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High-speed Internet, greenway network are North Alabama's top regional priorities | The Huntsville Times

High-speed Internet, greenway network are North Alabama's top regional priorities | The Huntsville Times | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In Huntsville and North Alabama, we're all about networks, whether they be computer networks or nature trail networks.


After our successful "What works: Regionalism" public forum held May 28 at the AL.com hub downtown in partnership with Leadership Huntsville/Madison County, we posted a couple of unscientific polls on AL.com asking readers what projects from our brainstorming sessions they liked the most.


One poll listed projects our brainstorming groups deemed most exciting, from countywide broadband Internet to a revolving river restaurant or a major regional planetarium. The other poll listed projects deemed most achievable, including a greenways network across North Alabama, an amphitheater at Ditto Landing or redeveloping Madison Square Mall into a business incubator.


The top vote getter for most exciting idea? Developing a high-speed Internet network across Madison County. That idea got 40 percent of the nearly 1,200 votes in our AL.com poll.


The top voter getter for most achievable idea? A North Alabama greenways network, dubbed the "emerald necklace" by our energetic and creative brainstormers. That one got 34 percent of more than 800 votes cast.


Now we'll delve deeper into to those ideas. First, AL.com technology reporter Lee Roop will look into the what it would take to build a high-speed Internet network across Alabama, which will include a look at Chattanooga's 1-gig per second public fiber network, which is already gaining our neighboring city national attention and boosting economic development.


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Here's How You May Already Be Getting Hacked | Julia Angwin | BillMoyers.com

Here's How You May Already Be Getting Hacked | Julia Angwin | BillMoyers.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Who is watching you?

This was once a question asked only by kings, presidents and public figures trying to dodge the paparazzi and criminals trying to evade the law. The rest of us had few occasions to worry about being tracked.

But today the anxious question — “who’s watching?” — is relevant to everyone regardless of his or her fame or criminal persuasion. Any of us can be watched at almost any time, whether it is by a Google Street View car taking a picture of our house, or an advertiser following us as we browse the Web, or the National Security Agency logging our phone calls.

Dragnets that scoop up information indiscriminately about everyone in their path used to be rare; police had to set up roadblocks, or retailers had to install and monitor video cameras. But technology has enabled a new era of supercharged dragnets that can gather vast amounts of personal data with little human effort. These dragnets are extending into ever more private corners of the world.


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Amazon adds one-hour delivery for Prime members, starting in Manhattan | Sarah Halzach | WashPost.com

Amazon adds one-hour delivery for Prime members, starting in Manhattan | Sarah Halzach | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Amazon.com launched a new offering on Thursday that is aimed squarely at fulfilling its mission of delivering goods to its shoppers faster than any of its rivals.

Members of the Amazon Prime program in Manhattan now have access to Prime Now, a benefit in which shoppers can get two-hour delivery of an order of "daily essentials" for free or pay $7.99 for one-hour delivery. Prime Now is available in selected areas of the borough, and the tech giant plans to bring it to other cities in 2015. Customers can use this option on orders placed between 6 a.m. and midnight.

Amazon has been experimenting with same-day delivery in major urban areas for a while now, in most cases requiring that orders be placed by noon to ultimately be delivered before 9 p.m. This new variation allows for more flexibility on delivery time and turbo-charges the speed at which Amazon is promising to bring orders to customers.

The announcement also makes clear what Amazon is doing with its space on 34th Street in Manhattan, which some had speculated was to be its first brick-and-mortar store. The company says a portion of that building will be the delivery hub for Prime Now orders.

There is no shortage of companies jockeying with Amazon for same-day delivery supremacy: Google is reportedly prepared to plow $500 million into its Google Express offering. Start-ups such as Postmates, Instacart and Deliv are also gaining traction.

All of these business are fighting hard to be the dominant player in a service that is extraordinarily hard to do profitably. This, in part, is why dot-com era efforts such as Webvan and Kozmo collapsed. It may also explain why eBay appears to have scaled back its ambitions for its own same-day delivery effort, eBay Now. EBay once promised to offer its same-day option in five to 25 cities by the end of the year, but that expansion never happened. Instead, the company is now focused on building its eBay Local offering, a delivery and in-store pickup program for small businesses.


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Sony plans to release 'The Interview' on Crackle for free | Dana Sauchelli | NYPost.com

Sony plans to release 'The Interview' on Crackle for free | Dana Sauchelli | NYPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Sony’s current plan for “The Interview’’ is to release the controversial comedy for free on Crackle, the streaming service it owns, sources said Sunday.

Following Sony’s decision to pull the James Franco-Seth Rogan movie after hackers working for North Korean threatened violence, President Obama criticized the studio for being “intimidated by these kind of criminal attacks.’’

Sony pointed out the cancellation came after theater chains and other streaming sites refused to show the film.

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Tennessee Town Bans Negative Online Comments, Gets Trolled by Reddit | Clair Suddath | Bloomberg Bizweek

Tennessee Town Bans Negative Online Comments, Gets Trolled by Reddit | Clair Suddath | Bloomberg Bizweek | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The town of South Pittsburg, Tenn., has just passed the best social media policy ever. At least, that’s what certain people have to say—because South Pittsburg has barred them from criticizing the town on social media.

The town of 3,000 people, just west of Chattanooga, passed a resolution on Dec. 9 that applies to anyone professionally connected to South Pittsburg—including employees, volunteers, and contractors—from “publicly discuss[ing] information about other employees and/or volunteers not approved for public communication” on social media, according to the official resolution. It also warns against writing anything on a personal Facebook (FB) page or on Twitter (TWTR) that might be considered defamatory or libelous. People “should have no expectation of privacy whatsoever,” the policy states.

“The first thing everyone wants to say is, ‘I can’t post anything on Facebook,’” the town’s commissioner, Jeff Powers, told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “Well, you can. Just not [anything] that sheds a negative light on any person, entity, board, or things of that nature.”

“It is not a new concept,” South Pittsburg Mayor Jane Dawkins wrote in a Facebook message to Bloomberg Businessweek. Dawkins said the policy was mostly designed to stop people from posting employees’ salary information or police officers’ schedules on Facebook. “This lets people know that the officer’s spouse and children are home alone or that no one is at home,” she explained. (The South Pittsburg Police Department doesn’t appear to have much of a Facebook page, and it’s unclear if officers’ schedules have ever been posted online.) She also said that while she voted for the policy, “I did not commission this. Commissioner Jeff Powers did.” Powers did not respond to an interview request.

Not to sound negative, but there might be a problem with South Pittsburg’s new policy. The First Amendment protects free speech, especially free speech that criticizes the government. “This policy is dangerously broad,” said Helen Norton, a professor at the University of Colorado School of Law who studies free speech as it applies to government workers. “It’d be one thing if it were just about job-required speech,” she said, noting that, for example, press secretaries can be fired if they say something in their official role that an administration doesn’t like.


“But once you get into speech outside of the job and on private social media accounts, it’s not that simple.” Norton says that South Pittsburg’s city council could easily stop relevant parties from calling them names or launching personal insults. But if someone wanted to raise questions about the legality or necessity of their new policy, or criticize the town’s government in any meaningful way, that kind of criticism would be protected whether it had been “approved for public consumption” or not.

South Pittsburg doesn’t appear to have adopted its new policy in response to something negative that was written or said about the town online.


Sure, a police officer was fired after he arrested the city administrator for reckless driving—an administrator on the commission that voted for the policy—but that was last year. And yes, the town was briefly derided when it considered outlawing saggy pants, but that was back in August.


Residents say they’re unaware of any recent scandal that might have spurred the town’s council to action.


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FCC Mid-Band Auction to Roll On Into 2015? | Dan Jones | Light Reading

FCC Mid-Band Auction to Roll On Into 2015? |  Dan Jones | Light Reading | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The FCC could extend its mid-band spectrum auction into the new year even though bids are now trickling in, and Wall Street is slamming mobile operators -- in part -- because of the massive spending bills anticipated on Auction 97.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has just issued a "holiday notice" that the auction will suspend after the last round on Tuesday, December 23. "Bidding will resume on Monday, January 5, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. ET," the agency said Wednesday.

The auction had appeared to be drawing to a close, so it might be surprising if it continues into the new year. The bidding now stands at $44.23 billion after 106 rounds. There were 94 new bids and no waivers in the latest round with $17,220,700 in new money bid, which is just a 0.04% change on the previous round. The FCC currently holds a single AWS-3 license, and there are preferred winning bids (PWBs) on 1,613 of the regional licenses.

The auction will continue until there are no new bids or waivers in a given round.

The Advanced Wireless Services-3 (AWS-3) auction has pulled in billions more than than the agency or industry watchers initially expected (See The Big Spend on AWS Has Consequences.)

Part of the reason that US carriers are getting trampled this week on the stock market is because of concerns about the amount several operators are spending on the AWS-3 auction.


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Frontier's Abernathy: We can meet the FCC's aggressive CAF-II timeline | Sean Buckley | Fierce Telecom

Frontier's Abernathy: We can meet the FCC's aggressive CAF-II timeline | Sean Buckley | Fierce Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Frontier Communications acknowledges that while there are clearly going to be challenges in meeting the FCC's new requirement to deliver 10 Mbps of broadband service in rural areas under Phase II of the Connect America Fund (CAF), the service provider is confident it can meet the challenge.

"There's no question that it's an aggressive timeline," said Kathleen Quinn Abernathy, executive vice president, External Affairs for Frontier, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "We have spoken to our engineering team about the proposal and the plans and we feel like it's challenging, but in many of our markets we'll be able to do it."

Frontier's fellow telcos CenturyLink and Windstream have said that they have concerns about meeting the timeline because the 10 Mbps goal means they have to overcome a number of challenges in terms of getting necessary resources.

Abernathy said that while she recognizes their concerns, the way service providers will approach the use of CAF-II funds will differ due to the specific geographies they all serve.


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Four Ways 2014 Was a Pivotal Year for the Internet | Tim Karr | FreePress.net

Four Ways 2014 Was a Pivotal Year for the Internet | Tim Karr | FreePress.net | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The death of the Internet is at hand.


Sound familiar? That’s what Internet pioneer Robert Metcalfe predicted in 1995 when he wrote that spiraling demands on the fledgling network would cause the Internet to “catastrophically collapse” by 1996.


Metcalfe, of course, was dead wrong: The Internet is still chugging along, with a predicted 3 billion users by year’s end.


Still, the Internet’s fate feels distinctly uncertain as 2014 draws to a close. At stake is whether the Internet remains a democratic, user-powered network — or falls under the control of a few powerful entities.


Here are the four Internet issues that played leading roles this year:


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Movistar Argentina to launch 4G next week | TeleGeography.com

Movistar Argentina will reportedly begin offering commercial LTE-based services next week, according to Reuters, which cites its parent company Telefonica of Spain.


Initially, however, it has been noted that the cellco’s 4G network will be used exclusively for data services, in a move which it has been claimed is designed to free up capacity on its third-generation infrastructure.


Commenting on the plans to introduce a commercial offering, Telefonica de Argentina president Luis Blasco was cited as saying: ‘We will launch 4G on Monday, far sooner than we had imagined … and so will begin the development of a new technology needed to ease pressure on the spectrum.’

As reported by CommsUpdate earlier this month, Argentina’s Secretaria de Comunicaciones (SeCom) confirmed that Movistar had been awarded LTE-suitable frequencies in the 1710MHz-1720MHz and 2110MHz-2120MHz bands, all of which is available for use on a nationwide basis. The company reportedly agreed to pay USD209.14 million in return for the spectrum.

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CT: Ride high-speed Internet to success | Comptroller Kevin Lembo | CTPost.com

CT: Ride high-speed Internet to success | Comptroller Kevin Lembo | CTPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Aesop's fable heralds the superiority of the steady tortoise in its race against the hare -- but the important teachings of ancient Greek literature do not apply to electronic data transmission.

In fact, the hare may be the winning answer to Connecticut's future, in the form of ultrahigh-speed fiber-optic Internet capability -- deployed for the first time anywhere statewide to every home and business.

Connecticut's economy desperately needs a man-on-the-moon moment -- and I believe that deploying a statewide ultrahigh-speed network is that moment.

The network would rapidly deliver information at one gigabit per second, serving as a superhighway for researchers, schools, businesses large and small, every household in the state and anyone in Connecticut who owns a vision for the future, yet lacks the tools to get there.

It would be the ultimate economic assistance and incentive program -- perhaps far more valuable than any tax credit or forgivable loan, because it would reward all business and industries with an infrastructure worthy of settling in Connecticut. It would be an open door to all businesses, including new ones and those already established here.

The good news is that a conversation was ignited just this month in the wells of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. The state Office of the Consumer Counsel commendably brought together a perfect storm of brain power, including some of the brightest minds in telecommunications and genomic medicine.

What do telecommunications and genomic medicine have in common, you might ask? Apparently, they have everything in common.

Honored to be a part of this collaborative panel discussion with Senator Beth Bye and Commissioner Catherine Smith, I was troubled to learn that it recently took researchers at the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine at UConn Health Center two weeks to electronically transmit research data from one facility to another.

With our fleet of advanced institutions of medicine and higher learning -- and as one of the top states in brain power per capita -- Connecticut has the potential to establish itself as one of the greatest hubs for research and development in the world.

It's on the verge of happening -- but we need to take immediate action for this to work.


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BitTorrent Wants to Distribute The Interview | Darren Orf | Gizmodo.com

BitTorrent Wants to Distribute The Interview | Darren Orf | Gizmodo.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Every day, the Sony Pictures hack gets weirder and weirder.

On Friday, Obama boldly announced that Sony had made "a mistake" in pulling the film but said it was the private company's right to do so. In an interview earlier this morning, the Commander in Chief clarified that he saw the attacks as an act of "cybervandalism" as opposed to terrorism, and that this was not an act of war.

That's all fine and good, but there is still one question that remains. What the hell is going to happen to The Interview? We are now 4 days away from the film's original Christmas debut, and Sony is still unsure on how it will eventually release the film. The studio has announced that they are actively pursuing "alternatives" to releasing the film on a "different platform." This sentiment was reiterated on Sunday when a Sony lawyer said the company would release the film. They just didn't know how yet. BitTorrent wants to be that platform.

In an interview with VentureBeat, BitTorrent Inc. says that Sony could set the price of the film using the BitTorrent Bundle service, similar to how Thom Yorke distributed his new album earlier this year. The company mentions that they're not encouraging that Sony post to illegal pirate sites using torrent technology but through a controlled manner through BitTorrent.


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Millions of Fake Instagram Users Disappear in Purge | Vindu Goel | NYTimes.com

Millions of Fake Instagram Users Disappear in Purge | Vindu Goel | NYTimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Social media services like Facebook and Twitter are always battling against spam or fake accounts that hijack hashtags, artificially pump up follower counts for celebrities and brands and inflate costs for advertisers that want to reach real customers, not automated bots.

This week, we got a look at just how many junk accounts there really are on Instagram, the four-year-old photo and video sharing service owned by Facebook. In what has been called the “Instagram Rapture,” the company is deleting all the accounts it had previously designated as “spammy” from the follower counts of its users. And for some high-profile accounts, a lot of users have been vaporized.

No account has lost more users than Instagram’s own main account. More than 29 percent of Instagram’s followers, or 18.9 million users, disappeared from Wednesday to Thursday, according to a graphic of the top 100 Instagram accounts compiled by Zach Allia, a software developer.

Celebrities also saw millions of followers vanish. The singer Justin Bieber lost 3.5 million fans, or 15 percent of his total, according to Mr. Allia’s calculations. Kim Kardashian lost 1.3 million followers, or 5.5 percent of her fan base on the service.

At stake isn’t just bragging rights, but real money. Social media users with big fan bases can snag lucrative promotional deals from companies eager for them to send out an endorsement to their fans. As my colleague Nick Bilton wrote earlier this year, there is a thriving black market in social media friendship, with a million Instagram followers going for the bargain price of $3,700 in April.

Both Twitter and Facebook have told investors that less than 5 percent of their accounts are fake or spam.

Gabe Madway, an Instagram spokesman, did not dispute Mr. Allia’s calculations of the sharp drop in followers for some popular Instagram accounts, including the company’s own.


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Socialize Uber | Mike Konezal & Bryce Covert | The Nation

In response to a wave of bad behavior by the popular ride-sharing service Uber—with one executive suggesting digging up dirt on journalists who write negative articles about the company—many advocated a switch to Uber’s competitor, Lyft. But this approach ignores the fact that Uber’s abuses are baked into how “sharing” companies operate, a way of doing business that is shared by its competitors. More important, it misses a way to transform these companies that is right there in front of us: by socializing ownership among their workers.

Cutting through the marketing BS of Silicon Valley is a good goal for everyone, but the left in particular should debunk its definition of a “sharing economy.” Sharing, in this case, doesn’t mean “lending someone the use of something for free.” It also doesn’t match the Silicon Valley description of creating a large number of small-scale entrepreneurs or independent business owners.

Instead, what we see is the creation of a low-wage workforce under the ownership of tech companies. At Uber, this arrangement means that drivers have to pay for their own cars, maintenance and gas, while management sets the rates and terms of their labor, taking a hefty cut in the process. A crucial first step for reform is to get these drivers recognized as actual workers, with proper rights and proper insurance.

Now think about what the capitalist managers at Uber are doing with their cut of the company’s money. They are fighting regulators and hiring lobbyists in order to bring down the incumbent taxi-medallion business. They are also spending money on advertising, in order to get customers interested in using a ride-sharing service. These are both expensive projects, and they open the door for competitors. Newer ride-share ventures can piggyback on Uber’s success and take advantage of these new terms, with Uber having already spent all that initial money. This is called the “second-mover advantage,” and it explains why Uber is such a vicious company.


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Aspirational sloganeering won't build last mile fiber | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom

Aspirational sloganeering won't build last mile fiber | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Half of Connecticut says it wants fiber-optic Internet —and soon - The Washington Post:


Although the state has fiber-optic cables connecting all 169 towns, that infrastructure typically ends in nodes serving the local town hall or police and fire stations. The next step will be to connect individual homes to that network. As many as 1.8 million Connecticut residents would get access to fiber if the public-private partnership plans move forward.

That figure also represents a significant opportunity for Internet providers. ISPs would not only be able to tap into a lucrative subscriber base for fiber-optic services, said Vallee — they'd be able to do so at little cost to themselves, thanks to the infrastructure that's already been built and state incentives to streamline the building process.

There are two big questions not addressed in this story: Who will build the residential fiber infrastructure and how will it be financed? Without those details, talk of Connecticut being "number one" for fiber connectivity is merely aspirational sloganeering.

It's also misleading to suggest that ISPs will be able to deploy that infrastructure "at little cost to themselves." Cost barriers to building last mile fiber infrastructure are significant and the primary reason why once anchor institutions are connected to fiber, homes and small businesses are left unconnected as is the case here. Connecticut and other states need realistic and well thought out plans to meet and overcome them.

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Sony Hackers Guardians of Peace Troll FBI, Anonymous Convinced Hack Didn't Come From North Korea | The Daily Beast

Sony Hackers Guardians of Peace Troll FBI, Anonymous Convinced Hack Didn't Come From North Korea | The Daily Beast | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The hacking group that’s taken credit for breaching Sony’s servers and leaking their files online posted a message online Saturday mocking the FBI’s investigation.

According to a statement issued by the FBI on December 19, which was then echoed by President Obama during his year-end press conference, “the North Korean government is responsible” for hacking Sony’s servers, leaking sensitive company data online, threatening movie theaters that choose to exhibit the satire The Interview, and ultimately succeeding in getting the Kim Jong Un assassination comedy’s release pulled.

The FBI presented the following as evidence:

“Technical analysis of the data deletion malware used in this attack revealed links to other malware that the FBI knows North Korean actors previously developed. For example, there were similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data deletion methods, and compromised networks.

The FBI also observed significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyber activity the U.S. government has previously linked directly to North Korea. For example, the FBI discovered that several Internet protocol (IP) addresses associated with known North Korean infrastructure communicated with IP addresses that were hardcoded into the data deletion malware used in this attack.

Separately, the tools used in the SPE attack have similarities to a cyber attack in March of last year against South Korean banks and media outlets, which was carried out by North Korea.”

Meanwhile, North Korea has maintained their stance that they weren’t involved in the crippling cyber-attack, and have proposed a joint investigation with the U.S. authorities in finding the culprits, warning of “grave consequences” if America continues to blame the Hermit Kingdom for the hacking.

On Saturday afternoon, Guardians of Peace, the hacking group that’s so far claimed responsibility for wreaking havoc on Sony, posted a message online mocking the FBI’s investigation.

It is as follows:


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Google files lawsuit against Mississippi attorney general | Hayley Tsukayama | WashPost.com

Google files lawsuit against Mississippi attorney general | Hayley Tsukayama | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google filed a lawsuit against the Mississippi attorney general on Friday, accusing Jim Hood of using his office to wage an unlawful campaign against the Internet giant.

In its suit, Google points to e-mails released as part of a massive cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment. The e-mails appear to show that Hood coordinated with the Motion Picture Association of America -- a longtime foe for Google -- as part a campaign to force Google to crack down on criminals selling counterfeit prescription medicine and drugs online. This follows reports by the Verge and The New York Times about the alleged campaign, which they said was code named "Goliath."

The suit seeks to block a subpoena issued by Hood, a Democrat, for information on how Google cracks down on ads that promote the sale of illegal drugs through its search engine or YouTube. Hood has been leading the charge with a handful of state attorneys general on this issue for more than a year.

Hood, who is also the president of the National Association of Attorneys General, said in a statement that he is "calling a time out" on the investigation to allow "cooler heads to prevail." But he stood by his decisions to ask Google for more information on how it deals with the sale of illegal drugs through third-party ads on its sites. Earlier this week, he told the Huffington Post that the MPAA has had "has no major influence on my decision-making," and that he is simply trying to crack down on the sale of illegal drugs online.

In a blog post Thursday, Google said that the e-mails revealed a campaign that sought to stifle free expression and to revive the Stop Online Piracy Act. That bill, which died in Congress in 2012 after massive populist and tech industry opposition, was criticized by many free expression advocates who said it would set a dangerous precedent for censorship in its effort to stop access to stolen material online.

Among the main concerns of opponents were that SOPA would allow creation of an Internet "blacklist" that could be abused to keep average people from finding sites that the government found objectionable.

"We are deeply concerned about recent reports that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) led a secret, coordinated campaign to revive the failed SOPA legislation through other means, and helped manufacture legal arguments in connection with an investigation by Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood," said Kent Walker, the company's general counsel and senior vice president.

Google also launched a campaign Thursday asking users to "take action" by telling the MPAA to stop trying to revive "#zombieSOPA."

The MPAA shot back with a statement of its own shortly after that post went up: "Google's effort to position itself as a defender of free speech is shameful. Freedom of speech should never be used as a shield for unlawful activities and the internet is not a license to steal."


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Why broadband execs are telling Washington and Wall Street different things on net neutrality | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

Why broadband execs are telling Washington and Wall Street different things on net neutrality | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In the past week, I've written a bit about how broadband industry execs are telling Washington one thing about strict net neutrality while suggesting something else to Wall Street. The companies are telling investors that they'll keep making their networks better, just like always — even if federal regulators adopt aggressive Internet rules. But that's not what regulators are hearing from the companies, who are telling them that those same rules would depress investment in the network and hurt consumers.

Which message should we believe? It's an interesting discrepancy, one that raises questions about what the carriers truly believe. Some Switch readers are skeptical that we should interpret anything significant from the executives' remarks. But there are some good arguments for giving the investor messaging the benefit of the doubt.

A few readers have argued that top company execs such as Verizon's chief financial officer amount to little more than "corporate bean counters" with little knowledge of what actually goes into running a network or managing regulatory affairs.

@b_fung His comments aren't significant, because he doesn't make the decision to deploy or how. Why not talk to an actual ISP...

— Brett Glass (@brettglass) December 10, 2014

Others point out that executives have every incentive to downplay business risks when talking to investors — the last thing you want to do is scare those folks off. If the chief executives of Comcast and Time Warner Cable said the wrong thing at the wrong time, Wall Street might bolt. And that would be bad.

@b_fung If those companies stop investing, their CFOs lose their jobs. The CFOs are literally cheerleaders for investment. #GrainOfSalt

— Hal Singer (@HalSinger) December 16, 2014

What these arguments amount to is the idea that high-level corporate officials can't be expected to know or accurately describe their firms' true state of affairs. If that's the case, then the U.S. economy has a much bigger problem on its hands than the question of net neutrality and its impact on investment.


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Time Warner Cable doesn’t want to face TV competition in Lincoln, Nebraska | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica

Time Warner Cable doesn’t want to face TV competition in Lincoln, Nebraska | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Time Warner Cable has "crie[d] foul" over a proposed franchise agreement between the city of Lincoln, Nebraska and Windstream that would force TWC to face competition for TV customers, the Lincoln Journal Star reported Wednesday.

"The city isn’t playing fair with the proposed cable franchise agreement with Windstream, according to its sole cable provider Time Warner," the paper reported. TWC lawyer Bill Austin said during a public hearing on Monday that the Windstream franchise violates a requirement in Time Warner's franchise agreement that new franchises may not be "more favorable or less burdensome when taken as a whole” the report said.

"Austin listed several specific areas where Windstream is getting a better deal, including public access capital needs, the public access studio requirements, the government education grant, and service area requirements," the Journal Star wrote.

A city attorney disputed Time Warner's argument. Windstream would only have to offer service to 45 percent of the city to start and 80 percent within 15 years, whereas the incumbent TWC has to offer service to everyone. But the two franchises are comparable, city attorney Steve Huggenberger said, pointing to Windstream obligations to provide public education and government channels and money for public capital needs.

"Windstream wholly supports the city attorney's position," a Windstream spokesperson told Ars today. "The company is making substantial commitments to the city of Lincoln and bringing much needed competition. The proposed agreement is equitable to the Time Warner agreement. We remain confident that the city council will approve the agreement."

A vote is expected on January 5.


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Gigabit or GigaWhat? There is Work to Do Regarding Ultra-Broadband Services | Bernie Arnason | Telecompetitor

Gigabit or GigaWhat? There is Work to Do Regarding Ultra-Broadband Services | Bernie Arnason | Telecompetitor | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Many prevailing questions regarding the Gigabit services trend revolve around consumer perception and acceptance. Do prospective customers want Gigabit services? Do they really understand what Gigabit can do for them? What are they willing to pay for it?


In partnership with Pivot Group, we recently published some market research that examines these issues, entitled GigaWhat? U.S. Broadband Awareness, Needs and Perceptions Study. It offers revealing insight into the mindset of end-customers regarding ultra-broadband applications.

Close to 9 in 10 Internet subscribers (87%) had never heard of Gigabit Internet before being asked about it during this survey, highlighting a real education need for service providers who intend to launch Gigabit service.


Perhaps the main 1 Gbps selling point being emphasized in the marketplace today is its superior speed over traditional broadband speed tiers. But this research reveals that only one-third (32%) of Internet subscribers are aware of their current Internet speed, suggesting a vast majority of Internet users have no speed frame of reference.

Additionally, almost three-quarters (74%) of Internet subscribers indicate their current speed tier is either adequate for them or is faster than what they need, indicating marketing that emphasizes speed alone may not resonate.

As for Gigabit, over half (54%) of Internet users don’t know that a Gigabit is faster than a Megabit, suggesting the use of 1 Gig or 1 Gbps in marketing materials may not have any impact, or worse, may make prospects think their current service is actually faster.

“Service providers spend an awful lot of time and marketing spend emphasizing speed, but this research reveals consumers are confused regarding speed references and perceive that their current speed package is sufficient,” says Dave Nieuwstraten, president of Pivot Group and co-author of the study in a press release. “The introduction of Gigabit services into a given market will require significant customer education and effective marketing techniques to help achieve adoption success.”


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100Mbps Internet available to 59% of US, while gigabit still at just 3% | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica

100Mbps Internet available to 59% of US, while gigabit still at just 3% | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Though some pockets of the US have a competitive market for ultra-fast broadband, a new government report shows that Internet service of at least 100Mbps is limited, and where it exists there is usually just one provider that offers it.

Fifty-nine percent of the US population can buy service of at least 100Mbps download speed, according to the Department of Commerce report released yesterday. But only eight percent can choose from at least two 100Mbps providers, and just one percent can choose from three.

Further, “only 3 percent of the population had 1Gbps or greater available; none had two or more ISPs at that speed,” the report said. It’s not exactly “none”—data in the appendix shows a fraction of one percent of Americans can choose from multiple gigabit providers. This is beginning to change. For example, AT&T and Google are now offering gigabit service in Austin, Texas. The Commerce report is a bit outdated, using data from December 2013.

At the lower end, the report found that 98 percent of Americans can get at least 3Mbps, while 88 percent can choose from at least two providers, and 56 percent can choose from at least three. Two percent of Americans had no options even at 3Mbps.


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Cuba: ETECSA set to launch new Wi-Fi service? | TeleGeography.com

Cuba’s state-owned monopoly fixed line and wireless operator Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA) plans to begin offering public Wi-Fi internet access from next month, company employee Wilfredo Guanche told CubaNet.


The service will enable Cuban citizens to access the internet at ETECSA offices and outlets at a cost of around CUC4.50 (USD4.50) per hour.


TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes the government took a small step towards increasing availability of the internet to Cuban citizens last year with the announcement that it would begin offering access at a number of ETECSA outlets around the island from 4 June 2013, while in early March this year the state-owned telco launched a mobile e-mail service under the brand name Nauta.cu.

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Information on Connecticut Municipal RFQ Seeking Partners to Develop Gigabit Internet Networks in Their Communities | CT.gov

CTGig - Municipal Fiber Network Project

On September 15, 2014, a collaboration of Connecticut municipalities issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) soliciting information and partnerships with potential providers to create Gig networks in their communities.


Forty-six municipalities have joined the RFQ with the aim of soliciting information from potential providers of financing, fiber network construction and management, and Internet service providers of retail services.


It is hoped that this effort could lead to the issuance of RFPs to create public-private partnerships resulting in open-access fiber networks in many Connecticut municipalities providing a variety of competitive Internet-based services to residents, businesses, and community anchor institutions.


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Video Of The Week: A History Lesson On Why We Need Neutral Networks | AVC.com

My partner Brad Burnham of Union Square Ventures in NYC went down to Chattanooga, TN where they have a gigabit fiber network around the city and attended an event about connectivity and what it does for society.

In this short (~10mins) talk he gives a history lesson on how we got permissionless innovation on the Internet and why we could lose it.


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Engaged universities contribute to economic development | Rebecca Warden | University World News

Engaged universities contribute to economic development | Rebecca Warden | University World News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Engaged universities – those that see engaging with the wider community as part and parcel of their mission – can use these activities to contribute to economic development too. Around the globe, universities are doing this in various ways, some in ways you might expect, others in ways that might surprise you.

But there is plenty more for them to do. Academics and civic engagement activists grappled with the question of the best ways to do it at the Talloires Network Leaders Conference in Cape Town this month, where economic development was one of three main themes.

The most obvious way in which universities contribute to economic development, particularly locally, is as employers and purchasers of goods and services.

Ira Harkavy, director of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States, is an advocate of the idea of universities as anchor institutions. These are non-profit organisations that never move and are therefore highly motivated to invest in their geographic location.

A university attracts businesses and highly skilled people to a city and may offer cultural amenities such as museums, theatres and extension courses for the city’s people and those of the surrounding area. As a consumer of large tracts of land, it can have a significant impact on local builders.

Harkavy argues that, together with medical institutions, universities act as powerful economic engines in cities. “In the city of Philadelphia, eight out of 10 of the largest employers are meds and eds,” he says, and this pattern is to be found in big cities across the US.

So far so good. But what does this have to do with civic engagement you may ask? The answer lies in the how as much as the what.

If a university makes meeting civic goals part of its economic decisions, by deciding to buy locally or employ more women or people from ethnic minorities for instance, the economic impact becomes civic too.

“So even traditional activities can be transformed through the aims, goals and the process of how the university works,” says Harkavy. “If they are designed to benefit both the community and the university, you can take standard activities, like teaching, research, technology and business development and transform them into a civic activity.”


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Interactive report on Kansas City's downtown development boom | The Kansas City Star

Interactive report on Kansas City's downtown development boom | The Kansas City Star | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Want to keep track of Kansas City’s downtown renaissance?

Today, The Kansas City Star unveils an interactive report on KansasCity.com that displays about 70 downtown projects totaling more than $1.7 billion that either have been announced, are in progress, or have been completed since the start of 2012, with the exception of some major civic projects. Readers can access the project on their desktop computer and any mobile device, and it will be updated as projects progress.

You might be surprised by the scope of the development that dots all areas of greater downtown — an area that includes Crown Center, the Crossroads Arts District, the Downtown Loop and River Market. It also happens to be the geography linked by the new 2.2-mile streetcar line expected to be completed next year.

The latest makeover of downtown began 10 years ago, with the construction of H&R Block’s new headquarters serving as one of the catalysts. That was followed by a bevy of big public-private projects that included the Power & Light District, the Sprint Center, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and the new grand ballroom at the Kansas City Convention Center.

Downtown’s rejuvenation is now rolling into a new era, with the start of the $100 million streetcar line on Main Street.

When you go to the Star project, you’ll see an outline of the streetcar line and its stops, and a brief description of each project, including the cost, the developer, status and completion timetable, plus the history of the building.

There also are links to previous stories on the project, photos with each building, and video in some cases.

The map is also a vivid reminder of the largely unsung but critical role played by state and federal historic tax credits in reviving downtown. More than $545 million in preservation projects are either underway or in the works.

Among the projects highlighted on the map:


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EFF: Feds can’t get around Fourth Amendment via automated data capture | Cyrus Farivar | Ars Technica

EFF: Feds can’t get around Fourth Amendment via automated data capture | Cyrus Farivar | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A federal judge spent over four hours on Friday questioning lawyers from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and from the Department of Justice in an ongoing digital surveillance-related lawsuit that has dragged on for more than six years.

During the hearing, US District Judge Jeffrey White heard arguments from both sides in his attempt to wrestle with the plaintiffs’ July 2014 motion for partial summary judgment. He went back and forth between the two sides, hearing answers to his list of 12 questions that were published earlier this week in a court filing.

That July 2014 motion asks the court to find that the government is "violating the Fourth Amendment by their ongoing seizures and searches of plaintiffs’ Internet communications." The motion specifically doesn’t deal with allegations of past government wrongdoing, nor other issues in the broader case.

The case, known as Jewel v. National Security Agency (NSA), was originally brought by the EFF on behalf of Carolyn Jewel, a romance novelist who lives in Petaluma, California, north of San Francisco. For years, the case stalled in the court system, but it gained new life after the Edward Snowden disclosures last summer.

In the 2008 original complaint (PDF), Jewel and the other plaintiffs alleged that the government and AT&T were engaged in an "illegal and unconstitutional program of dragnet communications surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency and other Defendants in concert with major telecommunications companies." The evidence stemmed from materials leaked by former San Francisco AT&T technician Mark Klein in 2006. As Jewel was and remains an AT&T customer, her communications were intercepted by the company on behalf of the NSA, her attorneys argue.


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