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UK: Ofcom suggests 8Mbps as new minimum broadband speed V3.co.uk

UK: Ofcom suggests 8Mbps as new minimum broadband speed V3.co.uk | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Ofcom has said 8Mbps is the new minimum download speed required for a web user in the UK as part of a push by the nation to ensure everyone can use the internet at a functional level.


Officially the government has been working towards a 2Mbps minimum connectivity speed for citizens under its Broadband Delivery UK framework. However, with web services increasing in sophistication all the time, the need for ever-faster speeds means the 2Mbps threshold is out of date.


Speaking on Thursday an event in Westminster, attended by V3, the chief executive of Ofcom Ed Richards said that to him it now appears that a connection of 8Mbps is the basic speed required to make the most of the web.


“In our Infrastructure Report, what you see very clearly is a big gap between those people with 8Mbps or more and those with less,” he said.


“It seems to be the case if you have less than 8Mbps you just use networks less, so there is a really interesting question about what, in the longer term, we mean by universal connectivity.”


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Why You Can’t Trust You’re Getting the Best Deal Online | Elizabeth Dwoskin | WSJ.com

Why You Can’t Trust You’re Getting the Best Deal Online | Elizabeth Dwoskin | WSJ.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Web is full of personalized content, whether it’s a Netflix recommendation or the results of a Google search.

But consumers have protested when e-commerce companies have extended their behind-the-scenes personalization to prices, charging different sums for the same goods, or pushing some people toward higher-priced offers.

A new study of top e-commerce websites found these practices—called discriminatory pricing or price steering—are much more widespread than was previously understood.

The study, by a team of computer scientists at Northeastern University, tracked searches on 16 popular e-commerce sites. Six of those sites used the pricing techniques; none of the sites alerted consumers to that fact.


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FTC gets $10M from massive text spam, robocalling schemers | Michael Cooney | NetworkWorld.com

FTC gets $10M from massive text spam, robocalling schemers | Michael Cooney | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The FTC today got $10 million to settle charges against three sets of defendants to settle charges that they operated a massive scam that sent unwanted text messages to millions of consumers, many of whom later received illegal robocalls, phony “free” merchandise offers, and unauthorized charges crammed on their mobile phone bills.

The FTC said the settlements were the culmination of an effort to crack down on the senders of unwanted text messages offering consumers “free” gift cards to retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart and Target. The messages contained links to websites that led consumers through a process that the FTC alleges was designed to get consumers’ personal information for sale to marketers, their mobile phone numbers to cram unwanted charges on their bill, and to drive them to paid subscriptions for which the scammers received affiliate referral fees.

“The operators of this scam bombarded consumers for months with deceptive text messages offering ‘free’ items, but the costs to consumers were very real – including the misuse of their personal information to cram unwanted charges on their phone bills,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection in a statement.

According to the FTC, the settlements involve three groups:


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Correcting Community Fiber Fallacies: Attacks on LUS Fiber | community broadband networks

Correcting Community Fiber Fallacies: Attacks on LUS Fiber | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In just the last year the Lafayette Utility System (LUS) gigabit network has attracted 1300 high-tech jobs. Chairman Wheeler praises the network for doing what many communities hope to do, but cannot because of state laws limiting municipal broadband networks. Critics are desperate to discredit the network, using false statements and misinformation.

The Reason Foundation released a paper by Steven Titch in November, 2013, to discredit LUS Fiber. Here we offer a point-by-point rebuttal of the report. Titch makes numerous claims that he does not support with any evidence. Much of the evidence he uses in support of other claims is out of context or erroneous. And even then, his worst criticism is that the network may struggle in the future but is not currently failing.

Our critical response to Reason Foundation's report (called Lessons in Municipal Broadband from Lafayette, Louisiana) should be helpful to any community considering its own municipal network investment. This document is the first in a series of critical works that we are calling the "Correcting Community Fiber Fallacies" series.

The official page for Correcting Community Fiber Fallacies: LUS Fiber is here, but you can get the pdf directly if you prefer.


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John Rinehart's curator insight, Today, 11:07 AM

Interesting Point-Counterpoint paper on municipalities deploying their own fiber networks. If you read into the specifics, many of the points (pro and con) depend on the municipality being referenced.

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Three-way infrastructure sharing initiated by Venezuelan cellcos | TeleGeography.com

Movilnet, the mobile arm of state-run Venezuelan telco CANTV, has announced the start of construction of the first shared base station between itself and rivals Movistar Venezuela and Digitel, reports Telesemana.


The project is being promoted by the Ministry of Popular Power for Higher Education, Science and Technology (which TeleGeography notes was formed last month by merging the Science, Technology & Innovation ministry with the Higher Education ministry), with the goal of building base stations in locations where there is no existing mobile service presence via a three-way shared investment programme, thereby reducing costs and accelerating the expansion of the national cellular footprint.


The first shared base station is being installed within the ‘Zona Franca Industrial, Commercial and Services Paraguana’ free zone (located in the Paraguana Peninsula, in Falcon state), to benefit more than 30 companies and 63,000 people in surrounding communities. This site forms part of a first-phase project which includes the construction of 30 similar sites, with each of the three operators taking responsibility for construction of ten base stations.

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Lawmakers call on FCC to reclassify broadband for net neutrality | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com

Lawmakers call on FCC to reclassify broadband for net neutrality | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission should reclassify broadband as a regulated public utility in order to achieve net neutrality, but take a “light touch” while doing it, a U.S. lawmaker said Wednesday.

The FCC should be selective about what public utility-style regulations it should apply to broadband, Representative Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat, wrote in a letter to the FCC.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, issued a net neutrality proposal in May that would allow “commercially reasonable” traffic management, but would not reclassify broadband. However, that route would not be “adequate to protect free speech, competition and the continued openness of the Internet,” Eshoo wrote.

New net neutrality rules “must be based on solid legal ground and provide certainty for consumers and businesses alike,” Eshoo wrote.

The FCC should reclassify broadband as a regulated telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act, but forbear from applying and enforcing many Title II regulations, Eshoo wrote.

Title II defines telephone companies as common carriers and requires them to deliver service at “just and reasonable” rates and interconnect with each other, among other regulations.

Eshoo’s position is similar to one voiced by many advocates of strong net neutrality rules, but it conflicts with the position of large broadband providers Comcast and AT&T, who have called on the FCC to pass basic net neutrality rules without reclassifying broadband.

“After a decade of uncertainty, it’s time to protect the open Internet, the economic crown jewel of our country, once and for all,” Eshoo wrote.

Verizon Communications, filed a lawsuit to challenge net neutrality rules the FCC passed in 2010, has called on the agency to avoid new regulations. Earlier this year, a U.S. appeals court threw out a large part of the FCC’s 2010 rules in response to the Verizon lawsuit.

As the FCC considers new net neutrality rules in the coming months, the agency is getting pressure from all sides.

Eshoo is the second prominent Democratic lawmaker to submit a net neutrality plan based on Title II to the FCC this month. On Oct. 3, Representative Henry Waxman, also from California, called on the FCC to adopt a ”hybrid” regulatory approach to net neutrality.


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Next Century Cities - Community Broadband Bits Podcast Episode 121 | community broadband networks

Next Century Cities - Community Broadband Bits Podcast Episode 121 | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This week, we helped to launch Next Century Cities, a collaborative effort of local governments that are making smart investments and partnerships to ensure their communities have fast, affordable, and reliable Internet access.

Deb Socia is the Executive Director of Next Century Cities, coming to it from a nonprofit organization she developed in Boston called Tech Goes Home that works to increase digital inclusion. Via my capacity at ILSR, I am the policy director for NCC, so I have been working with Deb behind the scenes to launch Next Century Cities. This week, we spend a few minutes talking about this new organization.

Next Century Cities is an exciting collection of 32 founding community partners with incredible diversity. From large cities to small, right-leaning to left-leaning. Some are municipal networks and some have partnered with private companies. If you think your community would like to join, have the Mayor or a public offiical contact NCC.

See the member cities here and watch the full launch event here. Follow Next Century Cities on Twitter - @nextcentcit.


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Argentina: ‘Historic’ Arsat-1 satellite sees successful launch | TeleGeography.com

Argentina successfully launched its first domestically designed and developed geostationary communications satellite late last week, an event that government officials described as ‘historic’.


Seven years in development, the Arsat-1 platform, manufactured by the state-run firm Invap in the southern city of Bariloche, was launched from the Kourou facility in French Guiana on board an Ariane 5 rocket.


Arsat-1 is designed to have a useful life in orbit of about 15 years. It will provide a wide variety of telecoms services, including fixed voice, pay-TV and data transmission to Argentina, as well as Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay.

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Why Twitter’s Lawsuit Could Make or Break Transparency | Thor Benson | Truthdig.com

Why Twitter’s Lawsuit Could Make or Break Transparency | Thor Benson | Truthdig.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

President Obama has called his administration the “most transparent in history,” but instead of allowing companies to be completely transparent regarding their involvement in government surveillance, Washington has muzzled them, spying on their customers or users and employing gag orders to prevent them from notifying the public. As we are well aware of by now, this kind of activity was not made transparent until people like Edward Snowden made it their business to expose such practices.

Twitter announced Oct. 7 that it had filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government for not allowing it to release a transparency report that would reveal a significant level of insight on what kind of information the government has requested. Twitter approached Washington with a reporting protocol it believed would not hurt the government’s efforts to obtain national security information, but the idea was roundly rejected, the company’s blog post asserts. Twitter says, “It’s our belief that we are entitled under the First Amendment to respond to our users’ concerns and to the statements of U.S. government officials by providing information about the scope of U.S. government surveillance. ...”

A previous lawsuit from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo and others provided a slight win, with the Department of Justice declaring the companies could issue broad transparency reports that reveal a range in the thousands of how many requests for information they receive from the NSA and FBI, but the companies are still not able to say the exact number or kind of requests there were. Twitter was not part of that deal and came out against the DOJ decision at the time, claiming it was too restrictive.


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Peter Karlsson's curator insight, October 22, 9:59 PM

Will Twitter Win The Lawsuit?

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The untapped value proposition of 3D printing | Maro Sciacchitano | Inside3DP.com

The untapped value proposition of 3D printing | Maro Sciacchitano | Inside3DP.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For all the attention it gets, 3D printing is an infant industry. Industry analysts put the current global market for 3D printing at around $3.8 billion in 2014. For comparison, the humble potato chip will generate some $6 billion in sales in the US alone this year. Additive manufacturing is still, by global standards, a niche industry.

However, this infant certainly deserves most of the attention it attracts. Those of us in engineering, design, and architecture who use 3D printing in our work know just how important it is. It’s hard to think of a tool that has become indispensable as quickly 3D printers have in engineering save the computer. An entire generation of young engineers are now being trained with 3D printers as part of their basic tool kit, along with calipers and a multimeter.

But 3D printing remains by and large a highly technical tool for technical customers. Yes, we have seen the rise of the general printing service bureau such as Shapeways, i.materialise and Sculpteo. These cater to a combination of technical and hobby customers. In recent years, 3D printer manufacturers, in an attempt to widen their revenue base, have even made entries into the service sector such as RedEye by Stratasys. Interestingly, this puts them in direct competition with some of their largest customers.


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Industry can head off IoT privacy rules, former US official says | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com

Industry can head off IoT privacy rules, former US official says | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Internet of Things is raising a host of concerns over the control of data that could lead to government regulation, but tech companies can rein in those worries on their own if they act fast, according to a former White House technology official.

The kinds of information that connected devices can collect, such as health and fitness data, are more intimate than what consumers are used to sharing on the Web, said Nicole Wong, former U.S. Deputy CTO. In addition, it’s harder to make users comfortable with the use of that data, she said.

Any company that gathers data from consumers has to be transparent about what it collects and how it’s used, in order to build trust, Wong said during a panel at the GigaOm Structure Connect conference in San Francisco. Web and mobile products have ways of communicating that message and giving users choices, but many IoT devices don’t, she said. As examples, she cited the lights in a consumer’s home and future monitoring devices that are injected in the bloodstream.

“Where is the consent happening?” Wong said. “At what point does the user say, ‘I object to that collection’?”

With connected devices arrayed around consumers’ homes and bodies and potentially collecting data that government and other third parties can access, a danger is that people may start to self-consciously regulate their own lives, said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union.

“I begin to feel, even in my own home, that I’m being watched in some way,” Stanley said. “I begin to monitor my own behavior because I’m worried about what people who access that data are going to think of me.”


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US Justice Dept. focuses new squad on cybercrime combat | Michael Cooney | NetworkWorld.com

US Justice Dept. focuses new squad on cybercrime combat | Michael Cooney | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The threat and consequences of cybersecurity attacks today lead the US Department of Justice to reorganize in an effort to better battle the scourge.

The changes announced by John Carlin, the Assistant Attorney General for National Security included the appointment of a new Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and a new Chief of Staff and Counselor, as well as the creation of a new Deputy Assistant Attorney General position to oversee DOJ’s National Security Division’s efforts to protect national assets, including its efforts to combat economic espionage, proliferation, and cyber-based national security threats. This position will oversee the work of the National Security Cyber Specialists (NSCS) Network, consisting of prosecutors in each of the U.S. Attorney’s Offices who focus on cyber threats to the national security.

“The threat landscape we face is ever-changing and evolving, and while our top priority will always be combatting terrorism, we must also sharpen our focus and increase our attention on the emerging threats of economic espionage and proliferation,” said Carlin in a statement. “We have assembled a talented, dedicated and experienced team of seasoned professionals to launch this new phase for the National Security Division. These changes will help us continue confronting today’s threats while readying the NSD workforce to engage what we see as the key emerging threats to our national security.”

The current Anti-Terrorism and Advisory Council (ATAC) Coordinator program will be re-designated as the National Security Coordinator/ATAC program, to better reflect its ongoing work on the full range of national security threats, including combating economic espionage.

The changes will likely bring many new federal court cases around cyber breaches and crime.

The new NSD leadership team members have plenty of DOJ cybersecurity law expertise include Mary McCord to serve as the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General; Anita Singh as Chief of Staff and Counselor; and Luke Dembosky as the newest Deputy Assistant Attorney General.

According to a Reuters report on the revamp, the changes come amid reports that hackers in Russia and elsewhere are targeting everyone from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union, to JP Morgan Chase & Co and other financial institutions.

Even without the new group the DOJ has been busy with some high profile cases this year.


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Schools, Health, Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB) Submits CTC Study to FCC | ctc technology & energy

On October 17, the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB) submitted to the FCC CTC’s cost model study for fiber construction to schools and libraries.


SHLB filed A Model for Understanding the Cost to Connect Schools and Libraries with Fiber Optics in the E-Rate Modernization proceeding in support of its recommendation to the FCC to fund fiber construction to schools and libraries that are not currently connected with such state-of-the-art infrastructure.


The study creates a model for fiber costs across six different geographies of the United States so as to enable evaluation of the cost of construction in different regions of the country.


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Next Century Cities Launches with 32 Cities Leading on High-Speed Internet | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

Today 32 cities launched Next Century Cities, a bipartisan, city-to-city initiative dedicated to ensuring the availability of next-generation broadband Internet for all communities. The cities and their elected leaders are joining together to recognize the importance of leveraging gigabit-level Internet to attract new businesses and create jobs, improve health care and education, and connect residents to new opportunities.

Next Century Cities will support communities and their elected leaders across the country as they seek to ensure that all have access to fast, affordable, and reliable Internet. Today’s launch, held at a dynamic coworking space for Santa Monica’s technology companies, convened mayors and other leaders from 31 cities, including Santa Monica, Boston, Chattanooga, Raleigh, Portland, Lafayette, and San Antonio for a cross-cutting discussion about what’s worked in their cities and how to support next-generation networks nationwide.

“Across the country, city leaders are hungry to deploy high-speed Internet to transform their communities and connect residents to better jobs, better health care, and better education for their children,” said Deb Socia, Executive Director of Next Century Cities. “These mayors are rolling up their sleeves and getting the job done. Next Century Cities will be right alongside them to help make their goal of communities across the country having access to fast, affordable, and reliable Internet a reality.”

Next Century Cities will engage with and assist communities in developing and deploying next- generation broadband Internet. Participating cities will work with each other to learn about what works – and what doesn’t – so that every community has access to information that can help them succeed. Cities will also work together to raise awareness of this important issue to all Americans.


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Google rethinks webmail with Inbox, raising questions about Gmail's future | Juan Carlos Perez | NetworkWorld.com

Google rethinks webmail with Inbox, raising questions about Gmail's future | Juan Carlos Perez | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google is taking another crack at email overload, but this time around it’s resorting to drastic measures, developing a new product apparently built from scratch without relying on Gmail.

The new email application out of the Googleplex is simply called Inbox, and, according to a blog post from Google Android and Apps head Sundar Pichai “it’s not Gmail: it’s a completely different type of inbox, designed to focus on what really matters.”

Restating a common complaint heard around the industry for many years, Pichai, the senior vice president for Android, Chrome and Apps, railed against email as an application that was useful three decades ago but that has evolved into productivity-destroying beast.

We get too much email, inboxes are time-consuming to manage and the truly important information often gets overlooked in the clutter, particularly when accessing email from smartphones. Google is coming to the rescue, but will it succeed?


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The right wasn't always opposed to regulations protecting online innovation | Timothy Lee | Vox.com

The right wasn't always opposed to regulations protecting online innovation | Timothy Lee | Vox.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

To understand today's net neutrality debate, its important to understand the history of how of the government has regulated the telecom industry. Beginning in the 1970s, the federal government deregulated the industry, paving the way for the modern internet. But when people talked about deregulation back in the 1970s, they meant something different from the concept liberals hate — and conservatives love — today.

This history has important implications for the modern network neutrality debate. Today, most conservatives portray any regulation of incumbent phone and cable companies as an assault on the free market. But a previous generation of right-leaning policymakers had a different view. They understood that the free market can't work without competition, and that competition sometimes requires active support from the government.


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FCC Stops Clock On Both Merger Reviews | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

FCC Stops Clock On Both Merger Reviews | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The FCC's Media Bureau has stopped the clock on both the AT&T/DirecTV and the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger reviews, citing a series of objections filed by content companies who don't want their contracts accessed by third parties.

The FCC modified the joint protective orders in the deals earlier to try and accommodate those content companies, which included CBS, Scripps Networks Interactive, Disney, Time Warner, Twenty First Century Fox, Univision and Viacom.

They had asked that contracts be reviewed at Justice, not the FCC, but the Commission denied that request and modified the order to add what it said were a unique combination of protections to exclude "competitive decisionmakers" from accessing the information.

On October 15, the companies, joined by Discovery and TV One, began challenging individually all those who sought to review highly confidential info, including those video programming contracts, under the FCC's modified order.

The bureau says most of those objections were not specific to the individual requests--more than 100 of them--but were instead a blanket effort to prevent any access to carriage deals.

Some commenters have accused the companies of trying to nullify the protective order by filing the multiple objections and say not having access to the contracts would hamper their evaluations of the applications.

The bureau said it agreed, and has stopped the informal 180-day shot clock on the review of both deals and suspended the pleading cycle until it rules on the programmer objections.


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Massive malvertising campaign on Yahoo, AOL and other sites delivers ransomware | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com

Massive malvertising campaign on Yahoo, AOL and other sites delivers ransomware | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Malicious advertisements made their way last week to almost two dozen popular websites and used browser-based exploits to infect computers with CryptoWall, a nasty file-encrypting ransomware program.

The malicious advertising, or malvertising, campaign was discovered by researchers from security firm Proofpoint and had an impact on visitors to at least 22 popular websites including Yahoo’s Finance and Fantasy Sports sites, realestate.aol.com, theatlantic.com, 9gag.com and match.com.

“All told, more than 3 million visitors per day were potentially exposed to this malvertising campaign,” the Proofpoint researchers said in a report published Wednesday.

As in the case of most malvertising attacks, the sites themselves were not compromised. Instead, attackers managed to push malicious ads through at least three major advertising networks and exchanges: The Rubicon Project, Right Media (now Yahoo Ad Exchange) and OpenX.

“Proofpoint has proactively attempted to provide information to these networks, and as of Saturday, October 18th, we believe these networks to have taken action to address the issue,” the Proofpoint researchers said.

Yahoo, The Rubicon Project and OpenX did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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MD: Columbia Association to Use Broadband to Benefit Residents, Executive Ulman Announces | Howard County Gov YouTube

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman and Columbia Association (CA) President and CEO Milton Matthews announced today that six CA facilities will soon begin using the Inter-County Broadband Network (ICBN), to provide faster online speed and lower cost for Columbia residents.

“By utilizing the robust bandwidth provided by the ICBN, CA will see cost savings coupled with a better user experience for staff and clients,” said County Executive Ulman. “Better broadband connectivity will give CA the capacity it needs to create innovative uses for their technology-based, integrated fitness equipment. This is one more step on our mission to make us the most wired county in the most wired state in the nation.”

Once construction is complete, the ICBN will power internet services at the Columbia Association headquarters and its maintenance facility on Gerwig Lane. ICBN will also fuel four health and fitness centers: Columbia Gym, Columbia Athletic Club, Supreme Sports Club and Haven on the Lake.

“ICBN gives us more opportunities for customer service and outreach to our members and others in the community,” said CA President Milton Matthews. “We’re already modifying our website and this is a great resource for us.”

CA will pay $10,000 a month less for ICBN service, compared with the price estimate for 100 Mbps service from CA’s current commercial provider. Once in place, ICBN connection will produce an annual savings of nearly $129,000 compared to the current provider’s estimate.


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Are the political winds shifting in favor of net neutrality? | Michael Hiltzik | LATimes.com

Are the political winds shifting in favor of net neutrality? | Michael Hiltzik | LATimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The unknown factor that keeps advocates of network neutrality up at night is whether our political leaders will have the spine to resist the principle's enemies -- the Comcasts and Verizons of the world, who wish to profiteer from charging website providers extra for preferential access to your home and business.

A few glimmers of hope have emerged in recent days. Combined with an analysis showing that the overwhelming majority of comments flowing in to the Federal Communications Commission favor an "open Internet" -- that is, net neutrality -- statements by President Obama and possible presidential candidate Hillary Clinton suggested that the principle is gathering political weight.

But advocates shouldn't declare victory yet. This is Washington, after all, where money talks. And the would-be tollkeepers on the information superhighway already are very, very rich.


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Learn What Spatial Analysis Can Do for You | ESRI.com

Learn What Spatial Analysis Can Do for You | ESRI.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is for people who know something about data analysis and want to learn about the special capabilities of spatial data analysis.


Spatial analysis focuses on location to gain a deeper understanding of data. Spatial analysis skills are in high demand by organizations around the world.


You'll get free access to the full analytical capabilities of ArcGIS Online, Esri's cloud-based GIS platform. Previous experience with GIS software is helpful, but not necessary for tech-savvy problem solvers.


Could you and your career go places with spatial analysis?


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MD: Westminster Commences Fiber Deployment | community broadband networks

MD: Westminster Commences Fiber Deployment | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Westminster's open access fiber optic project is now officially in construction, after a groundbreaking ceremony on October 16th at a local deli in the Airport Business Park. Dr. Robert Wack, spearheading the initiative in Maryland, told the Chamber of Commerce:

“The Air Business Park is the ideal location for our groundbreaking since this is our first business location for fiber installation,” says Dr. Robert Wack, President of the Common Council. “This initiative is a key factor in economic development, and we are eager to offer broadband in an effort to bring more new businesses in Westminster.”

According to an article in the Carroll County Times, directional drilling is expected to move along at 500 feet per day to an eventual 60 miles.

The community originally planned several pilot projects, but enthusiasm grew quickly; even before the start of deployment, businesses expressed intense interest. After examining the need, the possibilities, and the risks, the Common Council approved a budget that included funding for a broader deployment. The project will eventually take advantage of the nearby Carroll County Public Network for a wider reach.

You can listen to Chris interview Dr. Wack on episode 100 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast.


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Time Warner Cable Unveils Shiny, New "Enhanced" DVR | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com

Time Warner Cable Unveils Shiny, New "Enhanced" DVR | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Last November we noted that Time Warner Cable, historically a bit sluggish when it comes to next-gen broadband upgrades, was considering a brand refresh named "Maxx" that would include significant speed and TV improvements. In addition to bumping select markets to 300 Mbps (Los Angeles, New York, Austin, Charlotte, Dallas, Hawaii, Kansas City, Raleigh, San Antonio and San Diego), that will include a fancy new DVR that the company unveiled this week in Los Angeles and New York City.

According to a company blog post, this new DVR (a Arris DCX 3600) features VOD network storage and one terabyte of total capacity, or enough to store 150 hours of HD programming.

The full press release doesn't specify how much you'll pay for this new technology, though users can expect to pay $16 for single room functionality and $20 for whole-home functionality (this excludes set top rental fees).


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Microsoft discloses zero-day flaw, publishes quick fix | Jeremy Kirk | NetworkWorld.com

Microsoft discloses zero-day flaw, publishes quick fix | Jeremy Kirk | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Microsoft has published a temporary fix for a new zero-day flaw that affects nearly all versions of Windows and is currently being exploited via PowerPoint.


The flaw affects all Windows releases except Windows Server 2003, the company wrote in an advisory Tuesday. It can be exploited if a user is coaxed into opening a malicious Office file containing an OLE (object linking and embedding) object. OLE can allow a user to edit a PowerPoint file from within a Word document, for example.

“At this time, we are aware of limited, targeted attacks that attempt to exploit the vulnerability through Microsoft PowerPoint,” the company said.

A successful attacker would gain the same rights as a logged-in user and could put other programs on an infected computer. Microsoft said some attacks that compromise accounts without administrator rights may pose less of a risk.

The fix, which Microsoft calls the ”OLE packager shim workaround,” is for 32- and 64-bit versions of PowerPoint 2007, 2010 and 2013.

Microsoft said attacks could take place via email, with the attacker sending a potential victim a malicious file or by luring a person to a compromised website containing “specially crafted content.”

“An attacker would have to persuade the targeted user to visit the website, typically by getting them to click a hyperlink that directs a web browser to the attacker-controlled website,” Microsoft wrote.


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Antitrust experts slam Comcast merger plan, warn of threats to Netflix and Amazon Prime | John Jeff Roberts | GigaOM Tech News

Antitrust experts slam Comcast merger plan, warn of threats to Netflix and Amazon Prime | John Jeff Roberts | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A letter signed by more than three dozen law and economics professors and submitted to the FCC on Monday makes a withering case against the proposed merger of cable giants Comcast and Time Warner Cable, claiming the deal would harm consumers and violate the antimonopoly provisions of the federal Clayton Act.


According to the 16-page submission, the merger will reduce competition by providing Comcast with over 40 percent of the market for broadband internet services, and make it easier for the incumbents to hobble “over-the-top” challengers like Netflix by congesting their internet traffic.


The document, signed by antitrust experts from across the country including Columbia’s Tim Wu and Stanford’s Mark Lemley, comes as the FCC decides whether or not to approve the $45 billion merger, which was announced in February. A decision is expected in 2015.


Comcast has played down antitrust concerns by noting that the merger will not result in it removing broadband competitors from the market, and by pointing to internet alternatives like satellite and DSL technology. The antitrust experts, however, pick apart this argument by stating that the proposed high-speed alternatives are not yet viable, and that Comcast’s proposed 40 percent footprint is an illegal monopoly:

“And we point out that the parties ‘no overlap, no problem’ argument, if accepted, would lead to the conclusion that the antitrust laws would permit one party to own the dominant cable provider in every local market in the United States.”

The letter also explains in detail how the increased power of the merged companies would allow Comcast to hurt competitors, in part by dominating the “first screen” that consumers will see when they use the company’s Xfinity streaming and DVR service. It adds that Comcast could also, in a similar anticompetitive move, demand higher fees from the likes of Netflix, which spend heavily on content but don’t have “last mile” distribution capacity — meaning Netflix and others would be forced to pay tolls, as they are doing now, to ensure that Comcast doesn’t interfere with their streams to consumers.


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FCC Used Title II To Fine AT&T For SMS Cramming And The World Didn't End: Why Would It For Broadband? | Mike Masnick | Techdirt.com

FCC Used Title II To Fine AT&T For SMS Cramming And The World Didn't End: Why Would It For Broadband? | Mike Masnick | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

You may have heard the story a few weeks ago about how the FCC and FTC teamed up to fine AT&T $105 million for mobile cramming (allowing unauthorized mobile charges for premium -- costly -- SMS, of which AT&T kept 35% of all money made). As the FCC noted:

The Enforcement Bureau launched its investigation after receiving consumer complaints alleging that AT&T customers had been billed with months of unauthorized charges for third-party services that they did not request. In some cases, complaints alleged that AT&T Mobility refused to issue refunds or would only refund one or two months' worth of such charges, leaving consumers on the hook for the rest. Until January 2014, AT&T Mobility included charges for third-party services -- such as monthly subscriptions for ringtones, wallpaper, and text messages providing horoscopes, flirting tips, celebrity gossip, and other information -- on its customers' telephone bills. The charge for each of these types of subscriptions was typically $9.99 per month.

This was the largest fine the FCC has ever given out. Some, quite reasonably, pointed out that it took the FCC (and the FTC) quite a long time to catch up on this, as such practices had been called out for years and years.

However, there was a much more interesting element to this fine, as it relates to the current net neutrality "Title II" fight. Remember, the telcos (including AT&T) are pretty adamant that if broadband is classified under Title II it will be the death of all good things. It will be a huge regulatory burden and companies like AT&T are likely to cease all investment and such. Similarly, AT&T and others insist that there's enough competition in the market to prevent anti-consumer practices, and that Title II simply isn't necessary in such a "competitive" market.

So, um, what authority did the FCC use to fine AT&T this time? Well, buried in the official filing, we see that it was done under Section 201(b) of the Communications Act of 1934. You can see 47 USC 201 and read it for yourself, but it's mostly important to know that 47 USC 201 is Title II. In other words, despite an even more "competitive" mobile market than broadband, the FCC had to break out Title II regulations to protect consumers from a years-long scam in which AT&T profited massively, scamming millions from consumers.

And... notice that AT&T accepted the fine and isn't complaining about it. Nor is it challenging the use of the Title II authority, despite SMS being considered something of a service in "limbo" in which it hasn't been definitively classified under Title II or Title I.


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