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Smart grids modeled after the Internet: the Energy Web

Smart grids modeled after the Internet: the Energy Web | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

What if the energy grid worked like the Internet? You'd have a completely flexible network that links producers, suppliers and consumers in a system that enables entrepreneurs to build "apps" on top of the smart grid. Drew Clark, from IBM's Venture Capital Group, outlines the benefits of an "Energy Web" in this post on the VC blog. To quote from the post, written just prior to the Obama inauguration:

 

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52 Mayors Pledge Allegiance to Comcast’s Merger Deal; Is Yours on the List? | Stop the Cap!

52 Mayors Pledge Allegiance to Comcast’s Merger Deal; Is Yours on the List? | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

More than 50 mayors of towns and cities large and small regurgitated Comcast-provided talking points in a joint letter submitted to the FCC in support of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger:


"The combination of these two American companies will bring benefits to every affected city. Cities joining the Comcast service area will benefit from increased network investment, faster Internet speeds, improved video options and leading community development programs to help us tackle important community challenges like the digital divide. Existing Comcast markets will enjoy the benefits of a company with the scale and scope to invest in innovation and deliver products and services on a regional basis.


For us, the most significant aspect of the proposed transaction is its capacity to propel new investment in infrastructure in Time Warner markets that will enhance video and Internet service in our communities. Comcast has pledged to invest hundreds of millions of dollars a year speeding up and improving the combined company’s networks.


We also view positively the apparent response to this development from other companies that provide similar services. Since the Comcast Time Warner Cable transaction was proposed, Google has announced plans to expand its high-speed Fiber service to 34 new communities, AT&T has announced plans to expand its 1 gigabit U-Verse service to 100 new municipalities including 21 large cities, and Sprint’s corporate parent has proposed to build a 200 Mbps wireless network for the US."


In addition to being terribly misleading, parts of the letter are factually inaccurate. The letter’s text was taken almost entirely from Comcast’s own talking points released to the media and disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission.


Remarkably, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown managed a complete flip-flop on his views of Time Warner Cable. In 2012, he co-signed a letter accusing Comcast and Time Warner Cable of anticompetitive behavior, runaway rate increases, and a growing digital divide. He was speaking about Comcast and Time Warner Cable’s  decision to partner with Verizon Wireless to jointly market products to their customers:


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Comcast tells government that its data caps aren’t actually “data caps” | Ars Technica

Comcast tells government that its data caps aren’t actually “data caps” | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For the past couple of years, Comcast has been trying to convince journalists and the general public that it doesn’t impose any “data caps” on its Internet service.


That’s despite the fact that Comcast in some cities enforces limits on the amount of data customers can use and issues financial penalties for using more than the allotment. Comcast has said this type of billing will probably roll out to its entire national footprint within five years, perhaps alongside a pricier option to buy unlimited data.


“There isn't a cap anymore. We're out of the cap business,” Executive Vice President David Cohen said in May 2012 after dropping a policy that could cut off people's service after they use 250GB in a month. Comcast's then-new approach was touted to "effectively offer unlimited usage of our services because customers will have the ability to buy as much data as they want."


Setting limits on data and charging extra when customers exceed them is precisely the type of scheme that nearly everyone besides Comcast considers to be a “data cap.” It’s the phrase normal people use to describe wireless data plans with exactly the same type of structure.


Comcast has gone so far as to ask for a correction to an article that called the limits "data caps" instead of "data thresholds" or "flexible data consumption plans." Now it’s trying to convince the government that its data limits aren’t actually data caps.


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TWC service outage hits 12M subs, even as FCC slaps on $1.1M fine for past outages | FierceCable.com

TWC service outage hits 12M subs, even as FCC slaps on $1.1M fine for past outages | FierceCable.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A problem created by what the operator termed as "routine maintenance" resulted in a service interruption for Time Warner Cable's (TWC) 12 million broadband subscribers nationwide this morning. 


"At 4:30 a.m. ET this morning during our routine network maintenance, an issue with our Internet backbone created disruption with our Internet and on demand services," TWC said in a statement. "As of 6 a.m. ET services were largely restored as updates continue to bring all customers back online."


Separately but related, the company will pay $1.1 million to resolve an FCC investigation that found the operator failed to report multiple network service outages in 2013, 


"TWC  failed to file a substantial number of reports with respect to a series of reportable wireline and Voice over Internet Protocol network outages," the FCC said in a report revealing the settlement, which was released Monday and originally reported on by Reuters. "TWC admits that its failure to timely file the required network outage reports violated the Commission's rules."


The FCC requires providers of fixed Internet connection or VoIP calling to promptly report some network outages that last 30 minutes or longer, for instance those that potentially affect emergency response 911 facilities or those that impact enough consumers to collectively result in at least 900,000 minutes of disrupted Internet or phone use. Operators also have 30 days to file a report and explain what happened.


The rules were adopted in the post-9/11 era and motivated by public safety.


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American Community Television Opposes Comcast-Time Warner Deal | GovVideo.com

Saying that the Comcast-Time Warner transfers and spin-offs puts Public, Educational and Government access television at risk, American Community Television (ACT) filed comments in the FCC proceeding to review the transactions.


“We risk having to deal with a giant monopoly that will run rough-shod over PEG channels and local communities,” said John Rocco, ACT president. “Comcast won’t just be handing over huge parts of the upper Midwest to Charter and then walking away; Comcast will own a substantial portion of the 'New Charter' and the spin-off, Midwest Cable.”


The comments included an overview of PEG setbacks that have occurred over the last ten years, to include:loss of funding; slamming PEG channels into the upper 900’s; charging the municipality for the transmission of the channels; PEG access closures in various states; hard-ball negotiating tactics on behalf of the cable operators; lack of a programming guide description and the inability to deliver PEG on a video-on-demand platform or to record PEG programming via a DVR.


In its comments, ACT said, “We request that the Commission protect PEG access television by rejecting the proposed transaction as not being in the public interest or conditioning the proposed transactions on curing the various problems we outline in these comments with significant conditions to protect PEG and prevent further consolidation of the traditional cable industry.”


“There is no doubt that these transactions, this shuffling of the deck, threatens PEG access television,” said Rocco, “As they grow bigger they will push back on their public interest obligations, especially PEG and frankly, there won’t be a lot that local communities can do to stop it. We want to see some guarantees that PEG will be protected in this environment.”


ACT was joined in the comments by the SouthEast Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors.

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US Data centers are the new polluters | Patrick Thibodeau | NetworkWorld.com

US Data centers are the new polluters | Patrick Thibodeau | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

U.S. data centers are using more electricity than they need. It takes 34 power plants, each capable of generating 500 megawatts (MW) of electricity, to power all the data centers in operation today. By 2020, the nation will need another 17 similarly sized power plants to meet projected data center energy demands as economic activity becomes increasingly digital.


Increased electrical generation from fossil fuels means release of more carbon emissions. But this added pollution doesn't have to be, according to a new report on data center energy efficiency from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental action organization.


In term of national energy, data centers in total used 91 billion (kilowatts) kWh in 2013, and by 2020, will be using 139 billion kWh, a 53% increase.


The report argues that improved energy efficiency practices by data centers could cut energy waste by at least 40%. The problems hindering efficiency include comatose or ghost servers, which use power but don't run any workloads; overprovisioned IT resources; lack of virtualization; and procurement models that don't address energy efficiency. The typical computer server operates at no more than 12% to 18% of capacity, and as many as 30% of servers are comatose, the report states.


The paper tallies up the consequences of inattention and neglect on a national scale. It was assembled and reviewed with help from organizations including Microsoft, Google, Dell, Intel, The Green Grid, Uptime Institute and Facebook, which made "technical and substantial contributions."


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Kanabec County, MN: Interactive video, healthcare training, business website development | Blandin on Broadband

Kanabec County, MN: Interactive video, healthcare training, business website development | Blandin on Broadband | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

On Tuesday late afternoon, Kanabec County celebrated their progress with broadband through the Blandin Broadband Communities program.


Healthcare project with First Light brought St Scholastica students and hip/knee replacement patients together where students provided training and instructions for patients. The project was successful despite some setbacks outside of the actual project (like flooding in hospital). The program will be featured at a healthcare conference in California this winter.


PCs for People brought computers to 50 low income households. Kanabec Computer Services provided local support for the computers. But that job was not onerous. The PC recipients also got access to broadband – they got reduced rates for 1 year, with an option to re-up. Worked with MidContinent and CenturyLink. The general retention rates are varied from 80+ percent retention. Although some providers will continue with reduced rate.


Interactive Video programming – such as virtual trips to the Baseball Fall of Fame, Pearl Harbor and the Coral Reef. [Working on getting some video and will add when I can.]


They did a series of training with local businesses, built a community portal, community mapping and Wi-Fi expansion.


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Entravision: Comcast/TWC Threatens Latino Programmers | Broadcasting & Cable

Entravision: Comcast/TWC Threatens Latino Programmers | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Spanish-language programmer Entravision says the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger will harm the Latino community and competing Latino-market program providers, and says the FCC should make Comcast divest its Spanish language nets as a condition of approval of the deal.


In comments to the FCC on the proposed deal, Entravision says that the combined company will have more buying power in the Latino programming market, and favor its own Latino-focused programming over independent programming, including from Entravision.

That means a probable pay cut to independent programmers, if they are not foreclosed altogether, the company says.


If the FCC approves the deal, says Entravision, it must impose structural conditions.


Citing an economic analysis it submitted along with its comments, Entravision suggested that most obvious remedies would be to require Comcast to sell Telemundo and Mun2 and/or divest cable systems in top Latino Markets to keep Comcast's share of Latino subs under 30%.


That is the FCC's former high-water benchmark for one MVPD's overall sub count, but Entravision argues that Spanish-language programming constitutes a separate market since the programming is not substitutable with non-Spanish language fare.


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CA: In Napa quake, power surges led to PC damage | Patrick Thibodeau | NetworkWorld.com

CA: In Napa quake, power surges led to PC damage | Patrick Thibodeau | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Sunday's 6.0 earthquake in Napa County, Calif. caused power surges that may have led to much of the damage to computers in homes and small businesses, according to computer technicians in Napa.


The quake was violent enough to cause partial building collapses, move furniture and toss PCs from desks, cracking screens and damaging hard drives. It also disrupted power, and may have sent large electric loads to homes and business, overwhelming surge protectors.


The quake may have exposed the limitations of surge protectors that are designed to handle the transient power spikes of lightning strikes or from a home coffee maker shorting out, not the kind of power grid disruptions delivered by an earthquake.


The force of the quake was such "that I lost pretty much everything in my house that was glass," said Dylan Williams, general manager of Valley Tech Solutions in Napa. Shelves and furniture were knocked over, he said. His office didn't fare any better.


"We had shelves of product and desk and equipment that basically just got tossed around like toys," said Williams. "Our office is pretty much a wreck."


By 9 a.m. Monday, Williams had 10 calls from clients seeking help, and he's been adding people to the list since.


The quake delivered power surges "all over the area," said Williams.


"Things have been dramatically, physically damaged from electricity surges," he said, citing customers who relied on power strips with surge protection. "That's primarily what I'm seeing all over the place."


Chris Rohrer, a repair tech and software developer at Computer Engineering Group in Napa, said that 75% of the firm's computer repairs involve power surges. "The main issue has been the fact that a lot of computers weren't plugged into the proper surge protector," said Rohrer.


Electric grid damage caused by an earthquake may be a particularly brutal test of surge protectors.


Colin Campbell, vice president of APC, a company that is part of Schneider Electric and makes power protection for home and industrial use, said that surge protectors do not necessarily have the ability to protect PCs from power swells -- an increase of voltage -- or sags -- a dip -- caused by severe earthquakes that physically damage power grid equipment.


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Verizon Says Passwords Suck, QR Codes Offer Better Way | Thor Olavsrud | NetworkWorld.com

Verizon Says Passwords Suck, QR Codes Offer Better Way | Thor Olavsrud | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Are you sick of usernames and passwords as a method of user authentication? Verizon says it has a better way. It’s beefing up its Universal Identity Services portfolio with a QR code login that enterprises can deploy to streamline logins for both internal and external users.


"Lost and stolen passwords remain the No. 1 way that systems are compromised," says Tracy Hulver, chief identity strategist for Verizon. "We continue to see usernames and passwords fail as a secure way to login no matter how complex the password. With Verizon's QR code login, we are making progress in protecting users without increasing the hassle, headache or expense for the user and the enterprise."


Hating on passwords is a popular stance among information security professionals these days, and with reason — data breach after data breach in which passwords have been revealed demonstrate that many users choose weak passwords and reuse them across the Internet. According to security applications and services provider SplashData, the most popular password in 2013 was "123456," and the second-most popular choice was "password." Other users maintain strong passwords, but write them down.


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FCC Names New CTO | Broadcasting & Cable

FCC Names New CTO | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has reached out to the West Coast for a new top tech person.


Scott Jordan is being named FCC chief technology officer (CTO), succeeding Henning Schulzrinne, who is returning to Columbia University but will continue to advise the FCC part time.


Jordan is a professor of computer science at the University of California, Irvine, with expertise on Internet pricing, platforms and differentiated service, all key issues as the FCC comes up with new open Internet rules.


“Scott’s engineering and technical expertise, particularly with respect to the Internet, will provide great assistance to the Commission as we consider decisions that will affect America’s communications platforms," said Wheeler.


He also praised Schulzrinne, saying Jordan had big shoes to fill.

CTO is the senior technical advisor to the entire agency.

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FCC establishes application procedures for Rural Broadband Experiments | Blandin on Broadband

Admittedly, I’m not exactly early with this news 0 but I had to look it up myself so I figured I’d share what I learned. The short burst – is that the doors are open for applying for the FCC Rural Broadband Experiments funding.


According to Lexology


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Comcast to 2,700+ NY’ers – Your Opposition to Our Merger: Unsubstantive, Should Be Ignored | Stop the Cap!

Comcast to 2,700+ NY’ers – Your Opposition to Our Merger: Unsubstantive, Should Be Ignored | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

“Given these many concrete benefits, and the lack of any harm to competition or consumers, it should come as no surprise that the overwhelming majority of the substantive comments (approximately 110 out of a total of about 140 substantive comments) filed in this proceeding support Commission approval of the transaction,” Comcast wrote in its latest submission.[1]


Comcast’s “new math” applies a subjective (and undisclosed) standard about what constitutes “substantive,” but in the end the cable company has urged the Commission to disregard the sentiments of more than 2,700 New York State residents who have filed comments in strong opposition to the merger because their remarks simply fell beneath Comcast’s standards.


“The minority of organizations and individuals who filed substantive comments opposing the transaction largely ignore the significant public interest benefits of the transaction,” writes Comcast. “Instead, these detractors raise issues that are not relevant to the transaction and are factually inaccurate and speculative – such as unfounded concerns about Comcast’s broadband management practices, misplaced criticisms of Internet Essentials, and general fears that ‘big is bad.’ None of these commenters identify any reasonable basis to reject or condition the Joint Petition.”


Comcast did not apply the same rigorous standards of ‘substantiveness’ to comments sent by its supporters, who often used what New York Assemblyman Joe Morelle admitted was a Comcast-supplied template ghost-written by the company itself.[2]


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Unpacking claims of “unfair competition” when the public sector finances or builds fiber to the premise infrastructure | Eldo Telecom

Unpacking claims of “unfair competition” when the public sector finances or builds fiber to the premise infrastructure | Eldo Telecom | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Incumbent telephone and cable companies often cry “unfair competition” when the public sector invests in or builds fiber to the premise (FTTP) infrastructure. Let’s unpack that assertion.


From the point of view of these companies, anyone who builds infrastructure they don’t own is a competitor. They really don’t compete to gain customers in a given geographical area.


That’s because telecommunications infrastructure isn’t truly a competitive market characterized by many sellers and buyers. Rather than competing for customers, the incumbents’ true interest is in protecting their monopoly or duopoly status.


True competition occurs in a market where buyers and sellers are on a level playing field and buyers have relatively equal access to market players and information on their services, benefits, prices and value offered. That doesn’t happen in telecommunications infrastructure. Incumbents have the upper hand in deciding which neighborhoods they will serve, what services will be offered and at what price. And they don’t disclose where they plan to build FTTP infrastructure.

The public sector typically gets involved in investing in or building FTTP infrastructure not to compete with the incumbents, but to remedy the market failure they create given their power to pick winners and losers among the neighborhoods they opt to serve and those they choose to redline and not offer service.

Finally, since the public sector typically invests in open access infrastructure and provides wholesale access to Internet service providers (including the incumbents), that’s also not direct market competition with incumbent telephone and cable companies. It’s an entirely different playing field and certainly not the same one used by the incumbents who won’t play ball unless they own the field. Hence, there’s no direct competition, fair or unfair.
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There'd Be No Wireless Wars Without The Blocked T-Mobile Merger, So Where Does That Leave Comcast-TWC? | Forbes.com

There'd Be No Wireless Wars Without The Blocked T-Mobile Merger, So Where Does That Leave Comcast-TWC? | Forbes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Three years ago, this all could have gone down very differently. AT&T had offered $39 billion to buy 4th place wireless carrier T-Mobile and was so sure it would get the deal done, it promised a $4 billion breakup fee if it didn’t. But the Department of Justice and the FCC had different ideas and killed the merger. Lots of strident words were spoken that day about T-Mobile’s prospects, about the heavy-handed role of government and about protecting consumers. Placed in the context of such a small slice of recent history, what becomes apparent is that the one group that saw the future clearly was the bureaucrats in Washington — as hard as that may be to believe. Let’s look back (and forward).


Randall Stephenson, AT&T’s chief executive, was more than a bit peeved: “The mobile Internet is a dynamic industry that can be a critical driver in restoring American economic growth and job creation, but only if companies are allowed to react quickly to customer needs and market forces,” he said. He was certainly right about the mobile internet, which has grown massively since then.


But his belief about his own company couldn’t have been more wrong. AT&T didn’t need to buy an also ran to “react quickly”. It just needed to get off its corporate duff and react quickly. In arguing for its merger, AT&T trotted out its favorite promise: It would do more post-merger than it could possibly justify on it own. In this case, that meant, “significant expansion of robust 4G LTE ..  deployment to 95 percent of the U.S. population to reach an additional 46.5 million Americans beyond current plans – including rural communities and small towns.”


Well, AT&T now covers 290 million Americans with LTE, all without T-Mobile’s help. True, that’s only 92% of the U.S. population, but its tens of millions more than the company believed it was capable of. Or, more likely, competitive pressures motivated it to do the work anyway.


Somehow, AT&T believes the government’s memory is short and is making similar promises to get its proposed merger with DirecTV approved, offering up some more rural broadband in exchange.


Meanwhile, back on the ground, Comcast and Time Warner Cable are trying to merge in a deal that, at $45 billion, is similar in magnitude to the one proposed back in 2011 between T-Mobile and AT&T. One fundamental difference, of course, is that the top two cable providers don’t compete directly, unlike the wireless companies. But Comcast has nevertheless begun to face strong opposition to the merger, including a 256-page response from Netflix to the FCC suggesting the deal would cause “serious public interest harm” as Engadget reports.


It’s been 6 months since the deal was announced, and in the immediate aftermath I felt that there was limited upside and downside for consumers. Comcast has won over some cities and diversity groups basically by promising to extend its Internet Essentials offering, which helps low-income families get online, to Time Warner territory. But what it mostly hasn’t done is won over the tech community, even though the merger would extend net neutrality provisions it is bound by thanks to its purchase of NBC Universal to new areas as well. The big unknown is whether it has won over the government.


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Vimeo signs 7 distribution partners, including Drafthouse Films, to its OTT on demand platform | Fierce Online Video

Vimeo signs 7 distribution partners, including Drafthouse Films, to its OTT on demand platform | Fierce Online Video | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Vimeo is bulking up its content library with an eye to original, independently-produced video, and has signed distribution partnerships with seven media and entertainment companies that will see their content featured on the Vimeo's OTT On Demand platform.


Its new partners include BFS Entertainment & Multimedia Ltd., Drafthouse Films (the indie film distribution arm of the Alamo Drafthouse & Cinema), lifestyle-focused producer Gaiam, Gravitas Ventures, Inception Media Group, MarVista Digital Entertainment and X-Treme Video.


Each will contribute a number of initial catalog titles and will add new releases throughout each year of the partnership.


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Here's more data on (and some solutions for) the high cost of bandwidth in the US | Stacey Higginbotham | GigaOM Tech News

Here's more data on (and some solutions for) the high cost of bandwidth in the US | Stacey Higginbotham | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Yesterday Mathew Prince, the CEO of Cloudflare posted some awesome data on his company’s blog showing that the U.S. has a higher cost for bandwidth than Europe. He’s not the only one with such data, but he’s one of the first to discuss it so openly and to dive into how the costs of peering versus buying transit affects those costs.


First off, transit is where a company buys wholesale bandwidth on a per gigabyte basis from providers that can range from Level 3 and Tata to companies like Comcast or AT&T. Peering on the other hand, is a direct link to another providers’ network that can be paid or set up as a free exchange of traffic.


I’d like to add to Prince’s insights with complementary data that came out in July on the costs associated with buying cross connects in data centers. As Prince (pictured above) explains in his post, these cross-connects are a part of the overall cost associated with setting up direct peering agreements. From his post:


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Available spectrum could double with self-interference canceling | Patrick Nelson | NetworkWorld.com

Available spectrum could double with self-interference canceling | Patrick Nelson | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Radio self-interference has been the bane of the communications industry since Marconi developed the wireless telegraph in his parents’ attic — not so long ago, in fact, in 1895.


Self-interference means that you can’t send and receive at the same time on the same frequency.


It’s because the transmitting radio creates energy that leaks into the transmitting radio’s receiver.


That leak creates meshing wave forms that manifest themselves as noise and interference — you won’t hear your correspondent, for one thing.


Consequently, the receive element in the radio must be suppressed when sending.


Unlike with a wired, landline phone call, this self-interference is the reason you can’t hold a simultaneous, two-way conversation on radios.


We’ve seen it in the movies, where the cop in the black and white presses the push-to-talk button on the microphone to report a car chase — preferably going the wrong way at a high speed in traffic. He can’t hear the dispatcher until he releases his PTT button.


Well, the PTT button isn't for dramatic effect. It’s part of the technology. And as we like to say in the IT industry: it’s a "technical limitation."


"Ah," you might say, but what about a mobile phone call, or a Wi-Fi session, surely they're simultaneously sending and receiving?


Well, they’re not, actually. They’re using blocks of adjacent frequencies, and then chopping between them quickly—they’re faking it.


Wireless full duplex: You can’t do it. But, that might be about to change, if a group of Santa Clara-based engineers' algorithms work as planned.


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For sale: Systems that can secretly track where cellphone users go around the globe | Craig Timberg | WashPost.com

For sale: Systems that can secretly track where cellphone users go around the globe | Craig Timberg | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Makers of surveillance systems are offering governments across the world the ability to track the movements of almost anybody who carries a cellphone, whether they are blocks away or on another continent.


The technology works by exploiting an essential fact of all cellular networks: They must keep detailed, up-to-the-minute records on the locations of their customers to deliver calls and other services to them. Surveillance systems are secretly collecting these records to map people’s travels over days, weeks or longer, according to company marketing documents and experts in surveillance technology.


The world’s most powerful intelligence services, such as the National Security Agency and Britain’s GCHQ, long have used cellphone data to track targets around the globe. But experts say these new systems allow less technically advanced governments to track people in any nation — including the United States — with relative ease and precision.


Users of such technology type a phone number into a computer portal, which then collects information from the location databases maintained by cellular carriers, company documents show. In this way, the surveillance system learns which cell tower a target is currently using, revealing his or her location to within a few blocks in an urban area or a few miles in a rural one.


It is unclear which governments have acquired these tracking systems, but one industry official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to share sensitive trade information, said that dozens of countries have bought or leased such technology in recent years. This rapid spread underscores how the burgeoning, multibillion-dollar surveillance industry makes advanced spying technology available worldwide.


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Champion Of The People: Verizon Complains Exigent Circumstances Order Inadequate For Info Requested; Hands Over Info Anyway | Techdirt.com

Champion Of The People: Verizon Complains Exigent Circumstances Order Inadequate For Info Requested; Hands Over Info Anyway | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Given how often major telcos and wireless service providers have willingly provided intelligence and law enforcement agencies with way more than they've asked for, the following shouldn't come as much of a surprise.

The back story is this: In July 2008, an FBI agent had his gun and cellphone stolen from his "official" vehicle. The search for the missing items involved Verizon. In an application for a court order authorizing the release of cell site location info, it's noted that the service provider performed the most futile of gestures on behalf of itself. (Link to PDF.)


As part of its ongoing investigation, and in a further attempt to locate THE LOADED SERVICE WEAPON, shortly after 4:00 a.m. on Friday, July 24, 2008, the FBI requested on an emergency basis that the Carrier disclose the SUBJECT TOWER/SECTOR and MSC RECORDS generate between Thursday, July 24 2008 at 2:00 p.m. and Friday, July 25, 2008 at 4:00 a.m. The FBI did so on the theory that THE LOADED SERVICE WEAPON might well be in the same location as SUBJECT WIRELESS TELEPHONE with which it had been reported stolen on Nostrand Avenue.

Along with this request, the FBI submitted a written "Law Enforcement Exigent Circumstances Consent Form" filled out by Agent Julian, to whom the SUBJECT WIRELESS TELEPHONE belonged, authorizing the Carrier, among other things, to disclose the SUBJECT AND MSC RECORDS generated between Thursday, July 24, 2008 at 2:00 p.m. and Friday, July 25, 2008 at 4:00 a.m.

Although the Carrier agreed to, and did, provide the requested SUBJECT AND MSC RECORDS to the FBI on an emergency basis in light of the exigent circumstances, the Carrier informed the FBI that the "Law Enforcement Exigent Circumstances Consent Form" submitted by Agent Julian provided insufficient authority to release the requested information, and directed the FBI to seek a subsequent court order authorizing the release of the information.


It's something of an anomaly to see a major carrier stand up to the government, but Verizon certainly chooses its battles very weirdly. To begin with, the phone in question belonged to the person making the request. (More likely belonged to the FBI but was issued to Agent Julian.) That it would attempt to deny a subscriber access to his own records is bizarre, especially considering its open sharing of data on millions of people with the NSA and countless law enforcement agencies -- all of whom use the Third Party Doctrine as an all-access pass to as much info as possible.

What makes this utterly ridiculous is the fact that Verizon handed over the information before complaining about the exigent circumstances order.


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Study disputes predictions of coming spectrum crunch | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com

Study disputes predictions of coming spectrum crunch | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Widely accepted projections of a shortage of mobile spectrum may not be as dire as many analysts in the mobile and tech sectors are making it out to be, according to a new study.


Projections on the growth of mobile spectrum use in recent years have often overestimated the demand, with a growing use of Wi-Fi to offload mobile data traffic contributing to inaccuracies, according to the paper, released this month by University of Southern California doctoral candidate Aalok Mehta and Goldin Associates managing director J. Armand Musey.


The paper, distributed but not paid for by mobile spectrum auction critic the National Association of Broadcasters [NAB], questioned the prevailing assumption in the mobile industry that there’s a coming spectrum crunch, with multiple studies by Cisco Systems, Coda Research, the International Telecommunication Union and other analysts predicting a skyrocketing demand for mobile spectrum.


Although a coming spectrum crunch is “now taken almost as a matter of faith among telecommunications experts,” many spectrum use predictions have had “persistent errors,” the paper said.


“Our findings suggest the mobile industry contains much higher levels of inherent demand uncertainty than is commonly estimated and that business and governments may not be fully factoring it into their policy decisions,” the study’s authors wrote.


One major problem, the study said, is that government officials have used mobile spectrum use estimates to push for policy changes. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission and White House have both called for a transfer of 500MHz of spectrum to commercial mobile uses in the coming years, with both government entities apparently using mobile spectrum use estimates by Cisco and other analysts, the study said.


“When spectrum demand forecasts are inaccurate, governments may make inappropriate policy decision,” the paper said. “Overestimating the growth of mobile network traffic crowds out other types of wireless communication by increasing spectrum scarcity.”


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Comcast allegedly trying to block CenturyLink from entering its territory | Ars Technica

Comcast allegedly trying to block CenturyLink from entering its territory | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

CenturyLink has accused Comcast of trying to prevent competition in cities and towns by making it difficult for the company to obtain reasonable franchise agreements from local authorities.


CenturyLink made the claim yesterday in a filing that asks the Federal Communications Commission to block Comcast’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable (TWC) or impose conditions that prevent Comcast from using its market power to harm competitors.


Comcast has a different view on the matter, saying that CenturyLink shouldn’t be able to enter Comcast cities unless CenturyLink promises to build out its network to all residents. Without such conditions, poor people might not be offered service, Comcast argues.


Internet service and TV providers often don’t bother competing against each other in individual cities and towns, at least in part because it’s hard to pry enough customers away from an existing company to make major construction economically viable. Network operators aren't required to lease infrastructure to companies that would provide service over the lines, and small Internet and TV providers say they face frivolous lawsuits from incumbents designed to put them out of business before they can build their own networks.


Despite being the two largest cable companies in the nation with a combined 33 million Internet customers, Comcast and TWC don’t compete against each other for residential and business subscribers anywhere. But CenturyLink, which offers DSL and fiber service and has six million broadband subscribers, is trying to compete against Comcast.


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Cleveland Indians turn to SIEM in malware, botnet battle | Ellen Messmer | NetworkWorld.com

Cleveland Indians turn to SIEM in malware, botnet battle | Ellen Messmer | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For the Cleveland Indians’ IT department, dealing with malware on behalf of hundreds of Windows-using employees at the baseball team’s Progressive Field data center operations can be a little bit like a pitcher facing a stacked batting line-up: a constant battle.


Using traditional anti-virus software from Sophos helps the team avoid infections, but can’t keep pace with the boom in zero-day attacks.


“When an Internet user goes to a website that has spyware, the system gets infected and tries to connect to a remote-control server somewhere,” says IT Director Whitney Kuszmaul. “Most anti-virus doesn’t catch a lot of things out there.”


The Indians upped their game about six months ago by adopting the AccelOps security information and event management (SIEM) tool for the purpose of centralizing security events related to firewalls, intrusion-detection systems and monitoring Windows applications and security logs. Since then, the IT department has expanded its use of AccelOps, which runs as a virtual appliance in the VMware-based data center, to analyze network traffic in order to pinpoint malware infections.


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ACA: Comcast/TWC Poses Horizontal, Vertical Harms | Multichannel.com

ACA: Comcast/TWC Poses Horizontal, Vertical Harms | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Comcast/TWC deal poses vertical harms, horizontal harms, spot cable ad market harms that need more than arbitration to remedy.

 

That was the message from the American Cable Association (ACA) to the FCC in comments on the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

 

That means the FCC needs to either impose conditions to protect competition and consumers, particularly when it comes to program distribution or just say no to the deal.

 

"Because these harms are so significant, and are not counterbalanced by public interest benefits," says ACA, "the Commission cannot approve the proposed combination without adopting specific and meaningful relief."

 

ACA suggests the vertical harm of a Comcast/TWC is like a Comcast/NBCU 800 pound gorilla on steroids. "The Commission recognized that once joined, Comcast-NBCU would negotiate more aggressively relative to pre-transaction NBCU when selling NBCU content to Comcast's video distribution rivals because the integrated firm would take into account the possibility that any harm from failure or delay in reaching agreement would be offset to some extent by a benefit to Comcast, as reaching a higher price would raise the costs of Comcast's rivals, says ACA. "By improving Comcast-NBCU's bargaining position, the transaction would lead to higher programming costs for Comcast's video distribution rivals."

 

The horizontal harms, says the ACA, come from adding TWC's L.A. and New York regional sports networks to Comcast's programming assets, as well aswhat it says is the increased bargaining power in programming negotiations Comcast gets by increasing its sub count from 21.1 to 31.4 million (which would include Comcast continuing to negotiate for Bright House and Midcontinent).


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TiVo Releases A 'Legal' Version Of Aereo, Called Roamio, Proving That Aereo Really Was About Cable Length | Techdirt.com

TiVo Releases A 'Legal' Version Of Aereo, Called Roamio, Proving That Aereo Really Was About Cable Length | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

TiVo has released a new product called "Roamio" which looks suspiciously like the recently-declared-infringing Aereo. Roamio lets users "record, store and playback" over the air programming. Just like Aereo.


There's just one distinction -- and it apparently makes all the difference in the world: Roamio's cable length is a lot shorter. As David Post notes, while Aereo and Roamio's services are nearly identical, the length of the cable changes the legal dynamic:


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ILSR Co-Signs FCC Comment Endorsing More Open Spectrum | community broadband networks

ILSR Co-Signs FCC Comment Endorsing More Open Spectrum | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Institute for Local Self Reliance has joined with Public Knowledge, Common Cause, and the Open Technology Institute, in submitting reply comments to the FCC last week as the Public Interest Spectrum Coalition (PISC). The issue at hand is the FCC’s proposal of new rules for how to govern the 3.5 GHz band, a range of the electromagnetic spectrum useful for many different types of communication. 


The PISC comment focused on the importance of getting away from the long-standing FCC policy of simply auctioning off big slices of spectrum for telecom companies to use exclusively, which inhibits innovation and enables a monopolization of the communications marketplace. Verizon and AT&T, who hold licenses to large swathes of the spectrum already, are lobbying to FCC to keep the status quo in place. PISC (and ILSR) support a more open arrangement, allowing multiple users to share the same underutilized spectrum segment, while still avoiding interference. The full text of the comment is available here. 


The language and policy of spectrum management can seem arcane to people unaccustomed to it, but how we regulate and use the electromagnetic spectrum has wide ranging consequences for almost all the technology we use in our daily lives. For a general primer on the importance and possibilities of a more open spectrum licensing policy, see the wireless commons articles we published earlier this summer.


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