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Aereo Now Chromecast-Ready | Multichannel.com

Aereo Now Chromecast-Ready | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Following a brief delay, Aereo announced Thursday that its broadband TV and cloud DVR service now works with the popular Google Chromecast streaming adapter.


The extension, supported on Android-powered devices, gives Aereo users a new way to stream content from the service to the TV. Aereo also supports iOS devices, most major PC browsers, the Apple TV (via AirPlay), and the Roku platform.


Aereo’s original plan was to be “Google Cast Ready”  on May 29, but delayed its debut in order to iron out a “few kinks,” but didn’t elaborate further.


Aereo, meanwhile, is awaiting its final fate. Following oral arguments on April 22, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide the Aereo case sometime this month. Following recent court-ordered shut downs in Denver and Salt Lake City, Aereo presently offers services in New York, Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, Texas; Cincinnati; Boston, Atlanta; Miami; Houston; Detroit; and Baltimore.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

That was 1989.

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

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

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


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

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

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

Residents Feedback Wanted

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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Why Congress should not pass USA Freedom | Sascha Meinrath Opinion | CSMonitor.com

Why Congress should not pass USA Freedom | Sascha Meinrath Opinion | CSMonitor.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

What happens when the Senate passes a law that a federal court has already ruled is illegal? That's what is now in motion due to the Senate vote this past Sunday night to move forward with the process of renewing mass surveillance. The proposed legislation – the ill-named USA Freedom Act – is diametrically opposed to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. It is a law that legalizes mass surveillance targeting tens of millions of US citizens, whether or not they're guilty of any wrongdoing.

Amazingly, due to the incredible work of a massive left-right coalition of civil liberties organizations, we've managed to garner a momentary sunsetting of several provisions of the Patriot Act that have been used to legally justify mass surveillance. But the sad reality is that the USA Freedom, which reauthorizes these provisions, has been pushed forward by the Senate and may very well pass later this week. If so, the mass surveillance programs that the National Security Agency has just shut down on Monday will be immediately ramped back up – once again collecting billions and billions of records about our everyday actions (including who we talk with and when those conversations are taking place).

While supporters of mass surveillance continue their fear-mongering – declaring that the government needs this mass surveillance program to fight terrorists – the overwhelming preponderance of evidence is that these programs have been both wildly expensive and ineffective.

The White House's NSA review group concluded that the program “was not essential to preventing attacks” – an analysis backed up by a thorough analysis by my old colleagues at the New America Foundation's International Security Program, which found that the program “has had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism.”

Meanwhile, President Obama's independent advisory, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, concluded earlier this year, “The Section 215 bulk telephone records program lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215, implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value. As a result, the Board recommends that the government end the program.”

Given the illegality of this mass surveillance program, given its expense, given that it doesn't work, and given that the reviews of the program, both by national security experts as well as by the US government itself, have concluded that it's a boondoggle that infringes upon the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, why is Congress going to such extremes to maintain mass surveillance?


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Nvidia Shield Caters to Cord Cutters | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com

Nvidia Shield Caters to Cord Cutters | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Timed with Google’s I/O developers conference this week, Nvidia has launched the Shield, a high-end gaming console/streaming device that’s equipped with the Android TV OS and the ability to stream 4K content from sources such as Netflix.

Though the device will support HBO Go, Watch ESPN and several other authenticated TV Everywhere apps that require a pay TV subscription, the Shield also provides access to services such as Sling TV, Dish’s new OTT-TV service, and will soon do the same for HBO Now, the standalone OTT service from HBO. Google’s Channels app supports live TV when the supporting device is paired to a separate tuner and digital over-the-air antenna.

Shield isn't cheap. Available outlets such as Amazon, Best Buy and Fry’s Electronics, the console starts at $199.99 (for the 16 GB version), while the Shield Pro (500 GB) fetches $299.99. Nvidia also sells Shield accessories such as an advanced, voice-enabled remote control ($49.99), extra gaming controllers ($59.99 each), and a vertical stand ($29.99).

Some of the initial reviewers on Nvidia’s new creation were mixed, noting that the Shield could have trouble gaining mass appeal.


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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Exploring the Amazon | The Economist

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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Movistar outlines 4G progress in Argentina | TeleGeography.com

Argentinean mobile operator Movistar has reportedly switched on a total of 1,000 Long Term Evolution (LTE) base transceiver stations (BTS), and expects its 4G network to comprise 1,850 cell towers by the end of 2015.


According to an unconfirmed report by TeleSemana, LTE connectivity is now available in more than 100 locations across twelve provinces. In 2015 alone the cellco expects to spend ARS8.5 billion (USD946 million) on its network rollout.

TeleGeography notes that the latest coverage metrics suggest Movistar is undertaking a brisk rollout schedule. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in January this year the cellco’s 4G network comprised just 60 BTS, covering Buenos Aires, Mar del Plata, Carilo and Pinamar.


The network went live in December 2014, one month after Movistar won a nationwide concession pairing frequencies in the 1710MHz-1720MHz and 2110MHz-2120MHz bands; the cellco paid USD209.14 million for the spectrum permit.

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AT&T: Broadband Usage Caps Are Awesome, And Preventing Us From Abusing Them Is A Horrible Injustice | Karl Bode | Techdirt

AT&T: Broadband Usage Caps Are Awesome, And Preventing Us From Abusing Them Is A Horrible Injustice | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

While AT&T is now a part of two lawsuits to try and overturn the FCC's new net neutrality rules, there's probably no company singularly more responsible for the rules being necessary in the first place.


It was AT&T that really got the neutrality debate rolling in the States just about a decade ago, when then CEO Ed Whitacre proudly proclaimed he was going to start charging companies like Google a "troll toll" just for touching his network.

AT&T's been on the bleeding edge of exploring creative new ways to violate net neutrality for an extra buck ever since, whether that's blocking video services to drive users to pricier plans, using throttling to drive users to costlier plans, using interconnection to sock content companies with extra costs, or using zero rating to generate new revenue at the cost of a steeply tilted playing field.

Telco CEO Randal Stephenson has been making the media rounds lately proudly proclaiming that AT&T will surely be victorious in court, and the the FCC's net neutrality rules will be vacated. But AT&T lawyers are working hard to prevent regulators from including conditions on its $49 billion acquisition of DirecTV related to neutrality as well.


Despite countless instances where AT&T has used usage caps to unfair advantage, AT&T's telling regulators there's no need for neutrality conditions on the merger (with a specific eye on usage caps and zero rating some services) because history shows AT&T is a saint on that front:


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