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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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Net-"Sue-Me"-Neutrality: Get Ready for the Spring Offensive | Bruce Kushnick Blog | HuffPost.com

Net-"Sue-Me"-Neutrality: Get Ready for the Spring Offensive | Bruce Kushnick Blog | HuffPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

How we ended up here: The Book of Broken Promises: $400 Billion Broadband Scandal and Free the Net."

First, congrats to those who helped to get the pendulum to swing back a bit from the anti-customer, 'we're the phone company' position. We'll see how long it lasts.

The count-down has started and by the end of next week, or once the entire Open Internet (Net Neutrality) rules are put out (we have only an outline as of this writing), you can expect a lawyers' banquet, a feeding frenzy where they will file and file and file.

There were actually two items that were presented by the FCC:

  • Allowing municipalities to offer competitive broadband and Internet in areas where the incumbent cable and phone companies didn't deliver.
  • "Open Internet", Net Neutrality rules.


On the municipality front -- A group called the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC, created 'model legislation" to close down the rights of municipalities and they have led the charge and already got over 20 states to use this legislation. This legislation is penned by (and/or with the assistance of) the ALEC corporate members, which include AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner Cable, and then given to waiting state politicians, most of whom are funded and groomed by these companies, (or who also received foundation grant money to spend in their districts to make them look good).

And this is not new. I've been writing about this since at least 2007.

(As we pointed out, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai congratulated ALEC on its 'model legislation' at an event in 2013.)

We expect 'law-suits-a-plenty' in all state and federal jurisdictions. Remember, they have massive amounts of lobbying dollars, fake astroturf consumer groups, corporate-funded think-tanks -- and a series of skunkworks (hidden) networks to coordinate these attacks, not to mention tens of thousands of anxiously awaiting lawyers, (their own and outside firms), all chomping at the bit for this race to begin.

Oh, and did I mention that you paid for all of this lobbying, lawyering, foundation monies, etc., which is built into your rate increases? (I'll be discussing this in the next few stories.)

Net Neutrality being solved? As we take our victory lap, I can hear the cheers of joy from the phone and cable companies now. But that is not what they will tell the public.


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Are there any true broadband options in the SF, Miami, San Diego and Chicago? | Esme Vos | Muniwireless.com

Are there any true broadband options in the SF, Miami, San Diego and Chicago? | Esme Vos | Muniwireless.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Imagine you’re making a presentation to your CEO on 2015 revenue projections when the Internet buffers, you start sweating because you can’t navigate through your presentation, and hundreds of people are staring at you. All you can think is: why is this happening to me?

It’s most likely because your broadband speed is 4 Mbps, which is the average download speed in the United States. High-speed Internet access has become a necessity, which is why the FCC has redefined “broadband” to mean connection speeds of 25 Mbps and greater. This shift forces Internet service providers to change the way they’re doing business. Otherwise, their services will no longer be considered “broadband”.

Earlier this month, Comcast announced their new modems will support speeds of 1,000 Mbps (I Gigabit), although it’s unlikely consumers will actually see speeds reach the full bandwidth. In the SF Bay Area, it’s not unusual to pay $70 per month for disappointing broadband speeds. If you don’t watch cable TV, you’d think you could pay a far lower price if all you want is broadband from the cable company.

There’s an excellent alternative to the cable/telco duopoly. Webpass, a high-speed Internet provider that began in San Francisco, currently offers speeds of 100, 200 or 500 Mbps depending on the building you live in. The company has expanded and now serves more than 10,000 residential customers and hundreds of businesses in SF, Oakland, Miami, San Diego, and Chicago. The company distinguishes itself from competitors through its fast speeds and excellent customer support.

The difference between a small ISP like Webpass and a larger cable company is that Webpass owns and operates its own Ethernet network, eliminating dependence on phone and cable companies, and offering Internet at previously unimaginable speeds. Moreover, because Webpass is not a cable TV provider, it doesn’t pass on the costs of licensing TV shows and sporting events to their broadband customers. With the recent reclassification of broadband, consumers will feel the change not only in their Internet connection, but also in their monthly bill, as broadband companies will likely pass the cost on to their customers. Webpass charges $55 per month regardless of the speed.


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Hillary Rodham Clinton Talks NSA, Presidential Aspirations With Kara Swisher | Amy Schatz & Ina Fried | Re/Code.net

Hillary Rodham Clinton Talks NSA, Presidential Aspirations With Kara Swisher | Amy Schatz & Ina Fried | Re/Code.net | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Americans feel “betrayed” by the revelations of the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities and it needs to be more transparent, Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday at a gathering of female Silicon Valley executives, in a conversation that touched on issues from gender discrimination to her presidential aspirations.

Asked if former NSA contractor Edward Snowden was a traitor, Clinton responded that “I can never condone what he did,” saying that his disclosures had damaged national security.

At the same time, the government also has responsibilities it needs to live up to, she said.

“The NSA has to act lawfully, and we as a country have to decide what the rules are and make it absolutely clear we will hold them accountable,” she said in an interview with Re/code co-executive editor Kara Swisher at the sold-out Lead On Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women after a speech that focused mostly on gender discrimination issues and the economic importance of women.

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How Silicon Valley won the day over some of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

How Silicon Valley won the day over some of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Federal Communications Commission is poised on Thursday to give technology companies their latest in a series of victories in Washington, one that will see strong new rules applied to Internet providers such as Verizon and Cablevision.

The decision marks a key achievement for tech firms after a months-long campaign against some of the communications industry’s most sophisticated lobbying operations. And it holds major implications for the way consumers experience the Internet. If all goes as expected, the FCC will pass rules that would limit Internet providers from auctioning off the fastest download speeds to the highest bidders, all but ensuring that Web firms — not a cable company — will retain control of what consumers see on their browsers.

It’s easy to point to the coming FCC’s vote as another indication Silicon Valley’s time has come in Washington. But here’s the reality: The industry has already arrived, and in a major way. Tech companies such as Google, Netflix and Facebook have amassed tremendous political power in recent years, with lobbying budgets to match.

Now that power is evolving. Not content with simply settling into Washington, tech companies are increasingly clashing with more established interests. At the same time, their expanded role in policy battles is also revealing how “Silicon Valley” — a buzzword once used as Washington shorthand for all technology firms — is hardly as monolithic as the term implies.

Tech firms such as Twitter, Netflix, Etsy and Mozilla sought to have the FCC impose the toughest new regulations on Internet providers. Other companies typically associated with Silicon Valley were more discreet. Facebook and Google — which is setting up its own Internet service called Google Fiber — largely stayed out of the fight, allowing industry trade groups to speak on their behalf. Meanwhile, hardware-oriented tech firms, including Intel and IBM, actively opposed efforts to regulate Internet providers.

“People today still use ‘Silicon Valley,’ they use ‘Internet’ and ‘tech’ as interchangeable, synonymous terms, but really, tech is very broad,” said a technology lobbyist, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak freely about the matter. “I think a lot of people do think of tech as a monolithic thing, but more and more, if you look at Internet companies, they are diverging from tech.”


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Bill Introduced to Block FCC Municipal Broadband Preemption | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

Bill Introduced to Block FCC Municipal Broadband Preemption | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Even before the FCC released the text of its just-voted decision to preempt state laws limiting municipal broadband expansion in Tennessee and North Carolina, a pair of Republican legislators has introduced legislation to preempt that preemption.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) have introduced draft legislation that says it is the sense of Congress that the FCC "does not have the authority under 4 section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to prevent any State from implementing any 6 law of such State with respect to the provision of 7 broadband Internet access service (as defined in section 8 8.11 of title 47, Code of Federal Regulations) by such 9 State or a municipality or other political subdivision of 10 such State."

The FCC voted 3-2 in a party line vote to grant the petitions by Chattanooga and Wilson, N.C., to preempt state laws preventing them from expanding beyond the utility footprints of their current service. The commission based that authority on Sec. 706, which it says empowers it to take immediate action to insure that advanced telecommunications is being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion if it concludes that is not the case as the FCC concluded in it most recent Sec. 706 report to Congress.

The FCC said those state laws limiting geographic buildouts were an impediment to that deployment. The decision only applies to Tennessee and north Carolina, but FCC chairman Tom Wheeler suggests it puts a spotlight on other laws, which he brands efforts by incumbents to prevent competition.

The bill would prevent FCC preemption in Tennessee and North Carolina, as well as the 18 other states that have such laws, and any other state that might adopt them.


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The FCC rules against state limits on city-run Internet | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

The FCC rules against state limits on city-run Internet | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For years, cities around the country have been trying to build their own, local competitors to Verizon, Charter and other major Internet providers. Such government-run Internet service would be faster and cheaper than private alternatives, they argued. But in roughly 20 states, those efforts have been stymied by state laws.

Now, the nation's top telecom regulators want to change that. On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commissions voted 3-2 to override laws preventing Chattanooga, Tenn., and Wilson, N.C. from expanding the high-speed Internet service the cities already offer to some residents.

The vote could embolden other cities that feel they have been underserved by traditional Internet providers, potentially undermining years of lobbying by the telecommunications industry.

“It's good to see the FCC standing up to phone and cable company efforts to legislate away competition and choice,” Free Press, a consumer advocacy group. “By targeting these protectionist state laws, the FCC is siding with dozens of communities seeking to provide essential broadband services where people have few to no other options.


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FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules For 'Open Internet' | Bill Chappell | NPR.org

FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules For 'Open Internet' | Bill Chappell | NPR.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Federal Communications Commission approved the policy known as net neutrality by a 3-2 vote at its Thursday meeting, with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler saying the policy will ensure "that no one — whether government or corporate — should control free open access to the Internet."

The Open Internet Order helps to decide an essential question about how the Internet works, requiring service providers to be a neutral gateway instead of handling different types of Internet traffic in different ways — and at different costs.

"Today is a red-letter day," Wheeler said Thursday.

The dissenting votes came from Michael O'Rielly and Ajut Pai, Republicans who warned that the FCC was overstepping its authority and interfering in commerce to solve a problem that doesn't exist. They also complained that the measure's 300-plus pages weren't publicly released or openly debated.

The new policy would replace a prior version adopted in 2010 — but that was put on hold following a legal challenge by Verizon. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled last year that the FCC did not have sufficient regulatory power over broadband.

After that ruling, the FCC looked at ways to reclassify broadband to gain broader regulatory powers. It will now treat Internet service providers as carriers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, which regulates services as public utilities.


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DARPA wants advanced sensors to watch over growing hot spot: The Artic | Michael Cooney | NetworkWorld.com

DARPA wants advanced sensors to watch over growing hot spot: The Artic | Michael Cooney | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Artic Circle pretty much has been a damn cold, desolate place but no so anymore what with the military’s increased attention and commercial growing prospects.

Those are the main reasons the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency cites for wanting to build an advanced generation of sensors capable of transmitting data on air, surface and/or undersea activities above the Arctic Circle for at least 30 days.

“The challenges of operations in the high Arctic are significant: there is little fixed infrastructure North of the Arctic Circle to support sustained operations and system designs must satisfy requirements for system durability and ruggedness in the harsh Arctic environment, DARPA states.

“Unmanned systems are developing the range and environmental performance necessary for Arctic operation. Commercial electronics provide low-cost and energy-efficient sensing systems capable of low temperature operation. Communications technologies such as Iridium and Argos enable data relay from remote Arctic systems to manned analysis and observing centers,” DARPA stated. The agency says it wants to utilize these and other advancements for the new sensors.

The sensor project is not DARPA’s first foray into the Artic. In 2012 it announced the Assured Artic Awareness project saying growth in activity will increase the strategic significance of the region and will drive a need to ensure stability through effective regional monitoring.


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CNBC (Comcast)'s Magic Box of Tricks and Traps: The Hit on Tumblr Founder David Karp Debunked | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

CNBC (Comcast)'s Magic Box of Tricks and Traps: The Hit on Tumblr Founder David Karp Debunked | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Net Neutrality opponents today made hay about an underwhelming, sometimes stumbling debate performance by Tumblr founder David Karp, who was inexplicably CNBC’s go-to-guy to explain the inner machinations of the multi-billion dollar high-speed Internet connectivity business.

TechFreedom, an industry-funded libertarian-leaning group spent much of the day hounding Karp about his “painful, babbling CNBC interview.”

“Those pushing #TitleII have NO FREAKING CLUE what it means,” tweeted TechFreedom’s Berin Szoka.

BTIG Research devoted a whole page to the eight minute performance, where Karp faced interrogation by two CNBC hosts openly hostile to Net Neutrality and another that expressed profound concern the Obama Administration would over-enforce Net Neutrality under Title II regulations. CNBC is owned by Comcast, a fierce opponent of mandatory Net Neutrality.

“Given the importance of Net Neutrality and the central role played by Tumblr’s Karp in getting us to this point, we thought it was very important for everyone to watch his interview earlier today on CNBC in its entirety,” wrote Rich Greenfield, noting the “best parts” (where Karp appeared like a deer frozen by oncoming headlights) were encapsulated into an extra video clip.

Greenfield referred to a Wall Street Journal piece in February that suggested access means everything when it comes to D.C. politics:


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Verizon, T-Mobile, Ericsson Want WiFi Spectrum for LTE | 5G Wireless News

Verizon, T-Mobile, Ericsson Want WiFi Spectrum for LTE | 5G Wireless News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

With congestion already a problem, do we want more traffic from telcos?


Is it smart to give up 25%-75% of the bandwdith for telco LTE?


"LAA" is seeing a huge push in 3GPP and elsewhere. Giant telcos want to make this happen incredibly fast although no one has done field trials to prove the sharing can work. They want to create "facts on the ground" before the regulator, much less the public, even know what's going on.

T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray says they will deploy in 2015, Verizon's Tony Melone is not far behind and AT&T is working in standards. SK in Korea and all the equipment guys are jumping on. More than half of traffic now goes on WiFi but the telcos can't charge for it in most countries. So they are moving the free WiFi calls to LTE "Assisted Access" so they can charge. If they clobber WiFi in the process, better for them. If all the current uncharged WiFi traffic moved to LTE, most phone bills would double or triple.

Kevin Smithen and Will Clayton of Macquarie broke the story, which was picked by by Fierce, Jan Brodkin and Kevin Fitchard. Telcos grabbing a big hunk of WiFi is about as important a mobile story as I can imagine, but I couldn't find even a single report in a major newspaper. WSJ, NYT, WP and the Guardian haven't even mentioned LAA.

I believe that new WiFi applications will switch even more traffic to WiFi and reduce consumer costs. For example, Marconi fellow John Cioffi has shown a way to a home gigabit using WiFI and DSL.Many agree with me that more WiFi spectrum is the most efficient way to deliver more capacity to all of us, although Marconi Fellow Marty Cooper points to technical advantages of WiFi. Informally, the U.S. FCC has decided that at least half of the 3.5 GHz spectrum coming available will be available for WiFi.


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Broadband RI Issues Final Report | Winter 2015 eNews | Broadband RI

Broadband RI Issues Final Report | Winter 2015 eNews | Broadband RI | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Over the last five years, Broadband Rhode Island (BBRI) has been laser-focused on identifying and educating people and organizations across Rhode Island about the issues and opportunities presented by the ever-expanding Internet.


The idea of “broadband as infrastructure” is still a new one, but as the idea spread across the nation, we strove to bring about crucial statewide collaboration to uncover the policy issues and our states’ responsibilities herein towards this cross-sector resource.

Although the project is coming to an end, we received a boost from the NTIA in the form of a project extension through June 30, 2015. This will allow for the completion of several significant projects and will help us build momentum for the sustainability of broadband initiatives beyond the grant. Ultimately, the state has an important role in carrying this progress forward.

With this edition of the BBRI eNews we are pleased to introduce our final report “Broadband Priorities for Rhode Island 2015-2020: Achieving Competitive Advantage in the Internet Age.” The report, which is available in print and digital versions, highlights our accomplishments over the past five years in several areas. But more importantly it issues these five core recommendations to ensure that all Rhode Islanders have full access to the economic opportunity and streamlined government service made possible through broadband technology:


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Citing encryption, FBI lobbying to keep phone metadata spying powers | David Kravets | Ars Technica

Citing encryption, FBI lobbying to keep phone metadata spying powers | David Kravets | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The law that the Obama administration cites to allow bulk telephone metadata collection expires on June 1, and the FBI has already begun lobbying to keep Section 215 of the Patriot Act from expiring. Bad guys "going dark" using encryption, the FBI says, is one of the reasons why the government needs to collect the metadata of every phone call made to and from the United States.

Robert Anderson, the FBI’s chief of the Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch, told reporters during a roundtable discussion Tuesday that the Patriot Act is necessary because encrypted communications are becoming more commonplace in the wake of the Edward Snowden disclosures.

"In the last two to three years, that whole ‘going dark’ thing went from a crawl to a flat-out sprint because the technology is changing so rapidly," Anderson said.

Joseph Demarest, assistant director of the FBI's Cyber Division, told reporters that if Section 215 expires, "Obviously it’s going to impact what we do as an organization and certainly on cyber."

The comments, especially as they relate to encryption, are part of a growing chorus of calls—from as high as President Barack Obama—that the government needs Silicon Valley's assistance for backdoors into encrypted tech products like the iPhone.

Silicon Valley has (at least publicly) shunned the administration's attempts to get backdoors into their products. And while no legislation at the moment requires them to comply, the nation's spy apparatus and others are turning their attention toward not losing the bulk telephone metadata spying program that spun heads when The Guardian—armed with classified documents from Snowden—exposed it in 2013. As it turns out, the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court that was authorizing the program was doing so under the authority of Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

While many leading lawmakers are behind renewing the program, there are plenty of reasons why it should expire come June. According to the EFF:


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What Comcast's huge profits tell us about the state of the broadband industry | Timothy Lee | Vox.com

A common argument against network neutrality regulations is that restricting how broadband providers run their networks — for example, by prohibiting them from charging certain content providers extra to put their content in "fast lanes" while everyone else's content gets stuck in the slow lane — is that this kind of regulation will make it too difficult for network providers to recoup their investments in broadband infrastructure.

So it's interesting to look at the 2014 financial results from the nation's largest broadband provider, Comcast, which came out today. Comcast's cable division (the company also owns NBC Universal) had operating cash flow (revenues minus operating expenses) of $18 billion. Of that sum, Comcast re-invested $6 billion in its network. But it also gave $6.5 billion in profits back to shareholders, and the company expects to return an even larger sum to shareholders in 2015.

This isn't a surprise. The company has posted a generous — and usually growing — profit every year since at least 2006. Clearly, this is not a company that's struggling to find the funds it needs to maintain and upgrade its network.

To be clear, there's nothing wrong with companies earning profits and giving them back to shareholders. You couldn't have a capitalist economy if shareholders couldn't earn a return from their investments. But I think we can draw two lessons from Comcast's financial results.


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Telephone deregulation bill passes Kentucky House | Bruce Schreiner | The Olympian

Telephone deregulation bill passes Kentucky House | Bruce Schreiner | The Olympian | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Kentucky House passed a bill Tuesday aimed at freeing telephone companies from maintaining their landline networks in urban areas, handing the industry a key victory in its long push for deregulation.

Industry executives say the result would spur more statewide investment in high-tech communications. The bill's main sponsor said that would enhance Kentucky's competiveness and job-creation efforts.

"It puts Kentucky in the right direction, encouraging increased investment in our state's broadband infrastructure," Rep. Rick Rand said of his bill, which passed the Democratic-led House on a 71-25 vote.

The issue has simmered in recent legislative sessions. It's boiled down to debates over preserving old-fashioned landline phone service for those wanting it, while giving the industry the latitude to put more money into cutting-edge telecommunications technology. Swaths of rural Kentucky are still void of cell service.

Rand said the bill guarantees landline phone customers in rural areas can keep the service if they wish.

For rural landline customers switching to other service, the bill would give them a 60-day grace period to go back to landline service. The original bill gave customers 30 days, but Rand proposed the extended time.

The measure now heads to the Republican-run Senate. Sen. Paul Hornback, who has led the push for deregulation, said he will urge Senate GOP leaders to take up the House-passed bill.

"It's a bill we can live with," the Shelbyville Republican said in an interview.

Gov. Steve Beshear hailed the House vote and urged the Senate to pass the bill quickly. He said the measure "strikes a right balance between providing consumer protection and creating economic development opportunities that result from robust broadband accessibility in communities all across the commonwealth."

Hood Harris, president of AT&T Kentucky, said House passage was a "positive first step to encourage increased investment in modern communications networks in Kentucky." Harris promised a legislative committee that no one with an existing landline would lose it if a deregulation bill passes.

The bill's opponents said the bill swings too far toward deregulation without guarantees that consumers will benefit. Rep. Hubert Collins, D-Wittensville, said there's nothing in the bill to assure that AT&T will spend any more money than it already planned on broadband service in the state.

Collins and other opponents said the bill would take away needed oversight authority for state regulators.

"Do we just want corporations to call all the shots?" said Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville.


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How the FCC could use an obscure Internet power to change the pay-TV market | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

How the FCC could use an obscure Internet power to change the pay-TV market | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In a few days, the Federal Communications Commission will vote on the government's strict new net neutrality rules for Internet providers. And while the proposed regulations are mainly focused on whether companies like Comcast can block or slow Web sites, a small piece of the rules could give the government wider authority over television programming — and by extension, your TV experience. Here's how.

The FCC has a mission: To promote the rapid deployment of high-speed Internet. Under this mission, codified in Section 706 of the Communications Act, it's seen fit to knock down what it sees as barriers to the rollout of broadband. The FCC's net neutrality rules partly lean on this power. And it's also what the agency is using to try to knock down state laws that prevent cities from selling their own Internet service.

Now, some Washington lobbyists are beginning to argue that this mission doesn't just cover the Internet. Advocates for pay-TV providers are saying the FCC should use Section 706 to act more aggressively against the companies that produce TV content. Why? Because the pay-TV providers think the content producers are charging them too much for programming — and because programming costs eat into the budget for building, say, cable broadband, what hurts pay-TV providers could hurt the spread of broadband.

In short, if cable companies can convincingly argue that their costs of buying programming are effectively a barrier to broadband deployment, that's a case for federal intervention.


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Google Fiber: Make It Easier For Us Or Enjoy Time Warner Cable | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com

"If you make it easy, we will come. If you make it hard, enjoy your Time Warner Cable,” Google Fiber's Milo Medin told attendees of a Comptel Competition and Innovation Summit this week. Medin was speaking on a panel about network deployment, fresh off of Google's announcement that it will be expanding Google Fiber into Charlotte, Nashville, Atlanta and Raleigh/Durham.

According to Medin (who longtime readers may remember from his @Home days), cities can do a lot to improve their area's chances when it comes to next-gen broadband deployment:

quote:


Medin cited byzantine permission processes (including a fetish for faxes) and an inability to provide accurate information about infrastructure as prime reasons that hurt some cities’ chances to attract new broadband services...Medin, who was speaking on a panel about network deployment, added that some markets in the U.S. are simply uneconomic for internet providers to enter, and that local telephone companies are reluctant to grant access to key telephone pole infrastructure.

Numerous cities have been so eager to get Google Fiber, they've signed rather sweetheart deals that, for example, allow Google to simply walk away from builds should TV subscriber uptake numbers not be met. Perks also include the right to redline and cherry pick deployment neighborhoods (though the resulting digital divide may be obscured by fun "fiberhood" rallies), something traditional ISPs have lusted after for years -- but found blocked by many traditional franchise obligations.


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FCC Commissioners Pai, O'Rielly to Hold Title II Press Conference | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

FCC Commissioners Pai, O'Rielly to Hold Title II Press Conference | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Federal Communications Commission's two Republican commissioners, Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly, will hold a joint press conference Feb. 26 following the agency's expected vote to reclassify Internet access as a telecommunications service under Title II. Pai and O'Rielly will likely be strongly dissenting from those rules.

The FCC chairman historically holds a press conference following a vote, but not the ranking minority commissioner (Pai). The Pai-O'Rielly press conference will follow chairman Tom Wheeler's in the commission meeting room, according to Pai's office.

The move is unusual, but not unprecedented, at least after Pai held a press conference two weeks ago to criticize the Open Internet draft order and attribute it to influence from the White House.

Pai has been unusually vocal in his criticism and opposition, but then, the vote is being hailed as a historic one, either for protecting an Open Internet or for overregulating in search of a problem, depending on which side of the issue one stands. Pai and O'Reilly are definitely in the latter camp.

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Divided FCC Votes to Reclassify ISPs Under Title II | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

Divided FCC Votes to Reclassify ISPs Under Title II | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

With lots of input, including from the founder of the Web, but no real surprises, a contentious FCC voted 3-2 along party lines Thursday (Feb. 26) to reclassify broadband as a telecom service under some Title II regulations, a move that prompted cheers from net activists who have been pushing for Title II for over a decade, and will prompt lawsuits that could tie up the rules in court for years.

Associations representing wired and wireless telco ISPs have already essentially told the FCC: See you in court.

Republican commissioners blasted the order, suggesting it was utility-style regs in Title II-lite clothing and that the rate regs and unbundling and new taxes that the FCC said it was forbearing would materialize regardless.

The order creates bright-line rules against blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization--so-called fast lanes. It also allows a case-by-case review of interconnection complaints as potential network neutrality violations.

The rules will not become official until published in the Federal Register, which will take a few weeks, and will then be challenged in court, though they will remain in effect unless stayed by the FCC (unlikely) or a court.


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The FCC's Historic Day: Voting Yes For Net Neutrality, Voting No On Protectionist State Telecom Law | Karl Bode | Techdirt

The FCC's Historic Day: Voting Yes For Net Neutrality, Voting No On Protectionist State Telecom Law | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Today was, no hyperbole intended, probably one of the more historic -- albeit at times one of the dullest -- days in FCC history. The agency, led by a former lobbyist for the cable and wireless industries few expected anything from, bucked a myriad of low expectations and voted 3-2 to approve Title II-based net neutrality rules after an unprecedented public-driven tech advocacy campaign. While net neutrality will likely get the lion's share of today's media attention, the FCC also today voted to begin a prolonged assault on ISP-driven, protectionist state telecom law.

First, it's important to note that despite a 3-2 vote approving the Title II-based rules, we won't get to see the actual rules today. Despite claims by neutrality opponents that this is some secret cabal specific to net neutrality, the agency historically has never released rules it votes on (pdf) until well after the actual vote. It's a dumb restriction that's absolutely deadly to open discourse, but it's not unique to one party or to this specific issue.

As for when we'll actually get to see and start dissecting the actual Title II rules ourselves, we may be waiting weeks -- in part, ironically, thanks to neutrality opponents on the Commission that spent the last few weeks professing to adore transparency:

"In fact, it could take weeks before the final rules are published, the official said. That’s because the two Republican commissioners, Ajit Pai and Mike O’Rielly—who oppose net neutrality of any sort—have refused to submit basic edits on the order. The FCC will not release the text of the order until edits from the offices of all five commissioners are incorporated, including dissenting opinions. This could take a few weeks, depending how long the GOP commissioners refuse to provide edits on the new rules."

Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Reilly voiced their opposition to the new Title II-based rules by not only voting against them, but by trying to bore meeting attendees to death. Pai, a former Verizon regulatory lawyer, offered a mammoth speech in which he ironically lamented "special interests" and claimed repeatedly to only be opposing net neutrality out of a concern for consumer wallets. O'Reilly tried to top Pai with an even longer, duller speech that continually insisted the FCC was trying to conduct a secret, regulatory takeover of the Internet. A visibly emotional Wheeler was having none of it:


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FCC Votes to Pre-empt State Broadband Laws | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

FCC Votes to Pre-empt State Broadband Laws | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As expected, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 Thursday (Feb. 26) along party lines to pre-empt state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina that limit expansion of municipal broadband, citing its authority under the Sec. 706 mandate to insure advance telecommunications services are being deployed in a reasonable and timely manner.

The order pre-empts geographic limitations on the expansion of municipal broadband systems in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Wilson, N.C., though it does not compel any action on either. The decision does not affect laws in other states, but signals how the FCC might act on similar petitions, which are expected from other municipal broadband providers now that the FCC has fired this shot across the bow at state broadband laws.

The cities of Chattanooga and Wilson asked the FCC to pre-empt their limiting state laws, saying that without those restrictions, they are willing and able to expand their gigabit service to surrounding neighborhoods that had asked for it.

The state laws prevented expansion beyond the footprints of the utilities that are providing the broadband service, or as the FCC Wireline Bureau said, to a "sea of little or no" broadband options. The bureau said the decision was simply letting communities serve their neighbors.

The bureau pointed to the FCC's recent 706 finding that advanced telecom was not being deployed in a reasonable and timely manner, and the section's instructions to act immediately to try and rectify that.


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HissyFitWatch: Bell Canada Loses Net Neutrality Case, Threatens to Bury Complaining Consumers In Legal Fees | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

HissyFitWatch: Bell Canada Loses Net Neutrality Case, Threatens to Bury Complaining Consumers In Legal Fees | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A Manitoba university student and consumer groups who won their case against Bell’s preferential treatment of its mobile streaming video service are now being threatened with demands they personally cover Bell’s legal expenses as the phone company appeals the ruling in court.

The dispute involves Bell Mobile TV Service — a $5/mo optional add-on that allows Bell’s mobile customers to stream up to 10 hours of video programming, some of it from Bell-owned television networks like CTV, without it counting against the customer’s usage cap. Each additional hour costs $3. The service prices usage based on time, not data usage, which lets Bell stream very high quality video to customers. Competitors like Netflix do not have this option and their customers are billed based on the amount of data consumed, which is around 800 percent higher than what Bell Mobile TV charges.

University of Manitoba graduate student Benjamin Klass filed a complaint with the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in 2013 accusing Bell of violating Net Neutrality and creating an anti-competitive marketplace for online video. Twelve of the 43 channels available on Mobile TV — including CTV, TSN and The Movie Network — are owned by Bell Media, a subsidiary, like Bell Mobility, of the media behemoth BCE.

Klass alleged the practice was a clear violation of Canada’s laws governing broadcasting: “No Canadian carrier shall, in relation to the provision of a telecommunications service or the charging of a rate for it, unjustly discriminate or give an undue or unreasonable preference toward any person, including itself, or subject any person to an undue or unreasonable disadvantage.”

The CRTC agreed with Klass and in late January ruled in favor of Klass’ complaint, giving Bell and Quebec-based Vidéotron (which offers a similar service) until the end of April to close them down in their present form.

BCE, the parent of Bell Mobility, told the CBC it was “shocked” by the CRTC’s ruling, suspecting the complaining groups mislead regulators into thinking Bell favored its own content over others.

“There’s a hint here that the government believes Bell Mobile TV delivers only Bell Media content,” spokesman Jason Laszlo said. “They should know we offer mobile TV content from all of Canada’s leading broadcasters in English and French.”


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Cord-Cutting Picks Up: 1.4 Million U.S. Households Tuned Out Pay TV Last Year | Todd Spangler | Variety.com

Cord-Cutting Picks Up: 1.4 Million U.S. Households Tuned Out Pay TV Last Year | Todd Spangler | Variety.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The pay-TV biz has agonized for years about the looming threat of consumers cutting the cord — but so far, the trend hasn’t inflicted serious pain on providers or their programming partners.

That could change in 2015, according to Wall Street analyst Craig Moffett, who suggests the industry could be facing a large wave of consumers pulling the plug on cable or satellite service or not even signing up in the first place.

In the fourth quarter of 2014, pay-TV providers in aggregate added a net 101,000 subscribers, according to Moffett. Year-over-year, the industry sub numbers was essentially flat, declining by a scant 0.1%. Cable operators lost 170,000 subs (declining 2.2%), while DirecTV and Dish Network added 86,000 (up 0.1%) and telcos added a net 185,000.

However, factoring in new household formation in the period — the fastest growth in 10 years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — roughly 1.4 million American households either canceled pay-TV over the trailing 12 months or never subscribed, Moffett said in a research note. Since 2010, the industry has cumulatively lost (or failed to sign up) 3.8 million households, he estimated.

“A year from now, the fourth quarter may well be viewed as the calm before the storm,” Moffett wrote.

For the pay-TV business, the risk is that more consumers will find traditional TV service just isn’t a good value, as the price of programming packages continues to rise unabated.


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CA: WebTV Founder's Super-Fast Wireless Network to Launch in SF | Dawn Chmielewski | Re/Code.net

CA: WebTV Founder's Super-Fast Wireless Network to Launch in SF | Dawn Chmielewski | Re/Code.net | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A new wireless technology that claims exponentially better performance than current mobile networks will be introduced in San Francisco as soon as this year, pending regulatory approval.

Artemis Networks has reached a deal with Dish Networks to lease mobile spectrum in San Francisco for up to two years, clearing the way for the first deployment of a wireless technology known as pCell. It will also be offered in Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers professional football team.

“This is the largest single advance in the history of wireless,” said Artemis founder and CEO Steve Perlman.

This technology claims 35 times the performance of 4G LTE networks, a milestone achieved by embracing the network collisions other wireless technologies seek to avoid, Perlman said. PCell technology combines interfering radio waves in a way that forms tiny virtual cells of connectivity (or a personal cell) for each device.


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How Google’s Crazy Stratospheric Internet Balloons Matured Into a Technology That Could Bring Billions More People Online | Tom Simonite | MIT Technology Review

How Google’s Crazy Stratospheric Internet Balloons Matured Into a Technology That Could Bring Billions More People Online | Tom Simonite | MIT Technology Review | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

You climb 170 steps up a series of dusty wooden ladders to reach the top of Hangar Two at Moffett Federal Airfield near Mountain View, California. The vast, dimly lit shed was built in 1942 to house airships during a war that saw the U.S. grow into a technological superpower. A perch high in the rafters is the best way to appreciate the strangeness of something in the works at Google—a part of the latest incarnation of American technical dominance.

On the floor far below are Google employees who look tiny as they tend to a pair of balloons, 15 meters across, that resemble giant white pumpkins. Google has launched hundreds of these balloons into the sky, lofted by helium. At this moment, a couple of dozen float over the Southern Hemisphere at an altitude of around 20 kilometers, in the rarely visited stratosphere—nearly twice the height of commercial airplanes. Each balloon supports a boxy gondola stuffed with solar-powered electronics. They make a radio link to a telecommunications network on the ground and beam down high-speed cellular Internet coverage to smartphones and other devices. It’s known as Project Loon, a name chosen for its association with both flight and insanity.

Google says these balloons can deliver widespread economic and social benefits by bringing Internet access to the 60 percent of the world’s people who don’t have it. Many of those 4.3 billion people live in rural places where telecommunications companies haven’t found it worthwhile to build cell towers or other infrastructure. After working for three years and flying balloons for more than three million kilometers, Google says Loon balloons are almost ready to step in.


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Anthem: 78.8 million affected, FBI close to naming suspect | Steve Ragan | CSO Online

Anthem: 78.8 million affected, FBI close to naming suspect | Steve Ragan | CSO Online | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

On Tuesday, Anthem, the nation's second largest health insurer, said that 8.8 to 18.8 million people who were not customers could be impacted by their recent data breach, which at last count is presumed to affect some 78.8 million people. This latest count now includes customers of independent Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) plans in several states.

In a statement, Anthem said that the breach affects current and former customers of dating back to 2004.

"This includes customers of Anthem, Inc. companies Amerigroup, Anthem and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield companies, Caremore, and Unicare. Additionally customers of Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies who used their Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance in one of fourteen states where Anthem, Inc. operates may be impacted and are also eligible: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin," the company explained.

On December 10, 2014, someone compromised a database owned by Anthem Inc. The compromise was discovered on January 27, 2015, by a database administrator who noticed his credentials being used to run a query that he didn't initiate. Anthem disclosed the breach to the public on February 4.

In statements to the Associated Press, Anthem confirmed previous reports published by Salted Hash, and added to those details with the news that credentials from at least five different employees were compromised during the incident. Speculating, investigators believe that the employees fell for a Phishing attack.

The company said that attackers were able to obtain "personal information from our current and former members such as their names, birthdays, medical IDs/social security numbers, street addresses, email addresses and employment information, including income data."

The same week Anthem disclosed their breach, criminals jumped on the news and launched a Phishing campaign using current events and fear as a lure, reminding potential victims that they'd be contacted via the US Postal Service, and not by email or phone.

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