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George Packer: Is Amazon Bad for Books? | The New Yorker

George Packer: Is Amazon Bad for Books? | The New Yorker | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Amazon is a global superstore, like Walmart. It’s also a hardware manufacturer, like Apple, and a utility, like Con Edison, and a video distributor, like Netflix, and a book publisher, like Random House, and a production studio, like Paramount, and a literary magazine, like The Paris Review, and a grocery deliverer, like FreshDirect, and someday it might be a package service, like U.P.S. Its founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, also owns a major newspaper, the Washington Post. All these streams and tributaries make Amazon something radically new in the history of American business. Sam Walton wanted merely to be the world’s biggest retailer. After Apple launched the iPod, Steve Jobs didn’t sign up pop stars for recording contracts. A.T. & T. doesn’t build transmission towers and rent them to smaller phone companies, the way Amazon Web Services provides server infrastructure for startups (not to mention the C.I.A.). Amazon’s identity and goals are never clear and always fluid, which makes the company destabilizing and intimidating.


Bezos originally thought of calling his company Relentless.com—that U.R.L. still takes you to Amazon’s site—before adopting the name of the world’s largest river by volume. (If Bezos were a reader of classic American fiction, he might have hit upon Octopus.com.) Amazon’s shape-shifting, engulfing quality, its tentacles extending in all directions, makes it unusual even in the tech industry, where rapid growth, not profitability, is the measure of success. Amazon is not just the “Everything Store,” to quote the title of Brad Stone’s rich chronicle of Bezos and his company; it’s more like the Everything. What remains constant is ambition, and the search for new things to be ambitious about.


It seems preposterous now, but Amazon began as a bookstore. In 1994, at the age of thirty, Bezos, a Princeton graduate, quit his job at a Manhattan hedge fund and moved to Seattle to found a company that could ride the exponential growth of the early commercial Internet. (Bezos calculated that, in 1993, usage climbed by two hundred and thirty thousand per cent.) His wife, MacKenzie, is a novelist who studied under Toni Morrison at Princeton; according to Stone, Bezos’s favorite novel is Kazuo Ishiguro’s “The Remains of the Day,” which is on the suggested reading list for Amazon executives. All the other titles, including “Sam Walton, Made in America: My Story,” are business books, and even Ishiguro’s novel—about a self-erasing English butler who realizes that he has missed his chance at happiness in love—offers what Bezos calls a “regret-minimization framework”: how not to end up like the butler. Bezos is, above all things, pragmatic. (He declined to be interviewed for this article.)


It wasn’t a love of books that led him to start an online bookstore. “It was totally based on the property of books as a product,” Shel Kaphan, Bezos’s former deputy, says. Books are easy to ship and hard to break, and there was a major distribution warehouse in Oregon. Crucially, there are far too many books, in and out of print, to sell even a fraction of them at a physical store. The vast selection made possible by the Internet gave Amazon its initial advantage, and a wedge into selling everything else. For Bezos to have seen a bookstore as a means to world domination at the beginning of the Internet age, when there was already a crisis of confidence in the publishing world, in a country not known for its book-crazy public, was a stroke of business genius.


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Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream
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Extortion As a Business Model: Copyright Enforcer Wants to Lock Your Web Browser Until You Pay | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Extortion As a Business Model: Copyright Enforcer Wants to Lock Your Web Browser Until You Pay | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A for-profit company that believes it can earn billions from web users who illegally download music, movies and television shows wants the power to lock your web browser until you provide a credit card number to settle allegations you illegally download copyrighted content.

Rightscorp strongly believes in its business plan, which demands nuisance settlements from web users caught sharing or downloading copyrighted content. The company believes it has struck gold scaring Bittorrent users with service suspension and the threat of a costly lawsuit unless they agree to pay a $20 “fine” to “settle” the alleged copyright infringement. The fine amounts are seen as low enough to guarantee a quick settlement without involving an attorney.

“Based on the fact that 22% of all Internet traffic is used to distribute copyrighted content without permission or compensation to the creators, Rightscorp is pursuing an estimated $2.3 billion opportunity and has monetized major media titles through relationships with industry leaders,” the company recently told investors.

Using “unique and proprietary patented technology,” Rightscorp says it can identify the infringement of digital content such as music, movies, software, books and games. Rightscorp’s success getting paid depends heavily on the added weight Internet Service Providers can bring when they send on notices that claim those who don’t settle risk having their Internet service shut off. Rightscorp calls their settlement offers “reasonable,” especially when compared with the possible financial consequences of a verdict in favor of the copyright holder as defined in the Digital Millennium Copyrights Act (DMCA), which can be as high as $150,000.

Rightscorp splits any proceeds 50/50 with itself and copyright holders. ISPs get nothing for cooperating.

The company has successfully extracted settlements from more than 100,000 Americans so far as cooperating ISP’s like Charter Communications forward Rightscorp’s legal threats to their broadband customers:


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Verizon Wants You to Pay Less for Cable | Jamal Carnette | The Motley Fool

Verizon Wants You to Pay Less for Cable | Jamal Carnette | The Motley Fool | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In possibly the best example of how cable's pending demise, Verizon's CEO Lowell McAdam acknowledged the business model is flawed at the recent Goldman Sachs investor conference. Specifically, the company is planning to disrupt the current model by launching an Internet-based TV service in early 2015.

On the surface, that sounds rather innocuous, but the kicker is the company is planning to offer "a la carte" subscriptions over the current bundled channel model. Although the company appears to be positioning the service as a wireless device format, make no mistake -- this has the potential to disrupt the entire business model of cable. By paying lower costs for only what you want, the company is adjusting to consumers' preferences.

In a nod to the success of streaming-juggernaut Netflix, Verizon acknowledged the path forward would share many similarities with Netflix but avoids a big flaw in Netflix's value proposition: live events. Of particular interest was Mr. McAdam's comments on live sporting events; he stated the service would carry those events through multicasting – a technology that avoids congesting the network.

And that's important; sporting events and news are very important to cable companies because they provide a barrier of sorts to the so-called "cord-cutting" trend where consumers abandon cable for streaming services or nothing at all. Estimates vary, but a new study from Experian by way of USA Today pegs the number of cord cutters at 7.6 million households; good for 6.5% of households, up from 4.5% in 2010.


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ABI Research: LTE "reinvigorates broadband wireless access marketplace" | Gulli Arnason | FinancialNews.co.uk

New York-based ABI Research said that LTE has turbocharged the mobile Internet experience for end-users which has reflected in rapid adoption of LTE-capable smartphones along with other mobile devices, but it has also reinvigorated the broadband wireless marketplace.

According to ABI Research, 1.26bn households do not have DSL, cable, or fiber-optic broadband. Fixed and mobile telcos are looking to LTE to make the connection. “By the end of 2014, ABI Research anticipates there will be 14.5m residential and commercial premises with fixed LTE broadband access.

By 2019, that figure should grow to 123m,” said Jake Saunders, VP and 4G practice director at ABI Research.

Chipset and CPE vendors are stepping up efforts to prime the market by manufacturing lower cost devices for both the consumer and enterprise segments.


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AT&T Offers $40 HBO, Broadband Bundle With Amazon Prime | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com

AT&T Offers $40 HBO, Broadband Bundle With Amazon Prime | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

DSLReports regular Darknessfall See Profile directs our attention to the fact that AT&T is running a new promotion for U-Verse customers that offers users broadband, HBO, and a year of Amazon Prime for $40 for one year. Like Comcast, Verizon and others, AT&T has been offering a $40 broadband, HBO and limited TV bundle the hopes of appealing to (almost) cord cutters.

AT&T started offering that bundle back in April, though the monthly price jumped to a far-less-sexy $70-$80 a month after the promotional period ended.

AT&T's latest promotion adds a year of Amazon Prime to that mix, and comes on the heels of AT&T's exclusive partnership with Amazon for the Amazon Fire Phone. Here's the specifics from the promotion e-mail AT&T is sending to customers:


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Comments to the FCC on Data Speeds | Doug Dawson | POTs and PANs

Comments to the FCC on Data Speeds | Doug Dawson | POTs and PANs | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

I’ve been reading through the comments in FCC Docket 14-126 that asks the question if the FCC should increase the definition of broadband. The comments are sticking mostly to the expected script. It seems that all of the large incumbents think the current definition of 4 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload are just fine. And just about everybody else thinks broadband should be something faster. In the Docket the FCC suggested that a low-use home today needs 4 Mbps download, a moderate-use home needs 7.9 Mbps and a high-use home needs 10 Mbps.

AT&T says that the current definition of 4 Mbps is adequate to define ‘advanced telecommunications capability’ per Section 706 of the FCC rules. They argue that customers don’t use as much bandwidth as the FCC is suggesting. For example, they argue that most of their customers who pay for 12 Mbps service rarely hit a maximum of 10 Mbps during a typical month. They argue that the FCC is trying to change the definition of broadband by only looking at what the heaviest users of broadband are using.

AT&T goes on to say that they and other companies like Google and the large cable companies are now deploying gigabit-capable technology and so the FCC has no reason to worry about data speeds since the industry will take care of the problem by increasing speeds. I obviously disagree with AT&T on this argument. They are using the red herring of what is happening in places like Austin Texas and extrapolating that to mean that the whole country is seeing huge broadband upgrades. As I have written many times, small town America is not getting any of the new broadband investment that AT&T touts in their comments. And rural America is still often stuck with dial-up, satellite or cellphone data. Further, AT&T has been actively saying elsewhere that they want to kick millions of customers off copper and get rid of their DSL option.

Verizon took a different tactic in their filing. They also don’t want the definition increased from 4 Mbps. They first argue that they have made a lot of investments in broadband, and they certainly have done so with their FiOS fiber network in cities and suburbs. But they then go on to argue that cellular data ought to be counted as broadband and that they are offering a great cellular alternative to people. They cite that 97.5% of people in the country have access to LTE with broadband speeds greater than 10 Mbps download and that this should be counted as broadband.

There are a few problems with their claim.


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Healthcare.gov Is A Security Disaster... And Those Working On It Knew It, And Tried To Stop Independent Security Review To Hide It | Mike Masnick | Techdirt.com

Healthcare.gov Is A Security Disaster... And Those Working On It Knew It, And Tried To Stop Independent Security Review To Hide It | Mike Masnick | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

We've written before about how problematic the technology is behind the federal healthcare.gov website, pointing out that the federal government hired political cronies rather than web development experts to build it. There was an effort to open source the code, but after the feds put the code on github, they removed it after people started pointing out just how bad it was.


Then, just about a month ago, we noted that the government turned down a FOIA request from the Associated Press concerning the site's security practices, arguing that it might "give hackers enough information to break into the service." As we noted at the time, if revealing the basic security you have in place will give hackers a road map to breaking into the site, the site is not secure at all.

A damning new report from the Goverment Accountability Office (GAO) more or less confirms this is the case. This is further backed up by an even more astounding "Behind the Curtain of the Healthcare.gov Rollout" released by the House Oversight Committee.


To be fair, the GAO is non-partisan and known to be even-handed and fair. That's not always the case with Congressional committee reports. Still, the two are worth reading together. The level of mess behind the project is rather astounding and it appears that the site still is not particularly secure, which obviously explains the refusal to do that FOIA release.

Here's the GAO basic summary of the security situation for the site:


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Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities: Still significant support for LGA | Jess Bengtson | Crookston Times

Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities: Still significant support for LGA | Jess Bengtson | Crookston Times | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Bradley Peterson of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) visited Crookston Tuesday morning to discuss local government aid (LGA), economic development, job training, broadband and housing concerns.

In CGMC's report on Crookston, new LGA dollars for 2015 will increase by $42,720 under the 2014 Supplemental Tax Bill. The long term trend of the city's LGA showed its biggest increase happened from 2013-2014.

"What does everything look like going forward?" asked City Administrator Shannon Stassen. "Like a crystal ball outlook. We have concerns with possible steep declines."

Peterson answered with, "We have more buy-ins for LGA than four, five, or six years ago. We've done a lot to strengthen support in the House and Senate."

"My belief is long term, the program will be sustained no matter who is in office," Peterson added.


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Making Space for More Tech Firms in New York City | Rob Pegoraro | Urban Land Magazine

Making Space for More Tech Firms in New York City | Rob Pegoraro | Urban Land Magazine | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As New York City’s burgeoning tech economy continues to grow, startups face the same challenges for office space they would anywhere else—but have the added challenge of Manhattan-level price tags, vying for space with law firms, banks, and other well-financed tenants.

An absolute lack of space is not the issue, however. New York’s low 10 percent office vacancy rate may be second only to Washington, D.C.’s 9.6 percent, but an enormous amount of inventory is going up—7.7 million square feet (715,000 sq m) of space was on the way in early August, the second-largest citywide total in the country.

But demand remains strong. In the first half of 2014, Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) tracked more than 2.6 million square feet (241,500 sq m) of lease commitments by tech firms alone citywide; in Manhattan itself, those deals approached 15 percent of the office inventory leased in that borough.

Blockbuster deals like Google’s $1.9 billion purchase in 2010 of a full-block office building in the Chelsea neighborhood—with nearly 3 million square feet (279,000 sq m) of space, conveniently sitting atop trunk fiber-optic lines—no longer seem as easy to come by. JLL recorded only six tech leases for more than 100,000 square feet (9,300 sq m) over the first half of 2014.

For the very smallest startups, even 1,000 square feet (93 sq m) is often more than they require. They just need more room than an apartment offers, ideally allowing for a chance to work alongside other entrepreneurs dealing with some of the same problems.

Here, the city’s real estate and tech industries have stepped up with a wide variety of coworking spaces and startup incubators, all offering that rarity in New York real estate: cheap or even free space to get started.
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One common trade-off is equity. That’s the deal with the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator (ERA), an incubator that has been hosting startups since March 2011.

Accepted companies get $40,000 in funding, four months’ free office space and business and legal service, access to its network of mentors, and a chance to pitch themselves to investors at ERA’s annual Demo Day. In return, ERA takes 8 percent common stock in each company.


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Google, Yahoo fighting on both sides of municipal broadband debate | Colin Neagle | NetworkWorld.com

Google, Yahoo fighting on both sides of municipal broadband debate | Colin Neagle | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Last week the Internet Association submitted an official statement (PDF) urging the Federal Communications Commission to intervene in proposed state-level laws that seek to prohibit municipalities from deploying and maintaining their own broadband networks.


The Internet Association is essentially a lobbying organization that says it is “dedicated to advancing public policy solutions to strengthen and protect internet freedom, foster innovation and economic growth and empower users.” It supports net neutrality, patent reforms that could eradicate patent trolls, and the protection of privacy of internet users, among many other causes in the technology industry. The group boasts a long list of very high-profile technology companies, including Google, Amazon, Yahoo, Reddit, and PayPal.

The group's statement come in response to the FCC’s request (PDF) earlier this summer for comments from the public on its role in state-level debates over municipal broadband rights. The FCC issued its request in response to two proposed bills aiming specifically to prevent municipal networks in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Wilson, North Carolina, from expanding their networks to neighboring towns.


Lawmakers in 20 states have already passed laws that either place similar restrictions on or prohibit municipal broadband outright, and one such bill proposed in Kansas was withdrawn from consideration last year after its critics pointed out that it threatened to limit internet access in the state’s rural areas.

The Internet Association used this opportunity to call on the FCC to raise its minimum required speed of 4 Mbps for broadband and crack down on the ISPs’ use of hardware that filters out competitors’ content. Ultimately, though, the Internet Association is urging the FCC to stop all legislative and regulatory efforts to restrict municipalities’ rights to provide public broadband services.

Municipal broadband projects often pop up in markets that ISPs deem unworthy of an investment, often because their low population would limit potential revenue. It’s a pretty simple idea – if nobody is offering local citizens high-speed internet, then the local government creates the offering itself. Then these small towns’ schools, hospitals, businesses, and homes are equipped with the same high-speed internet found in their big-city counterparts.


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United States: Verizon extends ‘XLTE’ AWS network to 22 new markets | TeleGeography.com

Verizon Wireless has confirmed that it has expanded its deployment of 1700MHz/2100MHz advanced wireless services (AWS) spectrum to boost its Long Term Evolution (LTE) coverage in 22 additional markets.


Verizon has dubbed its deployment of 1700MHz/2100MHz AWS spectrum for LTE as ‘XLTE’; the new network has been designed to bolster capacity on the cellco’s 700MHz LTE network.


Further, the mobile giant has claimed that it now offers XLTE in more than 400 markets nationwide, equivalent to 80% of its LTE footprint. New markets include: Somerset (Kentucky), Hilo (Hawaii) and Jacksonville (North Carolina).

TeleGeography notes that Verizon started rolling out AWS spectrum late last year, initially augmenting capacity in major markets such as Chicago, New York City and San Francisco; around 50% of the cellco’s network was covered by May this year.

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Will Microsoft kill off the Minecraft marketplace? | Abby Ohlheiser | WashPost.com

Will Microsoft kill off the Minecraft marketplace? | Abby Ohlheiser | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The $2.5 billion Microsoft deal to purchase the makers of Minecraft became official on Monday, but some people -- especially non-gamers -- are just now starting to discover that the tech giant bought more than just a best-selling indie game with goofy graphics. Minecraft is also an ecosystem of dedicated fans who play, create and share within and beyond the game's open world.

Although it's not clear whether Microsoft will become more of a conservationist or a developer in this analogy, one thing is certain: Microsoft knows it's getting way more than just a popular game in which users basically mine for materials and build things. It's a game with a fan base that refers to the purchase in the first person:


@Microsoft You didn't just acquire Minecraft and Mojang, you acquired a big community. Do not. Let. Us. Down.

— Mack (@mackii) September 15, 2014


As evidenced by Amazon's $1 billion purchase of Twitch, the livestreaming service popular with gamers and virtually unheard of outside of that world, big companies are catching on to the value of owning the technology powering gaming communities. What's still unknown is how those communities will react, in the long run, to suddenly finding themselves in the hands of a major corporation -- and what Microsoft will do to try and keep them. For many, the Minecraft-Microsoft deal will become the canary in the redstone mine.


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CableLab's McKinney: DOCSIS 3.1 ‘Slightly Ahead’ Of Schedule | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com

When it comes to preparing tests and setting specs for cable’s emerging DOCSIS 3.1 platform, it’s been full speed ahead at CableLabs.

Development of DOCSIS 3.1 technologies are “slightly ahead of the original schedule that we laid out two years ago when we kicked off 3.1 activities,” Phil McKinney, the president and CEO of Louisville, Colo.-based CableLabs, said in a recent interview. 

 

With the first DOCSIS 3.1 chips expected to emerge by the end of 2015, McKinney sees 3.1 interops getting underway by the first half of 2015, with certification to follow in the early part of the second half of 2015.

 

“Then you’ll start to see physical deployments by the end of 2015,” he predicted.

 

And let there be no doubt that DOCSIS 3.1 is a major priority for the industry.

 

“Every time I have a conversation with any of the [cable operator] CEOs, typically the first part of the conversation is not about the weather; it’s about the status of DOCSIS 3.1,” McKinney said.


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Utilities: More evidence that smart grids are morphing into smart cities | Jesse Berst | Smart Grid News

Utilities: More evidence that smart grids are morphing into smart cities | Jesse Berst | Smart Grid News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It was about three years ago that I first started warning utilities that smart cities would soon be part of the conversation. I wanted to share this recent announcement from Silver Spring Networks as a reminder that the trend is gathering momentum. And to emphasize several key points:

  • Smart cities are based on the same technical principles as the smart grid -- sensors at the edge sending back information about conditions, then analyzing that data to optimize the system


  •  Multi-purpose communications networks are increasing in importance. Cities don't want, can't afford, and don't have the staff to maintain dozens of purpose-built networks


  •  Open standards are essential


  •  Cross-silo solutions are growing -- solutions that pull in data and expertise from several functional areas


There's no better example than the street lighting projects highlighted in the press release below. Swapping in new LED bulbs becomes an excuse to install communications modules at the same time, giving the city a canopy network it can use in dozens of ways.

The moral? The cities you serve will soon be asking you about smart streetlights. And, if they are wise, about multi-purpose networks that can carry many different applications


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Canada: CRTC orders Netflix to hand over confidential data | Toronto Sun

Canada: CRTC orders Netflix to hand over confidential data | Toronto Sun | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

On the final day of its television hearings, the CRTC demanded online giant Netflix release subscriber information, Canadian content numbers and project spending and set a strict Monday deadline to hand it over.

Corie Wright, Netflix's director of global public policy, sparred with those chairing the hearings in Gatineau, Que., Friday over whether the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) would keep such information confidential.

Wright said Netflix is concerned data would be submitted to the commission, but could later be released publicly, which would put the streaming service at a business disadvantage.

Tom Pentefountas, the CRTC's vice-chairman who headed the hearings, said Netflix makes millions of dollars off Canadian consumers and shouldn't have to be ordered to disclose the data.

CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais ordered Netflix to hand over data by 5 p.m. Monday.

"We need the evidence," Blais said, noting the CRTC goes through hundreds of proceedings each year and confidentiality hasn't been an issue.


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Watchdog – AT&T deal would harm consumers | Dave Seyler | Radio & Television Business Report

Watchdog – AT&T deal would harm consumers | Dave Seyler | Radio & Television Business Report | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Free Press has filed a petition to deny the merger of AT&T and DirecTV, saying that it would reduce subscription television competition in many markets and put upward pressure on pricing. It sees no mitigating factor to counterbalance that negative.

The watchdog argued that the pay television aspect of the merger was clearly a violation of antitrust guidelines. It believes that price increases would be in the future for all subscribers in a market where both are now operating in competition with one another, not just to subscribers of DirecTV and AT&T’s U-verse service.

As to claims that the merger will increase access to broadband, Free Press isn’t buying it.

Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner said, “AT&T’s attempt to dangle regulatory candy in front of the FCC — in the form of broadband deployment — echoes promises it made during its failed takeover of T-Mobile. Here AT&T is again making the case that eliminating a competitor in a near $70 billion transaction is the only way it can make what amounts to small deployment increases. These supposed benefits are actions AT&T would take in the absence of the merger and they don’t come close to offsetting the harms of this transaction.

Turner concluded, “AT&T and DIRECTV are much more likely to innovate, invest and compete if the FCC doesn’t sign off on their merger.”

Meanwhile, according to Reuters, some ninety companies with special knowledge of AT&T – they are said to have been former business partners – are calling for blockage of the merger. They believe that AT&T engages in anti-competitive behavior and that it violates its fiduciary duty. One, the Minority Cellular Partners Coalition, says AT&T engages in “squelching competition.”

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Turning Hotspots Into Dollars | Mike Farrell | Multichannel.com

Turning Hotspots Into Dollars | Mike Farrell | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Cable operators are beginning to look to their WiFi networks as a source of future revenue growth, with two top executives in the space recently saying that monetizing those assets will be a key focus over the next three to five years.

WiFi, the cheap-to-build wireless data conduit that most cable operators deploy as a free add-on to their wired broadband service, has been a key retention tool for many cable operators over the past several years.

 

But as those networks are built out more extensively, operators are beginning to see them as a potential profit center.

 

Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts recently compared the WiFi space to cable telephone service in its infancy. Comcast, he said, faced stiff criticism for not immediately deploying a circuit-switched telephone product as did some of its peers. It held back, he said, waiting for better economics and technology.

 

The same might hold true for WiFi, he said. The economics might be coming soon, in the form of a dual-use phone (which utilizes both WiFi and cellular networks) or a standalone product.


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NM: Albuquerque looks to create broadband network | Mike Springer | KOAT.com

NM: Albuquerque looks to create broadband network | Mike Springer | KOAT.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The city of Albuquerque is looking to create a community broadband network downtown.


The city would partner with a private company to create the system, which would provide Internet access to those around Central Avenue between 98th Street and Tramway Boulevard.

Eventually, the city wants to expand the system’s availability to the rest of the city. It says it could provide the service at a lower cost than some private companies.

“We really see this as a catalyst to really start to push the envelope on broadband and high-speed broadband in Albuquerque,” said Peter Ambs, the city’s chief information officer.

The city has a $1 million in bonds it can use for the project but won't know the real cost until it takes a look underground and sees the infrastructure it already has in place. Ambs said Albuquerque is below average for a city when it comes to broadband access and speed.

Ambs sees this as a necessary move to help Albuquerque catch up with other cities and help key projects that depend on Internet access.

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A Digital Desert: The Internet Debate Pits Local Communities Against Broadband Giants | Mike Ludwig | Truth-Out.org

A Digital Desert: The Internet Debate Pits Local Communities Against Broadband Giants | Mike Ludwig | Truth-Out.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Internet service with modern connection speeds is not available in much of Bradley County, Tennessee. Some parts have no internet service at all. But local advocates and lawmakers are pushing the FCC to intervene on their behalf - against major broadband companies and their lobbyists.

Joyce Coltrin runs a wholesale nursery about 10 miles from the outskirts of Chattanooga, Tennessee, in rural Bradley County. She relies on her iPhone at work because there is no internet connection at the nursery.

"A lot of the college students go to do their homework at McDonald's," Coltrin told Truthout. "Imagine your child at McDonald's, in the parking lot, in the dark, running the car so he can see the videos he needs for class."

Bradley County is a digital desert on the edge of an internet oasis. Internet service with modern connection speeds is not available in much of the area, and some parts of Bradley County have no internet service at all. Less than half a mile down the road from Coltrin's nursery, however, is the end of a fiber optic cable that supplies internet connections with speeds up to 200 times the national average.

The fiber optic line was installed by EPB, Chattanooga's local nonprofit electric utility, which in 2010 became the first company in the United States to offer one-gigabit-per-second internet speeds for its entire service area. For about $70 a month, businesses and residents in Chattanooga can enjoy some of the fastest internet available anywhere in the country.

Chattanooga now bills itself as "gig city," and its effort to "re-pioneer the internet" is fueling an economic and technological renaissance. EPB's hyper-fast fiber optic infrastructure has incubated high-tech startups and attracted companies that would typically be more at home in Silicon Valley. The city that was once considered "the dirtiest town in America" now boasts the title "best town ever."

Residents and businesses in neighboring Bradley County, however, are stuck in the digital Stone Age. "Most people think everybody has the availability of the internet," Coltrin said. "Well, it's not true at all. People in rural areas have few if [not] no options."


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MN: Outstate’s needs are top priority Nov. 4 | Heidi Omerza & Bob Broeder | St.Cloud Times

MN: Outstate’s needs are top priority Nov. 4 | Heidi Omerza & Bob Broeder | St.Cloud Times | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

At this time in the election cycle, political candidates are desperately fighting for our attention with a barrage of television ads, appearances, mass mailings and all the other hoopla needed for a winning campaign.

However, let’s not forget now is the time we must fight for their attention as well.

For many of us in outstate Minnesota, there is a real and constant struggle to avoid being overlooked by state leaders. While parts of outstate Minnesota appear to be recovering from the recession fairly well, serious problems are looming that need their attention.

Evidence shows that without a solid plan, rural communities will fall further behind the metro area due to unique concerns such as inadequate infrastructure (including a lack of broadband access and deteriorating roads), a rapidly aging workforce and a shortage of skilled workers to replace them.

We need a governor and legislators who will address these concerns proactively. As candidates make their rounds to community meetings and debates, residents in outstate Minnesota need to press them for solutions on our most pressing issues:

Better broadband access is desperately needed in outstate Minnesota. Last session, the Legislature responded by creating a $20 million broadband grant program. This is a start, but it’s only a drop in the bucket.

To truly show a commitment to making border-to-border broadband a reality, the governor and lawmakers should support the recommendation of the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband for $200 million for broadband funding in the next biennium.


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Web Inventor Tim Berners-Lee Gets To The Core Of Net Neutrality Debate: You Need An Open Internet To Have A Free Market | Mike Masnick | Techdirt.com

Web Inventor Tim Berners-Lee Gets To The Core Of Net Neutrality Debate: You Need An Open Internet To Have A Free Market | Mike Masnick | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The creator of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, has now spoken out strongly in favor of net neutrality in an interview with the Washington Post. The headline and much of the attention are going to his quip that what the big broadband providers are doing is a form of "bribery" in trying to set up toll booths to reach their users. And that is, indeed, the money quote, but it's not the most interesting part of what he's really saying.


It's in the context that he gets to that, where he's countering the bogus arguments from folks who insist that we don't need net neutrality rules because that would mess with "the free market."


That's wrong for a whole number of reasons that we've discussed previously, but Berners-Lee points out that to have a free market, you do need some basic accepted rules, and that's where some basic regulations are useful: regulations to keep the market free and open. And that's true of most "free markets."

"A lot of congressmen say, 'Well, sign up for the free market' and feel that it's just something you should leave to go by itself," said Berners-Lee. "Well yeah, the market works well so long as nobody prints money. So we have rules, okay? You don't steal stuff, for example. The U.S. dollar is something that everyone relies on. So the government keeps the dollar a stable thing, nobody steals stuff, and then you can rely on the free market."

In other words, in most cases, you do need some basic rules in place to make sure the free market is functioning fairly. It's why most free market supporters recognize that there's some sort of government role in preventing monopolies or fraud -- situations where the free market can break down. And that is what net neutrality rules would do. That's why free market supporters should be totally on board with net neutrality as well: because it's about making sure that there is a real free market for internet services that are above the infrastructure level.

This is why we find it so frustrating that the big broadband players and those who attack net neutrality as "regulating the internet" keep conflating internet infrastructure with internet services. They're doing it on purpose, of course.


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FCC questions how to enforce net neutrality rules | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com

FCC questions how to enforce net neutrality rules | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission needs to create explicit rules that tell broadband providers what traffic management techniques they can and cannot use if the agency has any hope of enforcing its proposed net neutrality rules, some advocates told the agency Friday.


The FCC needs to reclassify broadband as a common-carrier, public utility service in order to have a firm regulatory foundation to take net neutrality enforcement actions, representatives of Kickstarter and Mozilla said during an agency forum on net neutrality enforcement.

The FCC needs strong prohibitions against broadband providers selectively blocking or slowing Web traffic, said Susan Crawford, a visiting intellectual property professor at Harvard Law School. She called on the FCC to pass net neutrality rules pegged to Title II of the Communications Act, a section of the law that has focused on requirements for common-carrier telephone companies.

“Consumers are really collateral damage in some Titanic battles between these terminating [broadband] monopolies at the interconnection points and edge providers,” said Crawford, a longtime net neutrality advocate. “The government is the only entity that can take on these companies.”

The FCC’s mission is to protect the public trust, and that focus trumps the profit motive of a handful of large broadband carriers “every time,” Crawford added. “The only reason to water down very strong net neutrality rules under Title II would be to serve the commercial interests of the carriers,” she added.

Earlier this year, after a U.S. appeals court threw out parts of the FCC’s 2010 net neutrality rules, agency Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed new rules that would allow broadband providers to engage in what he called “commercially reasonable” network management. Advocates of strong rules have criticized Wheeler’s proposal, saying it would allow broadband providers to selectively slow Internet traffic and charge Web content providers for priority traffic handling.

Representatives of two broadband trade groups opposed calls for the FCC to adopt public utility-style rules, saying the dozens of regulations in Title II would create a long and expensive process for net neutrality complaints.


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Rightscorp cuts-and-runs as soon as it is challenged in court | Cory Doctorow | Boing Boing

Rightscorp cuts-and-runs as soon as it is challenged in court | Cory Doctorow | Boing Boing | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Rightscorp -- a firm that asks ISPs to disconnect you from the Internet unless you pay it money for alleged, unproven copyright infringements -- was finally challenged in court by an ISP, Texas's Grande Communications; as soon as it looked like it would have the legal basis for its business-model examined by a judge, the company cut and ran, withdrawing its threats.

The extortion business model is one of the ugliest innovations of the 21st century, and judges are generally pretty skeptical of it. Companies like Rightscorp are only viable because the sums they seek are lower than the cost of asking a lawyer whether you should pay them. But once a judge tells them they don't have a legal leg to stand upon, every future potential victim is only one search-query away from figuring out why they should tell them to go screw themselves.

Grande's advisory to the court about Rightscorp's tactics is a thing of beauty.


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Vendors line up for USD10bn open-access network in Mexico | TeleGeography.com

The Mexican government has reportedly received its first bid to build a USD10 billion state-owned open-access mobile network, from an as-yet-unidentified consortium.


According to Reuters, which cites four separate sources familiar with the matter, telecom equipment providers Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson helped the consortium craft the proposal, which has now been formally submitted to the government.


Two of the sources have suggested that the government aims to pick a winner in mid-2015, with Chinese vendor Huawei also linked with the project.


Indeed, Huawei has held several meetings with government officials regarding the scheme, with a company spokesperson telling the news agency that it was ‘natural’ for a company of its size to be invited to participate.

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No Neutral Ground At FCC Net Neutrality Forum | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

Net neutrality stakeholders did not appear to be drawing new territorial boundaries around their positions on new open internet rules in a Friday (Sept. 19) forum. Those boiled down to: Title II is a must vs. Title II is a bust.

The arena was the FCC's latest roundtable discussion on Open Internet rules at commission headquarters in Washington, this one on "effective enforcement."

"Everyone has the right to retreat into their corner and continue stating their talking points," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler had warned in his opening remarks. "But there is a risk of missing the opportunity to help shape dealing with an issue that is not monochromatic."

No one appeared to want to miss the opportunity to shape, but their positions seemed fairly set.

Strongly on the must side was Susan Crawford, Harvard Law professor, former Obama advisor and one of the biggest critics of Big Media, particularly big ISP's.

With references to Richard Nixon, Gov. Chris Christie's traffic cones (on the info highway), packets being kneecapped and tigers chasing bunnies, Crawford said that the best enforcement regime is a bright-line rule based on, and "only available in," Title II. Period. Full stop.

She hammered Comcast and Time Warner Cable and Verizon and AT&T as terminating monopolies and consumers as collateral damage in "titanic battles" between those gatekeepers for control of the net. She said most Americans have only one choice in ISP's, "the local cable monopoly."

Crawford said the government is the only entity which can take on those companies. Not multistakeholder models, not ombudsmen, not after-the-fact appeals. "They may have a profit motive," she said, but that is trumped by the public interest the FCC is sworn to uphold.

She said Sec. 706 would be watering down Title II to serve those commercial interests.

Crawford said that without that crisp, bright line Title II, and trying to rely on a case-by-case approach, the result would be "posthumous" validation of edge provider complaints about blocking or discrimination. It is hard to unscramble the egg after they have done what they do to edge providers, she said.

Rick Chessen countered that there was nothing simple or straightforward about Title II.


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MS: FCC needs to reform latest broadband effort | Ryan Kelly Op Ed | The Clarion-Ledger

MS:  FCC needs to reform latest broadband effort | Ryan Kelly Op Ed | The Clarion-Ledger | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For too long, rural areas have been effectively cut off from the kind of broadband Internet service that the rest of the country already enjoys. This is especially troubling for rural hospitals and health clinics, of which we have many in Mississippi. While some of these provider facilities have access to broadband, many do not. It’s time to close this gap for once and for all.

At issue is the Connect America Fund (CAF), which was established in 2011 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and how to best use its resources to build out broadband infrastructure to under-served rural areas. The original goal of the CAF program was to connect as many as 7 million un-served rural Americans to broadband by 2017 and all 19 million un-served residents by 2020. More than two years later, the CAF plan itself has yet to be fully finalized, much less fully deployed.

Now the FCC is moving toward completion of a larger and more permanent reform, called CAF Phase II, which will provide $1.8 billion annually for these rural broadband penetration efforts. Unfortunately, absent significant changes, CAF Phase II as currently written will create a new urban vs. rural digital divide with a significant population of “Internet have-nots.”

Most significant is the FCC’s mandate to more than double the download speed requirement, from 4 Mbps to 10 Mbps. While faster Internet speeds are crucial in terms of meeting the rapidly evolving needs of citizens (and especially healthcare providers), it is also true that to meet this mandate will require commensurate changes in other parts of the program.

In order to make sure real (10 Mbps or higher) broadband is available to all rural citizens over the long term, the FCC must focus its efforts going forward on robust fiber broadband build-out. In finalizing the CAF Phase II plan, the Commission should consider extending the planned funding period to 10 years to ensure full build-out of a higher-capacity network, as well as establish reasonable network build-out parameters. Providers should be allowed to refund support for locations that are especially remote and costly.

The FCC also currently abandons large parts of rural America, including rural Mississippi, to false or overstated claims of broadband coverage by basing cable operator coverage on unsubstantiated voluntary reporting by Census block and treating inadequate, unlicensed fixed wireless Internet service (WISPs) as a reasonable surrogate for facilities-based fiber broadband.

Such will not provide the coverage or reliability needed to provide quality healthcare in our now digital age.


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