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Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream
Everything about Broadband Policy, Network Infrastructure, Voice, Video and Data Services, Devices and Applications for Managing our Planet
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What Does 2,000-Times-Faster Broadband Look Like? | Fast Company

What Does 2,000-Times-Faster Broadband Look Like? | Fast Company | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

How fast is 2,000 times faster? Is that, like, Michael Johnson-with-a-rocket-strapped-to-his-back-while-running-downhill fast?

 

An idea that researchers at a Welsh university are busy working on goes a long way toward illuminating this idea--and what it means for the future of, well, nearly everything.

 

The Bangor University scientists have successfully increased broadband speeds by this amount using very similar tech to that currently in use, with limited cost impact. Let's count the (super-high-speed) ways this could change our lives.

 

Remember the bad old days of dial-up Net and then the arrival of fast, wired broadband DSL? Download speeds went from a snails pace tens of kilobits per second to all the drama of galloping horse, with speeds of hundreds of kilobits per second.

 

On dial-up you could check your email, have a chat via AIM or surf an often text-based web. But live online gaming could only work for slower-paced strategy games due to low speeds and the latency between moves being updated, and downloading even a low-resolution movie took forever (a 700MB film would've taken about a day to download).

 

With DSL broadband, image-rich webpages could be glanced at and surfed past because they downloaded in seconds and then you would move on and play World of Warcraft with thousands of other people in near-real-time. At typical DSL speeds, a 700MB movie could be downloaded in just about the time taken to watch it. Skype, and other streaming video services like YouTube were enabled. Pink pixel websites (ahem) that cause such consternation to some began to be among the web's most popular destinations.

 

Now home fiber broadband systems are available, and they offer speeds of hundreds of megabits per second, thousands of times faster than dial-up speeds. Web pages on browsers thus download almost instantaneously, and acquiring a gigabyte sized update to your computer's operating system is something that can happen quickly and quietly in the background. A 700MB movie file downloads in minutes, while you simultaneously check your mail or FaceTime someone.

 

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Iowa: Indianola Partners for Blazing Connections in Iowa | community broadband networks

Iowa: Indianola Partners for Blazing Connections in Iowa | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

We have covered developments in the town of Indianola, Iowa, where the community decided to build their own network in 1998. The original purpose for investment was to use the network to enhance public safety and increase efficiency with SCADA applications. In 2005, however, the network began offering telecommunications services to local businesses. As of October, Indianola Municipal Utilities (IMU) began offering fiber-to-the-home to residents as it gradually begins expanding the use of its fiber asset.

 

You can now hear firsthand about the network, its history, and how the municipal utility navigated the journey to its next-generation open access network. Craig Settles interviewed Todd Kielkopf, General Manager of IMU, in an August Gigabit Nation podcast. The two discuss IMU's evolution since 1998. They also talked about the unique advantages that exist when a community considering network infrastructure investment already has a municipal utility in place.

 

Kielkopf tells how the driving factor for the fiber installation was to allow easier management and communication between utilities. When a 1990 franchise agreement with MediaCom was about to expire, the city investigated options. Hopes were that that the city could build a fiber network and MediaCom would offer services over that network, but that vision was never embraced by MediaCom.

 

Iowa law allowed the city to hold a referendum asking residents for permission to provide telecommunications services through the municipal utility's network. The referendum passed and they created a five year financial plan. Financing was with taxable and tax exempt bonds. The electric utility would build and own the network and a new telecommunications utility would license to a private partner that would offer retail services. Now, IMU and Mahaska Communication Group (MCG) have an agreement whereby MCG provides retail services over the network. While the agreement is not exclusive, no other providers currently use the network.

 

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CenturyLink Outlines Its Network Vision | Light Reading Telecom News

CenturyLink Outlines Its Network Vision | Light Reading Telecom News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

CenturyLink Inc. is using Ethernet as a unifying thread as it converges its multiple networks in a way that establishes a "service-agnostic" platform.

 

So stated Bennett Gamel, the operator's director of product and business development, during a keynote presentation Wednesday that outlined the company's network plan and elements of its service roadmap.

 

Having grown considerably during the past few years following a number of high-profile acquisitions (including Embarq, Qwest Communications and cloud services specialist Savvis), the operator is looking to unify its infrastructure and operate a common platform. (See CenturyLink Clouds Up With Savvis Buy, Qwest, CenturyLink Plan $22.4B Marriage and CenturyTel + Embarq = CenturyLink.)

 

"Ethernet and cloud service applications are becoming intertwined," Gamel said.

 

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Coming soon: smart water grids | SmartPlanet

Smart grid technologies are just years away from being installed throughout municipal water systems to reduce waste, detect contaminants, and raise awareness about how much of this resource so precious to life is being flushed away.

 

On Tuesday, I spoke with Bill Wescott, who is vice president of innovation at Veolia Environmental Services. Wescott said that Veolia, which has a sizeable water service business, is evaluating smart grid technologies that will make the distribution and collection of water more efficient.

 

Thousands of sensors would inform municipal water authorities about events such as leaks or transmit data about storm water overflows. It will also provide households with information about their water usage or possible health threats.

 

Technology that was developed for the power grid will make the transmission and processing of this data possible. New solutions are being developed to retrofit older water systems, which will monitor things like vibrations or electrical conductivity.

 

Veolia is “actively hunting and developing” technologies that run the gamut from sensors to action, Wescott said. The company is already involved with a pilot project in Europe, where smart water technologies are already being adopted.

 

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Remember how AT&T swore it needed T-Mobile to expand LTE? Funny story.

Remember how AT&T swore it needed T-Mobile to expand LTE? Funny story. | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Last year, when AT&T was in the throes of trying to convince federal regulators that its proposed deal to acquire T-Mobile should go through, company executives repeatedly cited the fact that they didn’t have enough spectrum to begin with and needed their smaller competitor’s resources.

 

On Wednesday, AT&T changed its tune, saying that it would have complete LTE coverage nationwide by 2014, largely driven by its purchases earlier this year of of the 2.3GHz WCS band. Those earlier claims appear now to have been proven to be wrong at best and disingenuous at worst.

 

"AT&T may have believed that the T-Mobile merger was the best, fastest way to get to a full LTE build, but it’s certainly disingenuous of them to claim that it was the only way for them to get there," said Joshua King, who was an AT&T Wireless vice president from 2000 to 2005 and is now a VP at Avvo, in an interview with Ars. "I wouldn’t call it ‘outright false,’ but I certainly believe they overplayed their hand in a way that was counter-productive."

 

Back in May 2011, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that his company did not own adequate spectrum, particularly in sparsely-populated parts of the country. Sen. Michael Lee (R-UT) put the question directly to Stephenson, asking, "If you were unable to acquire T-Mobile what would your options be as far as developing your 4G LTE network?"

 

Stephenson replied, "It's a long-term solution. Most of the rural communities that we're speaking to, we would not have the spectrum depth to do the conversion that we need. So, this is one of the big determinants as to whether if we can get to a lot of the rural communities with our LTE build. We need spectrum in those communities. In this classic case, [T-Mobile has] a very nice footprint in West Virginia. We don't have enough spectrum to launch in in West Virginia."

 

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Australia Gives Up On Filtering Child Porn | Huff Post Tech

Australia Gives Up On Filtering Child Porn | Huff Post Tech | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Australian government has abandoned its 5-year-old pledge to mandate a filter blocking child pornography and other objectionable Internet content.

 

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said Friday that instead of a compulsory filter being imposed, Internet service providers have agreed to block 1,400 child abuse websites on INTERPOL's "worst of" list.

 

Three of Australia's largest telecommunications companies — Telstra, Optus and Primus — have been blocking the listed sites since 2010.

 

"We've actually reached agreement with the industry to block child pornography and we think that is a significant step forward," Conroy told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

 

Critics had said the proposed legislated filter would have put Australia in the same censorship league as China. Even the U.S. State Department expressed concerns about the proposed regulations, which would have been some of the most restrictive among the world's democracies.

 

The new plan has a narrower focus on child abuse. The government's proposed compulsory nationwide filter would have also banned a regularly updated list of sites that also carried extreme violence as well as detailed instructions in crime, drug use or terrorist acts.

 

Opponents argued that the filter would slow Internet speeds, erroneously block harmless sites and restrict free speech.

 

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Nicholas Kyriakoudes's curator insight, November 20, 2014 1:35 AM

This article is about the blocking, filtering and censoring of child pornography in Australia. This article links back to our class work about safety on the internet and what to or not to put on or see on the web. The  Australian government has scrapped its plans to block sites and materials contain child pornography themselves and has now given responsibility to the internet providers themselves. Australia is one of the strictest ''blockers'' of sites in the world, a title that i think is necessarily bad. Its not your right because you live in a ''free country'' or ''democracy'' to be able to access child pornography. Weather its been put there deliberately or not, I believe its both the Governments and internet providers responsibility to block these material and take them down from the web.    

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AT&T Breaching Net-Neutrality Rules Despite Lifting Some FaceTime Restrictions | Threat Level | Wired.com

AT&T Breaching Net-Neutrality Rules Despite Lifting Some FaceTime Restrictions | Threat Level | Wired.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

AT&T continues to breach net-neutrality regulations despite an announcement that it would begin offering Apple’s FaceTime service to more of its iPhone and iPad subscribers, digital rights groups said.

 

The nation’s second-largest carrier said Thursday it was expanding the ability of its customers to use the FaceTime application, at no extra charge, for Apple iOS 6 customers with LTE coverage who have subscribed to any tiered plan. The company said the changeover should begin rolling out in the “next eight to 10 weeks.”

 

AT&T was limiting the iPhone’s FaceTime video-chat service on its cellular networks to users with new, shared data plans, which are generally more expensive. In September, the iPad 3 and newer iPad models, the iPhone 4S and the new iPhone 5 running iOS 6 became capable of using FaceTime over cellular networks instead of solely Wi-Fi.

 

But despite the change, Public Knowledge said that, until AT&T begins offering the service on all of its cellular plans like Sprint and Verizon do — including for AT&T customers with unlimited data — the company will be violating net neutrality rules.

 

“This is a step in the right direction,” said John Bergmayer, senior staff attorney with Public Knowledge.

 

Public Knowledge and other groups have been meeting with AT&T since September, when they threatened to challenge the FaceTime blocking with the Federal Communications Commission. He said within the coming months, if AT&T doesn’t open up FaceTime to all plans where subscribers have compatible Apple devices, he might demand the FCC’s intervention.

 

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The end of landlines: No phone numbers and no international calling charges | GigaOM Tech News

The end of landlines: No phone numbers and no international calling charges | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Most of us already live in a world where voice minutes are moot. But what about a world where international long-distance costs don’t matter, or phone numbers are rendered completely irrelevant? All of these are relics of the circuit-switched copper phone network, and if AT&T gets its way those things could all go by the wayside. We’ll enter the VoIP future and drag everyone who isn’t already making Skype calls or subscribing to digital voice lines with us.

 

On Wednesday, AT&T said it would spend $14 billion to boost access to its wireline and wireless networks over the next three years as it hopes to get out of running an old-school copper phone business. As Om pointed out, it’s the end of an era. But before we can move forward there are several issues that must be dealt with — from broadband and VoIP access for all to the role of the FCC, which will have to fight for relevance and regulatory power in an all-IP world.

 

And if you think that the world has already gone VoIP, you’re wrong. The FCC counted 192 million circuit-switched lines in 2001. By mid-2011,there were still 112 million lines. Because of the prevalence of the original network, most calls made still touch the original copper network at some point. Even your cell phone calls.

 

I think I was too hard on AT&T in my initial post on the topic, even though I did say I think moving off the PSTN (public switched telephone network) is the right thing to do for the company, and most of the problems associated with that move will have to be handled by the FCC. After reading its filing, talking to others in the telecommunications world and learning a bit more about some of the products it wants to offer, I think that Ma Bell is going about this in the best way possible. It has even taken proactive steps ahead of making this announcement to participate in an exchange that could become the model for how VoIP providers interconnect in the future.

 

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MetroPCS brand to be preserved post-T-Mobile merger? | TeleGeography

According to MetroPCS’ chief financial officer Braxton Carter, T-Mobile USA’s proposed takeover of the pre-paid specialist will not signal the end of the MetroPCS brand. Speaking to Fierce Wireless at the Wells Fargo Technology Media & Telecom Conference, Carter said that the combined company will become ‘a leading value-focused multi-segment carrier that will continue to offer a broad range of products’.

 

In addition, he said that the deal will allow the MetroPCS brand to expand across the US, and tap markets where the pre-paid flat-rate model does not currently exist, such as New Orleans and Minneapolis. ‘There are major markets that are underserved,’

 

Braxton added, noting that the unit’s expansion plans will not require the deployment of new infrastructure – pointing to a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) arrangement with its new owner.

 

In other news, Carter confirmed that the carrier had increased its Long Term Evolution (LTE) subscriber base to 1.25 million although no time-frame was given for this figure.

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F.C.C. Describes 911 and Cellphone Problems | NYTimes.com

F.C.C. Describes 911 and Cellphone Problems | NYTimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For all of the modern communications that keep people connected, cellphones rely on an age-old technology that has repeatedly demonstrated its own instability during emergencies — electricity.

 

Power systems failures throughout the Northeast have been the main culprits in the shutdown of more than 20 percent of the cell tower sites in 10 states, causing millions of lost calls on Wednesday, government and industry officials said.

 

Slow progress was made in restoring some services. Federal Communications Commission officials said that the percentage of cell tower sites not working in the storm-damaged areas declined “by a few percentage points” as of Wednesday morning, down from about 25 percent on Tuesday.

 

Wired broadband and cable television systems remained out of service for “well under 20 percent” of homes in hurricane-affected areas, the F.C.C. said, down from 25 percent on Tuesday.

 

But widespread power outages as well as wind damage and submerged equipment continue to affect users of wireless and wired communications services.

 

“The crisis is not over,” Julius Genachowski, chairman of the F.C.C., said Wednesday. “Over all, the condition of our communications networks is improving, but serious outages remain, particularly in New York, New Jersey, and other hard-hit areas.”

 

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Apple Quietly Removes The Need To Scroll To Its Samsung Apology | Techdirt

Apple Quietly Removes The Need To Scroll To Its Samsung Apology | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Oh, Apple. As someone who (as yet) has no children, it's been an educational experience watching the company's reaction to a UK judge ordering them to put a public apology on their website over false claims that Samsung copied them. From the very beginning, it felt like Apple had gone out of its way to prepare me for raising children. It all started with a little "But, Daaaaad! He's copying me!"

 

Then, once parental admonishment is administered, Apple went into what child psychologists call "pouty-pants mode," with the kind of apology statement that was almost literally playing one parent/country off of another, by which I refer to their referring to the fact that all of the other countries' judges that had ruled opposite of the UK courts.

 

And when the UK courts were less than thrilled with that petulance, they issued another apology, with a link buried at the bottom of the page -- using a little javascript magic to ensure that you wouldn't see it unless you were specifically looking for it. If this isn't a perfect analogy for a young child mumbling a half-hearted apology to his little brother for kicking him, I don't know what is, but I thank Apple for all the lessons in child-rearing they've given me. I feel, having watched the judge in this case, I have a good understanding on how to handle a petulant child.

 

The good news is that Apple has quietly removed this digital monument to foot-stomping, but only after Hacker News and Reddit blew up about it. Apparently, at some point since Monday, amidst the kind of backlash normally reserved for US Senators discussing women's health issues, Apple pretended like the whole thing never happened.

 

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MA: After Sandy, Town Officials Eye Utilities’ Response | WBUR

MA: After Sandy, Town Officials Eye Utilities’ Response | WBUR | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Nearly 90,000 Massachusetts customers were still without power early Wednesday afternoon, following Sandy. (Outages: NStar, National Grid, Unitil, WMECO). That’s down from almost 400,000 outages at the height of the superstorm Monday.

 

Sandy was supposed to be a demonstration of an improved response from the state’s utilities, but so far it appears that reaction to the utilities’ power restoration efforts is mixed.

 

On Tuesday in a field near the Wachusett Aqueduct on Bartlett Street in Northborough, Sandy’s wrath was evident. There was a massive tree, more than three feet in diameter, that downed a utility pole with the top snapped off nearby. And there were wires all over the field.

 

“We experienced some gusts of wind here that were 61 mph — pretty unprecedented,” said Northborough Fire Chief David Durgin. He said those winds knocked trees onto two main feeder lines, and about 80 percent of the town’s 14,000 residents lost power. As of Tuesday afternoon, that number still hadn’t changed.

 

“When these feeder lines are down this is a complex issue,” he said. “This is another whole division that handles this, not the guys in the bucket trucks. It’s high, high voltage, dangerous stuff to work with. I understand that. We just need better communication.”

 

Better communication, Durgin said, because even though National Grid did provide extra crews and a liaison to work directly with the town, communication is not much better this year than it was during last year’s major fall storms. And the chief is not the only one complaining.

 

“In my mind it’s time for change,” said Worcester City Manager Michael O’Brien. “Substantive change, honest conversations, no more bureaucracies.”

 

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3 Ways Obama’s Digital Marketing Won the Internet and the Election | Business 2 Community

3 Ways Obama’s Digital Marketing Won the Internet and the Election | Business 2 Community | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

No change this time. President Obama keeps his place in the White House for another four years and yet again, social media has played a big part. Four years ago, Obama’s social mediainspired campaign played a huge part in his election. It was so successful that it has inspired many digital marketing campaigns since. Including the aggressive social media activity of his opponent Mitt Romney this time around.

 

We’ve spoken many times on this blog about the similarities between digital marketing and political campaigning. Throughout this campaign, both sides have used digital marketing techniques and social media engagement to boost their chances. In fact, this whole election has been referred to as the social media election in some quarters. Obama’s victory in the actual election is a reflection of his general superiority as a digital marketer.

 

Three key moments stand out in defining why Obama won the online race while winning the political one too. Let’s look at those moments and the digital marketing rules that inspired them.

 

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Ashley Romance's curator insight, June 28, 1:35 PM

This article explains how Obama took the Internet by storm with his social media campaigning. Like I said before, he was one of the first candidates to ever do this and since has in spired many others to start campaigning on social media. His campaigning was clearly successful in getting him into the White House and keeping him there for eight years. When I read this article, I could not help but to think about Michelle Obama and all her presence within the community. She is involved in the most current topics within our country and is always on social media. The only other First Lady that reminds me of her is Jackie Kennedy. She was a symbol for our country and Michelle Obama is today's version of her.

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Angelakis: Comcast working with Verizon Wireless engineers to develop integrated products | FierceCable

Angelakis: Comcast working with Verizon Wireless engineers to develop integrated products | FierceCable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

 

Comcast and Verizon Wireless engineers are developing new products that will take advantage of Comcast's digital cable platform and the Verizon Wireless network, Comcast CFO Michael Angelakis said at a Wells Fargo conference Wednesday.

 

"I don't think you'll see any announcements. I think you'll see us go out and try to execute," Angelakis said, suggesting that the MSO won't make efforts to publicize the new products coming out of a joint innovation lab Verizon and Comcast have created.

 

Last year, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks agreed to sell Advanced Wireless Services spectrum to Verizon Wireless for $3.6 billion. As part of that deal, the cable MSOs and Verizon agreed to cross promote service and create a technology lab joint venture focused on developing advanced services for cable and wireless phone customers.

 

Comcast now employs about 1,000 software engineers, Angalakis said. Some of those engineers have been meeting with Verizon teams on the West coast to develop new products, he added.

 

One product that Comcast and Verizon Wireless have not publicized is the AnyPlay set-top which allows Comcast subscribers to stream live video to mobile devices within their own home. According to the websites of Comcast and Verizon Wireless, AnyPlay is now available in 31 markets where the companies are running joint promotions.

 

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AT&T's IP Investment Could Reshape Telecom Regulation | National Journal

AT&T's IP Investment Could Reshape Telecom Regulation | National Journal | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

AT&T's plan to invest $14 billion in expanding its wireline broadband offering and its wireless 4G network--announced on Wednesday--will accelerate the policy discussion about how to regulate the nation's fiber optic communications infrastructure.

 

"This totally reshapes the discussion," said Harold Feld, senior vice president of the advocacy group Public Knowledge.

 

AT&T is asking the Federal Communications Commission for permission to transition to an all Internet Protocol-based fiber network on a trial basis in a few of its wire centers. This experiment would in effect create a regulation-free zone in which AT&T could roll out fiber, roll back copper, and not be subject to rules that require them to continue to invest in their legacy networks.

 

The move is important for AT&T, because the company is behind rival Verizon in its fiber-to-the-home offering, and is losing out to cable in terms of home broadband speeds. "From an engineering perspective, this totally makes sense," Feld said. "We want to see better broadband in America." However, he worries that the deregulatory push could have the effect of dialing back what's meant by universal service. "We're in danger of becoming the only industrialized nation to go back on access to basic phone service," he said.

 

The AT&T plan does include a promised expansion of its 4G network to reach 300 million Americans, and the company has indicated it could meet its universal service requirements with wireless home phone service.

 

Phone carriers are required to carry each other's traffic, and it is unclear how this obligation will evolve in an IP-based world. Mike Romano, senior vice president of policy at the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association, which represents rural telecoms, said, "I do think there are concerns about what this means for the fundamental mission of universal service, and the way carriers interconnect with one another in an IP enabled world."

 

In the absence of any regulatory requirements, telecommunications companies would negotiate reciprocal agreements to carry traffic. In a worse-case scenario, this could lead to interruptions of the type seen in pay-TV, when broadcast signals and cable network feeds are withheld from subscribers when service providers and content owners negotiate over pricing.

 

"Whether I get to see Mad Men is one thing," said Feld, citing a recent dispute between AMC and Dish Network. "Whether I can call the hospital in an emergency--that's something else."

 

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Discovering New Ways to Learn | Cable Tech Talk

Discovering New Ways to Learn | Cable Tech Talk | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For educators, few moments are more rewarding than seeing students suddenly light up in an “I get it!” revelation. Thanks to multimedia learning experiences now available via high-speed broadband networks, it’s a scene that’s becoming more common in classrooms – and in homes – around the U.S.

 

“Normally when I’m in class and I’m doing regular assignments, I might doze off a little. But when I’m using technology, I like to pay attention and learn how to do it.” That’s a candid quote from a fifth-grader in the Indianapolis public school system, captured on video by the education arm of one of the cable industry’s most recognized and trusted programming brands, Discovery Communications.

 

Discovery’s education arm, Discovery Education, is making significant impact in partnerships with schools across the U.S. as it works with educators and administrators to create rich learning programs that make use of interactive information technologies including video and broadband.

 

An example: As of the 2012 school year, more than 500,000 students in the U.S. had access to a new sort of learning tool: a “Techbook” provided by Discovery Education to enrich traditional learning the digital way with video images, interactive maps, animated graphics and multimedia resources that enliven subjects and arm teachers with new ways to impart lessons.

 

Among the benefits of pairing digital media with classroom curricula, “It gives kids a closer experience of something they might not otherwise be able to do,” says Bill Goodwyn, CEO for Discovery Education. “Some kids have never been to the ocean. Now, if they want to, they can be at the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.”

 

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Storm Recovery — Chattanooga Style versus Sandy and Athena | isen.blog

Storm Recovery — Chattanooga Style versus Sandy and Athena | isen.blog | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

With hundreds of thousands of households in the Northeast United States dark and cold for over a week from Hurricane Sandy, and with and many more thousands newly dark from this week’s snowstorm Athena, we could learn a thing or two about electrical power restoration from Chattanooga, Tennessee.

 

Last July 5, a severe windstorm ripped through Chattanooga without warning. A boat flipped in a nearby reservoir killing two. Trees fell on cars and houses. The storm was captured in many dramatic Youtube videos.

 

Between 2007 and 2011, Chattanooga’s electric company installed a smart grid with fiber optic connections to most of its 170,000 electric meters in its 600 square mile service region, including 1200 automated electric power switches. [Ms. Bailey says that these are IntelliRupter PulseClosers and they’re made by S&C Electric Company in Chicago.]

 

From the severity of the July 5 storm, the electric company estimated that 77,000 customers would have been put out of service. But thanks to the smart grid technology, only 35,000 lost power for long enough to require a truck roll. The rest benefitted from Chattanooga’s fiber optics and automated switches, which either protected them against outages, limited outages to a few seconds, or otherwise allowed for automated restoration.

 

Chattanooga’s electric company, known as EPB, could then devote its trucks and crews to the other 35,000 outages. It finished its restoration in 3.5 days, saving an estimated day and a half and roughly $1,400,000 in restoration costs. Colman Keane, EPB’s Director of Fiber Technology, explained to me that the smart grid pinpoints outages, so crews can [more efficiently] address thousand-home outages first before they deal with power lines affecting three or four homes. In the old days, he said, crews would have to drive up and down looking at the lines. Now a dispatcher with a geographic information system directs crews to the most important faults first. [Even more importantly, Ms. Bailey adds, before the smart grid, technicians needed to go to the old switches to manually reroute power.]

 

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Want to speak Chinese without learning it? Here's how | GigaOM Tech News

Want to speak Chinese without learning it? Here's how | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Talk about your time savers. New research from Microsoft and the University of Toronto may make it possible for non-Chinese speakers to “speak” the language in their own voices without having to learn the language. Given the trade relationships between the US and China, this could be a really big deal if it works as advertised.

 

While great strides have been made in speech recognition over the past decades, the current systems still carry word error rates of 20 percent to 25 percent when handling “arbitrary speech,” Microsoft’s Richard Rashid wrote in a blog post. (Do you hear that Siri?)

 

But now, new technology called Deep Neural Networks, which mimics the way the human brain operates, enables much more discriminating speech recognition, according to Rashid, Microsoft’s chief research officer.

 

Rashid, who demonstrated the technology at a Microsoft conference in Tianjin, China in late October said the process takes text from the subject’s speech, runs it through translator, first finding Chinese (I’m assuming Mandarin) equivalents for his words, then rearranges the words in a way that is appropriate to the new language.

 

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EV Hack Keeps Homes Humming After Hurricane Sandy | Autopia | Wired.com

EV Hack Keeps Homes Humming After Hurricane Sandy | Autopia | Wired.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As millions of people fired up generators and burned candles in the wake of superstorm Sandy, some EV owners hacked their cars to keep their lights on and refrigerators humming.

 

For Maryland resident Scott Wilson, that involved nothing more than making sure his Nissan Leaf’s battery pack was topped up the night before, along with having a ProWatt 1000 DC-to-AC converter and a pair of $25 cables at the ready. And it’s something that EV owners along the east coast can do as they prepare for the latest nor’easter front.

 

After a derecho storm hit the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest in June of this year and Wilson lost power for a few days, he wanted a sure-fire plan to keep the juice flowing during Sandy. That involved ordering the ProWatt from an online marine store (for $270), which could use the electricity from his Leaf’s 24 kWh lithium-ion battery pack to power his refrigerator, microwave and even his coffee maker — although not all at once.

 

“I had the inverter hooked up and ready earlier in the day,” Wilson told Wired, explaining that the modification had been done by many members on the MyNissanLeaf enthusiast site, and others involved in the Electric Vehicle Association of Greater Washington, DC.

 

The Leaf’s DC-DC converter can supply up to 1.7kW of electricity, but keeping the draw between 1.0 and 1.5 kW is the safer bet, according to members of the EVADC website. And the real key is making sure not to plug the converter’s terminals to the negative post on the Leaf’s 12V auxiliary battery — it’s equipped with sensors and could have implications for the charging system.

 

With that caveat in mind, Wilson managed to make himself a fresh pot of coffee the morning of the storm. Had the power been out any longer, he figures he could have intermittently powered several appliances for at least three or four days.

 

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Mangrove: Fujitsu's Experimental Green Data Center Design | Green Computing Report

Mangrove: Fujitsu's Experimental Green Data Center Design | Green Computing Report | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Creating a green data center is not just a matter of locating the facility in Norway to keep the servers cool or plugging into a string of hydroelectric dams. The next generation green data center will be re-conceptualized from the concrete floor to the virtual network.

 

In this move away from traditional data center designs from the ground up, the servers and networks will be redesigned and the physical infrastructure of the building will be designed around the servers. It will be efficient and flexible, easy to upgrade and to reconfigure. It will dynamically pool resources from different components. It will use virtualization and new technologies to improve performance and reliability, to lower costs and to save energy.

 

That, at least, is the vision of researchers at Fujitsu Laboratories who are trying to create a new, integrated system architecture for future green data centers. The project, called Mangrove, is described in a paper as an attempt to achieve “total optimization by vertically integrating servers, storage drives, networks, middleware, and facilities.”

 

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Danville, VA: Economic Development Conference covers benefits of broadband | Work It, SoVa

Danville, VA: Economic Development Conference covers benefits of broadband | Work It, SoVa | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The first day of Broadband Communities Magazine’s broadband conference at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research kicked off with a welcome from Danville Mayor Sherman Saunders and a presentation by City Manager Joe King, who outlined the steps used in bringing high-speed broadband services to the city.

 

Saunders told almost 300 attendees that King gets the credit for starting the broadband initiative, called nDanville, in the city, in steps he started making when he was the director of Danville Utilities.

 

Miles of fiber optic cable have been installed throughout the city since 2004, when city municipal buildings and schools in the city and Pittsylvania County were hooked up to the broadband system. Since 2007, businesses began to take advantage of the service, with clients now reaching about 150, King said.

 

Industrial parks are built with the capability, and Danville’s medical community is also being served through the broadband network, King said.

 

Danville Utilities does not provide the actual service, just the infrastructure. At present, Gamewood is the provider using the nDanville system, but others are being actively sought, King said.

 

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 Wireless Oakland consists of three major goals | Oakland County, Michigan

County staff has continued efforts to implement the Wireless Oakland strategy. Those efforts have resulted in a potential partnership with Air Advantage, a Michigan based telecommunications company. Air Advantage was awarded $65 million in grants and loans from the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP). Per the Federal Guidelines, the funding can only be used to provide broadband service rural communities in the Thumb and portions of Southeast Michigan. Their proposed fee based service area includes portions of northern and western Oakland County.

 

The funding awarded to Air Advantage will allow them to become one of the only companies to provide broadband services to Oakland County residents in these areas, bringing those residents this much needed critical infrastructure.

 

In addition to providing for-fee services in their complete service area, Air Advantage will create free “wifi” hotspots in various downtown areas including the City of the Village of Clarkston, the Village of Holly and the Village of Oxford in exchange for access to County assets.

 

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A Few Thoughts on FaceTime | AT&T Public Policy Blog

As most observers are aware, Apple’s FaceTime application is currently enabled on AT&T’s popular Mobile Share plan as well as on Wi-Fi, though not at this time on our other billing plans. This approach has raised questions and some concerns. We decided to take this cautious approach for important reasons. AT&T has by far more iPhones on our network than any other carrier. We’re proud of this fact and the confidence our customers have in us. But it also means that when Apple rolls out new services or changes, as it did in iOS 6, it can have a much greater, and more immediate, impact on AT&T’s network than is the case with carriers who have far fewer iPhone users.

 

In this instance, with the FaceTime app already preloaded on tens of millions of AT&T customers’ iPhones, there was no way for our engineers to effectively model usage, and thus to assess network impact. It is for this reason that we took a more cautious approach toward the app. To do otherwise might have risked an adverse impact on the services our customers expect – voice quality in particular – if usage of FaceTime exceeded expectations. And this is important for all our customers regardless of which smartphone they may use.

 

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Are we asking too much of the smart grid? | Smart Grid News

Are we asking too much of the smart grid? | Smart Grid News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Rick Nicholson correctly points out that our long-term future is what I will call "federated microgrids." Many small to mid-sized microgrids trading power back and forth and islanding themselves when needed due to outages in the main grid.

 

But that future is a long ways away – probably two decades until full build out. There is much the smart grid can do for us in the meantime. Things that can occur even if big sections of the grid are out of commission. Here are just four ways that occur to me. Please use the TalkBack form below to suggest others.

 

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Media Literacy Week begins in Canada | Google Canada Blog

Media Literacy Week begins in Canada | Google Canada Blog | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In the 21st century, Internet skills are life skills -- and digital literacy is the key to leading a healthy and productive life, both online and offline.

 

This week, Google Canada is proud to be participating in Media Literacy Week, an initiative of MediaSmarts, one of the leading media literacy organizations in Canada.

 

Young people don’t just use the Internet to play games or chat with their friends. According to Pew’s Research on the Internet and American Life (and my own experience as a parent), young people are going online to get material for schoolwork, follow arts and music interests, research health issues, play games, and get news. Just under half of them have bought things online like books, clothing or music. Of course, they are also using these tools to connect with their friends and family to share details of their lives and interests.

 

That’s why media literacy and digital literacy skills are increasingly important - for young Canadians, their parents, and their teachers, and why Google Canada works with organizations like MediaSmarts, and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection to provide Canadians with educational materials, teacher training, and online tools to help them make a safe and secure transition to a life lived online.

 

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