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SD: Brookings groups to create digital health info network - Brookings Register

SD: Brookings groups to create digital health info network - Brookings Register | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Three Brookings, South Dakota health care organizations have received a $900,000 federal grant to develop an electronic community health information network,  The money is to be used to purchase equipment, install broadband networks and provide training for staff.

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Everything about Broadband Policy, Network Infrastructure, Voice, Video and Data Services, Devices and Applications for Managing our Planet
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At the heart of Obama’s Cuba doctrine? The Internet | Nancy Scola | WashPost.com

At the heart of Obama’s Cuba doctrine? The Internet | Nancy Scola | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

How disconnected is Cuba, the land where a decades-old U.S. embargo has left many residents drive vintage automobiles from the 1950s and '60s? Only 5 percent of the island nation's 11 million residents have the ability to get onto the Internet.

So when President Obama announced major changes to the U.S. approach to Cuba on Wednesday, he emphasized the need to open up a nation "closed off from an interconnected world."


To do that, the White House is loosening restrictions on the export and sale of goods and services aimed at helping more Cubans communicate with both each other and the outside world, technologies that are likely to include everything from cell phones to laptops to wireless Internet routers to software capable of equipping computers with network connections to fiber-optic cables.


U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said in an interview on CNBC Thursday that the Cuban government is supportive of increasing its citizens' access to the Internet.

Cuba isn't a particularly big country. Its population is roughly equal to that of Ohio. And with a low standard of living -- the average income per person is just $5,460 (USD) -- as a potential market for U.S. telecom goods and services it is more a symbolic than a profitable one.

But the possibility of helping its people connect to the outside world has captured the imagination of some in tech. In June, Google executives including chairman Eric Schmidt and Google Ideas director Jared Cohen visited Cuba, according to the Cuban blog 14medio, operated by Cuban blogger and Internet advocate Yoani Sánchez.


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Why Bitcoin advocates might like New York’s new proposed rules for virtual currency | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

Why Bitcoin advocates might like New York’s new proposed rules for virtual currency | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

One of New York's top financial regulators is laying out a new policy on Bitcoin and other virtual currencies after a flood of public feedback encouraged the agency to scale back its proposed rules.

New revisions to the proposal would trim some requirements on Bitcoin-related businesses, and clarify others. Among the key changes? Companies covered by the regulations will no longer be required to store the addresses of every person involved in a Bitcoin transaction — an idea privacy hawks have said would deter people from adopting virtual currencies. Now, companies regulated by New York's so-called BitLicense will only be required to gather transaction information from their own customers, said Ben Lawsky, New York's superintendent of financial services, at a Washington conference Thursday.

In addition, covered companies will only have to store that information for seven years, down from the 10 years Lawsky's agency, the department of financial services, was previously considering.

"Virtual currencies really sit at that crossroads of the much more lightly regulated tech sector and the more heavily regulated financial sector," said Lawsky, who added that all financial companies ought to be supervised to "ensure that consumers' money doesn't just disappear into a black hole."

That said, the new rules will be clarified to cover only those companies that actually engage in sending money from one place to another, said Lawsky. They won't apply to software companies that offer consumers Bitcoin "wallets" where they can store their digital cash. Nor will the rules apply to retailers that simply take bitcoins as payment for goods and services. Private individuals who "mine" or invest in bitcoins won't be required to apply for a license from the state government, either.


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The hackers are winning the media war | Haley Tsukayama | WashPost.com

The hackers are winning the media war | Haley Tsukayama | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The hackers are winning.

Something has shifted. This year, they didn't only steal credit cards numbers. They clear-cut through retailers records and broke into highly sophisticated systems. They stole celebrity photos that paparazzo only dream about. And now, we have something new, again: a widescale breach and control of a media narrative aimed at destroying a major company based in the United States.

For years, hacks were mostly about committing robbery -- slipping in and out unnoticed, with maybe a dropped calling card as a small-scale brag. Now Sony has canceled the Christmas Day release of "The Interview" -- the movie that apparently spurred the hacks into Sony Pictures Entertainment in the first place.

The tactics are similar to the renegade, total information freedom approach popularized by groups such as Wikileaks or Anonymous. Those leaks and attacks -- some serious, some just online vandalism -- were aimed specifically at getting publicity, but you can at least understand the pursuit of a higher motivation. When you take down the CIA Web site just "for the lulz," it may be goofy, but at least you're making a splash to prove a point.

But Sony is hardly the National Security Agency or a national government. These broad leaks aren't for a cause -- they're aimed at undermining the character of a company by exposing how it conducts its normal business. It's like "The Jungle," but for movies. And the threat of a violent, physical attack put Sony in the toughest position imaginable -- between losing a war of principles or putting lives in danger. Sony was set to lose either way.

The hacks of Home Depot, celebrity iCloud accounts and Sony were likely the work of different people. But taken together, they show a growing cockiness, ambition and media savvy within the hacker world.


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MN: Lake County broadband $1.5 million pulled back | Bill Hanna | Mesabi Daily News

MN: Lake County broadband  $1.5 million pulled back | Bill Hanna | Mesabi Daily News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board had planned to approve 40 public works projects totaling about $7.7 million when it met earlier this week.

But $1.5 million to the Town of White for a single project — a broadband expansion in Lake County — was pushed to the back burner when Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk of Cook objected.

He had heard from a Lake County commissioner that some in the service territory where the county planned to build out would be receiving IRRRB money to compete.

“The agency hasn’t been in broadband before ... we don’t know that much about it. Let’s take a little more time to understand,” Bakk said.

Bakk found support with fellow board member, Rep. Tom Anzelc of Balsam Township.

“Good idea ... take a deep breath and make sure we’re doing the right thing. Take a pause,” he said.

Bakk also said that there is a $200 million broadband proposal floating around in St. Paul that will be introduced when the 2015 legislative session begins on Jan. 6.

“We don’t need to be the first dollar in when there is a boatload of money coming. Private partners will be needed to leverage state funds,” he said.


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Lawsuits against Sony Pictures could test employer responsibility for data breaches | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com

Lawsuits against Sony Pictures could test employer responsibility for data breaches | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The massive hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment is raising a potentially costly question for companies across the country:
How much responsibility do they have for protecting the most sensitive information about their employees?

Former employees have filed four lawsuits this week accusing Sony of not doing enough to protect their private data, including Social Security numbers, salaries, performance reviews and personal medical information. The latest suit, filed late Thursday on behalf of Michael Levine, a former technical director at Sony Pictures Imageworks and Felix Lionel, a former Sony Pictures director of technology, says the company's negligence led to the release of personal information about 47,000 current and former employees.

"For decades, [Sony] failed, and continues to fail, to take the reasonably necessary actions to provide a sufficient level of IT security to reasonably secure its employees' [personal information]," according to the class action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in California by San Francisco-based Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP.

The Sony attack, already one of the most damaging corporate cyber attacks in history, is sending chills through corporate executive suites. Companies accustomed to protecting customers' credit card data and their trade secrets, now face a more daunting task: Securing sensitive personnel data that until the attack on Sony was not considered valuable to hackers.

"This event is much more than a data breach in the traditional sense -- it represents a sea change in the world of cyber attacks," said Lisa Sotto, a cybersecurity lawyer at New York-based Hunton & Williams. "Companies need to be acutely focused on preventing these types of attacks because they are aimed at toppling a company."


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Dirty data: Why the ’4 million public comments’ on net neutrality might not be what they seem | Nancy Scola | WashPost.com

Dirty data: Why the ’4 million public comments’ on net neutrality might not be what they seem | Nancy Scola | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

When President Obama last month came out in favor of a far-reaching plan to ensure that all bits of content on the Internet are treated equally, he cited the unprecedented number of comments from the American public that had poured into the nation's main telecommunications agency in apparent support of that approach.

"I am asking the Federal Communications Commission to answer the call," Obama said in his debate-shifting statement, "of almost 4 million public comments, and implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality."

Now, more than a month later, there's a fight roiling telecom policy circles this week over whether there were, in fact, nearly 4 million comments sent into the FCC, and how many of them actually were in support of those "strongest possible" rules.

What's still reasonably certain is that President Obama indeed exists.

Sparking this dust-up was an analysis from the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation of the FCC's release of that comment cache. Sunlight concluded that not only were there several hundred fewer comments in that collection than the FCC had announced, but the majority of those in the second, "reply comment," round it has now analyzed had weighed in against an Obama-style plan.

Those lined up against net neutrality regulation, particularly a group called American Commitment, took a victory lap. "We were engaging in the same sort of 'clicktivism' that we saw from the liberal advocacy groups," said Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment, "because the views of the American people weren't being reflected in the first round."

"It's clear that Phil and his organization weren't present in first round and showed up in the second round," acknowledged Tim Karr, senior director of strategy at Free Press, a group that has pushed aggressively for the sort of strict net neutrality rules advocated by Obama.

That said, some of the pro-regulation groups, including Karr's Free Press, Fight for the Future and Demand Progress, cried foul on the specifics of Sunlight's analysis. Using the same data download that Sunlight had used, those organizations searched for some of the comments they knew their supporters had submitted, and noticed that some were missing.

The Sunlight Foundation responded late Wednesday with a clarification of its analysis, calling on the FCC to explain why there seemed to now be 1.1 million missing comments from the data download. The pro-net neutrality coalition responded by insisting that the Sunlight analysis has misinterpreted even the comments that actually were contained within the cache.

There are additional wrinkles to the story involving e-mail duplication, bounce-backs, signatures vs. comments, and data noise that will only drive you to search for a bottle of bourbon or soothing bar of chocolate.

The bigger question is how, exactly, does such a data mess happen in the year 2014?


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German researchers discover a flaw that could let anyone listen to your cell calls| Craig Timberg | WashPost.com

German researchers discover a flaw that could let anyone listen to your cell calls| Craig Timberg | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

German researchers have discovered security flaws that could let hackers, spies and criminals listen to private phone calls and intercept text messages on a potentially massive scale – even when cellular networks are using the most advanced encryption now available.

The flaws, to be reported at a hacker conference in Hamburg this month, are the latest evidence of widespread insecurity on SS7, the global network that allows the world’s cellular carriers to route calls, texts and other services to each other. Experts say it’s increasingly clear that SS7, first designed in the 1980s, is riddled with serious vulnerabilities that undermine the privacy of the world’s billions of cellular customers.

The flaws discovered by the German researchers are actually functions built into SS7 for other purposes – such as keeping calls connected as users speed down highways, switching from cell tower to cell tower – that hackers can repurpose for surveillance because of the lax security on the network.


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Hackers are going after the Internet’s very infrastructure. Here’s why that matters. | Nancy Scola | WashPost.com

Hackers are going after the Internet’s very infrastructure. Here’s why that matters. | Nancy Scola | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Los Angeles-based nonprofit group that acts as something of the air traffic-controller of the global Internet has announced that it was the victim of a hacking attack last month. That's raising concerns because, while little-known to most Internet users, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers -- better known as ICANN -- quietly helps to keep the Internet up and running.

ICANN was the target of what's known as a "spear phishing" attack, the group says, where an e-mail is sent to employees that looks to have come from inside the organization. By appearing as if they come from a trusted source, those e-mail trick targets into handing over passwords and other credentials.

Those details were used to access several ICANN computer systems of varying degrees of sensitivity. Those systems include WhoIs, the database that identifies who owns which Web site; the ICANN blog; an internal wiki; and what's known as the Centralized Zone Data Service, which contains the maps laying out the Internet's global addressing scheme.

But perhaps the most mission-critical system, says ICANN, wasn't breached. That's the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority. Known as IANA, that system keeps track of which Web sites and other digital assets are located where on the Internet.

"At this point, we have confirmed that the attack has not affected the IANA-related systems," says ICANN spokesperson Brad White. "They are separate systems with additional layers of security that were not breached." The source of the attack isn't yet clear.

Why is even the possibility of an IANA breach raising eyebrows?


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Conflicts Of Interest, Lack Of Transparency Mar Our Attempt To Build A Nationwide Emergency Wireless Network | Karl Bode | Techdirt

Conflicts Of Interest, Lack Of Transparency Mar Our Attempt To Build A Nationwide Emergency Wireless Network | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Prompted by the communications network failures during 9/11, roughly fourteen years ago the government began exploring the building of a nationwide emergency communications network specifically for first responders and emergency personnel.


While it took a decade of Congressional bickering, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 finally created the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). FirstNet was given $7 billion and tasked with building a nationwide LTE network that largely piggybacks on the networks of existing carriers, delivering what the project's website declares will be a "a force multiplier, increasing collaboration to help emergency responders save more lives, solve more crimes and keep our communities safer."

Except as we previously noted, allegations emerged early on that the project had been stocked with executives from the nation's biggest wireless carriers, who were criticized for giving closed-door preference to AT&T and Verizon friends, and elbowing out folks with actual emergency, first responder or emergency backgrounds.


The result was a project that has seen little actual progress, gridlocked by a raise by the carriers to corner the billions in project funds. To ease concerns, the organization investigated itself late last year and unsurprisingly found no indications of wrong doing or conflict of interest.

Fast forward a year, and the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Commerce has released a report (pdf) that's nowhere near as forgiving. According to the study, there were numerous conflicts of interest, and FirstNet board members were pretty fast and loose when it came to adhering to disclosure rules, either filing late, or when they did file -- not actually bothering to disclose conflicts of interest that did exist:


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Longtime Domain Registrar Tucows Buys A Small ISP, Wants To Refocus Broadband Industry On Giving A Damn About The Consumer | Karl Bode | Techdirt

Longtime Domain Registrar Tucows Buys A Small ISP, Wants To Refocus Broadband Industry On Giving A Damn About The Consumer | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As we've been noting, Google's arrival into the broadband space has resulted in a flood of other companies proclaiming that they too will soon be offering 1 Gbps services over fiber.


While some of these announcements (particularly from sluggish, larger companies like AT&T and CenturyLink) are little more than fiber to the press release (development community deployments dressed up to appear more substantive than they are), some of them are genuine, grassroots efforts to rescue the U.S. broadband industry from the clutches of our beloved cable and phone duopoly.

As a hopeful example of the latter, longtime domain registrar Tucows has announced it's jumping into the 1 Gbps fiber game under its wireless MVNO brand name, Ting.


In a blog post, Ting notes it has purchased a small Charlottesville, Virginia, ISP called Blue Ridge InternetWorks (BRI). BRI, Ting claims, will be the company's beachhead in an attempt to disrupt the U.S. broadband market one small bite at a time. Ting didn't release pricing details, but told me in an e-mail it will offer symmetrical 1 Gbps speeds at a "sub-$100 price point." It also promises to make respecting consumers and net neutrality a priority:

"Tucows believes very strongly in the open Internet. Up until now, there wasn’t a whole lot we could do but educate, agitate and contribute. Getting into fixed access, owning our own pipe, is an opportunity for us to practice what we preach when it comes to the open Internet and net neutrality."

Ting says it was inspired by Google Fiber, but claims that as a smaller company Ting can deliver a more personal, human touch:


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Global 4K UHD TV Shipments Up 700% | Greg Tarr | TWICE.com

Global 4K UHD TV Shipments Up 700% | Greg Tarr | TWICE.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Global 4K Ultra HD TV shipments are expected to exceed 11.6 million units in 2014, on the way to topping 100 million units by 2018, according to new research issued by Futuresource Consulting.

The firm said 4K UHD sets are expected to grow nearly 700 percent year on year in 2014, with China accounting for over 70 percent of global demand.

In Western Europe and North America, share of 4K demand for 2014 will represent 10 percent and 8 percent respectively, with demand expected to grow at 72 percent CAGR until 2018.

“4K adoption is forecast to grow quickly from 2015 onwards with over 100 million shipments projected in 2018, representing 38 percent of the total TV market,” said David Tett, Futuresource research analyst. “An indication that 4K is quickly becoming mainstream was the availability of many sets at discounted prices during last month's Black Friday.”

Sales of 4K TVs are expected to be concentrated on the larger screen sizes, generally 50 inches, but screens smaller than 40 inches will become more widely available with 4K in the coming years, Tett said. Native 4K content remains scarce, and many consumers are currently buying sets on the basis that they can up-scale HD content and will be future-proof, in preparation for when native 4K content is more widely available.


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CableVision Bermuda hunting high and low with fibre upgrade | TeleGeography.com

Bermudan digital cable TV and broadband access provider CableVision has upgraded its fibre-optic infrastructure in the country to allow ultra-high broadband internet speeds, The Royal Gazette reports.


The cableco is using fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) technology to boost infrastructure capacity by a factor of 50, allow for peak data speeds of up to 900Mbps/200Mbps (download/upload) and enable the launch of new products and services.


CableVision CEO Terry Roberson is quoted as saying that fibre upgrades will also be carried out in the West End (i.e. Royal Naval Dockyard) – in time for the massively increased demand for data services during the global America’s Cup. ‘We feel it’s an appropriate time for us to position our company for the future where we can deliver exceptional services with technology that will be relevant over the next ten to 15 years,’ he said.


‘We also believe that this will assist in selling Bermuda as a sophisticated technological centre to the international business community,’ Roberson added.

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EOBC: FCC Auction Lowball Could Hit 1,100 stations | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

EOBC: FCC Auction Lowball Could Hit 1,100 stations | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition says that the FCC's proposed formula for pricing initial offers in the broadcast incentive auction undervalues 1,000 stations and, unless it is changed, will "snatch auction failure from the jaws of success."

The EOBC represents over 80 stations potentially willing to give up spectrum for the auction at the right price, but EOBC executive director Preston Padden has been trying to convince the FCC that the price will not be right if the commission diverts from valuing a station based on its impact on repacking.

In the recently released public notice on implementing the auction framework Report and Order released last May, the FCC provided detailed proposals including basing part of the station valuation on population served, which Padden says is irrelevant to a station's interference profile and was only included to drive down the price.

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Time Warner Cable hikes customer fees for sports channels, Internet modems | Jon McFadden | Charlotte Observer

Time Warner Cable hikes customer fees for sports channels, Internet modems | Jon McFadden | Charlotte Observer | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Time Warner Cable will soon charge its 15 million customers for watching sports as the major cable provider tries compensating for the rising costs of broadcasting local channels and athletic programming.

Effective Jan. 1, the cable company – which has a major Charlotte administrative office and serves about 50 percent of local households – will charge subscribers a new $2.75-per-month fee for sports programming. Other changes include a 9-month-old broadcasting TV surcharge increasing from $2.25 to $2.75 per month, and an $8-per-month Internet modem lease, up from $5.99.

Subscribers who pay for HBO movie channels selectively on an “a la carte” basis will see those rates increase on their bills from $14.99 to $16.99. Customers who get those channels as part of a package deal will not be charged more.

Customers only with Time Warner’s Internet services will not have to pay the broadcasting TV or sports programming fees, and vice versa for customers only with TV services.

The rate hikes come after Time Warner, which earlier this year announced a proposed $45 billion merger with Comcast, invested millions into deploying new modems to support faster Internet speeds, said Scott Pryzwansky, company spokesman.

The higher leasing fee helps pay for the new equipment and for maintenance on modems that malfunction, he said. Subscribers can avoid the fee by purchasing their own modems.


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Update On Ten-Year Campaign To Give Copyright Industry Another Monopoly: WIPO's Broadcasting Treaty | Glyn Moody | Techdirt

Update On Ten-Year Campaign To Give Copyright Industry Another Monopoly: WIPO's Broadcasting Treaty | Glyn Moody | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Say what you will about the copyright industry, but it certainly doesn't give up. No matter how many times a bad idea is fought off, sooner or later, it comes back again. The best example of this is probably WIPO's Broadcasting Treaty, which Techdirt has been covereing for a decade: in 2004, 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2013. This campaign to give broadcasters yet more monopoly rights -- as if they didn't have enough already -- is still underway, and the EFF provides us with a timely update on the current state of play:

The latest draft of the treaty also attempts to control post-fixation uses of broadcast signals -- in other words, to provide broadcasters with rights to control uses of content that has been recorded from a broadcast.

Here's why that would be awful from many viewpoints:

Since these post-fixation rules would apply regardless of whether the content was in the public domain or whether a "fair use" argument applies, it could impact the work of journalists, archivists, and creators who could otherwise legally gain access to source content through broadcasts.

And that's not all:


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The Sony Pictures hack, explained | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com

The Sony Pictures hack, explained | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Hackers broke into the computer systems of Sony Pictures entertainment in October. The attackers stole huge swaths of confidential documents from the Hollywood studio and posted them online in the following weeks -- exposing them to everyone from potential cybercriminals to journalists who have been poring through the documents and reporting everything from the details of recent film productions to the extent of the employee data laid vulnerable on the Internet.


The same day as the attack, the FBI released a flash memo warning about a destructive type of malware. As late as this week there are reports that that Sony employees are still unable to use their old computers due to concerns that code left by the hackers may not have been completely removed from the system.

Attribution is really hard when it comes to cyberattacks because it can be difficult to tie the digital forensics left behind to real-world actors, but the leading theory is that the attack is tied in some way to the North Korean government. On Wednesday The Washington Post, the New York Times and others reported that anonymous U.S. officials were pointing the finger at the secretive nation.

One official briefed on the investigation told The Post that intelligence officials believe with "99 percent certainty" that hackers working for the North Korean government were behind the attack. But the administration is reportedly unsure what to do with that information -- fearing no good outcome could come from pointing figures at the secretive state: North Korea is diplomatically isolated, and there are already significant sanctions in place.

North Korean officials have officially denied involvement in the attack, but did call it a "righteous" deed and suggested it may have been the work of supporters of the regime.

Because of the difficulty of positively identifying cyber actors, the United States rarely names nation-state actors it suspects of being behind cybersecurity incidents. An exception occurred earlier this year, when the Department of Justice announced indictments against several Chinese military employees it said were tied to cyberespionage activities against American companies. Officials are also said to be concerned about the diplomatic fallout for Japan -- Sony is based in Japan, and the nation is much closer to North Korea geographically than the United States.

The North Korean link was speculated early on, when tech news site re/Code reported that investigators were looking into the possibility of a link. After that report, messages purported to be from the hackers alluded to "The Interview" -- first saying that Sony needed to stop "the movie of terrorism," and later explicitly mentioning the film while invoking the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and threatening theaters that planned to show the film.

Technical details about the cyberattack are reported to bear similarities to previous attacks on South Korean media institutions that some cybersecurity experts attributed to North Korea. But some remain skeptical about the connection, noting that much of the publicized evidence linking the attacks is circumstantial.


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GOP goes on K Street hiring spree | Anna Palmer | POLITICO.com

GOP goes on K Street hiring spree | Anna Palmer | POLITICO.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Lobbyists can come home again.

As Republicans take control of Congress, they are bringing in veteran influence peddlers to help them run the show. Nearly a dozen veteran K Streeters have been named as top staffers to GOP leaders or on key committees as lawmakers prepare to take the gavel in January.

For instance, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell named Hazen Marshall policy director earlier this week. Marshall, a former staff director for the Senate Budget Committee, has spent the last 10 years as a lobbyist at the Nickles Group representing dozens of clients like AT&T, Comcast and energy company Exelon.

The trend is in part because Republicans are taking control of the Senate next year, opening up attractive jobs once held by Democrats.

And while former staffers-turned lobbyists often end up back in public service — the revolving door has been swinging for years — there is a notable increase in the pace of K Streeters making the move back to Congress this month.

“I think it’s to be expected, especially when you have a change in leadership in the Senate. The upper House has a little more glamour for a lot of people” said Ivan Adler, a headhunter with the McCormick Group. “There’s a lot of people who are looking to enhance their credentials… Going back to the Hill in a senior level position with lots of responsibility and visibility is just like people moving in the entertainment or sports industry in LA or New York.”

Marshall in McConnell’s office is hardly alone. Mark Isakowitz, who has been downtown since the mid-1990s first at the National Federation of Independent Business and then at the boutique firm Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock, is also making the transition to Capitol Hill. The Ohio native will be chief of staff to Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). Appropriations guru Jeff Shockey is taking another swing through the revolving door — he has done two previous stints working in the House — will this time be leaving S3 Group to become staff director to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on the House Intelligence Committee.

In an email announcing his departure from the Nickles Group, Marshall wrote friends and clients that after working for former Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.) for nearly three decades he was looking forward to his next challenge as Republicans return to power.

“I am very excited about returning to the Senate to work for Leader McConnell and will do my best to help him and his talented team succeed,” Marshall wrote in an email announcing his move. “I love the Senate and I am blessed to have been given this opportunity to work with a great Leader who will restore the glory of that institution.”

Although lobbyists are sure to take a pay cut to return to the public sector — former long-time staffers can also use the time to increase their pensions and reach the next level of compensation.

Democrats are hardly immune from bringing in old political hands and lobbyists as staffers. Lobbyists like Luke Albee returned to become chief of staff for Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner. And, outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has relied heavily on former Comcast exec David Krone as a confidant and political adviser.

But over the past several years there has been little turnover in leadership roles or at the committee. Additionally, the President Barack Obama’s slamming of the influence industry and implementation of rules that tried to limit the number of registered lobbyists from joining his administration also put a slight freeze on the practice.

“The ‘Scarlet L’ is fading and it is fading rapidly,” Adler said of the increasing number of lobbyists returning to the Hill.


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NY: Time Warner fights to keep plans secret | Larry Rulison | Times Union

NY: Time Warner fights to keep plans secret | Larry Rulison | Times Union | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Even as Time Warner Cable is urging state regulators to approve its $45 billion purchase by cable TV giant Comcast, the company is fighting efforts to make its rural broadband Internet expansion plans public.

On Friday, Time Warner Cable appealed a decision by an administrative law judge at the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) to make public some of the company's plans for building new broadband Internet networks in rural areas of the state. A consumer advocacy group called New York's Utility Project had sought to make the plans public so that consumers would know how the Comcast merger would affect the availability of high-speed Internet service.

"As outlined in our appeal, disclosure of Time Warner Cable build-out plans, including details like completion dates and the areas and number of potential customers served, would clearly harm our competitive position," Time Warner Cable spokesman Scott Pryzwansky said Monday.

Broadband Internet service — its cost and availability — are hot-button issues with government regulators these days. Some consumer groups have argued that as large media companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable merge, there will be less competition. That will result in less investment in broadband service, they argue, which is extremely expensive to build in rural areas where there are fewer customers.

Although the Federal Communications Commission has the ultimate say on the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, the deal also needs approval from the PSC, which regulates utilities in New York state. Although there have been several delays in its review, the PSC has promised to make a decision by the end of the year, although no vote has yet been scheduled.

As part of the PSC review, New York's Utility Project, run by Albany attorney Gerry Norlander, has sought to force Comcast and Time Warner Cable to make public some of the documents they have provided to the PSC that have been shielded from public view due to concerns over revealing trade secrets.

On Dec. 2, David Prestemon, an administrative law judge at the PSC, ruled that many of the documents that Norlander wanted made public should remain out of public view.

However, he did rule that one Time Warner Cable document, called "New York State Rural Builds," could be provided to Norlander. The document lists 225 Time Warner Cable broadband projects, nearly all of which were scheduled to be completed by October 2014. Prestemon ruled that Time Warner Cable could redact any information on any projects that hadn't been started yet, but the rest of the information had to be public.

"Once actual construction begins, however, the project is no longer secret; it is public," Prestemon wrote.

Norlander said Monday the document that the judge decided to release isn't as important as other documents that Time Warner and Comcast have been able to keep secret.

"The more interesting information is not what has been done or what is under way, but what will be deployed next," he said. "And will it significantly advance the state toward universal service goals of affordable access to high speed broadband?"


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Cellphones Replacing Landlines? Not Exactly | Christopher Baker | AARP.org

Cellphones Replacing Landlines? Not Exactly | Christopher Baker | AARP.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Is the landline “good as dead”? That’s what some media outlets would have you believe from their coverage earlier this year of a report on cellphone-only households. This sensational message makes for eye-catching headlines — but a closer look reveals a different story.

Many U.S. households have ditched their landlines and now rely solely on cellphones, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Indeed, the data show that 4 out of 10 adults age 18 or older live in households with only wireless telephones.

But that means that 6 out of 10 adults — roughly 140 million people — continue to live in households with landline phones.

Nothing in the CDC data suggests that the end of the landline phone is imminent. However, it does provide insights on the needs of older Americans:


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Google Fiber puts 1-Gig network expansion decision on hold | Sean Buckley | Fierce Telecom

Google Fiber puts 1-Gig network expansion decision on hold | Sean Buckley | Fierce Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google Fiber has delayed an announcement about where it will extend its 1 Gbps fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) data and video services until "early next year," according to various reports.

The service provider announced in February that it was examining how to expand its service into nine metro markets and up to 34 cities. It originally set a goal to reveal those locations by the end of this year.

At this point, Google Fiber is working with each of its target cities to get a better handle on the specific rules and regulations.

"This year gigabit Internet has moved from idea to reality, as mayors and city leaders across America have stepped up and made high-speed broadband access a priority for their community," a Google Fiber official said in a statement. "We've been working closely with cities around the U.S. to figure out how we could bring them Google Fiber, and we're grateful for their vision, commitment, and plain old hard work. While we were hoping to have an update for cities before the holidays, we have a bit more work to wrap up; we'll be back in touch sometime early next year."

Among some of Google Fiber's targets is Portland, Ore., a market where it was granted a franchise in June. In crafting a deal with the city, Portland city commissioners had to agree to tone down some of their restrictions on the placement of utility cabinets along rights of way.

Similar to other markets like Austin, Texas, where Google Fiber has announced its intention to deliver service, Portland's incumbent telco is already responding to the Internet search giant's move. According to a report in The Oregonian, incumbent telco CenturyLink has begun installing fiber to various Portland neighborhoods with the possibility of delivering its Prism IPTV service in the city sometime in 2015.


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Mississippi Attorney General Dares Reporters To Find Any Evidence Of Hollywood Funding... So We Did | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

Mississippi Attorney General Dares Reporters To Find Any Evidence Of Hollywood Funding... So We Did | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The saga of Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood and his cozy ties to Hollywood continue to come out. He's been claiming that, sure, he met with Hollywood's top lawyer, Tom Perrelli, had him prep Hood for a meeting with Google, and even took a ~4,000 word angry letter that Perrelli wrote for him, signed it as his own and sent it to Google -- but he did all that without knowing that Perrelli worked for Hollywood's top lobbying arm, the MPAA. Uh huh.

And then in a press conference, he insisted that he was doing this out of his own interest in protecting the children -- but also admitted that his office didn't have any intellectual property experts and didn't have a million dollars to do an investigation (approximately the amount the MPAA's leaked emails show them discussing to fund this investigation) and that he needed to rely on such help from "victims" to make his case. It's fairly rare, though, that "victims" of a crime run the actual law enforcement investigation and fund it as well.

Still, in that last post, we also mentioned how Hood implied that anyone suggesting he was "paid off" might be defaming him, and apparently also stated that he wasn't getting any money from Hollywood, encouraging reporters to "check records."

Hood: Not getting any money from Hollywood as far as he knows. Encouraged us to check records.


— Therese Apel (@TRex21) December 18, 2014

Okay then. Let's... check the records. Here, for example, is the MPAA's Political Action Committee apparently giving $2,500 to an operation called "The Friends of Jim Hood."


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TN: Erwin FTTH Pilot Project Moving Forward | community broadband networks

TN: Erwin FTTH Pilot Project Moving Forward | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Erwin, Tennessee announced last summer that it was planning an FTTH pilot project to connect 1,200 customers. After receiving the necessary approval from the state comptroller this summer, Erwin Utilities began construction in October, reported the Erwin Record.

The pilot project focuses in and around downtown and leadership at Erwin Utilities plan to use the network for the town's electric system, water system, and wastewater system in addition to high-speed connectivity. Lee Brown, General Manager of the municipal utilities, reported that the network will provide services up to a gig.

From an August Johnson City Press article:


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Title II And The Return of the “Gore Tax.” Or, The Debate We Should Be Having | Harold Feld | Wetmachine.com

Hal Singer and Robert Litan over at Progressive Policy Institute caused some stir recently with this paper claiming that if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reclassifies broadband as a Title II telecommunications service, it will tack on over $15 billion in new state taxes, fees and federal universal service charges.


As Free Press already pointed out, (a) Congress extending the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) in the recent “CRomnibus” funding bill” takes the state tax issue off the table; and (b) even without ITFA, the PPI Report made a lot of questionable assumptions to reach their high number.

Update: Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), one of the drafters of the IFTA extension, has this short but forceful statement about the claims that reclassifying broadband as Title II will allow states to tax broadband access despite IFTA. “Baloney.”

Happily, the ITFA extension lets us blow past the debate about whether states even use the FCC definition of “telecommunications” for revenue services (many don’t, see, e.g., this tax letter from Tennessee as an example). We can cut right to the chase on the big thing ITFA doesn’t cover — Universal Service Fund (USF). Here again, I want to blow past the question of the numbers used by PPI (which rely on a set of assumptions that amount to what we call in the trade a SWAG (“scientific wild ass guess”)) and focus on the debate we should be having — do we still believe in Universal Service or not?

If we no longer believe in Universal Service as a fundamental principle, fine. Lets own that and end the program. If we do believe in the principle of universal service, and we agree that broadband is the critical communications medium of the 21st Century, it makes no sense to play tax arbitrage games with definitions.


The FCC continues to play silly, complicated games with the Connect America Fund (CAF) because everyone wants to redirect USF support to broadband but nobody wants to include broadband in the contribution base. As a result, an increasingly smaller base of voice services is supporting an increasingly larger set of overall services. This makes no sense and is inherently unsustainable.

As I explain below, this isn’t the first time we’ve debated the importance of universal service and whether we care enough about it to pay for it. Nor will reclassification trigger some sort of “sticker shock,” as the PPI paper suggests. Instead, as I explain below, reclassification is the prelude to the real debate we need to have on whether we still believe in the fundamental principle of service to all Americans, or not.


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As more viewers cut cable, what will happen to sports? | Jon Wertheim | Sports Illustrated

As more viewers cut cable, what will happen to sports? | Jon Wertheim | Sports Illustrated | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If your cable package were a sports team, it would invariably be described as “close-knit,” all those individual channels bound and bundled together. Unlike most of commerce today—we purchase individual songs rather than entire albums; we customize everything from cars to phone cases to basketball shoes—cable comes to us as one robust, unbreakable whole. Don’t have kids? Too bad, you’re still paying monthly for Nickelodeon. You’re a socialist? Sorry, you’re buying a slate of financial news networks. You can’t spell inextricable without c-a-b-l-e.

But even with the most harmonious team, bonds eventually unravel and connections erode. A growing number of subscribers are cutting the cord, replacing cable with broadband. Networks such as HBO and CBS are going straight to the consumer with content that can be streamed on mobile devices. As the president of Fox, Chase Carey, put it on a recent earnings call, the cable bundle is “fraying at the edge.” The received wisdom: Inevitably a day will come—perhaps soon—when we will consume media à la carte, picking and choosing and paying for only the programming we desire.

For years sports have been an essential ingredient in the cable-driven model, providing “appointment television,” the rare fare that is all-but-DVR-proof. “The power of sports is the leading reason the bundle exists today and [why] the bundle is as big as it is,” says Rich Greenfield, media and tech analyst at BTIG in New York City. “Sports support the whole business.” At the same time bundling has been a boon to sports, increasing exposure on new tiers of channels and, more important, creating wealthy cable networks that have used those riches to pay record rights fees.

How will the new, unbundled model affect this synergy? Here’s what the sports viewing landscape could look like in the future:


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Chile: Cellcos predict 500,000 4G users by year-end | TeleGeography.com

Chilean cellcos Claro, Movistar and Entel expect to end the year with a combined total of more than 500,000 4G subscribers, blaming delays in the allocation of 700MHz spectrum for that number not being higher.


Diario Financiero writes that Claro is predicting 4G subscriptions to reach 250,000 by 31 December 2014, whilst Movistar and Entel are expected to have signed up 200,000 and 170,000 respectively.


The trio attributed a delay in the ‘massification’ of the 4G market to legal action brought by mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Telestar, which has delayed the allocation of 700MHz frequcies.

Telestar claims that the auction process and rollout obligations prevented smaller operators from bidding for the frequencies.


Movistar, Entel and Claro were named as the winners of the 700MHz spectrum blocks in March this year, but due to the legal challenge the frequencies have yet to be handed to the operators.


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