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Charter Said to Prepare Offer Letter for Time Warner Cable | Bloomberg.com

Charter Said to Prepare Offer Letter for Time Warner Cable | Bloomberg.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Charter Communications Inc. is preparing an offer letter to acquire Time Warner Cable Inc. for less than $135 a share, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.


Charter will offer cash and stock, in a so-called bear-hug letter to Time Warner Cable as early as next week, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are private.


Charter, the fourth-largest U.S. cable company, could generate as much as $1 billion in annual cost savings with better deals on programming and by cutting overhead, said Matthew Harrigan, an analyst with Denver-based Wunderlich Securities Inc. Still, it would be risky for the company to bid too high for Time Warner Cable, which is losing video subscribers to competitors including AT&T Inc.’s U-verse and Verizon Communications Inc’s FiOS.


“Time Warner Cable continues to lose subscribers and customer service issues continue to be deteriorating,” Harrigan said in a telephone interview. “It’s not going to be easy to fix.”


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Why ISPs Should Stop Forwarding Piracy Settlement Demands | TorrentFreak

Why ISPs Should Stop Forwarding Piracy Settlement Demands | TorrentFreak | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

There are many ways copyright holders approach today’s “online piracy problem.”

Some prefer to do it through innovation, while others prefer educational messages, warnings or even lawsuits. Another group is aiming to generate revenue by obtaining lots of small cash settlements.

Rightscorp and CEG TEK have chosen the latter model. Their emails are sent as regular DMCA notices which many ISPs then forward to their customers, often with a settlement demand included.

Both companies send millions of warnings to U.S. Internet providers every year, but how these are handled varies per ISP. Some, including Charter, forward the entire notice, while others such as Comcast strip out the settlement details.

To find out more about the legality of these notices, and the options Internet providers and subscribers have, TorrentFreak sat down with Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) staff attorney Mitch Stoltz.


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Even Apple now confirms that tattoos and the Apple Watch don’t mix | Hayley Tsukayama | WashPost.com

Even Apple now confirms that tattoos and the Apple Watch don’t mix | Hayley Tsukayama | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It's official: the Apple Watch just doesn't play well with tattoos.

After a number of Apple Watch buyers with tattooed wrists reported that their ink appeared to be interfering with the Watch's ability to read their heart rates. On Friday, 9 to 5 Mac spotted an update to the company's support page for the watch that confirms the problem.

The document seems to back user reports that darker, more solid tattoos cause the most interference, and also confirms that the problems occur because the light-based technology Apple uses to measure your heart rate. Apple measures blood flow in part by shining green light -- which your red blood absorbs -- into your wrist. It then calculates your pulse by tracking how much of that light gets absorbed. But, it seems, the light can have problems getting through tattoo ink to get an accurate reading.

"The ink, pattern and saturation of some tattoos can block light from the sensor, making it difficult to get reliable readings," the document says. There is no indication from Apple that variations in natural skin tone cause similar problems; the ink seems to be main problem here.

Being able to measure fitness statistics is one of the main selling points for the Apple Watch, and is the focus of one of its latest ads for the device. The success of companies such as Jawbone and Fitbit have shown that there is a wearables market out there for fitness buffs, and it's probably one of the easiest markets for Apple to tap into in the early days of its Watch launch.

However, Apple does caution instances in which the Apple Watch may have trouble reading your heart rate.


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That 20 Mbps Broadband Line We Promised? It's Actually 300 Kbps. Enjoy! | Karl Bode | Techdirt

That 20 Mbps Broadband Line We Promised? It's Actually 300 Kbps. Enjoy! | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Did you know that U.S. ISPs in uncompetitive markets are really, really shitty at their jobs? While I assumed that was pretty common public knowledge by this point, there's an interesting new groundswell of attention being paid to the fact that most ISPs are absolutely abysmal at communicating 1: what real-world speeds a user can get; and 2: whether users can actually get service at all.


Case in point was the recent, Kafka-esque experience of a new Washington homeowner, who spent months being given the runaround by Comcast and CenturyLink regarding service the companies repeatedly (but falsely) promised was available.

This week, another story is making the rounds that highlights how ISPs will often claim to offer one speed, then actually offer users something dramatically more pathetic (if you can get connected at all). This user in Michigan, for example was told by AT&T's website and employees repeatedly that he should be able to get 20 Mbps at his address -- only to discover that the top speed he could get was a not-so-brisk 300 kbps. Such circa 1999 speeds are of course well below the FCC's new 25 Mbps broadband definition, changed to highlight the notable lack of U.S. competition at higher speeds.

Given that AT&T likely doesn't see any competition in the user's market, that 300 kbps isn't just slow, it's unreliable, suffers from the more-than-occasional hiccup and for good measure it's capped at 150 GB of usage before overages are incurred. Similarly, no competition means AT&T doesn't have great motivation to upgrade its outdated internal databases, or improve customer service. The lack of competition and regulatory capture in so many of these states makes communicating with AT&T (or getting regulators to care about broken promises) a Sisyphean endeavor:


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Time Warner Cable and Charter Both Talking to Bright House Networks About Acquisition Deal | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Time Warner Cable and Charter Both Talking to Bright House Networks About Acquisition Deal | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In the last week, executives from both Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable have talked to the Newhouse Family, controlling owner of Bright House Networks, about an acquisition of the cable company.

Time Warner may hold the stronger hand. In addition to being a much-larger and wealthier cable company, Time Warner has the advantage of a long-standing partnership dating back to the early 90’s with Bright House in which Time Warner shares its volume discounts on cable programming and technology with Bright House in return for an annual fee. As part of that arrangement, Time Warner has the right of first offer if Bright House ever chose to sell. If Time Warner matches or beats a competing offer, such as that now on the table from Charter Communications, it wins Bright House for itself.

Bright House decided it had to sell to someone after the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger threatened to end its arrangement with Time Warner. Bright House would pay substantially more for programming and equipment without the volume discounts Time Warner received. With the Comcast deal off the table, Time Warner remains an acquisition target.


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‘Our economy has fundamentally changed’: Richard Florida on why tech scenes are thriving | Christopher Wink | Technical.ly

‘Our economy has fundamentally changed’: Richard Florida on why tech scenes are thriving | Christopher Wink | Technical.ly | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The ecosystem metaphor that has become so popular to describe the many inter-locking organisms and organizations that make a tech community thrive may be incomplete. Because, as popular urbanist academic Richard Florida puts it, ecosystems don’t stand alone, they’re influenced by and attached to others.

Seeds from one ecosystem find their way to another. So perhaps the solar system metaphor should get more play. Look at how it fits in this current iteration of an innovation corridor growing in the U.S. Northeast.

“New York is the world’s most powerful city, and it’s the sun around which the rest of this region revolves,” said Florida, best known for popularizing an economic development agenda with his 2002 book The Rise of the Creative Class. He summons the old BosWash corridor oumega-region that Florida says is due to have its day.

And Florida says that’s happening because urbanity and the web are giving rise to innovation clusters of technologies and innovations in unexpected places. To thrive, New York’s financial, business and cultural sectors need access to and support from an ever-larger engine of ideas, and our human desire to be near to each other is creating a patchwork of connected ecosystems.

You could commercialize technology from a Philadelphia university, hire a cheaper dev team in Baltimore, get an investor from Boston, retain a marketing firm from D.C., and then join your sales team in New York for your plans to go public.

Of course, you might also involve actors and organizations from around the world, but there remains a stubborn human preference for the quick train ride to meet someone in person, said Florida. So these satellite systems appear to be developing around the country and the world, even if civic pride keeps some from seeing it. (It’s something he said in our latest Technical.ly Podcast.)


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Charles Benton, Champion of the Public Interest in Telecom, Passes | community broadband networks

Charles Benton, Champion of the Public Interest in Telecom, Passes | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The world of media education, communication policy, and philanthropy is mourning the loss of Charles Benton who passed away on April 29. He lived a long life encouraging and empowering individuals and communities to use technology to improve their quality of life.


But beyond that, specifically working to remove barriers that discourage historically marginalized communities from benefiting from communications technologies.

In addition to serving on the National Museum and Library Services Board for the Obama Administration, Charles advised President Bill Clinton as a member of the Parental Advisory Committee on the Public Interest Obligation of Digital Television Broadcasters.

He also served his country as Chairman of the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) and as Chairman of the First White House Conference on Library and Information Services, held in November of 1979. He continued to serve on the NCLIS for another five years, during which time he was unanimously elected Chairman Emeritus.


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Connecticut Gets Tired Of Waiting For State's Regional Broadband Duopoly, Starts Pushing Gigabit Networks | Karl Bode | Techdirt

Connecticut Gets Tired Of Waiting For State's Regional Broadband Duopoly, Starts Pushing Gigabit Networks | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Connecticut is one of numerous states where incumbent ISPs have all but given up on seriously competing or improving service, urban and rural customers alike. AT&T was so disinterested in Connecticut it recently sold all of its fixed-line networks in the state to Frontier Communications, throwing customers from the frying pan (a totally disinterested AT&T) into the fire (a marginally-interested but now debt-saddled Frontier). For years Frontier has claimed its customers don't need faster broadband access, and its CEO is on record claiming that gigabit service is "hype" that only acts to "confuse customers."

Pixelpusher220 writes in to note that numerous Connecticut cities are tired of waiting for Comcast and Frontier to give a damn, and have issued a RFP/RFQ (Request for Quotation) to begin examining the construction of gigabit networks. Roughly 46 of Connecticut's 169 towns and cities (accounting for 50% of the state's population) have signed up so far, with an eye on striking a privately-funded, public/private partnership. What started with a $4 million federal broadband expansion grant by the NTIA, quickly shifted toward Connecticut making it easier for companies to come in and compete using pole attachment reform:

"Connecticut is the one state in the country that has fixed the unbelievably difficult issue of attaching wires to poles. Rather than letting pole owners hold up every requestor by creating delays and making demands for special payments (seriously: pole-attachment scuffles are the long-running soap operas of telecom), Connecticut requires pole owners to obey a Single Pole Administrator, adhere to uniform pricing agreements, and act to make way for new wires in a set time. Dramatic stuff. And Connecticut already had passed a statute giving municipalities the right to use a part of a pole, or “gain,” for any purpose. These two elements made Connecticut an extremely attractive place to string a network."

Well, attractive if you're actually interested in offering cutting-edge service. Less attractive perhaps if you're a regional duopoly or monopoly trying desperately to maintain the status quo and spend as little money as possible on customer service or your network. ISPs, as is so frequently the case, have responded with the usual assortment of false claims that either gigabit speeds already exist (only if you're talking about the core network), or customers don't really want this kind of speed:


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Telecom Sleaze: ALEC & Its Communication's Funders -- AT&T, Verizon, Centurylink, Comcast & Time Warner Cable | Bruce Kushnick Blog | HuffPost.com

Telecom Sleaze: ALEC & Its Communication's Funders -- AT&T, Verizon, Centurylink, Comcast & Time Warner Cable | Bruce Kushnick Blog | HuffPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For full details: The Book of Broken Promises; $400 Billion Broadband Scandal & Free the Net, (See: Chapter 28: Fake Consumer Groups, Biased Research, Lots of Lobbyists, Paid-Off Politicians: Behind the Broadband Curtain, (Throw in ALEC)).

Over the last few weeks, a group called the American Legislative Exchange Council, (ALEC), has been sending out 'cease and desist' letters to Credo Mobile, who questioned ALEC's role in blocking municipalities from offering broadband, as well as Common Cause and even the League of Conservation Voters, who challenged the group's denial of global warming. I'll get back to this.

But it is ALEC that should cease operations and everyone reading this must ask -- why is the Department of Justice (DOJ) not investigating ALEC and its corporate communications members and funders -- AT&T, Verizon, Centurylink, Comcast & Time Warner Cable?

We ask: Is ALEC and these five companies a "Trust" that should not be trusted but rather investigated?

15 U.S. Code § 1 - Trusts, etc., in restraint of trade illegal; penalty

"Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal. Every person who shall make any contract or engage in any combination or conspiracy hereby declared to be illegal shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine not exceeding $100,000,000 if a corporation, or, if any other person, $1,000,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court."

Simply Put: How is it legal for one organization, ALEC, and its "communications member" funders, AT&T, Verizon, Centurylink, Comcast & Time Warner Cable, to all work together to create "model legislation" that mainly benefits these companies?

As a group, these five companies control most of the wires that go into homes and offices, schools and libraries, etc., for phone, cable, broadband and Internet (ISP) services, as well control the majority of wireless spectrum that controls wireless services. Moreover, they also control critical network infrastructure, (known as "Special Access"), that is used by content companies, such as Netflix, or even the wireless competitors as well as all WiFi services and their hot spots are all attached to wired infrastructure sooner or later.

And how is it legal for ALEC and these five companies to work with ALEC state-based politician members, many of whom are campaign-financed and/or corporate foundation-grant-laden by these same communications companies, who tweak this model legislation-from-Hell and then force-feed it through state legislatures, with the help of heavily funded, massive, well coordinated skunkworks (hidden and not so hidden) networks of astroturf (fake-grassroots) corporate-funded think-tanks, lobbyists, and co-opted non-profits and minority groups (many of whom are heavily funded by these companies) and do this in multiple states as well as at the federal level?

And let us be clear: There are different corporate-cabals within ALEC; some focusing on a social agenda, like harming voter rights and workers rights, or others that target fracking restrictions or killing off climate change legislation.

But this one ALEC cabal is about keeping the 'monopoly/duopoly' controls of these five companies over all communications services -- with the intent to harm all other competitor companies, not to mention the public interest, i.e., you.

This cabal's fabricated model legislation is not by the people or for the people, but for the companies and by the companies to raise your rates, block your rights to have choice of who provides your broadband, Internet or cable services over the wires you paid to deploy, or to stop municipalities networks from competing. "Free Market" to them means free them from competition, oversight and regulations.


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Comcast brings fiber to city that it sued 7 years ago to stop fiber rollout | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica

Comcast brings fiber to city that it sued 7 years ago to stop fiber rollout | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In April 2008, Comcast sued the Chattanooga Electric Power Board (EPB) to prevent it from building a fiber network to serve residents who were getting slow speeds from the incumbent cable provider.

Comcast claimed that EPB illegally subsidized the buildout with ratepayer funds, but it quickly lost in court, and EPB built its fiber network and began offering Internet, TV, and phone service. After EPB launched in 2009, incumbents Comcast and AT&T finally started upgrading their services, EPB officials told Ars when we interviewed them in 2013.

But not until this year has Comcast had an Internet offering that can match or beat EPB's $70 gigabit service. Comcast announced its 2Gbps fiber-to-the-home service on April 2, launching first in Atlanta, then in cities in Florida and California, and now in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

"Comcast today announced it will offer residential multi-gigabit broadband service for up to 200,000 customers in Chattanooga beginning in June, and expects to expand availability locally over the next several months," Comcast said.

There's no word on Comcast pricing yet, but it could vary depending on the level of competition in each city. AT&T, for example, charges $70 a month for gigabit service in cities that have Google Fiber and as much as $40 more in cities that don't have Google.

Comcast has charged a whopping $399.95 a month for its existing 505Mbps service but says it will charge less for the 2Gbps plan, which it intends to roll out to 18 million homes nationwide by the end of this year.

Comcast had little interest in upgrading its Chattanooga network when it faced no real competition. "I think we would have welcomed the incumbents to come into town and to have done some of this work, but frankly no one was interested in doing it," EPB communications VP Danna Bailey told Ars long before Comcast announced its fiber intentions.


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Net Neutrality Is Already Improving Internet Connections And It Hasn't Even Gone Into Effect | Chris Morran | Consumerist

Net Neutrality Is Already Improving Internet Connections And It Hasn't Even Gone Into Effect | Chris Morran | Consumerist | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Though the FCC narrowly voted to approve the new Open Internet Order (AKA net neutrality) several months ago, the rules don’t actually kick in until June 12. Yet with those new guidelines looming, some Internet service providers are already beginning to play nice with the companies that do most of the heavy lifting for the web.

Earlier today, Verizon announced that it had reached a new interconnection deal with Cogent, a company you may have never heard of, but who plays an important role in carrying data across the Internet. Cogent is one of the major bandwidth providers for online businesses, transporting massive amounts of data from the source to ISPs like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and Time Warner Cable, who only handle much of your data for the so-called “last mile” to your home or office.

Cogent was caught in the middle of the openly nasty dispute between Netflix and several ISPs, including Verizon. The company was responsible for much of Netflix’s bandwidth, which can sometimes account for around 1/3 of all downstream traffic in the U.S., but when that data got to the peering points — those connections where Cogent actually hands off data to an ISP — it was becoming bottlenecked because the ISPs were refusing to open up additional connections to alleviate the flow.

Netflix ultimately ended up making deals with Comcast, Verizon, TWC, and AT&T for more direct access to their networks, taking some of the burden off Cogent and similar providers. Meanwhile, the question of whether ISPs could passive-aggressively allow data to bottleneck remained unanswered.

The new neutrality rules will allow companies like Cogent to file complaints with the FCC because ISPs will officially be reclassified as common carriers that are not allowed to discriminate when it comes to the data flowing to their end users.

Whether or not those complaints end up being successful, it appears the mere threat of having to deal with them is pushing toward resolutions in advance of the enactment of the neutrality rules.


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Does The Net Neutrality Decision Impose Rate Regulation? | Andy Schwartzman | Benton Foundation

Does The Net Neutrality Decision Impose Rate Regulation? | Andy Schwartzman | Benton Foundation | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Few issues before the Federal Communications Commission have generated as much controversy and partisan debate as Network Neutrality.


As opposing sides have jockeyed for position, their goal has not always been clarity.


Perhaps the most contentious and confusing aspect of the debate since the FCC voted on February 26 is the question of whether the FCC’s Net Neutrality decision imposes rate regulation.


That seems like a yes/no question, but it isn’t.


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WSJ: Both TWC and Charter now looking to acquire Bright House | Daniel Frankel | Fierce Cable

WSJ: Both TWC and Charter now looking to acquire Bright House | Daniel Frankel | Fierce Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Midsized cable company Bright House Communications has emerged as a key pawn in the ongoing M&A dance between Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable.

According to the Wall Street Journal, top TWC executives have spoken with Bright House owner Advance Newhouse Communications about a possible acquisition of Bright House. Such a deal is viewed by cable industry analysts as a means of making it more difficult for Charter to, in turn, buy TWC, through either friendly or unfriendly means.

A Bright House purchase would raise TWC's debt levels, Moody's analyst Neil Begley told WSJ. "I wouldn't call it a poison pill, but it's a bigger pill to swallow," he said.

In late-March, Charter entered an agreement with the Newhouse family to buy Bright House for $10.4 billion. But a central clause of that agreement was that it would have to be renegotiated if Comcast's proposed $45.2 billion takeover of TWC was rejected by federal regulators, which it was.

As Charter President and CEO Tom Rutledge confirmed on Friday in his company's first-quarter earnings call, Charter indeed plans to resume talks with the Advance Newhouse.

The two sides have a 30-day "good faith" window in which they can renegotiate their deal. But TWC is allowed to talk to Bright House, too.


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RSA chief to security pros: Stop addressing the wrong problems | Tim Greene | NetworkWorld.com

RSA chief to security pros: Stop addressing the wrong problems | Tim Greene | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

IT pros need to stop using old frameworks for addressing security and deal with today’s reality because the old view of security is no longer useful, attendees at the RSA Conference 2015 in San Francisco were told on Tuesday.

It is as if security pros are explorers who have reached the farthest reaches of their known world, said RSA President Amit Yoran during his keynote address.

“We have sailed off the map, my friends,” Yoran says. “Sitting here and awaiting instructions? Not an option. And neither is what we’ve been doing – continuing to sail on with our existing maps even though the world has changed.” He laid out a five-point plan for security executives to start addressing the right problems.

First, accept there is no security that is 100% effective. “Let’s stop believing that even advanced protections work,” he says. “They do, but surely they fail too.”


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For mobile operators, sharing is caring | De Wet Bisschoff & Hennie de Villiers | TechCentral

For mobile operators, sharing is caring | De Wet Bisschoff & Hennie de Villiers | TechCentral | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Co-location allows for a more sustainable financial model that can bolster operator revenues, take pressure off consumers and increase network penetration in underserviced areas.

The telecommunications landscape has changed significantly in the past decade due to pricing pressure, rising network costs and evolving consumer demands.

According to Ovum, average revenue per user (Arpu) is forecast to decline at 16% globally (and at a faster 19% in South Africa) between 2012 and 2019. Related to this, data demand will drive 4G/LTE traffic, to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 110% from 2014 to 2019. Data is also driving future revenue, with LTE revenues in the Middle East and Africa predicted to grow from 23% of total radio access network revenues in 2015 to 67% in 2019.

To add to this, over-the-top services and increasing adoption of the Internet of things are presenting new challenges for operators.

Essentially, operators find themselves in a “perfect storm”, with margin pressures weighing heavily on current business models. The net effect will be that consumers are increasingly bearing the costs of connectivity, as witnessed in the recent pricing adjustments by South African operators.

In the circumstances, how can operators provide better services, supported by a financially sustainable business model?


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Frontier's Website Woes - Company Drops Online Ordering... Because It Can't Make It Work Right | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Frontier's Website Woes - Company Drops Online Ordering... Because It Can't Make It Work Right | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If you want to order a product or service online from Frontier Communications, forget it. A source tells Stop the Cap! the company was dropping online e-commerce functions from its Frontier.com website because it could never get online ordering working properly.

Sure enough, the latest iteration of Frontier’s website today blazes with banners requesting customers call the company or use “live chat” to handle any orders for service.

“They still offer the function of self-service — allowing customers to view their bills, set up auto payments, make one time payments, etc., but they are removing the ability for customers to order any service at all,” said our source.


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Time Warner Cable's Post-Merger Conference Call: Improved Subscriber Numbers But 'We'll Let Others Take the Lead' | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Time Warner Cable's Post-Merger Conference Call: Improved Subscriber Numbers But 'We'll Let Others Take the Lead' | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Time Warner Cable held its first post-merger-flop conference call with investors this morning and reported surprisingly good subscriber numbers for the first quarter of 2015.

Despite disappointing investors for not meeting projected profit and revenue numbers for the first three months of the year, Time Warner managed to add 30,000 net video customers for the first time since 2009. High-speed data customers grew by 315,000, compared with 269,000 a year ago, while voice customers increased by 320,000, compared with 107,000 in the prior-year period. The company also reported $26 million in wasted merger-related costs.


A renewed love for Time Warner Cable was not the reason the cable company added customers. Aggressive pricing with fewer fine print “gotchas” and Time Warner Cable Maxx upgrades helped the company pick up new subscribers. Last October, Time Warner added a $90 triple play offer valid across much of its service area, offering unlimited calling phone, Preferred TV, and 30Mbps broadband with one set-top box for $89.99 a month for one year, an offer Artie Minson, chief financial officer of Time Warner Cable called “clean.”


For the last two years, Time Warner Cable executives decided to de-emphasize promotional pricing on phone service, preferring to draw more attention to its double-play television and broadband offers. This year, that thinking is long gone as the cable company re-emphasizes its triple-play packages and offers current customers the chance to add phone service for as little as $10 a month. The strong growth in new phone customers during the quarter reflects the success of those promotions.


Minson was less impressed with the sales of “skinny bundles” of bare basic cable television, HBO, and broadband service, noting it had little impact on Time Warner’s subscriber growth. The allure of its $14.99 everyday low price, low speed Internet offer has also waned.


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AT&T Fined Yet Again For Shady Behavior, This Time For Milking Low-Income Lifeline Program | Karl Bode | Techdirt

AT&T Fined Yet Again For Shady Behavior, This Time For Milking Low-Income Lifeline Program | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

After a fifteen-year slumber, regulators have apparently decided it might be a good idea to start cracking down on rampant fraud in the telecom market. Not long ago, we noted how AT&T was finally fined for abusing the IP Relay network for the hearing impaired, intentionally turning a blind eye to scammers on the network just to haul in the $1.50 per minute subsidies tied to the network.


AT&T strung regulators along for years, implementing "solutions" that it knew wouldn't work but technically met flimsy FCC requirements. As a result, simply stopping AT&T from profiting off of defrauding the deaf (it's estimated that 95% of AT&T's IP Relay traffic at one point was credit card or other scammers) only took regulators the better part of two decades.

Last year, regulators finally cracked down on AT&T for helping scammers of a different sort: crammers. Crammers had been gouging AT&T customers for most of the last decade, charging them $10 a month for garbage "premium" text messaging, horoscopes and other un-asked-for detritus. There again, AT&T intentionally turned a blind eye to the criminal behavior, in large part because the company was netting around 35% of the proceeds from the scams. Worse perhaps, regulators found AT&T was actively making its bills harder to understand so the fraud would be more difficult to detect.

This month, the FCC has announced that it has struck a settlement with AT&T and former subsidiary SNET, over charges the companies were collecting undeserved subsidies under the agency's "Lifeline" program, a low-income community subsidy effort created by the Reagan administration in 1985 and expanded by Bush in 2005. According to the FCC's findings, AT&T apparently "forgot" to audit its Lifeline subscriber rolls and purge them of non-existent or no-longer-eligible customers, allowing it to continue taking taxpayer money from a fund intended to aid the poor:


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Super speedy internet to serve Toronto’s waterfront condos | Duncan McAllister | Metro News Canada

Super speedy internet to serve Toronto’s waterfront condos | Duncan McAllister | Metro News Canada | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

What do the Pan Am Games, waterfront condos and high-speed Internet have in common? They’re all part of Waterfront Toronto’s Intelligent Communities venture.

Toronto’s waterfront has been recognized globally as a leading 21st-century community, interconnected by a super-high-speed broadband infrastructure that will serve the needs of the 2015 Pan Am Games, as well as Dream Unlimited’s Canary District and Tridel’s Aqualina condo towers.

Recent blockbuster announcements — such as Daniels’ Waterfront City of The Arts, and Menkes’ Waterfront Innovation Centre — put Toronto at the forefront of the world’s intelligent cities. These knowledge-based, live-work communities will be geared specifically to the creative and technology sectors, relying on the information highway to enable all manner of commercial, educational and community services.


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Chris Mitchell to Speak in Cambridge, Massachusetts on May 5th | community broadband networks

Chris Mitchell to Speak in Cambridge, Massachusetts on May 5th | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

On Tuesday, May 5th, Chris Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance will join the Cambridge, Massachusetts, City Council Broadband Task Force for an open meeting to provide information on municipal fiber networks. The community is in the process of exploring the possibility of investing in infrastructure to improve local connectivity.

The city formed its task force in 2014 and are in the process of establishing a relationship with a consultant to help them move forward.

The presentation will be at the Harvard Information Center, 1350 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge. The event starts at 5 p.m.

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MN: Public Private Fiber optic expansion coming to Mankato | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

The Mankato Free Press reports on new fiber going into Mankato, which will bring better broadband and a new provider to the area. It’s a public-private partnership between Blue earth County and Jaguar Communications that won’t cost the taxpayers more money. It’s a good example of looking at everyone’s assets (including expertise) and coming up with a win-win solution.

Here’s the scoop on the fiber…

The agreement will involve installing underground about 7 miles of fiber optic communication infrastructure along a “south fiber ring” from the far eastern edge of Mankato, south along Highway 22, west along Stadium Road and to downtown along Stoltzman Road and Riverfront Drive. Fiber, which allows large amounts of data to be transmitted at very high speeds, is already in place from downtown to the far east side along a “north fiber route” that runs mostly along Marsh Street and Madison Avenue.

Like the north fiber route, the new fiber installation was spurred by local governments with the help of the state of Minnesota. The governments’ interest involves connecting most city, county and state buildings with a ring of fiber optic cable, which will create a backup route for communications even if either the northern or southern cable is accidentally severed or otherwise disrupted.

Another government fiber route runs along Victory Drive from the far northeastern edge of Mankato to Balcerzak Drive to Minnesota State University.


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AT&T, China Telecom, DT, FT excluding all competition from LTE-U | 5G Wireless News

AT&T, China Telecom, DT, FT excluding all competition from LTE-U | 5G Wireless News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

11 of world's largest telcos want LTE-U blocked except for incumbents with LTE networks. For practical purposes, that's 4 in the U.S., 3 in Germany, 3 in China ... Since LTE will be the primary mobile phone protocol, this will prevent all but incumbent telcos from the common mobile connection.

The title is blunt: Precluding standalone access of LTE on unlicensed carriers. Why is this important? "Standalone deployment in unlicensed spectrum implies drastically different business models from nowadays and might impact the value chain."

They fear "Possible disintermediation of cellular operators due to standalone operation." In other words, users and competitors can bypass the telcos, cutting revenue. Even 3-5% of telco revenue is a large number.

The carriers want to take "standalone access to unlicensed spectrum" out of the standard. At almost the last minute, they want to change the Rel 13 Standard. Currently, Rel 13 "does not preclude possible use of unlicensed carriers in standalone manner." I.e. by a competitor or local access that isn't one of the very few with an existing LTE network. The original spec was designed to let telcos or anyone else use the technology.

The telcos Proposal is "Non-CA LAA operation is not supported in Rel-13." "Non-CA LAA operation" I believe covers anything done except by one of the LTE carriers. The remainder of the proposal below provides some specifics on how that might be accomplished.

It has not escaped my notice that the specific decisions they have proposed immediately suggest a possible mechanism for reducing competition.


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Rep. Butterfield teams with big broadband providers to kill the open Internet | Brandi Collins & Joseph Torres Blog | The Hill

When it comes to media and telecom issues, Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) is one of the most important voices in Congress.

Elected in 2004, Butterfield represents North Carolina’s 1st congressional district, which includes Durham, Greenville and Wilson. Earlier this year, he became the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. And he’s also a member of the House communications and technology subcommittee that oversees the Federal Communications Commission.

This makes Butterfield one of the most powerful lawmakers in Congress, and one of the nation’s most influential Black politicians when it comes to the debate over Net Neutrality and the future of the open Internet.

Yet instead of protecting the online rights of Internet users, including people of color, Butterfield has used his powerful position to advocate for big broadband companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon.

In February, the FCC adopted strong and enforceable Net Neutrality rules that prevent broadband providers from discriminating unreasonably online. The rules preserve our right to free expression online, barring broadband providers from creating a fast lane for the rich and a slow lane for the rest of us.

The 4 million people who urged the FCC to adopt these real open Internet protections hailed the decision as a historic victory. Among those praising the rules were President Obama, more than 100 racial justice and civil rights groups, and leaders of the Congressional Black and Hispanic caucuses, including Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) , Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.).

But Butterfield didn’t applaud the FCC for shielding us from the predatory business practices of AT&T, Comcast and Verizon. Instead, he said Congress needs to take the lead, claiming that “special interests” — rather than millions of people, thousands of businesses and a return to sound law and policy — were responsible for the FCC’s move. By opposing the FCC’s decision, Butterfield broke ranks with all of the leaders listed above and sided with the Republican-led Congress working to overturn the Commission’s rules.


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Look to the States on Broadband | Editorial | NYTimes.com

Look to the States on Broadband | Editorial | NYTimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

State and local governments are starting to play an important role in getting broadband Internet access to the American public. And that’s highly commendable considering that many people still do not have access to high-speed connections at affordable prices.

Connecticut is working on a program to bring high-capacity fiber-optic lines to homes and businesses in a way that could lower costs and increase competition among Internet providers. New York’s recent budget includes $500 million for programs that make broadband available across the state by the end of 2018.

Having access to high-speed connections is important because work, education and entertainment are increasingly moving online. But the average speed at which Americans connect to the Internet is a relatively slow 11.5 megabits per second, according to a recent report by Akamai, a technology company.


The Federal Communications Commission recently defined broadband as connections that have download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second, which it says is necessary for members of a hypothetical family to participate in an online class, download files and stream a movie at the same time.


The world’s best networks, including a few in the United States, offer speeds as fast as 1 gigabit per second — 40 times the capacity of a 25-megabit connection. (A megabit is a million bits — the zeros and ones that make up digital information. A gigabit is a billion bits.)

In most places in the United States, broadband is provided by cable and phone companies. Those businesses and others like Google have invested billions of dollars in upgrading or building new networks. But because they face little competition, they have not always been quick to offer advanced services. That’s where state and local governments come in.


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Mississippi Attorney General Fights To Keep MPAA Material Private | Wendy Davis | Media Post

Mississippi Attorney General Fights To Keep MPAA Material Private | Wendy Davis | Media Post | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The courtroom showdown between Google and Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood originally centered on whether Google would have to provide Hood with a slew of documents related to online copyright infringement by sites indexed in its search engine.

But the fight has taken a new direction. Google and Hood are now feuding over whether he must provide Google with emails and other documents that could reveal details of his office's relationship with the Motion Picture Association of America.

Three weeks ago, U.S. District Court Judge Henry Wingate in Jackson, Miss. directed Hood to turn over some information about his office's contacts with representatives of the entertainment industry, as well as drafts of subpoenas that were prepared by Mike Moore.

Moore, a former attorney general, initially advised Wingate for free, but later was hired by the Digital Citizens Alliance -- a nonprofit funded by the movie industry -- The New York Times reported in December.

Hood says in a new motion filed on Wednesday that he shouldn't have to disclose draft subpoenas (or other documents) created by outside parties, including Moore, on the theory that the material was prepared for litigation. He argues that adversaries are entitled to keep material developed for litigation confidential.

It's no secret that the entertainment industry has long blamed Google for allegedly enabling copyright infringement by displaying links to “rogue sites” in the search results. In fact, several years ago a Hollywood-backed bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act, would have made it easier to obtain orders requiring search engines to de-list sites that offered pirated material.

That measure failed. But the Motion Picture Association of America continued the fight with “Project Goliath” -- an initiative that involved enlisting state law enforcement officials in the entertainment industry's fight against online copyright infringement.


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Fox's Rice: We won't join ESPN in suing Verizon over skinny bundles | Daniel Frankel | Fierce Cable

Fox's Rice: We won't join ESPN in suing Verizon over skinny bundles | Daniel Frankel | Fierce Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Twenty-First Century Fox will not join the Walt Disney Company and its ESPN division in suing Verizon over its skinny FiOS video bundles.

According to Deadline Hollywood, at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference on Tuesday Fox Chairman and CEO Peter Rice said, during an earnings call, "I'm not going to talk about ESPN's lawsuit. I think we'll work with Verizon; we'll look at what they're doing, we'll see how it evolves."

Earlier this week, ESPN filed suit against Verizon, alleging that its new Custom TV bundling product violates the terms of the programmer's licensing agreement with the pay-TV operator.

Verizon began offering Custom TV to FiOS video subscribers on April 17. For $55 a month, subscribers get a bundle of 35 basic cable and broadcast channels, but they can choose to add on separate "Channel Packs" themed around topics such as "sports" and "news." This is a problem for programmers like ESPN, which need broad reach to support their advertising-heavy business models and can't afford to have too many pay-TV subscribers opt out of having the channel on their set-tops.

"We've been trying to offer our distributors some flexibility," Rice said.


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