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IVP Conference: What California Really Needs for Economic Development | IVN.us

IVP Conference: What California Really Needs for Economic Development | IVN.us | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

California lawmakers put aside party labels this week to engage in an informed conversation with representatives from the tech and manufacturing industries on the need for a comprehensive plan for economic development in California during a panel discussion at the Independent Voter Project Conference.


The panel on economic development was one of a series of 5 panels at the IVP Conference focusing on major issues facing California. The purpose of the panels was to have a substantive conversation about real issues, beyond the larger public dialogue that often reduces serious issues to superficial talking points.


One major economic concern for California is the increasing cost of operations, including the cost of energy, said a representative from the manufacturing industry in California.


The cost of energy in California is 50% higher than the average for the United States. This problem is exasperated by the closure of San Onofre nuclear plant in Southern California. Workplace costs have resulted in billions of dollars of debt owed by employers, not the state. California’s workers’ compensation system has drastically changed since the passage of Senate Bill 863.


When companies look at locating in California, they look at all these factors: cost of operations, cost of energy, workplace costs, and regulations. Due to the unpredictability of the future costs in California, companies have been shying away from developing in the state.


For tech companies, the accessibility to talent is the biggest factor in deciding where to locate, with more tech jobs than there are qualified employees, a representative from a major tech industry stated.


This prompted a more in-depth discussion of how to expose students to computer science at a young age. Only 15 states in the United States recognize computer science as math and science in school curriculum. In those 15 states, the number of students in those computer science classrooms increased an average of 53 percent.


A huge issue for the tech industry is working to increase the prevalence of computer science in classrooms around the state of California. Living in a knowledge based economy, the knowledge and level of talent is not where it needs to be for economic development in California.


That’s why tech companies across the state are getting involved in the immigration reform debate, a representative from the tech industry said.


“It’s our preference to get the talent domestically, but when we have such a shortfall of talent we need to get that talent somewhere,” the representative explained.


Of the top 10 jobs with the most growth in California, 6 are based in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Education. We need to start exposing students to computer sciences at the K-12 level and expose them to this curriculum early, a tech industry representative argued.


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MN: Rural Iron Range to get $7.7 million broadband boost | John Myers | TwinCities.com

Efforts to bring fiber-optic cable for broadband high-speed Internet to rural areas of the Iron Range will get a boost today from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board.

The IRRRB is set to approve a $1.5 million grant to White Township, part of a $4.8 million project by Northeast Service Cooperative and Frontier Communications to expand fiber-optic services across remote parts of the region.

The project will result in about 97 miles of new cable directly serving 23 town halls and fire halls, and will extend high-speed service to 2,262 Frontier subscribers in 13 townships.

A total of 9,400 "underserved households" will have the opportunity to hook up to Internet service offering speeds exceeding the state's goal as it seeks to bring broadband to residents in all regions.

The state Department of Employment and Economic Development is adding $2.4 million for the effort, with Frontier kicking in $750,000 and Northeast Service Cooperative $150,000.

Townships served by the project include Birch Lake, Embarrass, Fall Lake, Greenwood, Industrial, Kelsey, Morse, Northland, Silver Creek, Toivola, Waasa and two unorganized townships in northern St. Louis County.

The fiber-optic grant is one of dozens totaling nearly $7.7 million expected to be doled out by the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board today in Eveleth.


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Judge questions evidence on whether NSA spying is too broad | Zach Miners | NetworkWorld.com

Judge questions evidence on whether NSA spying is too broad | Zach Miners | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A federal judge on Friday questioned the strength of a key lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the government’s Internet surveillance program known as “upstream” data collection.

Judge Jeffrey White heard oral arguments by attorneys from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed the suit, and the government, during a hearing in a federal district court in Oakland, California. The EFF says its suit is the first challenge in public court to the government’s upstream data program, which copies online data from the main cables connecting Internet networks around the world.

The EFF first filed its suit in 2008 after an AT&T technician provided evidence that the company routed copies of its Internet traffic records to the NSA.

The National Security Agency program is unconstitutional because it collects communications, including content such as email, of people without ties to issues of national security, EFF attorney Richard Wiebe told the judge. That’s an overly broad dragnet that violates the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure, he said.

U.S. Justice Department attorney James Gilligan did not deny the government taps the Internet’s backbone to gather data. But the government uses filtering mechanisms to automatically destroy certain communications records within milliseconds, he said.

Judge White could declare the upstream collection program unconstitutional, a ruling the government would probably appeal. But on Friday, he questioned whether there was enough evidence on either side to say whether the program is constitutional.

The judge’s ruling might take months, judging from the number and complexity of questions he asked Friday.


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Tor warns of possible disruption of network through server seizures | John Ribeiro | NetworkWorld.com

Tor warns of possible disruption of network through server seizures | John Ribeiro | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Tor project said it could face attempts to incapacitate its network in the next few days through the seizure of specialized servers.

The project did not name the group or agency that may try to seize its directory authorities, which guide Tor users on the list of distributed relays on the network that bounce communications around.

“We are taking steps now to ensure the safety of our users, and our system is already built to be redundant so that users maintain anonymity even if the network is attacked. Tor remains safe to use,” wrote “arma” in a post Friday on the Tor project blog. The “arma” developer handle is generally associated with project leader Roger Dingledine.

Rather than take a direct route from source to destination, data packets on the Tor network, designed to mask people’s Internet use, take a random path through several relays that cover user tracks.

Unless an adversary can control a majority of the directory authorities, he can’t trick the Tor client into using other Tor relays, according to the Tor project website. There are nine directory authorities spread across the U.S. and Europe, according to arma.

There were no reports of a seizure by late Sunday. The project promised to update the blog and its Twitter account with new information.

Users who live under repressive regimes look to Tor as a way to escape surveillance and censorship. But the network has also been used by illegal websites including online sellers of drugs, like the underground drug market Silk Road. A second version of the market, Silk Road 2.0, was launched a few weeks after the first was seized by law enforcement in October 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Millions use the Tor network at their local Internet cafe to stay safe for ordinary Web browsing, as also banks, diplomatic officials, members of law enforcement, bloggers and others, according to the Tor project.


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TN: Chattanooga Public Library Now Hosts GigLab | community broadband networks

TN: Chattanooga Public Library Now Hosts GigLab | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Entrepreneurs in Chattanooga now have a new space where they can try to answer the question, "What does one do with a gig?" The Chattanooga Public Library officially opened its GigLab in November.

The public space offers gigabit access in a lab environment so developers can take their ideas to the next level. The lab is supported by the Mozilla fund and the National Science Foundation. A recent Chattanooga.com article reports that:

The general public will now have access to enterprise level gigabit connected hardware, as well as a variety of short session and hands on courses regarding networking as a whole, and other gigabit focused projects.

Sean Brewer, one of the GigLab founders, writes on the blog:


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FCC Officially Launches OVD Definition NPRM | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

FCC Officially Launches OVD Definition NPRM | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The FCC has launched its rulemaking to define some online video providers (OVD's) as MVPDS, at least with respect to access to cable and TV station programming.

The item was voted two days ago, but not announced until Friday. It was unanimous, but with concurrences from Republican commissioners with concerns.

As B&C/Multichannel News has reported, the item proposes to allow linear OVD's to cable-affiliated programming and local TV station broadcasts, regardless of whether or not they have facilities based distribution. Beyond that it tees up lots of questions about how to apply that definition and the ramifications of doing so.

The idea is to help promote online video as a competitor to traditional cable and satellite providers, which the FCC says should produce more choices for programming, by making the MVPD definition technology neutral. "Video is no longer tied to a certain transmission technology, so our interpretation of MVPD should not be tied to transmission facilities," FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said in announcing the item had been voted.

In the past, the FCC has tentatively concluded that an MVPD needed the distribution facility to meet that classification.

"When digital technology made video simply zeroes and ones, it opened up the opportunity for new Internet-based competition to cable and satellite services," said Wheeler Friday. "Yet efforts by new entrants to develop new video services have faltered because they could not get access to programming content that was owned by cable networks or broadcasters...With this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Commission moves to update the Commission’s rules to give video providers who operate over the Internet — or any other method of transmission — the same access to programming that cable and satellite operators have. Big company control over access to programming should not keep programs from being available on the Internet. Today, we propose to break that bottleneck."

Wheeler also says the item is about providing more choice, including the option not to take channels. "Consumers should have more opportunities to buy the channels they want instead of having to pay for channels they don’t want."

He also said it was about boosting broadband deployment, which is the FCC's prime directive these days, and to do so by packaging channels.

Interstingly, he did not describe those online services as being in the video business. "An updated definition of MVPD would permit a new broadband competitor to offer customers the ability to reach a variety of over-the-top video packages, without having to enter the video business itself."

Hedging its bets, the NPRM asks about maintaining the facilities-based requirement, even as it proposes to do away with it.


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Sony Hackers Guardians of Peace Troll FBI, Anonymous Convinced Hack Didn't Come From North Korea | The Daily Beast

Sony Hackers Guardians of Peace Troll FBI, Anonymous Convinced Hack Didn't Come From North Korea | The Daily Beast | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The hacking group that’s taken credit for breaching Sony’s servers and leaking their files online posted a message online Saturday mocking the FBI’s investigation.

According to a statement issued by the FBI on December 19, which was then echoed by President Obama during his year-end press conference, “the North Korean government is responsible” for hacking Sony’s servers, leaking sensitive company data online, threatening movie theaters that choose to exhibit the satire The Interview, and ultimately succeeding in getting the Kim Jong Un assassination comedy’s release pulled.

The FBI presented the following as evidence:

“Technical analysis of the data deletion malware used in this attack revealed links to other malware that the FBI knows North Korean actors previously developed. For example, there were similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data deletion methods, and compromised networks.

The FBI also observed significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyber activity the U.S. government has previously linked directly to North Korea. For example, the FBI discovered that several Internet protocol (IP) addresses associated with known North Korean infrastructure communicated with IP addresses that were hardcoded into the data deletion malware used in this attack.

Separately, the tools used in the SPE attack have similarities to a cyber attack in March of last year against South Korean banks and media outlets, which was carried out by North Korea.”

Meanwhile, North Korea has maintained their stance that they weren’t involved in the crippling cyber-attack, and have proposed a joint investigation with the U.S. authorities in finding the culprits, warning of “grave consequences” if America continues to blame the Hermit Kingdom for the hacking.

On Saturday afternoon, Guardians of Peace, the hacking group that’s so far claimed responsibility for wreaking havoc on Sony, posted a message online mocking the FBI’s investigation.

It is as follows:


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Google files lawsuit against Mississippi attorney general | Hayley Tsukayama | WashPost.com

Google files lawsuit against Mississippi attorney general | Hayley Tsukayama | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google filed a lawsuit against the Mississippi attorney general on Friday, accusing Jim Hood of using his office to wage an unlawful campaign against the Internet giant.

In its suit, Google points to e-mails released as part of a massive cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment. The e-mails appear to show that Hood coordinated with the Motion Picture Association of America -- a longtime foe for Google -- as part a campaign to force Google to crack down on criminals selling counterfeit prescription medicine and drugs online. This follows reports by the Verge and The New York Times about the alleged campaign, which they said was code named "Goliath."

The suit seeks to block a subpoena issued by Hood, a Democrat, for information on how Google cracks down on ads that promote the sale of illegal drugs through its search engine or YouTube. Hood has been leading the charge with a handful of state attorneys general on this issue for more than a year.

Hood, who is also the president of the National Association of Attorneys General, said in a statement that he is "calling a time out" on the investigation to allow "cooler heads to prevail." But he stood by his decisions to ask Google for more information on how it deals with the sale of illegal drugs through third-party ads on its sites. Earlier this week, he told the Huffington Post that the MPAA has had "has no major influence on my decision-making," and that he is simply trying to crack down on the sale of illegal drugs online.

In a blog post Thursday, Google said that the e-mails revealed a campaign that sought to stifle free expression and to revive the Stop Online Piracy Act. That bill, which died in Congress in 2012 after massive populist and tech industry opposition, was criticized by many free expression advocates who said it would set a dangerous precedent for censorship in its effort to stop access to stolen material online.

Among the main concerns of opponents were that SOPA would allow creation of an Internet "blacklist" that could be abused to keep average people from finding sites that the government found objectionable.

"We are deeply concerned about recent reports that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) led a secret, coordinated campaign to revive the failed SOPA legislation through other means, and helped manufacture legal arguments in connection with an investigation by Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood," said Kent Walker, the company's general counsel and senior vice president.

Google also launched a campaign Thursday asking users to "take action" by telling the MPAA to stop trying to revive "#zombieSOPA."

The MPAA shot back with a statement of its own shortly after that post went up: "Google's effort to position itself as a defender of free speech is shameful. Freedom of speech should never be used as a shield for unlawful activities and the internet is not a license to steal."


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Why broadband execs are telling Washington and Wall Street different things on net neutrality | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

Why broadband execs are telling Washington and Wall Street different things on net neutrality | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In the past week, I've written a bit about how broadband industry execs are telling Washington one thing about strict net neutrality while suggesting something else to Wall Street. The companies are telling investors that they'll keep making their networks better, just like always — even if federal regulators adopt aggressive Internet rules. But that's not what regulators are hearing from the companies, who are telling them that those same rules would depress investment in the network and hurt consumers.

Which message should we believe? It's an interesting discrepancy, one that raises questions about what the carriers truly believe. Some Switch readers are skeptical that we should interpret anything significant from the executives' remarks. But there are some good arguments for giving the investor messaging the benefit of the doubt.

A few readers have argued that top company execs such as Verizon's chief financial officer amount to little more than "corporate bean counters" with little knowledge of what actually goes into running a network or managing regulatory affairs.

@b_fung His comments aren't significant, because he doesn't make the decision to deploy or how. Why not talk to an actual ISP...

— Brett Glass (@brettglass) December 10, 2014

Others point out that executives have every incentive to downplay business risks when talking to investors — the last thing you want to do is scare those folks off. If the chief executives of Comcast and Time Warner Cable said the wrong thing at the wrong time, Wall Street might bolt. And that would be bad.

@b_fung If those companies stop investing, their CFOs lose their jobs. The CFOs are literally cheerleaders for investment. #GrainOfSalt

— Hal Singer (@HalSinger) December 16, 2014

What these arguments amount to is the idea that high-level corporate officials can't be expected to know or accurately describe their firms' true state of affairs. If that's the case, then the U.S. economy has a much bigger problem on its hands than the question of net neutrality and its impact on investment.


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Time Warner Cable doesn’t want to face TV competition in Lincoln, Nebraska | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica

Time Warner Cable doesn’t want to face TV competition in Lincoln, Nebraska | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Time Warner Cable has "crie[d] foul" over a proposed franchise agreement between the city of Lincoln, Nebraska and Windstream that would force TWC to face competition for TV customers, the Lincoln Journal Star reported Wednesday.

"The city isn’t playing fair with the proposed cable franchise agreement with Windstream, according to its sole cable provider Time Warner," the paper reported. TWC lawyer Bill Austin said during a public hearing on Monday that the Windstream franchise violates a requirement in Time Warner's franchise agreement that new franchises may not be "more favorable or less burdensome when taken as a whole” the report said.

"Austin listed several specific areas where Windstream is getting a better deal, including public access capital needs, the public access studio requirements, the government education grant, and service area requirements," the Journal Star wrote.

A city attorney disputed Time Warner's argument. Windstream would only have to offer service to 45 percent of the city to start and 80 percent within 15 years, whereas the incumbent TWC has to offer service to everyone. But the two franchises are comparable, city attorney Steve Huggenberger said, pointing to Windstream obligations to provide public education and government channels and money for public capital needs.

"Windstream wholly supports the city attorney's position," a Windstream spokesperson told Ars today. "The company is making substantial commitments to the city of Lincoln and bringing much needed competition. The proposed agreement is equitable to the Time Warner agreement. We remain confident that the city council will approve the agreement."

A vote is expected on January 5.


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Gigabit or GigaWhat? There is Work to Do Regarding Ultra-Broadband Services | Bernie Arnason | Telecompetitor

Gigabit or GigaWhat? There is Work to Do Regarding Ultra-Broadband Services | Bernie Arnason | Telecompetitor | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Many prevailing questions regarding the Gigabit services trend revolve around consumer perception and acceptance. Do prospective customers want Gigabit services? Do they really understand what Gigabit can do for them? What are they willing to pay for it?


In partnership with Pivot Group, we recently published some market research that examines these issues, entitled GigaWhat? U.S. Broadband Awareness, Needs and Perceptions Study. It offers revealing insight into the mindset of end-customers regarding ultra-broadband applications.

Close to 9 in 10 Internet subscribers (87%) had never heard of Gigabit Internet before being asked about it during this survey, highlighting a real education need for service providers who intend to launch Gigabit service.


Perhaps the main 1 Gbps selling point being emphasized in the marketplace today is its superior speed over traditional broadband speed tiers. But this research reveals that only one-third (32%) of Internet subscribers are aware of their current Internet speed, suggesting a vast majority of Internet users have no speed frame of reference.

Additionally, almost three-quarters (74%) of Internet subscribers indicate their current speed tier is either adequate for them or is faster than what they need, indicating marketing that emphasizes speed alone may not resonate.

As for Gigabit, over half (54%) of Internet users don’t know that a Gigabit is faster than a Megabit, suggesting the use of 1 Gig or 1 Gbps in marketing materials may not have any impact, or worse, may make prospects think their current service is actually faster.

“Service providers spend an awful lot of time and marketing spend emphasizing speed, but this research reveals consumers are confused regarding speed references and perceive that their current speed package is sufficient,” says Dave Nieuwstraten, president of Pivot Group and co-author of the study in a press release. “The introduction of Gigabit services into a given market will require significant customer education and effective marketing techniques to help achieve adoption success.”


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100Mbps Internet available to 59% of US, while gigabit still at just 3% | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica

100Mbps Internet available to 59% of US, while gigabit still at just 3% | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Though some pockets of the US have a competitive market for ultra-fast broadband, a new government report shows that Internet service of at least 100Mbps is limited, and where it exists there is usually just one provider that offers it.

Fifty-nine percent of the US population can buy service of at least 100Mbps download speed, according to the Department of Commerce report released yesterday. But only eight percent can choose from at least two 100Mbps providers, and just one percent can choose from three.

Further, “only 3 percent of the population had 1Gbps or greater available; none had two or more ISPs at that speed,” the report said. It’s not exactly “none”—data in the appendix shows a fraction of one percent of Americans can choose from multiple gigabit providers. This is beginning to change. For example, AT&T and Google are now offering gigabit service in Austin, Texas. The Commerce report is a bit outdated, using data from December 2013.

At the lower end, the report found that 98 percent of Americans can get at least 3Mbps, while 88 percent can choose from at least two providers, and 56 percent can choose from at least three. Two percent of Americans had no options even at 3Mbps.


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Cuba: ETECSA set to launch new Wi-Fi service? | TeleGeography.com

Cuba’s state-owned monopoly fixed line and wireless operator Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA) plans to begin offering public Wi-Fi internet access from next month, company employee Wilfredo Guanche told CubaNet.


The service will enable Cuban citizens to access the internet at ETECSA offices and outlets at a cost of around CUC4.50 (USD4.50) per hour.


TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes the government took a small step towards increasing availability of the internet to Cuban citizens last year with the announcement that it would begin offering access at a number of ETECSA outlets around the island from 4 June 2013, while in early March this year the state-owned telco launched a mobile e-mail service under the brand name Nauta.cu.

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Information on Connecticut Municipal RFQ Seeking Partners to Develop Gigabit Internet Networks in Their Communities | CT.gov

CTGig - Municipal Fiber Network Project

On September 15, 2014, a collaboration of Connecticut municipalities issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) soliciting information and partnerships with potential providers to create Gig networks in their communities.


Forty-six municipalities have joined the RFQ with the aim of soliciting information from potential providers of financing, fiber network construction and management, and Internet service providers of retail services.


It is hoped that this effort could lead to the issuance of RFPs to create public-private partnerships resulting in open-access fiber networks in many Connecticut municipalities providing a variety of competitive Internet-based services to residents, businesses, and community anchor institutions.


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Google Fiber Roll Out in 33 Cities Put on Hold | Aaron Mamiit | TechTimes.com

Google Fiber Roll Out in 33 Cities Put on Hold | Aaron Mamiit | TechTimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google sent out some bad news to dozens of cities that are currently waiting for the company to launch Google Fiber, Google's gigabit Internet service that promises super-fast connections to the Internet that are 100 times faster compared to the connections of the average American home.

Google insisted for months that it would be making a decision within the year for when nine areas will be hooked up to Google Fiber, However, Google's new announcement revealed that the decision will be made after the turn of the year.

"This year gigabit Internet has moved from idea to reality, as mayors and city leaders across America have stepped up and made high-speed broadband access a priority for their community," said a spokesperson for Google.

"While we were hoping to have an update for cities before the holidays, we have a bit more work to wrap up," the spokesperson added. "We'll be back in touch sometime early next year."

The nine areas that have been put on hold for receiving Google Fiber are Atlanta, San Jose in California, Charlotte, Durham and Raleigh in North Carolina, Portland in Oregon, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and San Antonio. These nine metro areas collectively include 33 cities.

Google Fiber has only been made available in three locations so far, namely Austin, Kansas City and Provo, Utah.

According to the Triangle Business Journal, Google has learned to be a bit more methodical in rolling out Google Fiber in other cities. The experiences with the three locations where the service is already available have taught the company to first have the officials of each city completely understand what Google Fiber brings to their locations early on in the process.

Google Fiber business development director Jill Szuchmacher compared working with certain cities to "getting married without having ever dated," highlighting the need to have several conversations between Google and city officials up front.

Szuchmacher added that Google Fiber will also be doing checks on infrastructure that Google Fiber will use, saying that there will be no excavations needed on streets if such infrastructure is already available.


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Staples says hack may have compromised 1 million-plus payment cards | Zach Miners | NetworkWorld.com

Staples says hack may have compromised 1 million-plus payment cards | Zach Miners | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The data breach at the Staples office-supply chain may have affected roughly 1.16 million payment cards as criminals deployed malware to point-of-sale systems at 115 stores, the company said Friday.

The affected stores cover 35 states from California to Connecticut, according to a list Staples released Friday. The chain has more than 1,400 stores in the U.S.

The malware, which allowed the theft of debit and credit card data, was removed in mid-September upon detection, Staples said. The retailer had previously confirmed the incident in October. A previous report from security researcher Brian Krebs around that time cited fraudulent transactions traced to cards that were used for purchases at Staples stores in the Northeastern U.S., but apparently the attack was much wider than that.

The malware may have allowed access to transaction data including cardholder names, payment card numbers, expiration dates, and card verification codes, for purchases made between Aug. 10 and Sept. 16, Staples said Friday.

At two of the stores, the malware may have involved purchases over an even longer period, from July 20 through Sept. 16. Staples has posted a list of all the stores involved on its site.


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Sony looking for ways to distribute 'The Interview' online | Martyn Williams | NetworkWorld.com

Sony looking for ways to distribute 'The Interview' online | Martyn Williams | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Sony Pictures says it hasn’t bowed to threats to pull “The Interview” and audiences will get a chance to see it—it’s just not sure how at present.

In the face of threats from hackers, Sony said last week said it was canceling theatrical release of the satirical movie about a plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, scheduled for December 25, and “has no further plans” to release on DVD or video-on-demand platforms.

On Friday, President Obama publically called that decision a mistake and now both parties appear to be back-pedaling a little.

“Remember, Sony only delayed this,” David Boies, the company’s lead attorney, said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet The Press.” “Sony has been fighting to get this picture distributed. It will be distributed. How it’s going to be distributed, I don’t think anybody knows quite yet. But it’s going to be distributed.”

Boise echoed remarks made by Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton on Friday that Sony pulled the movie because of resistance from movie theaters and video-on-demand (VOD) operators—not because the company was acquiescing to threats against it.

“You can’t release a movie unless you have a distribution channel,” said Boies. “The theaters were subject to threats of physical violence against the theaters and against their customers. And quite understandably, a large number of them, a majority of them, decided not to show the picture when it was scheduled. When that happened, Sony really had no alternative.”

On Friday, Lynton was asked on CNN why the movie studio didn’t release it on a VOD platform.

“There has not been one major VOD, video on demand, distributor or one major e-commerce site that stepped up and said they are willing to distribute this movie for us,” he said. “Again, we don’t have that direct interface with the American public, so we need to go through an intermediary to do that.”

A spokesman for Sony Pictures said on Sunday that the company it is “considering options as far as distribution of the film.”


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Community Broadband Media Roundup - December 19 | community broadband networks

Community Broadband Media Roundup - December 19 | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This was a big year for local governments and many year-end discussions have noted the role of cities in expanding high quality Internet access. Among them, The Free Press' Timothy Karr:

The rise of homegrown Internet infrastructure has prompted industry lobbyists to introduce state-level legislation to smother such efforts. There are at least 20 such statutes on the books. But in June, the FCC stepped in with a plan to preempt these state laws, giving communities the support they need to affordably connect more people.

and Broadband Breakfast's Drew Clark:

...viewed from the vantage point of the future, the far more significant development will be the emergence of opportunities outside of Washington for high-capacity broadband networks. It’s a world in which cities and municipalities are playing the leadership role...

The most direct crystallization of our municipal broadband moment is the new non-profit coalition dubbed Next Century Cities. Launched less than two months ago in Santa Monica, it now boasts membership from 50 cities, representing 25 states. From Los Angeles to communities along the Pacific Northwest, from Lafayette in Cajun country to Chattanooga, and from patrician Boston to a city that got its start as a cow town, Kansas City, each of these 50 cities have different motivations and approaches to Gigabit Networks.

Almost 60% of the United States has access to 100 Mbps Internet connections, but only 3% can get a gig. Ars Technica's Jon Brodkin and Anne L. Kim from Roll Call both take a look at a new report from the Department of Commerce this week.

The ESA report titled, “Competition Among U.S. Broadband Service Providers,” finds that far more competition exists at slower speeds than at higher speeds (only 8% can choose from at least two 100 Mbps providers.)


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Here's How You May Already Be Getting Hacked | Julia Angwin | BillMoyers.com

Here's How You May Already Be Getting Hacked | Julia Angwin | BillMoyers.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Who is watching you?

This was once a question asked only by kings, presidents and public figures trying to dodge the paparazzi and criminals trying to evade the law. The rest of us had few occasions to worry about being tracked.

But today the anxious question — “who’s watching?” — is relevant to everyone regardless of his or her fame or criminal persuasion. Any of us can be watched at almost any time, whether it is by a Google Street View car taking a picture of our house, or an advertiser following us as we browse the Web, or the National Security Agency logging our phone calls.

Dragnets that scoop up information indiscriminately about everyone in their path used to be rare; police had to set up roadblocks, or retailers had to install and monitor video cameras. But technology has enabled a new era of supercharged dragnets that can gather vast amounts of personal data with little human effort. These dragnets are extending into ever more private corners of the world.


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Amazon adds one-hour delivery for Prime members, starting in Manhattan | Sarah Halzach | WashPost.com

Amazon adds one-hour delivery for Prime members, starting in Manhattan | Sarah Halzach | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Amazon.com launched a new offering on Thursday that is aimed squarely at fulfilling its mission of delivering goods to its shoppers faster than any of its rivals.

Members of the Amazon Prime program in Manhattan now have access to Prime Now, a benefit in which shoppers can get two-hour delivery of an order of "daily essentials" for free or pay $7.99 for one-hour delivery. Prime Now is available in selected areas of the borough, and the tech giant plans to bring it to other cities in 2015. Customers can use this option on orders placed between 6 a.m. and midnight.

Amazon has been experimenting with same-day delivery in major urban areas for a while now, in most cases requiring that orders be placed by noon to ultimately be delivered before 9 p.m. This new variation allows for more flexibility on delivery time and turbo-charges the speed at which Amazon is promising to bring orders to customers.

The announcement also makes clear what Amazon is doing with its space on 34th Street in Manhattan, which some had speculated was to be its first brick-and-mortar store. The company says a portion of that building will be the delivery hub for Prime Now orders.

There is no shortage of companies jockeying with Amazon for same-day delivery supremacy: Google is reportedly prepared to plow $500 million into its Google Express offering. Start-ups such as Postmates, Instacart and Deliv are also gaining traction.

All of these business are fighting hard to be the dominant player in a service that is extraordinarily hard to do profitably. This, in part, is why dot-com era efforts such as Webvan and Kozmo collapsed. It may also explain why eBay appears to have scaled back its ambitions for its own same-day delivery effort, eBay Now. EBay once promised to offer its same-day option in five to 25 cities by the end of the year, but that expansion never happened. Instead, the company is now focused on building its eBay Local offering, a delivery and in-store pickup program for small businesses.


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Sony plans to release 'The Interview' on Crackle for free | Dana Sauchelli | NYPost.com

Sony plans to release 'The Interview' on Crackle for free | Dana Sauchelli | NYPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Sony’s current plan for “The Interview’’ is to release the controversial comedy for free on Crackle, the streaming service it owns, sources said Sunday.

Following Sony’s decision to pull the James Franco-Seth Rogan movie after hackers working for North Korean threatened violence, President Obama criticized the studio for being “intimidated by these kind of criminal attacks.’’

Sony pointed out the cancellation came after theater chains and other streaming sites refused to show the film.

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Tennessee Town Bans Negative Online Comments, Gets Trolled by Reddit | Clair Suddath | Bloomberg Bizweek

Tennessee Town Bans Negative Online Comments, Gets Trolled by Reddit | Clair Suddath | Bloomberg Bizweek | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The town of South Pittsburg, Tenn., has just passed the best social media policy ever. At least, that’s what certain people have to say—because South Pittsburg has barred them from criticizing the town on social media.

The town of 3,000 people, just west of Chattanooga, passed a resolution on Dec. 9 that applies to anyone professionally connected to South Pittsburg—including employees, volunteers, and contractors—from “publicly discuss[ing] information about other employees and/or volunteers not approved for public communication” on social media, according to the official resolution. It also warns against writing anything on a personal Facebook (FB) page or on Twitter (TWTR) that might be considered defamatory or libelous. People “should have no expectation of privacy whatsoever,” the policy states.

“The first thing everyone wants to say is, ‘I can’t post anything on Facebook,’” the town’s commissioner, Jeff Powers, told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “Well, you can. Just not [anything] that sheds a negative light on any person, entity, board, or things of that nature.”

“It is not a new concept,” South Pittsburg Mayor Jane Dawkins wrote in a Facebook message to Bloomberg Businessweek. Dawkins said the policy was mostly designed to stop people from posting employees’ salary information or police officers’ schedules on Facebook. “This lets people know that the officer’s spouse and children are home alone or that no one is at home,” she explained. (The South Pittsburg Police Department doesn’t appear to have much of a Facebook page, and it’s unclear if officers’ schedules have ever been posted online.) She also said that while she voted for the policy, “I did not commission this. Commissioner Jeff Powers did.” Powers did not respond to an interview request.

Not to sound negative, but there might be a problem with South Pittsburg’s new policy. The First Amendment protects free speech, especially free speech that criticizes the government. “This policy is dangerously broad,” said Helen Norton, a professor at the University of Colorado School of Law who studies free speech as it applies to government workers. “It’d be one thing if it were just about job-required speech,” she said, noting that, for example, press secretaries can be fired if they say something in their official role that an administration doesn’t like.


“But once you get into speech outside of the job and on private social media accounts, it’s not that simple.” Norton says that South Pittsburg’s city council could easily stop relevant parties from calling them names or launching personal insults. But if someone wanted to raise questions about the legality or necessity of their new policy, or criticize the town’s government in any meaningful way, that kind of criticism would be protected whether it had been “approved for public consumption” or not.

South Pittsburg doesn’t appear to have adopted its new policy in response to something negative that was written or said about the town online.


Sure, a police officer was fired after he arrested the city administrator for reckless driving—an administrator on the commission that voted for the policy—but that was last year. And yes, the town was briefly derided when it considered outlawing saggy pants, but that was back in August.


Residents say they’re unaware of any recent scandal that might have spurred the town’s council to action.


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FCC Mid-Band Auction to Roll On Into 2015? | Dan Jones | Light Reading

FCC Mid-Band Auction to Roll On Into 2015? |  Dan Jones | Light Reading | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The FCC could extend its mid-band spectrum auction into the new year even though bids are now trickling in, and Wall Street is slamming mobile operators -- in part -- because of the massive spending bills anticipated on Auction 97.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has just issued a "holiday notice" that the auction will suspend after the last round on Tuesday, December 23. "Bidding will resume on Monday, January 5, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. ET," the agency said Wednesday.

The auction had appeared to be drawing to a close, so it might be surprising if it continues into the new year. The bidding now stands at $44.23 billion after 106 rounds. There were 94 new bids and no waivers in the latest round with $17,220,700 in new money bid, which is just a 0.04% change on the previous round. The FCC currently holds a single AWS-3 license, and there are preferred winning bids (PWBs) on 1,613 of the regional licenses.

The auction will continue until there are no new bids or waivers in a given round.

The Advanced Wireless Services-3 (AWS-3) auction has pulled in billions more than than the agency or industry watchers initially expected (See The Big Spend on AWS Has Consequences.)

Part of the reason that US carriers are getting trampled this week on the stock market is because of concerns about the amount several operators are spending on the AWS-3 auction.


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Frontier's Abernathy: We can meet the FCC's aggressive CAF-II timeline | Sean Buckley | Fierce Telecom

Frontier's Abernathy: We can meet the FCC's aggressive CAF-II timeline | Sean Buckley | Fierce Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Frontier Communications acknowledges that while there are clearly going to be challenges in meeting the FCC's new requirement to deliver 10 Mbps of broadband service in rural areas under Phase II of the Connect America Fund (CAF), the service provider is confident it can meet the challenge.

"There's no question that it's an aggressive timeline," said Kathleen Quinn Abernathy, executive vice president, External Affairs for Frontier, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "We have spoken to our engineering team about the proposal and the plans and we feel like it's challenging, but in many of our markets we'll be able to do it."

Frontier's fellow telcos CenturyLink and Windstream have said that they have concerns about meeting the timeline because the 10 Mbps goal means they have to overcome a number of challenges in terms of getting necessary resources.

Abernathy said that while she recognizes their concerns, the way service providers will approach the use of CAF-II funds will differ due to the specific geographies they all serve.


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Four Ways 2014 Was a Pivotal Year for the Internet | Tim Karr | FreePress.net

Four Ways 2014 Was a Pivotal Year for the Internet | Tim Karr | FreePress.net | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The death of the Internet is at hand.


Sound familiar? That’s what Internet pioneer Robert Metcalfe predicted in 1995 when he wrote that spiraling demands on the fledgling network would cause the Internet to “catastrophically collapse” by 1996.


Metcalfe, of course, was dead wrong: The Internet is still chugging along, with a predicted 3 billion users by year’s end.


Still, the Internet’s fate feels distinctly uncertain as 2014 draws to a close. At stake is whether the Internet remains a democratic, user-powered network — or falls under the control of a few powerful entities.


Here are the four Internet issues that played leading roles this year:


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Movistar Argentina to launch 4G next week | TeleGeography.com

Movistar Argentina will reportedly begin offering commercial LTE-based services next week, according to Reuters, which cites its parent company Telefonica of Spain.


Initially, however, it has been noted that the cellco’s 4G network will be used exclusively for data services, in a move which it has been claimed is designed to free up capacity on its third-generation infrastructure.


Commenting on the plans to introduce a commercial offering, Telefonica de Argentina president Luis Blasco was cited as saying: ‘We will launch 4G on Monday, far sooner than we had imagined … and so will begin the development of a new technology needed to ease pressure on the spectrum.’

As reported by CommsUpdate earlier this month, Argentina’s Secretaria de Comunicaciones (SeCom) confirmed that Movistar had been awarded LTE-suitable frequencies in the 1710MHz-1720MHz and 2110MHz-2120MHz bands, all of which is available for use on a nationwide basis. The company reportedly agreed to pay USD209.14 million in return for the spectrum.

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