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A Gigabit Broadband Land Grab is Underway: Is it for Publicity or Subscribers? | Telecompetitor.com

A Gigabit Broadband Land Grab is Underway: Is it for Publicity or Subscribers? | Telecompetitor.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Blink and you might miss it. On Tuesday, we published a post outlining two gigabit broadband network announcements had occurred, and it was only the second day of the week.


Almost as we hit publish on our blog, another gigabit announcement from AT&T occurred, putting San Antonio in their Gigapower sights. Now you can add Charlotte, North Carolina to AT&T’s growing gigabit broadband announcements.


With so many of these announcements, it almost feels like a ‘land grab,’ particularly with AT&T. In a matter of months, AT&T is positioning itself as a major FTTH gigabit broadband provider, at least in the context of the number of press releases they have issued. Time will tell whether those press releases actually translate into large numbers of AT&T FTTH subscribers.


AT&T’s gigabit activity is clearly driven, at least in large part, by Google Fiber. Most of the markets where AT&T has announced Gigapower plans, including Austin, Texas; Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina; San Antonio, Texas; and Nashville, Tennessee, are all on Google’s short list for Google Fiber expansion.


AT&T is trying to beat them to the punch and grab as much gigabit ‘land’ publicity as possible. By this measure, San Jose and Atlanta should be next, considering those are the only two AT&T incumbent markets on Google’s fiber expansion list that AT&T has not yet announced their own gigabit plans for.


The land grab is not only between AT&T and Google though. Other carriers, large and small are also making gigabit plans. GVTC, a small Texas based regional carrier is moving in on San Antonio suburbs with their GigaRegion gigabit service.


Comcast is even getting into the mix, with a limited FTTH deployment in Florida. Frontier will be bringing gigabit broadband to Portland, pre-empting Google there and promising more diverse broadband packages. Time Warner Cable is considering a Los Angeles gigabit network.


So the land grab is underway, at least from a public relations perspective. Lots of announcements, with much work to follow, if those announcements ring true with actual deployments. Stay tuned.

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The Comcast-Time Warner Merger Is in Trouble. Giving Internet To the Poor Won’t Help It. | Susan Crawford Backchannel | Medium.com

The Comcast-Time Warner Merger Is in Trouble. Giving Internet To the Poor Won't Help It. - Backchannel - Medium

It looks as if the titanic $45.2 billion merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable is likely to be blocked at the federal level. Bloomberg is reporting that staff attorneys at the Department of Justice are building their case against the deal. (This is reminiscent of rumblings that I wrote about last December.) It isn’t over until it’s over, and the law enforcement officers at DOJ are far too principled to leak. All the same, the deal is unquestionably in trouble.

Comcast’s problems aren’t limited to the antitrust concerns the DOJ might have about this giant combination. Those worries are weighty enough; there is certainly ample evidence supporting the antitrust case against the merger. This starts with the fact that a post-merger Comcast would control a dominant share of the nation’s the high-speed Internet access marketplace (particularly for speeds of 25 Mbps or more, where the vast majority of Americans have no choice other than their local cable monopoly). That would give Comcast unprecedented control over the way Americans access the Internet. And — even with the FCC’s recent Open Internet rules in place — that control would give the company the ability to harm the development of online businesses.

Indeed, Comcast would have innumerable opportunities to squeeze online companies. Every element of the Comcast network provides an opportunity for control and rent-seeking — interconnection points (see Jammed), CDN hookups, access to subscribers over the “last mile” of the network, and control over set-top boxes (see The Big Lock-In). And if that’s not enough, Comcast can use data caps and other pricing mechanisms to make life miserable for online businesses that aren’t willing to play along. It’s all one big digital pipe controlled by Comcast; there are plenty of dials for the company to turn.

Here’s more trouble for the cable giant: to complete the merger, Comcast not only has to has to get approval from the apparently skeptical DOJ, but also from the FCC and state authorities. That’s because those telecom regulators approve license transfers that will need to be made as part of the deal. (Time Warner Cable holds licenses issued by the FCC for a variety of wireless functions, all of which would be transferred to Comcast; local authorities have power over pay TV franchises, now held by TWC, that would also be transferred.)

When it comes to the telecom regulators, Comcast has to prove the merger actually benefits the public interest in some way. Any way. This is not easy.

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FSR Pushes for Cybersecurity Legislation | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

FSR Pushes for Cybersecurity Legislation | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Financial Services Roundtable (FSR), the lobby for financial services companies, including banks, insurance companies and credit card companies, has launched a campaign pushing for passage of cybersecurity bills currently on both sides of the Hill.

That will include billboards on Metro trains and digital ads calling on the House and Senate to pass cyber threat information-sharing legislation. "Cyber threat information sharing legislation is long overdue and Congress must continue to work together to get it over the finish line," said FSR president & CEO Tim Pawlenty.

Those bills would provide for liability protections for sharing information with the government and among private companies.

The President in February signed an executive order encouraging more cyber threat info sharing.

While recognizing the need for cybersecurity legislation is bipartisan, and some of the bills have sponsors from both parties, there continue to be poltiical divides over a national standard — some Democrats say it would be weaker than some state laws it would preempt — and the degree of liability protection for private companies.


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MN: Gigabit Internet Service Comes to Lake George | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

Gigabit Internet service has come to Lake George, MN. Paul Bunyan Communications has upgraded the communications network it has in the Lake George area making GigaZone services now available to close to 500 locations in an area that stretches from east of Lake George west to Itasca State Park and south towards Emmaville and Two Inlets.

“The GigaZone provides Internet capabilities unsurpassed by any other rural provider or region in the country. The GigaZone not only provides the capacity to handle current communication technologies quickly and efficiently, it also meets the increasing demands of the next generation of broadband innovations,” said Gary Johnson, Paul Bunyan Communications CEO/General Manager.

“Our cooperative already has the region’s largest all fiber optic network, upgrading it for the GigaZone continues our commitment to keeping our region at the forefront of broadband access.” said Steve Howard, Paul Bunyan Communications IT & Development Manager.


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Comcast Deal Collapse Would Kill Other Mergers in Domino Effect | Gerry Smith & Alex Sherman | Bloomberg

Comcast Deal Collapse Would Kill Other Mergers in Domino Effect | Gerry Smith & Alex Sherman | Bloomberg | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The potential collapse of Comcast Corp.’s merger with Time Warner Cable Inc. wouldn’t just be a setback for those two companies. It would also unwind other pending deals and have a wide-reaching impact on the cable industry.

Staff attorneys at the Justice Department’s antitrust division are nearing a recommendation to block Comcast.’s plan to buy Time Warner Cable and combine the two largest U.S. cable providers, according to people familiar with the matter.

A rejection would be a blow to Comcast, which would have to give up on valuable cable and broadband assets in major U.S. cities including New York and Los Angeles. The $45.2 billion merger proposal is also a way for Philadelphia-based Comcast to fend off competition from phone companies, satellite providers and Web services like Netflix Inc. that have taken hundreds of thousands of its TV subscribers in recent years.

Another company has a lot at stake: Charter Communications Inc., the No. 4 in the industry. Charter, which counts billionaire John Malone as its largest investor, has agreed to take control of 3.9 million Comcast cable-TV customers to ease approval for the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger. If that fails, Charter won’t get those customers. Another Charter deal, the recent agreement to purchase of Bright House Networks, would also be in jeopardy.

Charter, which lost out to Comcast a year ago in its effort to buy Time Warner Cable, could get another shot at it. Malone has said he would try again if the deal with Comcast fell apart.


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The FCC Should Fight for Our Right to TV White Space | Robert McDowell Opinion | WIRED.com

The FCC Should Fight for Our Right to TV White Space | Robert McDowell Opinion | WIRED.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

“White spaces,” or unused radio frequencies in between TV channels, have long been eyed by technologists as perfect for connecting a sea of countless devices to the internet—everything from heart monitors to your car. A little-known government database is supposed to help prevent America’s newest “white spaces,” or “super Wi-Fi,” wireless devices from interfering with other electronics.

But that database has been invaded by a group of sketchy characters going by the names John Q Public, Sue Q Public, NoneNone and John Doe. Some of them hail from 123 Jump Street. On May 1, the Federal Communications Commission is giving the public a chance to comment on how best to deal with these suspicious characters. What the FCC does about it could affect the evolution of the emerging Internet of Things.

During my seven years as an FCC commissioner, I was a strong proponent of allowing innovators to use white spaces without having to get an FCC license. The TV frequencies are highly coveted because they can carry large amounts of data over long distances while penetrating buildings. Enabling consumers and technologists to take advantage of these radio bands in an unlicensed manner is seen as the epitome of the “permissionless” internet. Innovation could spread quickly without having to wait for government approvals.

Our template for success was the first generation of Wi-Fi: it seemed almost as though no one had heard of it on Friday, but by Monday everyone was using it. Its unlicensed nature unleashed a beautiful explosion of entrepreneurial brilliance. Super Wi-Fi operating in the TV bands would be even better.

Under federal law, however, devices using white spaces cannot cause harmful interference to licensed users, such as TV broadcasters and some theaters and churches using wireless microphones. This requirement makes sense to ensure electronics don’t drown each other out, turning them into junk. But how do you ensure such devices won’t step on each other’s toes?

With a reliable national database of all devices using the TV white spaces, of course.


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What’s going on with broadband at the Minnesota Legislature? | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

Feels like Friday was a month ago! The sun shone at least half the weekend. It’s a new day but we have some familiar battles.

  • Some good news – broadband is back in the House budget. (Rural objections are credited with sway.)
  • Some bad news – it’s only $8 million.
  • Some detail – There are some changes to define unserved based on the FCC definition (25 Mbps for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads) and economic growth a priority objective.


Now it’s time to look at the Senate. They have budgeted $17 million for the broadband fund and $250,000 (annual) for the Office of Broadband Development. (Just for comparison the Governor has said $30 million for the fund.) You can see more detail online.

They will go through a similar process as the House working out what proposal they want to bring to the table with the House. As I said last week, it’s good that the House has broadband in the budget, makes for easier negotiation that something that has been entirely removed. It would be nice to see the Senate start out higher than budget number. Letters to policymakers would help.

Some folks have been good enough to share their letters to policymakers with me. I will try to share them this week. (Feel free to send me any letter you’d like me to post.)


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Comcast Lowers X1 Upgrade Fee | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com

Comcast Lowers X1 Upgrade Fee | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In another indication that Comcast is trying to accelerate the rollout of its IP-capable X1 platform, Comcast has lowered the “upgrade fee” for X1 in markets such as Philadelphia, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Though it's not clear that the policy is in place across Comcast's footprint yet, customers in those areas have mentioned on the DSL Reports message board that the upgrade fee, which comes into play when video subs on Comcast’s legacy video platform are moved over to X1, has been lowered to $19.99.

Depending on the market, the original one-time X1 upgrade fee ranged from $49.99 to $99, with Comcast noting then that the fees went toward the development and enhancement of X1 features. Customers on X1, a video service that features a cloud-based user interface and access to apps and other new elements such as in-home video streaming on PCs and tablets and acloud DVR, also require new boxes.

A Comcast customer who was alerted to the smaller upgrade fee for X1 noted on the DSL Reports message board that the price drop -- from $49.99 to $19.99 -- became effective on March 3, 2014, with Comcast citing “changes in business costs."


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Netizen Report: What if Tech Companies Cave to the Kremlin’s Data Demands? | Global Voices Online

Netizen Report: What if Tech Companies Cave to the Kremlin’s Data Demands? | Global Voices Online | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Global Voices Advocacy’s Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.

Russian state media outlet RBC reported last week that US companies including eBay and Google had begun storing Russian user data on servers located in Russian territory.

Google called the reports “inaccurate” but has said nothing more about the claims. Meanwhile, eBay Russia representative Vladimir Dolgov confirmed the reports and explained that the company has been meeting with Russian regulatory authorities in an effort to come into full compliance with data localization legislation passed last July. The law requires Internet companies to store Russian users’ data in Russia, presumably with the goal of sustaining stronger state control over Internet users and their data. It goes into effect on September 1, 2015.

The policy would mark a big shift for users, creating new vulnerabilities when it comes to personal data sent to and stored using services based outside of the country. For example, right now, if Russian authorities wish to access Google user data, they must present a court order to the United States Department of Justice, which will determine its legitimacy. Google’s Law Enforcement guidelines explain that if the order satisfies US law and Google’s policies, it will be fulfilled—but if not, the user's data will remain undisclosed. The same would be true for a host of other US companies that do business in Russia. But if outside companies should comply with the new policy, there would be a much lower threshold for Russian authorities to obtain user data.

The contradictory claims of Russian media remain unresolved however. Media studies scholar and Global Voices Russian editor Tanya Lokot commented on the matter in a recent post for Global Voices:


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FCC votes to proceed with 3.5GHz free access scheme | TeleGeography.com

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Friday voted to proceed with offering commercial telecoms operators free access to additional wireless frequencies in the 3.5GHz-3.7GHz band by adopting rules for the ‘Citizens Broadband Radio Service’ enabling sharing spectrum currently used by military radars and other government organisations.


Specifically, the decision adds another 100MHz of spectrum in the 3550MHz-3700MHz band to the 50MHz in that range already available for commercial use.


Reuters reports that the spectrum is suitable for high data throughput over relatively short distances and may be used to boost the capacity of existing cellular networks, especially in densely populated locations or indoors, while the frequencies could also be utilised for machine-to-machine (M2M) wireless device connectivity.


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Oregon Changes State Tax Law to Lure Google Fiber | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com

Oregon Changes State Tax Law to Lure Google Fiber | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Last month we noted how Oregon decided to change its tax law in order to lure new broadband competitors like Google Fiber to the state. However, wording of the law actually managed to have the opposite effect. One, the law only provided tax benefits to companies planning speeds of at least 1 Gbps, while Google offers speeds "up to" 1 Gbps. Google also disliked the odd way Oregon law calculated taxes based on the "intangible" value of a company's brand.

The Oregonian notes that the state has since passed a law changing all of that language to please Google. Of course the piece then sort of runs past the fact that after all of that work the only city likely to see Google Fiber in Oregon is Portland, which was already named a target market:


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RSA to feature talk by hacker whose ‘funny’ tweet got him yanked from a plane | Tim Greene | NetworkWorld.com

RSA to feature talk by hacker whose ‘funny’ tweet got him yanked from a plane | Tim Greene | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Chris Roberts will have a lot to say next week at RSA Conference 2015 where he is scheduled to present a talk “Security Hopscotch” after his experience this week being hauled in by the FBI, apparently for tweeting about “playing with” the onboard communications systems of the plane he was traveling on.

Roberts, founder, CISO and CTO of One World Labs, a Colorado-based enterprise security assessment and consulting firm, was detained by the FBI after his flight landed in Syracuse, N.Y., and questioned for four hours.

The FBI confiscated his iPad Air, MacBook Pro, three hard drives, seven thumb drives, a Bluetooth USB adapter and a USB cable. All the devices were encrypted, according to a story posted by Forbes.

The incident could make fresh fodder for his RSA talk, which is described in part in the agenda as, “We have been made aware of the [electronic domains within our lives] in the transportation we use and the interactions with the world around us, but now we’re moving into the “Age Of Everything”. And we are vulnerable.”

That could include vulnerabilities he has discovered and discussed publicly before – he says it’s theoretically possible to bring a plane down by hacking its communications systems - as well as his experience yesterday with the FBI.


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MN: State cuts would hamper rural access to Internet | Kathleen Annette Letter to the Editor | StarTribune.com

The world is not backing away from broadband investment, so why would Minnesota?

Opportunity should not be limited by ZIP code. When it comes to broadband access, every community, every person, matters.

Alice Topness matters. At age 77, Alice spends her mornings connected to other seniors via a virtual exercise class in Winona.

Eddie matters. An aspiring coder at age 14, he shares his Ojibwe culture by creating mobile apps to inform and educate others on the Fond du Lac Reservation.

Kristin Fake matters. After overcoming her initial skepticism about how the Internet could help her Akeley home-staging business, Kristin is now connecting with new clients online, boosting her annual sales. She also has helped others in her community tap the power of broadband.

These are everyday examples of how rural Minnesotans — like all Minnesotans — depend on the Internet for their livelihoods and quality of life. But while broadband is now widely acknowledged to be the indispensable infrastructure of the 21st century, too many Minnesotans still lack access, and too many rural communities do not yet have broadband service that meets our state goals. More than ever before, rural communities need access to high-speed Internet in order to survive and thrive.

This is absolutely not the time for state leaders to back down from supporting DEED’s new Office of Broadband Development and its broadband grant fund. The signals from St. Paul recently have been very troubling.

At Blandin Foundation, we believe that broadband access — and the skills to use it — are fundamental to healthy, resilient communities. For 13 years, we have stood with Minnesota leaders as they rallied their communities to design and claim vibrant, broadband-enhanced futures. We have invested more than $4 million dollars of our own resources in support. We share the hope and confidence of the nearly 6,100 homes, 83 community institutions and hundreds of businesses statewide who will benefit from the $19.4 million in grant funding allocated by the Office of Broadband Development to ensure that no Minnesota community will be left behind.


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Be Everywhere, And Be There Fast | Michael Malone | Broadcasting & Cable

Be Everywhere, And Be There Fast | Michael Malone | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Broadcasters from the largest and most prestigious station groups used the NAB’s annual Las Vegas wingding to tout the benefits of a truly mobile TV product—national and local news, and entertainment programming, for users on the go. They spoke of devising the “next generation” of local broadcasting—a transformational 24/7 service that would ensure local TV’s relevance for today, tomorrow and beyond.

All of that happened at the NAB Show—five years ago, when a dozen broadcast groups formed the Pearl Mobile DTV coalition. In subsequent years in Vegas, we heard about the Dyle mobile product and its vast potential.

Jump ahead to NAB 2015, where talk of TV Everywhere was everywhere, and a mention of Dyle was harder to come by than taxis outside the Encore. Live streaming was Topic A at most affiliates meetings in Vegas, yet the urgency to get it to the masses is not readily apparent.


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House E&C Committee Wades Into 5 GHz Issue | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

House E&C Committee Wades Into 5 GHz Issue | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The bipartisan leadership of the House Energy & Commerce Committee is weighing into the issue of freeing up unlicensed wireless spectrum in the upper 5 GHz band while still protecting intelligent automotive systems, like crash avoidance.

The committee said Monday it will hold a series of meetings with the FCC, Department of Commerce, and the Department of Transportation to discuss how "to safely increase unlicensed access to the 5.9 GHz band without harming the existing work being done to improve auto safety through Intelligent Transportation Systems."

The FCC has been studying whether cable WiFi using unlicensed spectrum and widespread intelligent vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications, which has a license to use the spectrum, can coexist in the 5.9 GHz band— the FCC thinks they can. Car companies want the FCC to err on the side of caution.

"In working with the FCC, NTIA, and the Department of Transportation, we hope to move forward in accelerating a solution that will be another example of the United States' leading the way in global spectrum policy," they said. "They" being full committee chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), ranking member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Communications Subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), and ranking member Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.).

Cable operators have been pushing for more 5 GHz spectrum to fuel their WiFi hotspots, the industry's primary mobile broadband play.


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CDD Tells NTIA to Bow Out of Drone Privacy | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

CDD Tells NTIA to Bow Out of Drone Privacy | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) says the National Telecommunications & Information Administration should not be overseeing a voluntary drone privacy framework.

That came in comments to the NTIA in its capacity of overseeing a voluntary drone privacy standards process, which it was directed to do by the President in an executive order.

NTIA has teamed with the Federal Trade Commission on a number of stakeholder/government efforts to come up with voluntary enforcement of the Obama administration's privacy Bill of Rights in the absence of legislation enforcing them, but CDD has been a critic of those past efforts, and the latest one is no exception.

In its filing, CDD said NTIA has failed to establish a successful track record in its efforts to create mobile app transparency and its facial recognition efforts have "failed to accomplish anything significant."

CDD also says that NTIA has a "major conflict of interest" on privacy and can't represent the public's interest because it and parent Commerce Department have the primary function of promoting U.S. business interests.

CDD suggests that the FTC instead take the lead, where "its expertise can help develop a meaningful set of privacy safeguards and proposed rules," CDD said.


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Franken Calls For Title II-Like Assault On Comcast-TWC | John Eggerton | Multichannel

Franken Calls For Title II-Like Assault On Comcast-TWC | John Eggerton | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has suggested the same activism that helped turn the FCC toward Title II reclassification of the Internet can be used to thwart the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger.

In a column for TechCrunch, Franken, arguably Congress' most vocal critic of the deal, was responding to a report by Bloomberg that DoJ officials were leaning against approving the deal. Bloomberg has had run-ins with Comcast over its last deal — with NBCU — and the news neighborhooding condition Bloomberg argued Comcast had not adhered to in its channel placement of Bloomberg TV in some markets.

Franken pointed to that issue in his column.

"[T]he FCC's decision on net neutrality has given me new hope that, with a loud enough movement — with enough people like you organizing online, calling your members of Congress, and writing to the FCC and DOJ — we might just be able to win another uphill battle."

Franken says twice in the piece that preventing the deal is an uphill battle.


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Comcast-TWC Meeting With DOJ | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

Comcast-TWC Meeting With DOJ | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In the wake of news that Comcast-TWC was meeting with the Department of Justice about their proposed deal this week, Bernstein Research analyst Paul De Sa said his team still thinks the deal is more likely to get done than not. De Sa suggests that clients take stories about the deal's progress with a grain or two of salt.

The Wall Street Journal reported first that DoJ staffers were leaning against the deal and that Comcast and Time Warner Cable were having a meeting this week about the deal and potentially talking conditions.

A Comcast source confirmed on background that there was a meeting this week, but said it was one in a series of meetings, which were scheduled before the latest stories suggested DOJ might be leaning away, and could not characterize what the agenda was.

At this stage of the deal vetting, it could well be a meeting talking about conditions and, if so, might suggest DoJ had not made up its mind quite yet.

After all the presentations and deposition and meetings, said the source, DoJ may well have narrowed its issues and potential concerns.

Neither the DoJ nor FCC are likely to be ready to weigh in until a D.C. Federal court weighs in on whether third parties will be allowed to see thousands of pages of program negotiation work. A politically divided FCC said yes, programmers said no and challenged that decision in court. The parties to the deal stayed out of it, not wanting anything to further delay a decision on the deal, which has an August break-up trigger.

De Sa warns against reading too much into the process stories.


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Working Together to Close the Rural Digital Divide | Chairman Tom Wheeler Blog | FCC.gov

Over the last few years, the FCC has made significant progress modernizing its universal service programs to make broadband available to all Americans. Importantly, the FCC in 2011 unanimously voted to transform the USF high-cost program for the large “price cap” carriers into the Connect America program, which supports rural broadband networks. This program is now moving into its second phase, in which $1.8 billion will soon be offered to expand broadband in price cap areas where deployment would not occur absent subsidies.

At the same time, however, another part of the universal service program that provides $2 billion annually in support for smaller rural carriers – called rate-of-return carriers – requires modernization. Senator Thune rightly recognizes this fact, and my colleagues and I recently made a commitment to him to take action on this issue by the end of this year.


Modernization would ensure that this program reflects the realities of today’s marketplace and supports the deployment of broadband networks throughout rural America. We started this process last April when the Commission unanimously adopted a Further Notice that set forth the principles to guide our efforts in modernizing this program.


Yesterday, we took another important step as my staff, Commissioner O’Rielly and his staff, Commissioner Clyburn’s staff, and staff from the Wireline Competition Bureau met with associations and others representing rate-of-return carriers to ask for their creative cooperation in getting this job done for rural consumers. I share Commissioner O’Rielly’s vision that we can get this done if we are prepared to roll up our sleeves and work together.

I look forward to working with the rate-of-return community and my colleagues here at the FCC to fulfill our commitment to Senator Thune. In short, we have to close the rural digital divide so that all Americans, regardless of where they live, can be equal participants in the social and economic life of the 21st century United States. We all share this goal, and modernizing this program is something everyone should be able to get behind.

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AT&T Launches ‘GigaPower' in Chicago | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com

AT&T Launches ‘GigaPower' in Chicago | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

AT&T has launched its fiber-based, 1-Gig-capable “GigaPower” service in parts of Chicago, where the telco competes with Comcast and RCN Corp.

AT&T said it will initially offer GigaPower in parts of Elgin, Oswego, Plainfield, Skokie, Yorkville and “surrounding communities located throughout the metro area.” AT&T estimates that it has invested more than $3 billion on its wireless and wired networks in Illinois between 2012 through 2014.

Comcast has identified Atlanta and California as markets that will get its new FTTP-powered “Gigabit Pro,” which will deliver symmetrical 2 Gbps speeds on a targeted basis to residential customers. Comcast plans to make Gigabit Pro available to as many as 18 million homes this year, but has not yet said when it will offered in the Chicago market. Comcast also plans to offer gigabit speeds on its more broadly deployed HFC network using DOCSIS 3.1.

In Chicago, AT&T is selling stand-alone 1-Gig starting at $120 per month, or 100 Mbps starting at $90 per month, under a “Premier” tier that requires customers to participate in the telco’s Internet Preferences targeted Web advertising initiative. The 1-Gig/TV bundle starts at $150 per month, while a triple-play version starts at $180 per month. AT&T has also been applying a monthly data consumption policy to GigaPower that caps usage at 1-terabyte before charging $10 for each additional bucket of 50 Gigabytes, with a maximum monthly overage charge of $30.


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S3 Group Lines Up ‘Warning Center’ Trials | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com

S3 Group Lines Up ‘Warning Center’ Trials | Jeff Baumgartner |  Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

S3 Group said 12 pay TV operators are testing StormTest Warning Center, a platform that enables them to monitor and test new apps and services after they go live.

On the advice of operators, S3 developed this new DevOps capability to help “bridge the gap” between the end of initial testing and development in the lab to the actual launch of a new offering, John Maguire, S3’s chief strategy officer, said.

S3 Group announced its Warning Center trial update Thursday in tandem with the company’s second annual StormTest North American User Group in Philadelphia.

The need for a live-network testing system has come about as operators become more software-focused and shift from a test-and-launch to a launch-and-test mentality, while also moving away from monolithic systems and services to a model that supports the introduction of more granular “micro-services” that enhance the overall system. The trick is supporting and testing those without impacting all of the other pieces of the platform.

“They [pay TV operators] needed to continue to roll that testing into the live network,” while backing it with a cloud-based system that can run the analytics, he said. “This is a 24/7 activity…We’ve got a product platform that is particularly suited for this transition to continuous delivery.”


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Canada: Bell reaches one million IPTV customers | TeleGeography.com

Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) has announced reaching a combined total of one million IPTV customers at its Bell Canada and Bell Aliant divisions.


Bell’s IPTV coverage has now reached 6.1 million homes, up from 5.1 million at the start of 2014, including Bell Canada’s ‘Fibe TV’ service in Ontario and Quebec, and Bell Aliant’s ‘FibreOP’ TV service across Atlantic Canada and parts of northern Ontario, whilst the group adds that it is increasingly signing up small and medium business customers to IPTV too.


Including its nationwide satellite TV service, Bell is the second-largest pay-TV provider in Canada with more than 2.65 million TV customers.

With services established in major cities across six provinces, Bell is now bringing IPTV to mid-sized and smaller communities with Peterborough (Ontario), Shawinigan (Quebec), Bouctouche (New Brunswick), Liverpool (Nova Scotia) and Bay Roberts (Newfoundland & Labrador) among the ‘many’ new locations to be added in 2015.

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As Moore’s law turns 50, what does the future hold for the transistor? | Mark Walton | Ars Technica

As Moore’s law turns 50, what does the future hold for the transistor? | Mark Walton | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

"The future of integrated electronics is the future of electronics itself."

When Intel co-founder Gordon Moore began his now-famous 1965 paper (PDF) "Cramming More Components Onto Integrated Circuits" with his bold proclamation about the future of electronics, few would have believed it—especially given the cost of integrated circuits at the time. And yet, 50 years on, Moore's three-page paper has come to define the computing industry. Its most famous prediction, that the number of components on an integrated circuit would double every year (later revised down to two years a decade later) has become a self-fulfilling prophecy for the computing industry, a solid goal for the world's semiconductor manufacturers to reach for.

For the most part, it's a goal that's been ably reached. The rapid pace of technological advancement caused by Moore's law has enabled smartphones and tablets to usurp the desktop PC as the consumer's platform of choice, the likes of the PlayStation Vita to put the graphical horsepower of a PlayStation 2 (and sometimes 3) in the palm of your hand, and for AI like IBM's Watson to wipe the floor with some Jeopardy veterans. When Intel released its 8088 CPU back in 1979, the same CPU used in the original IBM PC, it came packed with 29,000 transistors built on a three-micrometer process to reach its 4.77 MHz clock speed. Today, a modern four-core Haswell processor packs in around 1.4 billion transistors built on a 22-nanometer process to reach 3GHz clock speeds.

This process of cramming more transistors onto increasingly smaller areas of silicon (now commonly referred to as Moore's law), not only exponentially increased computing power, but also—just as significantly—made them cheaper and more energy efficient. It's this combination that makes pulling a phone out of your pocket to wirelessly post pictures of your lunch to Twitter, or laugh at a particularly funny picture of someone's cat on Facebook, not only possible, but also cost-effective for the consumer, the device manufacturer, the social network, and everyone in-between.


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Google's Project Loon close to launching thousands of balloons | Martyn Williams | NetworkWorld.com

Google's Project Loon close to launching thousands of balloons | Martyn Williams | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google says its Project Loon is close to being able to produce and launch thousands of balloons to provide Internet access from the sky.

Such a number would be required to provide reliable Internet access to users in remote areas that are currently unserved by terrestrial networks, said Mike Cassidy, the Google engineer in charge of the project, in a video posted Friday.

The ambitious project has been underway for a couple of years and involves beaming down LTE cellular signals to handsets on the ground from balloons thousands of feet in the air, well above the altitude that passenger jets fly.

“At first it would take us 3 or 4 days to tape together a balloon,” Cassidy says in the video. “Today, through our own manufacturing facility, the automated systems can get a balloon produced in just a few hours. We’re getting close to the point where we can roll out thousands of balloons.”

Trials are currently underway with Telstra in Australia, Telefonica in Latin America and with Vodafone in New Zealand, where the video appears to have been largely shot. Maps tracking the path of balloons over the country are seen at several points in the video.

At a European conference in March, a Google executive said the balloons were staying aloft for up to 6 months at a time.

At some point they do come down, and Cassidy says the company has developed a system to predict where they will land and to retrieve them.

It has also worked on a reliable launching system.

“In the beginning, it was all we could do to launch one balloon a day. Now with our automated crane system, we can launch dozens of balloons a day for every crane we have,” he said.

Google hasn’t provided any details about what a commercial roll-out of the technology might look like.


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Indoor Atlas: Smartphones can navigate inside buildings using magnetic fields | Mark Gibbs | NetworkWorld.com

Indoor Atlas: Smartphones can navigate inside buildings using magnetic fields | Mark Gibbs | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Navigating outdoors is easy with GPS and when augmented augmented by WiFi the the accuracy and availability of geolocation increase significantly … until you step inside a building.

Once you’re inside and there’s no GPS signal WiFi geolocation might give you a rough fix though usually you’re effectively “off the grid.” But knowing where you are inside a structure can be crucial in large factories or office buildings. It may also be crucial for others to be able to locate you.

If you want to build an app that’s capable for geolocation within a building you should take a look at Indoor Atlas, an SDK for iOS and Android, which uses magnetometer data from your smartphone and cloud-based mapping data to locate you to within 2 meters or less in real time.

The idea behind Indoor Atlas is that buildings have predictable magnetic fields caused by structural steel, wiring, machinery, ductwork, etc., and by recording the variations and filtering out magnetic noise, you can characterize an entire building and use that data to figure out where the device might be within that environment. WiFi and Bluetooth data can also be used to improve accuracy.


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The Roomba for Lawns Is Really Pissing Off Astronomers | Davey Alba | WIRED.com

The Roomba for Lawns Is Really Pissing Off Astronomers | Davey Alba | WIRED.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Who can hate a Roomba? Astronomers, that’s who.

The robotic vacuums we all know and love ensure we don’t have to clean our own homes ourselves to get them spotless. (God forbid.) Now, the Roomba’s maker, iRobot, wants to do for lawn care what it did for vacuuming. According to filings with the FCC spotted by IEEE Spectrum, iRobot is designing a robotic mower—news that should elate lazy people the world over.

But one group is really, really unhappy about this boon to the slothful: Astronomers. Some of them are so upset, in fact, that their objections might put the kibosh on the whole thing. How could this be? In a scenario that sounds straight out of the Golden Age of sci-fi, it all comes down to robots versus telescopes, and how they all communicate.

The saga started in February, when iRobot filed a waiver request with the FCC seeking approval to use a portion of the radio spectrum to help guide its robomower. The problem with grass-cutting bots, according to iRobot’s filing, is the only way to get them to work is to dig a trench along the perimeter of a lawn and install a wire that creates the electronic fence needed to ensure the automatons don’t wander beyond the property line.

As a less arduous solution, iRobot proposes using stakes, driven into the ground, to act as beacons. The beacons will talk to the lawnbot, helping it map the area and stay within the designated boundaries. A typical user with a typical lawn (a quarter to a third of an acre) might need between four and nine beacons.

But the system requires special permission from the FCC due to its restrictions on fixed outdoor infrastructure. In a nutshell, the FCC doesn’t want people creating ad hoc networks of transmitters, which could interfere with existing authorized services like cellular and GPS systems. In its filings, iRobot says it should be exempt because it doesn’t set out to establish a broad communications network—its lawnbot networks would be tightly contained.

Astronomers say that’s not good enough. The frequency band proposed for the lawnbot (6240-6740 MHz) is the very same one several enormous radio telescopes operate on. Astronomers want the FCC to protect their share of the radio spectrum so their telescopes continue observing methanol, which abounds in regions where celestial bodies are forming.


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