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Trolls Paid by a Telecom Lobbying Firm 
Keep Commenting on My Net Neutrality Articles | Lee Fang | VICE.com

Trolls Paid by a Telecom Lobbying Firm 
Keep Commenting on My Net Neutrality Articles | Lee Fang | VICE.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Have you ever read the comment section of a blog post or news article and thought, Damn, these trolls must be paid by someone?


On the pages of VICE and an investigative website I help manage called Republic Report, I've covered the net neutrality debate—whether Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should be able to create internet fast and slow lanes, or if, instead, all content should be treated equally. A writer and attorney named Kristal High has been attacking me in the comment section throughout the year.


For a story about how civil rights groups with funding from Comcast and other telecom companies wrote a letter to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) supporting the agency’s proposal to gut net neutrality, High showed up in the comment section to call me "paternalistic." After I published a story last week about how a Comcast-affiliated African American news outlet decided to delete a story I wrote about net neutrality upon being contacted by an advocacy group tied to the telecom industry, High appeared in the comment section once again to troll me. She claimed that I am wrong to be critical of the FCC's plan and that I have been wasting my time by focusing on the "lobbying dollars" spent in the debate.


Well, speaking of lobbying dollars, High just admitted on-air that she is being paid by the DCI Group, a lobbying firm founded by Republican operatives to defend the tobacco industry. DCI Group now represents many current net neutrality opponents, including Verizon and Broadband for America, a front for major cable companies we previously investigated at VICE.


High's disclosure went down in a fairly unusual way.

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Massachusetts Senate directs state to be ready to collect Internet sales tax | Shira Schoenberg | MassLive.com

Massachusetts Senate directs state to be ready to collect Internet sales tax | Shira Schoenberg | MassLive.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

After a lengthy debate, the Massachusetts Senate on Thursday approved a bill that would direct the state's Department of Revenue to prepare for the passage of a federal law that would allow Massachusetts to collect state sales tax from Internet sellers.

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue has estimated that passage of the federal law would allow Massachusetts to collect between $150 million and $200 million a year.

Although the bill, S.1974, would make only procedural changes until Congress acts, there was a partisan debate in the state Senate about whether the bill constitutes a tax increase.

The bill passed 32 to six, with Democrats voting for it and Republicans voting against it.

State Sen. Michael Rodrigues, D-Westport, chairman of the Joint Committee on Revenue, said there is no tax increase. Rather, there would be a change that will allow the state to collect taxes that are already owed, but are not collected, if Congress changes a federal law.


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Hacker shows he can locate, unlock and remote start GM vehicles | Lucas Mearian | NetworkWorld.com

Hacker shows he can locate, unlock and remote start GM vehicles | Lucas Mearian | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A security researcher has posted a video on YouTube demonstrating how a device he made can intercept wireless communications to locate, unlock and remotely start GM vehicles that use the OnStar RemoteLink mobile app.

Samy Kamkar, who refers to himself as a hacker and whistleblower, posted the video today showing him using a device he calls OwnStar. The device, he said, intercepts communications between GM's OnStar RemoteLink mobile app and the OnStar cloud service.


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FCC Republicans: Start Clock on Charter-TWC | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

FCC Republicans: Start Clock on Charter-TWC | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Republican FCC Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly said Thursday (July 30) that the agency should launch the merger review shot clock on the Charter-TWC deal and begin its review while they continue to vet the protective orders for the deal, which they say represent changes to commission policy not confined to merger reviews.

Those orders are also responsive to a court remand giving it a chance to better defend how the FCC handles access to merger documents after the court vacated protective orders in the Comcast/Time Warner Cable and AT&T/DirecTV mergers.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler circulated the Charter/TWC protective orders earlier this week and the FCC's Media Bureau signaled a pleading cycle would start once those orders were in place, which requires a full commission vote given that they deal with underlying procedures per the court remand. (http://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/washington/wheeler-circulates-char...)


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Setting the Record Straight on Set Top Boxes | Platform | NCTA.com

Setting the Record Straight on Set Top Boxes | Platform | NCTA.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Senators Edward Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) recently repeated a number of claims about the state of the marketplace for video devices and the presumed effects of last year’s STELA Reauthorization Act of 2014 (STELAR) on retail set-top boxes. Regrettably, however, their claims misread the STELAR statute, the impact of changes that were supported on a bipartisan basis, and the state of the video device marketplace.

It’s simply not accurate to say that “cable companies will no longer be required to make their services compatible with outside set-top boxes, like TiVo for example, bought directly by consumers in the retail marketplace,” thereby “doom[ing] consumers to being captive to cable company rental fees forever.”


In fact, the STELAR provision at issue – the sunset of the FCC much maligned “integration ban” rule — does not affect the market for retail devices. It merely eliminates an FCC-compelled obligation that required cable operators – and cable operators alone – to include an unnecessary piece of hardware (i.e., a CableCARD) in the set-top boxes they provide to their customers. For years this mandate has forced cable customers with leased set-top boxes to bear added costs and higher energy use while offering no consumer benefit.


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OR: Eugene Opens Up Dark Fiber for Commercial Connectivity | community broadband networks

OR: Eugene Opens Up Dark Fiber for Commercial Connectivity | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Businesses are now finding affordable connectivity in Eugene, Oregon, through a partnership between the city, the Lane Council of Governments (LCOG), and the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB), reports the Register-Guard. A new pilot project has spurred gigabit Internet access in a small downtown area for as little as $100 per month.

According to the article, the city contributed $100,000, LCOG added $15,000, and EWEB spent $25,000 to fund last mile connections to two commercial locations. LCOG's contribution came from an $8.3 million BTOP grant.

The fiber shares conduit space with EWEB's electrical lines; the dark fiber is leased to private ISPs who provide retail services. XS Media and Hunter Communications are serving customers; other firms have expressed an interest in using the infrastructure.


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More Than 65,000 Homes in Quebec to Benefit from Better Broadband Connections | Benzinga.com

More Than 65,000 Homes in Quebec to Benefit from Better Broadband Connections | Benzinga.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Everyday tasks that were once done in person, such as shopping, communicating, learning and banking, are now done online. To help Canadian communities, businesses and families have better access to these and many other online opportunities, the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, on behalf of the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Industry, together with Pierre Arcand, Quebec Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Minister responsible for the Plan Nord and Minister responsible for the Cote-Nord region, today announced that the Government of Canada will provide 13 companies and organizations with up to $146.68 million to connect more than 65,000 homes throughout Quebec to faster Internet services.

The Ministers highlighted the fact that more than 65,000 households across the province will benefit from today's announcement. These broadband infrastructure projects are expected to be completed by the end of 2017, with some completed as soon as the end of 2015, delivering Internet download speeds of up to 15 megabits per second (Mbps), three times as fast as the national target speed of 5 Mbps.


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An Update on Our Appeal of the FCC’s Title II Order | NCTA.com

An Update on Our Appeal of the FCC’s Title II Order | NCTA.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Today, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and other petitioners filed our joint legal brief with the D.C. Circuit highlighting the reasons why the FCC’s February 2015 order to subject broadband Internet to public utility-style regulation under Title II of the Communications Act was unlawful. The filing is a must read for those who have been following net neutrality since the mid 2000’s (or more recently) and strongly rebukes the FCC’s rationale for their unnecessary action.

With the FCC’s Title II order now before the Court, it’s important to restate something we have already said repeatedly – we are not appealing the FCC action because of net neutrality. In fact, we have been vocal in our support of the FCC crafting reasonable net neutrality protections for consumers.


Unfortunately, the FCC went well beyond that sensible mission and chose to impose an outdated, far-reaching and punitive regulatory model on today’s dynamic Internet. With Title II opening the door for rate regulation, higher taxes and fees and the ability for government the set the terms and conditions of business relationships, we had no choice but to appeal.


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Updated: Sens. Slam Pay TV Set-Top Market | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

Updated: Sens. Slam Pay TV Set-Top Market |  John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) say information they collected from the top 10 pay TV providers indicates a continuing lack of choice and competition in the Pay TV video set-top box market.

That comes as the FCC works on a downloadable set-top security successor to the CableCARD after its integration ban was legislated away in the STELAR satellite reauthorization legislation.

Markey and Blumenthal decried that lack of competition (the ban was scrapped in part because it had failed to prompt a robust competitive box market) and said their info showed that households were spending north of $231 per year on set-top rental fees.

The senators asked for the info last November.


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Policy by the Numbers: Bridging the Digital Divide in Gigabit Cities | Denise Linn | Policy By The Numbers

Denise Linn conducted this research as an MPP Candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School. She is currently a Program Analyst at the Smart Chicago Collaborative.

With the rise of coalitions like Next Century Cities and Gig.U and the development of groundbreaking networks in cities like Chattanooga and Kansas City, the buzz surrounding gigabit Internet speeds has swelled in the US. Cities are working closely with companies like Google Fiber or even building out fiber-optic infrastructure themselves. The suggested rewards of these investments include stronger local economies, vibrant tech startup scenes, progress in distance learning, telemedicine, research—and the list goes on.

But when superfast gigabit speeds are available in a city, what does that mean for people beyond tech entrepreneurs and other heavy Internet users? How can cities make sure that technological innovation lifts up the lives of every resident? This all leads to the ultimate question I examined in my recent research: What does the availability of high speed Internet mean for the digital divide?


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Celebrating 20 Years at the Benton Foundation | Kevin Taglang | Benton Foundation

Celebrating 20 Years at the Benton Foundation | Kevin Taglang | Benton Foundation | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

“Welcome to the Benton vortex,” a colleague said to me 20 years ago today and, noticing how startled I appeared added, “Don’t get me wrong; it’s a very nice vortex.”

That’s how it started for me, a nervous man of 29 – new to DC, a couple of weeks away from being married, just out of Northwestern University’s graduate program and in my first “real” job or, for sure, the first job in what I hoped to be a career.

Telecommunications policy, of course, was a hot topic in August 1995. The Telecommunications Act was still being debated and tweaked daily, it seemed. And we were all wondering how the Internet would impact communications.

Not because of my anniversary, but because of the passing of our founder, Charles Benton, this spring, we’ve all been a bit reflective the past few months. Lately I’ve recalled my first encounter with Charles who, for me in those days, was not “the boss” but my boss’ boss’ boss. At a DC reception, Charles spotted Andrew Blau, the policy director who hired me on, and started to inquire, in a not-soft voice, “Andrew, who wrote this memo? Who wrote this memo?” I noticed he was holding a brief that I, in fact, had written. Andrew did a half turn and said, “Well, Charles, the author is right here. Let me introduce you to our new associate, Kevin Taglang.” I was like a deer in headlights, sure that what I had written must have enraged Charles – why else was he yelling at this party? “Fabulous! Absolutely fabulous,” Charles bellowed – and then launched into the finer points of the brief and two or three changes he had (he was a great editor).

This year, I’ve been thinking back to realize that Charles was in his mid-60s when first we met; the age when most are thinking of retiring. And I appreciate all the more how much we got done together in the next twenty years because Charles was not the retiring type.


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Consumers Storm FCC With 2,000+ Net Neutrality Complaints About Data Caps, Poor Service | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Consumers Storm FCC With 2,000+ Net Neutrality Complaints About Data Caps, Poor Service | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It didn’t take long for consumers to start flooding the Federal Communications Commission with thousands of complaints about poor Internet service, usage caps, and speed throttles.

The complaints arrived as the FCC began formally enforcing Net Neutrality by reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service, subject to oversight by the federal agency.

Consumers used the occasion to deluge the commission about the sorry state of Internet access in the United States, whether it constituted a Net Neutrality violation or not.

National Journal obtained a sample of 50 complaints through a Freedom of Information Act request and it was clear data caps were at or near the top of the complaints list and consumers wasted no time slamming cable and phone companies over the practice.


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Comcast Messing Around With MSNBC Again; Major Program Shifts Help Comcast's Politics | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Comcast Messing Around With MSNBC Again; Major Program Shifts Help Comcast's Politics | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Morale at MSNBC is reported to be very low this week as Comcast/NBC imposes some major programming changes that don’t seem to make much sense.

The cancellation of The Ed Show, hosted by Ed Schultz, has proved to be the most controversial, sparking a protest from a presidential candidate and new questions about how much influence Comcast brings to bear on how the news is reported.

Although never a ratings king, Schultz’s pro-labor, very anti-TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership — the latest controversial trade agreement) views, along with his harangues against executive pay and wealth inequality run contrary to the business agenda of parent company Comcast. While many other MSNBC meh-rated shows survived the culling, Schultz is out, along with The Cycle and Now with Alex Wagner.

Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders is not happy:


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Wired to fail? Or learning to wire hard to serve places with government support? | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

I’ve seen two articles this week that address or allude to the amount of money being spent to get more people online. One addresses the efforts spent on broadband adoption efforts – and I hope to talk about that soon. The other talks about federal funding (the 2011 ARRA stimulus funds) to deploy broadband. Specifically Politico looks at the Rural Utility Service (RUS) and investigates what they did wrong as they administered the broadband deployment funds.

What concerns me is that we’re going to throw out the baby with the bathwater!

It’s important to look at history – but at least from my chair, I’m much less concerned about blame as I am about how can we learn from history to make broadband deployment better.


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Facebook aims to launch unmanned drone by year-end | Zach Miners | NetworkWorld.com

Facebook aims to launch unmanned drone by year-end | Zach Miners | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

At 140 feet, it has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, but carries no passengers—and it’s much lighter too, weighing in at no more than 1,000 pounds. And within the next couple months, Facebook hopes to get its drone off the ground on an inaugural test flight.

Named Aquila, the aircraft is the product of more than a year’s work at the social networking giant. Its function is not to drop retail items from the clouds like Amazon’s drones, but to provide Internet access to the hundreds of millions of people who don’t have it in under-served parts of the world. Facebook aims to partner with carriers and other companies to provide connectivity, potentially at a lower cost than typical infrastructure like cell phone towers.

Aquila comes out of Facebook’s Connectivity Lab, formed last year to develop new technologies for expanding Internet access. The company also hired team members from U.K.-based unmanned aircraft maker Ascenta.


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AT&T refuses to pay $100 million FCC fine, suggests $16,000 max | Ryan Whitwam | Geek.com

AT&T refuses to pay $100 million FCC fine, suggests $16,000 max | Ryan Whitwam | Geek.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

AT&T was hit with a massive $100 million fine by the FCC several weeks ago in response to its throttling of unlimited data customers, but now the carrier is asking that decision to be reversed.


Even if it cannot get the commission’s verdict set aside, it’s asking that the fine be capped at a much lower amount. What does AT&T think is reasonable? $16,000 max. So, that’s 0.016% of the original fine.


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Questioning Federal Broadband Spending | Kevin Taglang | Benton Foundation

Questioning Federal Broadband Spending | Kevin Taglang | Benton Foundation | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The vast majority of Americans are online. And, over time, the offline population has been shrinking. The highly-respected Pew Research Center released an analysis this week highlighting that 15 percent of all U.S. adults do not use the Internet – a fraction of the number (48%) in 2000, but a figure that is mainly unchanged in the past three years.

A number of demographic variables, including age, educational attainment, household income, race and ethnicity, and community type contribute to non-adoption:

  • Seniors are the group most likely to say they never go online.
  • A third of adults with less than a high school education do not use the Internet, but that share falls as the level of educational attainment increases.
  • Adults from households earning less than $30,000 a year are roughly eight times more likely than the most affluent adults to not use the Internet.
  • One-in-five blacks and 18% of Hispanics do not use the Internet, compared with 14% of whites and only 5% of English-speaking Asian-Americans – the racial or ethnic group least likely to be offline.
  • Rural Americans are about twice as likely as those who live in urban or suburban settings to never use the Internet.


Brian Fung of the Washington Post wrote in response to the Pew analysis, “It might seem inconceivable that in 2015 there could still be Americans who don't use the Internet — but they exist. Far from being irrelevant to modern society, they're increasingly the target of millions, if not billions, of dollars of taxpayer and private funding for Internet access. And that makes them a really important slice of the population.”

Politico Report on Rural Broadband Stimulus

Politico this week published a scathing critique of one program responsible for billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars spent to improve broadband access in the country’s hardest to serve areas. The National Broadband Map — completed in 2010, and updated again this year — shows that 50 percent of Americans in rural areas don’t have high-speed Internet in the way the Federal Communications Commission now defines it.


In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act made up to $2.5 billion available to the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) to extend broadband’s reach in rural areas. The purpose of the RUS loan program is to increase broadband deployment (that is, the number of broadband subscribers with access to new or improved broadband service) and economic opportunity in rural America through the provision of broadband services. Politico’s Tony Romm concludes that RUS’ program never found its footing in the digital age.


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Comcast Finds Excuses to Avoid Installing Gigabit Pro Fiber; Construction Costs Seem to Matter | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Comcast Finds Excuses to Avoid Installing Gigabit Pro Fiber; Construction Costs Seem to Matter | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast is rejecting some requests for its new 2Gbps fiber to the home service, claiming construction costs to provide the service to some homes are too high, even for customers living 0.15 of a mile from Comcast’s nearest fiber optic connection point.

Stop the Cap! reader Thomas, who wishes to withhold his last name, was excited at the prospect of signing up for Comcast’s 2Gbps broadband service for his home-based Internet business, despite the steep $1,000 installation fee and $159/mo promotional price he saw in the media.

“For the average person just looking for a faster connection at home, 2Gbps is absolute overkill, but if you run a home-based business that depends on a fast Internet connection, Comcast’s prices are a lot more reasonable than a Metro Ethernet or fiber solution from AT&T,” Thomas said.


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Doug Dawson explains why telco wireless can't substitute for FTTP | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom

Doug Dawson explains why telco wireless can't substitute for FTTP | Fred Pilot | Eldo Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

What is 5G? | POTs and PANs: What all of this means is that a 5G network is going to require a lot more cell sites packed closer together than today’s network. That has a lot of implications. First, it means a lot more investment in towers or in mini-cell sites of some type. But it also means a lot more fiber to feed the new cell sites. And those two factors together mean that any 5G solution is likely to be an urban solution only, or a suburban solution only for those places where a lot of users are packed tightly together. No wireless company is going to invest in a lot more 5G towers and fiber to cover suburban housing sprawl and certainly nobody will invest in the technology in rural areas.

We already have a cellular wireless divide today with urban areas getting pretty decent 4G and rural areas with 3G and even some 2G. Expect that gulf to become greater as high-bandwidth technologies come into play. This is the big catch-22 of wireless. Rural jurisdictions have always been told to wait a while and not clamor for fiber because there will eventually be a great wireless solution for them. But nobody is going to invest in rural 5G any more than they have invested in rural fiber. So even if 5G is made to work, it’s not going to bring a wireless solution to anywhere outside of cities.

Doug Dawson provides a good explanation of why the economics and technology of telco wireless service -- including the next generation 5G service -- can't provide an economical solution compared to fiber to premise. Aside from spectrum providing inadequate bandwidth for growing household demand that only fiber can satisfy, telcos would have to invest in a lot more cell sites to feed the network, which as Dawson explains can't pencil out except in very densely populated areas.


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This controversial Internet policy has divided Americans for years. Now Canada’s just adopted it. | Brian Fung | WashPost

This controversial Internet policy has divided Americans for years. Now Canada’s just adopted it. | Brian Fung | WashPost | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Let's play a game. What if any company could go to Verizon and say, "I want to sell Internet service using your FiOS network, but under my own brand"? Under today's rules, Verizon could say no — and with good reason. After all, allowing rivals to piggyback off of pipes you built and paid for simply gives them an advantage. But under a recent change in Canadian policy, a company like Verizon would have to say yes.

It sounds like a small difference. But Canada hopes it will have a big impact, ranging from lowering the cost of Internet access to consumers to generating more market competition. And how it plays out will offer some important lessons for the United States, where the idea has been hugely controversial.

"Large incumbent companies will now have to make their fibre facilities available to their competitors," said Canada's top telecom regulator, the CRTC, in a statement last week. "This measure will ensure that Canadians have more choice for high-speed Internet services and are able to fully leverage the benefits of the broadband home or business."


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You’re paying a shocking amount to rent cable boxes every year | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

You’re paying a shocking amount to rent cable boxes every year | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

With the money you spend renting your cable box every year, you could buy a whole separate TV.

On average, Americans pay $231 a year to use their TV providers' set-top boxes, according to new figures from a Senate study. If you break that down, it adds up to nearly 50 Big Macs from McDonald's, or 65 lattes from Starbucks, or a 32-inch LED TV from Samsung.

The finding isn't likely to sit well with consumers who believe they're already being charged too much by their cable or satellite service companies. And for Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), that's the whole point: The two lawmakers are incensed by what they say is a lack of choice in the set-top box market, with 99 percent of pay-TV subscribers renting their boxes from companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable and DirecTV.

"Consumers should not be forced to rent video boxes from their pay-TV provider in perpetuity," said Markey.


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Marcus: OTT Resistance Is ‘Foolish’ | Mike Farrell | Multichannel.com

Marcus: OTT Resistance Is ‘Foolish’ | Mike Farrell | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Time Warner Cable chairman and CEO Rob Marcus told analysts Thursday that the cable industry should embrace over-the-top video, but added that at this stage of the game, the full cable bundle still appears to present the best value.

“At the highest level, we embrace over-the-top video,” Marcus said on a conference call to discuss second quarter results. “It highlights the value of the high-speed data offering that we deliver. We think it would be foolish to resist what might otherwise be an attractive behavioral trend.”

At the same time, Marcus said operators want to make sure they don’t lose customers to OTT and so far he said cable offers more content, better picture quality and more on demand choice.

“I feel like we can compete on that front,” Marcus said. “To the extent we don’t, shame on us.”


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New Leak Confirms the Secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership Is a Horrorshow | Jordan Pearson | Motherboard

New Leak Confirms the Secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership Is a Horrorshow | Jordan Pearson | Motherboard | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

At a luxury hotel in Maui, representatives from the 12 countries participating in the highly controversial and secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal are negotiating behind closed doors. Thanks to a secret letter from a 2013 meeting, released today by WikiLeaks, we now have a clearer idea of what they’re discussing.

Unsurprisingly, based on what we know about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, so far, the letter is mostly about limiting the power of government in favour of private commercial development.

The TPP is a massive free trade deal that is set to impact everything from the cost of medicine in Australia, to milk production in Canada, to internet governance the world over. The letter was drafted for a ministerial meeting of the TPP countries in early December, 2013, and seeks guidance on key topics relating to the negotiations. Namely, how state-owned enterprises (SOEs) should be treated under the trade deal.

According to the letter, “the majority of TPP countries” support obligations for these companies—which can include public utilities, telecommunication providers, mining companies, and state-run investment firms—that “go beyond existing obligations” laid out in existing free trade agreements and by the World Trade Organization.


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FCC Chairman Wheeler Circulates Charter-TWC Protective Orders | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

FCC Chairman Wheeler Circulates Charter-TWC Protective Orders | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The FCC should be getting closer to soliciting public and industry comment--and launching its informal shot clock--on the proposed Charter-Time Warner Cable merger now that a protective order has been issued for information in the deal.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler signaled at a Hill hearing this week that he had circulated for a commission-level vote an order responsive to a federal appeals court remand of the FCC's decision in a protective order to make program contract documents available to third parties in the Comcast-Time Warner Cable and AT&T-DirecTV mergers.

Sources say that comes in the form of a new protective order for documents in the proposed Charter-TWC deal, but an order that is also responsive to the court's issues with how the FCC handled the previous protective order.

Such orders set out how relevant, sensitive, documents submitted by the companies for FCC perusal are handled, including how they are made available to outside parties interested in the deal.


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This idea by the FCC is terrifying Apple, Amazon and Microsoft | Cecilia Kang | WashPost.com

This idea by the FCC is terrifying Apple, Amazon and Microsoft | Cecilia Kang | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Streaming video services by Apple, Amazon and Google have thrived off the idea that they are alternatives to cable TV. Now, the Federal Communications Commission is considering if it should begin to regulate online video services, like they do cable companies. And that's causing anxiety in Silicon Valley.

As early as October, the FCC is expected to vote on a proposal that would put some streaming video firms into the same regulatory bucket as multichannel video programming distributors, or cable and satellite TV firms, such as Comcast, Dish Network and Cox. The idea, according to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, is to help online video providers become stronger competitors to cable and satellite firms by making it easier to obtain valuable TV programming for the Web.

Under the plan, streaming companies would be able to use the FCC's program access rules to ensure TV networks offer the licensing of their programs. That would allow Apple, for instance, to bring ABC, NBC and Comedy Central to the bargaining table for their programs.

Small streaming companies, such as SkyAngel, Pluto TV and FilmOn, are championing the idea. But big tech firms don't like it.


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I Do It For My Aunt Ethel | Bruce Kushnick Blog | HuffPost.com

I Do It For My Aunt Ethel | Bruce Kushnick Blog | HuffPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

I was sitting here about to explain how we got into this telecom mess and why things will get worse unless we stop it, and throw in why you should read my new book. But then I started to reflect on how I ended up in the mess -- this personal journey about my love and obsession with, well, telecommunications (though you may call it broadband, Internet, cable, wireless, etc).

For me, it started with a gang of my friends from Brooklyn Technical High School, taking the train to the New York City World's Fair, circa 1965, and running around like maniacs, trying then-AT&T's fiber optic-based video-conferencing system, where you could go into an egg-shaped 'phone room', and like magic, see you other friends in other eggs spread throughout the Fair. And it was everywhere. Star Trek, the original TV series, had large screens to talk to the other space ships and aliens, and even in the 1968 movie, 2001: a Space Odyssey, you could talk and see your loved ones, even if you were on the way to the moon.

And having a technical bent, and my other obsession, 'sound', (been playing the piano for 59 years), and then finding myself working in the psychoacoustics labs at MIT (sound and technology) in the 1970s, to being a senior telecom analyst for International Data Corp's Link Resources in the '80s, I would, over the next few decades, help to shape the Interactive Age, rolling out new products and services, like the first three-digit information service, "511", with Cox Newspapers, way back in 1992.

And by the 1990s I was expecting to see my friend's children, my god-children, cousins and nephews grow up, watching them on the TV set, even though they were spread across the US (and in far off lands) and me and my clients, the phone companies, would make this happen.

In 1992, however, three things happened that sometimes I wish I just didn't have a conscience, or ethics, or could have looked the other way. I have to blame my mom and dad (resting in peace) for this. My mom was feisty, and when she didn't like something she would try to fix it. I'll never forget that canned ham that was 1/3 of the size of the can and she was so annoyed she wrote the company and got a new one... with an apology. Or my dad's belief was that at your core you are an ethical person; you don't lie, you don't cheat someone, and you do your best, always, even if it was harder to do.

And, foolish me, of course, I bought into that line for the original Superman TV show, 'Truth, justice and the American way'.

So, by 1992, I'm somewhat rich, almost famous, (was on the front page of the NY Times in 1988, for example) and traveling around the world talking up about how my clients, now AT&T, Verizon and Centurylink were going to change the way we communicate with this thing called the "Information Superhighway". It was a plan laid out by the Clinton-Gore campaign to have America completely rewired with fiber optics, replacing the existing copper wires, which were going to be built and managed by the telecommunications utilities, and it would be all done by some far off date... the year 2010.

But it was those three, damn things that just got in way.


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