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TX: Solar power to melt energy costs : The Smithville Times

The installation is funded in part by the TX State Energy Conservation Office, or SECO, through a Distributed Renewal Energy Program grant that was acquired by the city last year. The grant is called an “80/20” grant, which has ...

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Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream
Everything about Broadband Policy, Network Infrastructure, Voice, Video and Data Services, Devices and Applications for Managing our Planet
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Benton Tells FCC: Use Lifeline to Make Broadband More Affordable | Benton Foundation

Benton Tells FCC: Use Lifeline to Make Broadband More Affordable | Benton Foundation | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In comments filed at the Federal Communications Commission on August 31, the Benton Foundation said that broadband service is crucial to full participation in our society and economy which are increasingly dependent upon the rapid exchange of information. In its filing, Benton focuses on the potential benefits of broadband for low-income consumers, especially ones that have: a) schoolchildren, b) unemployed or underemployed adults, c) people with disabilities, and d) people affected by illnesses.

“By making broadband more affordable for low-income consumers through its Lifeline program,” said Benton’s Director of Policy, Amina Fazlullah, “the FCC will help facilitate better connections within these people’s communities, and to the world.”

Benton asks the FCC to establish minimum service standards for Lifeline voice, text messaging and broadband services with two main goals: 1) to ensure Lifeline recipients receive services that facilitate meaningful, functional use, and 2) to afford adaptability for the different needs of Lifeline-eligible populations in different geographical areas and markets. In setting the standards, Benton says, the FCC should encourage competition and consumer choice for both voice and broadband service wherever possible. When setting minimum service standards for broadband, the FCC must discourage providers from rolling out wired or wireless services that include data caps, Benton says, due to their pernicious effects on low-income households. Data caps often come with hidden financial costs that confuse consumers and potentially bump up their bills in unforeseen ways.


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VA: Danville's Incremental Strategy Pays Off - Community Broadband Bits Episode 166 | community broadband networks

VA: Danville's Incremental Strategy Pays Off - Community Broadband Bits Episode 166 | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Danville, Virginia, has long been one of the municipal network approaches that we like to highlight. Built in a region hard hit by the transition away from tobacco and manufacturing economies, the open access fiber network called nDanville has led to many new employers coming to town and has shown the benefits of a low-risk, incremental investment strategy for building a fiber network.

Jason Grey, Interim Utilities Manager, is back on the show to update us on their approach. He introduced the network to us three years ago on episode 22.

Since we last checked in, Danville has continued expanding the fiber network to a greater number of residents and Jason talks with us about the importance and challenges of marketing to residents. We also discuss how they lay conduit as a matter of course, even in areas they do not plan to serve immediately with the fiber network.

Read all of our coverage of Danville here.


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Hamilton Partners With Local Provider to Serve Businesses in Ohio | community broadband networks

Hamilton Partners With Local Provider to Serve Businesses in Ohio | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Hamilton, Ohio, has entered into a partnership with local firm, CenterGrid, to use city-owned fiber to boost economic development. The firm will offer Internet access and data transport to local businesses via existing infrastructure as the two enter into a five-year pilot project agreement, reports the Journal-News.

The city's business incubator, the Hamilton Mill, is the initial pilot site where emerging businesses are already receiving high-speed connectivity:

“As the initial pilot site, CenterGrid’s service has resulted in the Mill receiving network connectivity that is better than 83 percent of Internet connections throughout the US — that is huge,” Chris Lawson, executive director of the Hamilton Mill said. “For the types of companies that we are attracting, this level of connectivity is imperative for them to be successful.”

A press release from CenterGrid describes rates as economical, competitive, and determined by individual business requirements. According to the press release, entrepreneurs at The Mill are already taking advantage of the service:


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Comcast Introducing Usage Caps in Florida, Then Offers $30 Option to Get Back Unlimited | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Comcast Introducing Usage Caps in Florida, Then Offers $30 Option to Get Back Unlimited | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast today quietly announced its broadband customers in Fort Lauderdale, the Keys and Miami, Fla., will find a broadband usage cap of 300GB per month imposed on their Internet access starting Oct. 1, 2015, along with the option of buying a new $30 insurance plan to protect against overlimit fees and restore unlimited access.

Stop the Cap! reader Jose from Hialeah informed us Comcast formally began notifying affected customers in e-mail earlier today and updated their website (thanks to DSL Reports):


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Nielsen: TV households stay the same | Media Life Magazine

Nielsen: TV households stay the same | Media Life Magazine | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The number of TV households measured by Nielsen will remain the same this season as it was last.

Nielsen says TV households will be flat to 2014-’15 for the coming season, at 116.4 million.

There was a 0.3 percent increase in the total number of people in those households, rising to 296.8 million.

While the total number of households did not change, there was some movement in how those households break down.


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Q2 Subscriber Losses Validate Cord-Cutting Fears | Michael Balderston | TV Technology

Q2 Subscriber Losses Validate Cord-Cutting Fears | Michael Balderston | TV Technology | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The trend of cord-cutting continues, as U.S. pay-TV companies loss 658,450 subscribers in the second quarter of 2015, according to IHS Inc. IHS also claims that it is the first time since satellite operators entered the pay-TV market in the early 90s that non-cable pay-TV operators loss subscribers.

A major influence in the overall drop of subscribers was the nearly non-existent growth of IPTV in Q2, posting a subscriber growth of less than one percent.


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Popular Belkin Wi-Fi routers plagued by unpatched security flaws | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com

Popular Belkin Wi-Fi routers plagued by unpatched security flaws | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If your Wi-Fi network is using the popular Belkin N600 DB router, be warned: it may have several vulnerabilities that could allow hackers to take it over.

Remote unauthenticated attackers could exploit the vulnerabilities to spoof DNS (Domain Name System) responses and direct users to rogue websites or trick users' browsers to change the device configuration, the CERT Coordination Center (CERT/CC) at Carnegie Mellon University said Monday in an advisory.


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The real reason everyone hates making phone calls today | Fredric Paul | NetworkWorld.com

The real reason everyone hates making phone calls today | Fredric Paul | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It's a truism that people—especially young people—spend a lot less time talking on the phone now than they once did. I don't have good numbers to cite, but the personal and anecdotal evidence seems pretty compelling.


Where once I made and received dozens of calls a day, those have now been reduced to just a few. I roll over so many minutes on my mobile plan it feels like I could talk nonstop for the rest of the year and not run out. But I probably won't.

And it's not just me. This is true with most people I know, in both my personal and professional lives.

But why?


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DISH DE Debacle Part 2: So What Did The FCC Actually Do? | Harold Feld | Tales of the Sausage Factory | Wetmachine.com

In Part 1, I gave a rather lengthy explanation of the factual background why DISH now owes the FCC another $3.3 billion dollars more than the $10 billion it already owed for licenses won in the big FCC spectrum auction at the end of last year (the AWS-3 auction).


Here, I give my analysis of the Order denying SNR and Northstar applications for designated entity (DE) credits. Some thoughts on broader implications, what may or may not happen next, and my personal opinion on whether the FCC was right or wrong, I save for Part 3.

More below . . .


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Bombshell Report Finds Walmart Is Hiding Billions Of Dollars To Avoid Paying US Taxes

Bombshell Report Finds Walmart Is Hiding Billions Of Dollars To Avoid Paying US Taxes | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A new report from Americans For Tax Fairness uncovered Walmart’s vast network of international subsidiaries that Walmart is using to hide $76 billion in order to avoid paying taxes in the United States.

Here are some of the key findings from the report:


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FCC faces monumental test | David McCabe | The Hill

FCC faces monumental test | David McCabe | The Hill | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Officials at the Federal Communications Commission are facing a historic challenge.

The agency is being asked to do something that has never before been tried: a two-step auction of American airwaves that is intended to shift resources from broadcasters to wireless companies.

If all goes according to plan, the sale could be a cash cow that earns billions of dollars for the federal treasury while helping wireless carriers meet a growing demand for data from smartphones and other devices.

Success, however, is far from guaranteed. In order for the sale to get off the ground, the FCC has to convince companies in both industries that it is in their best interest to participate.

“The problem is that you have to make opposing pitches to the broadcasters and the wireless carriers,” said Harold Feld, senior vice president at the advocacy group Public Knowledge. “So it’s kind of a difficult balancing act.”


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Comcast and the Smart Home | Doug Dawson | POTs and PANs

Comcast and the Smart Home | Doug Dawson | POTs and PANs | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast has very quietly gotten into the smart home and the Internet of Things business. They reported recently that they now have 500,000 customers for what they are calling Xfinity Home. With their 22 million total customers this is just over a 2% penetration rate, but any business line with half a million customers has to be taken seriously.

Comcast started Xfinity Home five years ago as a security business competing against the likes of ADT. But since then the business has taken on energy management and home automation.


Announcements this month show that Comcast is making a play to be a major home automation integrator. They are now supporting the home automation devices of 9 major manufacturers: August (smart locks), Automatic (automobile), Cuff (fitness tracking), Lutron (smart lighting), Leeo (alarms), Nest (thermostat), Rachio (sprinkler system), Skybell (doorbell), Whistle (pet tracking). It’s an impressive suite of products and is all integrated through the Comcast portal.


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Software Apps Are Changing How We Watch TV | NCTA.com

Software Apps Are Changing How We Watch TV | NCTA.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If competition is the stamp of a healthy marketplace, than premium television competition is more than healthy – it’s downright fierce. Cable, satellite, telco and web streaming services are all fighting for subscribers.


We have options for watching TV via linear programming, on demand and DVR viewing, TV Everywhere services and software apps for all of our devices. We can choose robust channel bundles, lighter bundles, channels a la carte and even individual programs.


And thanks to the flexibility of IP based services, these devices and services will be able to quickly change to offer yet-unimagined viewing opportunities.


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CYC 2.0 comments support FCC action on Lifeline broadband option | Connect Your Community 2.0

CYC 2.0 Director Bill Callahan yesterday submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission supporting the agency’s proposal to create a low-income broadband option as part of the Federal Lifeline telephone program.

The FCC has asked for public comments on the idea itself, as well as on a long list of related questions laid out in a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking”. Yesterday was the deadline for initial comments. A second round of “reply comments” will be due at the end of September.

In a three-page letter addressed to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, Callahan wrote:


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OH: More than 3,000 jobs created in Hamilton since 2013 | Wayne Baker | Journal-News.com

OH: More than 3,000 jobs created in Hamilton since 2013 | Wayne Baker | Journal-News.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

New job opportunities are quickly replacing several years of stalled growth and closing companies in Hamilton — a product of a plan outlined — and questioned by many — when Joshua Smith was hired as city manager five years ago.

Many insisted Hamilton wouldn’t find its fiscal footing with Smith’s plan that called for patience mixed with aggressive steps to reinvent the city’s image and to improve infrastructure.

Still, some lament the loss of small businesses like Tom’s Cigar Store, which marked its final day of operation this past week after 98 years, and the city’s toughest neighborhoods still wrestle with crime and drugs.

“I took a look at some numbers since 2013,” Smith said. “We have created 3,064 net new jobs in Hamilton and that includes the Barclays announcement of 1,500 jobs coming with Barclays. Total corporate investment in Hamilton has been $176.5 million in the last five years and since 2010 there has been $65 million invested in downtown.”


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NE: Fiber to the farm: Yours for only $383,000 | Matt Olberding | Journal Star

NE: Fiber to the farm: Yours for only $383,000 | Matt Olberding | Journal Star | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Nelson Schneider was unhappy with the home Internet service he was getting from Windstream, which he said was slow and unreliable, as was satellite service, so he decided to try a different route.

How much would it cost, he asked Windstream, to run optic fiber out to his farm about 3 miles from Ceresco, Nebraska so he could get business-class Internet?

Windstream's response: About $383,000.

Though extreme, the situation highlights the hurdles rural residents in Nebraska and elsewhere can face when trying to get high-speed Internet.


The $383,000 cost included $350,000 to run the line and about $33,000 for three years of business-class Internet service. 


Windstream spokesman Michael Teague confirmed the price and said it was so high because the request was unusual and would have required multiple miles of fiber installation.


Schneider eventually found another provider, Northeast Nebraska Telephone Co., which agreed to run a fiber line to his property for the relative bargain price of $42,000. Northeast's nearest installation is 3 miles away.


Gene Hand, director of the telecommunications division of the Nebraska Public Service Commission, said the issue is not necessarily an urban vs. rural one.


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LG Announces DirecTV 4K Compatibility, webOS 2.0 Updates | Ben Munson | CED Magazine

LG today announced that its webOS smart TV platform will now support DirecTV 4K video content without the need for an additional box.

Select 2014 and 2015 LG smart TVs will work with DirecTV’s Genie HD DVR for viewing Ultra HD video.

DirecTV’s 4K content is also accessible on compatible Samsung TVs and through the recently announced 4K Genie Mini, which enables viewing on other TV models.


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Comcast Tests ‘Unlimited Data Option’ | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com

Comcast Tests ‘Unlimited Data Option’ | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast will soon kick the tires on an “Unlimited Data Option” in parts of Florida that lets high-speed Internet subs upload data and stream all the video they want for an additional $30 per month.

The trial, spotted by DSL Reports and posted by Comcast here, is an enrollment option that applies only to Comcast subs in Fort Lauderdale, the Keys and Miami, Florida. Comcast will begin testing the new policy there on October 1, and is notifying customers in the area about a month in advance, a Comcast spokesman said.

“The Unlimited Data Option costs the current additional fee of $30 per calendar month, regardless of actual data usage. The 300 GB plan will not apply to customers who enroll in the Unlimited Data Option,” Comcast explains in the FAQ.


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What It Means for Kansas City to Be a Smart City | Aaron Deacon | Kansas City Digital Drive

What It Means for Kansas City to Be a Smart City | Aaron Deacon | Kansas City Digital Drive | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Smart phones. Smart watches. Smart thermostats. Smart homes. Smart TVs. It seems like everything is smart these days. Smart and getting smarter. Heck … why stop at all the things, why not just go for a smart city? Smart state? Smart universe?

It’s easy either to get overwhelmed by jargon and buzz words or to roll your eyes at the coming technotopia that accompanies the talk of a “smart city,” but if you do, you may miss the real opportunity that Kansas City has in front of us. And it’s a big one. But we have to unpack some of the language and history in order to put that opportunity into perspective.

Boyd Cohen—a leading academic who ranks smart cities every year for Fast Company, who developed the Smart City Wheel taxonomy, and who keynoted our Gigabit City Summit last January—cited Kansas City last week as an example of a city moving from Smart City 1.0 to Smart City 3.0, a city that…


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The wires behind wireless | Rick Wietfeldt | NetworkWorld.com

The wires behind wireless | Rick Wietfeldt | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Everybody loves wireless: It's the main impetus driving technology innovation and social and business communications today, and it will continue to drive innovation for years to come.


Yet an under-appreciated reality is that wireless is very dependent on wired connections. In fact, wireless is only as good as the wires that support it.


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Techdirt Podcast Episode 40: Is Silicon Valley Only Building Tech For The Rich? | Leigh Beadon | Techdirt

Techdirt Podcast Episode 40: Is Silicon Valley Only Building Tech For The Rich? | Leigh Beadon | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Technological innovation is solving all sorts of problems, from major issues to minor inconveniences — but one criticism that often comes up is that Silicon Valley has a "by rich young white men, for rich young white men" culture, with most of its efforts focused on solving problems for a small, affluent minority.


This week, Catherine Bracy returns as we try to understand this common complaint, how valid it is, and what can be done about it.


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Animated map reveals the 550,000 miles of cable hidden under the ocean that power the internet | Biz Insider UK

Animated map reveals the 550,000 miles of cable hidden under the ocean that power the internet | Biz Insider UK | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Every time you visit a web page or send an email, data is being sent and received through an intricate cable system that stretches around the globe.


Since the 1850s, we've been laying cables across oceans to become better connected.


Today, there are hundreds of thousands of miles of fiber optic cables constantly transmitting data between nations.


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Tech companies are the ‘worst offenders’ when it comes to tax loopholes, advocate says | Hayley Tsukayama | WashPost.com

Tech companies are the ‘worst offenders’ when it comes to tax loopholes, advocate says | Hayley Tsukayama | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A new advocacy group led by Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz is trying to grab an unlikely recruit to support its charge to reform corporate taxes and get multinational businesses such as Apple, Google and Amazon to pay out more money: you.

The group, Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT), has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds and awareness among the general public about how big firms -- particularly tech firms -- use old tax laws to their advantage.

Erika Siu, a consultant for ICRICT, said that tech companies are not the only firms that ICRICT and other critics take issue with. But many, such as Apple, Amazon and Google, she said, are the "worst offenders" because they benefit from the current system by using complicated — but legal — tax strategies.

"I don’t think it’s because they’re by nature evil enterprises," Siu said of the tech giants. "The nature of their business takes advantage of an outdated tax system."


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Alabama Nixes Proposed Tax on Video Streaming, Digital Rentals | Erik Gruenwedel | Home Media Magazine

Alabama Nixes Proposed Tax on Video Streaming, Digital Rentals | Erik Gruenwedel | Home Media Magazine | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Taxes in politically conservative Alabama are as popular as a Crimson Tide college football loss. Thus, it wasn’t surprising when the Alabama Department of Revenue last month retracted a regulatory amendment that would have effectively imposed a 4% rental tax on streaming services such as Netflix.

The department in June sought to extend taxes on rental digital transmissions, including transactional video-on-demand movies, TV shows, subscription streaming and audio, effective Oct. 1.

The proposed tax (ADOR Rule No. 810-6-5-.09 Leasing and Rental of Tangible Personal Property) came as consumer migration toward digital entertainment supplants packaged media transactions, resulting in lower per-unit rental taxes. The city of Chicago earlier this year succeeded in extending a 9% amusement tax on SVOD — a move now being considered by municipalities and state government nationwide.


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NC: City to connect departments with fiber optic links | Wesley Young | Winston-Salem Journal

Even as AT&T installs a GigaPower network in Winston-Salem, the city itself is getting ready to link departments together with its own stand-alone fiber optic network.

Last week, the Winston-Salem City Council approved spending $826,522 to buy networking equipment that will allow the city to tap into its fiber optic connections when they are completed later this year.

The city approved entering into a contract with NWN Corporation to provide the switches, routers and other equipment needed to link city computers to fiber optic cables being installed by the N.C. Department of Transportation.

“The city will save a significant amount of money with this fiber,” said Dennis Newman, the chief officer of the city’s information systems department. “We hope to have the network operational by the end of the calendar year.”

The chance for the city to create its own fiber optic network came in 2011 when the N.C. Department of Transportation began embarking on plans to update traffic signal connections all over town with fiber optic cable.


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