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How a Telecom Helped the Government Spy on Me | ProPublica.org

How a Telecom Helped the Government Spy on Me | ProPublica.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Over the past several months, the Obama Administration has defended the government’s far-reaching data collection efforts, arguing that only criminals and terrorists need worry. The nation’s leading internet and telecommunications companies have said they are committed to the sanctity of their customers’ privacy.


I have some very personal reasons to doubt those assurances.


In 2004, my telephone records as well as those of another New York Times reporter and two reporters from the Washington Post, were obtained by federal agents assigned to investigate a leak of classified information. What happened next says a lot about what happens when the government’s privacy protections collide with the day-to-day realities of global surveillance.


The story begins in 2003 when I wrote an article about the killing of two American teachers in West Papua, a remote region of Indonesia where Freeport-McMoRan operates one of the world’s largest copper and gold mines. The Indonesian government and Freeport blamed the killings on a separatist group, the Free Papua Movement, which had been fighting a low-level guerrilla war for several decades.


I opened my article with this sentence: “Bush Administration officials have determined that Indonesian soldiers carried out a deadly ambush that killed two American teachers.”


 I also reported that two FBI agents had travelled to Indonesia to assist in the inquiry and quoted a “senior administration official” as saying there “was no question there was a military involvement.’’


The story prompted a leak investigation. The FBI sought to obtain my  phone records and those of  Jane Perlez, the Times bureau chief in Indonesia and my wife. They also went after the records of the Washington Post reporters in Indonesia who had published the first reports about the Indonesian government’s involvement in the killings.


As part of its investigation, the FBI asked for help from what is described in a subsequent government report as an “on-site communications service” provider. The report, by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General, offers only the vaguest description of this key player, calling it “Company A.’’


“We do not identify the specific companies because the identities of the specific providers who were under contract with the FBI for specific services are classified,’’ the report explained.


Whoever they were, Company A had some impressive powers. Through some means – the report is silent on how – Company A obtained  records of calls made on Indonesian cell phones and landlines by the Times and Post reporters. The records showed whom we called, when and for how long -- what has now become famous as “metadata.”


Under DOJ rules, the FBI investigators were required to ask the Attorney General to approve a grand jury subpoena before requesting records of reporters’ calls. But that’s not what happened.

Instead, the bureau sent Company A what is known as an “exigent letter’’ asking for the metadata.


A heavily redacted version of the DOJ report, released in 2010, noted that exigent letters are supposed to be used in extreme circumstances where there is no time to ask a judge to issue a subpoena. The report found nothing “exigent’’ in an investigation of several three-year-old newspaper stories.


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Another Reason For Defending Net Neutrality: NSA Surveillance | Techdirt.com

Another Reason For Defending Net Neutrality: NSA Surveillance | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The net neutrality debate has been underway for many years now, but more recently it has entered the mainstream. The main arguments in favor of preserving net neutrality -- that it creates a level playing field that allows innovation, and prevents deep-pocketed incumbents from using their financial resources to relegate less well-endowed startups to the Internet slow lane -- are familiar enough.


But PC World points us to a fascinating paper by Sascha D. Meinrath and Sean Vitka in the journal "Critical Studies in Media Communication" that offers a new and extremely important reason for defending net neutrality: that without it, it will be hard to fight back against blanket surveillance through the wider use of encryption (pdf). Here's the main argument:


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Verizon Eyes 2015 For LTE Multicast Video | Multichannel.com

Verizon Eyes 2015 For LTE Multicast Video | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Shedding some light on its future plans involving the distribution of live video over its mobile network, Verizon Wireless plans to “go commercial” with an LTE multicast product as early as 2015, company CFO Fran Shammo said on the company’s second quarter earnings call on Tuesday.

 

“The network will be ready by the end of the third quarter to actually launch multicast,” he said. “We won’t go commercial with that until 2015, but the network will be ready.”

 

From there, it will be a matter of getting handsets out that can use the technology. Verizon expects to start to embed chips with those capabilities into handsets later this year, Shammo said.

 

LTE Multicast is a technique that delivers live TV signals wirelessly to mobile devices without gobbling up all of the cell site’s bandwidth. Instead of delivering unicast streams to each person viewing the video, Verizon’s multicast approach will rely on a dedicated portion of LTE spectrum to place the live event that can be seen by multiple devices that are connected to the cell site. Verizon demonstrated LTE Multicast in January in New York in the week leading up to the Super Bowl matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos.

 

Verizon also views LTE Multicast as a technology that enable the delivery of live events to consumers without the need for a separate pay-TV service.


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ACA: FCC Net Rules Fail Unless Applied To Edge Providers | Multichannel.com

ACA: FCC Net Rules Fail Unless Applied To Edge Providers | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The American Cable Association, representing small cable operators, has told the FCC that its proposed new network neutrality rules will not protect Internet openness unless they extend to content (edge) providers like search engines and not just ISPs.

 

It is the first time ACA has asked the FCC to regulate edge providers, including online programmers.

 

If the FCC did try to include the Google's and the Yahoo!'s of the world under its rules, it would face major pushback from Silicon Valley whether it tried to use Sec. 706 authority, Title II authority, or some other justification.

 

ACA's call for including the edge came in comments to the FCC. among more than a million that have now come over the electronic transom as the FCC works toward passing new rules by the end of the year.

 

"The Commission once again proposes to use its authority under Section 706 to impose one-sided regulation on broadband ISPs while leaving other Internet actors free to block or discriminate in harmful ways, despite its explicit recognition that other Internet actors can similarly interfere with open consumer access to Internet content, applications, services and devices," said ACA. "Edge providers that offer sufficiently important content to end users of the Internet, such as popular search engines, social networks, online retailers, and online video providers, can severely threaten the overall value of broadband access services and the Internet by limiting access to their content in a commercially unreasonable manner."

 

“These so-called ‘edge’ providers have the incentive and ability to limit access to their content in a commercially unreasonable manner, thereby undermining the intent of the Open Internet rules.  These concerns are not merely hypothetical,” said ACA President Matt Polka in a statement, citing online blackouts by CBS in 2013 and Viacom earlier this year, among others.


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Securing big data off to slow start | ComputerWorld.com

Securing big data off to slow start | ComputerWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

While so-called "big data" initiatives are not new to a number of industries such as large financial services firms, pharmaceuticals, and large cloud companies it is new to most organizations. And the low cost and ease of access of the software and hardware needed to build these systems, coupled with an eagerness to unleash any hidden value held within all of those enterprise data, are two trends that have sent large, next-generation database adoption soaring.


Unfortunately, the efforts to secure these systems haven't soared equally as high or as fast. But fortunately, that appears to be starting to change.


In many cases, analysts say, big data initiatives began organically, within small enterprise departments or teams, and without much, if any, IT oversight or governance. In a recent survey by IDG Enterprise of more than 750 IT decision makers, almost half (48 percent) of enterprises anticipate big data will be widely used by their enterprise within three years, while another 26 percent expect significant use within a business unit, department, or division.


When it comes to security, big data poses a number of interesting challenges. Some of the challenges arise for similar reasons that make the consumerization of IT and BYOD trends so challenging for many organizations. "This is a very compelling security story because we're watching small organizations pull down open source tools and, with only a couple of programmers, be able to out-scale the largest Oracle databases in existence," says Adrian Lane, analyst and CTO at information security research firm Securosis.


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Leaked Memo: Despite Apology, Painful Comcast Retention Call Was Right on Script | Stop the Cap!

Leaked Memo: Despite Apology, Painful Comcast Retention Call Was Right on Script | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Despite near-automatic apologies from Comcast over an 18-minute customer retention call that seemed to never end, an internal memo written by a major Comcast executive and leaked to several consumer sites, including Stop the Cap!, admits the ruthless length the representative went to avoid disconnecting service was exactly the way Comcast intended it, but next time maybe 18 minutes was a little too long (underlining ours):


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Verizon CFO: Younger Demo Prefers Broadband Video to Bundled Channels | Home Media Magazine

Verizon CFO: Younger Demo Prefers Broadband Video to Bundled Channels | Home Media Magazine | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Younger consumers prefer to pay for high-speed Internet and not so much for bundled TV channels, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo told analysts. Speaking July 22 during the telecom’s fiscal call, the executive appeared to underscore the obvious about a college-age or 30-something consumer transfixed by over-the-top video.


“Within this younger generation, a year ago we tested the ability to have them select whether they wanted large TV bundles and lower Internet speeds or high Internet speeds and lower TV bundles, and what we saw is the majority of the this segment selected the highest speed that they could get and didn't really care about how many TV stations they got because most of them are consuming their video via the Internet,” Shammo said.


Yet, terms such as “cord-cutting” and “cord nevers” remain routinely dismissed by senior executives from media companies, multichannel video distributors and even OTT video providers as inconsequential hype. Indeed, most research reports contend that at most less than 10% of U.S. broadband homes have opted out of pay-TV service.


“The data shows that there’s zero cord-cutting. We’re at a 100 million [cable households] and [it] goes down a little bit every year as students move, but it’s the same as [it was] last year,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said in an earnings call last year.


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Did Comcast's Infamous Customer Service Call Open The Company Up To Legal Troubles For Lying About Speeds? | Techdirt.com

Did Comcast's Infamous Customer Service Call Open The Company Up To Legal Troubles For Lying About Speeds? | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

So, last week, that customer service call between Ryan Block and a Comcast "retention specialist" who refused to take "cancel the damn service" for an answer went viral. Comcast has since apologized, said it was investigating, and insisted that the call was "not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives." I doubt many people actually believe that -- but it may be even more serious than most people realize.

That's because, throughout the call, the nameless representative keeps insisting that Comcast's broadband is the fastest. And that's not true. Which raises some potentially serious questions about Comcast directly misleading customers.


“You’re not interested in the fastest Internet in the country?” the rep asked goadingly. “Why not?”

Were it true, it would be a convincing bit of rhetoric. The problem is, Comcast is not the fastest Internet service provider in the United States -- at least, not according to the most recent survey from Speedtest.net and PC Magazine. Published in September 2013, the survey ranks Comcast the third fastest broadband provider, behind Midcontinent Communications at No. 2 and Verizon FiOS at No. 1. “Verizon FiOS continues to set the pace for Internet speed in the United States,” the magazine wrote.


IBTimes asked a Comcast PR person, who insisted that the company does not claim to be the fastest internet in the country, nor does it train its reps to make that claim. But it's undeniable that the guy said exactly that many, many times during the call, and it sure sounded like it was coming from a script that he'd read pretty damn often.


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Tor Project working to fix weakness that can unmask users | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com

Tor Project working to fix weakness that can unmask users | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Developers of Tor software believe they’ve identified a weakness that was scheduled to be revealed at the Black Hat security conference next month that could be used to de-anonymize Tor users.


The Black Hat organizers recently announced that a talk entitled “You Don’t Have to be the NSA to Break Tor: Deanonymizing Users on a Budget” by researchers Alexander Volynkin and Michael McCord from Carnegie Mellon University’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) was canceled at the request of the legal counsel of the university’s Software Engineering Institute because it had not been approved for public release.


“In our analysis, we’ve discovered that a persistent adversary with a handful of powerful servers and a couple gigabit links can de-anonymize hundreds of thousands Tor clients and thousands of hidden services within a couple of months,” the CERT researchers had written in the abstract of their presentation. “The total investment cost? Just under $3,000.”


In a message sent Monday to the Tor public mailing list, Tor project leader Roger Dingledine said that his organization did not ask Black Hat or CERT to cancel the talk. Tor’s developers had been shown some materials about the research in an informal manner, but they never received details about the actual content of the planned presentation, he said. The presentation was supposed to include “real-world de-anonymization case studies.”


Despite the lack of details, Dingledine believes that he has figured out the issue found by CERT and how to fix it. “We’ve been trying to find delicate ways to explain that we think we know what they did, but also it sure would have been smoother if they’d opted to tell us everything,” he said in a subsequent message on the mailing list.


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IL: Video rental chain will bring fiber-to-the-premises to Urbana-Champaign | Fierce Enterprise Communications

IL: Video rental chain will bring fiber-to-the-premises to Urbana-Champaign | Fierce Enterprise Communications | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If I had polled ten thousand people and had them each guess which would be the first company to partner with the community of Urbana-Champaign, Illinois to bring fiber optic Internet service to households, it is a safe bet that absolutely none of them would have responded with the name of Family Video. In a world where Blockbuster Video is now but a memory, Family Video is amazingly left the king of the hill, albeit a hill that has largely blown away.


It operates some 775 retail outlets in the U.S., including three in Urbana-Champaign. And it is there that citizens are being urged to sign up for fiber-to-the-premises, or FTTP, Internet service with optional bundled phone at fixed monthly rates, in a move that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler called Thursday, "a valuable model for communities and companies throughout the country and a demonstration of the creativity that is stimulated when localities are free to work with the private sector to improve broadband offerings."


The service will be operated by Family Video subsidiary iTV-3 (not to be confused with the British TV network). It will likely be upgraded to include bundled video, once the proper arrangements are made with municipal franchise officials.


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Defending The Indefensible: Hilarious Talking Points On Ridiculous Copyright Terms | Techdirt.com

Defending The Indefensible: Hilarious Talking Points On Ridiculous Copyright Terms | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee held yet another copyright hearing, this one on Moral Rights, Termination Rights, Resale Royalty, and Copyright Term. We've discussed these issues at different times, and the hearing itself didn't break any major ground on anything, really. The artist resale right issue is nothing but a blatant money grab by successful artists, demanding to get paid any time one of their works gets resold. It shafts younger, up-and-coming artists to the benefit of the few, super-successful artists.

However, the tidbit that caught my attention was the copyright term issue. As you know, some are expecting there to be a fight in the near future to extend copyrights yet again. Thanks to repeated copyright extension, brought to you by relentless lobbying from Disney and others, the US hasn't had a previously copyrighted work fall into the public domain in ages. However, there actually has been some inkling that maybe, just maybe, Hollywood had realized this wasn't a fight worth taking on. In fact, we were pleasantly surprised when the head of the Copyright Office, Maria Pallante, presented her (mixed bag) plan for copyright reform, that it actually included a reduction in copyright terms rather than an increase.


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FCC attempts to establish ‘protection zones’ ahead of AWS-3 auction | TeleGeography.com

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has updated a number of rules governing the use of the AWS-3 spectrum that is set to be auctioned off to cellular operators later this year.


According to RCR Wireless, the updates include the establishment of ‘protection zones’ designed to reduce interference concerns between commercial wireless networks and the satellite-based communications services that will continue in select AWS-3 bands.


As such, the watchdog said that it has set up 27 protection zones in areas where 47 ‘federal earth stations’ will continue to receive satellite signals using the 1675MHz-1695MHz and 1695MHz-1710MHz spectrum bands. Licence users with base stations in those protection zones and operating near those bands will be required to coordinate services to ensure that interference concerns are mitigated.


The hastily introduced rules did not go down well with FCC commissioner Ajit Pai, who fired off a formal letter stating his objection to the process. RCR Wireless quotes Pai as saying: ‘My position is simple. I can’t cast an informed vote on new coordination zones if I don’t know what those coordination zones are. Voting first and then learning about what you’ve voted on is irresponsible. Unfortunately, others disagreed; the item was pulled from the full commission and pushed out at the bureau level today. This is no way to run a railroad’.


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New Surveillance Whistleblower: Another Way the NSA Violates the Constitution | TheAtlantic.com

New Surveillance Whistleblower: Another Way the NSA Violates the Constitution | TheAtlantic.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

John Napier Tye is speaking out to warn Americans about illegal spying. The former State Department official, who served in the Obama administration from 2011 to 2014, declared Friday that ongoing NSA surveillance abuses are taking place under the auspices of Executive Order 12333, which came into being in 1981, before the era of digital communications, but is being used to collect them promiscuously. Nye alleges that the Obama administration has been violating the Constitution with scant oversight from Congress or the judiciary. 


"The order as used today threatens our democracy," he wrote in The Washington Post. "I am coming forward because I think Americans deserve an honest answer to the simple question: What kind of data is the NSA collecting on millions, or hundreds of millions, of Americans?"


If you've paid casual attention to the Edward Snowden leaks and statements by national-security officials, you might be under the impression that the Obama administration is already on record denying that this sort of spying goes on. In fact, denials about NSA spying are almost always carefully worded to address activities under particular legal authorities, like Section 215 of the Patriot Act or Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. An official will talk about what is or isn't done "under this program," eliding the fact that the NSA spies on Americans under numerous different programs, despite regularly claiming to be an exclusively foreign spy agency.


Executive Order 12333 is old news to national-security insiders and the journalists who cover them, but is largely unknown to the American public, in part because officials have a perverse institutional incentive to obscure its role. But some insiders are troubled by such affronts to representative democracy. A tiny subset screw up the courage to inform their fellow citizens. 


Tye is but the latest surveillance whistleblower, though he took pains to distinguish himself from Snowden and his approach to dissent.


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Net neutrality defenders actually fine if Internet users decide what goes fast | WashPost.com

Net neutrality defenders actually fine if Internet users decide what goes fast | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As the Federal Communications Commission wraps up its open comment period for its net neutrality proceedings, AT&T is in with its 99-page contribution. And there's one section in particular that has caught the attention and earned the ire of some fans of neutrality regulations. It has to do with the idea that in some cases, some of its customers might chose to, say, dedicate more of the bandwidth that they pay for to certain applications, effectively degrading others. Here's AT&T:


"For example, an AT&T customer might choose to prioritize latency- and jitter-sensitive VoIP packets or video conference packets over ordinary web browsing packets, and AT&T would honor those designations over that customer's "last mile" Internet facilities. There is no conceivable reason that such services, demanded and used widely by business customers today, should be foreclosed by regulatory fiat."


More simply put, you, AT&T broadband customer, might choose to curate your broadband connection so that your Vonage calls generally ring through with a quickness but are delayed a bit when you're engaged in a heavy "World of Warcraft" session.


That can sound a lot like the "paid prioritization" that is at the heart of today's net neutrality debate, and the tech site Ars Technica has branded what AT&T has in mind as a "giant loophole" in a "'fast lane' ban."


But AT&T cites support for such "user-directed prioritization" on the part of high-profile net neutrality advocacy groups like the Washington-based Center for Democracy and Tech and the Massachusetts-based Free Press. And there's good reason for that: Those groups are perfectly okay with the idea.


"The issue comes down to who's deciding what gets priority," says Andrew McDiarmid, a senior policy analyst at CDT. "It's much less of an issue if a user makes the technical decision about what gets priority, and it's not the same thing as a ISP being in the position of deciding winners and losers." Matt Wood is the policy director at Free Press, and perhaps no group has been as energetically and vocally in favor of the FCC adopting aggressive net neutrality regulations. Even he says: "People should be free to use their connection any way they want. That's the point of all this."


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CA: Oakland's Sudo Mesh Looks to Counter Censorship and Digital Divide With a Mesh Network | TechPresident.com

CA: Oakland's Sudo Mesh Looks to Counter Censorship and Digital Divide With a Mesh Network | TechPresident.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In Oakland, a city with deep roots in radical activism and a growing tech scene at odds with the hyper-capital-driven Silicon Valley, those at the Sudo Room hackerspace believe that the solution to a wide range of problems, from censorship to the digital divide, is a mesh net, a type of decentralized network that is resilient to censorship and disruption and can also bring connectivity to poor communities.


Sudo Room and one of their working groups, Sudo Mesh, is currently building a mesh network called the People’s Open Network. Mesh networks are a type of decentralized network connected by nodes, which can be wifi routers or other transmitters, that share the connection, thereby creating a communication network far more resilient to natural disasters and censorship because there is no single cut-off point.


In this way, the People’s Open Network is a web within a web: it includes all the benefits of the global internet but is a community-run, more robust, and free network. (For a simple and clear visualization of a mesh net, watch the first 40 seconds of this video.)


Currently, the Sudo Mesh team is still very much in the testing phase, ensuring that the hardware and software will run smoothly before doing serious community outreach. While 74 sites in the Bay Area have offered to host a node, currently there are only two active nodes, both run by Sudo Mesh volunteers. As Pete Forsyth, Principal at Wiki Strategies and Sudo Mesh volunteer told me over the phone, “we want to get to a technical place where anyone can join easily, instead of doing outreach first and disappointing people.”


When the mesh network is publicly launched, the team will encourage adopters to donate a node for someone who can’t afford one. When this happens they will find a home in an under-connected area that would like a free node installed. This allows the technically proficient and often wealthier early adopters to assist with spreading the network in an inclusive way. The team eventually wants to offer free classes and workshops to anyone hosting a node, to help them understand, maintain, and share their connection.


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Comcast CEO Roberts: AT&T/DirecTV ‘Powerful Combination’ | Multichannel.com

Comcast CEO Roberts: AT&T/DirecTV ‘Powerful Combination’ | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts told analysts Tuesday that he believes AT&T’s pending deal to acquire DirecTV is a “powerful combination,” adding that the $67 billion merger validates the idea that the market is changing rapidly.


Roberts, speaking on a conference call with analysts to discuss second quarter results, said the two companies are “part of the reason we have lost video subs,” over the past six years.


“And it sort of for me validates the changing and dynamic nature of the market that we are living in, the technological changes, the consumer behavior changes that are happening at very fast speeds,” Roberts said.


AT&T’s May decision to acquire DirecTV in a cash and stock deal was a direct response to Comcast’s own pending $69 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable. The TWC deal will create a cable operator with about 30 million subscribers, still well ahead of the 26 million the combined AT&T/DirecTV will amass.


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Canada launches plan to extend high-speed Internet to remote areas | Reuters.com

The Canadian government on Tuesday invited remote communities across the country that lack high-speed Internet access to make a claim to get some of the C$305 million ($284 million) it plans to spend over the next three years to upgrade access.


The government's Connecting Canadians plan aims to deliver high-speed Internet - judged to be speeds faster than 5 megabits per second (5 Mbps) - to 280,000 households that it says sit below that line.


Industry Minister James Moore likened the launch of the program to such pivotal moments in the country's history as the completion of a transnational railway and the opening of the Northwest Passage. He said areas eligible for funding will be made public later this year and companies will then be invited to pitch for connection projects.


The move is part of a long-promised comprehensive plan for digital communications and commerce that Ottawa says will also strengthen online privacy protection and beef up cybersecurity.


Many of the underserved areas shown on a government map are in the Prairie provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta and farther west in British Columbia. Connection would mean that about 98 percent of Canadian households would be linked to online services by 2017, the government said.


"Connecting Canadians is about ensuring that Canadians, whether they live in urban centers or remote regions of the country, have access to the latest wireless technologies and high-speed networks at the most affordable prices possible," Moore said in a statement.


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US needs to restore trust following NSA revelations, tech groups say | ComputerWorld.com

US needs to restore trust following NSA revelations, tech groups say | ComputerWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The U.S government can take action to slow the calls in other countries to abandon U.S. tech vendors following revelations about widespread National Security Agency surveillance, some tech representatives said Friday.


Decisions by other governments to move their residents' data away from the U.S. are hurting tech vendors, but Congress can take steps to "rebuild the trust" in the U.S. as a responsible Internet leader, said Kevin Bankston, policy director of the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute.


Still, other governments will continue to try to use the NSA revelations by former agency contractor Edward Snowden to their advantage, said panelists at a Congressional Internet Caucus discussion on the effect of NSA surveillance on U.S. businesses.


"What we have here is an inflection point -- a moment for other countries, other companies, to close the gap and to use this as an opportunity to really catch up to the IT industry in the U.S.," added Chris Hopfensperger, policy director with software trade group BSA.


BSA is hearing "anecdotal" evidence of foreign governments turning away U.S. tech vendors because of NSA surveillance, Hopfensperger said. He noted news reports last month of the German government dropping a contract with Verizon Communications because of spying.


Hopfensperger called on U.S. policymakers to actively address worldwide concerns about NSA surveillance, instead of waiting to see what the impact on the U.S. tech industry will be. "There's a very large focus on what is the dollar impact on this," he said. "The problem with looking at the numbers of what has happened is, by the time you have a real dollar amount, that business is lost, and it's not coming back to the U.S."


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Slingbox M1 Review: Is the Slingbox Still Relevant? | Re/Code.net

Slingbox M1 Review: Is the Slingbox Still Relevant? | Re/Code.net | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Up until a week and a half ago, I had never used a Slingbox. And after testing the newest model, I’m not convinced I need one.


Slingbox, for those who don’t know, is a box that connects to your cable box at home and lets you watch remote streams of that live or DVR’ed TV content while you’re away. It’s made by Sling Media, which is owned by EchoStar Communications.


I’ve heard many Slingbox-saved-the-day stories from consumers, including my boss Walt Mossberg, who years ago relied on his Slingbox to watch Red Sox games while he was traveling in Japan. (Yes, he’s that big a Sox fan.) In fact, a lot of these Sling stories involve can’t-miss sporting events, like the World Cup soccer games earlier this month.


But personally, when I am away from the cable box at home, I get by with webcasts, streaming video services and downloadable content. Even Twitter, in a way, has started to fulfill my need for real-time updates during sports.


Put it this way: The first Slingbox was introduced back in 2005. Since then, a lot of new options have emerged for consuming TV content, even if it’s not through traditional cable or broadcast feeds.


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US House of Representatives Passes STELAR On Voice Vote | Multichannel.com

US House of Representatives Passes STELAR On Voice Vote | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The House Tuesday passed the STELA Reathorization Act (H.R. 4572), or STELAR, which renews the complusory license that allows satellite operators to import disant network TV station signals into markets that don't have one.

 

The bill also prevents coordinated retransmission consent negotiations between noncommonly owned TV stations in the same market and scraps the ban on integrated cable set tops, which cable ops wanted, and drops the prohibition on cable operators dropping TV station signals if retrans impasses coincide with Nielsen sweeps.

 

Also in a nod to broadcasters, the bill gives stations forced to unwind joint sales agreements per an FCC decision earlier this year 18 months to do so.

 

The Senate has yet to pass its version of the bill, but must either adopt this bill language or reconcile its version with the House bill before Dec. 31, when the current blanket license expires.


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GA: Rome live-streaming City Commission meetings, officially starting July 28 | NorthwestGeorgiaNews.com

GA: Rome live-streaming City Commission meetings, officially starting July 28 | NorthwestGeorgiaNews.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A small disruption at last week’s Rome City Commission meeting marked the introduction of a way people can instantly keep up with the local government.


Soon after new City Manager Sammy Rich finished giving his thanks to the board for selecting him for the position, his remarks could be heard again — coming from a mobile device.


As the commission and audience members looked around, Commissioner Buzz Wachsteter indicated he was the source of the repeat speech.


“Well, I had to see if it worked,” he said.


Monday’s meeting was the first time the board’s regular gathering was streamed live online as part of a test, and Rome Information Technology Director Johnny Bunch says it’s ready for the public.


“It actually went well,” Bunch said. “Everything came out like it was supposed to, which was pleasing as far as I was concerned.”


Beginning officially with the board’s July 28 meeting, regular commission meetings will be live streamed online from the commission chambers at City Hall through the joint Rome-Floyd County website at www.romefloyd.com/. Click here to see video from last Monday's meeting.


Also, the full meetings, which are recorded and shown on the Rome-Floyd County Library’s public access channel, will be able to be seen online through the new Web page the day after.


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Verizon revenue rises steadily, driven by wireless service growth | NetworkWorld.com

Verizon revenue rises steadily, driven by wireless service growth | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Record numbers of new tablet users, and the first rise in fixed-line revenue in seven years, drove Verizon Communications’ second-quarter revenue up 5.7 percent year on year, it reported Tuesday.


Revenue for the quarter ended June 30 totaled US$31.5 billion, up from $29.8 billion a year earlier.


Wireless services continued to contribute the bulk of the company’s revenue and growth, rising 5.9 percent to $18.1 billion, from $17.1 billion a year earlier. The company signed up 1.4 million net new retail postpaid customers, 1.15 million of them tablet users. That takes the company’s total number of retail connections to 104.6 million, 75 percent of them smartphone users.


In the fixed-line segment, revenue crept up 0.3 percent to $9.8 billion in the quarter—but Verizon hailed this as a victory, the first year-on-year increase it has seen in quarterly wireline revenue in over seven years. The company added 139,000 net new fiber Internet subscribers and 100,000 net new fiber video subscribers, taking the totals to 6.3 million and 5.4 million, respectively. Revenue from the Fios services grew 14.4 percent year on year to $3.1 billion, it said.


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C-Bird VSAT keeps sailors connected with home | GizMag.com

C-Bird VSAT keeps sailors connected with home | GizMag.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Even as engineers work on autonomous ship-handling technologies, skilled and experienced crews are still vital for keeping shipping lines operating. The only snag is that most sailors today have become so used to never being out of touch that they've come to expect similar connectivity while at sea. To help maintain morale and retain skilled crews, Maritime Broadband has developed its C-Bird Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) satellite transceiver to keep sailors connected with their families and the internet.


There was a time when the romance of going to sea involved being cut off from the outside world for months at a time. It was a life where contact between sailors and their families involved things like posting letters in a tin nailed to a post on a barren island in the South Atlantic in hopes that a homeward-bound ship would pick up the packet.


In the 21st century, things have changed. In an age when container ships can circumnavigate the world in 62 days, commercial ship crews are paradoxically less and less willing to put up with being out of touch with their loved ones. According to a survey of crews conducted by Futurenautics Research and released by the Brooklyn, New York-based telecommunications firm Maritime Broadband, the vast majority of commercial sailors give priority to uninterrupted communication links when selecting employment, and that personal communications have a strong impact on morale and retaining crews – especially the more experienced ones.


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Mr. Wheeler, tear down these walls: The economic case for removing barriers to muni broadband | Craig Settles Blog | GigaOM Tech News

Mr. Wheeler, tear down these walls: The economic case for removing barriers to muni broadband | Craig Settles Blog | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler clearly wants to protect communities from state intrusion by having the legislative barriers to public-owned networks in 19 states removed or heavily curtailed. Those who see high-speed internet services strengthening local economies, transforming medical and healthcare delivery, improving education and increasing local government efficiency agree with him.


How would removing these walls to progress not only impact states with public network restrictions as well as other states? Community broadband history indicates this would unleash competitive forces so that, according to Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, “prices go down dramatically. All of a sudden, the two private sector incumbents find a way to lower prices.” Constituents in urban as well as rural communities also would get much faster speeds.


Over 400 public-owned networks operate in the United States, according to the Institute of Local Self-Reliance, including 89 fiber and 74 cable community-wide networks, and over 180 partial-reach fiber networks covering business districts, industrial parks and medical and university campuses. Evaluating these networks’ impact on job creation, education and stirring innovation, as well as their financial sustainability, uncover hundreds of success stories that can be replicated once the barriers in those 19 states drop.


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Internet Industry Hate Taken To Insane Levels: Ridiculous Proposals To 'Nationalize' Successful Internet Companies | Techdirt.com

Internet Industry Hate Taken To Insane Levels: Ridiculous Proposals To 'Nationalize' Successful Internet Companies | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Over the last few years, there's been a ridiculous rise in a bizarre form of anti-Silicon Valley populism, in which people are encouraged to hate successful internet companies for... being successful. Usually, when you dig into the details, the attacks on the firms are a combination of general fear of "bigness," hatred/jealousy of success and a fundamental misunderstanding of economics.


Now, let's be clear: big companies with too much power do have a rather long history of bad behavior and companies should be watched carefully if they abuse their position. But the anti-internet populism seems incredibly misplaced, especially given that the companies they're attacking are often companies that have clearly improved the lives of those doing the attacking. I'm always worried about old "enabling" companies becoming the new gatekeepers, but I'm also confident in the ability of a brand new generation of enablers to undermine business models of the last generation of internet giants as well -- especially if they start making moves that actually harm the public.

But, it seems, this general hatred of Silicon Valley is being taken to nearly parodic levels with two new articles, one in Salon and one in Slate, both of which call for "nationalizing" some of the internet's most popular companies. First up, we have Richard "RJ" Eskow saying that we should nationalize Amazon and Google because the original internet was publicly funded, and thus, apparently, everything built after that should be owned by the federal government.


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Google may bring Wi-Fi to New York City pay phones | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com

Google may bring Wi-Fi to New York City pay phones | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google may be among the hopefuls vying to turn the New York City phone booths of the past into “communication points” of the future with free Wi-Fi and cellphone charging.


The dominant search company was among 60 entities that attended a meeting on May 12 to discuss a project to replace or supplement as many as 10,000 pay phones around the city. The list came to light in a Bloomberg News report on Monday. Other participants included Samsung, IBM, Cisco Systems, Verizon Wireless, Cablevision and Time Warner Cable.


Responses to the “request for proposals” (RFP) from vendors were due Monday. Google, or any other participant in the May 12 meeting, may have pulled out of the process before filing one. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


But it seems likely the company will at least submit a plan, given the opportunity to blanket much of New York’s streetscape with Wi-Fi. Despite some false starts and headaches in free public Wi-Fi in the past, Google looks more serious than ever about providing new forms of Internet access.


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