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When the Landline Is a Lifeline | Jon Bodkin OpEd | NYTimes.com

When the Landline Is a Lifeline | Jon Bodkin OpEd | NYTimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

AT&T and Verizon are pushing hard to shift traditional landline service, which has mostly operated over copper lines, to a system of Internet-based phones by around 2020. If the Federal Communications Commission approves the switch as is, it could come as a shock to the 96 million Americans who still rely on landlines.


The change itself is inevitable: the old copper lines are aging and expensive to maintain. And the new system is already in use. As of December 2012, 42 million Americans had Internet-based phones. But moving to an all Internet-based network will benefit Americans only if the F.C.C. is able to protect them in the shift.


The new phones have some major technical flaws. They can’t hold up during long power failures or connect all emergency phone calls. But there are also regulatory problems: The change in service could free the telecom industry from its obligation to guarantee universal access and fair prices to consumers.


As a result, people in remote or rural areas who rely on landlines could end up paying a lot for a bad deal.


So-called common carrier rules have long required phone companies to offer services to everyone, at reasonable rates. But in a series of decisions beginning in 2002, the F.C.C. classified broadband Internet as an “information service” instead of a telecommunication service, freeing it from these rules. For now, the F.C.C. hasn’t weighed in on where the Internet-based phones — also called VoIP, for voice over Internet protocol — stand, leaving them in regulatory limbo.


While the new phones all rely on the Internet, they don’t all use the same delivery mechanism. Fiber and cable are more reliable carriers than the wireless network that cellphones also rely on. Without new regulations, phone companies could refuse wired Internet service to remote areas where it’s not profitable to build it — a good 25 percent of AT&T’s service area.


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The hackers who say they took down gaming networks are now going after Tor | Brian Fung & Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com

The hackers who say they took down gaming networks are now going after Tor | Brian Fung & Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A hacking group that calls itself Lizard Squad claimed it was behind Christmas Day outages on Sony and Microsoft's gaming networks. And now, it says, it has turned its eyes toward anonymous browsing tool Tor.

Tor is relied on by journalists, activists, whistleblowers and everyday people who want to keep their online activities private. It works by routing traffic through nodes known as "relays" that are operated by individuals and organizations around the world -- essentially volunteer-run servers that keep anonymity functions working.

But earlier Friday, thousands of new nodes appeared on the network featuring labels starting with "LizardNSA." A Twitter account associated with the group indicated that it was behind the new relays.

Hi, do you guys still give away shirts for relay owners? We need about 3000 @torproject

— Lizard Squad (@LizardMafia) December 26, 2014

This is potentially problematic because theoretically the operator of a significant proportion of nodes could compromise the anonymity of users by tracking traffic that exited through their system -- and 3,000 some nodes would represent a substantial number of total relays. Earlier this year, the Tor Project reported that an unknown attacker had used malicious relays to potentially capture data using far fewer nodes.

But it's not clear that the apparent Lizard Squad nodes are currently a threat. According to an explanation posted on a Tor blog last year, new relays go through an approval process that lasts several days during which their bandwidth is restricted.


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Canada: Bell ‘warns’ regulator not to force fibre sharing | TeleGeography.com

This week during Canada’s public hearing on the review of wholesale wireline services, Bell Canada has argued vociferously against mandating wholesale access to fibre broadband access networks operated by incumbent large wireline telcos such as itself, subsidiary Bell Aliant and western Canada-based Telus.


At the hearing run by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Bell claimed that investment in nationwide high speed infrastructure development would suffer if the large incumbents were forced to give smaller providers access to their direct fibre access networks, and instead urged the regulator to allow market forces to drive competition.


Canada’s Metro News quotes Bell executive vice president Mirko Bibic speaking at the hearing on Wednesday, issuing an apparent warning: ‘If there are rules in place that make building [networks] in the first place unprofitable, we will not build to a community … The consumer will suffer from that, because they’ll have the choice of only one high speed network, which is the cable network, or none at all.’


However, the Canadian Network Operators Consortium, representing independent ISPs, dismissed the executive’s argument at the hearing, countering that large telcos such as Bell and Telus would have to continue investing in last-mile fibre to compete with cablecos such as Rogers, Shaw, Videotron and Cogeco. Chris Tacit, the consortium’s legal counsel, put it this way: ‘They have a natural incentive to build wherever there is a cable carrier because otherwise the cable carrier will eat their lunch.’


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MN Legislative notebook: Broadband answers vary broadly | Don Davis | Grand Forks Herald

MN Legislative notebook: Broadband answers vary broadly | Don Davis | Grand Forks Herald | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Most accounts indicate that rural Minnesotans demand better high-speed Internet service, but lawmakers who represent them are split on the issue.


Some rural lawmakers make it a priority for the state to help fund expanding high-speed Internet, known as broadband, to the entire state, as does Gov. Mark Dayton. But other lawmakers say the state has no business getting involved in what should be a private business matter.

State Sen. Matt Schmit, D-Red Wing, spearheaded a successful effort earlier this year to put a down payment on the issue, but much more money is needed, advocates say. The question is whether the state should get involved.

Rep. Joe Schomaker, R-Luverne, said that he hears a lot about the issue in his southwestern Minnesota district. People there "want broadband," he said.

On the other hand, the Republican lawmaker said that he thinks the state should be careful about putting money into broadband.

Sen. Kent Eken, D-Twin Valley, is a proponent of increasing state spending: "We need to do much better than we have in Minnesota. We really have a patchwork quilt in Minnesota when it comes to broadband services."

However, he admitted, "it's an expensive fix. ... It will require some significant investment."

Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, agreed.

"It borderlines on being a necessity," he said. "Those who are aren't able to use it are a little behind."

Others wonder if some are in too big of a hurry to lay fiber optic cable throughout Minnesota when another option, such as satellites, may be better.

Then there is Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, who said does not hear that the Internet is a problem in his area. "Absolutely not" is his answer to whether the state should fund broadband.

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The Internet's Future is Now | Michael Copps Opinion | Benton Foundation

The Internet's Future is Now | Michael Copps Opinion | Benton Foundation | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

So 2014 will pass into history without the Federal Communications Commission stepping up to the plate to ensure an Open Internet. Think of the good history the Commission could have made for itself. Instead we got more delay and more uncertainty about whether Title II net neutrality will ever see the light of day.

The hoped-for scenario now is that progress will come at the January 2015 FCC monthly meeting. Perhaps, even as you read this, the Commission is reworking its notably deficient and wildly unpopular proposal from earlier this year. There is no reason for this process—if indeed this is the process now—to take long. The agency is expert on every aspect of telecommunication law; it has been amassing a comprehensive Title I/Title II/Section 706 record for more than a dozen years; and there are no new arguments to be made that haven’t been made many times before.

Time is not the friend of the Open Internet. Pushing a decision off gives the well-heeled Internet Service Providers more time to lobby and more time to develop their gate-keeping skills. All the while, the political climate in Washington deteriorates, and who know what crisis of shut-downs or other kabuki theater will make action more difficult then than it is now? Prolonging a decision beyond January would be a huge mistake. The law, strong majorities of the American people, and the President of the United States cry out to Chairman Wheeler and his colleagues to do this right and do it now. That means Title II classification without delay.

Since we have another month, in the best-case scenario, and maybe more, I do have one suggestion for the Chairman. It’s to check off one box about which the Commission has been woefully negligent. That means taking himself and his four colleagues outside the Beltway to talk to citizens who will actually have to live with the net neutrality decision the FCC will be making. Previous Commissions, even Republican-led ones, did at least a grudging few such outings.


Now, with the most important vote in a generation confronting it, people look around and don’t see the Commission anywhere and are denied the chance for face-to-face interaction with the decision-makers who will cast this all-important vote.


There is nothing wrong with meeting with the usual suspects inside the Beltway—but there is something radically amiss when an agency charged with overseeing almost our entire communications infrastructure, be it wire, cable, or radio waves (that covers just about the whole nine yards, doesn’t it?) can’t spend a few evenings out on the road, talking with citizens and explaining what they are doing back in Washington.


I call upon the Chairman to set aside some time between now and the big vote to visit with America. I guarantee him and his colleagues they will learn a lot.

I have spent a good bit of my time in recent months traveling the country on the Open Internet issues. I listen and I learn. I also try to tell it like I see it. And from these travels, I see it more clearly every day. I never come away without having learned something new.


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TX: Google Fiber Pricing Unveiled for Austin | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com

TX: Google Fiber Pricing Unveiled for Austin | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google Fiber has come out with a little more build out and pricing details for their deployment in Austin.


According to a Google website update, the company confirms that Austin users will have three options at sign up, those options largely matching what we've seen in previous deployments in both Kansas City and Provo, Utah.


As we've seen in those other cities, users will first and foremost have the choice of a free 5 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up tier after they've paid a $300 installation fee -- which can be paid up front or in installments of $25 per month for twelve months.

On the higher end, Austin users have the choice of a standalone symmetrical 1 Gbps tier for $70 a month, or a bundle of symmetrical 1 Gbps service and 150 TV channels for $130 a month. That $130 price point is $10 more than Google Fiber users pay in Kansas City, likely a reflection of higher regional programming costs.


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TN: Google Fiber files franchise application with state | Jamie McGee | The Tennessean

TN: Google Fiber files franchise application with state | Jamie McGee | The Tennessean | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google Fiber has applied for a franchise authority certificate in Tennessee, signaling the company is moving forward with plans for gigabit speed Internet in Nashville.

The company announced in February it would begin scoping out Nashville and 33 other cities nationwide for fiber expansion, saying a decision would be made by year-end. Since then, Metro completed a checklist responding to the company’s queries on infrastructure and processing procedures and has been working with Google representatives.

“Google Fiber intends to begin to offer video service for purchase or provide new broadband Internet service,” the company said in the filing.

The filing comes nearly two weeks after AT&T announced it was holding off on its fiber plans for Nashville and other cities it had promised for expansion, giving Google Fiber a competitive edge for its own rollout of fiber should they move forward officially.

“There’s still a lot of work to do beyond this agreement, but we hope to provide an update about whether we can bring Fiber to Nashville by the end of the year,” said Google Fiber spokeswoman Kelly Mason in an email.

The filing also says the service area will include Metro and Davidson County, but exclude incorporated satellite cities, without going into further detail. The company said the language does not mean it will not bring its service to the satellite cities, but those areas are not included in this particular application. Google Fiber did not have updates on any other planned franchise applications.


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BT officials met with Ifetel to discuss Mexican opportunities | TeleGeography.com

BT Group executives met with Mexican telecoms regulator Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones (Ifetel) last week, Bloomberg reports, to discuss ways of taking advantage of new laws designed to promote competition and boost foreign investment.


According to the news agency, BT’s chief operations officer in the Americas, Jennifer Artley, alongside Jorge Marchena, regional country manager for Mexico and Central America, met with Ifetel president Gabriel Contreras and other commissioners on 20 November.


Given BT Group’s recent flurry of M&A activity in its domestic market – the company has entered into takeover talks with UK mobile duo EE and O2 – the Mexico meeting has prompted speculation that the telco is also harbouring overseas ambitions.


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Meet the grinch who stole Christmas for gamers: The Lizard Squad | Brian Fung & Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com

Meet the grinch who stole Christmas for gamers: The Lizard Squad | Brian Fung & Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Sony's PlayStation Network and Microsoft's Xbox Live are both still recovering after being down for many users Christmas Day, while a hacking collective known as “Lizard Squad” began claiming credit for the outage.

So who is the Lizard Squad, and is it really responsible for taking down the world’s top online gaming networks? Here's what you need to know about these hackers.

The Lizard Squad began showing up more on the online hacking radar this year, largely by attacking gaming networks. This wasn't the first time the group targeted Sony and Microsoft's gaming networks. It claimed to have hit the PlayStation network in August and Xbox in early December, as well as several others such as RiotGames' League of Legends and Blizzard's Battle.net.

Apparently in conjunction with those hacks, the group pulled off some fairly serious pranks. In August, while Lizard Squad was hacking the PlayStation network, the Twitter account associated with the group tweeted out a bomb scare, forcing an American Airlines flight to make an emergency landing. On board was Sony Online Entertainment President John Smedley. The incident put Lizard Squad squarely in the sights of the FBI, several news organizations have reported.

Around the same time, that Twitter account (which has since been suspended) also claimed to have "planted the ISIS flag" on Sony's servers.

Tweeting a bomb threat is a pretty serious federal crime. But for the most part, Lizard Squad's tactics have amounted to pranks rather than public safety threats. Most hacking analysts doubt the group has anything to do with ISIS.

But when it comes to hacking, Lizard Squad seems to know what it is doing. One network analyst warned this week that the group is “not to be trifled with.”

“Let me say this about Lizard Squad,” said Dan Holden, director of research at the IT analysis firm Arbor Networks. “My personal opinion is, those guys know what they're doing, and if they're coming after you, you're going to have a bad day.”


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Kim "Santa" Dotcom Stops Xbox and Playstation Attacks | TorrentFreak

Kim "Santa" Dotcom Stops Xbox and Playstation Attacks | TorrentFreak | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

When Xbox and Playstation players wanted to test their Christmas gifts a few hours ago, they were welcomed by an unpleasant surprise.

Lizard Squad, who repeatedly DDoSed the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live’s servers in recent months, were back with a Christmas gift nobody asked for. Another DDoS attack resulting in yet more downtime.

One of the affected players was Kim Dotcom, who’s an avid Xbox player himself. But instead of cursing Lizard Squad to high heaven he decided to make them an offer.

Although the general belief may be that it’s best not to negotiate with “terrorists,” Dotcom decided to give it a try.

“Hi @LizardMafia, I want to play #Destiny on XBOX Live. I’ll give your entire crew Mega lifetime premium vouchers if you let us play. Cool?” he tweeted.

Lizard Squad is apparently easy to please as they were willing to stop the attacks in return for 3,000 free cloud hosting vouchers.

After getting approval from Mega’s management, Dotcom and Lizard Squad eventually came to terms through Twitter’s back-channel.


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Sony Pictures hackers reportedly had help from insiders | Ms. Smith | NetworkWorld.com

Sony Pictures hackers reportedly had help from insiders | Ms. Smith | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A Reddit user who claimed to previously have worked for Sony Pictures posted the image which allegedly popped up on “every computer all over Sony Pictures nationwide” on Monday. The message over a bizarre red skeleton stated, “Hacked By #GOP,” which is not the political acronym for “Grand Old Party,” but instead stands for “Guardians of Peace.” The image contained a warning followed by links to data dumps that are either no longer live or the site has been overloaded by traffic.

Warning: We've already warned you, and this is just a beginning. We continue till our request be met. We've obtained all your internal data, including your secrets and top secrets. If you don't obey us, we'll release data shown below to the world. Determine what will you do till November the 24th, 11:00 PM (GMT).

While some curious Redditors jumped on the data dump to see what “secrets” it contained, an unnamed source from Sony told Deadline, “We are down, completely paralyzed.”

“Users have overloaded servers hosting the alleged 200MB-plus breach caches grinding many to a crawl,” The Register added. “Users have searched the alleged Sony data caches dumped online and reportedly found private PuTTY keys, passwords for Oracle and SQL databases, source code and production schedules and hardware inventory lists.”

The first official statement by Sony Pictures was that the company was investigating “an IT matter.” Sony Pictures Entertainment spokesperson Jean Guerin told the Hollywood Reporter, "Sony Pictures Entertainment experienced a system disruption, which we are working diligently to resolve,” but “dozens” of Sony Twitter accounts were clearly hijacked. Business 2 Community captured the screen grab below from the Twitter stream of @SoulSurferMovie before it was deleted. It was also tweeted and deleted by @StompTheYardDVD and by @StarTroopMovie.


A source within Sony anonymously confirmed to TNW “that the hack and image that have appeared on computers inside Sony Pictures is real. They said that ‘a single server was compromised and the attack was spread from there’.” The source added, “We’re all going to work from home. Can’t even get on the internet.”


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Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc's insight:

Note this NetworkWorld article is from a month ago before the Sony Hack got picked up by the MSM.  Interesting read!

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Quantum memory storage to help quantum communications go the distance | Colin Jeffrey | GizMag.com

Quantum memory storage to help quantum communications go the distance | Colin Jeffrey | GizMag.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The technologies made possible by breakthroughs in quantum physics have already provided the means of quantum cryptography, and are gradually paving the way toward powerful, practical, everyday quantum computers, and even quantum teleportation.


Unfortunately, without corresponding atomic memories to appropriately store quantum-specific information, the myriad possibilities of these technologies are becoming increasingly difficult to advance. To help address this problem, scientists from the University of Warsaw (FUW) claim to have developed an atomic memory that has both exceptional memory properties and a construction elegant in its simplicity.

The FUW researchers from the Institute of Experimental Physics claim that the new, fully-functioning atomic memory has numerous potential applications, especially in telecommunications where the transmission of quantum information over long distances is not as straightforward as the transmission of simple electronic data encoded on laser light and traveling through optical fiber.

This is because quantum information can't simply be amplified every so often along its path of travel as information digitally encoded on a laser beam can be. Instead, it is essential that the quantum information itself remain absolutely preserved in its original form to maintain its inherent security, and boosting the signal risks disrupting the quantum state and immediately rendering the transmission useless and unusable.

In this vein, the new memory may prove useful in providing a means to bring into reality the DLCZ quantum transmission protocol (DLCZ being the initials of the physicists from the University of Innsbruck and Harvard University who proposed it; Duan, Lukin, Cirac, and Zoller), enabling quantum information to be sent across long distances.

As an essential requirement for this protocol to work, quantum information transmitted must be stored at various relay points along the channel of communication. Up until now, the physical capabilities to realize the DLCZ protocol have been unavailable, but this new atomic memory may help solve that problem.


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The New York Times Entirely Misunderstands The FCC Spectrum Auction | Tim Worstall | Forbes.com

The New York Times Entirely Misunderstands The FCC Spectrum Auction | Tim Worstall | Forbes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

You’ve got to hand it to the editorial board of the New York Times. They really do have a preternatural ability to grasp the wrong end of the economic or logical stick as we discuss what public policy should or might be.


Their latest example is the two little discussions going on over in the broadband world. The first about net neutrality, the second about the auction that the FCC is undertaking over certain mobile frequencies.

We should point out that both are important events and or discussions. Over net neutrality, well, I’m on the unpopular side of that argument. Spectrum, bandwidth, is a scarce resource. Thus there’s the possibility that at some point it will require rationing.


As every economist will tell you in just about all circumstances price is the best way of rationing something. Thus, if bandwidth does need to be preferentially allocated in some manner then I’m just fine with the idea that it should be done by price. But I agree that puts me at odds with just about everyone commenting upon the matter.

On the spectrum issue this is actually one of the great victories for economists in recent decades. Time was when spectrum was simply allocated by bureaucratic fiat. Given that it is a scarce resource (you can’t have two TV stations on the same frequency in the same geographic location, as an example) that meant that anyone who managed to get some allocated made windfall profits.


So, economists have been arguing, and it was in my native UK some 15 years ago that the policy really came to fruition, that spectrum should be auctioned. As it’s a pure natural resource there’s no good reason why any private actors should just be allocated the use of it.


But if we’re to auction it, on the grounds that the people who can make the best use of it will offer the most money, then someone’s got to get that money and it might as well be the government thus reducing the tax bills on the rest of us. That’s what the FCC is doing and it’s all going swimmingly well, vast sums of money are being offered.

Great, so, how does the NYT mix and match these two stories:


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British Telecom Joins Complaints on AT&T Special Access Monopoly | DSLReports.com

British Telecom Joins Complaints on AT&T Special Access Monopoly | DSLReports.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Competing carriers for years have complained about AT&T and Verizon's more than 85% market dominance of the special access market -- or the fiber lines that help feed and connect cellular towers.


Add British Telecom to the list of companies lobbying for changes on that front; the UK company visited the FCC this week to protect its business services, complaining that AT&T and Verizon are charging "five or six times what it should cost" for companies to move from legacy TDM networks such as T1s to faster technology.


The complaints come at the same time BT is facing a fresh round of anti-competitive monopoly allegations across the pond.


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Government Report: No High Speed Broadband Competition: Blame AT&T, Verizon & CenturyLink's Two Decades of Broken Promises | Bruce Kushnick Blog | HuffPost.com

Government Report: No High Speed Broadband Competition: Blame AT&T, Verizon & CenturyLink's Two Decades of Broken Promises | Bruce Kushnick Blog | HuffPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

See: "The Book of Broken Promises: $400 Billion Broadband Scandal & Free the Net" for all of the gory details.

This chart is the commitment, the "promise" of a digital future vs what was "delivered", the reality of the deployment of fiber optic broadband (or higher-speed services) in America by the phone companies -- now AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink.

In the last article about broadband I supplied a list of the "video dialtone" deployments that were filed at the FCC by what are now AT&T, Verizon and Centurylink to upgrade the utility copper networks and replace these wires with fiber optics wires -- which never happened. And, as I mentioned, there were plans to build out the utility infrastructure in entire states, like New Jersey, that were tied to these federal 'commitments'. But, the ugly truth is -- customers were charged extra, thousands of dollars per household, for these upgrades, not to mention that the companies got massive tax perks. Worse, these increases are still embedded in the cost of service, and this is on top of other increases over the last two decades to pay for broadband, such as Verizon New York's series of rate increases on regular phone customers, 84% since 2006, for "massive deployment of fiber optics".

We estimate that by 2014, America paid about $400 billion extra in higher phone costs and tax perks to the companies, and based on more recent uncoverings of the phone companies' financials, this number is low. I'll get back to this in a moment.

A new government report by the Economics & Statistics Administration of the Commerce Department lays out that America's higher speed services are mostly monopoly services, and the faster the speed, the less competition is available from a second provider. Or worse, less people can get these faster services, as there may be no provider offering the higher-speed services, especially in more rural areas.

While we have issues with the actual data of the report, what this report clearly shows is that the phone companies never showed up to compete with the cable companies and it left America with no serious wired higher speed broadband competitor, just higher prices, and slower speeds than in other countries. (America is 27th in the world in broadband according to Ookla.)

And people notice these things. In 2013, "ISPs", (the phone and cable companies) were rated 'the most hated companies in America'. Might this lack of competition be one of the underlying forces driving this love-fest for our communications companies?

Let me highlight some of the government's report.

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Internexa claims 2,577km backbone network in Argentina | TeleGeography.com

Latin American backbone network operator Internexa has confirmed that its Argentinean infrastructure now spans 2,577km.


Internexa, which launched in Argentina in 2012, currently covers the urban clusters of Buenos Aires, Rio Primero, Arroyito, Rafaela, Santo Tome, Federal, Chajari, Cordoba and Mendoza.


The company aims to expand its network infrastructure to reach the Entre Rios and San Luis provinces in 2015.

TeleGeography notes that Internexa, which leverages electricity transmission networks for connectivity, presides over a South American network that spans 21,000km across Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Brazil and Argentina.


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New Orleans, LA: Why Art, Not Google, Could Revolutionize WiFi | Nathan Martin | Next City

New Orleans, LA: Why Art, Not Google, Could Revolutionize WiFi | Nathan Martin | Next City | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In the art world, a “ready-made” is a common object elevated to the status of art through the gesture of an artist who either incorporates that object into a larger work or simply declares: This object is art. Marcel Duchamp famously introduced the concept in 1917 when he submitted a urinal to a gallery exhibition.

Nearly a century later, Mary Ellen Carroll moved a house. She moved it as a work of art, a way to “make architecture perform.” In fact, she rotated the whole lot, so an entire abandoned property in a first-ring Houston suburb turned its back to the street, like a stage actor who abruptly wheels about-face from the audience. Most cities’ zoning laws would prohibit such a performance, but Houston doesn’t really have those rules. Carroll used this policy — or lack thereof — as ready-made, as material for her art. She took what existed in a city and spun it, to make us look.

In October, Carroll unveiled her latest work, Public Utility 2.0, in the modest showroom of the American Institute of Architects’ New Orleans office. The exhibition — part of the international art biennial “Prospect.3: Notes for Now,” underway in the city until January 25th — consists of infographics, some photographs, a historical timeline and a delicate wooden model of the elevated I-10 freeway that cuts through New Orleans. What she displayed was merely a suggestion of the artwork to come: a project, years in the making, that aspires to nothing less than a reshaping of the policies and technology we use for wireless communication.

Remember a few years ago when television went digital and everyone had to get adapters or new TV sets? When that happened, what once were television channels became simply channels, a bulk of empty bandwidth that could host any variety of transmission. The Federal Communications Commission named it Super WiFi.


The policies to regulate it are yet to be written, and a chorus is imploring the FCC to leave a large part of the spectrum open, or “unlicensed,” instead of auctioning it off. Those advocates tend to refer to the spectrum in spatial terms — a group of Stanford University economists likened the spectrum to a public park, a resource everyone should have access to. Mary Ellen Carroll speaks of it similarly. “It’s like public land,” she says. “It’s like Yosemite.”

For Public Utility 2.0, Carroll and her collaborators plan to install Super WiFi transmitters — first-of-their-kind experimental device developed at Rice University — along the section of Claiborne Avenue in New Orleans that runs beneath the elevated I-10 expressway. The surrounding residential area has very low rates of broadband access, simply because many people cannot afford the bill.


At a basic level, Public Utility 2.0 could provide free high-speed Internet within roughly a mile radius of each transmitter, connecting scores of people who can’t otherwise afford to connect. But the potential for the currently unused spectrum is far greater: With free public access to these powerful channels, new technologies and broadly accessible communication networks could develop. This project could be their showcase.


For precedent, Carroll points to the FCC’s 1994 decision to open up as a platform for innovation what were at the time considered “garbage frequencies” — the realm of baby monitors and garage door openers. Those are the frequencies that now host WiFi.


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UTStarcom Seeks Piece Of Cable WiFi Market | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com

UTStarcom Seeks Piece Of Cable WiFi Market | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Looking to snag a piece of the growing cable WiFi market in North America, UTStarcom said it has introduced a carrier-class platform for the region led off by a WiFi access controller that, it claims, is capable of supporting more than 120,000 access points and 1.3 million subs via a single chassis.

UTStarcom’s platform, from its Wi-Fi Multi-Service Gateway MSG Plus series, can also work in concernt with the company’s line of 802.11a/b/g/n/ac outdoor access points.

Serving as the “brain” of a WiFi network, UTStarcom’s WiFi controller is designed to help MSOs and other carriers apply policies and manage a multitude of WiFi access points.

UTStarcom is entering the North American market as cable operators and other carriers look to face the challenges associated with highly-scaled WiFi deployments, Aman Sehgal, regional head, sales and business development for North America at UTStarcom, said.

Through an agreement with Japan’s Softbank, UTStarcom’s platform already supports more than 470,000 public WiFi access points. Sehgal said, noting that the system is currently working with access points from three different suppliers.


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Broadband Reigns Supreme for Cable | Alan Breznick | Light Reading

Broadband Reigns Supreme for Cable | Alan Breznick | Light Reading | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Despite the growing number of gigabit rollouts by rival providers, the US cable industry continues to roll up impressive gains in the broadband market.

Providing the latest evidence of that, the 10 largest US MSOs collectively added nearly 582,000 high-speed data subscribers in the summer quarter, easily beating their gains of a year earlier by 35%, according to fresh figures compiled by the Leichtman Research Group Inc. (LRG) . With this sizable increase, the 10 big MSOs boosted their total broadband subscriber count to 51.2 million, giving them a commanding 59% share of the overall US broadband market.

In another notable finding from the LRG report, the large cable companies now have decisively more broadband customers than video customers, just one quarter after the number of cable data customers surged past the number of cable video customers. As reported last week, the nine largest MSOs collectively lost about 440,000 TV subscribers in the third quarter, cutting their total to just shy of 49.5 million, as they continue to surrender video market share to rival telco and satellite TV providers.

Only Cablevision Systems Corp. suffered a loss of broadband subscribers in the quarter as the top 10 MSOs racked up one of their biggest quarterly gains ever. As usual, Comcast Corp. led the way with a pickup of 315,000 high-speed data customers, followed by gains of 108,000 subs for Time Warner Cable Inc. and 106,000 subs for Charter Communications Inc.


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CenturyLink: We Lobby For Protectionist State Laws Because You Didn't Want Faster Fiber Anyway | Karl Bode | Techdirt

CenturyLink: We Lobby For Protectionist State Laws Because You Didn't Want Faster Fiber Anyway | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As we've noted, the very first place to start if we're seriously interested in fixing U.S. broadband competition problems is the protectionist laws ISPs paid to have passed in nearly two-dozen states. These laws hinder or outright ban towns and cities across the country from not only building their own broadband networks in areas ISPs refuse to serve, but they also in many cases prohibit towns and cities from cooperating with smaller private companies. These laws were passed like wild fire over a fifteen-year span, but have seen renewed attention lately as Google Fiber fuels a lust for more competition and faster, cheaper networks.

One of the biggest historical supporters of these laws is CenturyLink (formerly CenturyTel, and before that, Qwest). From suing to prevent Utah towns and cities from using Qwest poles in 2005, to teaming with Time Warner Cable to pass awful laws in the Carolinas, CenturyLink has been a starring player in making sure towns and cities can't improve their own broadband fortunes -- even in cases where companies like CenturyLink refuse to.

At the receiving end of this behavior are towns like Wilson, North Carolina, and Chattanooga, Tennessee -- both of which have tried to build better broadband networks but ran face first into the handy work of companies like Comcast, AT&T, CenturyLink and Time Warner Cable. Both towns recently petitioned the FCC (pdf), asking the agency to preempt portions of Tennessee and North Carolina state statutes that restrict their ability to provide or expand broadband services. Instead of standing up for local rights or against letting lumbering duopolies write telecom law, politicians like Martha Blackburn sided with the telecom companies, pushing laws trying to tie the FCC's hands on the matter (you know, for the rights of the little people).

While municipal broadband opponents often try to vilify these efforts as "government run amok," the reality is that these towns and cities wouldn't be trying to enter the broadband business if we had meaningful competition driving better pricing and services. In a recent New York Times story exploring these awful laws, CenturyLink feebly attempts to defend itself to the Times, insisting that it's not building faster next-generation fiber networks -- because nobody actually wants them:


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IL-WI-IN: Tri-state summit endeavors to erase state lines | Keith Benman | NWITimes.com

IL-WI-IN: Tri-state summit endeavors to erase state lines | Keith Benman | NWITimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A tri-state economic development summit at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago attended by 220 people did its level best Friday to erase state borders in a 21-county region for at least a day.

"There is no easy way to get seven counties in each of three different states to cooperate on anything," NIPSCO Director of Economic Development Don Babcock told business and community leaders during a morning panel discussion.

But the Alliance for Regional Development is giving it a try, following a report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development two years ago that found the region's best chance for staving off economic decline lay in cross-border cooperation.

Specifically, the report called for establishing partnerships between 21 counties and 9.9 million people forming the Milwaukee-Chicago-Northwest Indiana corridor.

"The American economy we always talk about is really a collection of regional economies," said Matt Erskine, deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

Erskine said his agency stood ready to help the Alliance for Regional Development with grant programs including the fourth round of the i6 Challenge for Innovation, Science and Research Park Development Grants, and Cluster Grants for Seed Capital Funds.

The day's theme would seem to be a tough sell, considering the Indiana Economic Development Corp. has posted "Stillinoyed by higher taxes" billboards at the state border and puts the same message on electronic billboards in Chicago. And southeast Wisconsin continues to have success drawing companies out of Illinois to greener fields just along the border.

But those types of efforts were swept under the table for at least a day, as corporate heavyweights, academics and regional planners displayed some of the tools for cooperation they have already come up with.

Purdue Calumet University Professor Chenn Zhou unveiled an interactive Geographic Information Systems map created by the college's students of the entire 21-county area. The maps have multiple layers including railroads, roads, barge routes, bike paths, airports, and land use.

Those maps can be used by a wide range of people involved in development, including regional planners, corporations, and national site selectors hunting for new corporate or manufacturing locations.

"We wanted to provide the best data we have and that we can share to make this a globally competitive region," said Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Executive Director Tyson Warner, whose organization helped spearhead the project.


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How Laws Restricting Tech Actually Expose Us to Greater Harm | Cory Doctorow | WIRED

How Laws Restricting Tech Actually Expose Us to Greater Harm | Cory Doctorow | WIRED | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

We live in a world made of computers. Your car is a computer that drives down the freeway at 60 mph with you strapped inside. If you live or work in a modern building, computers regulate its temperature and respiration. And we're not just putting our bodies inside computers—we're also putting computers inside our bodies. I recently exchanged words in an airport lounge with a late arrival who wanted to use the sole electrical plug, which I had beat him to, fair and square. “I need to charge my laptop,” I said. “I need to charge my leg,” he said, rolling up his pants to show me his robotic prosthesis. I surrendered the plug.

You and I and everyone who grew up with earbuds? There's a day in our future when we'll have hearing aids, and chances are they won't be retro-hipster beige transistorized analog devices: They'll be computers in our heads.

And that's why the current regulatory paradigm for computers, inherited from the 16-year-old stupidity that is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, needs to change. As things stand, the law requires that computing devices be designed to sometimes disobey their owners, so that their owners won't do something undesirable. To make this work, we also have to criminalize anything that might help owners change their computers to let the machines do that supposedly undesirable thing.

This approach to controlling digital devices was annoying back in, say, 1995, when we got the DVD player that prevented us from skipping ads or playing an out-of-region disc. But it will be intolerable and deadly dangerous when our 3-D printers, self-driving cars, smart houses, and even parts of our bodies are designed with the same restrictions. Because those restrictions would change the fundamental nature of computers. Speaking in my capacity as a dystopian science fiction writer: This scares the hell out of me.


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What you need to know about the NSA document dump | Signe Brewster | GigaOM Tech News

What you need to know about the NSA document dump | Signe Brewster | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

While many Americans were cozying up on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, the National Security Agency was busy posting dozens of quarterly reports detailing incidents where it potentially violated U.S. laws through improper monitoring of U.S. citizens and foreigners.

Here’s what you need to know about the document dump:

The NSA, like other American intelligence agencies, relies on a 1981 executive order that legalized the surveillance of foreigners living outside of the U.S. It uses that same executive order “to sweep up the international communications of countless Americans,” the American Civil Liberties Union writes.

“At the targeting stage, NSA collects only those communications that it is authorized by law to collect in response to valid foreign intelligence and counterintelligence requirements,” the NSA report’s executive summary reads. “After foreign intelligence or counterintelligence information is acquired, it must be analyzed to remove or mask certain protected categories of information, including U.S. person information, unless specific exceptions apply.”

“Data incorrectly acquired is almost always deleted,” it continues.

After data is collected, it is placed in a large database that the agency’s employees can search with highly specific requests.

“For instance, a query for “improvised explosive devices” would likely be prohibited as overly broad and result in a reportable incident—even if the analyst required the information for her job,” the summary states. “Results returned from improper queries may be deleted. …”


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Minneapolis residents to get 10-gigabit fiber, for $400 per month | Lee Hutchinson | Ars Technica

Minneapolis residents to get 10-gigabit fiber, for $400 per month | Lee Hutchinson | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

While most parts of the US have to make do with Internet speeds of less than 100Mbps—in many cases much less than 100Mbps—some residents of Minneapolis will soon have access to a ludicrously fast fiber-to-the-home speed tier: 10 gigabits per second.

The service is offered by US Internet, the company that already provides "a couple thousand" Minneapolis residents with 1Gbps service for $65 per month. The 10Gbps service will be available immediately to existing customers willing to pay the $400-per-month fee, though US Internet expects the number of customers who take them up on the deal to be relatively small. All together, US Internet has "a little over 10,000" fiber-to-the-home customers at different speed tiers, all located on the west side of Interstate 35W.

This summer, the company plans to widen its service area to the east side of I-35W, which will encroach further into incumbent Comcast’s territory. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Comcast offers 50Mbps service for $77 and 25Mbps service for $65 in that area; US Internet by contrast prices its 100Mbps service tier—the company’s most popular—at just $45 per month. The gigabit plan at $65 gives customers about 40 times the bandwidth of Comcast’s 25Mbps plan for the same price.

The most difficult part about 10Gbps home Internet service—aside from paying for it—is actually using it effectively.


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Cities Start to Get Tougher on Cable Franchise Agreements | Bill Neilson | DSLReports.com

Over the years, cable providers have enjoyed forcing cities into ten, fifteen or even twenty year franchise agreements that allow the providers to enjoy competing against no one all the while increasing prices often and worrying little about the lack of any actual customer service. Now, as this site has shown a number of times (Example 1, Example 2, Example 3), cities are starting to fight back and demand some responsibility from cable providers if the companies want the city to give them a franchise agreement.

After being told for years that previous franchise agreements would magically increase local jobs and improve customer service (which never occurred on either front), some cities are now demanding guarantees in writing before agreeing to a franchise agreement. Now, some cities are also demanding that franchise agreements be reduced in years so that cities may see just how well the cable providers are acting during the agreed upon years.


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TDM-to-IP Transition: Does Copper Deterioration Equal Copper Retirement? | Joan Engebretson | Telecompetitor

TDM-to-IP Transition: Does Copper Deterioration Equal Copper Retirement? | Joan Engebretson | Telecompetitor | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Federal Communications Commission is seeking input on whether it should require telecom service providers retiring traditional copper phone wiring to provide and monitor batteries providing backup power to customer premises equipment. Additionally the commission is considering whether a service provider that lets its copper infrastructure deteriorate should be considered to have retired that equipment.

These are just a few of the ideas discussed in a notice of proposed rulemaking about the TDM-to-IP transition adopted by the FCC on November 21 and released publicly last week. As usual the NPRM includes some requirements that the FCC indicates it anticipates imposing, while other ideas are simply put forth for discussion.

Among the requirements the FCC indicates it anticipates imposing are:


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