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Pennsylvanians Excited/Outraged About Free Cell Phones & Discounted Broadband for the Poor | Stop the Cap!

WHP-TV in Harrisburg, Penn. has been running several stories about the FCC’s Lifeline program, which hands out free cell phones to those living below the poverty line. While the FCC defends the Lifeline cell phone program as delivering needed phone service for job-seekers and as a landline replacement, some citizens who consider cell phones a luxury are upset the federal government is subsidizing the project at a cost of $1.3 billion a year. Even more disturbing to some is the reported amount of waste, fraud, and abuse that may be delivering free phones to those who don’t deserve them. The anchor’s thinly-disguised editorializing leaves little doubt he considers the program a waste of money at a time of skyrocketing budget deficits.

 

WHP ran this follow-up story about the FCC’s forthcoming involvement in “free broadband” for the poor. In fact, the subsidized Internet program would likely deliver 1-3Mbps basic Internet service for around $10 a month. The WHP anchor doesn’t seem too impressed with this part of the Lifeline program either.

 

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Trojan program based on ZeuS targets 150 banks, can hijack webcams | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com

Trojan program based on ZeuS targets 150 banks, can hijack webcams | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A new computer Trojan based on the infamous ZeuS banking malware is targeting users of over 150 banks and payment systems from around the world, security researchers warn.

The new threat, dubbed Chthonic, is based on ZeusVM, a Trojan program discovered in February that is itself a modification of the much older ZeuS Trojan.

“The Trojan is apparently an evolution of ZeusVM, although it has undergone a number of significant changes,” security researchers from antivirus vendor Kaspersky Lab said in a blog post. “Chthonic uses the same encryptor as Andromeda bots, the same encryption scheme as Zeus AES and Zeus V2 Trojans, and a virtual machine similar to that used in ZeusVM and KINS malware.”

Like ZeuS, Chthonic’s main feature is the ability to surreptitiously modify banking websites when opened by victims on their computers. This technique, commonly known as Web injection, is used to add rogue Web forms on banking websites that ask victims for sensitive information, like credit card details or second-factor authorization codes.

However, Chthonic has a modular architecture that allows cybercriminals to extend the Trojan’s functionality. The Kaspersky Lab researchers found Chthonic modules designed to collect system information, steal locally stored passwords, log keystrokes, allow remote connections to the computer through VNC, use the infected computer as a proxy server and record video and sound through the computer’s webcam and microphone.

According to Kaspersky Lab, there are several Chthonic-based botnets with different configurations, suggesting the malware is being used by different groups.


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As Hollywood Funds a SOPA Revival Through State Officials, Google (And The Internet) Respond | Parker Higgins | EFF.org

As Hollywood Funds a SOPA Revival Through State Officials, Google (And The Internet) Respond | Parker Higgins | EFF.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Almost two years ago, millions of Internet users joined together to defeat the Stop Online Piracy Act, a disastrous bill that would have balkanized the Internet in the name of copyright and trademark enforcement.


Over the past week, we've been tracking a host of revelations about an insidious campaign to accomplish the goals of SOPA by other means. The latest development: Google has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block enforcement of an overbroad and punitive subpoena seeking an extraordinary quantity of information about the company and its users. The subpoena, Google warns, is based on legal theories that could have disastrous consequences for the open Internet.

The subpoena is was issued after months of battles between Google and Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood. According to the lawsuit, Hood has been using his office to pressure Google to restrict content accessible through the search engine. Indeed, among other things, he sought "a “24-hour link through which attorneys general[]” can request that links to particular websites be removed from search results "within hours,” presumably without judicial review or an opportunity for operators of the target websites to be heard." As Google states, "The Attorney General may prefer a pre-filtered Internet—but the Constitution and Congress have denied him the authority to mandate it."

The subpoena itself is bad enough, but here's what's really disturbing: the real force behind it appears to be the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which has been quietly supporting state-level prosecutors in various efforts to target the company and the open Internet.


The clear aim of that campaign—dubbed "Project Goliath" in MPAA emails made public through the recent high profile breach of Sony's corporate network—is to achieve the goals of the defeated Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) blacklist proposal without the public oversight of the legislative process. Previously, Google had responded with a sharply worded notice and a petition titled #ZombieSOPA.

According to Google, the MPAA intended to use the state prosecutors' offices to bring about the aims of SOPA after the bill's embarrassing public defeat nearly three years ago.


In January 2012, legislators quickly distanced themselves from SOPA after a widespread online "blackout" campaign drew attention to the way the proposed law could be misused for censoring lawful speech.


In addition, EFF helped coordinate a series of letters signed by prominent computer scientists explaining how the proposed blacklist technique—censoring at the DNS level—could undermine the fundamental architecture of the Internet, destabilizing core components in an ill considered effort to reduce copyright infringement.

The MPAA learned a lesson from that campaign, but it appears it was the wrong one. Instead of recognizing that an online blacklist was a fundamentally unworkable idea, they decided that it could only be pushed in secrecy. In one email, MPAA's Global General Counsel Steven Fabrizio includes a section titled "Technical Analyses," that suggests they did not seriously consider the technical concerns highlighted during the SOPA backlash:


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EU-Canada Trade Agreement May Be Incompatible With EU Law | Glyn Moody | Techdirt.com

EU-Canada Trade Agreement May Be Incompatible With EU Law | Glyn Moody | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Just as it did with the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), Germany is leading the fight against both TAFTA/TTIP and the recently-concluded trade agreement between the EU and Canada (CETA).


That's clear from the fact that of the 1,115,000 European citizens who have signed an online petition calling for both TTIP and CETA to be dropped, 673,000 come from Germany. The most powerful anti-TTIP organisation, Campact, is also based in Germany, and points us to this legal analysis of CETA, and the extent to which it may be incompatible with EU and German law (pdf):

The following opinion assesses whether this "CETA Consolidated Text" of August 5th, 2014 complies with EU and [German] constitutional law. The opinion is limited to some selected regulatory fields of CETA. It does not claim to be exhaustive, but focuses on those provisions that dominate public discussion.

It's rigorous stuff and pretty dry, but the conclusions are clear enough. For example, it confirms that CETA is a "mixed agreement." That means it must be ratified by the EU and every one of the 28 Member States -- a much higher hurdle to clear than just EU approval. It identifies the corporate sovereignty provisions -- "investor-state dispute settlement" -- as a problem:


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Peru: Cablecos jump ship to FTTH | TeleGeography.com

More than 50% of Peru’s cable operators have started migrating to a fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) platform in 2014, Produ writes, citing Ovidio Rueda, the president of the Peruvian Cable TV Association (Asociacion Peruana de Television por Cable, APTC).


The official was quoted as saying: ‘Our organisation is fully committed to deliver more and better services with total quality.’


Rueda added that the APTC’s members have signed agreements to combat piracy and ‘informality’ – the latter referring to the practice of operators deliberately under-reporting subscriber numbers to avoid paying higher fees.

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Brazil: TIM Brasil, Xtera deploy 100G aerial network in North, Centre West | TeleGeography.com

Cellco TIM Brasil, in partnership with Xtera, has upgraded its transmission infrastructure linking Manaus, Porto Velho and Cuiaba to 100Gbps, as part of a project to add 100G traffic in a large ring in the northern part of Brazil, representing about 50% of the whole Brazilian territory.


Xtera deployed Tim Brasil’s first 100G network sections in 2013 (in the Amazon region and a link to the Fortaleza submarine network landing point).


The latest deployment saw 2,655km of high-capacity aerial fibre lit across Brazil’s North and Centre West regions (1,010km from Manaus to Porto Velho and 1,645km from Porto Velho to Cuiaba) in a region that the press release notes is ‘fast growing and hungry for more bandwidth’.

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Senators Warren, Markey, and Baldwin Demand Answers from USTR on Backdoor Financial Deregulation in the TPP | DailyKos.com

Senators Warren, Markey, and Baldwin Demand Answers from USTR on Backdoor Financial Deregulation in the TPP | DailyKos.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

On Tuesday, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) sent a letter to US Trade Representative Michael Froman demanding answers about backdoor financial deregulation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The senators highlight three parts of the TPP that could undermine current and future efforts to regulate Wall Street and prevent another financial crisis:

(1) Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), which allows foreign companies or investors to sue governments for losses in expected profits

(2) "Market access" provisions that could prohibit restrictions on predatory financial products, like risky forms of derivatives

(3) Limitations on governments' ability to impose capital controls, which could stymie efforts to prevent future financial crises as well as efforts to pass a financial transaction tax

The senators asked USTR Michael Froman to respond to their questions, with negotiating text documentation, by January 6th.

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Windstream Modifies REIT Plans | Mike Farrell | Multichannel.com

Windstream Modifies REIT Plans | Mike Farrell | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Windstream Holdings announced some changes to its planned real estate investment truct, telling shareholders Thursday that it plans to retain a 19.9% interest in the new entity, and distribute the remaining 80.1% to shareholders.

The company had previously planned to distribute the entire REIT to shareholders when it first announced plans in July. Windstream plans to place fiber and copper plant and fixed real estate assets in the REIT, which should give its substantial tax savings.

In a statement, Windstream said the retained shares would be sold opportunistically during the 12-months after the spin-off to help retire debt.

“Given the importance of the REIT formation to Windstream’s future performance, the Board of Directors and I are intently focused on completing the spinoff, and it remains a strategic priority,” Windstream CEO Tony Thomas said in a statement. “This refined structure allows Windstream to reach our leverage goals faster to strengthen our competitive position, which we believe is appropriate and prudent given the fast changing telecom industry and rapidly evolving customer needs. By improving Windstream’s credit profile, the REIT benefits from having a financially stronger anchor tenant and retains the financial flexibility to grow and return capital to its shareholders.”


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Pew: Majority See No Secure Privacy Regime By 2025 | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

Pew: Majority See No Secure Privacy Regime By 2025 | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A slight majority of tech experts polled by Pew say they don't expect that there will be a "secure, popularly accepted and trusted privacy-rights infrastructure by 2025" within the next 10 years.

That is according to the a survey conducted by Pew Research Center and Elon University's Imagining the Internet Center.

The breakdown was 55% saying no and 45% saying yes. The survey polled 2,511 "technology builders, researchers, managers, policymakers, marketers, analysts and those who have been insightful respondents in previous studies," and only those who opted in to an invitation to weigh in on the future of privacy.

“The vast majority of experts agree that people who operate online are living in an unprecedented condition of ubiquitous surveillance,” said Lee Rainie, a co-author of the report and director of the Pew Research Internet Project, in unveiling the survey.

The presumption is that personal data is now the "raw material" of the knowledge economy and that the challenge is to look at the future of privacy "in light of the technological change, ever-growing monetization of digital encounters, and shifting relationship of citizens and their governments that is likely to extend through the next decade."


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Moffett: FCC OTT Reclassification Not 'Huge' Deal | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

Moffett: FCC OTT Reclassification Not 'Huge' Deal | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Media analyst Craig Moffett says he doesn't think the FCC's vote to reclassify some over-the-top video providers as MVPDs is a "huge issue" because it is mostly about access to the programming of vertically integrated companies, and one of the biggest is already subject to them. He also says that while the financial community appears to have signaled it can live with Title II, he thinks the forbearance issues around that approach are more complicated than some may think.

MoffetttNathanson partners Moffet and Michael Nathanson were interviewed for C-SPAN's Communicators series, which airs this weekend.

Moffett said he thought reclassification would do is give over-the-top providers access to the program access rules, which means nondiscriminatory access to vertically integrated programming. That, he said, means programming from "Comcast, Comcast, Comcast," plus a handful of companies that own regional sports networks.

A majority of FCC commissioners--the three Democrats--have already approved the item, which was expected to be voted by the Republican commissioners Thursday (Dec. 18), according to one FCC source.

Moffett pointed out that Comcast is already required to make its programming available on nondiscriminatory terms to over-the-top competitors via NBCU deal conditions--which extend until 2018, and likely beyond if the FCC approves the Time Warner Cable merger. "People have talked about it as something of a lifeline for Aereo because it gives them at least a step in the direction of licensing content through retransmission consent from broadcasters, but it doesn't really give them that much negotiating leverage." He said he doesn't really think that FCC reclassification "is really going to change the world."

Moffett said he thinks the impact of the CBS and HBO Internet streaming services will be "somewhat limited," as opposed to a service already delivering OTT video--Netflix--which he says has been "very profound."

But Moffett said media companies can no longer circle the wagons and protect the old ecosystem.


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Verizon to FCC: You can’t stop Netflix-like interconnection payments | Yuri Victor | Ars Technica

Verizon to FCC: You can’t stop Netflix-like interconnection payments | Yuri Victor | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Verizon told the Federal Communications Commission yesterday that it has no right to regulate paid interconnection deals like the ones Netflix struck with Verizon and other Internet providers.

Even reclassifying broadband service as a utility or common carrier service will not give the FCC that power, Verizon VP and Associate General Counsel William H. Johnson wrote in a filing in the FCC's net neutrality proceeding.

"The Commission cannot under any circumstances lawfully impose Title II common-carriage requirements on interconnection, as some regulatory proponents propose. Such requirements apply only to 'common carriers,' that is, to telecommunications service providers already 'engaged as a common carrier for hire," Johnson wrote, citing US communications law and court precedents. "As the DC Circuit has explained, when a provider is not operating as a common carrier, the Commission cannot 'relegate' that provider 'to common carrier status' by imposing common-carriage regulation. The Commission does not have 'unfettered discretion... to confer or not confer common-carrier status on a given entity depending upon the regulatory goals it seeks to achieve.'"

For the past few months, Netflix has been paying Verizon, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, and AT&T for interconnection that allows it to bypass other, more congested paths into the providers' networks. Despite paying the ISPs, Netflix has asked the FCC to mandate "settlement-free interconnection," in which the providers would have to offer interconnection without payment. The FCC has been examining these deals but hasn't taken any action.

Before the disputes between Netflix and ISPs were resolved, Netflix subscribers suffered from poor video streaming performance for months because Netflix traffic was being held up at congested interconnection points where traffic from many online services was transferred from third-party transit providers to ISPs. Netflix accounts for a third of all North American Internet downstream traffic during peak viewing hours. The deals Netflix struck with ISPs improved performance for Netflix itself and for online services that relied on the third-party transit providers to gain entry into ISPs' networks.

Verizon argued that Netflix and Cogent were to blame. "Internet players such as Netflix and Cogent have called for the Commission to reach beyond the last mile and regulate interconnection points or the terms of interconnection, on the ground that congestion at those points can affect the speeds that end users experience when accessing content," Verizon wrote:


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The race to 5G: Inside the fight for the future of mobile as we know it | Jo Best | TechRepublic

The race to 5G: Inside the fight for the future of mobile as we know it | Jo Best | TechRepublic | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Every ten years or so, something big happens in mobile. Once a decade, a new generation of mobile network technology comes along: the first mobile networks appeared in the 1980s, GSM followed in the 1990s, 3G arrived at the turn of the century, and LTE began rolling out in 2010.

Each generation has set out to fix the flaws of its predecessor: GSM fixed the security weaknesses of analogue telephony, 3G was meant to sort out GSM's lack of mobile data and, given it didn't much succeed, 4G was needed to finally make consuming data less of an unpleasant experience.

Now, 5G is emerging ahead of the turn of a new decade and the next big change to hit mobile. But what's the problem that 5G's meant to fix?

Here's the thing: no one's too sure about 5G, not really, not yet. The main gripes that people have with their mobile service today are coverage and price - neither of which are problems that need a new generation of mobile tech to solve. Throw a bit of cash into building out LTE and LTE-A and much of these headaches would go away, yet the industry is ploughing full steam ahead into 5G. Instead, the industry is hoping 5G will solve problems we don't have today, but those that could hold us back years in the future.

The process of building each new mobile standard begins years before it's put into use, and once up and running, those standards will remain in place in various forms for a decade or more. With 5G, we're having to build a standard that will still be in use in 2030 and beyond - and the mobile industry has a terrible track record when it comes to future-gazing.

Back at the start of 2000, with 3G just about to launch, who could have predicted how the mobile world would look in 2010? At the turn of this century, we all packed candy bar feature phones, now most of us have feature-packed smartphones.


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Half of Connecticut says it wants fiber-optic Internet — and soon | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

Half of Connecticut says it wants fiber-optic Internet — and soon | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Half of Connecticut's population could someday be wired for high-speed, fiber-optic Internet, thanks to a state effort to attract Internet providers.

Forty-six Connecticut towns said Thursday that they'd like to work with broadband companies so that residents can access gigabit speeds — that's roughly 100 times what the average American household gets today. The list includes some of Connecticut's biggest towns, such as Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford. But it also includes smaller municipalities where getting next-gen services might prove more difficult, such as Simsbury and Waterford.

"I feel very confident there's no reason Connecticut shouldn't be number one" for fiber connectivity, said William Vallee, the state's head of broadband policy, in an interview. "We have tremendous fiber capacity."

Although the state has fiber-optic cables connecting all 169 towns, that infrastructure typically ends in nodes serving the local town hall or police and fire stations. The next step will be to connect individual homes to that network. As many as 1.8 million Connecticut residents would get access to fiber if the public-private partnership plans move forward.

That figure also represents a significant opportunity for Internet providers. ISPs would not only be able to tap into a lucrative subscriber base for fiber-optic services, said Vallee — they'd be able to do so at little cost to themselves, thanks to the infrastructure that's already been built and state incentives to streamline the building process.

Federal Communications Chairman Tom Wheeler applauded the effort Thursday.


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The Evidence That North Korea Hacked Sony Is Flimsy | Kim Zetter | WIRED.com

The Evidence That North Korea Hacked Sony Is Flimsy | Kim Zetter | WIRED.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Today Sony canceled the premiere of “The Interview” and its entire Christmas-Day release of the movie because of fears that terrorists might attack theaters showing the film.

The actions show just how much power the attackers behind the Sony hack have amassed in a short time. But who exactly are they?

The New York Times reported this evening that North Korea is “centrally involved” in the hack, citing unnamed U.S. intelligence officials. It’s unclear from the Times report what “centrally involved” means and whether the intelligence officials are saying the hackers were state-sponsored or actually agents of the state. The Times also notes that “It is not clear how the United States came to its determination that the North Korean regime played a central role in the Sony attacks.” The public evidence pointing at the Hermit Kingdom is flimsy.

Other theories of attribution focus on hacktivists—motivated by ideology, politics or something else—or disgruntled insiders who stole the data on their own or assisted outsiders in gaining access to it. Recently, the finger has pointed at China.

In the service of unraveling the attribution mess, we examined the known evidence for and against North Korea.


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WunderBar sensor kit gets notifications app for broader appeal | David Meyer | GigaOM Tech News

WunderBar sensor kit gets notifications app for broader appeal | David Meyer | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The open-source WunderBar kit is a distinctive attempt to get app developers to shift their attention to the internet of things. It takes the form of a chocolate bar, the individual pieces of which can be broken off, with each piece containing different sensor functionality, such as temperature and humidity, sound, light and proximity, and motion, and with low-energy Bluetooth tying the system together.

Whereas other systems like Spark and LittleBits are more geared toward people who like to fiddle around with little wires, WunderBar firm Relayr specifically targets app developers who are only starting to think about hardware. The system comes with software development kits (SDKs) for Android and iOS, and months after launch there are already interesting ideas springing up, such as InsulinAngel’s temperature-sensing capsule for the kits diabetics have to carry around (you don’t want the insulin to spoil) and BabyBico, a system that uses Wunderbar’s accelerometer and sound sensor to monitor babies’ sleeping patterns.

But Berlin-based Relayr, which has an international distribution deal with German electronics retailer Conrad, wants to broaden WunderBar’s appeal. To that end, on Thursday it released a new app called TellMeWhen, which makes it easy for WunderBar owners to get simple notifications when, for example, the proximity sensor is activated, or when the accelerometer and gyroscope detect movement, or when the temperature sensor’s environment gets too hot or cold.


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Obama: Sony 'made a mistake' in bowing to threats over movie | Jennifer Epstein | POLITICO.com

Obama: Sony 'made a mistake' in bowing to threats over movie | Jennifer Epstein | POLITICO.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

President Barack Obama said Friday that Sony erred in choosing not to release “The Interview” amid cyber threats that have been linked to North Korea.

“Yes I think they made a mistake,” he said at his year-end news conference at the White House.

“We cannot have a society in which a dictator in some place can start imposing censorship in the United States,” he said. If a leader like North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un is able to inspire such concern over a “satirical movie,” the president said, “imagine what they start doing” with undesirable documentaries or news reports.

“I wish they’d spoken to me first,” he added. “I would have told them: Do not get into the pattern in which you are intimidated.”


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We won! Here are the top 3 ways Big Telecom will face financial penalties if they break the rules. | Josh Tabish | OpenMedia.ca

We won! Here are the top 3 ways Big Telecom will face financial penalties if they break the rules. | Josh Tabish | OpenMedia.ca | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Our small team here at Open Media have been clinking our coffee mugs after this morning’s announcement of new powers that will allow the government to impose financial penalties on Big Telecom giants that break the rules and mistreat Canadians.


And we’re talking BIG penalties: up to $10 million per infraction on a first offence, up to $15 million per infraction for subsequent offences. This is huge.

The decision comes in response to a key request made by the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who participated in our crowdsourced Casting An Open Internet action plan. In the plan, we called on government to create powers that would allow them to level penalties against companies who violate rules designed to protect Canadian Internet users. And now, to uncover how this impacts you, please check out the list below:


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Uruguay: Antel connects 500,000 homes with fibre | TeleGeography.com

Uruguay’s national telecoms operator Administracion Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (Antel) has achieved its target of connecting 500,000 households to its high speed fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network by year-end, the company’s president Carolina Cosse is quoted by Subrayado as saying.


Last year the state-owned company said it will invest USD1.112 billion in its operations by 2017, around USD727 million of which will be spent on its access network, including the rollout and expansion of its FTTH infrastructure.


TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database states that China’s ZTE was selected in September 2011 to build Antel’s national FTTH network and the first home was connected to the infrastructure one month later.


Services are marketed under the brand ‘Vera en tu Hogar’, with plans for residential users ranging in price from UYU690 (USD33.8) per month for the entry-level 20Mbps downstream connection to UYU1,590 per month for the top-end 120Mbps/12Mbps download/upload plan.

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T-Mo takes bigger byte of Big Apple; adds NYC to Wideband LTE footprint | TeleGeography.com

T-Mobile US has expanded its commercial ‘Wideband LTE’ upgraded 4G network throughout the greater New York City metro area, boosting maximum mobile data speeds by up to 50% to 100Mbps-110Mbps.


In addition to Manhattan, Wideband LTE now covers T-Mobile customers in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, Long Island and Northern New Jersey. Westchester County, including White Plains and Scarsdale as well as Central New Jersey will be added soon.


T-Mobile’s Wideband LTE is now available in 27 major markets and 120 metros (metropolitan statistical areas).

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FCC: Mobile Wireless Market Highly Concentrated | John Eggerton | Multichannel

FCC: Mobile Wireless Market Highly Concentrated | John Eggerton | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The FCC's Wireless Bureau Thursday released its annual report on how competition in the mobile wireless industry, as well as a declaratory ruling on the commercially reasonable standard for data roaming agreements -- the standard a court advised the FCC it could apply to discrimination in new network neutrality rules.

The fact that both those were issues at the bureau level, rather than voted on by the full commission, did not sit well with the two Republican commissioners.

Though the report does not make a finding about whether or not the marketplace is effectively competitive, given that there is no agreed-on definition of the same, it does say: "The mobile wireless marketplace continues to be highly concentrated: The top two providers – Verizon and AT&T – had almost 70% of nationwide market share and total service," the 17th edition of the report, covering 2013 and much of 2014, concludes.

The report also finds that mobile broadband speeds are increasing, LTE (next-generation mobile) coverage is growing, data allowances are increasing and subscriptions and revenues are growing.

The FCC has been attempting to boost that competition, including through bidding rules on its AWS-3 auction and upcoming broadcast incentive auction.


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AT&T Uncorks 75-Meg U-verse Tier | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com

AT&T Uncorks 75-Meg U-verse Tier | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Following recent upgrades, AT&T has booted up a new U-verse broadband tier that pumps out 75 Mbps downstream in “select areas” of Monterey and Sacramento, Calif.; Toledo, Ohio; and El Paso, Texas.

The introductory price for the new offering, which is paired with an 8 Mbps upstream path, starts at $74.95 per month as a stand-alone service, and as low as $39.95 per month when bundled with other AT&T services.

Next year, AT&T plans to expand availability of that faster tier in those initial markets and across the 21 states where AT&T offers high-speed Internet service today, Bob Bickerstaff, AT&T’s VP of voice & data products, noted in this blog post.

The initial wave of upgrades will hit markets served by Comcast (Monterey and Sacramento), Buckeye CableSystem (Toledo), and Time Warner Cable (El Paso).

Bickerstaff said the new 75 Mbps offering, which is enabled through upgrades delivered via a new 17 MHz signal, twice the original 8.5 MHz that was used, “isn’t just designed for techies and online gaming enthusiasts…Speeds up to 75Mbps are ideal for homes with multiple devices and for gaming and streaming video.”


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Tech firms tussle with DOJ over the right to say ‘zero’ | Ellen Nakashima | WashPost.com

Tech firms tussle with DOJ over the right to say ‘zero’ | Ellen Nakashima | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A growing number of technology companies seeking to promote transparency have been testing the limits of new government guidelines on how they can disclose national security orders for their customers’ data.

Over the past year or so, about a dozen online and communications firms have reported that they have never received such a request, effectively breaching the spirit if not the letter of government guidance issued in January intended to make it more difficult for would-be terrorists or spies to identify services that could be used to evade detection. Their decisions have frustrated U.S. officials, even as they privately acknowledge there is little they have been able to do about it.

The right to report zero is part of a broader tussle between the private sector and the government over transparency and the proper boundary between free speech and national security.

In October, Twitter sued the government, charging that its First Amendment rights were squelched when the Justice Department blocked it from publishing a transparency report that sought to disclose the specific number of orders it had received and the fact that the number was limited. The firm also alleged that preventing a company from reporting “zero” national security requests is an unconstitutional restraint on speech.

The guidelines take the form of an agreement reached with five major tech companies that allowed for reporting of government national security requests in broad ranges, such as 0-999. There is no “zero” option.


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White House Promotes Title II Via Social Media | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

White House Promotes Title II Via Social Media | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Add the White House to those who are using social media to encourage the FCC to reclassify Internet access under Title II regulations. And the President's message to the FCC is pretty specific: Title II reclassification, apply network neutrality regs to mobile broadband and prevent paid prioritization.

The White House is featuring network neutrality prominently on its home page, including the video President Obama made promoting Title II, the same plan expanded upon in a statement on virtual White House letterhead, and a request to spread the word via social media.

"President Obama is asking the FCC to keep the Internet open and free. Help spread the word—share his plan with your friends and followers," says the White House, then directing readers to use the featured "Facebook" and Twitter" buttons.

In that statement, the President likens broadband access to phone service and says the same philosophy applied to calls—that they reliably go through—should apply to packets of data.

The following is the plan the White House wants to promote via social media, which includes the President's argument for why the FCC should treat ISPs like terminating monopolies in need of tough government regulations to prevent them from "restrict[ing] the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas."


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U.S.-Cuba breakthrough is no slam dunk for Internet | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com

U.S.-Cuba breakthrough is no slam dunk for Internet | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Obama administration’s historic move to restore ties between the U.S. and Cuba may eventually put more Cubans online, but the future of the Internet there is likely to depend more on domestic policies than on imported goods and services.

As President Obama announced steps to lower barriers between the U.S. and Cuba after more than 50 years, he said the strict U.S. laws designed to isolate Cuba have contributed to the island’s isolation from the Internet. The policy changes he ordered on Wednesday included allowing companies to export communications gear and set up infrastructure for networks in Cuba.

The latest moves go beyond an earlier liberalization in 2009, which didn’t include equipment exports and other items. But just because U.S. carriers and vendors are allowed to start wiring Cuba for Internet service doesn’t mean they will. The island country’s own government has strictly limited access to the Internet, and only about 5 percent of Cuba’s population is connected to the global network, according to the White House.

In a speech on the policy changes on Wednesday, Obama said he welcomed “Cuba’s decision to provide more access to the Internet for its citizens,” without giving further details. Whatever Havana’s decision entails, it will have to make the Cuba an attractive market for foreign service providers if it’s to increase the country’s domestic and international connections, according to Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis at Dyn Research.

Cuba could certainly use more Internet capacity. There’s only one international submarine cable connected to the island, a link from Venezuela that seems to have been activated last year. Cuba has just 1.275Gbps (bits per second) of total bandwidth linking it to the outside world, according to the research firm TeleGeography. The island partly depends on slow, expensive satellite links.

But international connections aren’t the only thing limiting Internet use in the country. Cuban citizens can only get online in a few places, such as government-run cafes that are too expensive for most average people, Madory said. In 2013, TeleGeography reported just 6,200 broadband subscribers in a nation of more than 11 million. In June of that year, the government opened up Web access in 118 outlets in addition to the hotels and select state institutions where it had been available before, TeleGeography reported.


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Vulnerability in embedded Web server exposes millions of routers to hacking | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com

Vulnerability in embedded Web server exposes millions of routers to hacking | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A serious vulnerability in an embedded Web server used by many router models from different manufacturers allows remote attackers to take control of affected devices over the Internet.

A compromised router can have wide-ranging implications for the security of home and business networks as it allows attackers to sniff inbound and outbound traffic and provides them with a foothold inside the network from where they can launch attacks against other systems. It also gives them a man-in-the-middle position to strip SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) from secure connections and hijack DNS (Domain Name System) settings to misrepresent trusted websites.

The new vulnerability was discovered by researchers from Check Point Software Technologies and is located in RomPager, an embedded Web server used by many routers to host their Web-based administration interfaces.

RomPager is developed by a company called Allegro Software Development and is sold to chipset manufacturers which then bundle it in their SDKs (software development kits) that are used by router vendors when developing the firmware for their products.

The vulnerability has been dubbed Misfortune Cookie and is being tracked as CVE-2014-9222 in the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures database. It can be exploited by sending a single specifically crafted request to the RomPager server.


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New TISA Leak: US On Collision Course With EU Over Global Data Flows | Glyn Moody | Techdirt.com

New TISA Leak: US On Collision Course With EU Over Global Data Flows | Glyn Moody | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Although most attention has been given to the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), also known as TTIP, it's important to remember that a third set of global trade negotiations are underway -- those for the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), which involves more countries than either of the other two.


Like TPP and TAFTA/TTIP, TISA is being negotiated in strict secrecy, but earlier this year the financial services annex leaked, giving us the first glimpse of the kind of bad ideas that were being worked on. Now, another leak has surfaced, which reveals the US's proposals to free up data flows online.

For the European Union, that's a hugely sensitive issue. Under data protection laws there, personal data cannot be sent outside the EU unless companies sign up to the self-certification scheme known as the Safe Harbor framework.


However, in the wake of Snowden's revelations about NSA spying in Europe, the European Parliament has called for the Safe Harbor scheme to be suspended. If that happens, the only way that US Internet companies could comply with the EU Data Protection Directive would be to hold personal information about EU citizens on servers physically located in Europe. But it is precisely that kind of requirement the leaked TISA position seeks to forbid:


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