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AT&T chief: We can't keep doing big subsidies on phones | CNET.com

AT&T chief: We can't keep doing big subsidies on phones | CNET.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

AT&T's top executive says the era of big subsidies for devices is coming to an end, as wireless operators can no longer afford to fund a constant smartphone upgrade cycle.


Speaking at an investor conference in New York City on Tuesday, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said that with smartphone penetration at over 75 percent and soon reaching 90 percent, wireless operators need to work harder to get customers to use more of the network rather than simply getting on the network.


"When you're growing the business initially, you have to do aggressive device subsidies to get people on the network," he said. "But as you approach 90 percent penetration, you move into maintenance mode. That means more device upgrades. And the model has to change. You can't afford to subsidize devices like that."


Last week, AT&T introduced a new pricing plan that offers an incentive to customers who keep their older phones, allowing them to save $15 a month on their service bill.


AT&T has been on the path toward creating a more balanced pricing structure for the past few years, Stephenson said. AT&T was the first major wireless carrier to eliminate unlimited data plans, replacing them with usage-based service plans. Now, more than 70 percent of AT&T's customers are on plans that charge customers based on consumption.


Stephenson also acknowledged that breaking customers of their habit of upgrading to a new phone every 18 months to two years is not an easy task. But he said a business models focused on financing rather than providing a subsidy would be "transformative" for the industry. He said the company's new AT&T Next program, which offers no-money down and 0-percent financing, drives smartphone penetration in a way that is more sustainable over time.


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Net Neutrality Activists Take the Senate by Storm | FreePress.net

Net Neutrality Activists Take the Senate by Storm | FreePress.net | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The partisan bickering on Capitol Hill can turn the most wide-eyed idealist into a disillusioned crank. But progress is possible even in this era of legislative gridlock. That’s why Free Press Action Fund members meet with their elected officials: to effect change.


This year the Free Press Action Fund partnered with allies like the ACLU, Common Cause and Demand Progress and set the ambitious goal of meeting with as many Senate offices as possible during the summer congressional recess. The goal: to push senators to speak out for strong Net Neutrality protections and condemn FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan to allow discrimination online.


We organized a record number of meetings across the country and recruited more people to participate than ever before. In all of these gatherings activists talked about how the open Internet has shaped their lives — for the better.


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Netflix: We Had to Pay Comcast Because We Were Losing Customers | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com

Netflix: We Had to Pay Comcast Because We Were Losing Customers | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For months now Netflix has claimed that the largest ISPs have intentionally let their peering points get congested so that Netflix would be forced to pay them for direct interconnection (an argument companies like Level 3 and Cogent support). So why is Netflix paying AT&T, Time Warner Cable, Verizon and Comcast for these links if they feel they're being railroaded?

According to Netflix filings made with the government (hat tip to Quartz and ReCode), the company was beginning to lose customers who were told by Comcast Netflix was responsible for the problems:


quote:


“For many [Comcast] subscribers, the bitrate was so poor that Netflix’s streaming video service became unusable,” he writes, then notes that Comcast reps eventually told subscribers to take their beef to Netflix. “Those customers complained to Netflix and some of them canceled their Netflix subscription on the spot, citing the unacceptable quality of Netflix’s video streams and Netflix’s inability to do anything to change the situation."


You'll recall that when Netflix started giving impacted customers warning message blaming ISPs, Verizon rather quickly threatened to file a lawsuit, insisting they were the ones losing customers over the fracas. The FCC launched an investigation into whether incumbent ISPs were acting anti-competitively back in June.

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Meet Obama's new "piracy czar," same as the old czar | Jeff John Roberts | GigaOM Tech News

Meet Obama's new "piracy czar," same as the old czar | Jeff John Roberts | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The White House this week nominated a trademark and licensing lawyer to be “piracy czar,” a position that involves coordinating intellectual property enforcement across various parts of the federal government. The new czar, Danny Marti, arrives a year after the previous czar, Victoria Espinel left to head a software lobby group.


The choice of Marti, a partner at Washington law firm Kilpatrick Townsend, was hailed by Hollywood lobbyists.


“Danny’s impressive record of commitment to enforcing IP rights in the Internet age makes him a particularly strong choice,” former senator Chris Dodd, who is now CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, told Variety. An executive from the Recording Industry of America offered similar plaudits.


Marti, whose appointment must be confirmed by the Senate, is likely to devote most of his efforts to shutting down websites that distribute unauthorized media and branded merchandise.


His predecessor, Espinel, oversaw programs like the “Copyright Alert System,” for ISP’s and copyright owners, and “Operation in Our Sites,” in which enforcement officials conducted ritual seizure of websites ahead of events like the Super Bowl and Black Friday. Espinel also handled the White House’s response to the debacle known as SOPA, in which outrage from internet communities led Congress to retreat from a sweeping new anti-piracy law.


Marti himself has yet to say what he would do as piracy czar, but it’s hard to imagine he will chart a course much difference than Espinel’s.


That’s a shame. Leaving aside the U.S. fixation with “czar” titles, it’s worth asking why the intellectual property czar must focus exclusively on enforcement, and not on broader issues of fostering science and creativity — which is the point of IP laws in the first place.


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AK: Answer to net neutrality is competition | Forrest Dunbar Opinion | NewsMiner.com

AK: Answer to net neutrality is competition | Forrest Dunbar Opinion | NewsMiner.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In 2010, Sen. Mark Begich made the case for why the federal government should invest in broadband Internet access for Alaskans. “It helps a student in Fairbanks learn about their government in Juneau, and it can save a patient in Kotzebue a flight to Seattle,” he argued. The Recovery Act that followed included a $100 million investment in broadband for our state, offering high-speed access to thousands of Alaskans for the first time.


Connecting Alaska’s villages to the Internet is a huge victory (and one we’re still working on), but a critical element of what makes the Internet valuable is the equal playing field it offers to all users. For news sites to earn readers, or businesses to appeal to customers, they have to offer better content or services than their competitors; they cannot attract customers simply because their competitors have cripplingly long load times.


Take, for example, Jason Iya — an Alaska Native artist who lives in Savoonga and uses the Internet to access markets around the world. He doesn’t have to ask a gallery in New York to host his work; he can put it up himself for all to see.


Net neutrality is about keeping the Internet equal. If one company could pay an Internet service provider (ISP) to slow down the sites of its competitors, it would ruin what makes the Internet a good place to share ideas and do business.


As an Alaskan, I support the goal of net neutrality. Furthermore, to preserve an open marketplace for ideas on the Internet, I support an approach known as “common carrier,” which promotes competition among ISP’s, rather than burdening them with unnecessary regulation.


Internet service providers act similarly to utilities, both in the services they provide and in the relative advantage larger companies have over smaller ones. 


ISPs like GCI (or Comcast in the Lower 48) have well-established networks that run into the homes of their customers, and as a result, adding new customers is relatively cheap. Unfortunately for smaller companies, this means that competing directly with the larger providers is very difficult.  


Supporters of net neutrality fear that large ISPs might leverage or abuse their positions, giving the fastest Internet service to those that pay them the most. This has led many to call for the Federal Communication Commission to step in and enforce network neutrality rules onto the ISPs to keep all traffic equal.


Neutrality sounds like a great idea, but unfortunately it’s not that simple. Many large content providers already have special relationships with ISPs, called “peering,” and far from being a bad thing, it makes service better for all of us. Google, for instance, has routers set up inside of Comcast’s data centers that allow the two companies to trade information more quickly and efficiently. Since it’s impractical for every content provider to have a peering connection, the net will probably never be truly “neutral” as it relates to traffic between websites and ISPs.  


Rather than mandating neutrality in how Internet companies interact with websites, the best solution is supporting competition between ISPs. Competition will allow the market to punish Internet providers who aren’t acting fairly and avoid the most burdensome forms of regulation. The best plan to do this is common carrier. 


Common carrier is not a new concept. Phone transmission lines, most prominently, are common carrier. So is the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, meaning that if you are an oil company on the North Slope you get access and are allowed to send your product down the pipe. This prevents the Big Three from stifling competitors.


In this case, common carrier rules would require companies like GCI to open up part of their networks to competitors. Similarly to how Golden Valley Electric Association might purchase power from Chugach, companies would have to pay a fair market rate for use of another’s network, but smaller ISPs wouldn’t have to completely build their own infrastructure into neighborhoods before they could compete with larger providers. In practical terms, this means that if Comcast unfairly slowed access to customers they would have more freedom to switch their provider. 


This would protect the ability of the Internet to grow, and put in place a check on unfair business practices.


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How New Processing Technology Might Make Ultra HD and HDR Broadcasting A Reality | Hollywood Reporter

How New Processing Technology Might Make Ultra HD and HDR Broadcasting A Reality | Hollywood Reporter | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

During the transition to HDTV, Yves Faroudja won three Emmys for processing technology that remains in use today. And now the award-winning engineer is using his experience to take aim at new formats including Ultra HD, or 4K, which is four times the resolution of HD.


"Bandwidth requirements for video are clogging the Internet, and we need to reduce the bit rate on the video system," he told The Hollywood Reporter, noting that today it commonly involves use of a 4K-capable compression scheme known as HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding, or H.265). "But that doesn't work. It doesn't [keep up with] the increased popularity of video transmission, which is doubling every 2 to 3 years."


Faroudja — who came out of retirement to address this issue — is not aiming to create a new compression system, but rather to bring some additional power to HEVC or whatever compression scheme is adopted by the industry. His plan is to effectively pre-process the content before compression and decode it after the decompression at the receiving/display end of the chain (i.e. a TV or mobile device).


With his process, he believes he can cut in half the bandwidth requirements for video — not only enabling more video to be used, but also potentially opening up the promise of Ultra HD, as well as high frame rates (HFR) and high dynamic range (HDR) imagery.


"Whatever [compression scheme] is popular, we can give them a ratio of two in bandwidth reduction, which I think is going to eventually be required," he said.


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AT&T Patent Lawsuit Targets Cox | Multichannel.com

AT&T Patent Lawsuit Targets Cox | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

AT&T has filed a lawsuit against Cox that claims that the MSO is infringing several patents that tie into the MSO’s IP voice service, use of set-top boxes and DVRs, as well as its DOCSIS 3.0-powered high-speed Internet platform.

 

The suit (here’s a copyposted by Ars Technica), filed August 28 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, alleges that Cox is infringing on several AT&T patents.

 

AT&T claims that in first contacted Cox in 2009 about alleged infringements on a number of patents, including several referenced in this complaint. “Despite years of protracted negotiations, Cox has sought to avoid payment for its infringement by repeatedly delaying and rescheduling negotiations,” the telco claimed. “Given every opportunity, Cox has failed to provide substantial arguments for either non-infringement or invalidity of AT&T’s patents.”

 

Cox said it doesn’t comment on active litigation.

 

Here’s a list of patents named in the suit:


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Comcast Discounts Market-Power Concerns in Defending Merger With Time Warner Cable | Bloomberg BNA

Comcast Discounts Market-Power Concerns in Defending Merger With Time Warner Cable | Bloomberg BNA | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Federal regulators should approve Comcast Corp.'s $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable Inc. because the proposed deal benefits consumers and won't harm competition, Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen said in an Aug. 25 blog post.


“We believe this is an approvable transaction and we expect to agree with regulators on conditions that will further enhance the public interest while not being unduly burdensome on our business or consumers,” Cohen wrote.


The success of the deal hinges, in part, on whether Comcast can convince the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice that the merger will serve the public interest and comply with federal antitrust laws.


The blog post came as stakeholders continued to advocate for and against the deal on the last day of the FCC's initial comment period. Reply comments are due Sept. 23 and final comments are due Oct. 8.


Cohen thanked the authors of more than 200 advocacy letters penned by state policy makers, community organizations, diversity groups, schools and universities.


Their comments reinforce the argument “that this transaction is pro-consumer, pro-competitive, and strongly in the public interest,” Cohen said.


Critics of the deal filed thousands of comments urging the FCC to reject the deal or impose conditions to ensure that diversity, competition and net neutrality are preserved.


Vocal opponents of the deal, such as Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), said it would enable Comcast to become a “veritable gatekeeper over vast swaths of the nation's telecommunications industry” and would lead to “higher prices, fewer choices and worse service.” If regulators approve the deal, Comcast will “operate in nineteen of the nation's top twenty markets and forty-three of the top fifty, controlling about two out of every five broadband Internet subscriptions and about a third of all television subscriptions in the country,” Franken said in his comments.


The American Antitrust Institute also panned the deal, which it said is “likely to result in myriad competitive harms and adversely affect consumers,” according to its filing. The deal “raises potentially significant competitive issues, little or no offsetting cost savings or consumer benefits and would be extraordinarily difficult to ‘fix' without structural or behavioral remedies,” the group said.


Consumers Union told regulators that they must conclude “the threat to competition, consumers and the public interest is too great to allow the merger because the harm would be beyond the ability of conditions to repair,” according to its filing.


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Proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable-Charter Merger/Swaps/Sales Spark Thousands of Filings at the FCC | BBKnowledge

Proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable-Charter Merger/Swaps/Sales Spark Thousands of Filings at the FCC | BBKnowledge | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The proposed merger of the two largest cable operators in the country, Comcast and Time Warner Cable, and the related system swaps and sales involving Charter Communications, have generated an enormous amount of press coverage (see the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times) and paper this last week. The deadline for the initial round of comments on the merger was Aug. 25, and more than 65,000 filings were listed in the FCC docket as of Aug. 27.


The FCC can approve the merger without conditions, deny the merger, or approve it with conditions to ensure it serves the public interest. This means the outcome of the proceeding could impact local programming and budgets, consumer protection, preservation of the open Internet, and access to regional sports programming, among other things. This filing deadline was intended to allow communities and the general public to weigh-in on the merger.


Among the filers were the mayors of Boston, Los Angeles and New York City, as well as the counties of Los Angeles and Montgomery, Md., together with Portland, Or. and the Ramsey-Washington Suburban Cable Commission. Their filings, and others like them, argued that if the merger is approved, it should be approved subject to enforceable conditions. The conditions proposed include:


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Austin, Minnesota Releases Fiber Network Feasibility Study Results | community broadband networks

Austin, Minnesota Releases Fiber Network Feasibility Study Results | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Austin has been thinking about getting a gig for a while now. The city of 25,000 near Minnesota’s southern border had campaigned to be picked for the initial Google Fiber deployment, but was disappointed when Google selected Kansas City instead in 2011. As with some other cities around the country, however, the high profile Google competition got Austin thinking about the benefits of a gigabit fiber network, and how they might bring it to their residents. Last month, a committee tasked with bringing such a network to every premises in Austin released a feasibility study they commissioned, with generally favorable results.    


The study recommended further exploration of a universal fiber optic network, but found the idea to be generally feasible. The cost of such a network was estimated at $35 million, and would cover the entire footprint of the Austin Public School District, which extends to rural addresses well beyond the city limits. The study recommended universal fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) for many of the same reasons we’ve been talking about it for years: its nearly unlimited data capacity and speed, future-proof and damage-resistant properties, and reliability.  


The study was commissioned by the Community Wide Technology committee of the Vision2020 campaign, a broader planning movement to revitalize the greater Austin area. The Technology committee has since launched the GigAustin website and campaign to advocate for a FTTP network.


The GigAustin team has representation from the Austin Public School District, the city public power utility, private companies and foundations, and other potential anchor institutions. Hormel, the food products giant headquartered in Austin (and the people who brought you the SPAM Museum), is a major employer in the area and their presence on the GigAustin team and support of the feasibility study is notable.   


This is no slam dunk, however. The study did not recommend a specific funding source, and there appears to be little appetite for significant public expenditure:


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Public access television: It could thrive if Congress lifted restriction | Mercury News

Public access television: It could thrive if Congress lifted restriction | Mercury News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Picture a hospital with no doctors or nurses but state of the art equipment; or a school with high-tech computers and smart boards but no teachers or support staff.


Is this what the cable act intended when it restricted how Public Education and Government fees could be spent by community media centers like CreaTV San Jose? All cameras, no staff? That's the way it is now, but it doesn't make sense.


Fortunately, there's a simple fix.


Earlier this year, California Assemblymember Roger Hernandez authored AJR 39, a joint resolution that encourages Congress to lift the restriction on how municipalities can spend the PEG fees, rent paid by cable systems for using the public rights of way. Federal law restricts the use of these funds to capital expenditures.


As a result, hundreds of media centers across the country like our own CreaTV San Jose are seriously hobbled. The resolution passed overwhelmingly out of the Assembly and State Senate and has been sent to our congressional delegation.


What would this mean for media centers in California serving our schools, nonprofits and media-making community? More jobs, more digital resources for schools and community groups, more local media content and a richer community conversation.


Community media centers, sometimes known as public access TV stations, act as information hubs. The intent of these centers is to provide equipment, training and cable channels purely for public and noncommercial use, enabling anyone in a city, including San Jose, to provide local perspectives on mainstream media.


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White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Is Kind of Right – but Mostly Wrong | Jon Oltsik | NetworkWorld.com

Poor Michael Daniel, the White House cybersecurity coordinator and the man who “leads the interagency development of national cybersecurity strategy and policy” is taking a beating in the press.  In a recent interview with federally-focused media outlet, GovInfoSecurity, Daniel defended his lack of security technology experience with the following statement:


"You don't have to be a coder in order to really do well in this position.  In fact, actually, I think being too down in the weeds at the technical level could actually be a little bit of a distraction.  You can get taken up and enamored with the very detailed aspects of some of the technical solutions and the real issue is looking at the broad strategic picture."


Security professionals are lambasting Daniel for dismissing technical skills in the highly technical cybersecurity arena while others credit Daniel for trying to bring cybersecurity up to a risk, policy, and program level. 


I pride myself on taking a position, but in this case I think both camps are right and both camps are wrong.  Allow me to elaborate:


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Australia: Google spreads its wings, moving into drone deliveries | CNET

Australia: Google spreads its wings, moving into drone deliveries | CNET | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google is working on a delivery system called Project Wing that will use what it's calling "self-flying" drones to bring goods to people.


The search giant has been working on the service for two years, and it is the latest project announced by Google X, the division of the company that works on Google's most ambitious projects. Other X initiatives include self-driving cars and the connected headset Google Glass.


Google has been testing the vehicles in Queensland, Australia, and has already made deliveries to locals -- including shipments of candy bars, dog treats, cattle vaccines, water and radios. Similar to the company's self-driving car project, the drones will be able to fly a pre-programmed route at the push of a button. The company said that it will be a few more years before the system is ready for commercial use.


Google is not the only tech giant experimenting with drones. Facebook has been working with drones through an effort called Connectivity Lab, announced in March. In December, Amazon announced it is developing a drone system that will bring products to customers. But while Amazon's efforts seem to be more focused on consumers, Google's early development of the system has been around disaster relief. For example, one early mission for the project in 2012 was delivering defibrillators to heart attack victims.


"Even just a few of these, being able to shuttle nearly continuously could service a very large number of people in an emergency situation," Astro Teller, head of Google X, told the BBC.


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Microsoft finally cracks down on deceptive Windows Store 'crap apps' | Mark Hachman | NetworkWorld.com

Microsoft finally cracks down on deceptive Windows Store 'crap apps' | Mark Hachman | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

So-called deceptive “crap apps” have always plagued the Windows Store. But now, Microsoft appears to be finally ready to do something about them.


In a blog post late Wednesday, Microsoft said that it had removed 1,500 deceptively named apps as part of a policy shift to crack down on developers “trying to game the system with misleading titles or descriptions,” the company said.


A year ago, Microsoft publicly said that the Windows Store has more than 100,000 apps, and it’s unlikely that that number has climbed higher than 200,000 apps by now. But as far back as Oct. 2012—before Windows 8 even launched—analysts were pointing out that the fate of the Windows 8 app store didn’t need a large number of apps to be successful. It needed quality, and that’s not what Microsoft delivered. Instead, consumers are faced with numerous clone apps and paid “alternatives” to freeware, both outcomes that give those users a bad taste in their mouths.


PCWorld first started looking at the problem more than a year ago, when the Windows Store was stocked with games of decent quality from developers looking to score with early Windows 8 adopters. But wander into the video apps section, and numerous YouTube clones started popping up.


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Telecom Plan Raises Questions About Future Internet Service | Vermont Public Radio | Eldo Telecom

Telecom Plan Raises Questions About Future Internet Service | Vermont Public Radio | Eldo Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Telecommunications is an essential part of the lives of most people.

If you own a telephone,  use the Internet, or subscribe to cable television, how can the state make sure those services are up-to-date, reliable and affordable in the future?


That’s a question the Department of Public Service is posing in a series of public hearings this week.


The department’s draft 10 year plan for the future of telecommunications in Vermont covers everything from landline and cellular phone service to cable television and E 911 networks.


It also includes an ambitious goal for broadband service.


“It’s shortsighted to make that investment in technology that can’t go the whole nine yards,” says Irv Thomae, chairman of the governing board of ECFiber, which currently serves 800 customers in six central Vermont towns.

Thomae says the draft plan doesn’t represent a commitment to the Legislature’s goal.

“If the Telecom Plan says we aren’t to take the 100 Mbps seriously, then we aren’t going to take it seriously,” he says.

Thomae says state funded "dark fiber" projects constructed by the Vermont Telecommunications Authority should be the model for reaching the 2014 goal. These projects enable service providers to lease space and compete for customers.

Thomae says the state should raise money through the sale of bonds to finance an extensive dark fiber system.


Thomae raises a key issue on U.S. telecom infrastructure planning and financing policy. The nation is at an inflection point where the service line extensions of the legacy telephone and cable companies have gone about as far as they can within their business models in terms of making landline Internet service accessible to all American homes and businesses. And possessing the capacity to deliver the bandwidth that will be needed going forward as bandwidth demand doubles every couple of years or so, consistent with Moore's Law on microprocessor development.

Vermont's situation is a metaphor for the United States as a whole and points to the need for greatly expanded public sector financing capacity for this infrastructure that's as critical to the 21st century as highways and electricity were to the 20th.


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The internet of things requires connectivity first, but it needs people too | Stacey Higginbotham | GigaOM Tech News

The internet of things requires connectivity first, but it needs people too | Stacey Higginbotham | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Often when discussing the internet of things, we tend to go on and on about collecting data and the potential efficiencies that come from understanding that data. The assumption is that much of that understanding will come in the form of an algorithm, but an article by John Hagel and John Seely Brown offers another viewpoint.


Hagel articulates a world where the internet of things requires human intervention because while the computers and data derived by connected objects and processes might show us problems or outliers, it takes a human to see those outliers and redesign the process to eliminate them. It’s that process that drives even more efficiencies.


From the article:


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Unlike You, NYC's de Blasio Can Influence Cable Via a Deal Review | NewsMax.com

Unlike You, NYC's de Blasio Can Influence Cable Via a Deal Review | NewsMax.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has a beef about customer service from cable provider Comcast Corp. and its merger partner Time Warner Cable Inc. -- and unlike most people he’s got a chance to do something about it.


De Blasio asked U.S. regulators this week to demand a commitment for better customer service -- including additional staffing for call centers -- before blessing the $45.2 billion deal. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also called for service assurances before No. 1 Comcast, a bottom dweller in consumer rankings, is allowed to absorb the second-largest cable provider.


Accepting requirements to improve service may be a price the companies are willing to pay for winning an agreement from regulators, according to Jan Dawson, an analyst with Jackdaw Research in Provo, Utah.


“They’ll do what it takes,” Dawson said. “It’s a little unusual, but Comcast’s customer service is worse than most companies seeking a merger approval.”


The issue was highlighted today by a nationwide Internet service outage for Time Warner Cable customers. The timing adds weight to mayoral pleas from the nation’s top two media markets to make customer service a factor for state and federal regulators who are reviewing the proposed merger.


Time Warner Cable has the highest rate of complaints among the four cable providers in New York City and regulators should require measurable improvement in customer service as a condition of the deal, de Blasio wrote in his FCC filing. New York state’s Public Service Commission, which needs to approve Time Warner Cable’s transfer of 2.5 million in-state subscribers, already has been advised by staff to require improvements in consumer surveys as a condition of the deal.


Sena Fitzmaurice, a spokeswoman for Philadelphia-based Comcast, said the company is “open to discussing reasonable conditions which don’t unduly burden our business.”


Time Warner Cable spokesman Bobby Amirshahi didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail today asking about possible conditions for merger approval.


The company said it had restored service within a few hours to most of the subscribers who lost Internet and on-demand video this morning.


Governor Andrew Cuomo directed the New York State Department of Public Service to investigate the outage as it review the merger.


“The mayor continues to remain concerned about ensuring all New Yorkers have reliable broadband access,” said Ishanee Parikh, a spokeswoman for de Blasio.


A history of poor customer service makes cable “an easy punching bag,” said Craig Moffett, an analyst at MoffettNathanson in New York.


“Ultimately, the thumbs up or thumbs down isn’t likely to hinge on customer service, but instead on more substantive structural issues,” Moffett said.


Kim Hart, a spokeswoman for the FCC, which is reviewing the deal along with the Justice Department, declined to comment on possible conditions regulators may seek.


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Want Gigabit Internet? A fistful of cities can now give it to you | Patrick Nelson Opinion | NetworkWorld.com

Want Gigabit Internet? A fistful of cities can now give it to you | Patrick Nelson Opinion | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

At my home, I’d consigned Gigabit Internet to my back burner as a bucket-list wish. It’s something I’d like to see popup in my suburban pad in this lifetime — but I’ve not been betting on it.


My ISP is barely able to provide enough bandwidth for a stable Slingbox stream, so the idea that the duopolistic price-gougers are going to come along and actually provide an increase in value for my sixty-or-so bucks is not something I’ve been holding my breath over.


Slingbox is a device for personal, point-to-point streaming media, independent of Netflix and its ilk. It needs low latency and as much bandwidth as possible.


However, I may be wrong about the wait. There’s a surprising number of cities where you can order Gigabit Internet right now, or very soon.


What is it?


Gigabit Internet is about a 100 times faster than the measly kind of Internet our ISP gods ordinarily provide.


The term “gigabit” refers to a speed of one gigabit-per-second, or 1 Gbps. That 1 Gbps equates to 1,000 Mbps.


Where is it?


David Goldman, writing in CNNMoney, lists the obvious pipes at Kansas City, KS, which was Google Fiber’s initial market. He then also lists the driblet of Kansas City, MO and Provo, UT as being live. Austin, TX is about to launch Google Fiber, he says.


A delve into Google’s Official Blog produces a potful of cities that have been “invited” to “work with us to explore,” whatever that means.


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White House Nominates New IP Enforcer | Broadcasting & Cable

White House Nominates New IP Enforcer | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The White House has nominated Danny Marti as Intellectual Property (IP) Enforcement Coordinator in the Executive Office of the President.


Marti has been managing partner at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton in Washington, including serving as co-chair of the firm’s Intellectual Asset Acquisitions & Transactions team.


The IPEC oversees the White House's efforts to combat intellectual property infringement, including the theft of copyrighted TV shows and movies, while protecting fair use rights.


Marti's predecessor, Victoria Espinel, pushed for legislation to clarify that live-streaming illegal copies of movies and TV shows was just as much a crime as downloading them.


Marti was getting plaudits from the industry.


“We are pleased that the President has appointed Danny Marti as the next U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator and urge Congress to move quickly to confirm his nomination to this important position," said Kim Harris, general counsel of NBCUniversal. "We look forward to working with Danny and the administration on the important issue of protecting IP, which is a key driver of American innovation and economic growth.”


NBC has been a leading voice for intellectual property protection from the days when former NBC top exec Bob Wright carried the standard for the company.


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More 4K Sets Shipped In Q2 Than All Of 2013 | Multichannel.com

More 4K Sets Shipped In Q2 Than All Of 2013 | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Roughly 2.1 million 4K sets were shipped in the second quarter of 2014, surpassing the 1.6 million that were shipped in all of 2013, NPD DisplaySearch found in its latest 4K study.

 

While those totals still represent a small fraction of all TV shipments, the research firm noted that many brands introduced their 2014 models in the second quarter, “with a clear focus on 4K as the ‘must-have’ consumer feature for high-end television viewing.”

 

China’s share of 4K TV shipments dropped to 60% in the second quarter, off from 80% for all of 2013. NPD DisplaySearch noted that China lacks sources of 4K content, so TV-makers were largely marketing higher pixel counts to consumers.

 

“New 4K TV models from global brands have been introduced in all regions this year, and there has lately been increased 4K UHD content available from streaming providers,” the firm points out. Just this week, Samsung announced an expanded 4K ecosystem that includes a broader array of over-the-top Ultra HD content sources, including access to 4K fare from Amazon in October.


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Net Neutrality: What’s at Stake? | Bloomberg TV

Net Neutrality: What’s at Stake? | Bloomberg TV | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Internet Association CEO Michael Beckerman and Columbia University Senior Fellow Alec Ross discuss the internet experience in the U.S., efforts to protect a free internet and business in the sharing economy. They speak on Bloomberg TV's  ‘Market Makers.


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Netflix Petitions FCC to Block Comcast Time Warner Cable Merger | Issie Lapowsky | WIRED.com

Netflix Petitions FCC to Block Comcast Time Warner Cable Merger | Issie Lapowsky | WIRED.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Netflix has been one of the most vocal proponents of net neutrality, and now, the video streaming company is taking its fight straight to the top.


On Tuesday, the company filed a Petition to Deny document to the FCC, asking the government body to block the merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, two of the country’s largest internet service providers. It’s the first official appeal of its kind by Netflix, and yet, the lengthy 256-page petition echoes sentiments that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has been extremely outspoken about since news of a potential merger first broke. It states that such a merger “would set up an ecosystem that calls into question what we to date have taken for granted: that a consumer who pays for connectivity to the Internet will be able to get the content she requests.”


Netflix’s fear, shared by much of the internet community, is that if the two companies were to merge they would have unprecedented power to charge companies like Netflix more for faster service. As Hastings recently told WIRED for a story on this very topic, Netflix has already signed deals with Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T, to ensure better service. And just this month, Netflix signed a similar deal with Time Warner Cable.


Hastings noted that it was only major ISPs charging these so-called interconnection fees, and not their smaller competitors. “Why would more profitable, larger companies charge for connections and capacity that smaller companies provide for free? Because they can,” Hastings wrote. “A combined company that controls over half of US residential Internet connections would have even greater incentive to wield this power.”


For large online video distributors like Netflix, such fees are troublesome, but ultimately, manageable. The greater concern, Hastings told WIRED, is that the proliferation of these fees will completely alienate smaller, leaner start-ups. “The next Netflix won’t stand a chance if the largest US Internet service providers are allowed to merge or demand extra fees from content companies trying to reach their subscribers,” Hastings wrote.


Netflix is far from alone in this fight. On Monday, DISH Network filed its own Petition to Deny to the FCC, citing many of the same concerns as Netflix. “As companies such as DISH innovate and invest to meet the growing consumer appetite for broadband-reliant video products and services, this chokehold over the broadband pipe would stifle future video competition and innovation,” the petition reads, “all to the detriment of consumers.”

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A (rather misleading) message from Comcast on net neutrality | Michael Hiltzik | LATimes.com

A (rather misleading) message from Comcast on net neutrality | Michael Hiltzik | LATimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it
@hiltzikm.@richarddrake And what would you call it when a company goes from 3,800 jobs to 1,900? "Job creation?"

Say this for Politico and the daily Playbook emails it blasts out to a large circle of Washington opinion makers and their ilk: They make it easy to keep track of the latest lobbying balderdash put out by big corporations. That's because the lobbying messages show up as advertising messages in the Playbook emails.


In the past, we've highlighted a campaign of disinformation sponsored by BP in connection with its responsibility for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Now let's take a look at Comcast.


The big cable company, which is trying to persuade the Federal Communications Commission to approve its merger with Time Warner Cable, has been the Playbook email sponsor this week. On Monday and Tuesday, its message included the following assertion:


"[W]e are the only Internet Service Provider to agree to be legally bound by full Net Neutrality rules." (See accompanying graphic.) The company also incorporates this statement in its corporate publicity about the proposed merger. 


As a straight factual statement, this is correct as far as it goes. But it doesn't go nearly far enough to qualify as the whole truth.


What Comcast doesn't say is that it was required by regulators to make that agreement as a condition of its acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2011.


What Comcast also doesn't say is that its commitment remains in effect only until January 2018. After that, the shackles are off -- unless the FCC or Justice Department, which also will review the Time Warner Cable deal, make its extension a condition of their approval.


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NAB to FCC: Cable, DBS Should Join Political File Party | Broadcasting & Cable

NAB to FCC: Cable, DBS Should Join Political File Party | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The National Association of Broadcasters says it is fine with the FCC extending its online political file mandate to all video services, including cable and satellite and even broadcast radio, though there are some issues with the last that might require a phased-in approach.


The FCC earlier this month opened a docket (14-127) and sought comment on a petition by the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause and Sunlight Foundation to require cable and satellite operators to make their political files part of a national searchable database, as is the requirement for all TV stations since July 1. 


"The Commission should...act expeditiously to proceed with a rulemaking to require all cable and DBS systems to post their public and political files online," said NAB.


The FCC phased in the requirement for TV stations, starting with the top four in the top 50 markets before extending it to all TV stations July 1.


NAB fought the mandate for TV, but has always said that if the FCC were applying it, it was unfair not to apply it to its cable and satellite competitors.


The political file includes contracts for political ad buys, including prices. They have always been public, but previously only had to be kept at the local station. The FCC requirement is that they be uploaded to a searchable FCC database, which campaign finance reformers — notably Sunlight Foundation et al. have used to keep track on ad buys, though they have been pushing for even more disclosure in those files.


"The rate disclosure and public file requirements of Section 315 of the Communications Act, as amended by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, apply not only to broadcast stations, but also to cable systems and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) operators as well," said NAB in its comments. "There is no reasoned basis for treating the public/political files of cable and DBS providers differently."


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IPv6 adoption starting to add up to real numbers: 0.6 percent | Ars Technica

IPv6 adoption starting to add up to real numbers: 0.6 percent | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In a paper presented at the prestigious ACM SIGCOMM conference last week, researchers from the University of Michigan, the International Computer Science Institute, Arbor Networks, and Verisign Labs presented the paper "Measuring IPv6 Adoption." In it, the team does just that—in 12 different ways, no less. The results from these different measurements don't exactly agree, with the lowest and the highest being two orders of magnitude (close to a factor 100) apart. But the overall picture that emerges is one of a protocol that's quickly capturing its own place under the sun next to its big brother IPv4.


As a long-time Ars reader, you of course already know everything you need to know about IPv6. There's no Plan B, but you have survived World IPv6 Day and World IPv6 Launch. All of this drama occurs because existing IP(v4) addresses are too short and are thus running out, so we need to start using the new version of IP (IPv6) that has a much larger supply of much longer addresses.


The good news is that the engineers in charge knew we'd be running out of IPv4 addresses at some point two decades ago, so we've had a long time to standardize IPv6 and put the new protocol in routers, firewalls, operating systems, and applications. The not-so-good news is that IP is everywhere. The new protocol can only be used when the two computers (or other devices) communicating over the 'Net—as well as every router, firewall, and load balancer in between—have IPv6 enabled and configured. As such, getting IPv6 deployed has been an uphill struggle. But last week's paper shows us how far we've managed to struggle so far.


In an effort to be comprehensive, the paper (PDF) visits all corners of the Internet's foundation, from getting addresses to routing in the core of the network. The researchers also got their hands on as many as half of the packets flowing across the Internet at certain times, counting how many of those packets were IPv4 and how many were IPv6.


The authors focused on content providers, service providers, and content consumers. For each of these, the first step toward sending and receiving IPv6 packets is to get IPv6 addresses. Five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) give out both IPv4 addresses and IPv6 addresses. Looking at 10 years of IP address distribution records, it turns out that prior to 2007, only 30 IPv6 address blocks or address prefixes were given out each month. That figure is now 300; the running total is 18,000. IPv4, on the other hand, reached a peak of more than 800 prefixes a month in 2011 and is now at about 500. Although IPv6 is close on a monthly basis, IPv4 had a big head start and is currently at 136,000 prefixes given out.


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Top things to consider as you prepare for the transition to 802.11ac Gigabit Wi-Fi | NetworkWorld.com

Top things to consider as you prepare for the transition to 802.11ac Gigabit Wi-Fi | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

his vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter’s approach.


The move to 802.11ac gigabit Wi-Fi is picking up steam, seeing a 540% increase since 2013, for obvious reasons: 802.11ac is faster, more agile and more robust than any of its predecessors. Providing Wi-Fi at the speed of wired networks, 802.11ac is revolutionizing how enterprises support the large quantity of devices connecting to their corporate networks. With multiple product introduction waves expected in the coming years, adoption will only accelerate.


With all that 802.11ac has to offer, organizations need to make sure they are set up for success. Here are the top things to consider as you prepare for the transition:


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More items to consider when making the upgrade to 802.11ac WiFi