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Santa Cruz broadband policy overhaul moves ahead, despite divisions | Steve Blum's Blog

Santa Cruz broadband policy overhaul moves ahead, despite divisions | Steve Blum's Blog | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Santa Cruz County supervisors approved an eight-month time line today for rewriting plans and rules regulating new broadband infrastructure. Originally proposed by Aptos supervisor Zach Friend, the goal is a comprehensive set of policies that shortens the approval process and ensures that broadband is an integral part of future new construction projects.


At Friend’s suggestion, the board agreed to tie broadband infrastructure plans to economic development goals. While working out the implementation details of the new broadband construction policies, staff will also be developing a master plan for new infrastructure that reflects development priorities in the county’s economic vitality strategy.


The vote was split along the same lines as last time. Bruce McPherson and Neal Coonerty joined Friend in voting yes, as did an ambivalent John Leopold who repeated his desire to keep a greater level of control over broadband construction, particularly by large corporations. “It’s not a good idea to give up our rights”, he said, calling it “a slippery slope”.


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Paul Bunyan Communications Spreading Fiber Across Northern MN | community broadband networks

Paul Bunyan Communications Spreading Fiber Across Northern MN | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The northern half of Minnesota, despite its rural character, is rapidly improving in high quality Internet access. Paul Bunyan Communications, the cooperative serving much of the Bemijdi area, began work on its GigaZone network last fall and the network is snaking its way across the region. According to an April 20th press release from the cooperative, GigaZone is now available to 500 more locations from the rural areas near Lake George to Itasca State Park. This brings the number of customers with access to GigaZone to 5,000.

Rates for symmetrical Internet access range from $44.95 per month for 20 Mbps to $74.95 per month for 50 Mbps. Higher speeds are available, including gigabit Internet access, but the cooperative asks potential customers to call for pricing.

We first reported on Paul Bunyan Telephone Communications in 2009. The cooperative began expanding its existing fiber network in 2007 but gigabit connectivity did not become available to members until earlier this year. Upgrades began in Bemidji and will continue to include the cooperatives entire 5,000 square mile service area. As new lines are installed, older lines will also be upgraded to fiber to transform the entire network.


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How Real Madrid scores fan engagement in the cloud | Thor Olavsrud | NetworkWorld

How Real Madrid scores fan engagement in the cloud | Thor Olavsrud | NetworkWorld | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

During the Microsoft Ignite keynote in Chicago today, only one customer graced the stage, but it was a doozy: Real Madrid, the world's no. 1 sports franchise.

Together with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Real Madrid CEO José Ángel Sánchez announced a new, expanded partnership with Microsoft under which the club will embark on a total digital transformation built on the Microsoft Cloud platform.

"Having more than 450 million supporters around the world is really a challenge," Sánchez tells CIO.com. "This partnership with Microsoft will help us understand who they are, to really get to their passion and love for Real Madrid."

Sánchez says it is critical to understand who the clubs supporters are so it can engage them in more personal ways.

As Sánchez notes, Real Madrid boasts 450 million fans globally, but only about five percent of them are in Spain. In fact, both the U.S. and Indonesia individually have more Real Madrid supporters than all of Spain. Orlando Ayala, chairman and corporate vice president of Emerging Businesses at Microsoft notes that China too has become a strong base of Read Madrid supporters. Creating engagement with all of those fans — especially two-way communication — is no mean feat.


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Vint Cerf thinks encryption back doors would be 'super risky' | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld

Vint Cerf thinks encryption back doors would be 'super risky' | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Internet pioneer Vinton Cerf argued Monday that more users should encrypt their data, and that the encryption back doors the U.S. FBI and other law enforcement agencies are asking for will weaken online security.

The Internet has numerous security challenges, and it needs more users and ISPs to adopt strong measures like encryption, two-factor authentication and HTTP over SSL, said Cerf, chief Internet evangelist at Google, in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Recent calls by the FBI and other government officials for technology vendors to build encryption workarounds into their products is a bad idea, said Cerf, co-creator of TCP/IP. “If you have a back door, somebody will find it, and that somebody may be a bad guy,” he said. “Creating this kind of technology is super, super risky.”

FBI and other government officials raised concerns after Google and Apple announced last year that they would offer new encryption tools on their smartphone OSes. Without the ability to collect data stored on smartphones and other electronic devices, police will be hindered in some investigations, law enforcement officials have argued.

“I ... believe very much that we need to follow the letter of the law to examine the contents of someone’s closet or someone’s smartphone,” FBI Director James Comey said last October. “But the notion that the marketplace could create something that would prevent that closet from ever being opened, even with a properly obtained court order, makes no sense to me.”

Cerf said he understands the tension between customer demands for privacy and law enforcement needs to investigate crimes. “We have to do something if we wish to protect the citizens of our country and others from harm in this network,” he said. “I accept that governments are there in part to protect their citizens from harm.”

A debate on the right levels of security and privacy will continue in the U.S., he said. “Our job, in the U.S., is to figure out what is the right balance for us,” he said. “The Congress is forced now to struggle with that.”


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Comcast ‘Comfortable in Our Own Footprint’ | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com

Comcast ‘Comfortable in Our Own Footprint’ | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast will concentrate on the accelerated rollout of X1, its next-gen video platform, and keep its video plans focused on the MSO’s traditional footprint.

“We feel very comfortable in our own footprint...We'll be focusing there,” Neil Smit, president and CEO of Comcast Cable, said Monday on the company’s first quarter earnings call when asked about the operator’s interest in developing an over-the-top video service.

And much of that video focus will remain on X1, which accounted for nearly half of video connects in a first quarter in which Comcast lost about 8,000 basic video subscribers.

Smit said X1 is seeing a 20% to 30% lower churn rate than subs on Comcast’s legacy video platform, and that VOD usage among X1 customers is 20% to 30% higher.

“Right now, getting X1 rolled out is still the best opportunity at the company in the short run,” Brian Roberts, Comcast Corp.’s chairman and CEO, said.


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Comcast Lets X1 Subs Stream Live Video to Set-Tops | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel

Comcast Lets X1 Subs Stream Live Video to Set-Tops | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast, targeting a category made popular by the recent debuts of Meerkat and Twitter’s Periscope app, has entered the mobile live streaming sector with Xfinity Share, an app that lets X1 subs send live video streams, recorded video, and digital photos to the TV as well as to other smartphones.

Comcast, which began to test the app last year under the "MyMedia" moniker, said Xfinity Share allows X1 customers to share that content (up to HD quality) to certain friends, family and other authorized users. X1 subs who take advantage of the app can send live streams or distribute recorded video and photos to their own X1 set-tops for display on the TV, or to the TV of another X1 customer.

To use Xfinity Share, a free app initially offered on the iOS and Android mobile platforms, currently both the sender and receiver must be Xfinity Triple Play customers with X1 DVR capable set-top boxes, Comcast said. However, Comcast plans to add functionality later this year that will allow those X1 triple-play subs to share content with virtually anyone -- Comcast customer or not --by sending a URL via email.


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Maritime security firm: 37% of Microsoft servers vulnerable to hacking | Ms. Smith | NetworkWorld.com

Maritime security firm: 37% of Microsoft servers vulnerable to hacking | Ms. Smith | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A recent Department of Homeland Inspector General report (pdf) focused mostly on U.S. Coast Guard insider threats, stating, "Trusted insiders could use their access or insider knowledge to exploit USCG's physical and technical vulnerabilities with the intent to cause harm."

The audit also found numerous issues involving thumb drives and removable media that could be connected to Coast Guard IT systems and used to remove sensitive info, as well as issues allowing sensitive info to be sent via email. The IG also found unlocked USCG network equipment and server rooms, unsecured wireless routers and laptops.

But a real current threat, according to CyberKeel, a Copenhagen-based firm which focuses on maritime cybersecurity, is unpatched servers running Microsoft that attackers could exploit to take control of the servers. Although Microsoft released a patch in April, spot checks at 50 different maritime sites reveals that 37% of the servers running Microsoft were still vulnerable because they had not been patched.

"Complex systems, such as those provided by Microsoft, are often in need of software patching to plug security holes. Companies need their IT departments to be able to quickly install software patches, as the hacker community operates on decidedly short timeframes," CyberKeel CEO Lars Jensen told Splash24/7. "As an example, it took less than 12 hours from the point where Microsoft released the patch, until you could find simple instructions on the internet as to exactly how to exploit this weakness to cause a denial of service."


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How the Orlando airport went fully wireless | Zeus Kerravala | NetworkWorld.com

How the Orlando airport went fully wireless | Zeus Kerravala | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If you're reading this post, you're most likely involved in the technology industry in some way. As such, you probably attend at least one, if not multiple, events in Orlando every year. It's only May and I think I've been there four times already this year.

In addition to being one of THE places to go for technology conferences, it happens to be one of the country's top vacation spots for families. This makes the Orlando airport unique in that it's a high-volume origin and destination airports. Most of the country's busy airports, like Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago and Atlanta, are airline hub locations, so a high percentage of the passengers are connecting from one flight to another. However, with Orlando, almost all of the passengers are either coming to or departing from the local area.

I recently had a chance to interview John Newsome, Director of Information Technology for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA), about the mobile experience the GOAA has created for the passengers coming through the airport. Despite being a non-hub airport, Orlando airport is now the 12th busiest in the U.S. It is also home to more than 40 airlines and has over 37 million people pass through it every year. This makes building any kind of wireless application or network extremely challenging.

Because the airport is part of the fabric of the community and the first or last step in a person's trip, the GOAA's primary objective is to ensure that the customers have an airport experience consistent with the other venues in the airport. Newsome told me that the Authority is laser-focused on ensuring the customers have a pleasant experience that reduces anxiety and stress. Anyone who has been through it recently should have noticed a much better physical experience, with more foliage, water, and glass in the airport, and classical music playing throughout all the concourses. Newsome described this to me as providing the "Orlando experience."

One of the big improvements that Disney has made over the past few years is providing customers with an outstanding mobile experience. The mobile application allows patrons to find places to eat, look up attractions, and get turn-by-turn directions to any location in the park. This is the type of experience the GOAA had in mind for the airport.


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Mayor De Blasio Makes A $70M Commitment Toward Universal Broadband In New York City | Kim-Mai Cutler | TechCrunch

Mayor De Blasio Makes A $70M Commitment Toward Universal Broadband In New York City  | Kim-Mai Cutler | TechCrunch | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In what is one of the most prominent financial commitments that an American city government has made toward universal broadband, the De Blasio administration is committing $70 million to bring affordable high-speed Internet to city residents.

Even though cities like New York and San Francisco are at the epicenter of the country’s burgeoning tech scenes, an astounding share of residents still lack access to the Internet. In New York, about one-fifth of the city’s households have no Internet connection and among the poorest families, that number jumps to 36 percent. Similarly in San Francisco, about 100,000 of the city’s roughly 850,000 residents don’t have Internet and those disparities often fall along racial lines with African-Americans and Latinos having the poorest levels of access.

As you might guess, this could have long-term impacts on how children learn how to use technology or how working-age residents get access to jobs, which are now often listed purely online. That has implications for social mobility and earnings.

When De Blasio was elected, he started recruiting long-time policy experts in universal broadband like Josh Breitbart, who worked on access for several years at the Open Technology Institute.

Now they’re laying out a plan and putting down a $70 million financial commitment over 10 years to make universal affordable broadband a reality — with most of that money being spent in the first two to three years.

“Broadband is no longer a luxury – it’s as central to education, jobs, businesses and our civic life as water and electricity,” said Maya Wiley, who serves as counsel to the mayor. “For the first time in the history of the City, broadband is in the capital budget.”

The way this plan will work is that $25 million will go toward new wireless corridors, which will deliver free or low-cost access to 20,000 low-income households. Another $7.5 million will go to upgrading or expanding at least five existing wireless corridors. Then $1.6 million in state funds will focus on broadband around industrial zones for at least 500 businesses.

Some of these wireless corridors are already in operation like the Harlem free wifi zone.

Then there will be about 1,500 kiosks by 2017. They are often repurposed phone booths that are equipped with high-speed Internet access, around all five boroughs (see the photo below). They offer up to 1 gigabit per second in speed plus free calling through a touchscreen. That model is partially advertising supported. Ultimately, there will be 7,500 of them.


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Wheeler confident FCC will beat Title II lawsuits | Andrew Berg | CED Magazine

Wheeler confident FCC will beat Title II lawsuits | Andrew Berg | CED Magazine | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said that the he's not worried about the dozen or so lawsuits now filed over the recently approved Open Internet rules.

"I said all along, the big dogs are going to sue," Wheeler said during an interview at TechCrunch's Disrupt New York event that was broadcast online. "There's nothing surprising about that."

Wheeler said that classifying Internet Service Providers (ISPs) under Title II of the Communications Act was the last thing that needed to be accomplished for the courts to rule in the FCC's favor. He referenced Verizon's lawsuit, which prevailed back in 2010, when the carrier challenged the notion that the FCC had jurisdiction over ISPs, which at the time it didn't.

Wheeler said that part of the reason the FCC decided to move on the Open Internet rules was the overwhelming public response in the form of 4 million online comments, of which he said about three quarters were in favor of Title II classification.

"The bulk of the comments indicated how when you're talking about the Internet, you're talking about something very personal to people," Wheeler said. "And they then used that personal media of theirs to express themselves. and that was signifcant."

Wheeler acknowledged that Republicans have not been kind to him after passage of the Open Internet rules, putting him through a total of five hearings on the subject in a matter of eight days. While Wheeler admitted it wasn't the most fun he's had, he also said that he respects Congress and will answer any questions at its behest.

When asked whether he would continue on as the Chairman of the FCC should he be asked to do so by the next President, Wheeler quipped, "I don't know. She hasn't asked me yet."


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What the Future of Gig Apps Will Bring? Five Cities Have Answers. | Craig Settles | Gigabit Nation on BlogTalk Radio

What the Future of Gig Apps Will Bring? Five Cities Have Answers. | Craig Settles | Gigabit Nation on BlogTalk Radio | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Forward-thinking people in five U.S. cities hit the bleeding-edge of innovation this past weekend while answering the question, “what can we do with a gig?” The future of gig apps looks particularly bright according to French telecom company, Orange, which hosted this first-ever multi-city hackathon.

Will Barkis, Technologist for Orange Silicon Valley, gives us a rundown of some of the interesting applications and inventive solutions that can impact education, healthcare, entertainment and business. Those participating in GigHacks represent communities with citywide gigagit networks and those with plans on the drawing board.

San Francisco, CA

Orange GigaStudio paired with several Bay Area firm to leverage gig technology with a focus on online music collaboration, 360 video, VR use cases and video chat.

Kansas City, MO & KS

Teams formed to build pilots in virtual and augmented reality for the classroom, Internet of Things, cyber-physical systems for public safety and civic engagement, digital health and other technologies.

Chattanooga, TN

Orange partnered with several local businesses and the Chattanooga Public Library to leverage municipal broadband, GENI and a group of talented UT Chattanooga-GIGTANK Fellowship applicants

Burlington, VT

Advanced teams formed to leverage Burlington Telecom's fiber network in the areas of smart grid energy management, cyber-security, edu-gaming, food systems, and secure mobile health.

Charlotte, NC

Charlotte projects included cancer genome analysis, unstructured data analysis and visualization, video collaboration, energy innovation and civic engagement.


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US reviews use of cellphone spying technology | John Ribeiro | NetworkWorld.com

US reviews use of cellphone spying technology | John Ribeiro | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Faced with criticism from lawmakers and civil rights groups, the U.S. Department of Justice has begun a review of the secretive use of cellphone surveillance technology that mimics cellphone towers, and will get more open on its use, according to a newspaper report.

The cell-site simulators, also referred to by other names such as “IMSI catchers” or Stingrays, operate by fooling mobile phones into believing that they are communicating with a legitimate cellphone tower, while harvesting data from the phone including its identity, location, metadata and even content of phone transmissions, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

One of the complaints of civil rights groups is that even when targeting a single phone, the technology can collect data on other phones in the area that connect to the simulator, raising privacy issues.

For years the Federal Bureau of Investigation used the technology without warrants, though recently the government has started approaching judges for search warrants, according to the report in the Wall Street Journal on Sunday. The newspaper had reported last year that the devices, which were referred to as “dirtboxes,” were used by law enforcement from planes to track people on the ground.

Senior officials have also decided they have to be more open about the use of the devices. But there isn’t agreement within the DOJ yet about how much to reveal or how quickly, WSJ said.

Some legislators have objected strongly to the surveillance. In December, senators Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, and Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa asked the federal administration for information on the “potentially broad” exceptions to a new FBI policy to obtain a search warrant before using a cell-site simulator.


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New Bill Would Tie Retrans to Performance Payment | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

New Bill Would Tie Retrans to Performance Payment | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) have reintroduced the Protecting the Rights of Musicians Act, a bill that is now a one-two punch aimed at broadcasters. The bill would stipulate that owners of both TV and radio stations could not seek retrans payments for their TV stations unless those co-owned radio stations paid a performance fee for music airplay.

The National Association of Broadcasters has been fighting congressional efforts, backed by record labels and artists, to legislate a performance royalty payment. Blackburn, who counts Nashville musicians among her constituents, has been a leading proponent of the payments and of legislation.

Broadcasters argue they already compensate artists through airplay that drives sales of their songs.

The second blow to broadcaster interests is an add-on to the bill that would prohibit the FCC from mandating radio chips in mobile devices. Broadcasters have been pushing for making those mobile devices broadcast receivers as well, given that many already have the chip but don't have it activated.


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Broadband goes local in Montana and New Mexico | Jim Barthold | Fierce Telecom

Broadband goes local in Montana and New Mexico | Jim Barthold | Fierce Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The digital divide is being sliced in two Western states where a rural telecommunications provider, Nemont Telephone Cooperative of Scobey, Mont., and the city of Santa Fe, N.M., have taken it upon themselves to fill the gap between narrowband and broadband.

Nemont, in an announcement on its website, said it is launching Montana's "first gigabit community in Scobey, Mont.," for residential and commercial customers. In Santa Fe, the city's Economic Development Division is entering a crowded field of providers that include CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL), Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA), Cyber Mesa, NM Surf and other smaller companies in an effort to raise broadband speeds and lower broadband prices.

Of the two, Nemont is the more conventional and least threatening to incumbent service providers--and the one with by far the higher broadband speeds. The rural telecom has been deploying fiber in its 14,000-mile service territory since 2007 and now it's going to use Calix technology to meet its "ultra-fast gigabit needs," CEO Mike Kilgore said.

Santa Fe's actions are a bit more contentious and the speeds being promised a lot slower. City officials are touting a municipal infrastructure that will hike average speeds from 5 Mbps to 10 Mbps. CenturyLink, for one, said it provides 40 Mbps of residential speeds and doesn't think it's necessary for the city to invest $1 million in its own broadband infrastructure. The city said its speed claims are a median average derived from speedtest.net.


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The Gigasphere | Doug Dawson | POTs and PANs

The Gigasphere | Doug Dawson | POTs and PANs | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If you haven’t already heard it, you will soon be hearing the term ‘gigasphere’. This is the marketing term that the large cable companies are adopting to describe their upward path towards having faster data speeds on their cable systems. The phrase is obviously meant as a marketing counter to the commonly used term of gigabit fiber.

The gigasphere term is being promoted by the National Cable Television Association (NTCA) as the way to describe the new DOCSIS 3.1 technology. This is a technology that can theoretically support cable modem speeds up to 10 Gbps download and 1 Gbps upload.

The large cable companies are all starting to feel consumer pressure from fiber, even in markets where fiber is not readily available. Google and other fiber providers have excited the public with the idea of gigabit speeds and I am sure cable companies are being asked about this frequently.

Right now the term gigasphere is largely marketing hype. If you have fiber to your home or business, then with the right electronics you can get gigabit speeds. But cable systems have a long way to go before they can offer gigabit speeds over coaxial cable. There is already talk of cable companies offering gigabit products, such as the recent announcements from Comcast. But these speeds are not being achieved using coaxial cable and DOCSIS 3.1, they are using fiber – something Comcast doesn’t highlight in their marketing.

With enough upgrades and money, the cable systems can eventually achieve gigabit speeds on their coaxial networks. But for now their speeds are significantly less than that. A cable company faces a long and complicated path to be able to offer gigabit speeds over coaxial cable. Their biggest hurdle is that the bandwidth on their cable systems is mostly used by TV channels, and only empty channel spaces can be used for data. DOCSIS 3.1 allows a cable system to join together the spare channels on their network into one larger data pipe.

In order to get to gigabit speeds a cable company has to convert all of the channels on its network to digital, something most of them have already done. But further, they are going to need to treat them the same as TV on the web – transmitting them as raw data instead of as individual channels. Cable systems today use a broadcast technology, meaning they send all of the channels to customers at the same time. But if they convert to IPTV they can send each home just the channels they want to watch, which would massively condense the system bandwidth needed for television.


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New app can unearth video gems on Periscope | Zach Miners | CIO.com

New app can unearth video gems on Periscope | Zach Miners | CIO.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In perhaps the first sign that live streaming might spawn its own assortment of sub-players, a visual data analysis startup is putting its chops to work to categorize and rank videos on Periscope, the app owned by Twitter.

Dextro, which uses algorithms to analyze the content of photos and videos, is launching Stream on Tuesday. It’s a web app that categorizes and links to videos posted publicly in Periscope as they’re broadcast in real time.

Periscope’s popular, having gotten 1 million users in its first 10 days. The amount of video in the app can be overwhelming; Dextro wants to make it easier to see some of the popular ones.

With Stream, users can browse videos around popular topics on Periscope at any given time. Videos are grouped into bubbles depending on their theme. The size of the bubble depends on its popularity at the time and a click reveals the videos inside.


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FCC's Sohn: Wired Broadband Competition Lacking | John Eggerton | Multichannel

FCC's Sohn: Wired Broadband Competition Lacking | John Eggerton | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Gigi Sohn, senior counselor to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, told a New Haven, Conn., audience Monday that "the simple truth is that meaningful competition for high-speed wired broadband is lacking."

She came not to bury broadband, but to praise the state's 1 Gig community broadband project as a way to provide that "lacking" competition.

The FCC made 25 Mbps the new target definition for high-speed broadband, but in her speech, Sohn blew by that mile marker, saying: "We want to see average speeds grow to 50 Megabits per second, 100, and eventually even 1 Gigabit per second."

She suggested that only then is bandwidth removed as a "constraint on innovation."

Sohn said that while 4G LTE mobile broadband is the envy of the world, the fixed broadband side was another story.

"International rankings consistently score the U.S. outside the top 10 in broadband speeds," she said. "Last I checked, most Americans aren't content with being outside the top 10 in anything that matters— certainly not anything as important as the quality of our digital infrastructure."

"According to Akamai, the average fixed broadband connection in America is about 12 Megabits per second. That's fine if you live alone, and all you're doing online is minimal browsing each night while streaming a movie on Netflix. But broadband can enable so much more."


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NAB: FCC Showing 'Unfounded Favoritism' in Auction | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

NAB: FCC Showing 'Unfounded Favoritism' in Auction | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The National Association of Broadcasters may be OK with the FCC's early 2016 broadcast incentive auction time frame and supportive of a successful auction for all parties, but it still argues that the FCC is showing "unfounded favoritism for wireless and unlicensed operations over TV broadcasting," effectively treating full power TV stations "as mere obstacles to be cleared out of the way as soon as possible after the auction, regardless of the feasibility of transitioning to a new channel..."

That is according to comments filed by NAB on how the FCC should define "commencement of operations" and how it should not be in such a hurry to displace broadcasters in the station repack following the auction.

Full power TV stations have a 39-month deadline for exiting their spectrum, while low-powers and translators, which can't participate in the auction and aren't protected against interference after it, will be given until the commencement of wireless service by new license holders.

NAB argues that the FCC's approach to low-powers and translators is the right one, allowing them to remain on the air until a wireless company has begun site commissioning tests (rather than simply signaling its intent to do so). But NAB says that should be the same for full-powers and class As, rather than the current hard 39-month deadline.


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Facebook’s free Internet for the poor leaves out high-bandwidth sites | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica

Facebook’s free Internet for the poor leaves out high-bandwidth sites | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Facebook's Internet.org, which aims to give impoverished people around the world free mobile access to a selection of Internet services, is opening the platform to developers after facing criticism that the program's restrictions violate net neutrality principles.

The partnership with mobile operators gives free access to few dozen websites (including Facebook) through a mobile app available in parts of Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Although the app is ad-free and companies don't pay to be part of it, several companies in India pulled out of Internet.org because it steers users toward a limited set of services.

In response, Facebook today announced the Internet.org platform, "an open program for developers to easily create services that integrate with Internet.org." Any developer will be able to build services that can be accessed through Internet.org, but there are limits on what they can offer.

Although Facebook's announcement said the goal is to let users "explore the entire Internet," that will not include high-bandwidth services.

"Websites that require high-bandwidth will not be included," Facebook wrote. "Services should not use VoIP, video, file transfer, high resolution photos, or high volume of photos."


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Apple pushing music labels to kill free Spotify streaming ahead of Beats relaunch | Micah Singleton | The Verge

The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are looking closely into Apple’s business practices in relation to its upcoming music streaming service, according to multiple sources. The Verge has learned that Apple has been pushing major music labels to force streaming services like Spotify to abandon their free tiers, which will dramatically reduce the competition for Apple’s upcoming offering. DOJ officials have already interviewed high-ranking music industry executives about Apple’s business habits, but it appears the FTC has taken the lead in recent weeks.

Apple has been using its considerable power in the music industry to stop the music labels from renewing Spotify’s license to stream music through its free tier. Spotify currently has 60 million listeners, but only 15 million of them are paid users. Getting the music labels to kill the freemium tiers from Spotify and others could put Apple in prime position to grab a large swath of new users when it launches its own streaming service, which is widely expected to feature a considerable amount of exclusive content. "All the way up to Tim Cook, these guys are cutthroat," one music industry source said.


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Dear Governor Cuomo & Mayor De Blasio; Want Universal Broadband in NY? Get Billions Back from Verizon and Time Warner Cable. | Bruce Kushnick Blog | HuffPost.com

Dear Governor Cuomo & Mayor De Blasio; Want Universal Broadband in NY? Get Billions Back from Verizon and Time Warner Cable. | Bruce Kushnick Blog | HuffPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Read The Book of Broken Promises: $400 Billion Broadband Scandal & Free the Net

The Tech Crunch headline reads:

"Mayor De Blasio Makes A $70M Commitment Toward Universal Broadband In New York City."

And Press Republican, an upstate newspaper that started in 1811, states:

"Gov proposes $1 billion broadband investment


Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to make a $500 million broadband investment for high-speed Internet across the state.... The New York Broadband Program funding would be made available to match $500 million in private business investments, bringing the total initiative to a total $1 billion."

Over the last two decades there has been a continuous pattern of throwing money, our money, at broadband again and again. Ironically, instead of taking on the companies, many times these additional funds can end up in the hands of the same companies; in this case -- Verizon and Time Warner Cable (TWC).

We have a different approach -- Let's get the billions of dollars back from Verizon and Time Warner Cable for their failure to live up to commitments while overcharging phone and cable customers over and over. Let's hold the companies accountable for their bad acts, their misrepresentation, the manipulation of their financials, the egregious bills --where added 'made up' fees, pass-through taxes (we get charged for their taxes) or surcharges now run amok, not to mention going after the failure to fulfill commitments, even though they got billions of dollars that were to be used for broadband.

And I challenge the press and media to stop publishing the companies' press releases or what some actress is wearing at the next opening, but actually investigate -- if you can still remember how.

And let me be clear -- this is not just a New York City or State specific problem. Everyone reading this has been charged thousands of dollars extra because at every turn the politicians would rather not investigate and do audits -- just write checks, many times to the same companies that screwed us.

A simple example: Out of $9 million in broadband grants announced by NY State in February 2014, TWC got $5.3 million, about 59%.

"Time Warner Cable, Inc. (TWC), among the largest providers of video, high-speed data and voice services in the United States, will receive approximately $5.3 million to expand services to municipalities across seven regions in New York State."

And it is clear that Verizon, the largest incumbent phone company, simply never showed up and properly upgraded and maintained the state's networks, even though they got paid billions extra for decades.

According to the Fierce Telecom:

"The governor's office revealed that 5.4 million New Yorkers and 55,000 businesses cannot get access to broadband at 25 Mbps and that 7 million New Yorkers and 113,000 businesses cannot get access to broadband at 100 Mbps, including 70 percent of Upstate New Yorkers. Over 2,000 of New York's public schools report speeds lower than 100 Mbps, while nearly 500 have no broadband service at all."

I note that Cuomo's plans are based on "capital funds from bank settlements", but in the discussions of all of this money, there is nothing that details how much will simply end back up in the pockets of Verizon and Time Warner. Also, these are but a few of many grants from the federal government, or the Universal Service Fund (which is a tax on your bills that you pay) which is paid to these companies.


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Charter Chief Considers Adding Netflix And Skinny Bundles - And TWC? | David Lieberman | Deadline.com

Charter Chief Considers Adding Netflix And Skinny Bundles - And TWC? | David Lieberman | Deadline.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The most surprising news from Charter Communications’ call with analysts this morning didn’t involve any plans to buy Time Warner Cable — although CEO Tom Rutledge says he’s still talking with Bright House Networks to possibly revive his company’s $10.4 billion acquisition. (More on that in a moment.) It’s what he’s doing with his current cable systems which serve about 4.2 million subscribers: He’s open to offering Netflix and other streaming services directly to his TV customers. In addition, he’s looking at crafting so-called skinny bundles of lower cost TV packages with fewer channels.

Most cable companies consider Internet video services to be competitors. As a result, they require subscribers who want to watch Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu to switch away from TV input where the cable box feeds programming.

Rutledge says he now believes “we can mix those products into products that we sell to satisfy the customer’s entire video needs.” That would effectively treat the subscription streaming services as premium cable channels, like HBO, Showtime or Starz.


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Comcast Spent $336 Million On Failed Merger | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com

Comcast Spent $336 Million On Failed Merger | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The uncertainty of the now dead Time Warner Cable merger certainly didn't hurt Comcast's broadband growth. According to the company's latest earnings report, Comcast continued to slowly bleed video subscribers (8,000 lost on the quarter) but added 407,000 high-speed Internet subscribers.

The company's earnings state that Comcast spent $99 million during the first quarter on trying to get the merger approved, bringing the price tag for the full merger attempt to around $336 million. Of course Comcast saw a net income of $2.1 billion on revenues of $17.9 billion during just the last three months.

"At Comcast, we have great products and technologies, and we were excited about bringing these capabilities to additional cities," CEO Brian Roberts told attendees of the company's earnings call. "The government ultimately didn’t see it the same way."

Of course it wasn't the offering of new products the government took issue with. It was, according to many reports, Comcast's failure to adhere to NBC merger conditions -- combined with the company's sheer size and market leverage (they would have served 57% of all broadband subscribers in the country) that gave regulators pause.


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ACLU: NSA phone dragnet should be killed not amended | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com

ACLU: NSA phone dragnet should be killed not amended | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The U.S. Congress should kill the section of the Patriot Act that has allowed the National Security Agency to collect millions of phone records from the nation’s residents, instead of trying to amend it, a civil liberties advocate said Friday.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the NSA to collect phone records, business records and any other “tangible things” related to an anti-terrorism investigation, expires in June, and lawmakers should let it die, said Neema Singh Guliani, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.

The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted to approve a bill to amend that section of the anti-terrorism law. The USA Freedom Act would end the NSA’s bulk collection of U.S. phone records by narrowing the scope of the agency’s searches, backers of the bill said.

The USA Freedom Act “does not go far enough” to protect U.S. residents from surveillance, Guliani said during a debate about section 215 hosted by the Congressional Internet Caucus. While the bill doesn’t allow NSA searches by state or even zip codes, it would still allow the search of the records of “several hundred people who might share an IP address” over a wireless network, or records on an entire company, she said.

The bill also doesn’t require the NSA to purge the records of innocent people it collects while targeting someone with suspected ties to terrorism, she said. “Section 215 was an unprecedented expansion of intelligence agency authority,” she added. “It’s time for that provision to sunset and return to an infrastructure that’s more respectful of privacy.”

Other speakers defended the USA Freedom Act, saying it makes significant improvements in protections of privacy and civil liberties. The bill isn’t perfect, but it’s a good first step toward fixing overzealous surveillance practices, said Chris Calabrese, senior policy director at digital rights group the Center for Democracy and Technology.


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How to Make it On Social Media Without Really Trying | Doug Bock Clark | The New Republic

How to Make it On Social Media Without Really Trying | Doug Bock Clark | The New Republic | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Every morning, Kim Casipong strolls past barbed wire, six dogs, and a watchman in order to get to her job in a pink apartment building decorated with ornate stonework in Lapu-Lapu City. The building towers above the slums surrounding it—houses made of scrap wood with muddy goat pens in place of yards. She is a pretty, milk-skinned, 17-year-old girl who loves the movie Frozen and whose favorite pastime is singing karaoke. She is on her way to do her part in bringing down Facebook.

Casipong huffs to the third floor of the apartment building, opens a door decorated with a crucifix, and greets her co-workers. The curtains are drawn, and the artificial moonlight of computer screens illuminates the room. Eight workers sit in two rows, their tools arranged on their desks: a computer, a minaret of cell phone SIM cards, and an old cell phone. Tens of thousands of additional SIM cards are taped into bricks and stored under chairs, on top of computers, and in old instant noodle boxes around the room.

Richard Braggs, Casipong’s boss, sits at a desk positioned behind his employees, occasionally glancing up from his double monitor to survey their screens. Even in the gloom, he wears Ray-Ban sunglasses to shield his eyes from the glare of his computer. (“Richard Braggs” is the alias he uses for business purposes; he uses a number of pseudonyms for various online activities.)

Casipong inserts earbuds, queues up dance music—Paramore and Avicii—and checks her client’s instructions. Their specifications are often quite pointed. A São Paulo gym might request 75 female Brazilian fitness fanatics, or a Castro-district bar might want 1,000 gay men living in San Francisco. Her current order is the most common: Facebook profiles of beautiful American women between the ages of 20 and 30. Once they’ve received the accounts, the client will probably use them to sell Facebook likes to customers looking for an illicit social media boost.

Most of the accounts Casipong creates are sold to these digital middlemen—“click farms” as they have come to be known. Just as fast as Silicon Valley conjures something valuable from digital ephemera, click farms seek ways to create counterfeits. Google “buy Facebook likes” and you’ll see how easy it is to purchase black-market influence on the Internet: 1,000 Facebook likes for $29.99; 1,000 Twitter followers for $12; or any other type of fake social media credential, from YouTube views to Pinterest followers to SoundCloud plays. Social media is now the engine of the Internet, but that engine is running on some pretty suspect fuel.

Casipong plays her role in hijacking the currencies of social media—Facebook likes, Twitter followers—by performing the same routine over and over again.


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Google’s Project Fi + Free Muni Wi-Fi = Customer Savings + Carrier Disruption | Mitchell Shapiro | Michigan State University

Google’s Project Fi + Free Muni Wi-Fi = Customer Savings + Carrier Disruption | Mitchell Shapiro | Michigan State University | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Yesterday Google officially announced Project Fi, its much anticipated wireless service, which I’ve previously blogged and tweeted about during its pre-announcement rumor/leak phase. Now that more details, including pricing, are available directly from Google, an updated post seems in order, especially following recent posts about newly launched municipal Wi-Fi services in NYC and Boston (later on this post I’ll consider how these two developments may be related and synergistic).

As expected, Google’s wireless service will route user traffic over a mix of Wi-Fi connections and, via MVNO arrangements with Sprint and T-Mobile, the two carriers’ cellular networks. This “three network” approach alone makes the service pretty unique. In a blog post yesterday, VP of Communications Products Nick Fox explains:

As you go about your day, Project Fi automatically connects you to more than a million free, open Wi-Fi hotspots we’ve verified as fast and reliable. Once you’re connected, we help secure your data through encryption. When you’re not on Wi-Fi, we move you between whichever of our partner networks is delivering the fastest speed, so you get 4G LTE in more places…If you leave an area of Wi-Fi coverage, your call will seamlessly transition from Wi-Fi to cell networks so your conversation doesn’t skip a beat.

The Project Fi FAQ page explains further that its “software is optimized to not put extra strain on your battery by only moving you between networks when absolutely necessary.”


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