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My Brother's Internet Is Way Cheaper Than Mine -- and Yours | The Motley Fool

My Brother's Internet Is Way Cheaper Than Mine -- and Yours | The Motley Fool | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This is my little brother. His name is Håkan Bylund, he runs about two inches and two shoe sizes larger than my piddly 6'5" and size 13, and he loves playing football. A two-way threat, Håkan is both a devastating defensive end and a solid hand at the crucial left tackle spot. Yes, this quarterback is a rightie.


He's also into computers and the Internet. In fact, I can't imagine him without a high-speed broadband connection. It's how he gets his news and information, where he enjoys most of his entertainment, and the only way to shop. Some things just run in the family, I guess.


Right now, he's using a fiber-optic connection that provides 30/30 speeds. That's 30 megabits per second for downloads and 30 for uploads. For this, he pays about $38 a month. He's planning to more than triple his downloads to 100 megabits and sacrifice some upload speed, landing at 10 megabits. It'll cost him $39.70 a month.


That is, if he stays with his current fiber provider. But that's not a given, since 11 providers offer 100/10 connections to Håkan's apartment. They range in price from $36 to $65 a month. For a cool $70 a month, he could even upgrade to a full gigabit connection. You know, like Google Fiber. But he doesn't know anyone using that package. "It's rare to need that kind of speed for personal use," he tells me.


Moreover, he's not locked in to fiber. There's also about 10 ADSL providers for his address, one cable TV vendor, and a plethora of mobile operators. Mobile broadband is a viable option, and can provide 40 megabits up and down over 4G LTE. One company sells these high-speed 4G LTE subscriptions for $15.40 a month, plus a one-time fee for the network router unless you're committing to a two-year contract. If you do, some of the hardware options would be free.


My own broadband is a bit faster than Håkan's current plan. I'm using Verizon FiOS fiber for a 50/50 connection. This comes in handy when I'm uploading videos to our Foolish systems, for example. And it costs me $83 a month.


For that price, my brother could get a full gigabit connection. And he'd have enough money left over for a couple of extra burgers every month. Gotta fuel the sack machine. His current 30/30 connection costs less than half of my subscription, which is somewhat faster but in the same ballpark.


No, Håkan doesn't live in one of the anointed Google Fiber cities. If he did, the gigabit connection would indeed cost $70 a month, but he'd have nowhere near the amount of choices that he has today.


You see, my brother stayed in Sweden while I went to Florida. In the old country, there's a political will to encourage competition. Municipal fiber networks got tax breaks and subsidies early on. It's through one of those municipal fiber networks that my brother enjoys about a dozen service provider choices, all leasing access on the same infrastructure.


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Comcast Shouldn’t Be Able to Stop Verizon from Offering Better TV Plans | John Bergmayer | Public Knowledge

Comcast Shouldn’t Be Able to Stop Verizon from Offering Better TV Plans | John Bergmayer | Public Knowledge | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Public Knowledge is on the other side of a lot of public policy issues from Verizon. That said, Verizon's new "Custom TV" plans are a move in the right direction. It’s great to see a company announce--and then launch--a new approach that is good for viewers, good for the provider, good for competition and ultimately good for programmers, as well.

The “Custom TV” plans aren’t perfect, and they're not quite à la carte. But they can allow some viewers to lower their bills and increase the amount of control they have over the programming they pay for. That’s a good thing.

Of course, there’s a reason why a company like Verizon would move first to offer packages like this. Even though you can trace Verizon’s corporate history back to the Bell System, when it comes to TV, it’s the new entrant compared with big cable. Most cable companies don’t face much “overbuilder” competition--sometimes cable companies like RCN come in and serve the same territory as an existing cable company, and sometimes cable companies face competition from telcos like Verizon or AT&T that offer a broadband/TV package. (Most cable companies face TV competition from DISH and DirecTV, but the broadband/TV package is most appealing to many customers, and satellite companies can’t compete there.)

But Verizon competes with cable in all the areas it serves. As a result, it has to work harder than cable to win customers. These new TV plans are part of that, and are an indication that, however slowly, the industry is moving in the direction of more consumer choice. It’s not just that online video unlocks a lot of potential competition--the traditional pay TV companies are going to have to adapt, as Verizon is starting to do. More choices from every kind of video provider, including traditional ones, will benefit viewers.

But some things could stand in the way of this--for example, if Comcast buys Time Warner Cable, its ability and incentive to prevent its competitors from offering more consumer-friendly plans would increase. There are hints of how that might work happening already.

Since Verizon announced its plans, a number of programmers have complained. They say their contracts with Verizon mean they have to be included in every subscriber's package, instead of as optional add-ons. If you're a programmer, it's better for your bottom line when every subscriber is required to pay for your product, instead of deciding whether your programming is worth the price.


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WA: Seattle activists push for city-run, high-speed Internet service | Daniel Beekman | Seattle Times

WA: Seattle activists push for city-run, high-speed Internet service | Daniel Beekman | Seattle Times | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Roughly a year ago, a group of friends and acquaintances began meeting up for happy-hour drinks in Seattle — but not to gab about work or dating or the Mariners.

What brought them together was whether and how Seattle can treat broadband Internet access like a public utility by providing high-speed connections to every home.

“We came up with the most ridiculous name we could, something like “The Municipal Broadband Dreamers Society Happy Hour Friday Club,” Sabrina Roach recalled.

The memory made Roach chuckle recently, but she and her friends are serious about municipal broadband. What started during a happy hour has since grown into a public-awareness campaign called Upgrade Seattle, with a website and a plan to impact this year’s Seattle City Council elections.


The group says municipal broadband would ensure equal access to the Web across the city’s many neighborhoods and more fair pricing. “Seattle is ready,” the website asserts.


Whether its campaign gains widespread relevance may depend on the findings of a feasibility study commissioned by Mayor Ed Murray’s administration. A report on the study by Columbia Telecommunications Corporation (CTC) is to be released this month.


“I believe, with the Murray administration, we have an opportunity to push for this,” said Roach, who has been coordinating Upgrade Seattle because her employer, Brown Paper Tickets, pays her to work on communications and social-equity campaigns.


Murray’s study won’t be the city’s first to look at municipal broadband. There were similar reports in 2005, 2007 and 2011, under then-mayors Greg Nickels and Mike McGinn. The 2005 report warned that “private markets, left alone, are unlikely to favor Seattle.” The 2011 report recommended a $700 million-plus investment in building a community broadband network.


So why is the city paying CTC $180,000 for yet another take on the same question?


Seattle’s Chief Technology Officer Michael Mattmiller, who joined Murray’s team last June from Microsoft’s cloud-privacy division, says market conditions are different now.


“We recognized that the world has changed since then,” Mattmiller said.


One change is President Obama has put his weight behind community broadband networks — cities and counties offering high-speed Internet access in competition with providers like Comcast and CenturyLink.


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INTX 2015: NCTA's Powell Hates (the Name) Cable | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

INTX 2015: NCTA's Powell Hates (the Name) Cable | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Michael Powell said Tuesday that he hates cable, the name that is, because it does not capture all that his industry has done to build out broadband.

Powell opened his collar, as well as the rebranded and reimagined INTX 2015 show in Chicago, with in a Q&A interview with Re/Code's Kara Swisher.

A Silicon Valley informality and attitude was part of the message. An opening video with Peter Max-like cartoon forms christened INTX a "mash-up at the crossroads of entertainment" and pointed out that some of the ideas NCTA had solicited from the public about the broadband future included downloadable cupcakes and telepathic telecommuting.

But Powell seemed serious about moving his industry beyond cable toward what convention co-chair Alfred Liggins had called a uniting of "friends and frenemies."

"Once upon a time there was the cable show," the narrator in the video said, as if to place that show in a book whose pages were now turned. Powell suggested the future of video was going to be multi-screen and holographic, and meant competing with real life, which meant the connected communities and video apps that are the currency of young people's interactions.

Swisher took aim at the "cable" name, saying it was kind of like talking about a "motorized horse."

"I hate the name," Powell said. "I do think it has a proud history but I think it has to be retired in some way because I think your past can be apart of your glory but it also can be a weight around your ankle. And it also doesn't fairly capture what they do."

And while he may hate the name, he loves the record of building out broadband.

He said the industry had "successfully deployed the most sophisticated infrastructure in the history of the world in the fastest amount of time of any technology in the history of the world, and increased the capacity of that at exponential rates."

He said it should be more centered around its association with the Internet and less with its history of the disruptions it made when it revolutionized broadcast TV.


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Getting It Right: Utah, CenturyLink & Gig Nets | Carol Wilson | Light Reading

Getting It Right: Utah, CenturyLink & Gig Nets | Carol Wilson | Light Reading | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

CenturyLink's announcement this week of its major Utah fiber deployment on behalf of the Utah Education and Telehealth Network (UETN) is an example of a public-private partnership that both parties say is working as it should.


With UETN as its anchor tenant, CenturyLink is building out a terabit network that will reach 1,400-plus schools, and take fiber past more than 100,000 homes and 30,000 businesses. The deal was made possible by a process that lets the statewide network agency determine its requirements and then put them out for competitive bidding. (See CenturyLink Builds Terabit Network for Utah Schools.)

More than 800 schools will be fiber-fed and get service that starts at a gigabit and goes up, says Jeremy Ferkin, CenturyLink vice president of operations in Utah. CenturyLink is connecting about 60% of Utah's schools, and health clinics and libraries in those school communities are also being connected. CenturyLink isn't disclosing what portion of its $3 billion capex budget it is pouring into Utah, he says, but it is a significant investment that would have been even greater had it won more turf in UETN's competitive RFP process.

"We thought we were going to win more than we did -- it was a very competitive process," Ferkin says. As it is, CenturyLink's new fiber network will pass almost half of the 64,000 businesses in Utah with at least one employee, he says, in addition to the homes, schools, libraries and clinics.

CenturyLink was already building out its gigabit network in Utah, which is undergoing significant economic development, much of it from the technology sector. The carrier provides gigabit services to more than 11,500 businesses along the Wasatch Front, and is deploying 1 Gig services to homes in Salt Lake City and in the St. George area of southern Utah.

"The technology economy is growing leaps and bounds in Utah," Ferkins says. "It is close enough to Silicon Valley to have expansion offices here for technology companies and it's attracting venture capital funds. The political environment is very pro-business and they are driving a collaborative environment as well."


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Wheeler: FCC Will Tackle Rate-of-Return CAF Program This Year | Joan Engebretson | Telecompetitor

Wheeler: FCC Will Tackle Rate-of-Return CAF Program This Year | Joan Engebretson | Telecompetitor | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The FCC has committed to “taking action” on a broadband Connect America Fund program for the nation’s smaller rate-of-return carriers by the end of the year, said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in a blog post Friday.

To further that goal, the commission has met with associations and others representing ROR carriers to “ask for their creative cooperation in getting this job done for rural consumers,” Wheeler said. He also noted that he and his colleagues have made a commitment to Republican South Dakota Senator John Thune about completing this task. Thune has been an advocate for various rural telecom issues, including asking the FCC to allow carriers to collect Universal Service support for customers who take broadband but not voice service.

The FCC has made considerable progress in transitioning the voice-focused Universal Service program for the nation’s larger price cap carriers into a broadband-focused Connect America Fund. But less progress has been made toward an equivalent transition for ROR carriers.

Wheeler noted that the commission began the process of establishing a CAF program for ROR carriers a year ago. At that time the commission took various actions on CAF, including adopting a further notice of proposed rulemaking (FNPRM) focused on ROR carriers.

The NPRM proposes that ROR carriers transition to model-based support, a move that already is underway for price cap carriers. Traditionally ROR carriers have received support based on how much their actual costs exceed national averages.


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Peru: LTE subscriptions hit 1.3m | TeleGeography.com

Peru’s cellcos had signed up a total of 1.3 million 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) subscribers by the end of 2014, according to a new report from the nation’s telecoms regulator Osiptel.


Mexican-owned cellco Claro represented 600,000 LTE users at that date, followed closely by Movistar with 500,000, whilst the newly-rebranded Entel Peru claimed some 200,000.


In the fixed broadband space, meanwhile, Osiptel reported a total of 1.73 million subscribers, up 9% year-on-year and of which 41% used connections of at least 4Mbps, whilst 32% had 2Mbps connections and 9% 1Mbps.

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Internet governance: What if the sky really is falling? | David Post | WashPost.com

Internet governance: What if the sky really is falling? | David Post | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

There is nothing, I have observed, that makes readers’ eyes glaze over quite like a discussion of “Internet governance.” It is entirely understandable; there has been a fair bit of hand-waving and even hand-wringing, about Internet governance over the past couple of decades – I have been among the guilty on this – and nothing much ever actually happens; governance talk turns out to be just that – talk – while the Internet seems to purr along quite well from one day to the next, with no more “governance” than it seemed to have ten or twenty years ago, thank you very much.

But something truly ominous is brewing on the Internet governance front, something with the potential to affect every one of the billions of people who now use the Internet on a daily basis, and not for the better. It is, unfortunately, buried pretty deep in some dense technical, and the legal, weeds, but here is the story in a nutshell.


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Twenty Years after the Birth of the Modern Internet, U.S. Policies Continue to Help the Internet Grow and Thrive | John Morris Blog | NTIA.gov

Twenty Years after the Birth of the Modern Internet, U.S. Policies Continue to Help the Internet Grow and Thrive | John Morris Blog | NTIA.gov | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Yesterday, I had the great opportunity to speak at the United States Telecommunications Training Institute (USTTI) to a group of foreign government officials focused on Internet and cybersecurity issues. My talk focused on how NTIA sees the role of the Internet in the U.S. economy, and what key policies have contributed to the strength of the U.S. Internet economy.

Participants included representatives from Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Uganda. The daylong course, organized by NTIA’s Office of International Affairs, introduced basic concepts in Internet policymaking and governance to build awareness, and develop and improve policymaking skills while working in a multistakeholder environment with government, civil society, industry and others. The course, which will take place again in September, examined U.S. Internet policy approaches, taking into consideration some of the key international issues and debates occurring globally.

Our discussion happened to fall on the 20th birthday of the commercial Internet, which fit right into my theme. The NSFnet was decommissioned on April 30, 1995, paving the way for the commercial use and private governance of the Internet. In its wake, we have witnessed an extraordinary explosion of innovation and economic growth in the online environment.

These are six key policies that I believe have contributed to the strength of the U.S. digital economy and provide a model for developing countries, such as those that participated in the USTTI course, to consider as they seek to grow their economies:


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Why Media Mega-Mergers Are Bad News for Latinos and Communities of Color | Arturo Carmona & Joe Torres Blog | HuffPost

Why Media Mega-Mergers Are Bad News for Latinos and Communities of Color | Arturo Carmona & Joe Torres Blog | HuffPost | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast's decision to pull the plug on its $45 billion bid to buy Time Warner Cable is a huge victory for the Latino community and communities of color.

The cable giant announced the move on Friday after the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice informed the company that they were against the deal.

The merger would have combined the two largest cable providers in the country, giving Comcast unprecedented control over both pay-TV and high-speed Internet access markets.

But in the end, approving such a massive media consolidation was unthinkable.

As in the Net Neutrality fight, media justice, public interest and consumer rights advocates deserve tremendous credit for stopping this merger and for making sure the voices of everyday people were heard.

Groups like the Media Mobilizing Project, Center for Media Justice, Common Cause, Consumers Union -- as well as our organizations, Presente.org and Free Press -- delivered that message with protests outside of Comcast's headquarters and before the California Public Utilities Commission, visits to members of Congress, and a million petition signatures to the FCC opposing the merger.

For our communities, broadband access is of central importance. Allowing one company to control nearly two-thirds of the U.S. broadband market would have contributed to growing economic and media inequality for Latinos and other communities of color.

It is simply shameful that just 56 percent of all Latino households and 62 of Black households have broadband at home. A lack of competition among providers has resulted in high prices, with too many families unable to afford their monthly broadband bill. As a recent government report found, cost was the main reason why Latinos did not have home broadband access.

The city of Philadelphia, home to Comcast, serves as a cautionary tale.


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Analyst: 'No discernable patterns' in the long-term value of spectrum | Mike Dano | Fierce Wireless

Analyst: 'No discernable patterns' in the long-term value of spectrum | Mike Dano | Fierce Wireless | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Despite the massive $44.9 billion collectively spent on spectrum licenses during the FCC's recent AWS-3 auction, one Wall Street analyst believes that the value of spectrum is not necessarily increasing. Instead, Craig Moffett said that the value of spectrum continues to remain a moving target, making it virtually impossible to predict what will happen during next year's incentive auction of TV broadcasters' 600 MHz licenses.

Spectrum "is not a simple commodity," said Craig Moffett, senior analyst of investment research firm MoffettNathanson, during a keynote presentation here at PCIA's recent Wireless Infrastructure Show. Moffett said that spectrum buyers have paid a wide range of prices for spectrum during the past decade, making it difficult to forecast what spectrum licenses will sell for in the future.

In one graphic that covered both auctions and secondary-market transactions, Moffett showed that per MHz-POP prices for mid-band spectrum peaked at $4.18 in 2000, fell, and then rose again to $2.53 in 2014. Meanwhile, prices for low-band spectrum hit $3.22 in 2001 and then jumped to $4.64 in 2013. "There are no discernable patterns," Moffett noted.


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Paul Bunyan Communications Spreading Fiber Across Northern MN | community broadband networks

Paul Bunyan Communications Spreading Fiber Across Northern MN | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The northern half of Minnesota, despite its rural character, is rapidly improving in high quality Internet access. Paul Bunyan Communications, the cooperative serving much of the Bemijdi area, began work on its GigaZone network last fall and the network is snaking its way across the region. According to an April 20th press release from the cooperative, GigaZone is now available to 500 more locations from the rural areas near Lake George to Itasca State Park. This brings the number of customers with access to GigaZone to 5,000.

Rates for symmetrical Internet access range from $44.95 per month for 20 Mbps to $74.95 per month for 50 Mbps. Higher speeds are available, including gigabit Internet access, but the cooperative asks potential customers to call for pricing.

We first reported on Paul Bunyan Telephone Communications in 2009. The cooperative began expanding its existing fiber network in 2007 but gigabit connectivity did not become available to members until earlier this year. Upgrades began in Bemidji and will continue to include the cooperatives entire 5,000 square mile service area. As new lines are installed, older lines will also be upgraded to fiber to transform the entire network.


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How Real Madrid scores fan engagement in the cloud | Thor Olavsrud | NetworkWorld

How Real Madrid scores fan engagement in the cloud | Thor Olavsrud | NetworkWorld | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

During the Microsoft Ignite keynote in Chicago today, only one customer graced the stage, but it was a doozy: Real Madrid, the world's no. 1 sports franchise.

Together with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Real Madrid CEO José Ángel Sánchez announced a new, expanded partnership with Microsoft under which the club will embark on a total digital transformation built on the Microsoft Cloud platform.

"Having more than 450 million supporters around the world is really a challenge," Sánchez tells CIO.com. "This partnership with Microsoft will help us understand who they are, to really get to their passion and love for Real Madrid."

Sánchez says it is critical to understand who the clubs supporters are so it can engage them in more personal ways.

As Sánchez notes, Real Madrid boasts 450 million fans globally, but only about five percent of them are in Spain. In fact, both the U.S. and Indonesia individually have more Real Madrid supporters than all of Spain. Orlando Ayala, chairman and corporate vice president of Emerging Businesses at Microsoft notes that China too has become a strong base of Read Madrid supporters. Creating engagement with all of those fans — especially two-way communication — is no mean feat.


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Vint Cerf thinks encryption back doors would be 'super risky' | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld

Vint Cerf thinks encryption back doors would be 'super risky' | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Internet pioneer Vinton Cerf argued Monday that more users should encrypt their data, and that the encryption back doors the U.S. FBI and other law enforcement agencies are asking for will weaken online security.

The Internet has numerous security challenges, and it needs more users and ISPs to adopt strong measures like encryption, two-factor authentication and HTTP over SSL, said Cerf, chief Internet evangelist at Google, in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Recent calls by the FBI and other government officials for technology vendors to build encryption workarounds into their products is a bad idea, said Cerf, co-creator of TCP/IP. “If you have a back door, somebody will find it, and that somebody may be a bad guy,” he said. “Creating this kind of technology is super, super risky.”

FBI and other government officials raised concerns after Google and Apple announced last year that they would offer new encryption tools on their smartphone OSes. Without the ability to collect data stored on smartphones and other electronic devices, police will be hindered in some investigations, law enforcement officials have argued.

“I ... believe very much that we need to follow the letter of the law to examine the contents of someone’s closet or someone’s smartphone,” FBI Director James Comey said last October. “But the notion that the marketplace could create something that would prevent that closet from ever being opened, even with a properly obtained court order, makes no sense to me.”

Cerf said he understands the tension between customer demands for privacy and law enforcement needs to investigate crimes. “We have to do something if we wish to protect the citizens of our country and others from harm in this network,” he said. “I accept that governments are there in part to protect their citizens from harm.”

A debate on the right levels of security and privacy will continue in the U.S., he said. “Our job, in the U.S., is to figure out what is the right balance for us,” he said. “The Congress is forced now to struggle with that.”


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Facebook’s Internet.org Isn’t the Internet, It’s Facebooknet | Josh Levy Opinion | WIRED

Facebook’s Internet.org Isn’t the Internet, It’s Facebooknet | Josh Levy Opinion | WIRED | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This week Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Internet.org, its marquee project to “connect two-thirds of the world that don’t have internet access,” is now inviting any website or service to join the program. According to Zuckerberg, this change—which follows criticism that the program violates Net Neutrality principles—would “give people even more choice and more free services, while still creating a sustainable economic model to connect every single person in the world.”

But when you examine how the program would work, it becomes clear that rather than improve a service that is already busy violating Net Neutrality around the world, the change actually makes things worse.

It sets Facebook up to serve as a quasi-internet service provider—except that unlike a local or national telco, all web traffic will be routed through Facebook’s servers. In other words, for people using Internet.org to connect to the internet, Facebook will be the de facto gatekeeper of the world’s information. And unfortunately, Facebook is already showing what a poor gatekeeper it would be.


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Verizon Focuses on Cashing in on LTE | Sarah Thomas | Light Reading

Verizon Focuses on Cashing in on LTE | Sarah Thomas | Light Reading | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Verizon's postpaid subscriber growth missed analyst expectations in the first quarter and it lost both prepaid and 3G customers, but the self-described "premium" carrier is instead focused on monetizing the more valuable LTE data users it does have.

Verizon Communications Inc. reported total wireless revenues of $22.3 billion in the first quarter, an increase of 6.9% over last year, but service revenues declined slightly, 0.4%, to $17.9 billion, while equipment revenues increased $1.5 billion as more of its customers signed on to its Edge equipment installment plans. (See Verizon Reports Q1 Revenues of $31.98B.)

The carrier added 621,000 4G smartphones in the quarter, but lost 374,000 3G smartphone customers, bringing its overall smartphone growth to 247,000. It also added 820,000 4G tablets and lost 385,000 basic phones and 188,000 prepaid devices in the quarter.

Overall, Verizon brought in 565,000 retail postpaid additions, a 4.4% year-over-year increase, but fewer than analysts were expecting.

On the upside, LTE devices now make up about 70% of Verizon's retail postpaid connections base, up from 49% a year ago, and 86% of total wireless data traffic is now on the 4G network. Data usage is also on the upswing -- by 54% for those on More Everything plans.

"This is all pointing to where the future growth of the business comes from," Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said on the call. "There aren't many businesses were consumers want to consume more and more."


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CenturyLink Using Sneaky Fee to Hike DSL Prices | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com

CenturyLink Using Sneaky Fee to Hike DSL Prices | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Users in our CenturyLink forum note that the telco has started sending out notices that it's hiking the cost of DSL services courtesy of a number of not-entirely-forthright fees the company employs to jack up the advertised price post sale. Users note that most of the company's six million DSL customers will be seeing a dollar increase in the form of something CenturyLink calls the "Internet Cost Recovery Fee."

CenturyLink started charging the fee back in 2013, the Centurylink website giving this not-entirely-sensible explanation for the $2 surcharge:

quote:This fee helps defray costs associated with building and maintaining CenturyLink's High-Speed Internet broadband network, as well as the costs of expanding network capacity to support the continued increase in customers' average broadband consumption.

Keep in mind CenturyLink already caps DSL users at 150 GB monthly, so it's not entirely clear just how many more "Internet costs" CenturyLink hopes to recover above and beyond the $50 and up it charges for last-generation DSL speeds. CenturyLink also often charges users a "non-telecom surcharge," tacked on to the bills of users who receive Voicemail or Lineguard -- a $4.50 per month insurance program CenturyLink often signs users up for without asking.


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WA: Tacoma’s Rainier Connect makes bid for Click | Kate Martin | The News Tribune

WA: Tacoma’s Rainier Connect makes bid for Click | Kate Martin | The News Tribune | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Tacoma-owned Click now has another suitor seeking to take over operations of the city’s fiber network.

Rainier Connect CEO Brian Haynes said Wednesday he is ready to make a bid for the municipal cable and Internet company.

Click, which is operated by Tacoma Public Utilities, has been losing money for years, city officials say. TPU bosses suggest the utility is losing $9 million per year, and Tacoma Power’s 170,000 customers make up the difference.

Last month, Wave, a Kirkland-based broadband provider, offered to lease Click’s fiber network for 40 years, with an option to renew for another 10 years. Wave has 430,000 customers in three states. Click has about 19,000 customers.

Haynes said Rainier Connect would, at a minimum, match Wave’s proposal, dollar for dollar. Wave offered $2 million per year in payments to Tacoma Public Utilities and $1.5 million per year in infrastructure upgrades, which could include Wi-Fi hotspots in certain areas of the city. The payments to TPU and investments in the system would increase with inflation.

TPU board member Mark Patterson said Thursday the Wave proposal is “not a done deal,” and he welcomed Rainier Connect’s proposal.


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AT&T says it needs to invest in FTTP where it makes economic sense | Sean Buckley | Fierce Telecom

AT&T says it needs to invest in FTTP where it makes economic sense | Sean Buckley | Fierce Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

AT&T is seeing that the rollout of fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) is the only way it can realistically compete with both existing cable operators and emerging players, such as Google Fiber, that are offering higher speeds than it can deliver on a fiber-to-the-node (FTTN) architecture.

"Demand is growing for faster broadband speeds than AT&T, or anyone else for that matter, can deliver with FTTN, which cannot match the highest speed tiers being offered by cable and other rivals in the marketplace," AT&T wrote in an FCC filing. "From an engineering perspective, cable technology offers more bandwidth that can be allocated to faster download speeds. Comcast already offers broadband download speeds over 100 Mbps in all of its markets, and other broadband providers are in the process of widely deploying much higher speed offerings."

Google Fiber has ignited the awareness of higher-speed broadband with its rollout of 1 Gbps service in various markets, prompting AT&T, CenturyLink and now Comcast to offer similar services.

Over the past two weeks, Comcast upped the ante in the competitive broadband game by introducing a 2 Gbps service in three regions: Atlanta, California and Florida. At the same time, AT&T has also been introducing its GigaPower 1 Gbps service in other markets, including Cupertino, Calif., and plans to penetrate the Chicago metro area.


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MN broadband project stuck in federal stimulus time warp | Tom Steward | Watchdog.org

MN broadband project stuck in federal stimulus time warp | Tom Steward | Watchdog.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A costly government-owned broadband network in northern Minnesota is stuck in a sort of stimulus time warp.

Six years after passage of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the Lake Connections network remains under construction and behind schedule. It faces losing millions in Rural Utilities Service money, because the federal stimulus program ends later this year.

“I know we’ve got construction going heavy. We’re fighting hard to get on that deadline,” said Lake County Commissioner Peter Walsh. “… I’m sure things could be better, but we’ll see how things go at this point.”

Lake County has hired former RUS administrator Hilda Legg — for $5,000 a month — to lobby her former agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But it’s down to the wire on a project that has been building from behind since it was approved in early 2011.

“They’re out of time, I think. It’s the time line. Poor planning is what I think,” said Larry Sandretsky, line superintendent for Cooperative Light and Power, a key contractor on the project.

Lake County has burned through just 60 percent of a $66.5 million federal loan and grant to build the broadband network north of Duluth, RUS officials tell Watchdog Minnesota Bureau. Neither Lake County Administrator Matt Huddleston nor Lake Connections General Manager Jeff Roiland replied to requests for comment.

While stimulus funding technically expires in September, participants have received letters warning that projects must be wrapped up by June 30 to receive reimbursements. That leaves Lake County with less than two months to complete the third and final phase of the sprawling system. If not, local taxpayers could foot more of the bill.


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Microsoft wants Verizon to hand over names of suspected Windows pirates | Gregg Keizer | NetworkWorld

Microsoft last week asked a federal court to let it serve a subpoena on Verizon to force the Internet provider to identify those behind a two-year scheme that allegedly activated hundreds of copies of Windows 7 illegally.

According to documents filed with a U.S. District Court in Seattle last week, the IP address 74.111.202.30 was the source of the Windows 7 product activations. But unless Verizon hands over the subscriber name or names for that address, Microsoft will not be able to find the alleged criminals.

"Microsoft seeks leave to serve a Rule 45 subpoena on Verizon Online to obtain subscriber information associated with the infringing IP address at the time of the alleged acts of infringement," Microsoft said.

The address is currently identified with Verizon FIOS, the Internet provider's broadband service.

In a complaint filed April 28, Microsoft laid out its case, naming a series of "John Does" because it had not been able to dig up the real names of the alleged culprits.

"The infringing IP address has been used to activate hundreds of copies of Windows 7," Microsoft said, using stolen or illegitimate activation keys. Some of the keys had been snatched from its supply chain, others were keys designated for OEMs but used instead by an unauthorized party, and still more were legit keys used many more times than allowed.


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OTT Video Viewer Survey: Smart TVs Increase Group Viewing | Andrew Burger | Telecompetitor

OTT Video Viewer Survey: Smart TVs Increase Group Viewing | Andrew Burger | Telecompetitor | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Introducing streaming video devices into the home changes viewing patterns significantly, according to one of two new studies from the Council for Research Excellence (CRE) released May 1. Smart TVs, for example, lead to more in the way of group viewing, while introduction of OTT services leads to more time spent watching TV, according to researchers from GfK Media and User Experience, which conducted the study on behalf of CRE.

The first of the two studies – “an acceleration extension ethnography” – followed up on an initial study of video viewing and usage in 35 Chicago area households who “had been pre-identified as intending to purchase one or more new types of media technology and then were given funds to cover half the cost for these devices, including smart TVs, tablets, streaming devices (such as a Roku box or Google Chromecast device) and gaming consoles,” CRE explains.

CRE notes that “viewing patterns are still dynamic and shifting as a result of device/ecosystem churn.” According to follow-up study results:


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Despite Civil Liberties Uproar, Canada Set to Ram Through Mass Surveillance Bill | Nadia Prupis | Common Dreams

Despite Civil Liberties Uproar, Canada Set to Ram Through Mass Surveillance Bill | Nadia Prupis | Common Dreams | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Canada's House of Commons on Tuesday is poised to pass Bill C-51, a so-called "anti-terror" law, despite widespread outcry from civil liberties advocates who say the legislation would allow law enforcement to spy on civilians and violate Canadians' constitutional rights with little or no accountability.

The bill, introduced by the Conservative Party and backed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, would give up to 17 government agencies access to Canadian citizens' private information, including their financial status, medical history, and religious and political beliefs. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service would also be authorized to spy on Canadians and foreign nationals living in the country, while the Royal Canadian Mounted Police would be granted increased power to make preventive arrests.

Opponents of the bill have rallied for months under the banners #StopC51 and #RejectFear. According to digital policy advocacy group OpenMedia, the bill "disproportionately targets Indigenous communities, environmental activists, dissidents, and Muslims, many of whom are already subjected to questionable and overreaching powers by security officials, [and] will make it easier and ostensibly lawful for government to continue infringing upon the rights of peaceful people."

OpenMedia communications director David Christopher wrote in an op-ed for Rabble published Monday, "This government has left Canadians with a stark privacy deficit, and we'll all need to work together to address it. We need a co-ordinated plan to roll back mass surveillance, and restore our traditional privacy and democratic rights."


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The Internet of Everything: Boring, But So Important | John Eger Blog | HuffPost.com

The Internet of Everything: Boring, But So Important | John Eger Blog | HuffPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

When we are just getting used to Twitter and Facebook, Email and SPAM, along comes "The Internet of Everything" (IoE) where everything -- well almost everything -- is connected to everything else.


Goldman Sachs calls it the 3rd wave, and points out that while:


The 1990s' fixed Internet wave connected 1 billion users ... the 2000s' mobile wave connected another 2 billion. The IoE has the potential to connect 10X as many (28 billion) "things" to the Internet by 2020, ranging from bracelets to cars.


If we put some kind of sensor in a thing -- a tree, a car or a household appliance like a toilet -- wireless communication will allow us to connect it to the Internet for transmission, aggregation, or other use. Wireless Tags, for example, a company headquartered in Irvine, California advertises that their "sensor tags connect events in (the) physical world, e.g. motion, door/window opened/closed, temperature or humidity exceeding limits, to your smart phones, tablets and any Web browsers anywhere in the world with Internet access. "

With California suffering droughts, it might make sense to flood the state with sensors that turn on and off sprinklers only when absolutely necessary. Or, because of soaring health care costs, install Toto's Intelligence Toilet II, "which can measure, record, show and report important health data like blood pressure, sugar levels, body temperature, weight, and body mass index so trends can be analyzed." This is a lot more efficient than crowding the emergency rooms or depending on an annual physical exam.

Government Technology Magazine says:


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The Gigasphere | Doug Dawson | POTs and PANs

The Gigasphere | Doug Dawson | POTs and PANs | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If you haven’t already heard it, you will soon be hearing the term ‘gigasphere’. This is the marketing term that the large cable companies are adopting to describe their upward path towards having faster data speeds on their cable systems. The phrase is obviously meant as a marketing counter to the commonly used term of gigabit fiber.

The gigasphere term is being promoted by the National Cable Television Association (NTCA) as the way to describe the new DOCSIS 3.1 technology. This is a technology that can theoretically support cable modem speeds up to 10 Gbps download and 1 Gbps upload.

The large cable companies are all starting to feel consumer pressure from fiber, even in markets where fiber is not readily available. Google and other fiber providers have excited the public with the idea of gigabit speeds and I am sure cable companies are being asked about this frequently.

Right now the term gigasphere is largely marketing hype. If you have fiber to your home or business, then with the right electronics you can get gigabit speeds. But cable systems have a long way to go before they can offer gigabit speeds over coaxial cable. There is already talk of cable companies offering gigabit products, such as the recent announcements from Comcast. But these speeds are not being achieved using coaxial cable and DOCSIS 3.1, they are using fiber – something Comcast doesn’t highlight in their marketing.

With enough upgrades and money, the cable systems can eventually achieve gigabit speeds on their coaxial networks. But for now their speeds are significantly less than that. A cable company faces a long and complicated path to be able to offer gigabit speeds over coaxial cable. Their biggest hurdle is that the bandwidth on their cable systems is mostly used by TV channels, and only empty channel spaces can be used for data. DOCSIS 3.1 allows a cable system to join together the spare channels on their network into one larger data pipe.

In order to get to gigabit speeds a cable company has to convert all of the channels on its network to digital, something most of them have already done. But further, they are going to need to treat them the same as TV on the web – transmitting them as raw data instead of as individual channels. Cable systems today use a broadcast technology, meaning they send all of the channels to customers at the same time. But if they convert to IPTV they can send each home just the channels they want to watch, which would massively condense the system bandwidth needed for television.


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New app can unearth video gems on Periscope | Zach Miners | CIO.com

New app can unearth video gems on Periscope | Zach Miners | CIO.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In perhaps the first sign that live streaming might spawn its own assortment of sub-players, a visual data analysis startup is putting its chops to work to categorize and rank videos on Periscope, the app owned by Twitter.

Dextro, which uses algorithms to analyze the content of photos and videos, is launching Stream on Tuesday. It’s a web app that categorizes and links to videos posted publicly in Periscope as they’re broadcast in real time.

Periscope’s popular, having gotten 1 million users in its first 10 days. The amount of video in the app can be overwhelming; Dextro wants to make it easier to see some of the popular ones.

With Stream, users can browse videos around popular topics on Periscope at any given time. Videos are grouped into bubbles depending on their theme. The size of the bubble depends on its popularity at the time and a click reveals the videos inside.


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