Major Internet companies are urging the federal government to consider blocking state laws that ban cities from building out their own Internet networks.
In a filing with the Federal Communications Commission on Friday, The Internet Association refrained from an explicit call for the agency to strike down laws in two states, but said that the FCC was in the right to at least examine the laws and see if they inhibit competition.
The FCC “should use the full weight of its authority to prevent any private or public entity from inhibiting the deployment of broadband networks or standing in the way of increased competition in providing those services,” wrote the group, which includes Google, Yahoo, Netflix and other industry titans.
The NetAmerica Alliance has announced that Buggs Island Telephone Cooperative (BIT Communications) has launched 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) service under the NetAmerica Alliance service brand, Bonfire. BIT Communications, which is headquartered in Bracey, Virginia, has rolled out an LTE network which currently consists of nine sites covering Amelia, Brunswick, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg and Nottoway counties.
In 2010 BIT was awarded a National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) federal broadband stimulus grant and a Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalisation Commission grant to help construct the wireless broadband network; the grants totalled USD18.9 million. BIT, which was founded in 1951, currently provides wireline, ADSL and wireless broadband connectivity to south central Virginia.
AT&T Inc is ‘intrigued’ by the expansion opportunities presented by Latin America, and Mexico in particular, chief strategy officer John Stankey has admitted. According to Reuters, Stankey declined to comment on media reports linking AT&T to certain America Movil (AM) assets in Mexico, but conceded: ‘I think we would be asleep at the wheel [if we were not interested] and we are not historically known to do that … So yes, we are intrigued by it … and I think when you are in the M&A game, you learn that you can’t always force your timing. Sometimes timing has to come to you. And exactly how that is going to work out – who knows?’
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, AM owner Carlos Slim is ready to sell off parts of his Mexican telecoms business in an effort to cut his company’s market share across the sector below the 50% mark, thus avoiding regulations that apply only to dominant players, and cease being a ‘preponderant economic agent’.
Yesterday it was reported that AM had contacted four potential suitors – AT&T Inc, Softbank Corp of Japan, Bell Canada and China Mobile – with a view to selling Telmex and Telcel assets in a strip of states from north to south, along Mexico’s eastern coast. The package has been valued at USD20 billion.
The last time I wrote about big data, in July, I called it a big, distracting bubble. But it's worse than that. Big data is an ideology. A religion. One of its most important gospels is, of course, at Wired.
In 2008, Chris Anderson talked up a thing called The Petabyte Age in The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete.
"The new availability of huge amounts of data, along with the statistical tools to crunch these numbers, offers a whole new way of understanding the world. Correlation supersedes causation, and science can advance even without coherent models, unified theories, or really any mechanistic explanation at all," he wrote.
Declaring the scientific method dead after 2,700 years is quite a claim. Hubris, even. But, Anderson wrote, "There's no reason to cling to our old ways." Oh, OK then.
Now, this isn't the first set of claims that correlation would supersede causation, and that the next iteration of computing practices would "make everything different".
"Japan's Fifth Generation Project of the early 1980s generated similar enthusiasm, and many believed it would make Japan dominant in computing within a decade, based on parallel processing and an earlier iteration of 'massive' databases. Now, obviously that didn't happen, and it was an expensive and embarrassing failure," said Graham Greenleaf, professor of Law and Information Systems at the University of New South Wales, on Tuesday night.
Greenleaf was speaking at the launch of the latest UNSW Law Journal, to be posted on its website early next week, which includes a theme section on "Communications Surveillance, Big Data, and the Law". Greenleaf described that section as "pessimistic".
Privacy issues are obviously a concern. As I've said before, privacy fears could burst the second dot-com bubble. But the journal articles also cover issues of discrimination, automated decision making, democracy, and the public's right to access information.
In today's edition, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal introduces the recipients of its 2014 Titans of Technology awards, honoring the region's outstanding tech professionals and their supporters.
The awards are an outgrowth of our CIO of the Year awards, which were confined strictly to the top IT officers at companies. The Titans of Tech honors, in contrast, are open to CEOs, inventors, advocates, successful VC-winners and so on. (We've already made the joke about feature-creep.)
The awards will be presented at a luncheon event next week ( more information and registration here).
The inaugural inductees into our Titans of Technology Hall of Fame: Phil Soran, Larry Aszmann and John Guider, the trio who launched Xiotech Corp. and Compellent Technologies Inc., two of the Twin Cities biggest tech success stories of the past two decades. ( Read more about them here.)
Other categories and honorees are below. Click the links to read more.
Click headline to read more and access hot links--
The National Association of Broadcasters is telling the FCC that if it decides to approve the AT&T/DirecTV merger, it should consider putting in a condition requiring DirecTV to offer local TV stations in all 210 markets.
Unlike cable operators, satellite operators do not have to provide TV stations wherever they provide service, though if they provide one, they must provide all.
NAB does not take a position on whether or not the deal should be approved — though it clearly has issues, particularly when the FCC has not loosened broadcast ownership restrictions. "Allowing unfettered consolidation among MVPDs while broadcasters continue to operate under decades-old rules would be arbitrary and capricious," it said.
But in its comments to the FCC filed Tuesday, NAB points out that DirecTV does not deliver local TV station signals to 13 TV markets and sees the deal as a way to rectify that.
AT&T and DirecTV announced as part of the deal that it would “expand and enhance high-speed broadband service to 15 million customer locations, mostly in underserved rural areas where AT&T does not provide high-speed broadband service,” NAB pointed out.
It suggested that a similar commitment to expanding so-called "local-into-local" TV service to all 210 TV markets in the same time frame would be an "ideal complement."
There are now more than 20 networks with LTE-Advanced live around the globe, and that number could double by the end of 2015.
Chris Pearson, the president of the 4G Americas trade group, told Light Reading recently that he expects the number of live LTE-A networks to at least double by the end of the year. The early deployments are in North America, parts of Asia and North America.
The Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) , meanwhile, said this week that 79 operators have launched or are deploying or trialing LTE-Advanced technologies in their networks. It says there are 21 networks worldwide with LTE-Advanced features switched on now.
Clearly, 2015 will be a year of growth for LTE-A networks and services around the world. As 4G Americas' Pearson says, 4G LTE still has "a lot of road," with LTE-Advanced and other updates such as VoLTE now starting to go live.
Residents of North Kansas City are unable to get Google Fiber, but they will soon have the option of getting 1 Gbps connections for free from another company -- after an initial $300 installation fee.
Earlier this month the City Council of North Kansas City voted to approve a 10-year agreement with DataShack for the operation of the city's liNKCity fiber optic network. While the taxpayer-funded network will still collect revenue from business, it will soon offer 1 Gbps connections for free to residential customers after a $300 installation fee (users also have the option of paying $100 for 100 Mbps or $50 for 50 Mbps), after which they won't pay another dime for a decade.
"For the longest time, our taxpayers have been paying in to fund liNKCity," states liNKCity's Mellissa Hopkins. "We decided it was the right time to give something back to our residents."
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), an independent authority within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration that's responsible for deploying the nation’s first unified communications network for first responders, took three steps forward on Sept. 17. The FirstNet board released a public notice, a request for information (RFI), and a budget for fiscal 2015.
The released public notice and RFI are both intended to enrich the development of the nationwide network and ensure FirstNet’s objectives are in line with the legal requirements and technical capabilities of the telecommunications industry. The public notice reportedly serves to reach a wider audience through publication in the Federal Register.
Cox Communications says the company is on schedule to deploy 1 Gbps services in the Phoenix area sometime before the end of the year.
Back in May Cox announced that they'd soon offer 1 Gbps fiber in parts of Phoenix, Las Vegas and Omaha, with most of the company's other areas getting such speeds starting in 2016 once the DOCSIS 3.1 standard sees commercial launch.
Despite the fact the speeds, like most 1 Gbps deployments, will only be made available to very select areas, Cox insists to Multichannel News that they aren't cherry picking:
In a speech made yesterday before the U.S House of Representatives Committe on Small Business, FCC boss Tom Wheeler declared that the United States should stop funding the deployment of any speeds slower than 10 Mbps downstream. The speech is part of Wheeler's recent push to raise the minimum broadband definition from 4 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up -- something that has been greeted with a significant amount of hand-wringing from incumbent ISPs.
In his speech yesterday, Wheeler put forth his case that if you're going to subsidize broadband deployment, you should at least get speeds in tune with modern consumer needs. Ars Technica notes that Wheeler hammered this point home in a subsequent Q&A on Capitol Hill.
"When 60 percent of the Internet’s traffic at prime time is video, and it takes 4 or 5Mbps to deliver video, a 4Mbps connection isn’t exactly what’s necessary in the 21st century," said Wheeler.
"And when you have half a dozen different devices, wireless and other connected devices in a home that are all going against that bandwidth, it’s not enough. What we are saying is we can’t make the mistake of spending the people’s money, which is what Universal Service is, to continue to subsidize something that’s subpar."
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler spoke to Multichannel News in an interview that touches on a number of subjects, covering everything from net neutrality and the reclassification of ISPs under Title II, to the possible renaming of the Washington Redskins. Wheeler doesn't show his hand on most of the subjects related to neutrality and Title II, given the agency is still fielding comments (and about to have a series of roundtable discussions on the matter over the next two months.
Wheeler was however willing to talk a little bit about the FCC's push to raise the current minimum broadband definition of 4 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up. According to Wheeler, he's aiming for at least 10 Mbps down (for rural, subsidized deployments) and 25 Mbps in most developed markets:
Sooner or later this had to happen. Back in August, with no warning, the PACER electronic court document system, overseen by the Administrative Office of the judicial system, announced that as part of an "upgrade" it had deleted a bunch of cases.
Once this started getting some attention, officials gave a weak, nonsensical "explanation" for why no one could figure out how to take some PDFs and move them to the new system. As for why it couldn't work with many, many public-service oriented archivers -- who all offered to host the deleted works -- no answer was ever given.
Recently, however, Congress started to ask questions, and then all of a sudden the Administrative Office decided to wake up to the fact that this was a bad idea. The missing documents will soon be back.
A team of researchers from Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, has created prototype radio-on-a-chip communications devices that are powered by ambient radio waves. Comprising receiving and transmitting antennas and a central processor, the completely self-contained ant-sized devices are very cheap to manufacture, don't require batteries to run and could give the "Internet of Things" (IoT) a serious kick start.
The wireless chip is designed to address the growing demand for smart sensors and remote control of devices by combining wireless communication, inbuilt logic control, and remote sensing. As micro-miniature intelligent radio devices like these can receive, process and transmit data, the researchers believe their tiny chips may serve as the missing link required to connect a vast array of gadgets to the internet and therefore each other and make the IoT a reality.
"The next exponential growth in connectivity will be connecting objects together and giving us remote control through the Web," said Amin Arbabian, assistant professor of electrical engineering at Stanford, and the principal designer of the new devices. "We're ultimately talking about connecting trillions of devices."
Click headline to read more and watch video clip--
This was a rather impressive map and statistics from CME group showing the rapid growth of mobile device use accessing markets. I might add that though I haven’t kept track of numbers, it seems that rather suddenly many of this site’s readers are also now accessing through mobile phones. (The current percent for this site is 40 percent mobile devices but I’ve seen some days higher than that.)
For all the talk about big data and how it can help us track down needles in haystacks, there’s still a lot of work to when it comes to issues like public health. When successful intervention might require timelines of minutes or hours rather than days, it takes a might keen eye to monitor lots of needles in lots of haystacks and, more importantly, spot new and important ones as they pop up.
We’ve been following news out of the Global Database of Events, Languages and Tones (GDELT) project for the past several months, and it’s very impressive as a tool for historical analysis of the world’s happenings. It takes and indexes real-time streams from news sources around the world, and now includes hundreds of millions data points spanning the past 35 years. It has been used for all sorts of analyses so far, ranging from tracking the spread of terrorist groups to comparing how activity patterns of today’s political uprisings compare to those of decades past.
But in a blog post published on Saturday, GDELT project leader Kalev Leetaru points out a major limitation of the database: It’s only as useful as scope of data it includes and the analysts using it. Using analysis of the Ebola outbreak as an example, he explains how GDELT actually ingested an international news article referencing the Guinea government’s concern over hemorrhagic fever one day before Harvard’s HealthMap signaled an alert based on local social media activity. Only, without someone monitoring for that type of news in that part of the world, the single reference was very easy to miss.
Yes, it’s possible that Facebook will introduce a brand new mobile application, and the source of the report is suggesting that users can login to this new app to enjoy the more “intimate” version of the social networking site. It’s like the failed Facebook list feature, but in a mobile app with better user interface.
According to a report from Techcrunch citing unnamed source, Facebook will bring yet another mobile app to the world, and it will focus on more private sharing with selected friends. The new app is codenamed “moments” and it’s currently in testing stage to clear out all bugs. The rumor claims that the interface of Facebook’s new app is a grid with “few tiles” which will represent the groups or set of friends.
If this sounds familiar, well, Facebook Messenger already offers group messaging or instant sending of messages, photos, videos and other files to selected friends only.
Turns out a political philosophy and policy nerd has a hard time just thinking about those issues when his bosses find out he’s good at coding.
That was Abhi Nemani’s experience as an intern at political-advocacy nonprofits like the Center for American Progress: he always wound up being the guy doing tech stuff.
“I was always kind of the geek in the room, and I could build a web app or a website pretty quickly,” Nemani said.
It worked out for him, since Nemani combined his interest in politics and government with technology as one of the first people to show cities can hire chief data officers. He became L.A.’s first chief data officer, a job he started Sept. 2.
Just 25, he’s already spent six years on “getting entrepreneurs to solve the problems that governments face,” as he put it in an interview last month, by building up an innovative startup called Code for America.
His work shines a Silicon Valley light on the problems facing Sacramento or Washington, asking how to drive sustainable public sector innovation through things like startup accelerators, so people outside of government can chip in, as it were.
“Instead of another consumer game, they might say, let me build something for government. Let me build something for the people that matter,” Nemani said.
That’s part of his mission now in Los Angeles. It comes at a time when the city is heavily ramping up its investment in technology.
One trend worth noting is the explosion of mobile video, meaning on-line video that is watched on devices other than televisions or computers. Ooyala recently published a report looking at the trends in mobile video and the numbers are eye-opening.
In the past year mobile video watching has doubled and the rate of growth is accelerating. In February 2014 it represented 21% of all on-line video being watched and by June had grown to 27%.
It’s projected that by 2016 that more on-line video will be watched on mobile devices than on televisions and computers.
Cisco projects out further and says that mobile data could represent 69% of the world’s Internet traffic by 2018.
This has some real implications for anybody in the video business. Not only is on-line video growing rapidly with content being provided by Netflix, AmazonPrime and YouTube, but that video is being watched more and more on smartphones and tablets rather than televisions and computers.
This trend is being driven by a lot of different factors:
The FCC estimates that 10.5 million students per year could gain Internet connectivity inside their schools if the commission moves ahead with E-Rate reforms outlined in July. Within five years, all U.S. schools would have internal Internet connectivity, the FCC says.
The E-Rate program is an element of the Universal Service program administered by the FCC and funded by the telecom industry. In July the commission adopted an order that phases out E-Rate support for voice services and shifts funding toward internal connectivity, which most likely would take the form of Wi-Fi.
The FCC’s five-year internal connections estimate assumes E-Rate funding levels remain the same, that a total of $1 billion per year is directed toward internal connectivity and that the amount of support per student is capped at $150. If funding per student were not capped, fewer than four million new students per year would gain internal connectivity, the FCC said.
According to the FCC proposal, schools would be required to contribute at least 15% of the cost of a Wi-Fi deployment – up from a 10% level today.
AT&T is on track with completing the upgrades to its last mile network to support both new U-verse video and broadband customers and new fiber-based connections as part of its Project VIP initiative.
That was the message at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference, where John Stankey, group president and chief strategy officer for AT&T, told investors that it still has work to do on the wireline portion.
"We're on pace with everything we said we wanted to do on the business side with fiber to the building," Stankey said. "We're on pace with everything we said we wanted to do in additional U-verse coverage as well as additional broadband coverage on the consumer side."
While he did not provide specific numbers, Stankey said that the company is seeing positive take-up of fiber-based business services and U-verse services in the areas it rolled out service.
"The penetration assumptions we made in the business case are tracking to our expectations," Stankey said. "The ARPUs are tracking to our expectations and in some cases we're ahead of plan so we feel really good that the validation of investing in broadband and investing in additional bandwidth and infrastructure was the right thing to do and is bearing the fruits we need to do with it."
One of the key elements of driving out costs in the Project VIP initiative is its ongoing migration of business customers from TDM to IP-based services.
A new climate of change, hope and progress is now gripping Silicon Valley and the hi-tech industry. Inclusion and equal opportunity in the technology industry are the 21st-century civil rights imperatives. They are today's dynamic, disruptive change agents reshaping the culture and character of the hi-tech industry.
Technology is supposed to be about innovation, opportunity and inclusion, but, sadly, patterns of exclusion remain the order of the day. In fact, the tech industry is perhaps America's worst industry when it comes to inclusion and diversity.
Rainbow Push, the social justice organisation I founded, has brought this message to the industry through direct participation and speaking at the shareholder meetings of HP, eBay, Facebook and Google. What we've been saying is that Silicon Valley is America's valley: built through American R&D, American education, American tax credits and tax havens. It should reflect America's best values and principles.
We also focused on the hard data documenting the race and gender composition of the tech industry's workforce, challenging an industry that staunchly resisted efforts to reveal data about minority participation in the industry. In 2010 and 2013, major technology companies successfully went to court to prevent the release of such data.
Since Rainbow Push launched its digital connections initiative in March of this year, these same companies, including Google, Apple, Linkedin, Yahoo, Salesforce and Pandora, have now released it.
The facts don't lie: black people comprise just 1–2% of the tech workforce of most companies, Latinos just 2–4%. Women lag far behind men. But we've gone from resistance to release, creating an unprecedented climate of transparency. The industry is now facing up to the sobering facts on inclusion and diversity and moving to change them.
Communities that have a service provider that offers a 1 Gbps fiber-based broadband service have per capita GDP that's 1.1 percent higher than other communities that have either little or no gigabit services present, says the Fiber to the Home (FTTH) Council Americas, citing a new study.
The study, which was conducted by financial and strategy firm Analysis Group, examined 55 communities in nine states, finding a positive impact on economic activity in the 14 communities where gigabit services are widely available.
However, the 41 communities in the study that did not have gigabit broadband service available "likely experienced forgone GDP in 2012 of as much as $3.3 billion."
"The study results suggest that gigabit broadband communities exhibit a per capita GDP approximately 1.1 percent higher than the similar communities with little to no availability of gigabit services," said FTTH Council President Heather B. Gold in a release. "In dollar terms, this suggests that the 14 gigabit broadband communities studied enjoyed approximately $1.4 billion in additional GDP when gigabit broadband became widely available."
Click headline to access hot link to the FTTH press release--
As you may or may not be aware, Canada, similar to many European countries, has what is commonly referred to as a "culture tax." The idea is that Canadian broadcasters must pay into a platform specifically used to fund Canadian content, lest Canada be overrun with the sweet, delicious programming offered by 'Merica. I mean, we've got, like, eight different shows that revolve around singing/dancing competitions, and some of them even include celebrities you've never heard of!
You can't resist that kind of thing, right? Well, as you can imagine, the television broadcasters to our north have noticed how much content is now delivered on the internet, having previously asked for regulators to likewise tax ISPs. Now, they, as well as some in government, have their sights set on companies like Netflix as well.
At the “Let’s Talk TV” hearings now underway before Canada’s broadcast regulator, provincial governments like Ontario and Quebec have argued that Netflix should be subject to the levy. The country’s powerful cable industry and the national broadcaster, the CBC, have made the same arguments, arguing that companies like Netflix and iTunes should not get a free pass when their own services must pay for Canadian content.
It's a good point because...wait, no, it isn't a good point at all. The internet isn't television, Netflix isn't a "channel", and iTunes isn't radio. Are they places where culture, both foreign and domestic, are distributed? Well, sure, but then again so are a great many other things. Shall we tax Steam to help Canadians produce more Canadian video games? Amazon for more Canadian books? Hell, some of those levies may already be in place, but that doesn't mean they make sense.
Frustratingly, the Canadian broadcasters aren't making the argument they should be making: in a hyper-connected world where content distribution is varied, global, and fast, taxing anyone to prop up local content is at best a losing battle and likely entirely worthless. How about just making good content that Canadians and (gasp!) international communities want to get?
In his native England, James Pearce says, the guilds are everywhere.
Drawing on a practice that dates back to medieval times, a guild is a group of craftspeople or merchants who’ve banded together because they all do the same thing. One guild is for vintners, another for masons, and so on. There are hundreds of guilds across England, Pearce says, and each provides a way for craftspeople to share certain tricks of their craft. The members of a guild come together, he explains, to “figure out how best to run their trades,” to hone their operations in ways they couldn’t hone them on their own.
So, when Pearce was named the head of open source at Facebook, charged with overseeing the vast collection of open source software that helps run one of the largest online operations on earth, he felt that something was missing. “When I took over the Facebook open source portfolio, I was waiting for the invite,” he says. “I was like: ‘Is someone going to invite me to the open source guild?’”
This is played for laughs. But Pearce felt a very real need for something akin to an open source software guild, so much so that he and Facebook have now started one. Known as TODO, this new group made its debut yesterday at an event for hardcore web engineers hosted by Facebook, and it spans some of the biggest names in tech, including Google, Twitter, Dropbox, and GitHub. In one sense, this is a small thing. But in the long run, given the egalitarian nature of open source software, it could benefit practically any company that relies on computer code.