices.

Those included legislative solutions, which the Commerce Committee signaled in announcing the hearing that might not be the best approach.


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Alaska: GCI Tries New Twist On Usage-Based Broadband | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel

Alaska: GCI Tries New Twist On Usage-Based Broadband | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

GCI of Alaska has booted up a new set of “No Worries” broadband plans that’s designed to eliminate surprise charges by enabling customers to manage their data consumption through a set of options that become available when they exceed their monthly allotments -- buy buckets of extra data for $10 based on their speed plans, upgrade to a faster tier, or temporarily move to a sub-broadband level of service.

While operators such as Comcast, Suddenlink Communiations and Mediacom Communications are testing or have rolled out usage-based policies that let subs buy a fixed amount of data when they surpass their monthly consumption thresholds (typically $10 for a bucket of 50 Gigabytes), GCI’s new plan lets customers purchase additional gobs of data that are adjusted (in the range of 5 Gigabytes to 30 GB) based on the speed of their current level of service.

By tier, here’s how GCI’s new plans stack up:


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FTC's Wright: IoT Report Lacks Cost-Benefit Analysis | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

FTC's Wright: IoT Report Lacks Cost-Benefit Analysis | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Federal Trade Commission got plenty of input on its just-released staff report on the Internet of Things (IoT), starting off with Commissioner Joshua Wright; the vote was 4-1 to issue the report, with Wright issuing a dissenting statement..

Wright said his issue was that the staff report included a lengthy discussion of broad-based privacy legislation "without analytical support to establish the likelihood that those practices and recommendations, if adopted, would improve consumer welfare." He also wanted to see more cost-benefit analysis of the legislative recommendations, or best practices recommendations for that matter.

Cost-benefit analysis has been a theme in Washington when it comes to Republicans and proposals for new regulations. "Acknowledging in passing, as the Workshop Report does, that various courses of actions related to the Internet of Things may well have some potential costs and benefits does not come close to passing muster as cost-benefit analysis," Wright said.

The report recommended broad privacy and data security and breach notification legislation, but no specific Internet of Things bills, the latter of which was among the things that pleased the Future of Privacy Forum, though that group had issues with the report's recommendation on data minimization.


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Comcast pays back overdue franchise fees to get city’s merger approval | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica

Comcast pays back overdue franchise fees to get city’s merger approval | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast has been going across the country seeking city-by-city support of its Time Warner Cable acquisition, giving local governments a chance to ask for favors in exchange for approving a franchise transfer.

In Minneapolis, Minnesota, the process turned up an unpaid bill of $40,000, so Comcast will have to pay the city money it already owed in order to get the franchise transfer. Comcast will also throw in $50,000 worth of free service and equipment.

"Thirty Minneapolis city buildings will get free basic cable for the next seven years as part of a package of concessions the city wrung out of Comcast in exchange for blessing its proposed merger with fellow cable giant Time Warner," Minnesota Public Radio reported. "Comcast has also agreed to pay Minneapolis $40,000 in overdue franchise fees after an audit found it underpaid the city for its use of the public right of way over the last three years."

Minneapolis cable customers will pay another 36 cents a month to support public access programming.

"The concessions Minneapolis won are relatively small compared to the $4.5 million it will get from Comcast this year in fees. But if you’ve ever tried to get a refund from the company, you know it probably wasn’t easy," the report noted.


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The missing data point from Uber’s driver analysis: How far they drive | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com

The missing data point from Uber’s driver analysis: How far they drive | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Uber released a massive study of its internal data Thursday that found its drivers make more money than traditional taxi drivers. But the study failed to account for one crucial thing: the cost of operating a car.

According to Uber's financial analysis, conducted by the company's in-house policy research lead Jonathan Hall and Princeton economist Alan Krueger, Uber drivers make about $6 an hour more than their traditional taxi-driving peers in many major U.S. markets. But that is the gross hourly rate earned by the drivers, which doesn't account for how much it costs drivers to maintain their cars.

The study acknowledges as much. "Of course, Uber’s driver-partners are not reimbursed for driving expenses, such as gasoline, depreciation, or insurance," it notes, while taxi and limo drivers may not have to cover those costs. The analysis also points out that drivers may be able to offset some of those costs by deducting work-related expenses from their income for tax purposes.

But not all drivers seem convinced.

"The whole analysis brushes off driver expenses and earnings per mile. Gross earnings really are not a fair comparison point," wrote one commenter going by the alias rckymtnrideshrdriver in a reddit section focused on Uber drivers. I would love to see the earnings per mile line graph -- probably looks like falling off a cliff."

Some Uber drivers were already nervous that Uber's plan to lower fares in 48 cities could hurt their pocketbooks -- a move Uber said was designed to entice more riders to use the service. (The company also introduced a guaranteed minimum fare per hour for drivers in these cities.)

The Internal Revenue Service can help us here because it sets standard mileage rates for tax purposes. For 2015, taxpayers can deduct 57.5 cents a mile for operating a car for business purposes. That rate is based on an annual study of the costs of vehicle operation -- those things like repairs, insurance, maintenance, gas and depreciation that were not factored into Uber's study.


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2015 to be year of Ultra HD as channels drive uptake | Rapid TV News

2015 to be year of Ultra HD as channels drive uptake | Rapid TV News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A much wider ecosystem will act as a strong driver of 4K/Ultra HD services in 2015, leading to at least six new services in the year according to Fairmile West research.

The analyst says that to date the Ultra HD market has been driven predominantly by TV manufacturers and is now set to expand, providing opportunities for the entire value chain from technology manufacturers to content suppliers.

In its report UHD – Opportunities and Challenges Towards Mass Deployment, Fairmile adds that some operators are launching early to head-off the threat from over-the-top (OTT) players, and many are looking at combining the roll-out of more efficient HEVC compression with the launch of Ultra HD-capable devices. Fairmile notes that even though opinions around the timescale of mass deployment vary from 2016 to 2023, the challenges to commercialisation are consistently acknowledged as content, and that there would be at least six services launched around the globe by pay-TV operators.


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NPD: Streaming Device Household Penetration to Reach 40% by 2017 | Erik Gruenwedel | Home Media Magazine

NPD: Streaming Device Household Penetration to Reach 40% by 2017 | Erik Gruenwedel | Home Media Magazine | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

With subscription streaming services adding millions of new subs each quarter, the number of households purchasing streaming media players linking broadband to the television in growing as well.

Household penetration of streaming players such as Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV is projected to reach 40% by 2017, according to new research from The NPD Group.

Streaming media player household penetration stood at 16% at the beginning of 2014. Ownership is on track to climb to 24% this quarter when taking into account holiday purchases.

The top five video apps used by streaming media devices include, in order, Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Movies, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus and HBO Go.

While the device market has been driven by Apple and Roku, over the past year and a half Amazon and Google have made a significant impact on market share. In addition to media players, smart TVs, video game consoles and Blu-ray Disc players also offer streaming apps to connected TVs.


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MN's Governor Dayton proposes $30 Million for Broadband | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

According to a FACT SHEET on 21st Century Economic Development from the Governor’s office he is proposing a $30 million investment in broadband.

New Broadband Investments. Last year, Governor Dayton and the Legislature invested $20 million in a new Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program to help communities across Greater Minnesota gain access to high-quality broadband. This year, the Governor is proposing an additional $30 million to help further expand access

That is considerably less than the $200 million recommended by the Governor’s Broadband Task Force. But as I recall last year he started the session saying he wasn’t going to investment in broadband in 2014 – and the legislators and their teams got him to turn around. Hopefully the same will happen this year.


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Winklevoss Twins Aim to Take Bitcoin Mainstream | Nathaniel Popper & Sydney Ember | NYTimes.com

Winklevoss Twins Aim to Take Bitcoin Mainstream | Nathaniel Popper & Sydney Ember | NYTimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Bitcoin, the virtual currency that was once the talk of the financial world, has been taking a beating over the last year with the price tumbling downward.

Now two of the biggest boosters of the virtual currency, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, are trying to firm up support by creating the first regulated Bitcoin exchange for American customers — what they are calling the Nasdaq of Bitcoin.

The brothers, who received $65 million in Facebook shares and cash in 2008 after jousting with its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, have hired engineers from top hedge funds, enlisted a bank and engaged regulators with the aim of opening their exchange — named Gemini, Latin for twins — in the coming months.

The exchange, which the twins have financed themselves, is a risky bet, given that the virtual currency industry has been a target of hackers and has faced existential questions about its legitimacy. But the brothers are betting that the currency will be able to rise again if it follows the same playbook as the more established financial industry.

“Right now we have to build the infrastructure,” Tyler Winklevoss said. “You have to walk before you run.”


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Huawei's elusive founder tries to dispel spying concerns and air of mystery | Michael Kan | ComputerWorld.com

Huawei's elusive founder tries to dispel spying concerns and air of mystery | Michael Kan | ComputerWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

U.S. security concerns may still haunt the reputation of Huawei Technologies, but the Chinese company's elusive founder brushed off any involvement in state-sponsored cyber espionage in a rare interview on Thursday.

"We are a Chinese company, but we will never hurt another country," said Ren Zhengfei, in an webcast interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Appearing relaxed and smiling at times, Huawei's founder tried to dispel misconceptions surrounding the Chinese company, which over the years has found itself embroiled in cyber security concerns coming from the U.S. government.

In October 2012, a U.S. congressional committee declared Huawei a security threat because of its alleged ties to the Chinese government. Not helping the matter was Ren, who rarely gives interviews and has earned a reputation as a mysterious individual.

Since then, however, Ren has been making himself a little more available, and on Thursday he answered questions from journalists on the company's business, and his stance on cyber espionage.

Huawei, which has risen to become a major provider of networking gear, simply builds "the pipes" to power the Internet, Ren said.

"Why would I want to take someone's data? Who would give me money for it?" he asked. "We just do the iron coating to the pipes. What else can this iron coating do? This iron coating is simple-minded. Huawei is also simple-minded."

Ren added that Huawei had never received a request from the Chinese government asking it to spy on the U.S.


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Oracle and Samsung said to be teaming up for mobile cloud delivery | Katherine Noyes | ComputerWorld.com

Oracle and Samsung said to be teaming up for mobile cloud delivery | Katherine Noyes | ComputerWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Oracle and Samsung Electronics have reportedly forged a new partnership through which they will work together to deliver mobile cloud services.

In a meeting last Thursday, Oracle co-CEO Mark Hurd and Shin Jong-kyun, head of Samsung Electronics' mobile division, met in Seoul to discuss the details of the union, which will aim to help Oracle boost its database cloud solutions while enriching Samsung's enterprise client opportunities, according to a report Monday in The Korea Times.

Samsung has already partnered with Microsoft and SAP. Recently, it denied reports that it had offered to buy BlackBerry Ltd., even as it admitted that it would like to deepen its relationship with the Canadian handset maker.

Oracle declined to comment for this story. Samsung did not respond to requests for comment.

In its fiscal 2015 second-quarter earnings report in December, Oracle said software and cloud revenues in general were up 5 percent to $7.3 billion, while cloud software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) revenue were up 45 percent to $516 million.

A relationship between Oracle and Samsung could have strategic similarities to IBM's recently created partnership with Apple, said Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT.

"That could be especially important for Oracle if the rumors about Samsung pursuing Blackberry prove to be correct," King said. "Though Blackberry is a shadow of what it once was, the company still has a presence in large private and public-sector organizations where Oracle and Samsung would love to do mobile business.


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Old arguments may bog down US data breach notification legislation | Grant Gross | CSO Online

Old arguments may bog down US data breach notification legislation | Grant Gross | CSO Online | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A drive in the U.S. Congress to pass a law requiring companies with data breaches to notify affected customers may get bogged down in old arguments.

Lawmakers and witnesses at a Tuesday hearing argued about whether a national data breach notification law should preempt 47 existing state laws and whether breached companies should be required to notify customers even when they determine their breaches are unlikely to cause harm.

Disagreements over those two issues have been part of the reason why Congress hasn't passed a national data breach notification law over the past decade. But the time has come for Congress to pass a national law, members of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee's commerce subcommittee said.

U.S. consumers want Congress to pass such a law, said Representative Michael Burgess, a Texas Republican and subcommittee chairman. Earlier this month, President Barack Obama called for a national law, and the committee intends to move a bipartisan bill forward, Burgess said.

Still, lawmakers will have to iron out major conflicts about the scope of a new law. Representatives of trade groups TechAmerica and the Retail Industry Leaders Association [RILA], as well as database marketing firm Acxiom, called on Congress to preempt the 47 state breach notification laws -- plus those from the District of Columbia, Guam, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico -- that are already on the books.

Complying with dozens of frequently changing state laws creates a "burdensome and complex compliance regime," said Elizabeth Hyman, executive vice president for public policy at TechAmerica. "A strong, single standard that applies throughout the country will ensure our consumers are safer and ensure our companies are well-informed about how to respond to the growing threat of data breaches."

A "carefully crafted federal data breach law can clear up regulatory confusion" while protecting consumers, added Brian Dodge, RILA's executive vice president for communications and strategic initiatives. Preempting state laws would "allow consumers to have a clear set of expectations" about notifications, he said.

A new national standard should not be a "48th data breach law with which retailers must comply," Dodge added.


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Iowa: Broadband committee helping Branstad still sorting issues | Barbara Rodriguez | NewsObserver.com

Iowa: Broadband committee helping Branstad still sorting issues | Barbara Rodriguez | NewsObserver.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As Gov. Terry Branstad prepares to introduce legislation aimed at expanding broadband Internet in Iowa, members of a committee tasked with giving him key recommendations for a bill say it's a complex issue that they're still sorting out.

Members of a broadband committee within the governor's STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Advisory Council said they're still deciding what the state's overall goal should be with expanding high-speed Internet, also known as broadband. There are several factors to consider, including whether to focus on Iowa's roughly 20,000 households with no broadband or increasing current broadband speeds in already-connected communities.

Part of the challenge is the shifting national definition on what constitutes high-speed Internet, said John Carver, superintendent of the Howard-Winneshiek Community School District in northeast Iowa and co-chair of the committee.

"We're in the infancy of all this stuff," he said.

The committee, which is scheduled to meet in early February to finalize its draft, doesn't have a budget recommendation, said Carver.

That concerns committee member Dave Duncan, also CEO of Iowa Communications Alliance. He noted neighboring states like Nebraska and Minnesota have more defined broadband budgets and time tables. In Nebraska, state officials released a plan last year designed to bring faster broadband to more areas by 2020; a Minnesota law signed last year sets aside $20 million for broadband expansion.

"I'm hopeful that our broadband committee will come together with a recommendation of a goal something like what some of those other states are doing," he said.

Carver said group members have different ideas.

"There will be a consensus on what goes forward, but I don't know if it'll be 100 percent supported by everybody," he said.

Committee members say they will recommend a robust fiber-optic network — a system of cables best placed underground — because it's the best option for a broadband infrastructure with room for higher speeds, said Sen. Steven Sodders, a Democrat from State Center who is also on the committee. He introduced legislation Friday aimed at general expansion plans for the state's fiber-optic network.

Sodders' bill is separate from Branstad's work. He said his bill is aimed at getting the conversation going, but he expects to amend it once the governor's bill is introduced.

Roughly 28 percent of Iowa residents have access to a fiber-optic network, according to 2013 data from the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Sodders expects his proposal on fiber-optic network expansion to take at least three to four years to accomplish.


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The '90s Startup That Terrified Microsoft and Got Americans to Go Online | W. Joseph Campbell | WIRED.com

The '90s Startup That Terrified Microsoft and Got Americans to Go Online | W. Joseph Campbell | WIRED.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Nineteen ninety-five was the inaugural year of the 21st century, a clear starting point for contemporary life. It was, proclaimed an exuberant newspaper columnist at the time, “the year the Web started changing lives.”

It was the year when the Internet and the World Wide Web moved from the obscure realm of technophiles and academic researchers to become a household word, the year when the Web went from vague and distant curiosity to a phenomenon that would change the way people work, shop, learn, communicate, and interact.

By 1995, a majority of Americans were using computers at home, at work, or at school, the Times Mirror Center for the People & the Press reported. The organization figured that 18 million American homes in 1995 had computers equipped with modems, an increase of 64 percent from 1994. The popularity of the computer and the prevalence of modems helped ignite dramatic growth in internet use in the years following 1995.


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FCC Says No Blocking of Wi-Fi Hot Spots, Period | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

FCC Says No Blocking of Wi-Fi Hot Spots, Period | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If the Federal Communications Commission's recent fine of Marriott for blocking guests' use of WiFi hot spots was not enough of a signal, the agency's Enforcement Bureau has put an exclamation point on it: No blocking, period!

That came in an Enforcement Advisory issued by the bureau: "WARNING: WiFi Blocking Is Prohibited: Persons or businesses causing intentional interference to Wi-Fi hot spots are subject to enforcement action," the advisory said.

The bureau pointed to its consent decree with Marriott, which admitted it had deliberately blocked consumers trying to use their on WiFi hot spots. Marriott said it was for security reasons, but the FCC saw it as trying to force those consumers to pay for the hotel's Wi-Fi service.

"No hotel, convention center, or other commercial establishment or the network operator providing services at such establishments may intentionally block or disrupt personal Wi-Fi hot spots on such premises, including as part of an effort to force consumers to purchase access to the property owner’s Wi-Fi network," the enforcement bureau said. "Such action is illegal, and violations could lead to the assessment of substantial monetary penalties."


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Microsoft throws down the gauntlet in business intelligence | Derrick Harris | GigaOM Tech News

Microsoft throws down the gauntlet in business intelligence | Derrick Harris | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Microsoft is not content to let Excel define the company’s reputation among the world’s data analysts. That’s the message the company sent on Tuesday when it announced that its PowerBI product is now free. According to a company executive, the move could expand Microsoft’s reach in the business intelligence space by 10 times.

If you’re familiar with PowerBI, you might understand why Microsoft is pitching this as such a big deal. It’s a self-service data analysis tool that’s based on natural language queries and advanced visualization options. It already offers live connections to a handful of popular cloud services, such as Salesforce.com, Marketo and GitHub. It’s delivered as a cloud service, although there’s a downloadable tool that lets users work with data on their laptops and publish the reports to a cloud dashboard.

James Phillips, Microsoft’s general manager for business intelligence, said the company has already had tens of thousands of organizations sign up for PowerBI since it became available in February 2014, and that CEO Satya Nadella opens up a PowerBI dashboard every morning to track certain metrics.


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Stunning Victory Within Reach For Net Neutrality Advocates | Dana Liebelson | HuffPost.com

Stunning Victory Within Reach For Net Neutrality Advocates | Dana Liebelson | HuffPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Next month, a wonky government agency will rule on the fate of the Internet. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is expected to grant a major victory to net neutrality advocates, a stunning turnaround following years of conventional wisdom to the contrary.


But advocates aren't celebrating yet. Instead, they're watching to see if the FCC will create rules that are strong and enforceable, or that leave gaping holes for telecom and cable companies to drive through. They are also eyeing a Republican-backed proposal that, they say, will undermine a free and open Internet.


For months, the battle over net neutrality has centered on whether the FCC will reclassify consumer broadband Internet as a utility under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. Reclassification would empower the FCC to block Internet service providers, or ISPs, from charging content providers like Netflix more for reliable Internet access -- thereby hampering, for example, a person's ability to quickly and affordably stream "House of Cards." (ISPs maintain that they won't create a second network for faster service.)


FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has indicated that he supports Title II -- a proposal backed by President Barack Obama -- and it's widely believed that Wheeler will go that route. Republicans contend that such a move would qualify as government overreach, and they have introduced legislation that would essentially gut the agency's authority. That bill's fate is unclear, given that it's unpopular among many Democrats but still makes big net neutrality concessions that telecom and cable companies might not favor.


Regardless, advocates say that Title II authority won't mean much unless the FCC creates enforceable rules and doesn't allow loopholes.


"Right now, the big carriers are simply looking for a loophole," said Marvin Ammori, a lawyer who advises major tech companies and supports net neutrality. He noted that there are multiple loopholes -- like writing exceptions for mobile or specialized services -- that could undermine the whole FCC rule. "They only need one," he said.


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The Irony of SVOD | Thomas Arnold | Home Media Magazine

The Irony of SVOD | Thomas Arnold | Home Media Magazine | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

On the surface, it appears more than a little counter-intuitive: The same studios that a few years ago got into a tangle with Netflix and Redbox over renting new releases, a practice they said cannibalizes sellthrough, are now creating content specifically for Netflix and other subscription streaming services, which many see as the biggest threat yet to home entertainment sellthrough.

Not only that, but now Netflix will be getting The Interview, the controversial film about the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, three-and-a-half weeks before Sony Pictures Home Entertainment releases the film on Blu-ray Disc and DVD.

Meanwhile, the subscription streaming juggernaut continues to snare consumer eyeballs. The latest numbers released by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group show that consumer spending on Netflix and other subscription streaming services rose an estimated 25.8% to $4.01 billion, while discs sales fell nearly 11% to $6.93 billion.

Is our industry feeding the monster that threatens to devour it? Will producing content for a $9 monthly all-you-can-stream service ultimately undermine all existing distribution channels, including home entertainment — physical as well as digital sellthrough?


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AT&T Buy Of DirecTV Makes U-verse Profitable | Wayne Friedman | Media Post

AT&T Buy Of DirecTV Makes U-verse Profitable | Wayne Friedman | Media Post | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Nearing a completed acquisition of its proposed $48.5 billion deal for DirecTV, AT&T says it is considering changing the brand name of the big satellite TV provider.

During an interview at World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland with The Wall Street Journal, Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, says the company has been testing both “AT&T” and “DirecTV” for the name of a newly combined pay TV provider.

"We haven't decided yet how we are going to brand it," Stephenson said. "We're testing the DirecTV brand and the AT&T brand, so we're doing a lot of thinking."

For several years now, AT&T has operated its “U-verse” IPTV-delivered TV provider, which now has around 7 million subscribers. But Stephenson reveals that AT&T’s “U-verse” as a business continues to struggle.

"With 6 or 7 million video subscribers — growing at 24% — we still can't make money because of the programming costs," he said. With the DirecTV acquisition, AT&T total video subscribers would get to 27 million U.S. subscribers.


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Cable will begin to reclaim video share from satellite in 2015, analyst predicts | Daniel Frankel | Fierce Cable

Cable will begin to reclaim video share from satellite in 2015, analyst predicts | Daniel Frankel | Fierce Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Take that, cool, well-adjusted, normal-armed, DirecTV subscriber Rob Lowe: Media analyst Craig Moffett predicts that starting this year, cable will reverse a decade-long trend of losing video market share to satellite.


This reversal will begin this year, the analyst says, with the leading cable companies narrowing their video subscriber losses to a predicted 183,000 from 757,000 in 2014.

Concurrently, DirecTV and Dish Network, Moffett speculates, will see their subscriber losses grow from 53,000 in 2014 to 112,000 in 2015.

By 2018, the top MSOs will have gained 358,000 video subs for the year, while satellite will be in negative territory at 285,000, he predicts.

Don't, however, take Moffett's viewpoint as necessarily being bullish about the cable industry.


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Massachusetts Towns Consider WiredWest Opportunity | community broadband networks

Massachusetts Towns Consider WiredWest Opportunity | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Eleven Select boards in Franklin County are ready to take the next step with WiredWest Cooperative. According to the Recorder, the towns of Ashfield, Charlemont, Colrain, Hawley, Heath, Leyden, New Salem, Rowe, Shutesbury, Warwick and Wendell have all approved nonbinding resolutions taking them into the financial planning phase.

Last fall, the organization and the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) agreed to meet on a regular schedule. The two organizations began meeting with town Select Boards in order to update them on financial obligations to help them decide whether or not to participate.

WiredWest Cooperative has worked with The Western Massachusetts Legislative Delegation On The Last Mile Broadband Solution to create a strategy to improve connectivity statewide. In addition to WiredWest, the group included MBI, the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG), and the Mass TechCollaborative. Several state lawmakers, including Senator Stan Rosenberg, participated in the delegation.

The state will supply approximately $40 million in grant funding to MBI, that will disburse the funds, to defray the costs of deployment in hill towns. The Recorder reported:


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