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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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FCC chairman mocks industry claims that customers don’t need faster Internet | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica

FCC chairman mocks industry claims that customers don’t need faster Internet | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Federal Communications Commission today voted 3-2 along party lines to change the definition of broadband to at least 25Mbps downstream and 3Mbps upstream. The vote was no surprise given Chairman Tom Wheeler’s Democratic majority. But Wheeler put on a show just before the vote by contrasting Internet service providers’ marketing claims with their statements to the government.

Internet providers and industry lobbyists argued that the FCC should stick with the previous definition of broadband, a minimum of 4Mbps down and 1Mbps up, or at least not go as high as 25Mbps/3Mbps. But what Internet providers tell the government is in stark contrast to what Internet providers tell their own customers, Wheeler explained in great detail.

“Let’s parse out what they say in their lobbying with us and what they say when they’re talking to consumers,” said Wheeler, a former cable and wireless industry lobbyist himself. While Verizon told the FCC that consumers are satisfied with 4Mbps/1Mbps and that "a higher benchmark would serve no purpose,” they push customers to buy much faster speeds, which cost more, Wheeler pointed out.


“In their marketing materials Verizon says, ‘while FiOS provides a lot of speed for bandwidth hungry devices, you’d be surprised how fast it goes. You can think of your household’s Internet connection like a pizza to be shared with your whole family. Some people are hungrier than others and if too many friends show up no one will get enough to be satisfied.’


This is what their website says,” Wheeler continued. “’25/25 is best for one to three devices at the same time, great for surfing, e-mail, online shopping and social networking, streaming two HD videos simultaneously. 50/50 is best for three to five devices at the same time, more speed for families or individuals with multiple Internet devices, stream up to five HD videos simultaneously.’


“Somebody is telling us one thing and telling consumers another."


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CenturyLink wants Congress to update the 1992 Cable Act | Sean Buckley | Fierce Telecom

CenturyLink wants Congress to update the 1992 Cable Act | Sean Buckley | Fierce Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

CenturyLink has made a plea to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee to reform the 1992 Cable Act so new entrants in the video services race can more effectively negotiate prices for content.

Emerging video players like CenturyLink lack the buying power of incumbent cable operators like Comcast, which have more clout with content owners to negotiate more favorable terms. This means that broadcasters don't have a lot of incentive to offer reasonable terms to newer players, which the telco says "effectively deprives consumers of the benefits of competition."

"CenturyLink believes the Cable Act should be amended to give providers the right to carry national programming from an adjacent or alternate market during a breakdown in retransmission consent negotiations, thus preserving competition and protecting consumers from programming blackouts," said David Bartlett, vice president of Federal Government Affairs for CenturyLink, in a blog post. "Consumers benefit from more choices and more competition, not less."

As broadcasters have continually raised content costs, it is having an effect on not only CenturyLink and other video players that have to pay higher prices for retransmission of local broadcasting signals, but also for consumers who see their video bills continue to rise every month.

Despite coming later to the video game than its ILEC brothers AT&T and Verizon, CenturyLink has continued to make progress in rolling out its Prism IPTV service. As of the end of the third quarter of 2014, Prism IPTV was available to about 2 million homes in a dozen markets. During that quarter, it passed over 240,000 homes with Prism TV.


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What Eric Schmidt meant when he said ‘the Internet will disappear’ | Hayley Tsukayama | WashPost.com

What Eric Schmidt meant when he said ‘the Internet will disappear’ | Hayley Tsukayama | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt is making a lot of headlines Friday over a comment he made at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

"The Internet will disappear," Schmidt said during a panel discussion when asked for a prediction on the future of the Web.

It seems like a pretty provocative thing to say, especially from the chairman of one of the largest tech companies in the world. But, despite what your first reaction may be to that comment, Schmidt didn't mean that the Internet was going to end, or predict that we'll end up in a post-apocalyptic world where we'll need bow-and-arrow skills to survive.

Instead, he's saying that the Internet will be seamlessly integrated into our lives, by way of a lot of connected devices and sensors.


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How the cable industry is trying to reshape the economics of the Internet | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

How the cable industry is trying to reshape the economics of the Internet | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As it waits for the regulatory shoe of net neutrality to drop next month, the cable industry is going on the offensive.

Lobbyists are taking preemptive aim at other Internet rules that might come down from the government soon. And meanwhile, Cablevision has become the first cable company to act in a wider battle over the future of phone calls. If the industry gets its way, it'll enjoy tremendous advantages when it comes to the economics of the Internet. Here's how.


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Philadelphia, PA: It Takes a Village: The Rise of Community-Driven Infrastructure | Greta Byrum | The Atlantic

Philadelphia, PA: It Takes a Village: The Rise of Community-Driven Infrastructure | Greta Byrum | The Atlantic | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A decade ago, Philadelphia’s outdated sewer system—like much of the nation’s infrastructure—was crumbling, causing a nasty brew of storm-water, raw sewage, and pollutants to flow directly into local waterways. But the cash-strapped metropolis, home to over 1.5 million people, couldn’t afford to build a new system. So the city decided to think small—and local, and cooperative—to construct something big and different. The city rolled out its “Green City Clean Waters” plan in 2011: a 25-year effort to let residents take the lead in creating a web of small interconnected “green” infrastructure projects like roadside plantings, green roofs, porous pavements, street trees, and rain gardens.


Thinking local—and integrating social engagement into systems planning—means reimagining infrastructure as we know it. The key to the “Green City Clean Waters” plan was building layers of community engagement and partnerships over technical and governance systems. Now and for the next twenty years, schools and libraries will teach kids about water with hands-on active learning projects like rain gardens, while the city enforces requirements for the replacement of non-porous surfaces, offers funding and support for neighborhood initiatives, and streamlines bureaucratic procedures to facilitate their approval and success.


Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address pointed out, once again, the abysmal condition of the nation’s infrastructure (the American Society of Civil Engineers gives it a D+). Yet unusually for these discussions, Obama talked not just about waterways, transportation, and energy infrastructure, but also broadband. His solutions combined the standard way that our country has approached communications infrastructure since the mid-20th century—relaxing regulations to encourage the incumbent service providers, like Comcast and Verizon, to build it out—with newer ideas, such as public-private partnerships and municipal fiber. All of these solutions together, he said, would “enable communities to succeed in our digital economy.”

Could Philadelphia’s approach to infrastructure hold some lessons for other systems—especially for broadband, which is by its nature distributed and interconnected?


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Visualizing the Digital Divide in Chicago | Will Flanagan | ChicagoInno.streetwise.com

Visualizing the Digital Divide in Chicago | Will Flanagan | ChicagoInno.streetwise.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This year, a number of city initiatives - including the Smart Chicago Challenge (SCC) and the Chicago Public Library's WiFi lending program - will be launched in an effort to shrink the city's 'digital divide,' the gap between those with ready-access to the internet and computers and those without it.

In fact, when the SCC says that its mission is to make "Chicago the most dynamic digital city in the world," it means that it's out to fill in the holes where residents are either lacking connectivity, digital skills, or both.

One way that the city works to address this digital divide is through Connect Chicago, a loose network of more than 250 places in the city where internet and computer access, digital skills training, and online learning resources are available for free. These locations include public libraries, public housing locations, city colleges, senior centers and more.

But, in order to truly attack the digital divide, you need to know what it looks like. Below is a map of every Connect Chicago location in the city. (The map was created using data from the city's Data Portal). The city and civic organizations use maps like this to identify the neighborhoods and areas where there is a significant gap between public buildings with internet access. Take a look:


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MIT researchers show you can be identified by a just few data points | Mark Gibbs | NetworkWorld.com

MIT researchers show you can be identified by a just few data points | Mark Gibbs | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If you thought sparse personal metadata - random chunks of data about data - was hard to mine for the purposes of identifying individuals, think again. MIT researchers have just shown that it only requires four data points (the dates and times of purchases) from a 30 day database of credit card purchases by 1.1 million people to identify 90 percent of them.

Metadata has been in the news extensively over the last couple of years mainly due to the Snowden revelations about NSA spying activities. But it's not just the government that wants to know who’s doing what, when, and why because every large commercial corporation also wants the same insights into people’s behavior.


But instead of (ostensibly) protecting us from terrorists as the government claims to be doing, the corporations want to figure out better ways to part us from our money. It's obvious that being able to chart consumers' economic perambulations across the commercial landscape is key to being competitive and the actionable insights gained from in-depth, accurate, and timely consumer surveillance can be the difference between a good quarter and a bad quarter.

What's a real concern is how easy tracking consumers has become. An MIT News article, “Privacy challenges” reported (the emphasis is mine):


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My Post Cyberpunk Indentured Servitude | Barrett Brown | The Daily Beast

My Post Cyberpunk Indentured Servitude | Barrett Brown | The Daily Beast | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Not long ago I was a mild-mannered freelance journalist, activist, and satirist, contributing to outlets like the Guardian and Vanity Fair.


But last Thursday I was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison in a case that Reporters Without Borders cited as a key factor in its reduction of America’s press freedom rankings from 33 to 46. As inconvenient as this is for me, the upside is that for the first time in the two and a half years since I was arrested, I am at last able to speak freely about what has been happening to me and why—and what it means for the press and the republic as a whole.

A portion of my sentence stems from an attempt I made to conceal from the government the identities of certain contacts of mine: pro-democracy activists living under Middle Eastern dictatorships such as Bahrain, with which the U.S. is known to share intelligence on such things.


Another large chunk is due to an admittedly ill-conceived public threat I made—in the midst of opiate withdrawal and what court psychologists say was a manic state brought on by medication issues—to investigate and humiliate an F.B.I. agent, who had himself threatened to indict my mother in an attempt to get me to cooperate against individuals associated with the Anonymous movement (my mother was indeed charged).


Though I clearly stated that my intent was not violent, the prosecution claimed that my “victim,” Dallas-based Special Agent Robert Smith, had reason to fear that I might physically harm him and even his children—in which case it is not immediately obvious why the prosecution felt the need to alter the end of the sentence in question when quoting it on the indictment. (My complete statement, (PDF) in which I make a point of noting that I was merely going to proceed along lines spelled out by the FBI-linked contractor C.E.O. Aaron Barr while he was investigating activists on behalf of his corporate clients, and that I was doing so perfunctorily, and merely in order to make a point about the F.B.I.’s traditional reluctance to investigate its allies, has been viewed on YouTube by well over 100,000 people, including the dozens of reporters who have covered the story; none of them seem to agree with the Department of Justice contention that a journalist’s threat to “look into” someone in an explicitly non-violent manner necessarily entails violence.)


A separate declaration I made to the effect that I’d defend my family from any illegal armed raids by the government, while silly and bombastic, was not actually illegal under the threats statutes. To judge from similar comments made by Senator Joni Ernst, it would not even have necessarily precluded me from delivering the G.O.P.’s recent response to the State of the Union address.

But the charges that prompted the most international outrage were those alleging fraud. In late 2011, I copied and pasted a link to a publicly-available file, which chat transcripts introduced in court showed that I initially believed to contain the same leaked corporate emails I’d long been in the habit of reviewing for my Guardian articles.


The file turned out to contain customer data, including credit card numbers. Although the government’s own forensics showed that I never opened the file, the D.O.J. contended (PDF) that I had thereby engaged in 11 counts of aggravated identity theft, punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 22 years in federal prison.


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Sling TV review: Do cord cutters and “cord nevers” even want live TV? | Megan Geuss | Ars Technica

Sling TV review: Do cord cutters and “cord nevers” even want live TV? | Megan Geuss | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

When Dish announced its new Sling TV service at CES this year, the news was received as one of the biggest announcements of the entire show. For $20 per month, Dish said it would offer a standalone app—no cable TV subscription necessary—with access to 12 channels including ESPN, a network notorious for its protection of its content.

The move seemed to be a shot off the bow of cable TV, which has been struggling against the growing number of adult Millennials who have decided they don't need a cable TV subscription. The argument is simple: it's too expensive and forces its customers to pay for channels they don't care about just to get the ones that they do. Cord cutters have instead been content to watch Netflix and Hulu, go to local sports bars if they need to catch an important game, and (worst of all to the cable companies) torrent the TV shows they want to see.

HBO knows this more intimately than any company. Access to the channel's shows can only be had by people with not only a cable TV subscription but also an additional HBO subscription. As such, those shows are favorites among torrenters. But even this company recently announced that it would be offering a standalone streaming service—again targeted toward cord cutters and Millennials—that would not require a cable company subscription.

So Sling TV is the first service to the battlefield of bringing small packages of live TV to an Internet streaming platform, marketing the offering at a low cost per month to appeal to people who canceled their cable TV subscriptions or who never had cable TV subscriptions in the first place. Dish offered Ars an early look at Sling TV, and while the interface is well designed and (mostly) intuitive, we wonder whether the content offered through Sling TV will really be enough of a sell. Is this just a repackaging of the same stuff that cord cutters wanted to get away from in the first place?


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Should Smaller Wireless Carriers Sell Towers? | Joan Engebretson | Telecompetitor

Should Smaller Wireless Carriers Sell Towers? | Joan Engebretson | Telecompetitor | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

At least one nationwide wireless carrier, T-Mobile, has sold some of its wireless towers in order to free up money for investment– and other large carriers reportedly are considering that option.

Does this move make sense for smaller carriers as well?


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Will Obama’s Support of Broadband Competition Matter? | Brian Heaton | GovTech.com

Will Obama’s Support of Broadband Competition Matter? | Brian Heaton | GovTech.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

President Barack Obama’s comments last week in support of broadband competition ignited a firestorm of replies, including praise and applause from community network proponents, and warnings from lawmakers that Uncle Sam should mind its own business.

Speaking in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Wednesday, Jan. 14, the president said that big telecommunications companies are stifling broadband competition and he’ll take steps to change that. During his speech, Obama said he would encourage high-speed Internet connectivity expansion through a series of federal grants and loans for Internet service providers.


But most experts believe that even if the commander-in-chief’s statement doesn’t lead to extensive federal involvement on the matter, it’ll raise awareness about the value of local government-owned networks.


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MA: Congress should let cities provide their own Internet | The Editorial Board | The Boston Globe

MA: Congress should let cities provide their own Internet | The Editorial Board | The Boston Globe | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

President Obama made it a point to highlight the importance of providing high-speed Internet access to all Americans in his State of the Union address last week. No one disagrees with the sentiment. The method he proposed, however — removing legislative barriers that prevent some cities and towns from creating their own Internet networks — will be a much tougher sell. Regardless, it’s the right move, and the Federal Communications Commission and Congress should both work to achieve it.

Rural areas and small towns often have trouble attracting major Internet providers who feel that the small number of customers they will gain won’t be enough to offset the costs associated with installing new Internet cables. Larger cities often are only served by one Internet company, and the lack of competition allows those companies to charge more money for inferior service. This status quo is bad for consumers everywhere. Only 51 percent of the rural population has access to the Internet at speeds of 25 megabits per second, which is generally considered the baseline for high-speed Internet. About 80 percent of Americans either do not have access to 25 megabit-per-second Internet or can only access it through one provider.

Because of these dynamics, cities and towns across America have found that operating their own Internet service is the most effective way to bring high-speed Internet to their residents at affordable prices. Unfortunately, major Internet providers like Comcast and AT&T, concerned that municipal Internet will steal their customers, have deployed armies of lobbyists in state houses across the country to throw up legal barriers to towns interested in becoming Internet providers. So far, that tactic has been working. According to a White House report released this month, 19 states have laws on their books that restrict, to greater and lesser degrees, state or municipal agencies from operating Internet networks. Many of these regulations are based on a model provided by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group notorious for drafting business-friendly legislation for lawmakers.

Many boosters of municipal broadband believe that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 gives the FCC power to override these state laws. The agency will be forced to decide whether they agree with that assessment soon. Chattanooga, Tenn., and Wilson, N.C., both of which operate their own municipal Internet, petitioned the Federal Communications Commission last July asking the agency to preempt state laws that prohibit the cities from expanding their services. The agency is expected to respond next month. Their decision — and the results of the lawsuits that will doubtless follow it — could settle the issue, but a positive outcome is not at all certain.


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Yahoo Was the GE of the Internet | Rob Solomon | Re/Code.net

Yahoo Was the GE of the Internet | Rob Solomon | Re/Code.net | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Much has been made of the PayPal mafia. Without a doubt, Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Max Levchin, Jeremy Stoppelman, Reid Hoffman, Keith Rabois, Chad Hurley, Roelof Botha, et al, are the most impressive group of company creators and investors to exist.

There is an argument to be made about another group, the trailblazers who were responsible for turning Yahoo into the largest Internet company in the world circa 1998-2003. During this period, Yahoo was the breeding ground for the best and brightest cross-functional leaders on the Internet. These “Yahoo Bosses” have been indispensable as the critical managers who have stitched together the fabric of what makes today’s leading Internet companies and the Silicon Valley ecosystem thrive.


Yahoo is the company that created the blueprint for what is possible on the Internet. Born in a trailer on the Stanford University campus 20 years ago, Yahoo is the archetype for hyper-growth, global, multi-billion-dollar companies born on the World Wide Web.


The invention of Jerry Yang and David Filo blazed a trail that made it possible for the world’s greatest enterprises to come to life at blazing speed.


If not for Yahoo, it would have been difficult for there to be a Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, PayPal, Uber, Pinterest — you name it. Yahoo’s emergence was fast and furious. The men and women who joined Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web had no training for what they were building. It all happened in real time, and many of the roles, responsibilities, functions and best practices were made up on the fly.


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Canada: CRTC hits Bell, Videotron with net neutral(ish) rulings on mobile TV | TeleGeography.com

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has ordered Bell Mobility and Videotron to cease the practice of ‘zero rating’ their own online TV content for mobile customers – i.e. discriminating between their own content and third-party content so as only the latter attracts data charges and not the former.


The CRTC found that Bell and Videotron’s respective Bell Mobile TV and illico.tv services violated the Telecommunications Act, in a decision which forms part of the regulator’s wider policy that all companies owning both television content and wireless networks will no longer be allowed to offer their own content on mobile devices without it counting against the user’s monthly data allowance.


As reported by Reuters, CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais indicated in a phone interview that the rulings are related to ‘net neutrality’ – the principle that internet access providers should treat all data on the internet equally – but held back from wholeheartedly supporting the net neutrality philosophy.


Mr Blais commented specifically on Bell’s service: ‘[Bell] weren’t applying the cost associated with [users] seeing the Bell mobile [TV] services, but if you were watching YouTube or another video service it would count against the [monthly data] cap. That’s the problem. There is no different treatment [allowed] between content you control and content you don’t control. I don’t like the phrase net neutrality, but it is similar to that, there aren’t fast lanes and slow lanes.’


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Your Broadband Speeds Are About to Quadruple, But Not If Carriers Can Help It | Tuan Nguyen | MaximumPC.com

Your Broadband Speeds Are About to Quadruple, But Not If Carriers Can Help It | Tuan Nguyen | MaximumPC.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In the February issue of Maximum PC magazine, I wrote about the lack of true broadband speeds in Silicon Valley. This didn't even come close to addressing the entire U.S. It was literally a rant about Silicon Valley, of all places, that lacked broadband speeds competitive with the rest of the world. Well, it looks like this situation is going to change for the better according to a report on The Verge.

According to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, "we are never satisfied with the status quo. We want better. We continue to push the limit, and that is notable when it comes to technology."


In the 2015 Broadband Progress Report, the FCC passed a vote that changes the minimum download speeds on broadbandconnections from 4Mbps to 25Mbps, and uploads from 1Mbps to 3Mbps. While this doesn't seem like a lot--and it isn't--it's still a huge improvement for a large percentage of the population.


In fact, if the upgrade seems too paltry to you still, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel says 100Mbps should be the bare minimum.


100Mbps!


"We invented the internet. We can do audacious things if we set big goals, and I think our new threshold, frankly, should be 100Mbps. I think anything short of that shortchanges our children, our future, and our new digital economy," Commissioner Rosenworcel said.


But things aren't all rosy. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) sent its objections to the FCC indicating that the FCC "dramatically exaggerate the amount of bandwidth needed by the typical broadband user."


I'm going to say it right now: this is shit.


For the country that played the leading role in developing the infrastructure of our modern internet, these political and lobbying bodies don't really give two-cents about your requirements as a user. What's important to them are the interests of the broadband providers. Naturally, Verizon was unhappy with the FCC's changes.


A Verizon spokesperson who spoke to Ars Technica, said "we currently do not have any plans to enhance that." Meanwhile, the NCTA told the FCC that 25Mbps isn't required for good 4K streaming--something Netflix is pushing for.


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TN: CDE’s wise move to fiber | The Editorial Board | The Leaf-Chronicle

TN: CDE’s wise move to fiber | The Editorial Board | The Leaf-Chronicle | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

You’ll be hearing all kinds of giddy news out of Nashville for the next few days about how that city will be getting Google Fiber, an ultra-fast Internet service.

Well, here’s a fun fact to know and tell: Clarksville already has a fully built-out fiber network, and has had one for several years.

The city’s electric utility, now known as CDE Lightband, began installing its fiber network to provide broadband Internet, digital TV and phone services after the idea was approved by city voters in 2006. Now it has 960 miles of fiber optic cable and more than 18,000 of broadband customers – all while continuing to operate the city’s electrical power delivery system.

CDE Lightband sells Internet service with download speeds ranging from 50 megabits per second to up to 1 gigabit per second – roughly 100 times faster than the national average. CDE Lightband reports that its broadband division has overcome some early struggles and now has a positive cash flow and is fully supporting itself, while paying back money borrowed from the electric side of the business during its startup and development phases.

CDE Lightband delivers broadband services through a fiber optic, or glass, cable connected directly to homes and businesses. Fiber is a big deal because the connection is more reliable and has more capacity than traditional copper telecommunications facilities used by most cable television and phone companies. The increased capacity of fiber means the consumer can get advanced services and transmit larger amounts of information at faster speeds. It’s also good for a city to have available because high-tech and entrpreneurial ventures are more likely to locate in cities with fiber advantages.

Google confirmed Tuesday that its ultra-fast Internet service will soon be coming to Nashville and three other cities – Atlanta, Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. Google Fiber already sells its services in several cities, such as Kansas City, Austin, and Provo, Utah, and has plans to continue expanding in large metropolitan areas.

While Google gets the lions share of the buzz about fiber cable service, Clarksville and other Tennessee cities – including Chattanooga, Bristol, Tullahoma and Morristown – have been steadily building their fiber networks through local electric power providers, rather than through the private sector.


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Mexico: AT&T chief categorically denies telco will move for AM assets | TeleGeography.com

AT&T Inc chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson has offered the strongest indication yet that the US telecoms giant has no plans to pursue the acquisition of surplus America Movil (AM) assets in Mexico, following the back-to-back takeovers of Iusacell and Nextel Mexico.


In a fourth-quarter earnings call transcript, as quoted by Seeking Alpha, Stephenson commented: ‘I will say it again, we’ve got all we can handle right now in Mexico. And we’re going to be focused on getting Nextel International closed, integrating that network, integrating those customer channels, integrating the distribution channels and getting ourselves scaled in Mexico, so anything else is just kind of speculation and then probably isn’t worth conversation at this point.’

When questioned on AT&T’s plans elsewhere in Latin America, particularly Brazil, Stephenson acknowledged that DirecTV – the pay-TV provider that AT&T agreed to pay USD48.5 million for last year – has done an effective job of accumulating spectrum in various markets. As such, AT&T intends to ‘leverage these assets’ when the transaction closes. AT&T is currently awaiting regulatory approval to complete its takeover of DirecTV, which aside from its US user base is one of the major pay-TV providers in Latin America.

DirecTV’s current management team has launched Time Division-Long Term Evolution (TD-LTE) fixed-wireless technology using 2500MHz spectrum via both Sky Brasil and DirecTV Colombia, with plans afoot to initiate similar deployments in Venezuela and Peru.


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Canada: Inside the Orwellian Launch of Tories' Anti-Terrorism Act | Jeremy Nuttall | The Tyee

Canada: Inside the Orwellian Launch of Tories' Anti-Terrorism Act | Jeremy Nuttall | The Tyee | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Reporters in Ottawa became surly quickly Friday when it was discovered the government lock-up they attended for a briefing on proposed anti-terror legislation was light on information and heavy on restrictions.

The federal government was tabling Bill C-51, Canada's new ''Anti-Terrorism Act'' meant to bolster authorities' powers to prevent and dismantle terrorist activity.

Journalists were corralled in a so-called lock-up to hear details of the new proposed law. Media lock-ups are frequently used to provide journalists with extra time to pore over information on a complicated subject, such as a budget. The reporters can't publish their pieces until a set time, usually when the government announcement becomes official.

The idea is that when the government unveils the news, the public will have instant access to the finer points of whatever is being released.

That was the case Friday when reporters were told they could sign an embargo and listen to a briefing of Bill C-51, hosted by Public Safety Canada and the Department of Justice.

The bill was expected to have controversial new powers -- such as lower thresholds for arresting suspected terrorists -- for law enforcement in the name of protecting Canadians.

''The media lock-up will start at 11:00 A.M. until the designated Public Safety Canada official announces that the embargo is lifted, at approximately 12:30 P.M.,'' said a Thursday release to the parliamentary press corps from the minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

''Once the lock-up has commenced, no one will be allowed to leave the room or contact their office until the embargo is lifted.''

Bills are usually given to reporters in a lock-up before they are tabled in Parliament. A copy of the new Anti-Terrorism Act is what most members of the press were expecting Friday.

But when more than two dozen reporters arrived at the briefing in Ottawa, they were told they would not be getting a look at the bill, even before the question-and-answer portion of the technical briefing.

President of the Parliamentary Press Gallery Laura Payton took up the cause and at the back of the room argued with government staffers, questioning the point of having reporters sign an undertaking when they weren't even being given sensitive information, just backgrounders. The backgrounders detailed little information the reporters didn't already suspect would be in the new legislation.

The staffer insisted to Payton reporters weren't actually in a lock-up, but merely signed an undertaking to observe an embargo on disseminating information from the backgrounders until the embargo was lifted.

The Tyee is withholding the staff member's name in accordance with the undertaking's stipulation not to attribute information to government employees at the event.

The briefing, referred to three times as a ''lock-up'' by another government staff member in his opening remarks, then began.

The minor grumblings about the lack of information that had been moving around the room suddenly matured into outright dissent.

''Can you give us an explanation for why you would hold a briefing and not give us the legislation at the beginning?'' boomed one reporter.


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FCC Petition for Investigation & Complaint Against Time Warner Cable & Comcast | Bruce Kushnick Blog | HuffPost.com

FCC Petition for Investigation & Complaint Against Time Warner Cable & Comcast | Bruce Kushnick Blog | HuffPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Public Interest has been tarnished, stained and harmed and it is time for a course correction of oversight, accurate data, investigations and enforcement of the laws. It is time to not only re-evaluate the public policies that govern communications services in America, but fix what's broken -- finally.

New Networks Institute filed a Petition for Investigation & Complaint with the FCC as well as the New York State Public Service Commission (NYPSC) in January, 2015 against Time Warner Cable and Comcast.

Click to Read the Petition

Here is a Summary:

To start, we are calling for a halt to the proposed Time Warner Cable-Comcast merger and we have laid out a series of next steps and investigations that need to be done immediately.

Simply put, one has only to examine this mark up of this Brooklyn New York, Time Warner Cable Triple Play bill (October, 2014) to realize something is terribly wrong, which we will lay out in detail. But these issues impact ALL services and from ALL carriers, who have established the same harmful business practices.


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Coalition to FCC: Charter/GreatLand low-cost Internet promises are “far too vague” | Connect Your Community 2.0

Coalition to FCC: Charter/GreatLand low-cost Internet promises are “far too vague” | Connect Your Community 2.0 | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission in late December, and in a letter sent to the agency on January 21, the Coalition for Broadband Equity has welcomed statements by Charter Communications and GreatLand Networks that they plan to create low-cost Internet plans for low-income households, but called them “far too vague to be taken at face value”.

The coalition, composed of twenty-three organizations in eight communities slated for “divestment” to Charter and GreatLand as part of the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner, reiterated its position that the FCC should “require both companies to submit ‘specific, measurable, accountable plans’ to increase cable broadband use by low income households in our underserved communities… as part and parcel of any order allowing the Transactions to go forward”.

The January 21 letter points out that major cities served by Coalition members, including Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Dayton, and Akron, are all among the 25 worst-connected U.S. cities with 50,000 or more households, according to recent Census data. It also includes a summary of the Coalition’s newly updated analysis of the FCC’s own Form 477 data, calculating December 2013 “non-connection” rates for the Coalition’s seven large cities:


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Senator Franken Queries AG Nominee Lynch On Comcast/TWC | John Eggerton |Broadcasting & Cable

Senator Franken Queries AG Nominee Lynch On Comcast/TWC | John Eggerton |Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) used a portion of his time questioning Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch this week to argue against the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger and get assurances DOJ would do its due diligence on the deal.

In her nomination hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, Franken said he was "very concerned" about telecom consolidation, particularly Comcast/TWC's consolidation. He argued the combined company would have unprecedented power in the broadband and cable spaces. "To me this is just too big," he said.

He asked Lynch to "commit to reviewing the serious concerns" he and others have about the deal and to "do all you can to insure that the antitrust division is empowered to stand up to telecommunications giants like Comcast if that is what is deemed necessary?"

Lynch said yes, which was arguably the only answer the nominee could have given.


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Bidding war between networks, sports leagues will increase price of cable TV | Cecilia Kang | WashPost.com

Bidding war between networks, sports leagues will increase price of cable TV | Cecilia Kang | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Cable TV is about to get more expensive for millions of consumers because of a bidding war between networks and the country’s most powerful sports leagues.

Time Warner Cable, Cablevision and scores of rural cable providers are tacking on sports surcharges each month, the direct result of higher fees they are paying to ESPN and other sports networks to carry their channels. Beginning Feb. 5, DirecTV will raise fees by 5.7 percent.

The rise in cable prices is likely to test the patience of customers, who may already be tempted to cut their cords in exchange for streaming options that will soon be available to them. For providers and customers, the creeping prices amount to a test — at what point will viewers decide it isn’t worth paying for cable anymore?

A flood of new options for watching TV are about to arrive this year, from HBO’s standalone service, set to launch this spring, to SlingTV, the new streaming option that will include ESPN, CNN and other popular channels.

The catalyst for the price increases is a slew of dealmaking between ESPN and the biggest professional sports leagues. Based on a recent deal, ESPN is estimated to pay $1.9 billion each year just for National Football League games. ESPN and TNT have signed a new $2.6 billion annual contract to carry National Basketball Association games. Analysts say these costs will get passed on to customers — slowly and steadily over the next decade.


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MN: Chisago County in midst of creating sustainable, equitable broadband | Chisago County Press

An issue that confronts business and commercial entrepreneurs making a choice on setting-up shop in Chisago County is the unreliable nature, or lack, of Internet capacity and speed for transmitting and receiving data.

Companies of all types need access to broadband for enhanced uploading of large files, for offering credit card transactions and lots more, said Chisago County HRA/EDA Director Nancy Hoffman.

The county’s Economic Development Authority has begun its work on the broadband issue, in partnership with the Blandin Foundation. Blandin announced its selections for broadband community partners in November.

Next Wednesday there will be a meeting of the Chisago County Broadband Steering Committee-- which has been pulled together over the last few weeks by Hoffman.

She has also been learning about services Blandin has to offer, and said she is looking forward to bringing broadband to where it’s most needed and providing it in a fair way across geographical boundaries, working with Chisago County community leaders.

The general public will be brought into the process probably in February or March through community meetings, Hoffman said.

The applications to be included in a sustainable broadband project will be made available later this year.

The first steering committee meeting is the one scheduled for January 28.

Blandin Foundation is calling this outreach/funding program “Border to Border Broadband: No Community Left Behind.”


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Why Obama Is in the Lead on High-Speed Internet Access Policy | Susan Crawford | Backchannel | Medium.com

Why Obama Is in the Lead on High-Speed Internet Access Policy - Backchannel - Medium

Five years ago, when the Obama administration was still wet behind the ears and hugely popular, the Obama Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a National Broadband Plan that talked a lot about the magic of spectrum but said almost nothing about competition policy. (The Plan did recommend in Section 8.19, “Congress should make clear that state, regional and local governments can build broadband networks.”)


In particular, the plan did not recommend that the FCC use its authority under the 1996 Telecommunications Act to act like a regulator when dealing with the providers of high-speed Internet access. Nor did the plan mention net neutrality. The idea was, apparently, that focusing on net neutrality — then seen as a polarizing, touchy subject — would doom the success of the plan, which got a big roll-out, a major media push and a splashy new Web site.

But in the last couple months everything changed. Few people still remember that we even have a National Broadband Plan. But the President has directly taken on the subject of high-speed Internet access with a kind of exuberant zeal. Net neutrality is no longer a radioactive term but a bopping slogan. He’s having fun, and he knows he’s right.

Let’s roll the tape. He made a major Law-Professor-in-Chief assertion in November that the FCC should use its existing legal authority and be a cop on the beat when it comes to high-speed Internet access. As he put it, “I am asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to answer the call of almost 4 million public comments, and implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.”


The Commission had been tying itself in knots by simultaneously claiming that Internet access wasn’t a regulated service but was subject to “Open Internet” rules. The President seemed to understand that after this argument had twice been labeled a loser by the D.C. Circuit, “once more with feeling” was no longer a sustainable strategy. Enough was enough. Just regulate. (The legal shorthand for this step, “Title II,” rolled right off his tongue; clearly he’s heard a lot from many people about this issue.)

Then, last week in Cedar Falls, Iowa, the President was relaxed and on his game as he talked about basketball and midwestern weather. And then he praised the city for its “visionary” move of investing in a community network twenty years ago in order to “add another option to the market.” He went further: he applauded Cedar Rapids for noticing that people needed greater capacity and upgrading its public option to a fiber network. “Basically,” he said, “you guys were like the captain in Jaws, where he said, ‘We’re going to need a bigger boat.’” He got a laugh.

And he was strong: he said his administration would do everything in its power to lower the barriers created by 19 credulous state legislatures that now interfere with a mayor’s ability to call for better, more inexpensive Internet access over fiber optics.

To top it off, his State of the Union address this past week included a powerful signal to the FCC to stay the course. “I intend to protect a free and open Internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world,” he said, his chin up.

Word is that we’ll soon have a raft of proposed FCC actions that do all these things: reclassify Internet access as a regulated service (which is what it used to be before we took a strange swerve into deregulation under then-FCC Chairman, now-cable advocate in chief Michael Powell); adopt genuine net neutrality rules under that new classification; say something about interconnection, so as to deal with the crushing power I described in Jammed; reject the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable; and block the effect of those interfering state laws.

Where did this Happy Warrior of telecom come from? And where was he five years ago?


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Google Finally Stops Playing Mute On Net Neutrality, Says New Rules Won't Hurt Google Fiber In The Slightest | Karl Bode | Techdirt

Google Finally Stops Playing Mute On Net Neutrality, Says New Rules Won't Hurt Google Fiber In The Slightest | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

While Google was a major player in the net neutrality fight early on, the company performed a stark about-face on the issue sometime around 2010.


Google was responsible for co-writing the FCC's original, wimpy net neutrality rules alongside AT&T and Verizon, which were jam-packed with loopholes and ensured that wireless networks and devices weren't covered at all.


When called out on this, Google pretty feebly insisted they weren't being inconsistent, though it was clear to most folks that the company had shifted lobbying strategies in the hopes of fostering a better relationship across both sides of the political aisle.

As a result, when net neutrality supporters needed Google the most during the Title II debate, Google remained silent. Recently, when asked about net neutrality during press events, the company simply refused to comment.

Now that the Title II tide has shifted without Google's help, the company has re-entered the discussion to once again support meaningful net neutrality rules. We noted a few weeks ago that Google told the FCC in a filing that Title-II based rules could actually help their Google Fiber deployment by streamlining the utility pole attachment process.


Now in a conversation with the Washington Post, Google has made its clearest public statement in years regarding support for Title II net neutrality rules:


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