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An Increasing Call for Community Owned Networks | community broadband networks

An Increasing Call for Community Owned Networks | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

While Comcast focuses on increasing its market power rather than improving services in the communities it monopolizes, no one should be surprised that we are seeing a surge in interest for building community owned networks.


We've heard from many people who want to learn how they can start - more than we can always respond to, unfortunately. We are working on a resource to answer many of those questions, but it always boils down to 2 things: building a supportive network of people and getting informed. Get the word out - especially to local business leaders and anyone else who may be supportive.


There are many potential business models and financing opportunities, but some will work better than others in each community. That said, there are some basics that every community should be immediately considering.


The first is building a fiber network to connect anchor institutions such as schools, libraries, first responders, municipal facilities, and the like (see our Fact Sheet on savings from such networks). These networks should be constructed in such a way as to enable future expansions to local businesses, residents, and generally everything in the community or even beyond for rural areas. That means choosing the backbone routes carefully and ensuring that as much fiber is available as possible. Using conduit with channels and always leave at least one channel free to pull a future bundle (replacing a smaller count bundle that can then be removed to continue having a free channel).


Another smart move is to begin getting conduit and fiber in the ground as part of other capital projects, like street rebuilds, water main replacement, and the like. We will discuss how Santa Monica did this in an upcoming case study. In the meantime, there is no better resource than CTC Technology & Energy's recent report, Gigabit Cities: Technical Strategies for Facilitating Public or Private Broadband Construction in your Community.


We have additional resources organized in two places: on MuniNetworks.org and on ILSR.org. If you can't find a piece of information you need, let us know.


Of the recent voices calling for at least consideration of a publicly owned network in their community, two recent ones stand out. Lev Gonick, head of OneCommunity in northeast Ohio (our coverage of them here) recently called on the region to take its future into its own hands rather than waiting for Google.


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Wireless Bills are Rising: Prices Up More than 50% Since 2007 and Will Head Even Higher When 5G Arrives | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Wireless Bills are Rising: Prices Up More than 50% Since 2007 and Will Head Even Higher When 5G Arrives | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Without dramatic changes in wireless pricing and more careful usage, owning a smartphone will cost an average of $119 a month per phone by the year 2019.

Ever since the largest players in the wireless industry decided to monetize wireless data usage by ending unlimited use data plans, the average monthly phone bills of smartphone users have been on the increase. In 2013, the average cell phone bill was $76 a month, according to Bureau of Labor statistics. That’s up 50% from the $51 a month customers paid in 2007, the first year the iconic Apple iPhone was offered for sale.

Although wireless companies claim their current 4G (largely LTE) networks are robust enough to sustain the growing demand for wireless data until more spectrum becomes available, the transition to next generation 5G technology will dramatically increase the efficiency of wireless data transmission, delivering up to 40 times the speed of existing 4G networks. But if providers are not willing to slash prices on 5G data plans, average usage and customers’ phone bills are likely to soar to new all-time highs, costing a family of four smartphone owners an average of $476 a month.


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USA Freedom Act Passes: What We Celebrate, What We Mourn, and Where We Go From Here | Cindy Cox & Mark Jaycox | EFF.org

USA Freedom Act Passes: What We Celebrate, What We Mourn, and Where We Go From Here | Cindy Cox & Mark Jaycox | EFF.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Senate passed the USA Freedom Act today by 67-32, marking the first time in over thirty years that both houses of Congress have approved a bill placing real restrictions and oversight on the National Security Agency’s surveillance powers. The weakening amendments to the legislation proposed by NSA defender Senate Majority Mitch McConnell were defeated, and we have every reason to believe that President Obama will sign USA Freedom into law. Technology users everywhere should celebrate, knowing that the NSA will be a little more hampered in its surveillance overreach, and both the NSA and the FISA court will be more transparent and accountable than it was before the USA Freedom Act.

It’s no secret that we wanted more. In the wake of the damning evidence of surveillance abuses disclosed by Edward Snowden, Congress had an opportunity to champion comprehensive surveillance reform and undertake a thorough investigation, like it did with the Church Committee. Congress could have tried to completely end mass surveillance and taken numerous other steps to rein in the NSA and FBI. This bill was the result of compromise and strong leadership by Sens. Patrick Leahy and Mike Lee and Reps. Robert Goodlatte, Jim Sensenbrenner, and John Conyers. It’s not the bill EFF would have written, and in light of the Second Circuit's thoughtful opinion, we withdrew our support from the bill in an effort to spur Congress to strengthen some of its privacy protections and out of concern about language added to the bill at the behest of the intelligence community.

Even so, we’re celebrating. We’re celebrating because, however small, this bill marks a day that some said could never happen—a day when the NSA saw its surveillance power reduced by Congress. And we’re hoping that this could be a turning point in the fight to rein in the NSA.


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John Malone: Charter-Time Warner Cable Deal Won't Face "Material" Regulatory Issues | Georg Szalai | The Hollywood Reporter

John Malone: Charter-Time Warner Cable Deal Won't Face "Material" Regulatory Issues | Georg Szalai | The Hollywood Reporter | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Liberty Media chairman John Malone said Tuesday that he sees no "material" regulatory issues for the Charter Communications-Time Warner Cable deal.

"The deal will not have major regulatory" issues, he reiterated later during the annual shareholder meeting of Liberty Broadband, which holds Liberty's stake in Charter. "If i thought we were [facing major hurdles], we wouldn’t have done this deal," Malone said.

Malone said the company has "carefully" looked at all the complaints against the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal. He emphasized that "in each case Charter is an entirely different situation" than the Comcast-TW Cable deal. He said the Charter transaction will create a company with smaller size and market power than Comcast would have had. He said there are not the same vertical and horizontal consolidation concerns that the Comcast deal included. The vertical integration concerns revolved around Comcast's ownership of entertainment giant NBCUniversal.

Malone said "it's true I have a few investments on the content side," such as Discovery Communications. "But I don't control either side."

He said that if Time Warner Cable had acquired the smaller Charter, there would "clearly not" be any regulatory concern at all.


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AT&T is prepared to abide by the new net neutrality rules under the DirecTV deal | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

AT&T is prepared to abide by the new net neutrality rules under the DirecTV deal | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In a few weeks, federal regulators are likely to approve AT&T's $49 billion purchase of DirecTV. To seal the deal, AT&T is expected to make several promises to soothe concerns that the acquisition could hurt consumers.

Among the deal's so-called conditions is expected to be something fairly simple. AT&T is prepared to accept aspects of the net neutrality rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission earlier this year, according to people familiar with the negotiations, who declined to be named because the deliberations are private.

AT&T has publicly opposed making the agency's newest net neutrality rules a condition of the acquisition. It said when it first proposed the merger that it was prepared to abide by an older version of net neutrality. But in negotiations with the FCC, which must approve the deal, AT&T may be willing to go further.

If AT&T ultimately followed the newer rules for Internet providers, it would be committing to at least three things. It would honor the FCC's ban on the slowing of Web sites, as well as a ban on blocking Web sites. It would also comply with a ban against taking payments from Web site operators to speed up their content, a practice known as "paid prioritization."

It is unclear how long AT&T would be required to abide by such a commitment, said the people familiar with the plans.

AT&T is part of an industry coalition suing to roll back the net neutrality rules. But if regulators approve the deal with an AT&T commitment to net neutrality, the company would be bound by the rules for the duration of the agreement no matter what happens to the court case.


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Quick fix for an early Internet problem lives on a quarter-century later | Craig Timberg | WashPost.com

Quick fix for an early Internet problem lives on a quarter-century later | Craig Timberg | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

By the time a pair of engineers sat down for lunch together in Austin, the Internet’s growing pains had become dire. Once a novelty for computer scientists, the network was now exploding in size, lurching ever closer to a hard mathematical wall built into one of the Internet’s most basic protocols.

As the prospect of system meltdown loomed, the men began scribbling ideas for a solution onto the back of a ketchup-stained napkin. Then a second. Then a third. The “three-napkins protocol,” as its inventors jokingly dubbed it, would soon revolutionize the Internet. And though there were lingering issues, the engineers saw their creation as a “hack” or “kludge,” slang for a short-term fix to be replaced as soon as a better alternative arrived.

That was 1989.

More than a quarter-century later — a span that has seen the fall of the Berlin Wall, the rise of the smartphone and an explosion of hacking — the “three-napkins protocol” still directs most long-haul traffic on the global network despite years of increasingly strenuous warnings about critical security problems. The three-napkins protocol has become the kludge that never died.

“Short-term solutions tend to stay with us for a very long time. And long-term solutions tend to never happen,” said Yakov Rekhter, one of the engineers who invented the “three-napkins protocol.” “That’s what I learned from this experience.”

The Internet can appear as elegantly designed as a race car as it immerses us in consuming worlds of sight and sound. But it’s closer to an assemblage of kludges — more Frankenstein than Ferrari — that endure because they work, or at least work well enough.


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MN: Cable Franchising: Learn more about it through Dakota County’s process | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

Cable franchising is always a prickly topic. Providers would often like to do away with or at least streamline the process of cable franchising. Local government is not always interested in losing control or revenue that stems from franchising.

Northern Dakota County is looking at cable franchising now. They recently sent an email out to residents about CenturyLink’s application for franchising. I think there’s a lot to be learned in the email – about the process in Northern Dakota and beyond…

Residents Feedback Wanted

Northern Dakota County Cable Communications Commission (“NDC4″) has received a Cable Television Franchise Application from CenturyLink, the local incumbent telephone exchange carrier operating in the Commission’s seven-city franchise area. Residents and businesses of Inver Grove Heights, Lilydale, Mendota, Mendota Heights, South St. Paul, Sunfish Lake, and West St. Paul are encouraged to submit comments or questions relating to CenturyLink’s franchise application via one of the following options:


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USA Freedom Vote Targeted for June 2 | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

USA Freedom Vote Targeted for June 2 | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

According to Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the USA Freedom Act will be reintroduced with three amendments, the first essentially a replacement bill with two changes, plus a couple of amendments to that new bill. That will likely come on Tuesday (June 2), with Burr's hope that it can pass Tuesday afternoon.

If the amendments are agreed to, the House will have to revote the bill, which was passed without amendments in that body under the threat that any changes would have killed it.

The Patriot Act Sec. 215 bulk metadata surveillance by the NSA expired May 31, and will have to wait at least another day before being revived in a different form in the USA Freedom Act, if it passes, as most expect.

The amendments in the substitute bill would do a couple of things.


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FCC Seeks Input On Mobile Wireless Competitiveness | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

FCC Seeks Input On Mobile Wireless Competitiveness | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The FCC is seeking input on just how competitive the mobile wireless market is.

That came in a Public Notice seeking info for the annual State of Competition in the Mobile Wireless Market report.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has made promoting wireless as a competitor to wired broadband a priority, but has said it is not yet a substitute.

The FCC is seeking comment on a number of issues, including coverage, usage, pricing, speed, latency, and how service is differentiated.

It also wants information on participation by women and minorities in the business, on privacy and security and whether consumers are willing to pay for such protections, and is looking for any comparisons of the U.S. market with other countries.

The commission is looking for data from the second half of 2014 and into 2015 and wants to hear back by July 14.


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The NSA’s domestic phone records program is dead for now. But the government has many ways to get phone data. | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com

The NSA’s domestic phone records program is dead for now. But the government has many ways to get phone data. | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A controversial program that allowed the government to collect Americans' phone records has ended, at least temporarily. The Senate adjourned Sunday without coming to an agreement about the future of the program — letting the legal authority for several national security programs expire.

Three different parts of the USA Patriot Act sunset — but it was Section 215, the provision used to authorize the National Security Agency program that collected the phone records of millions of Americans, that was at the heart of debate.

Members of the Obama administration have warned that the lapse of the program could harm national security. "These tools give us better ability to see the tactical moves that various terrorist groups or individuals are making," said CIA Director John Brennan during a "Face the Nation" appearance Sunday.

But several reviews of the phone record programs have found it ineffective — including the group President Obama assembled to review government surveillance programs and a majority of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent executive branch board.

And even with the sunset of the provisions the government will still have the ability to get much of the same information, although not in the exact same way or as quickly.

"It's obviously not good, and irresponsible — but I wouldn't be surprised, especially if this only lasts a week or two, that the government can't patch together what it needs," said Stewart Baker, a former NSA general counsel who also served assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security from 2005 through 2009.

The administration could use a "grandfather clause" built into the current version of the USA Patriot Act to keep collecting data for investigations that began before the provisions expired. Because the government often pursues broad investigations that can go on for years, there may a lot of chances for the government to use that clause.

"Any investigation that began before today can use all of the expired authorities," Baker said.


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Senator Booker Introduces Legislation To Make Broad Band Internet More Affordable, Accessible | Bergen Dispatch

Senator Booker Introduces Legislation To Make Broad Band Internet More Affordable, Accessible | Bergen Dispatch | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Today, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J), U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and U.S. Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), introduced legislation to reform and modernize the Universal Service Fund (USF) Lifeline Assistance Program by allowing for broadband Internet services to be available to eligible households .

The Broadband Adoption Act of 2015 will instruct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish a broadband Lifeline Assistance program and will help bridge the digital divide by making in-home online services more affordable across the country. The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Edward Markey (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), along with Representatives Frank Pallone Jr. (NJ-06), Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Anna Eshoo (CA-18), Ranking Member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, Michael Doyle (PA-14), Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Peter Welch (VT-At Large).

The introduction of the Broadband Adoption Act comes just days after the FCC announced a new effort to usher the Lifeline Program into the Internet Age. Matsui, Murphy, and Booker praised the FCC’s proposal, and hope that the FCC, which has the authority to update the Lifeline Program on its own, makes Internet access available to tens of millions low-income Americans.


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Sports not holding cable bundles together | Advanced-Television.com

Sports content often has the most expensive TV subscription prices, but a survey by Clearleap says it isn’t how cable companies can deter cord-cutting. Sixty-seven per cent of US cable subscribers said sports weren’t the reason they kept their service, the survey reveals.

As more traditional television migrates online outside traditional pay-TV subscriptions, live sports is often viewed as a key deterrent against cord-cutting. However, Clearleap’s data suggest cable companies don’t necessarily need sports to keep many people as subscribers.

Clearleap’s data indicates sports programmers and leagues face demand for streaming sports outside a pay-TV subscription. Among people who indicated they often watch at least one sport, 49 per cent said they’d pay to stream their favourite sport without a cable subscription. The most popular pay level was, obviously, the cheapest: 37 per cent said that they would pay $20 per month or less, while 8.1 per cent said they would pay $21 to $49 and a hardcore 4 per cent would pay $50 or more.

“People want to watch it whenever it is convenient right now,” said David Mowrey, Clearleap’s vice president of product management. “There’s still a lot of opportunity to create better experiences particularly around streaming sports.”


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The Economist: Charter Communications' Buyout of Time Warner Cable Structured So It Will Pay No Taxes for Years | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

The Economist: Charter Communications' Buyout of Time Warner Cable Structured So It Will Pay No Taxes for Years | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Economist reports Charter Communications’ acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks has been structured so that “it should pay no tax for several years, at least.”

The merger deal, which intimately involves John Malone, the boss of Liberty Media — a cable and media conglomerate, has all the hallmarks of a classic Malone-inspired deal: complex ownership structures, high debt levels, assiduous tax planning and a refusal to overpay.

Unlike many other dealmakers, Malone seems to want to avoid the spotlight. His firm Liberty Media is Charter’s biggest single investor and will kick in at least $5 billion in Charter stock purchases to help consummate the transaction, which will be handled primarily by Charter’s management.

The deal comes at Malone’s insistence the American cable landscape must be consolidated into just 2-3 large companies. For now, he is content standing aside while the public faces of the merger are Charter’s CEO Thomas Rutledge and Time Warner Cable’s Rob Marcus. (Bright House Networks is also a part of the transaction but has been completely overshadowed by its larger deal partners.)

While coverage of the transaction has been relegated to the Business section of newspapers and has evoked shrugs from American reporters, The Economist calls it nothing short of an extraordinary landmark.


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Sky Brazil expands TD-LTE coverage to 85 municipalities | TeleGeography.com

Brazilian pay-TV operator Sky Brasil Servicos (Sky Brazil), which is part of the US-based DirecTV group, has expanded its 4G Time-Division Long Term Evolution (TD-LTE) coverage to 85 municipalities, BN Americas reports.


The website claims that Sky’s broadband user base now stands at 150,000. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Sky Brazil activated its TD-LTE network on 14 December 2011, with the service initially going live in Brasilia (Distrito Federal).

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Comcast Was So Incredibly Full Of Crap During Its Merger Sales Pitch, The Government Is Considering Additional Punishment | Karl Bode | Techdirt

Comcast Was So Incredibly Full Of Crap During Its Merger Sales Pitch, The Government Is Considering Additional Punishment | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

While Comcast's attempted acquisition of Time Warner Cable may be dead in the water, information revealed during the company's ugly but often entertaining merger sales pitch may come back to haunt it. When Comcast started selling regulators on the idea of the Time Warner Cable merger, you'll recall it highlighted repeatedly how Comcast should be trusted because it had done such a bang up job adhering to the conditions placed on its acquisition of NBC Universal. Except when regulators tried to verify this M&A claim (which is already rare enough in telecom), they discovered that not only did Comcast write most of the conditions itself, it still somehow managed to repeatedly fail to adhere to them.

For example Comcast had to be fined $800,000 by the FCC for failing to offer and clearly advertise a relatively paltry 5 Mbps, $50 per month broadband tier. Similarly, the company's Internet Essentials program, which promised 5 Mbps, $10 broadband for low income communities and was a phenomenal PR boon for Comast -- at one point resulted in Philadelphia street protests for being hard to find, qualify, and sign up for. It was also revealed that Comcast ignored conditions intended to keep the company from hamstringing Internet video competitor Hulu, which it acquired as part of the NBC deal.

So yes, Comcast, you're really great at adhering to merger conditions, just as long as nobody actually bothers to look at how well you adhere to merger conditions. Given how closely the FCC had looked at whether companies adhered to merger conditions in the past (as in: not at all), Comcast's hubris here was understandable.


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Verizon tops another consumer satisfaction poll, but pay-TV metrics slide 3% overall | Daniel Frankel | Fierce Cable

Verizon tops another consumer satisfaction poll, but pay-TV metrics slide 3% overall | Daniel Frankel | Fierce Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Just one day after Consumer Reports found declining consumer satisfaction among American consumers using pay-TV services, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) released a report nearing mirroring the unhappy findings.

In the annual independent survey of 70,000 U.S. consumers, Verizon FiOS (NYSE: VZ) finished atop pay-TV services, with its "71" score rising 4 percent over 2014 and placing it just ahead of AT&T U-verse (flat with last year's results).

Notably, Verizon also finished atop Consumer Reports' telecom satisfaction report, which was released Monday.

ACSI, which polled customers on everything from picture quality to the ease to which they understand their bill to call center responsiveness, ranked DirecTV, down 1 percent, third in the poll and Dish Network fourth, with a score flat with 2014.

A flat Cablevision and Charter Communications, up 5 percent, led the moribund cable sector, with Time Warner Cable (down 9 percent) finishing dead last behind Mediacom (flat).

Those two final MSOs also finished last in the Consumer Reports study, with Mediacom at the absolute bottom.


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Source: Dems Not Backing Effective-Competition Change | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

Source: Dems Not Backing Effective-Competition Change | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

With a June 2 deadline from Congress for an order streamlining its effective-competition petition process, a federal Communications Commission source speaking on background at press time said three votes had been cast on the effective-competition order, and another source said they did not include the two Democrats -- commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler circulated the order, and the Republicans support it, while an FCC source said Clyburn would not be voting to approve, and Rosenworcel likely will not support it either.

The order is expected to be voted by the other two commissioners by June 2 and pass 3-2 in a split decision.

Currently, to get out from under basic-cable rate regulation, a cable operator has to petition the FCC for a ruling that it is subject to effective competition. As part of the STELAR satellite license reauthorization bill, Congress directed the FCC to come up with a streamlined effective competition process for smaller, particularly rural, operators. But since the FCC has granted ll such requests, in whole or in part, since 2103. The FCC in March proposed reversing it for all cable operators and the chairman circulated an order to that effect.


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Hulu Rebrands Itself; Dropping "Plus" Name In Effort to Reduce Consumer Confusion; Ad Loads Under Review | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Hulu Rebrands Itself; Dropping "Plus" Name In Effort to Reduce Consumer Confusion; Ad Loads Under Review | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Although Hulu Plus ($7.99/mo) has managed to attract a claimed nine million active subscribers, it has never drawn as much attention as its rivals Netflix and Amazon, and Hulu’s CEO believes that is because consumers, including his mom, are confused about the difference between Hulu and Hulu Plus.

Hulu is the advertiser-supported free side of Hulu and Hulu Plus offers a deeper catalog of content (and the right to view it on mobile devices) in return for a monthly fee. But the premium side of Hulu has always been plagued with complaints it collects money from customers and still forces them to watch paid advertising.

“Even when I was a subscriber, Hulu Plus didn’t make much sense,” said Scott Beggs of FilmSchoolRejects. “You signed up, gave them your credit card information, scored an account, and the commercials were still there. Shame on all of us who assumed that paying eight bucks a month would let us avoid watching the same heartburn medication commercials five times per Daily Show episode, I guess.”


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Exploring the Amazon | The Economist

Exploring the Amazon | The Economist | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

NOT long after Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, said he would pay $250m of his own money for the chronically loss-making Washington Post, in August 2013, he sat next to the newspaper’s editorial-page editor, Fred Hiatt, at a dinner. It was a perfect opportunity to influence the Post’s line, but Mr Bezos reportedly preferred to talk about other things on his mind, such as exploring the dark side of the moon.

Technology, not journalism, is Mr Bezos’s passion. So far he has been the sort of proprietor newshounds dream of, with a light touch on editorial matters and a willingness to finance experimentation and bear losses. After years of shrinking ambitions and cost-cutting under its old owners, the Graham family, Posties are experiencing a period of expansion and excitement under Mr Bezos. As other American papers have continued to cut staff, the Post has hired more than 100 newsroom employees since the takeover was announced.


In its revamp, the Post is following some of Amazon’s tactics. Much as Mr Bezos has made his e-commerce firm concentrate on building scale first, and worrying about profits later, he is making his newspaper concentrate first on building a broader national and international audience. Its website’s traffic in America has doubled since he announced the takeover, to 51m unique visitors in April. It is promoting its journalism more assiduously on social networks, is offering readers curated content from elsewhere on the internet, and is making its web pages load faster.


The Post has introduced a “partner” programme, in which it offers free access to its articles for subscribers of other papers such as the Dallas Morning News, if they sign in with their e-mail addresses. Logged-in readers like these are more valuable to a paper and its advertisers than anonymous ones, because the ads can be tailored to match whatever is known about their interests. So far more than 270 papers have signed on. This resembles how Amazon achieves dominance in its markets by gathering data on customers, the better to sell them stuff. Some newspaper bosses are cautious. “It’s a Trojan horse,” says one, who thinks publishers are unwise to share their subscriber lists with the Post and its advertisers. Another initiative is to study and predict reader behaviour, so as to offer each website visitor a tailored landing-page, as is the case at a certain e-commerce site.


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USA Freedom Act Passes Senate | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

USA Freedom Act Passes Senate | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Senate voted 67 to 32 Tuesday to pass the USA Freedom Act, which limits NSA bulk data collection.

That came after amendments were voted down that would have forced a re-vote in the House, which passed it overwhelmingly.

The bill can now go to the President, who has signaled he would sign it ASAP. Not long after passage the President tweeted: "Glad the Senate finally passed the USA Freedom Act. It protects civil liberties and our national security. I'll sign it as soon as I get it."


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First Time Warner Cable Executive Departs After Announced Charter Deal: CFO Artie Minson Leaves Today | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

First Time Warner Cable Executive Departs After Announced Charter Deal: CFO Artie Minson Leaves Today | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

After serving just two years as the chief financial officer of Time Warner Cable, Arthur Minson today left the cable company to become president and chief operating officer of WeWork, a shared office space provider.

Time Warner Cable isn’t announcing a permanent replacement. Instead, William F. Osbourn, Jr., who now serves as senior vice president-controller and chief accounting officer, and Matthew Siegel, who currently serves as senior vice president and treasurer, will serve as acting co-CFOs.

Last year Minson made $13 million, after receiving an effective 137% raise over 2013. He reportedly has $1,826,915 in awarded Time Warner Cable stock and option awards worth $1,767,619. If Comcast had successfully purchased Time Warner Cable, Minson would have walked away with a $27 million golden parachute. Charter has not yet disclosed what it intends to pay Time Warner Cable executives in exit bonuses.


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Who should get the blame in IRS breach? | Patrick Thibodeau | NetworkWorld.com

Who should get the blame in IRS breach? | Patrick Thibodeau | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If cybercrime is visualized as a river, its headwaters may be in a doctor's office in places such as South Florida. It's here where a cellphone photograph of a medical form filled out by a patient can be sold for a minimum of $10.

With that information, fraudsters add other data streams from publicly accessible databases, social media sites and other sources, such as stolen credit records. It's this now-river of data that was used to attack an Internal Revenue Service application called Get Transcripts and access the records of more than 100,000 taxpayers.

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing today on this breach. The IRS will put some of the blame on lawmakers, at least indirectly. The agency has suffered big budget cuts, including to its cybersecurity program, and has lost some key IT personnel.

But does IRS budget-cutting, from $12.15 billion in 2010 to $10.9 billion this year, fully explain the breach?

If the IRS is asked to explain the security processes it will describe "a multi-step process to check identities" for its Get Transcript program. The first part involves submitting personal information about the taxpayer, including Social Security number, date of birth, tax filing status and street address. There are also "out-of-wallet" questions, questions "based on information that only the taxpayer should know, such as the amount of their car payment or other personal information," said the IRS.

But one former IRS IT manager, who didn't want his name used, said that IRS cybersecurity officials "would have preferred to implement a more dynamic and aggressive security framework that would have stopped the fraudsters from being able to get in using the information they stole from the third party." IRS senior leadership favored, instead, an approach to keep the process simpler to encourage use, this manager claimed.

A more complex authentication system would have involved a multi-factor authentication approach - "biometrics, dynamic questions using non-public information rather than static or simple out-of-wallet questioning," said this former IRS manager.

But there's no easy approach here. Even if the government were to implement some form of biometrics, it faced potential problems.


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Competition Works: América Móvil Plans $50 Billion Fiber to the Home Network in Mexico | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Competition Works: América Móvil Plans $50 Billion Fiber to the Home Network in Mexico | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

With AT&T’s arrival in the Mexican wireless marketplace with its purchase of Iusacell and Nextel, América Móvil is responding with plans to build a new state-of-the-art $50 billion fiber-to-the-home network for Mexican consumers.

According to El Economista, América Móvil has a five-year plan to construct a 311,000 mile fiber network that will offer phone, broadband, and television service. The move comes in response to media reports AT&T is exploring delivering a video package over its acquired wireless networks within the next two years. The network will support broadband speeds that are faster than what most Americans along the border with Mexico can receive from AT&T and CenturyLink’s prevalent DSL services.

In comparison, U.S. phone companies like Verizon have stopped expanding its FiOS fiber to the home network and AT&T largely relies on a less-capable hybrid fiber/copper network for its U-verse service.

Competition in Mexico has forced providers to upgrade their networks to compete for customers while those in the United States tend to match each other’s prices or advocate for industry consolidation to maximize revenue and keep their costs as low as possible.

América Móvil’s broadband service Infinitum Telmex has already attracted 22.3 million broadband customers — a number likely to rise once it can enhance its online video streaming service Clarovideo.


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In NC, Bald Head Island Releases RFP for Gigabit Network | community broadband networks

In NC, Bald Head Island Releases RFP for Gigabit Network | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Village of Bald Head Island, North Carolina, recently released a Request for Proposals (RFP), in its search for an FTTP network. The Village, home to about 160 year-round residents, is accessible only by ferry. Transportation on the island is limited to feet, bikes, and electric golf carts. While they may choose slower transportation methods, the people of the island want speed when it comes to Internet access.

Members of the community began working on the idea in the summer of 2013 as part of an initiative that involved several challenges facing this quiet community. They determined that the economic health of local businesses and quality of life depended on improving access, traditionally provided by AT&T and Tele-Media.

Real estate professionals on the island noted that lack of broadband interfered with the housing market. According to the RFP:


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Kimmelman: Charter/TWC Lacks Same Problems of Comcast/TWC | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

Kimmelman: Charter/TWC Lacks Same Problems of Comcast/TWC | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Gene Kimmelman, president of Public Knowledge, says he does not think the proposed Charter/Time Warner Cable merger has "the same problems" that the Comcast/TWC proposed merger had in terms of competition issues, but says it has some that will need inspecting.

Kimmelman and former FCC commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth weighed in on the prospect of a Charter/Time Warner Cable deal in an interview for C-SPAN's Communicators series.

A former antitrust official with Justice in the Obama Administration, Kimmelman emphasized that the merger would almost double the size of Time Warner Cable, and said for that reason it was going to get a "very serious review" by law enforcement officials. "They are a pure transmission play, so it will be a very different transaction under review."

But he said a big difference between this deal and Comcast/TWC was that it was a combination of companies that don't own content (outside of a few regional sports nets).

Kimmelman said the big question in the deal is the impact on cable bills and whether the result of the deal will be better speeds and new services. Charter is arguing it will do just that.

He also talked about over-the-top video, another key issue. "Will the new online-delivered video products be more available, or will this combined entity try to cut off my options." He said he thought Internet-delivered video is his biggest concern. It is certainly one of the FCC's, which has been probing that issue in regards to the AT&T/DirecTV deal.

Given that the video competition is coming over the same wire controlled by ISPs, those ISPs have incentive to favor its own bundled service, so Washington will have to make sure there are no unfair benefits to cable.

Furchtgott-Roth laughed off the over-the-top concerns. He said every consumer has multiple paths to broadband. While Kimmelman argued, as has the FCC, that a single ISP generally controls that key wire into the home, Furchtgott-Roth said there are actually three wires. He said he was not saying people were getting video over all three wires, but did say they had that option over at least two, the cable and telephone company.

In addition, he said, there are wireless options, with increasing speeds. Kimmelman said that wireless was not yet a competitor for video streaming.


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Facebook will send encrypted emails as users add PGP key to profile | Fred O'Connor | NetworkWorld.com

Facebook will send encrypted emails as  users add PGP key to profile | Fred O'Connor | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Some Facebook users should soon be able to receive encrypted emails from the social networking site if they add PGP public keys to their profiles.

Facebook called the PGP feature “experimental” and said it is slowly rolling it out, although a timeline wasn’t provided. The PGP key details will be added to the “contact and basic info section” of a person’s profile under “contact information.”

Facebook sends messages to private email accounts to inform users when they have a private message or friend request, for example. It currently uses TLS to establish secure connections to a person’s email provider, but this won’t keep the details of an email private from prying eyes.

By enabling PGP, Facebook will protect the content contained in an email, Facebook said Monday. Email service providers like Yahoo and Google scan a person’s inbox and run ads based on the content of a message, a practice some users don’t like. Revelations about widespread government surveillance programs have also made many people more concerned about online privacy.


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