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The Wolf of Sesame Street: Revealing the secret corruption inside PBS's news division | Pando Daily

The Wolf of Sesame Street: Revealing the secret corruption inside PBS's news division | Pando Daily | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

On December 18th, the Public Broadcasting Service’s flagship station WNET issued a press release announcing the launch of a new two-year news series entitled “Pension Peril.” The series, promoting cuts to public employee pensions, is airing on hundreds of PBS outlets all over the nation. It has been presented as objective news on  major PBS programs including the PBS News Hour.


However, neither the WNET press release nor the broadcasted segments explicitly disclosed who is financing the series. Pando has exclusively confirmed that “Pension Peril” is secretly funded by former Enron trader John Arnold, a billionaire political powerbroker who is actively trying to shape the very pension policy that the series claims to be dispassionately covering.


In recent years, Arnold has been using massive contributions to politicians, Super PACs, ballot initiative efforts, think tanks and local front groups to finance a nationwide political campaign aimed at slashing public employees’ retirement benefits. His foundation which backs his efforts employs top Republican political operatives, including the former chief of staff to GOP House Majority Leader Dick Armey (TX). According to its own promotional materials, the Arnold Foundation is pushing lawmakers in states across the country “to stop promising a (retirement) benefit” to public employees.


Despite Arnold’s pension-slashing activism and his foundation’s ties to partisan politics, Leila Walsh, a spokesperson for the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF), told Pando that PBS officials were not hesitant to work with them, even though PBS’s own very clear rules prohibit such blatant conflicts. (note: the term “PBS officials” refers interchangeably to both PBS officials and officials from PBS flagship affiliate WNET who were acting on behalf of the entire PBS system).


To the contrary, the Arnold Foundation spokesperson tells Pando that it was PBS officials who first initiated contact with Arnold in the Spring of 2013. She says those officials actively solicited Arnold to finance the broadcaster’s proposal for a new pension-focused series. According to the spokesperson, they solicited Arnold’s support based specifically on their knowledge of his push to slash pension benefits for public employees.


The foundation’s spokesperson said PBS executives approached Arnold “with the proposal for the series, having become aware of LJAF’s interest” in shaping public pension policy, and moving that policy toward cutting retirement benefits for public workers.


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ACA: FCC not applying RSN conditions in AT&T-DirecTV deal | Ben Munson | CED Magazine

ACA: FCC not applying RSN conditions in AT&T-DirecTV deal | Ben Munson | CED Magazine | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The American Cable Association (ACA) is taking issue with the FCC’s apparent decision to not apply merger conditions to the AT&T-DirecTV that would protect MVPDs from being stuck with “unreasonably” high fees for regional sports channels.

“The FCC’s action would fly in the face of overwhelming evidence that AT&T and DirecTV have overcharged for their RSNs and have every intention of continuing to do so and to an even greater extent,” ACA CEO Matthew Polka said in a statement.

Polka says that without conditions, AT&T-DirecTV could hike rates for smaller video providers and their customers, resulting in higher prices for consumers. He also says that a lack of conditions could have a chilling effect on investments in fiber-to-the-home and prevent new and existing providers from being able to offer a viable triple play option.

At the center of the argument are three Roots Sports networks owned by DirecTV and a fourth co-owned by AT&T and DirecTV. The channels serve Denver, Houston, Pittsburgh and Seattle markets.

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Mediacom petitions FCC for retrans blackout reform | Ben Munson | CED Magazine

Mediacom petitions FCC for retrans blackout reform | Ben Munson | CED Magazine | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Mediacom CEO Rocco Commisso wants the FCC to do something about rising retransmission fees and the blackouts local broadcasters use to keep the costs going up.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, Commisso lamented the Commission’s inaction as retransmission fees inflate, including another $3 billion per year increase during Wheeler’s tenure as chairman.

“PayTV costs are significantly higher in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world largely because the average monthly wholesale programming costs paid by most MVPDs have grown to over $45 per subscriber. To put these wholesale programming costs in their proper perspective, $45 is roughly the monthly retail price ISPs charge for their flagship broadband product,” Commisso wrote.

Commisso goes on to say that retransmission fees, at their current growth rate, are essentially doubling per station every two or three years. He warns that fees could reach $29 billion a year for MVPD customers collectively.

With that trajectory in mind, Commisso sees the options for MVPD boiling down to either no longer carrying local broadcasts that elect retransmission consent, raising pay-TV prices to levels “unaffordable for tens of millions of consumers,” or getting out of the video business altogether.

The final option, Commisso says, will “necessarily require broadband customers to bear a larger share of network costs.”

“These choices result in a lose-lose-lose outcome for the American public,” Commisso wrote.


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Hacking Team hack reveals why you shouldn't jailbreak your iPhone | Glenn Fleishman | NetworkWorld.com

Hacking Team hack reveals why you shouldn't jailbreak your iPhone | Glenn Fleishman | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

An Italian firm with the appropriate name Hacking Team suffered a massive breach in its company data Sunday, and 400GB of internal documents so far have been released and are being analyzed by reporters and security researchers. Hacking Team’s customers are government agencies, including both law enforcement and national security, and the ostensibly legal software it sells to help them intercept communications includes not-yet-exploited vulnerabilities, known as zero-days.

Much has been speculated before and after Edward Snowden’s release of a trove of National Security Agency (NSA) documents in 2013 about the capabilities of the United States’ agencies as well as those of allies and enemies. The Hacking Team dump reveals quite a bit more about the routine functions of third-party suppliers into that ecosystem, including specifically enumerated capabilities.

iOS users should therefore take note that the long-running concern that jailbroken iPhones and iPads were susceptible to vulnerabilities that could include access by so-called state actors appears to be confirmed by the data breach.

Two security outfits—the commercial Kaspersky Lab in Russia and academic Citizen Lab in Canada—first revealed in June 2014 that they had discovered and decoded Hacking Team’s smartphone-cracking software. The reports at that time indicated that only jailbroken iOS devices could be hijacked, but that malware could be installed on an iOS device when connected to a computer that was confirmed as trusted, and which had been compromised.


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MA: OpenCape/CapeNet lands deal to boost phone service | Lorelei Stevens | Cape Cod Times

Halting reception, pregnant pauses, dropped calls. Cape cellphone reception is iffy at times, and it only gets worse in the summer as data demands climb.


“Pockets of East Sandwich are absolutely horrible for cellphones,” Sandwich Fire Department Capt. Timothy McMahon said.


But things are about to get better.


On Monday, CapeNet, the company that maintains and operates the OpenCape fiber-optic network, announced it has inked a deal with a major wireless carrier to expand data capacity and improve the performance of cellphones and other mobile devices.


The wireless company and the value of the deal were not revealed because of a nondisclosure agreement, according to CapeNet spokesman Matt Ellis, but the arrangement involves connecting 51 cell towers on the Cape, plus another eight towers in the Plymouth area, to the OpenCape network.


While there’s no wire involved in making a cellphone call or streaming a video onto a tablet, the cell towers that relay all that information do it over hard-wired lines.


Dan Gallagher, former OpenCape CEO and now a senior consultant to the corporation, explained that today’s cell service trouble is the result of a shortage of “backhaul” capacity, the amount of data the cellphone company’s hard-wired system can handle.


“Connecting fiber optics to 51 towers will solve that problem,” he said.


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WA: Seattle reporters interview Chris Mitchell about broadband feasibility study | community broadband networks

WA: Seattle reporters interview Chris Mitchell about broadband feasibility study | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

With the release of the city of Seattle's community broadband feasibility study, media outlets turned to ILSR and our own Christopher Mitchell for context, and to help uncover what can be done to help improve connectivity for all Seattleites.

The same week, Christopher was invited to the city by Upgrade Seattle to help launch their initiative. Below are some selected publicity highlights from Seattle.

KUOW's "The Record" with Ross Reynolds. How can Seattle get affordable broadband Internet

KEXP's "Mind Over Matters" with Mike McCormick. Video is below. "What is Seattle's Next Step?" You can also listen to the Audio version here.

GovTech: Colin Wood interviewed Chris for his June 12 article Muni Broadband Goes Mainstream.

“You don’t just want better Internet access,” Mitchell said. “You want to know for whom and at what cost. Is your problem connecting low-income populations? That requires different thinking than if you’re just trying to attract some high-tech businesses to your town.”

CrossCut.com: Amelia Havenec covered the lunch & learn conversation between Chris and Upgrade Seattle organizer Hollis Wong-Wear. Following setbacks, municipal broadband supporters continue urging action.


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NY: New Navy Yard building to support creative, tech industries | Brooklyn Daily Eagle

NY: New Navy Yard building to support creative, tech industries | Brooklyn Daily Eagle | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A joint initiative of Boston Properties, Inc., Rudin Development and WeWork, in conjunction with the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC), is developing a new 675,000-square-foot building at the Brooklyn Navy Yard to cater to the rapidly emerging technology and creative industries in Brooklyn.

The $380 million building, named Dock 72 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, will be one of the largest New York City commercial buildings to be built outside of Manhattan in decades. The new project comes just weeks after the de Blasio administration announced the $140 million redevelopment of Admirals Row and follows the conversion of Building 77 into a 1 million-square-foot innovation and manufacturing hub. Collectively, these new additions to the Navy Yard represent a massive expansion that will increase Brooklyn’s competitiveness and spur thousands of new jobs.

WeWork — a company that provides space, community and services to a range of nonprofits, technology, art and design, e-commerce and fashion businesses — will anchor the new building with a 222,000-square-foot lease.

When fully occupied, the building will house 4,000 jobs. According to the agreement between the development team and BNYDC, all tenants in the building will pay a living wage to their employees, making it the first new development in Brooklyn with such a commitment.


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Privacy group files FTC complaint to push Google to extend right to be forgotten to US | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com

Privacy group files FTC complaint to push Google to extend right to be forgotten to US | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google’s refusal to implement the EU’s controversial right to be forgotten rules in the U.S. amounts to an unfair and deceptive business practice, a frequent critic of the search engine giant said.

Consumer Watchdog will file a complaint against Google with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission Tuesday, said John Simpson, director of the group’s Privacy Project. The complaint will ask the FTC to rule that Google, by declining to delete search engine links on request from U.S. residents, is an unfair business practice that violates the U.S. FTC Act.

Arguing that the right to be forgotten is an “important privacy option,” Consumer Watchdog’s complaint will say that although Google claims to be concerned about users’ privacy, it doesn’t offer people in the U.S. “the ability to make such a basic request.”

“Describing yourself as championing users’ privacy and not offering a key privacy tool—indeed one offered all across Europe—is deceptive behavior,” the document reads.

Unfair business practices are defined in the FTC Act as those that cause substantial injury to consumers that they cannot reasonably avoid themselves and that are not outweighed by other benefits.

Before the Internet, it was difficult to track down records of the foolish things people did when they were young, Simpson said.

“This reality that our youthful indiscretions and embarrassments and other matters no longer relevant slipped from the general public’s consciousness is privacy by obscurity,” he said by email. “The Digital Age has ended that. Everything—all our digital footprints—are instantly available with a few clicks on a computer or taps on a mobile device.”

A Google representative didn’t respond to a request for comment on bringing the right to be forgotten to the U.S.


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FBI chief warns that terrorists hide behind encrypted communications | John Ribeiro | NetworkWorld.com

FBI chief warns that terrorists hide behind encrypted communications | John Ribeiro | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey has asked for a “robust debate” on encryption of communications, saying that the technology could come in the way of his doing his job to keep people safe.

The recruitment and tasking of Americans by the group known as the Islamic State, or ISIL, is increasingly taking place “through mobile messaging apps that are end-to-end encrypted, communications that may not be intercepted, despite judicial orders under the Fourth Amendment.”

“There is simply no doubt that bad people can communicate with impunity in a world of universal strong encryption,” he added.

The op-ed in the Lawfare blog comes ahead of testimonies by Comey before the Senate intelligence and judiciary committees on Wednesday.

The article by Comey reflects an ongoing dispute between the U.S. government and tech companies over the encryption of their products.

Tech companies have asked President Barack Obama not to pursue any policy or proposal that would weaken encryption or create encryption work-arounds.

The Information Technology Industry Council and Software & Information Industry Association, which represents many large tech companies, including Apple, Google and Facebook, said last month such moves would erode consumers’ trust in the products and services they rely on for protecting their information.


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Senate Eyes Transportation Tech | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

Senate Eyes Transportation Tech | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Internet of moving things continues to get increasing attention inside and outside the Beltway.

Sen. Deb. Fischer (R-Neb.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee's Surface Transportation Subcommittee, has called a hearing for July 7 on new transportation technologies. Among the witnesses will be Paul Misenor, VP of global public policy for Amazon.

Cable operators have been pushing the FCC to free up more WiFi spectrum in the 5-GHz ,where vehicle-to-vehicle communications already reside. The FCC also has been involved in discussions elsewhere on the Hill about positive train control (PTC) technology, which might have prevented the deadly Amtrak derailment outside of Philadelphia earlier this year.

"I am pleased to join chairwoman Fischer to hold this hearing and discuss ways innovative technologies can help the federal government strengthen the safety and efficiency of our transportation network," said subcommittee ranking member Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who is also a member of the Communications Subcommittee.

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Comcast Ventures Backs Connected Car Startup | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel

Comcast Ventures Backs Connected Car Startup | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast Ventures, the V.C. arm of Comcast, was one of the companies that participated in a $24 million “B” round in Automatic Labs, a startup that has developed a connected car platform.

Comcast Ventures did not specify its investment. Automatic Labs, which has raised about $32 million so far, said the B round also included participation from an investment subsidiary of USAA (a top insurance and financial services provider for military families), CDK Global, along with existing investors Y Combinator, RPM Ventures, Anthemis Group, Amicus Capital, as well as several angel investors.

San Francisco-based Automatic Labs pairs an app with an in-car device that can help drivers diagnose engine trouble, detect accidents and send emergency responses. According to the company, its adapter plugs into the standard diagnostics port hidden under the dash in most cars since 1996. When paired with that device, Automatic Labs’ app displays useful information about the user’s car and driving habits.

Automatic Labs sells its device for $99.95 via its own site, as well as at retailers such as Apple.com, Best Buy, Target, and Amazon.com. Automatic Labs was founded in 2011.

The latest round of financing follows the startup’s recent launch of the Automatic App Gallery, its app store for cars. Automatic Labs said it will use the fresh funds to accelerate growth and continue to expand its app store and developer platform.

“The Internet of Things is knocking on the door of one of the largest consumer markets, the $800B US car industry,” Michael Yang, managing director of Comcast Ventures, and Gavin Teo, principal of Comcast Ventures, noted in this blog post about the investment. “Over the last several years, talent, capital, consumer and enterprise attention have focused on the promise of bringing connected devices to all activities of daily living, and the automobile is an exciting new frontier.”


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Yankees-Mariners Match-Up Will Be First Baseball Game Shot Using 8K Ultra-High Def Technology | Maury Brown | Forbes.com

Yankees-Mariners Match-Up Will Be First Baseball Game Shot Using 8K Ultra-High Def Technology | Maury Brown | Forbes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

On July 17th, Japanese public broadcaster NHK will position six, 8K cameras throughout Yankee Stadium and record the first-ever baseball game captured in the ultra-high definition format. While the game will not be broadcast, Major League Baseball and NHK will have the media view the game in a specially outfitted suite with 8K monitors in Yankee Stadium during the game.

Ultra-high definition TV is 7680 pixels wide by 4320 pixels tall (33.18 megapixels), which is a sixteen time higher resolution than current HDTV. NHK is one of the first television entities in the world to develop 8K technology, which it hopes to offer on a wide scale basis by the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

And while 4K seems like it just now has started working its way into consumer outlets, 8K is already right on its heels. LG showed off a whopping 98” 8K prototype at CES in January this year that blew attendees minds. If that wasn’t enough, how about a 110” 8K Samsung that transmits in 3D without the use of glasses?

Back to NHK and the game at Yankee Stadium against the Mariners, it will allow MLB, baseball, and sports business media types to gauge the experience, and begin the discussion as to how baseball looks in the ultra-high def format. For NHK, it gives them an early dry run of how the technology fares, sets up, and is broadcasted for sports in advance of the 2020 Olympics. In fact, NHK has been moving so quickly with 8K broadcasts that the Japanese broadcast company is looking to leap-frog over 4K and go straight to the ultra-high def format.


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Free Blandin Webinar July 9: Creative Spaces, Creative Places | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

Free Blandin Webinar
July 9 at 3:00-4:00
Register!

Does broadband promote creativity? Not alone it doesn’t but it can be an ingredient that spurs or supports a community effort. You also need people to make it happen. In this webinar we’ll hear from people who have promoted creativity in their community at least in some part through technology. We’ll learn about what they are doing, how they started it and what it has meant to the community.

Matthew Marcus and Aaron Deacon on Kansas City Startup Village: A community situated around the first neighborhood to get Google Fiber in KC but built but local entrepreneurs to be fertile ground to grow startups from KC and beyond. They community grew organically as if something was in the air. Hear their story and think about how can we replicate that here.

Fred Underwood on Duluth Maker Space: A sustainable multi-field community workshop for local artists, inventors, experimentors, teachers, learners (Makers!) of all ages. It opened last Fall. They have classes available and just open space with cool tools for folks who want to use them. Imagine a place in your community where makers can meet and collaborate.

A Minnesota library yet to be named. Libraries have been harbors for information, technology and innovation for centuries. Find out how to make the most of your library!


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Sprint drops 600 Kbps video-streaming limit after outcry | Matt Hamblen | NetworkWorld.com

Sprint drops 600 Kbps video-streaming limit after outcry | Matt Hamblen | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Sprint this week quickly reversed plans to impose a 600 Kbps limit on streaming video as part of a promotion called "All-In" that charges $80 a month for unlimited talk, text and high-speed data.

The All-In plan, announced Tuesday, ironically was intended to "end consumer confusion & frustration," according to a press release.

But the 600 Kbps video stream cap, originally contained in a footnote about the plan, incited widespread frustration and anger on social media sites and elsewhere.

The 600 Kbps limitation was interpreted by Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics, as a violation of Title II net neutrality rules, which Sprint had supported before the Federal Communications Commission. "To throttle video is such a clearcut violation of Title II," he said.

Even so, Entner said Sprint replaced the throttling language with "reasonable" terms that limit voice and data roaming off Spring's network onto other carrier networks. With the new language, he endorsed the All-In plan. "The whole experience [with All-In] is a net positive for Sprint," he said in an interview on Thursday.

Entner said Sprint probably mistakenly forwarded its older 600 Kbps limitation language from previous pricing plans first launched in June 2013. "They didn't pay attention and didn't dot their i's and cross their t's," Entner said.


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Workers allege Verizon abandoning copper landlines | Ben Munson | CED Magazine

Workers allege Verizon abandoning copper landlines | Ben Munson | CED Magazine | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Communications Workers of America (CWA), Verizon’s largest union, is accusing the carrier of abandoning its copper landline networks in portions of the northeastern United States.

The CWA says Verizon isn’t making necessary repairs and instead is pushing customers in parts of New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. toward wireless home phone service.

The CWA announced intentions to file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to pull up data on Verizon’s maintenance of legacy networks.

“As a public utility in these states, Verizon has a duty to maintain services for all customers. But we’ve seen how the company abandons users, particularly on legacy networks, and customers across the country have noticed their service quality is plummeting,” Dennis Trainor, CWA vice president for District 1, said in a statement.

In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, a Verizon spokesperson called it “pure nonsense” to say the carrier is abandoning its copper lines and insisted that Verizon only moves customers over to Voice Link wireless home phone service temporarily while repairing damages.

Verizon and competitors like AT&T have expressed interest in moving away from copper networks toward fiber installations.


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Copyright Takes Down High-Profile Translation Of Thomas Piketty's Comments On Germany & Greek Debt | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

Copyright Takes Down High-Profile Translation Of Thomas Piketty's Comments On Germany & Greek Debt | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Here we go again with copyright taking content away from the public, rather than the other way around. You've probably heard about everything going on in Greece these days, with the big vote and the fight over Greek debt and how it will deal with it. Leading up to it, my social media stream suddenly filled up with people linking to a story at Medium with an English translation by Gavin Schalliol of an interview famed economist Thomas Piketty gave to the German publication DIE ZEIT.


Whether you like/agree with Piketty or not (and I'm in the camp that thinks he's overrated), the interview itself was pretty interesting, making a key point that has gotten lost in much of the debate: that for all the pressure that Germany has been putting on Greece to repay its debts, Germany itself didn't repay its debts after World War II (or earlier wars).


Lots of people have been talking about it, and tons of English-language news reports wrote up the story, with nearly all of them linking to Schalliol's translation. Just for example, here's the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, Quartz, Slate, Business Insider, Fortune, Marketwatch, and Vox, all of whom link to Schalliol's translation on Medium.

But, if you visit it now, you will not see the translation. Instead, you see this:


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MA: Tech incubator suggested for Wing school in Sandwich | George Brennan | Cape Cod Times

MA: Tech incubator suggested for Wing school in Sandwich | George Brennan | Cape Cod Times | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Amanda Sullivan understands the need for a new senior center and she supports the idea of a place to showcase local artists, but she hopes the hidden value of Henry T. Wing School won’t be lost in the ongoing debate about its future.

A $40 million fiber optic cable known as OpenCape passes by the building on Beale Avenue and in front of it on Route 130. It’s technology that could attract a technology incubator — similar to one in Colorado where 75 startups are working under one roof — or at the very least could become a spot for telecommuters to use that technology for meetings or conferences, she said.

“If you think about the information superhighway, this is what it’s paved with,” Sullivan said at a well-attended community forum about the school held last week.

Sullivan’s brief comments on what to do with Wing once it closes as a school generated a smattering of applause. It was clear not everyone in the room got what she was saying.

OpenCape is still a fairly new concept. It’s a fiber optic cable paid for with grants designed specifically to spur economic development on the Cape. Still in its relative infancy, OpenCape includes more than 350 miles of cable connecting the Cape with Providence and Boston. To date OpenCape, through its provider CapeNet, has hooked up to 90 businesses and educational institutions, Art Gaylord, chairman of the OpenCape board of directors, said.

Unlike other data lines operating on Cape Cod, OpenCape isn’t a cable line or phone line now adding data, he said. It was designed as a data line capable of moving information at 100 gigabits per second, Gaylord said.

“It’s a very high-speed, high-capacity network that is equal to any network in the world,” Gaylord said. “We have the capability to go as fast as anyone.”

"If your home internet connection is a straw, this network is the Callahan Tunnel," Sullivan said.

John Kennan, a member of the OpenCape Board of Directors and a former Sandwich selectman, said Wing offers potential.


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Comcast Officially Unveils Speed Increases in Northeast - Blast! Up from 105 to 150Mbps | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Comcast Officially Unveils Speed Increases in Northeast - Blast! Up from 105 to 150Mbps | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast today officially announced speed increases for its broadband customers in the northeastern U.S. that includes a nearly 50 percent speed boost for its Blast! tier.

  • Performance Pro: Customers subscribed to Comcast’s eligible triple play packages will get an upgrade to Performance Pro, raising speeds from 25 to 75Mbps;
  • Blast!: Customers signed up currently for 105Mbps will soon see speeds of 150Mbps.


“We’ve invested tens of billions of dollars to create a network that makes broadband widely available to the most homes, and allows us to continually deliver the fastest, most reliable Internet and Wi-Fi speeds in and out of the home,” said Kevin Casey, president of Comcast Cable’s Northeast Division, which includes 14 states from Maine to Virginia and the District of Columbia.


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Uber, but for carpooling: Google jumps into the ridesharing business with an upgrade to Waze | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

Uber, but for carpooling: Google jumps into the ridesharing business with an upgrade to Waze | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For the estimated 50 million people who rely on it, the turn-by-turn navigation app Waze helps redirect users around traffic jams, accidents and other obstacles on the road.

Now Waze, with a new expansion into ridesharing, is hoping to guide itself around some of the thorniest issues facing the industry.

The Israeli-founded, Google-owned app is now offering to connect people who are headed in the same direction during their commutes. Headed into work? Grab a ride with someone with a spare car seat. If you're eager to try it, though, hold on: The new feature is debuting in Tel Aviv for now as a pilot project only — though non-Waze users can also join the fun with a separate app called RideWith.

Unlike Uber, Google's entry into ridesharing will be more limited. You won't be able to just call up a ride wherever you are; according to Haaretz, drivers will only be able to offer two rides a day, and they have to begin either near where they work or near where they live.

Drivers also can't earn much of a profit from participating in the program. At best, riders will be able to pay a small amount of money to help offset wear and tear, gasoline and other ordinary expenses associated with car ownership. In other words, people won't be giving up their day jobs anytime soon to become drivers for Waze.

Despite all these restrictions, it's easy to imagine Waze's expansion someday becoming a full-on ridesharing service that competes with Uber. Although Google was an early investor in Uber, the two companies have drifted apart as both have seen the lucrative potential of the ridesharing market. Uber has taken Google head-on in the race to build a working self-driving car, for instance, in preparation for Uber's eventual transformation into a global logistics and delivery platform.

For now, though, Google's early limitations for Waze appear aimed at avoiding some of the regulatory struggles that's beset Uber around the globe. Uber suspended its low-cost ridesharing service, UberPop, in France over the weekend after authorities clamped down on Uber execs there. In Israel, government officials have vowed to defend traditional taxi drivers against companies like Uber. This could wind up being a good thing for Waze as its carpooling service seeks to gain traction.


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Hats Off to Web Advertising. No, Really. | Christopher Mims | WSJ.com

Hats Off to Web Advertising. No, Really. | Christopher Mims | WSJ.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It’s axiomatic that advertising on the Internet is at best a necessary evil.

What’s worse, just as the finance industry once vacuumed up the best and brightest from America’s elite colleges, this new source of filthy lucre has proved irresistible to people who might otherwise produce something useful. “Go West, young people, so you can figure out how to optimize engagement among millennials ages 18-30 in the top quartile of disposable income.”

Here’s how Harvard-educated math wunderkind Jeff Hammerbacher summed it up in 2011: “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.”

But what if everyone is wrong about ads? What if ads, in a fairly direct way, are responsible for much of what is magical, automated and “smart” about our gadgets and the Internet today?

There’s the simple argument that without ads, there would be no Gmail, no Facebook, no countless other services on which we all rely every day, but that isn’t what I’m talking about.

If we were to write a sort of People’s History of the Internet from the perspective of the ones who built it, a common theme would arise again and again: Many of those behind the curtain building the things we rely on cut their teeth in the ad tech world. Since the debut of the Web banner ad in 1994, ad tech has been a finishing school for some of the greatest minds in tech history, from unsung engineers to Sheryl Sandberg, who headed Google ’s ad products for seven years before becoming chief operating officer of Facebook.

One of those people is Gokul Rajaram, now at payment-processing provider Square. He was lead engineer of one of the very first ad networks, at email provider Juno, before going on to lead the ad tech teams at both Google and Facebook.

Early on, one of the things Mr. Rajaram and his team pioneered was the use of techniques, known as “machine learning,” that now power almost every system on the Internet that has the least bit of artificial intelligence, whether it’s Facebook deciding what to show in your news feed or Apple’s Siri learning to better understand your voice.

“Advertising was the first commercial domain to which machine learning was used at scale,” says Mr. Rajaram.


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Corruption Watch: State Attorneys General Line Up Behind Jim Hood, Support Power To Attack Enemies Of Big Corporate Donors | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

Corruption Watch: State Attorneys General Line Up Behind Jim Hood, Support Power To Attack Enemies Of Big Corporate Donors | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A large group of state Attorney Generals has now stepped into the legal fight between Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood and Google. As we've explained a bunch, Hood went after Google with an investigation and detailed subpoena that was funded and written by the MPAA itself. In response to this, a federal court has already called out Hood's actions, noting that there was "significant evidence of bad faith" on the part of Hood as he attempted to unconstitutionally hold Google responsible for anything bad that its search engine found on the internet.

We've written plenty about issues with state Attorneys General. The state Attorney General position is frequently seen as the stepping stone to becoming state governor or US Senator. State AGs have a reputation as being grandstanding tools, focusing on getting big headlines over actually enforcing the law. In fact, they often will focus on grandstanding even when there is no legal basis whatsoever.


The most damning account of this is one we wrote about five years ago, in which a group of AGs teamed up to shake down Chris Tolles, the CEO of online forum site Topix. The story is incredible and well worth reading. You'll see how a bunch of state AGs kept putting out press releases, blaming Topix for things with no legal basis. Tolles would go talk to them, explain how the company works in order to build understanding, and the state AGs would then, immediately, turn around and take what he told them, totally misrepresent it, and issue another press release twisting what he'd said into implying that the company was up to no good.


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Parks: 40 percent US broadband households want smartphone-based medical alerts | Aditi Pai | mobihealthnews

Parks: 40 percent US broadband households want smartphone-based medical alerts | Aditi Pai | mobihealthnews | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

More than 40 percent of US broadband households are interested in receiving medical alerts via a smartphone or another connected platform, according to a report from Parks Associates.

The report, called Smart Home Platforms for Health, assesses the potential for smart home platforms to support connected health offerings.

“About 10 percent of US broadband households have some type of smart home product, service, or both, and by 2019 the number of U.S. homes with a smart home controller will exceed 26 million,” Parks Associates Director for Mobile and Health Products Research Harry Wang said in a statement. “…The smart home could enable new value propositions in home-based health and wellness solutions and independent living products and services.”

The other use cases for home-based connected devices that Parks included in the survey were smoke or file alerts, alerts for open doors and windows, and the ability to turn lights on or off remotely.

There’s a little overlap between connected health devices and smart home offerings. This year, a couple fitness device companies have started to announce smart home products or integrate their products with existing smart home offerings.


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Microsoft pushes towards a more interoperable world with its Windows 10 IoT plans | Kareem Anderson | WinBeta.org

Microsoft pushes towards a more interoperable world with its Windows 10 IoT plans | Kareem Anderson | WinBeta.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As of late, Microsoft has been warming to the idea of Interoperability. Perhaps, market forces are dictating Microsoft's necessity to embracing the change, or maybe the company is attempting to re-establish its software roots in the industry. Whatever the cause, Microsoft has been collaborating with various foundations, internet groups and adopting standards that make its software as accessible as possible.

As the tech industry shifts its focus from mobile onto the Internet of Things, Microsoft is looking to keep pace. Microsoft has already begun to implement its vision for the IoT by putting the necessary building blocks into Windows 10. With Windows 10, Microsoft’s intent was to offer users one platform that is flexible, interconnected and able to speak to various devices seamlessly. However, without 3rd party support, Windows 10 effectively becomes the proprietary Windows of old. Microsoft is doing a lot of footwork to save Windows and IoT users from a potential siloed experience.

Alongside recent collaborations, Microsoft has also announced its participation in the AllSeen Alliance. This announcement works with in tandem with last years mention of AllJoyn support in Windows 10. With AllJoyn support in Windows 10, devs will have access to an open source software framework and a set of services that foster interoperability among connected devices. Developers who utilize this framework could also create a dynamic proximal network to help IoT devices run more intelligently. Specifically, AllJoyn addresses device discovery, interrogation, notification, and capabilities invocation in an open way, according to Microsoft. What AllJoyn fails to do, is address interoperability at the network physical layer.


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How Valuable is Low-Band VHF Anymore? | Bill Hayes | TVTechnology.com

How Valuable is Low-Band VHF Anymore? | Bill Hayes | TVTechnology.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

I recently fielded some questions from a colleague regarding the upcoming spectrum auction. The colleague observed that it appeared that the FCC was clearing the way for UHF stations that wanted to participate in the auction but still stay on the air to move to low-band VHF. He wanted to know what my feelings were on moving to low-band VHF and wondered if stations would really move there.

The decision on low-band VHF is really a business decision. I am a huge fan of over-the-air broadcasting and have that capability in my home. I travel with a USB tuner stick that lets me look at DTV services when I am on the road. But even I recognize that the majority of people that watch OTA broadcasts do it via a subscription-based service; thus they are not receiving the over-the-air services but a redistribution of which, in many instances, is provided via a direct feed from the stations' studio rather than receiving the over-the-air signal.


In my opinion, low-band VHF is what I would call a "technological cul-de-sac." It was a great technology in the early days of broadcasting when making power was an expensive proposition and generating RF at frequencies above 100 MHz was a challenge to do and keep stable, and receive antennas were mounted on the outside of homes high above the roof. Low-band VHF offered great “bang for the buck” for economical operation and the signals traveled considerable distances, even over the horizon. There were few television stations and few man-made noise sources to disrupt the service and when problems happened they were pretty easy to diagnose and correct. When I worked for WSAZ (channel 3) in Huntington, W.A., I frequently found power poles with dirty insulators using just my Sony Watchman as a locator and calling the power company to report down to the pole number the insulators that needed to be cleaned in a rural area.
 

Now the entire environment has changed.


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OH: What's the payoff when it comes to data centers? | Chuck Soder | Crain's Cleveland Business

OH: What's the payoff when it comes to data centers? | Chuck Soder | Crain's Cleveland Business | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Data centers don't employ that many people, but the state of Ohio is recruiting them with tax incentives anyway.

Why would it want to do that?

The answer is complex. Job creation is just one part of it. Increased tax revenue is another. And some people say that data centers — essentially high-tech warehouses that power massive amounts of computer equipment — can help a community attract other high-tech businesses.

One of those people is Ted Griffith, managing director of information technology for JobsOhio.

One of the private nonprofit economic development group's goals is to turn Ohio into “The Big Data Hub of the Midwest,” according to its website. Part of that effort involves recruiting data centers to the state.

A few companies have taken the bait, including Amazon.

One of its subsidiaries plans to build multiple data centers in the Columbus area. Another company, ByteGrid, recently opened the first phase of what could become a huge data center on the eastern edge of downtown Cleveland.

Griffith argues that attracting data centers could help Ohio attract and retain other businesses — especially those that process large amounts of data, be they major corporations or software companies that sell products that live on the Internet.

Being closer to the data center they use means they can process data faster and easily send in-house tech experts to work on their computer systems.

“IT departments do like to be near the data center,” Griffith said.


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Salinas-backed TotalPlay eyes Mexican wholesale network | TeleGeography.com

TotalPlay, the fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) provider owned by Mexican billionaire Ricardo Salinas, is considering participating in the government’s upcoming tender for a USD7 billion wholesale mobile network, CEO Eduardo Kuri told Reuters late last week.


The network, which will have exclusive use of a 90MHz block of spectrum in the 700MHz band, was written into Mexico’s constitution in 2013 as part of a sector overhaul designed to curb the dominance of America Movil (AM)-backed Telcel.


The plan calls for groups of private companies to bid for the right to build and run the network, which would lease capacity to mobile providers.

TeleGeography notes that the move would represent something of a volte face, given Grupo Salinas’ recent mobile market exit strategy.


In November 2014 the conglomerate entered into an agreement with US telecoms giant AT&T to sell 100% of mobile operator Iusacell for USD2.5 billion. The acquisition took place after Grupo Salinas closed its previously announced deal to purchase the 50% of Iusacell that it did not already own, from co-owner Grupo Televisa.


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