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Net neutrality will impact IT | ComputerWorld.com

Net neutrality will impact IT | ComputerWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Earlier this month the United States Court of Appeals struck down the FCC's Net Neutrality directive.  Just in case you were worried, let me assure you the Internet won’t be coming to an end anytime soon.  While this decision has been covered extensively in the media, not much has been said about the potential impact to IT organizations. So without further ado, let’s discuss what IT departments can and should do about it.


As a quick reminder, net neutrality seeks to ensure by law that the data which travels over the Internet continues to get treated equally, as it has always been. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are prohibited from favoring certain products or websites over others, regardless of the source. This equal treatment has, up until now, served to level the playing field for everyone using the Internet. A startup website run by one person has had the same opportunity to succeed as one launched by a Fortune 500 company.


Most of us aren’t fans of cable or satellite TV services because they require us to pay for channels we don’t want (ok, service also stinks). We all wish we could customize our own list of channels to access, and pay for just those channels rather than have to pay for the entire ‘package.’ This same scenario also plays out with Internet services, where different tiers charge for set packages of content offerings. While it's possible, and there are indeed examples of this already happening, I really don’t think ISPs will do it on a large scale. It would seriously upset the balance that makes the Internet possible and, therefore, backfire on the ISPs trying to profit from the situation.


There is still a long legal path ahead with appeals and arguments before we know the final outcome. Until then, let’s think about this from an IT perspective and create some theoretical scenarios.


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Time Warner Cable bets big on easy and secure Wi-Fi, rolling out Hotspot 2.0 networkwide | GigaOM Tech News

Time Warner Cable bets big on easy and secure Wi-Fi, rolling out Hotspot 2.0 networkwide | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Time Warner Cable has turned on the Hotspot 2.0 capabilities across its public Wi-Fi network, letting customers with newer smartphones or tablets connect to its 33,000-node wireless network without entering passwords or dealing with login screens. Time Warner VP of Wireless Products Rob Cerbone confirmed to Gigaom that it has upgraded the majority network with Hotspot 2.0 software, and its broadband customers have been connecting to it since the end of March.


Hotspot 2.0 is a technology designed to make public Wi-Fi work like cellular networks by automatically recognizing and connecting devices that have permission to access any given access point. Typically consumers trying an ISP or carrier’s Wi-Fi network have to go through a login portal on their web browsers or download special connection software, limiting the hotspots’ appeal to consumers, especially those connecting with mobile devices.


Hotspot 2.0 has actually been around for quite a while — the Wi-Fi Alliance began certifying devices two years ago under its Passpoint program — but carriers and ISPs have been slow to adopt it. Hotspot provider Boingo began offering it to its customers in February, but on a limited basis in 21 airports, making Time Warner’s launch the first large-scale implementation of Hotspot 2.0 in the U.S.


Time Warner is looking at Hotspot 2.0 differently than a carrier would, Cerbone said. While mobile operators are looking to offload data traffic from their cellular networks, Time Warner doesn’t have a mobile network. Wi-Fi is more a means to give its cable customers access to broadband connections outside their homes, which is why it has focused its hotspot efforts in key markets in its cable territory. Today its Wi-Fi systems are concentrated in commercial businesses and heavily trafficked outdoor locations in Southern California, New York City, Austin, Charlotte, Kansas City, Myrtle Beach and Hawaii.


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In the Internet revolution, we can't afford to leave part of the country behind | Eva Arevuo Guest Editorial | VentureBeat.com

In the Internet revolution, we can't afford to leave part of the country behind | Eva Arevuo Guest Editorial | VentureBeat.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Too many communities have been left behind as the Internet revolution marches on. In areas of the U.S. underserved by broadband networks – where it might also be too expensive to own a personal computer – adults who went to school too long ago and have not pursued re-skilling programs, and students who do not have Internet access at home or at school, are in danger of never catching up.


Efforts originating in the public and private sectors are trying to change this, but we need to do more. The President’s ConnectED plan to reform E-Rate aims to connect 99 percent of classrooms and libraries within five years. As I’ve argued before, this program is essential for educational equality and equality of opportunity post high-school, and it needs broader support.


On the private side, the Red Hook Initiative (in Red Hook, Brooklyn) has installed free Wi-Fi routers at churches, schools, and other community spaces. With a complimentary program in local schools focused on leadership, employment skills, and STEM training, the initiative has empowered the community to develop services in the present, and students are also better prepared for their futures in the modern economy. With support from local and state governments, successful programs like this could be rolled out to more places where they are needed.


One model for public-private partnerships worth following is what Etsy is doing in the post-industrial community of Rockford, Illinois (at the request of the town’s mayor, Larry Morrissey) and in underemployed communities in New York City. Working with local groups, Etsy has a “craft entrepreneurship” program to teach basic business and computer literacy by boosting existing craft and manufacturing skills.


According to Etsy’s site, “many low-income groups have long had craft and manufacturing skills but are unsure of how to unlock the potential of these skills for income and wellbeing in this day and age.”


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South Carolina makes key progress in getting Web access for all | The Times and Democrat

Governments such as Orangeburg playing role in expanding Internet service that is vital in today’s world


Leaders have frequently referenced the importance of bringing broadband Internet services to rural areas if Orangeburg and other rural counties are to realize their potential in development.


Access to the World Wide Web is vital today, from the workplace to the home, from the school to the playground.


In a special section included as part of The Times and Democrat’s “Industry Appreciation” package in this Sunday’s edition, Orangeburg County government reports to the people on progress made in bringing technology and infrastructure across an area that stretches nearly 100 miles from Springfield in the west to Eutawville in the east.


In August 2010, U.S. Congressman James Clyburn announced Home Telephone Co. would receive about $4 million to bring broadband Internet to rural areas, including parts of Orangeburg County.


A lot has happened since, with county government playing a key role in putting up the required matching funds to accompany federal dollars designed to hasten expansion of broadband.


To date, residents in rural areas such as Rowesville, Cattle Creek, Bowman, Branchville and Canaan either have access to high-speed Internet service or will receive it in the short term. The goal is to have broadband county-wide by the end of the decade.


At the same time, Connect South Carolina, the initiative to provide service throughout the state, is reporting that the Palmetto State has surpassed the national average with 76 percent of households subscribing to broadband service in 2013, up from 62 percent in 2010. That is a 14 percent increase.


According to the Pew Research Center, the national broadband adoption rate in 2013 was 70 percent, which marks a 4 percent increase since 2010.


Among other key findings of the 2013 Connect South Carolina residential survey are:


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Fargo, ND: A different kind of ‘twin cities’ | INFORUM.com

Fargo, ND: A different kind of ‘twin cities’ | INFORUM.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Some call them the twin cities.


Sioux Falls and Fargo.


The two Dakota stops on Interstate 29 have so many similarities that more Sioux Falls businesses have headed north and Fargo’s influence is felt south, too.


From retail to real estate, banking to broadband services and medical care to marketing, the two communities both are home to several Sioux Falls names, including Zandbroz Variety, Midcontinent Communications, Home Federal Bank, Syverson Tile, Lawrence & Schiller and Sanford Health.


On the flip side, Fargo often leads Sioux Falls when it comes to getting trendy chain restaurants first or even airline services. The North Dakota city got Noodles & Company and Frontier Airlines before Sioux Falls did, for example.


A case can be made that Sioux Falls has shifted its alignment with neighboring cities. While it drew comparisons with Sioux City during its meatpacking heydays, the city now looks more like Fargo, with a similar robust economy, a health care emphasis and downtowns that are full of locally owned restaurants and shops.


Tom Simmons, senior vice president of public policy for Midcontinent Communications in Sioux Falls, said the company is building a new broadband system to provide service in Fargo because there is good support from customers there who like services already provided in the Fargo-Moorhead area.


“The time is very opportune because Fargo has a very aggressive plan for the future,” he said. “I think there’s a like spirit in the Fargo-Moorhead metro area as there has been in Sioux Falls.”


The project is expected to take three years, but Midcontinent will add customers as the project is built out.


“It’s the right decision at the right time, we think,” he said.


Simmons, who has been active in Sioux Falls development efforts for years, said it will be hard for any community to top Sioux Falls’ successes of late and the national notoriety that has come with that. However, he said, “I’d sure like to see Fargo try.”


“There are certainly differences. From our standpoint, there are enough things similar for us to be comfortable,” Simmons said.


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The First Cellphone Went on Sale 30 Years Ago for $4,000 | Mashable.com

The First Cellphone Went on Sale 30 Years Ago for $4,000 | Mashable.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Somewhere in either Chicago, Baltimore or Washington, someone plunked down $3,995 to buy the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, the first handheld cellphone, on March 13, 1984 — 30 years ago today.


We don't know who that first cellphone buyer was. At the time, the occasion didn't register as historically auspicious. After all, in 1984, the terms "cellphone" and "mobile phone" didn't refer to handheld phones; those terms referred to car phones, which had been around since the mid-1940s. What was celebrated at the time was the kick-off consumer cellular call — made to the great-grandson of Alexander Graham Bell — six months earlier.


A handheld portable phone was considered a gimmick, a "look what I got!" rich man's toy with dubious utility. Measuring 13 x 1.75 x 3.5 inches and weighing 28 ounces, the 8000X was so big and heavy, even its creators had nicknamed it "The Brick." Plus, you could only use it for a half an hour before the battery gave out. Who would pay a quarter of the average salary in 1984 — more than $9,000 in 2014 dollars — to carry around such a useless load, especially since payphones were everywhere and only cost a dime to use?


The lack of commemoration of that first portable phone sale is understandable. What has turned out to be the most ubiquitous gadget in history started life as a publicity stunt, prompted by panic.


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Let's get personal about WiFi | Robert Brown Blog | LinkedIn.com

The few of us that have been in this space as long as I have can appreciate what seems to be a resurgence or emphasis on WiFi deployments, new standards for speed and of course the new applications riding over WiFi. Nearly a decade ago the naysayers exclaimed that WiFi would be eventually replaced by faster, more ubiquitous cellular technologies. Truth is, WiFi today is in more devices and in more places around the globe than any other wireless technology. But it goes beyond the number of places one can connect.


Consumers want the same experience over WiFi as they get at their home or office. They don't care so much about whose brand manages the network, but very much care about the quality of the network. They want it to be fast, unfettered access, with as few obstacles to get connected as possible...and yes, they also do not want irrelevant ads, information or other content in their face which aren't of interest to them.


With that said, I think we're on the cusp of something really special in our industry – something that will improve the value proposition for all stakeholders, including the consumer, the venue, the carrier, the managed services provider, and the advertisers. To put it simply -- when the players all realize that monetization = personalization, that's when it gets real. That's when it gets relevant. That's when stakeholders make more money from the WiFi network.


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The Internet of the future will look a lot like TV | USA Today

The Internet of the future will look a lot like TV | USA Today | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

One day during that elective course, as I was waiting for one of my programming projects to print out from a machine that was about the size and shape of a small kitchen stove, my instructor said something interesting.


"The universities have the Internet now, but eventually it will be controlled by AT&T," the late Paul Hewitt said then, as we sat near a corner of a sealed room on the top floor of the St. Mary's University academic library.


That conversation took place four years after the U.S. Supreme Court had broken up AT&T's monopoly on American data communication services, creating seven regional U.S. rivals, dubbed the Baby Bells.


And it was a few years before Tim Berners-Lee, Marc Andreessen and others developed key software breakthroughs that gave birth to a commercial, consumer World Wide Web running over the Internet.


Now, after a wave of telecom consolidation at the turn of the 20th century, only two of those original seven Baby Bells remain, in the form of Verizon and the reconstituted AT&T.


Along with a handful of giant cable providers and satellite giants, less than a dozen companies control the overwhelming majority of U.S. Web traffic.


In the fourth quarter of last year, the number of TV-style commercials on digital entertainment delivered to U.S. high-speed Internet subscribers of those companies roughly equaled the number of pieces of content they appeared next to.


Moreover, Web-based video ads, and the TV shows, live events and movies that they are paired with, are growing in lock step at roughly 30% a year.


In other words, a network that began as a way for computer scientists to communicate is already half-commercialized, as Hewitt predicted to me 28 years ago.


With both business and consumers willing to pay for a broad array of products and services, the Internet has become the world's first global medium for delivering news and entertainment.


Not surprising, then, that it's started to look a lot like television — a medium that in the U.S. is overwhelmingly commercial (save for PBS and local public access channels, home of the original video bloggers).


Soon, it will likely be far more so.


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State senators want to mothball Vermont Telecommunications Authority | Bennington Banner

State senators want to mothball Vermont Telecommunications Authority | Bennington Banner | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Key members of the state Senate want to raise the bar for broadband Internet speeds in Vermont, and they're looking to change the administration's lineup to make it happen.


A proposal in the Senate Finance Committee would fold the quasi-public Vermont Telecommunications Authority into the Agency of Administration.


The committee is also pushing for minimum Internet access speeds of 100 Mbps to every address by 2024. The current minimum standard is 0.768 Mbps for downloads and 0.2 Mbps for upload speed.


The buildout would be funded in part by increasing Universal Service Fund charges for all phone service and applying a new charge to prepaid cell phones.


The Senate Finance Committee is reassessing the state's entire telecommunications system, including legislative mandates for the VTA, the Department of Public Service, the Public Service Board, the Department of Public Safety and E-911.


Though most of Vermont now has broadband, speeds in many place are slow.


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New antennas let you tune in TV for free | Detroit Free Press

New antennas let you tune in TV for free | Detroit Free Press | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The oft-forgotten TV antenna could help lessen your dependence on pay TV.


In addition to making their programming available on cable, fiber and satellite TV systems, more than 1,780 stations are transmitting digital TV channels that can be picked up in many cases by small indoor TV antennas.


Antennas are catching on as many consumers wean themselves off of pay-TV services use them to get local channels. Homes with an antenna rose from 20 million in 2012 to 21.5 million in 2013, an increase of 7%, according to tech research firm Strategy Analytics.


Use of antennas is expected to continue “to rise at a decent pace,” says Eric Smith, an analyst with the firm. That’s because Net TV services such as Netflix and Hulu, delivered via smart TV and devices and set-top boxes such as Apple TV and Roku — and now Amazon Fire TV — are not “the type of things you can rely on exclusively,” Smith says. “I think it’s more of a supplement to over-the-air broadcasts,” he says.


Reader Clark Davis reminded me of the importance of antennas in an e-mail after reading my previous Cutting the Cord column titled Few part with pay TV but some spurn it. He noted that most residents, particularly those in major markets, can get free channels with an antenna — sometimes channels not available on pay-TV systems.


And, of course, you would get all the major network programs, such as “Scandal” on ABC, “The Good Wife” (CBS), “New Girl” (Fox), “The Blacklist” (NBC) and “Downton Abbey” (PBS), not to mention local news and national sports broadcasts, including “NBC Sunday Night Football.”


“Couple this with all the free content on Apple TV and its access to Netflix, and you have quite a bit of incentive,” said Davis, who splits his time between Pontiac and Deerfield Beach, Fla.


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Why Amazon Should Acquire Sears | Robin Lewis Blog | Forbes.com

Why Amazon Should Acquire Sears | Robin Lewis Blog | Forbes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If you have any doubts, just wake up and think about it.  It’s a win-win for both Jeff “Get Big Fast” Bezos and Eddie “Take the Money and Run” Lampert.  Amazon gets roughly 2,400 U.S. stores (or “buildings”), overnight (1,300 Sears, 1,100 Kmart).  The acquisition becomes Bezos’ answer to omnichannel and the proven revenue synergy of consumers’ ability to shop online and off; the convenience of proximity for pick up and returns; and facilitation of even greater delivery speed. So just as Walmart’s 4,500 stores double as distribution centers, so would Amazon’s acquired Sears/Kmart stores.


The real estate assets would be the primary reason for Amazon’s interest in acquiring Sears Holdings .  However, there are several other valuable assets and operations, which Amazon could enhance and grow.


What Eddie gets in such a sale is a potentially profitable exit strategy that many analysts, myself included, believe he is pursuing.  In fact, in several of my past articles I have opined that Lampert was, indeed, managing the business into liquidation.  And regarding the real estate assets, Lampert has been methodically selling, leasing (partial or in total), and/or closing Sears and Kmart locations.  Indeed, he indicated not too long ago that Sears Holdings was considering shuttering its entire fleet of Kmart stores. So if he is seeking an exit, a far less painful and certainly more profitable option would be a sale to Amazon.


This could fall nicely into Bezos’ hungry little hands.  Amazon might be able to cut an incredible deal, at least far less costly in time and capital, than building or leasing its own nationwide distribution centers/stores.


The financial complexities involved in such a deal are beyond my pay grade, particularly since Eddie engineered a total reorganization of the business: morphing its structure into some 30 business units; establishing the securitization of brands — “unlocking value” as Eddie called it — and other aspects that might give the dealmakers a royal headache.


However, “by the numbers” alone, it might be timely for both Bezos and Lampert to want to make the deal. When Lampert formed Sears Holdings in 2005, revenues of the combined businesses were around $50 billion with about 3500 stores. Revenues and profits have dropped steadily, to $36 billion in 2013, with a loss of about $1.4 billion last year. The stock price hit a high in 2007 at $192 per share; today, a share of Sears Holdings is hovering around $30. One analyst said if the stock drops to  around $20 per share, Sears would be “one stop on the way to liquidation.”


So as Sears’ declining financial condition continues, its valuation as a potential acquisition target falls as well, making it very attractive to Amazon.  Sitting in Amazon’s lengthening shadow, Eddie might assess that the “whole” is now more valuable than the sum of each of the last few remaining assets.  Therefore, in my opinion, Eddie might be bailing into his lifeboat sooner rather than later, and a deal with Amazon wouldno doubt fill it with enough cash for him to add substantially to the pile he’s already extracted through his brilliant financial engineering.


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Canada: Rogers Communications Inc racks up near $40-million tab paying CEOs in 2013 | Financial Post

Canada: Rogers Communications Inc racks up near $40-million tab paying CEOs in 2013 | Financial Post | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Rogers Communications Inc. paid its incoming and outgoing chief executives a total of almost $40-million in 2013, including a retirement package worth $17-million and signing incentives for its new CEO of almost $10-million.


It was a year of transition for the telecommunications and media company as Nadir Mohamed announced his plans to leave the top job in February and, after a months-long search for a replacement, former Vodafone UK CEO Guy Laurence stepped in.


Mr. Laurence, who started on Dec. 2, took home total compensation for 2013 of $12.7-million, which includes pro-rated amounts for salary, share- and option-based awards, pension, and other benefits for the year.


It also includes a $750,000 cash signing bonus and “sign-on grants” of stock-based compensation worth $9-million, which Rogers said it paid “in consideration of the total value Mr. Laurence forfeited with his previous employer.”


The company disclosed the numbers in its information circular filed ahead of its annual general meeting.


Rogers also paid Mr. Mohamed total compensation of $26.8-million last year, $17.1-million of which was related to a retirement package he negotiated with the company.


Stephen Griggs, CEO of Smoothwater Capital Corp. and previous executive director of Canadian Coalition for Good Governance, said the amounts seem extreme for corporate Canada.


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New York Times Covers Fiber and Economic Development | community broadband networks

New York Times Covers Fiber and Economic Development | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In a recent New York Times article, reporter Kate Murphy shined a light on fiber's increasing role in economic development. Murphy discussed several of the same networks we have followed: Wilson, NC; Chattanooga, TN; Lafayette, LA; and Mount Vernon, WA.


Murphy acknowledged that successful companies are moving from major metropolitan areas to less populated communities out of necessity:


These digital carpetbaggers aren’t just leaving behind jittery Netflix streams and aggravating waits for Twitter feeds to refresh. They are positioning themselves to be more globally competitive and connected.


Murphy notes that countries where governments have invested in critical infrastructure offer more choice, better services, and lower rates. She also points to successful local initiatives, often in less populated communities where large private interests have not invested:


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FirstNet Testbeds & Interactive Map | GovTech.com

FirstNet Testbeds & Interactive Map | GovTech.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Simply stated, the mission of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is to create a single interoperable platform for emergency and daily public safety communications. The network is expected to cost upwards of $7 billion.


Building such a network has never been attempted, and the project raises a number of technical and operational questions. That's where the FirstNet testbeds come into play. FirstNet has approved spectrum lease agreements with four public safety communications projects to serve as proving grounds for the new network. Negotiations also are underway with a fifth project.


The testbed projects were drawn from a list of eight public safety communications projects that were previously awarded federal grants to develop LTE networks. These projects received a total of about $400 million through the federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) or similar programs.


Those jurisdictions were:


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Why many tech firms end up in the virtual trash heap | J.J. Rosen Blog | The Tennessean

Why many tech firms end up in the virtual trash heap | J.J. Rosen Blog | The Tennessean | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The quest for certainty in an inherently unpredictable world is often a wild ride.


The airwaves are filled with people confidently predicting everything from the weather, to the stock market, to who will win a football game. Professional prognosticators are paid big money to provide us with assertive (but often inaccurate) predictions about the future.


I was recently asked by a friend if I could suggest any favorite tech stocks to consider in planning his retirement portfolio. Predictability in the tech world is notoriously elusive. Nevertheless, I started doing research in hopes of finding a few solid tech stocks that even a non-techie investor such as Warren Buffett might find attractive.


I started my quest by thinking about what companies are likely to do well. Knowing that today’s environment is increasingly mobile and cloud-centric, I limited my list to the firms that are capitalizing on these trends and that also have strong brand names, notable market dominance and large “economic moats” (the safety that Buffet likes). I figured for a retirement account, it would be the big players with huge revenues (Google, Apple, IBM, Microsoft etc.) that would provide some safety while also having a strong upside.


As I was about to click send on my email list of suggestions, I had a sudden flashback that caused me to pause and back away from my computer ... “WordPerfect.”


Anyone born before 1980 may remember Satellite Systems International’s WordPerfect word processor as one of the most popular and market dominant software applications in the world. Nearly everyone used WordPerfect.


But as Microsoft released Windows and began to own the desktop, WordPerfect swiftly was pushed away and now barely exists.


Remember brand names such as Lotus 1-2-3, Novell Netware, Atari and Netscape? At one time, all of these products enjoyed extremely high market share, but then vanished quickly into the “where are they now” file.


The takeaway? Technology companies, perhaps more than any other industry, are fragile. What is popular today can be obsolete by tomorrow.


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KS: Shawnee County selected to pilot broadband initiative | Topeka Capital Journal

KS: Shawnee County selected to pilot broadband initiative | Topeka Capital Journal | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Surprising as it might seem, there are areas of Shawnee County that don’t have adequate access to the Internet.


“We have students, families and patrons of 372 who are currently underserved or unable to access quality and affordable broadband,” said Tim Hallacy, superintendent of Silver Lake Unified School District 372.

This, he said, at a time when teaching and learning — not to mention business interests — rely heavily on quality Internet access.


With Shawnee County’s selection as a pilot community for a statewide initiative to address that issue, a group of local taxing entities hopes to figure out exactly where those areas are and what they can do collectively to improve services.


In so doing, the entities hope to set a course for the community’s future, enhancing education, work force, public safety and financial stability by connecting to the digital economy.


“We’re going to be exposed to a lot of tools to help us learn more about what broadband means to our daily lives,” said Shawnee County Commissioner Shelly Buhler, immediate past chairwoman of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Council. “I don’t know what the end result will be, but I think it’s important that we’re at least discussing it.”


Shawnee County has been chosen by the Kansas Department of Commerce’s Statewide Broadband Initiative as a Local Technology Planning Pilot. Shawnee County will have access to national consultants, hired by the state through a federal grant, to help formulate a plan for enhancing broadband services.


So far the state has secured Norton County, Dodge City/Ford County and Fort Scott/Bourbon County in addition to Topeka/Shawnee County as pilot communities, said KSBI program director Stanley Adams. The commerce department didn’t have enough in the federal grant for every county, so it has selected about six counties to assign consultants and develop blueprints from which other communities can work, he said.


“We want to make sure economic development plans that are in the process include broadband initiatives,” Adams said.


Shawnee County’s selection came in part through the work of the ICC, a group of 11 taxing entities that has been studying the topic of broadband since December 2012. The ICC includes Shawnee County, Topeka, the library and airport agencies, and five school districts. The body can’t enter into contracts, form policy or employ people, but it has been charged with working together to improve the community and identify common areas of need.


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NC: Can High-Speed Internet Spark Better-Paying Jobs? | Elaine Pofeldt Blog | Forbes.com

NC: Can High-Speed Internet Spark Better-Paying Jobs? | Elaine Pofeldt Blog | Forbes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Many of us look at high-speed internet as a way to enjoy pleasures like clearer HDTV and speedier Wi-Fi. But as lightening-fast service gets rolled out in new markets, it could also pave the way to innovation–and new jobs for many–or so say proponents. We’re just starting to see what happens when businesses and consumers have access to connectivity at 1-gigabit-per second or faster.


“Everything in this country is evolving and changing, and technology is leading that change,” says Dan Limerick, co-founder of RST Fiber Optic Networks, a Shelby, N.C.-based firm that that develops and manages fiber optic networks. “Without more bandwidth, those changes are very difficult to make. It is impossible to download or move the information fast enough. A 1-gigabit connection makes that possible.”


Limerick’s company is working on building a 3,100 mile, 100-gigabit fiber network that spans North Carolina’s cities and rural areas, using Cisco’s architecture. The goal is to turn North Carolina into the first “gigabit state.” RST Fiber’s network will provide broadband service to both homes and businesses, he says.


“We’re really excited for RST Fiber to launch their service,” says Greg Smith, a marketing manager at Cisco. “We’re hoping they will be successful and grow.”


Limerick says that RST Fiber wants to counteract the gradual decline of the state’s textile industry, and the consequent loss of jobs. North Carolina’s seasonally adjusted unemployment figure was 6.4%, lower than the nation’s 6.7%, but many people in the state are facing the same underemployment and lack of opportunity that is hurting the middle class across the country.


“The job market has been lean, to say the least,” says Limerick. “The  jobs available are not the highest paying ones needed to adequately support a family. We felt we could do something about that by bringing technology to this area first. The idea took off and has grown.”


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VA: Lingo continues push to bring Internet to rural Augusta County | NewsLeader.com

VA: Lingo continues push to bring Internet to rural Augusta County | NewsLeader.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Lingo Networks’ rare private effort to connect broadband Internet service through some of the area’s most remote locations continues to snake westward from Staunton to West Augusta.


The family-owned business is planning expanded broadband coverage for rural customers with plans to run fiber optic lines to homes and towers.


An Augusta County effort to gather information for companies like Lingo to bolster rural access to high-speed Internet could soon give the company a boost.


This year’s snowy and bitter cold winter all but halted the company’s fiber optic expansion, but the $500,000 project has been fired back up, said Ryan Smith, Lingo vice president.


“We’re hooking people up as we go,” Smith said. “Instead of putting it all in, we’re working from both sides (of the new line) trying to get it all done.”


The company also wants to feed its towers with the fiber optic signal. The towers transmit to smaller structures throughout the area to bring wireless broadband to dish receivers mounted on homes within the line of sight of the towers.


Lingo refers to its wireless-fiber combination services as “wiber.”

Cable and larger communications companies don’t extend cable or fiber lines to rural areas because the densities don’t add enough customers to cover the investment quickly enough.


Lingo, which also sells and repairs electronics, doesn’t have to appease public investors who want fast returns on expenses, so it can extend its service and run on smaller profit margins, Smith said.


The company lowered its broadband package prices and builds its network out for a handful of customers at a time.


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The Videophone Turns 50: The Historic Failure That Everybody Wanted | Mashable.com

The Videophone Turns 50: The Historic Failure That Everybody Wanted | Mashable.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Every day, around 50 million people a day stare at and speak to each other on computer or mobile device screens across the great expanse of the Internet via Skype, Apple's FaceTime, Google Hangouts or some other video conferencing software.


This voluminous amount of video phoning would have made 19th and 20th century futurists smile and shake their heads, marveling at both how remarkably right and horribly wrong their visual telephone predictions would turn out.


It was 50 years ago, on April 20, 1964, and during the subsequent months of the World's Fair at Flushing Meadow Park across from the brand-spanking-new Shea Stadium in Queens, New York, that Mr. and Mrs. America got their first chance to make a video telephone call on Bell's Mod I (Model I) Picturephone. Fair-goers had to wait on line at the Bell Telephone exhibit at the northeast tip of the Fair to hold a 10-minute visual talk with a complete stranger at a similar Picturephone exhibit at Disneyland in California.


According to Jon Gertner, author of The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation:


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The Slow, Cold Death Of Cable Has Begun | HuffPost.com

The Slow, Cold Death Of Cable Has Begun | HuffPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Cable companies, you've been put on notice.


Cord cutting -- ditching your steep monthly cable or satellite bill and instead watching video online -- is on the rise, according to a new report from Experian Marketing Services.


In fact, some young adults may never even pay for cable TV in their lifetimes.


The number of cord-cutters, which Experian considers people with high-speed Internet who've either never subscribed to or stopped subscribing to cable or satellite, has risen from 5.1 million homes to 7.6 million homes, or 44 percent, in just three years.


In 2013, 6.5 percent of households in the U.S. had cut the cord, Experian found, up from 4.5 percent in 2010.


What's more interesting, though, is that number goes way up for households that use Netflix or Hulu, the subscription services that stream movies and TV shows online. Nearly a fifth of Americans who use Netflix or Hulu don't subscribe to cable TV.


And that number gets even higher if you look at a younger segment of the population. Almost a quarter of young adults between 18 and 34 who subscribe to Netflix or Hulu don't pay for TV, Experian found.


And who can blame them? TV is pricey. The average cable TV bill, not including fees, promotions or taxes, has increased by a whopping 97 percent over the past 14 years, according to the media research firm SNL Kagan. That bill could reach a whopping $200 per month by 2020, one study found.


That could spell trouble for cable companies like Comcast and Charter down the line.


"The young millennials who are just getting started on their own may never pay for television," said John Fetto, a senior analyst at Experian Marketing Services. "Pay TV is definitely declining."


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Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc's insight:

Its really tiring to read this kind of article.  If this reporter, would bother to read Thomas Kuhn's "The Structure of the Industrial Revolution" which came out in the early 70's, he would know that one technology does not "Kill" another, it just gives us more options.  Content is content and its just delivered by different infrastructure, platforms and devices.

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FCC’s rules for spectrum auction may level playing field for small carriers | Ars Technica

FCC’s rules for spectrum auction may level playing field for small carriers | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

On Monday evening, Re/code wrote about the complicated set of rules that the FCC's wireless bureau is hoping will be adopted for the TV spectrum auction that will take place in 2015. According to these restrictions, carriers with lots of spectrum like AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint, could be prohibited from bidding on up to one-third of the auctioned-off spectrum in a given area, at least when the bidding in that area reaches a particular price.


The auction rules would dictate how many licenses a wireless company could purchase by creating two classes of spectrum licenses: restricted and unrestricted. According to Re/code, all companies would be allowed to bid on the available spectrum at first, generally in blocks of 5 MHz. Then if the bidding reaches a “threshold price,” 30 MHz of the spectrum in that market would be reserved for smaller competitor companies.


Additionally, the FCC is looking to adopt new “spectrum screens” which would limit how much spectrum a wireless carrier could hold in a certain market. Under the rules, if a carrier tried to buy up more than a certain amount of spectrum in the market, that would trigger extra scrutiny at the FCC before the deal could go through. The upcoming availability of spectrum, combined with new rules for who can own it, has garnered a lot of attention.


The rules that Re/code's sources spoke about aren't set in stone yet and still need to be shown to other members of the FCC to get their approval. But the FCC's wireless bureau may be trying to strike compromises before the proposal has even drawn objections. Re/code explains the tension:


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Canada: If They Can Do It | POTs and PANs

Canada: If They Can Do It | POTs and PANs | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

I think everybody agrees that we don’t have enough last mile fiber infrastructure in this country to bring high-speed internet to the homes and businesses that want it. For various reasons the large telecom companies have decided to not invest in rural America, or even in any town or neighborhood where it costs more than average to build fiber.


Meanwhile we have a lot of municipalities that are interested in getting fiber to their communities but don’t know how to get it financed. Lastly, from what I read, we have tens and maybe hundreds of billions of dollars of potential investment money on the sidelines looking for solid investment opportunities. It seems like there ought to be an easier way to pull these things together because all of the components are there to make this work – the customer demand, the community desire and the money needed to get it done.


One has to look north to Canada to see an economic model that offers an answer – public private partnerships (P3s). For an example of a working investment model, consider  Partnerships British Columbia. The venture was launched in 2002 and is wholly owned by the province. It’s operated by a Board comprised of both government and private sector members.


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TrueCrypt audit finds “no evidence of backdoors” or malicious code | Ars Technica

TrueCrypt audit finds “no evidence of backdoors” or malicious code | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

On Monday, after seven months of discussion and planning, the first phase of a two-part audit of TrueCrypt was released.


The results? iSEC, the company contracted to review the bootloader and Windows kernel driver for any backdoor or related security issue, concluded (PDF) that TrueCrypt has: “no evidence of backdoors or otherwise intentionally malicious code in the assessed areas.”


While the team did find some minor vulnerabilities in the code itself, iSEC labeled them as appearing to be “unintentional, introduced as the result of bugs rather than malice.”


Since September 2013, a handful of cryptographers have been discussing new problems and alternatives to the popular security application. By February 2014, the Open Crypto Audit Project—a new organization based in North Carolina that seeks formal 501(c)3 non-profit status—raised around $80,000 toward this goal on various online fundraising sites.


"[The results] don't panic me,” Matthew Green, a Johns Hopkins cryptography professor who has been one of the people leading this effort, told Ars. “I think the code quality is not as high as it should be, but on the other hand, nothing terrible is in there, so that's reassuring.”


Green said that the second phase was now to perform a “detailed crypto review and make sure that there’s no bug in the encryption.”


Specifically, the report continued:


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Bitcoin 2.0: Unleash The Sidechains | TechCrunch.com

Bitcoin 2.0: Unleash The Sidechains | TechCrunch.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

“Cryptocurrencies will create a fifth protocol layer powering the next generation of the Internet,” says Naval Ravikant. “Our 2014 fund will be built during the blockchain cycle,” concurs Fred Wilson. And Andreessen Horowitz have very visibly doubled down on Bitcoin.


Even if you don’t believe in Bitcoin as a currency, and I’ll grant there’s plenty to be skeptical about, you should be thinking: huh, a lot of extremely smart and successful people think that its underlying technology is a pretty big deal. But as I wrote myself just a few weeks ago, there’s a big difference between blockchain technology and Bitcoin itself, right?


…Maybe not.


A brief technical refresher: “blockchains” are the distributed-consensus technology introduced to the world by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto, wherein a peer-to-peer network is used to codify and cryptographically verify transactions, without any central authority. What’s more, transactions can be orchestrated by programmable contracts.


Bitcoin is both the first and most successful blockchain application, but there are many, many other “cryptocurrencies,” known as “altcoins.” What’s more, there are numerous other, non-currency applications being built on new blockchains, notably Namecoin and Ethereum, and several proposals for expanding and evolving Bitcoin itself, eg ZeroCoin, MasterCoin, Colored Coins, etc.


I realize this all sounds like abstruse hair-splitting to those not yet mentally invested in cryptocurrencies; but as Ravikant put it at TC Disrupt seven months ago:


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Long List of Public Interest Groups Sign on to Free Press Letter Opposing Comcast Time Warner Cable Merger | community broadband networks

Long List of Public Interest Groups Sign on to Free Press Letter Opposing Comcast Time Warner Cable Merger | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Free Press announced that more than 50 public interest groups, including the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, signed on to its letter in opposition to the Time Warner/Comcast merger.


The letter, addressed and delivered to Attorney General Eric Holder and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, begins:


The proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger would give one company enormous power over our nation’s media and communications infrastructure. This massive consolidation would position Comcast as our communications gatekeeper, giving it the power to dictate the future of numerous industries across the Internet, television and telecommunications landscape.


In the press release, Craig Aaron, President and CEO of the Free Press, stated:


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The White House finally has an online privacy policy you can probably understand | WashPost.com

The White House finally has an online privacy policy you can probably understand | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Friday the White House updated its online privacy policy. The major difference? Readers might be able to actually understand it now.


"Our old privacy policy was just that -- old," wrote  Nathaniel Lubin, the White House's acting director of digital strategy in a March blog post announcing that the privacy policy would be updated. "The last substantial update occurred in 2011, and its substance remains predominantly based on an even earlier version."


While there had been minor changes since the 2011 update that are preserved in an archive page, the policy that goes into effect on Friday looks much different, even if the substance is much the same. Most, but not all, of the legalese has been stripped out -- and it's housed on an interactive page with subheadings rather than appearing as a long text document.


"We wanted our new policy to be easier to read and understand, so we've built out a new interactive page that puts this into a simpler, shorter format with plain language (or as plain as we can)," explained Lubin.


There are few significant changes.


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