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Sen. Al Franken vs. Time Warner Cable/Comcast Merger | Stop the Cap!

Sen. Al Franken vs. Time Warner Cable/Comcast Merger | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has turned over much of his campaign website to expressing concern about the merger of Time Warner Cable and Comcast.


Franken has maintained a comparatively low profile since arriving in the U.S. Senate and rarely grants interviews to reporters outside of Minnesota, but after the announced $45 billion merger deal between the two largest cable companies in the country, he started making exceptions.


Franken has repeatedly tangled with Comcast, the dominant cable operator in his home state, since being elected. He favors Net Neutrality/Open Internet policies, strongly opposed Comcast’s purchase of NBCUniversal, and believes cable rates are too high and service quality is too low.


Although the senator claims he remains undecided about the merger, his public comments suggest he is likely going to oppose the deal.


“We need more competition, not less,” said Franken, who mocked Comcast’s claim that the two cable companies never compete with each other. “This is going exactly in the wrong direction. Consumers, I am very concerned, are going to pay higher bills and get even worse service and less choice.”


Although the merger will leave the combined company serving nearly one in three households, Comcast says it plans to keep its total nationwide broadband market share under 30%. But Franken points out Comcast isn’t just a cable company. It also owns a major television network and has ownership interests in nearly three dozen cable networks and television stations around the country — many in America’s largest cities.


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MN: Blandin Foundation sends Sherburne funds for broadband outreach | Mitch LeClair | Sherburn County Times

MN: Blandin Foundation sends Sherburne funds for broadband outreach | Mitch LeClair | Sherburn County Times | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A $15,000 grant is helping community members and government officials in Sherburne County continue their push for expanded broadband.

This week, the Blandin Foundation announced the grant to a subcommittee of the county's broadband coalition. Along with others around the state, the awards total more than $320,000.

In the fall, the foundation named Sherburne County one of its Blandin Broadband Communities.

Jolene Foss, community development director in Princeton, said the grant and a $5,000 in-kind donation by coalition members will help "educate and stimulate interest in broadband and the benefits thereof."

Not all areas of Sherburne County have adequate broadband coverage, she said.

Foss said the goal of the coalition is to "provide affordable and reliable high-speed Internet to all residents and businesses" in the area.

"My children are in the St. Cloud school district, so they have iPads already," she said, citing the importance of high-speed access in homes.


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Verizon XLTE network reaches 400 markets; LTE in Rural America milestone achieved | TeleGeography.com

Verizon Wireless has announced that its ‘XLTE’ network – which aggregates 700MHz 4G spectrum with 1700MHz/2100MHz advanced wireless services (AWS) frequencies – is now live in 400 markets.


The cellco achieved the milestone after rolling out the enhanced technology in six new markets, namely Madisonville and Owensboro (both Kentucky), Marshalltown (Iowa), Meridian (Mississippi), Martinsville (Virginia) and Traverse City (Michigan). The XLTE network went live in May 2014, boasting coverage of 250 cities at launch.

In other news, Verizon has detailed the progress of its ‘LTE in Rural America’ programme – five years after the initiative launched. A press statement reads: ‘The LRA programme, introduced in May 2010, now covers about 2.6 million people in areas totalling more than 100,000 square miles, from rugged stretches of Alaska to rustic areas of Kentucky and myriad sparsely-populated areas in thirteen other states. Currently, 21 rural wireless carriers participate in the programme.’


The scheme sees Verizon lease pockets of its 700MHz spectrum to rural carriers so that they can roll out LTE networks of their own, over which Verizon has roaming rights.

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Apple Wants Local TV in Its Web TV Service, Which Could Lead to Delays | Peter Kafka & Dawn Chmielewski | Re/Code.net

Apple Wants Local TV in Its Web TV Service, Which Could Lead to Delays | Peter Kafka & Dawn Chmielewski | Re/Code.net | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If Apple launches a TV service, it won’t be the first company to offer TV subscriptions over the Web. But it wants to offer at least one thing rivals don’t have: Widespread access to live programming from local TV stations.

Industry executives familiar with Apple’s plans say the company wants to provide customers in cities around the U.S. with programming from their local broadcast stations. That would distinguish Apple’s planned offering from those already available from Sony and Dish’s Sling, which to date have only offered local programming in a handful of cities, or none at all.

Apple’s ambitions have complicated its negotiations with the broadcast TV networks, because most broadcasters don’t own all their local stations, and have an affiliate, or franchise system.

Clearing the rights to show local programs and commercials takes some time — ABC, for instance, spent two years getting the rights to show live programming via its Watch ABC app, and its livestreams remain limited to viewers in eight cities. Also, some executives say that providing digital feeds of the programming from dozens of affiliates will also require the broadcasters to build new streaming infrastructure.

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Can Mozilla Halt Firefox’s Slide and Break Up the Mobile Internet Duopoly? | George Anders | MIT Technology Review

Can Mozilla Halt Firefox’s Slide and Break Up the Mobile Internet Duopoly? | George Anders | MIT Technology Review | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In Silicon Valley, most pioneers pursue big ideas and giant personal fortunes with equal zeal. Then there’s Mozilla, an innovation dynamo that refuses to get rich.

More than 500 million people worldwide use Mozilla products. The company’s Firefox Internet browser is the top choice in countries ranging from Germany to Indonesia. But the company has no venture capital backing, no stock options, no publicly traded shares. It hardly ever patents its breakthroughs. Instead, Mozilla has a business model that’s as open and sprawling as the World Wide Web itself, where everything is free and in the public domain.

For a long time, it seemed as if Mozilla’s idealistic engineers understood the future better than anyone. By building the Firefox browser with open-source software, Mozilla made it easy for all kinds of people to cook up improvements that the whole world could use. Independent developers in dozens of countries pitched in, creating add-ons that speeded up downloads, blocked unwanted ads, and performed other useful services. Firefox rapidly became the browser in which state-of-the-art development took place–on shoestring budgets.

Suddenly, though, the Internet looks nightmarish to Mozilla. Most of the world now gets online on mobile devices, and about 96 percent of smartphones run on either the Apple iOS or Google Android operating systems. Both of these are tightly controlled worlds. Buy an iPhone, and you’ll almost certainly end up using Apple’s Web browser, Apple’s maps, and Apple’s speech recognition software. You will select your applications from an Apple-curated app store. Buy an Android phone, and you will be steered into a parallel world run by Team Google. The public-spirited, ad hoc approaches that defined Mozilla’s success in the Internet browser wars have now been marginalized. Developers don’t stay up late working on open-source platforms anymore; instead, they sweat over the details needed to win a spot in Apple’s and Google’s digital stores. Rival operating systems offered by BlackBerry and Microsoft Windows have largely fallen by the wayside as well.


Many of the principles we associate with the Web–openness, decentralization and the ability of anyone to publish without asking permission from others–are at risk,” declared a lengthy blog post written in November 2014 by Mitchell Baker, chair of the Mozilla Foundation, the nonprofit vehicle that serves as the company’s ultimate owner.


No matter that users and software developers seem to be thriving in this more structured new milieu, with nearly one billion Apple iOS and Google Android smartphones being sold each year. From Baker’s perspective, “frankly, this direction for the Internet sucks.”


Baker’s antidote: Firefox OS, a totally different operating system for smartphones, built on the same collegial, open-source principles that make the Firefox browser such a success. Mozilla has entered this battle with financial resources less than one-hundredth those of Apple and Google. And the organization is even shorter on time: the incumbents have enjoyed nearly a decade’s head start in some crucial markets. Is it too late for a radical attempt to crack the mobile duopoly?


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New Browser Extension Decides How Trustworthy You Are | Jason Tanz | WIRED

New Browser Extension Decides How Trustworthy You Are | Jason Tanz | WIRED | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Three years ago, in a TEDGlobal talk, sharing-economy guru Rachel Botsman shared her vision of a “reputation dashboard”—a kind of credit report that tracks your online behavior across services like Airbnb, TaskRabbit, and Dogvacay and compiles it into a portable measurement of your trustworthiness. Amassing that data, Botsman proposed, would make reputation into a kind of currency. “In the 21st century,” she predicted, “new trust networks, and the reputation capital they generate, will reinvent the way we think about wealth, markets, power and personal identity, in ways we can’t yet even imagine.”

It’s a compelling vision, but so far it hasn’t been realized. That’s because, as I noted last year, the companies that have amassed the most reputation data aren’t eager to share it. “We’re in an early and competitive stage,” Monroe Labouisse, Airbnb’s director of customer service, told me at the time. “That asset—the trust, the data, the reputations that people are building—is hugely valuable. So I’m not sure why a company would give that up.”

A new company is trying to do an end-run around that intransigence by scraping publicly available information from various sharing-economy services and compiling it into a trust score between 0 and 100. Called Karma, it works as a browser extension—any time you pull up a supported site (which currently includes Airbnb, Craigslist, Dogvacay, Ebay, Etsy, RelayRides, and Vayable) a pop-up window will ask if you want to link your account to your Karma score. That score is calculated by looking at the reviews you’ve received—both the quantitative ratings (the number of stars, for instance) as well as a textual analysis of written comments.


Different services are weighted differently; intimate interactions like those powered by Airbnb and Dogvacay are deemed more relevant than relatively anonymous eBay sales, and more recent reviews also are weighted more heavily. The more services you link, the higher your potential score. (Of course, if you’ve misbehaved on one service, your score could fall—but then, you would probably choose not to link it in the first place.) When you peruse a supported service, you’ll see every user’s Karma score superimposed over their listings. It’s a little bit like the sharing-economy’s answer to Klout, that notorious Q rating for social media.


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Patent shows Apple's interesting mobile Wi-Fi hotspot idea | Colin Neagle | NetworkWorld.com

Patent shows Apple's interesting mobile Wi-Fi hotspot idea | Colin Neagle | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published an Apple patent application today that suggests the company has explored a new kind of mobile hotspot technology that is easier to set up, provides a more reliable connection, and has a longer battery life.

The patent application, first reported by Apple Insider, is for a small, cylindrical Wi-Fi hotspot device consisting of two pieces: one containing the networking hardware, the other a battery pack. Screw the two pieces together and you have a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot.

The description of the technology in the application points out that some of the available options for mobile hotspots – i.e. separate devices like a laptop – are not very convenient to carry everywhere the user would like to connect to Wi-Fi, like when jogging or hiking. The application also mentioned security concerns with connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots, a concern anyone who has spent any time working in a coffee shop has shared. This portable, private Wi-Fi network could solve that issue.


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FCC Reform Bill Passes in Contentious Markup | John Eggerton | Multichannel

FCC Reform Bill Passes in Contentious Markup | John Eggerton | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A divided and sometimes contentious House Communications Subcommittee has approved all seven Federal Communications Commission process-reform bills.

That came in a markup Wednesday (May 20) that featured some sparks between the chairman and ranking member, a passionate attack on the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision on political campaign financing, and Democratic amendments defeated along party-line votes.

The summary of the markup is that all of the bills were favorably reported to the full committee, including all legislation proposed by both Democrats and Republicans.

But the story was far more complicated and contentious.


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Wave Raises $130M for Fiber Build | Mike Farrell | Multichannel.com

Wave Raises $130M for Fiber Build | Mike Farrell | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Wave Broadband, the Kirkland, Wash.-based broadband and pay TV provider, raised about $130 million in debt to help fund and aggressive buildout of its fiber optic communications network and aimed at bringing higher-speed connectivity to business customers.

The $130 million in bond debt – led by Deutsche Bank and supported by Wells Fargo, SunTrust and RBC Daniels – will allow the company to add about 1,500 route fiber miles to its gigabit Ethernet fiber network this year. Wave’s current network has about 5,000 route fiber miles.

The planned expansion includes entry to new markets, increased capacity and redundancy in existing markets, as well as infrastructure development to support additional future growth.


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FCC's Wheeler: No Near-Term Plans To Review Political Ad Disclosures | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

FCC's Wheeler: No Near-Term Plans To Review Political Ad Disclosures | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler signaled Thursday that he has no current plans to revisit the FCC's political ad disclosure rules.

That came in response to a question following the FCC's May meeting about the fact that a bill that would require the FCC to boost those disclosures for ads from Super PACs was not getting traction in the House, while legislators had said the FCC could make the changes on its own initiative.

Currently, the disclosure rules require identifying the PAC, but not the money that might fund it. The name of the Democratic-backed bill, the Keep Our Campaigns Honest Act (or KOCH Act, as in Republican super-donors the Koch brothers) suggests where the Democrats are coming from. They want the funders of the PACs also to be named in broadcast and cable TV and radio ads.

Wheeler suggested the FCC is not going there, at least not now, given everything else on its plate at the moment.


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Quiz: Just how Kafkaesque is the court that oversees NSA spying? | Alvaro Bedoya & Ben Sobel | WashPost.com

Quiz: Just how Kafkaesque is the court that oversees NSA spying? | Alvaro Bedoya & Ben Sobel | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

When Edward Snowden first went public, he did it by leaking a 4-page order from a secret court called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISA court. Founded in 1978 after the Watergate scandal and investigations by the Church Committee, the FISA court was supposed to be a bulwark against secret government surveillance. In 2006, it authorized the NSA call records program – the single largest domestic surveillance program in American history.

“The court” in Franz Kafka’s novel The Trial is a shadowy tribunal that tries (and executes) Josef K., the story’s protagonist, without informing him of the crime he’s charged with, the witnesses against him, or how he can defend himself. (Worth noting: The FISA court doesn’t “try” anyone. Also, it doesn’t kill people.)

Congress is debating a bill that would make the FISA court more transparent. In the meantime, can you tell the difference between the FISA court and Kafka’s court?


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LD 1185 Proposes Planning Grants for Munis in Maine | community broadband networks

LD 1185 Proposes Planning Grants for Munis in Maine | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In late April, LD 1185 and several other broadband bills came before the Maine House Energy, Utilities, and Technology Committee. We have seen a flurry of activity in Maine this year as local communities deploy networks, develop plans, or begin feasibility studies. Likewise, the state legislature has been active as House and Senate members try to defibrillate the barely beating heart of the state listed as 49th for broadband availability.

The national providers in Maine - Time Warner Cable and FairPoint have little interest or capacity to invest in high quality services in Maine. Time Warner Cable is more focused on major metros and being acquired. FairPoint is laying off workers and also, positioning itself to be acquired. Fortunately, these big companies aren't the only option for improving Internet connectivity in Maine.

LD 1185, presented by Representative Norm Higgins, seeks to establish $6 million this year in funds for local communities that wish to deploy municipal networks. Maine already has the middle mile Three Ring Binder in place; the focus of this proposal is to help communities get the infrastructure they need to connect to it. In an effort to get the word out about the bill and grow support, Higgins and his team created this graphic explaining the proposal (a 2-page printable edition of the graphic is available for download from the link below):


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ACLU & Tea Party: NSA reform bill has gaping holes | Anthony Romero & Matt Kibbe OpEd | USAToday.com

ACLU & Tea Party: NSA reform bill has gaping holes | Anthony Romero & Matt Kibbe OpEd | USAToday.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Earlier this month, a federal appeals court took a close look at the National Security Agency's collection and data-mining of Americans' phone records and concluded that the program was unlawful.

Rather than stop it, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit noted that Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the provision the NSA relies on for the program, would sunset on June 1. So the court decided to let Congress determine whether Section 215 should die, be revised, or extended without alteration.

Last Wednesday, the House passed a bipartisan reform bill that would prohibit the NSA's nationwide bulk collection of Americans' phone records. While the bill would stop spy agencies from engaging in some of the most egregious forms of abuse — such as collecting the information of an entire state, zip code, or service provider — it would not stop them from demanding vast amounts of information about Americans who have no connection to terrorism. Moreover, there is no requirement that the government immediately delete information that is irrelevant, or that belongs to innocent people — meaning those records could end up in intelligence databases for years. Clearly, this reform does not go far enough.

As the bill moves to the Senate, we urge all senators who care about privacy and the rule of law to insist upon stronger reforms that truly end bulk collection. Otherwise, they should simply pull the plug and let Section 215 expire. By wiping the slate clean, our country can have a much-needed debate about how much privacy we are willing to give up in the name of security.


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Verizon's 'Pick Your Own Cable TV Channels' Is Just Another Bait & Switch -- Read the Fine Print | Bruce Kushnick Blog | HuffPost.com

Verizon's 'Pick Your Own Cable TV Channels' Is Just Another Bait & Switch -- Read the Fine Print | Bruce Kushnick Blog | HuffPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It amazes me how many media stories have decided to just cut and paste Verizon's supplied information about their new FiOS "customized TV plan" without examining the 'fine print'. I guess everyone is just desperate to get anything that smacks of ala-carte pricing for cable TV service, where the customer can pick and choose which cable programming they want to buy -- and is supposed to save some money.

No One Bothered Reading the Fine Print.

The diagram above uses an excerpt of the "fine print" that you can find at the bottom of Verizon's FiOS TV, cable, High-speed Internet and phone advertisements, including their $74.99 special Triple Play which includes Verizon's "customized TV plans" that offer 'slim' packages of specific cable programming channels. (This excerpt is from May 21, 2015.) For example, the packages include the "Lifestyle Pack", with Bravo and Lifetime, and a "Kids Channel Pack", with Disney XD and the Cartoon Network.

And wouldn't you know it -- it's one, big deceptive campaign as the advertised price of the service has nothing to do with the actual costs -- it's missing about 61% of expenses, and when all is said and done, the savings from picking a smaller package of cable channels isn't really there. At the end of the day, it doesn't really let you pick and choose the channels you want to watch. Worse, the $74.99 basic price for the service climbs an additional $45.00 a month after the 'promotion' is over, not counting all of the related taxes, fees and surcharges.

But this is nothing. We found that Verizon's basic 'slim' package, which is advertised at $10 bucks and focuses on the original over-the-air programming, has an additional 220% of expenses hidden in the fine print -- and it ends up costing about $32.00 a month. I'll get to that.

Unfortunately, this Verizon plan is identical to the deceptive practice I detailed previously about my own Time Warner Cable basic Triple Play, where the advertised price is $89.99, but no customer can ever actually only pay that price as it doesn't include many of the actual costs, from the taxes, fees and surcharges, as well as the hard costs, like the cable TV set top box. On top of that, after the 'promotion' period is over, the bill went to a whopping $190.77 -- and continues to rise as there is nothing to stop these increases; there's no real competition.

There are some reporters that actually did investigate Verizon's new cable offerings. An article in USA Today featured one reporter's findings when he called about these new 'slimmed' down bundles; the plan would save a whopping $6.34 on a bill that is currently $210.00. That's it.


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Chile to introduce minimum connection speed rules | TeleGeography.com

Chilean telecoms regulator Subtel has confirmed that the Senate’s Committee on Transport and Telecommunications is in the final stages of revising a draft amendment to the Telecommunications Act that will establish a minimum speed for guaranteed access to the internet.


One committee member noted that the speeds provided by a company were not consistent with the plan, noting that a user might pay for an 80Mbps connection that could drop to as low as 2Mbps at certain times of the day.


The committee has proposed an innovative system of ongoing evaluation, where users will be able to check an internet service provider’s (ISP’s) level of compliance regarding advertised and received connection speeds.

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WSJ: FCC Chairman Wheeler Reaches Out To Cable Executives To Allay Deal Concerns | NASDAQ.com

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler allayed fears about the uncertainty related to the regulatory climate for future cable deals, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Thursday.

The move follows recent public statements from cable executives that expressed concerns on how much consolidation the government will actually allow after they nixed the planned mega-media merger between cable television giants Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable, Inc. It also saw the end of Comcast's side deal with its smaller rival Charter Communications, Inc.

Wheeler is said to have individually called Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus and Charter Communications CEO Tom Rutledge, as well as other cable executives in recent days to clarify the FCC's stand.

In his conversations, Wheeler reportedly told the executives that any deal would be assessed on its own merits, without actually picking out any particular potential deal.

He clarified to them that just because the FCC's staff wasn't convinced that the Comcast deals were in the public interest, they should not assume the agency is against any and all future cable deals.


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Letter to keep advertising tax deduction circulated in House | Kathryn Bachman | Katy on the Hill

Letter to keep advertising tax deduction circulated in House | Kathryn Bachman | Katy on the Hill | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Nearly 60 lawmakers have signed on to a “dear colleague” letter to ensure that a broad tax reform package does not change the current tax deduction for advertising expenses.

The letter, which will be sent to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), is being circulated among House members by Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y) and Kevin Yoder (R-Kans.) with a May 29 cut-off date.

Advertising has been treated as a deductible cost of doing business since 1913. Limiting the tax deductibility of advertising gathered some momentum in the last Congress as part of a broad tax reform package until a change in committee leadership halted its progress. The proposals in both chambers would have placed limits on the amount of advertising dollars that could be deducted in the year it was spent.

If similar proposals gather steam this year, it would be a radical change with serious consequences to the advertising and media business, the letter warns.


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Amtrak’s Lessons for Access to the Airwaves | Michael Calabrese & Patrick Lucey | NewAmerica.org

The precise cause of last week’s tragic Amtrak derailment, which killed eight people and shut down train service along the busy Northeast Corridor, remains a mystery. Whatever the cause, the crash revealed some fundamental gaps in Amtrak’s safety system – most notably the failure to deploy Positive Train Control (PTC) technology that would have automatically slowed or stopped the train once it exceeded the speed limit ahead of the curve where it jack-knifed off the rails. Although Congress mandated PTC technology seven years ago, Amtrak cited a lack of timely access to wireless spectrum (the public airwaves) for delays in implementing the safety system.

Spectrum refers to the wireless frequencies that power technologies ranging from FM radio and satellite communication to mobile phones and Wi-Fi routers. While increasingly critical to modern communications, spectrum—and the rules that govern access to spectrum in the U.S. — rarely makes headline news. But following the Amtrak derailment, people are suddenly conscious of the fact that the nation’s policies on access to the airwaves will impact almost everything in their lives.

So is Amtrak’s claim that spectrum access is a factor in this disaster legitimate? The answer is yes and no.

So is Amtrak’s claim that spectrum access is a factor in this disaster legitimate? The answer is yes and no. Amtrak asked for exclusive, and expensive, spectrum and this request—while puzzling—highlights deep structural problems with how our government has parceled out and regulated spectrum in the past.


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MN: Comcast announces 2-Gig access in the Twin Cities: Broadband begets broadband | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

MN: Comcast announces 2-Gig access in the Twin Cities: Broadband begets broadband | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Just days after CenturyLink announces Gig access in the Twin Cities, Comcast announces 2-Gig service. Apparently broadband begets broadband. (US Internet was the first provider to announce 10 Gig access in the area.) There are some details that are unknown – like pricing. Although the Minneapolis Star Tribune has created a pricing table for high speed broadband in the Twin Cities…

So that’s good news in the Twin Cities – but I know most of the readers are in rural areas. So what does that mean for rural areas?

Well – there’s the rising tide raises all boats theory. Now that the TCs are getting faster connections, will that mean that the speeds will rise in rural areas too? Or will the digital divide widen? I’m afraid the gap may widen, which means more than “folks can do things faster” in the Cities. It’s a matter of being able to do things differently – like run a business!


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FCC Source: Both Walden’s, Eshoo’s DA Figures Are Correct | John Eggerton | Multichannel

FCC Source: Both Walden’s, Eshoo’s DA Figures Are Correct | John Eggerton | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

During a House Communications Subcommittee markup of Federal Communications Commission process reforms Wednesday (May 20) there was a bit of a flare-up between subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and ranking member Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) over how many decisions the agency made on delegated authority (rather than votes by the commission).

Walden and Eshoo offered up very different numbers. Eshoo said there were 950,000 such decisions last year, while Walden said there were 1,845. Both said they had gotten them from FCC chairman Tom Wheeler — Eshoo from his testimony at a hearing, Walden from a copy of a Wheeler letter following up on a March letter to the committee following up on some questions.

According to an FCC source on background, they were both right, though during the hearing there was some confusion and heated words over the dueling figures.


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FCC Proposes Extending Emergency Alerts to Second Screens | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

FCC Proposes Extending Emergency Alerts to Second Screens | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Federal Communications Commission has proposed to make TV Everywhere emergency information "accessibile everywhere" as well.

At its May open meeting Thursday, the FCC voted unanimously (with some partial dissents from the Republicans) to require cable operators and other MPVDS to make emergency alert information accessible to the sight-impaired when their traditional programming lineups are accessed on second screens like tablets and phones.

Cable ops had been lobbying to confine that second-screen requirement to second screens in the home, but the FCC chose not to limit it. "The new rules apply when MVPDs permit consumers to access linear programming on tablets, smartphones, laptops, and similar devices over the MVPD’s network as part of their MVPD services," said an FCC spokesperson. "This more clearly delineates the services subject to the rule than a formulation that focuses on whether the services are provided “in the home.”

The tablet and smart phone emergency alert accessibility requirement does not extend to video that originates over-the-top, only to second-screen access to traditional cable service.


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Comcast Tags More ‘Gigabit Pro’ Cities | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com

Comcast Tags More ‘Gigabit Pro’ Cities | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast said it has begun to rollout “Gigabit Pro,” its fiber-fed symmetrical 2 Gbps residential broadband service in Houston and Denver, while also introducing a new DOCSIS 3.0-based 250 Mbps service that’s delivered on the MSO’s hybrid fiber/coax plant.

In Houston, Comcast said it will launch Gigabit Pro this summer and make it available to 1.5 million homes. The new D3.0 service, Extreme 250, is available now.

Notably, AT&T launched its 1-Gig residential service, “GigaPower,” to parts of Houston in April, starting at $110 per month.

In Colorado, Comcast said it will offer Gigabit Pro to nearly 1 million homes in the metro Denver area and Colorado Springs this summer, along with widespread availability of the new 250-Meg service. Comcast’s primary wireline competitor there is CenturyLink, which has already launched a 1-Gig service in the Denver area. That summer deployment will also reach into Fort Collins, Loveland and Longmont, according to The Denver Post.

Update: Comcast also announced it has begun to deploy Gigabit Pro in Utah (Google Fiber is operating in Provo); Washington State (including Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, and Everett); to 650,000 customers in Oregon and southwest Washington; to more than 600,000 homes in Minneapolis/St. Paul; and, starting in June, to about 190,000 customers in Knoxville, Tenn., and its surrounding communities.

Comcast plans to make Gigabit Pro available to 18 million homes by the end of the year. The service, which relies on targeted fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) deployments, will be available to residential customers who are within “close proximity” (about a third of a mile) of the MSO’s fiber network. Deployments are also underway in Chicago and northwest Indiana; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Atlanta; parts of Florida, including Miami and Jacksonville; and certain areas of California.


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Secretary Of State: We Must Have A Secure Internet; Homeland Security Secretary: A Secure Internet Makes Us All Less Safe | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

Secretary Of State: We Must Have A Secure Internet; Homeland Security Secretary: A Secure Internet Makes Us All Less Safe | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Secretary of State John Kerry gave a speech in South Korea this week about the importance of an "open and secure internet." Of course, that sounds a little hypocritical coming from the very same government that is actively working to undermine encryption, so it seems worth contrasting it with comments made from Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, in which he whines about a secure internet making things better for terrorists. Kerry's speech is mostly good (with some caveats that we'll get to), in talking about the importance of not freaking out over moral panics and FUD:

Freedom. The United States believes strongly in freedom – in freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of choice. But particularly, this is important with respect to freedom of expression, and you believe in that freedom of expression here in Korea. We want that right for ourselves and we want that right for others even if we don’t agree always with the views that others express. We understand that freedom of expression is not a license to incite imminent violence. It’s not a license to commit fraud. It’s not a license to indulge in libel, or sexually exploit children. No. But we do know that some governments will use any excuse that they can find to silence their critics and that those governments have responded to the rise of the internet by stepping up their own efforts to control what people read, see, write, and say.

This is truly a point of separation in our era – now, in the 21st century. It’s a point of separation between governments that want the internet to serve their citizens and those who seek to use or restrict access to the internet in order to control their citizens.

That sounds good... until you compare it to Kerry's cabinet partner Johnson, who was doing exactly what Kerry said governments should not do:

“We are concerned that with deeper and deeper encryption, the demands of the marketplace for greater cybersecurity, deeper encryption in basic communications,” Johnson said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Friday. “It is making it harder for the FBI and state and local law enforcement to track crime, to track potential terrorist activity.”

Let's not even bother with the question of just what is "deeper and deeper encryption" or why we should have someone who clearly doesn't understand encryption in charge of Homeland Security. But it seems clear that Kerry and Johnson's views here are quite different. Kerry is saying that "governments will use any excuse they can" including bogus claims about "terrorism" and "criminals" -- and yet that's exactly what Johnson is doing.


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Why Is The Attorney General Making Claims About PATRIOT Act That Her Own Agency's Report Says Are Not True? | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

Why Is The Attorney General Making Claims About PATRIOT Act That Her Own Agency's Report Says Are Not True? | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

We already posted about the new DOJ Inspector General report analyzing the FBI's use of the PATRIOT Act's Section 215 "business records" collection. Among the various things in the unredacted sections of the report is yet another claim (following on many similar statements) that the Section 215 program has never been shown to actually be that useful:



That wasn't all that interesting on its own, given how many times others (including many with the security clearance and access to know) have made the same point. But what's incredibly troubling is that the very same day that this report came out, Attorney General Loretta Lynch was making the rounds claiming the exact opposite.


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FCC Chairman Wheeler Does Not See AWS-3 Re-Auction | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

FCC Chairman Wheeler Does Not See AWS-3 Re-Auction | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said Thursday he thought the FCC's decision, one way or the other, about whether Dish-connected designated entities deserved $3 billion in bidding credits (discounts) in the AWS-3 auction would delay the upcoming incentive auction.

He was asked by Todd Shields of Bloomberg following the FCC's May meeting Thursday whether a decision against Dish and the DE's could mean having to re-auction the spectrum, and thus potentially delay the planned early 2016 broadcast incentive auction.

Wheeler said he did not think there would be a delay of the incentive auction, saying that the "question that exists" in the AWS-3 auction is the DE discount. "If there is a decision made that that is inappropriate," he said, "the issue is $3 billion more dollars" rather than re-auctioning the spectrum.

He later conceded that the ultimate penalty — some have suggested Dish and the DE's colluded, though Dish and those DE's have said the rules clearly allowed their collaboration — could be re-auctioning the spectrum, but he said that "the rules as they stand right now are: 'pay three billion dollars more.'"

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Our Shifting Viewing Habits | Doug Dawson | POTs and PANs

Our Shifting Viewing Habits | Doug Dawson | POTs and PANs | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Nielsen did a huge survey earlier this year where they asked 30,000 viewers worldwide questions about how they view video content. The responses show how quickly people are changing their viewing habits in response to the proliferation of new options.

Even as recently as a little more than a decade ago, options to view video other than at the scheduled broadcast time time were rare. I was an early adapter to TiVo and got my first set in 2000. At that time almost nobody watched TV on a time-delayed basis. But TiVo let me watch things on my own time schedule and I quickly invested in a CD burner that would let me capture content from the relatively small TiVo hard drive to further expand my options to watch on a time delay.

The cable companies responded to TiVo by introducing video on demand, which provided watch-anytime capabilities to a subset of their programming. I am probably somewhat unusual in that I can’t recall as an adult having ever watched a network TV series by watching at the scheduled time. I just have never been able to structure my life in that manner (or even remember what day of the week it is).

But today we have a huge array of options and this survey shows that people are using them. We can, of course, still watch TV live and sit and surf the channels. But the cable company video on demand offerings are much larger than in the past. The large cable companies and networks have also provided on-line delayed viewing for most of their popular content that is available with a cable subscription. There are the huge libraries of content at Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other streaming services. There is some pretty decent content today being produced only for the Web, along with an absolute mountain of content on YouTube. And for those willing to hunt, there are huge piles of older movies, newsreels, and offbeat content all over the web.

Here are a few of the more interesting findings of the Nielsen survey:


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