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Help Stop the California Legislature’s Attempt to Pull the Plug on Your Phone Service | The Greenlining Institute

Help Stop the California Legislature’s Attempt to Pull the Plug on Your Phone Service | The Greenlining Institute | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

California has a longstanding goal of “Universal Service”—providing telephone service to every Californian. Now, that goal is in serious danger. First, some background:

 

Any program designed to achieve universal service must ensure the following:

 

--Availability.  People can’t use phone service unless it’s available, i.e. they can actually access the phone network.  This can sometimes be difficult.  For example, it can be expensive to extend phone lines out to remote communities, and can be technically tricky to provide clear wireless signals in areas with lots of tall buildings.   And phone service needs to be reliable: The network must stay up during natural disasters, call quality must be  sufficient, etc.

 

--Affordability.  In some instances, phone service may be available, but too expensive for people to afford.    Charges like installation fees, early termination fees and overage charges contribute heavily  to phone service being unavailable.

 

--Awareness.  Finally, the fact that there’s affordable phone service available means nothing if customers don’t know that the service exists.  For example, a low-income consumer may not realize that there are programs to provide low-cost phone service, and may just believe they can’t afford a phone.

 

For most Californians, getting and paying for phone service isn’t a problem.  However, about three million low-income Californians have trouble affording phone service at the rates set by carriers.  As a result, we’ve created a reasonably successful regulatory program—LifeLine—that ensures those Californians can get phone service. We require carriers to offer phone service to everyone in their service area in order to make sure that low-income consumers have access.  LifeLine subscribers pay a set rate for phone service every month (about $7), and carriers get a ratepayer-funded subsidy to make up the difference between what carriers charge and what the subscriber can afford.   Carriers are required to inform potential LifeLine subscribers about the program and help them enroll.

 

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Why IP Will Be the Language of Smart Grids | NavigantResearch.com

Why IP Will Be the Language of Smart Grids | NavigantResearch.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Having completed research for Navigant Research’s forthcoming report, Smart Grid Communications Security, I’m now into the writing and modeling phase. 

 

As you might expect, the topic of IP-based communication came up a lot during the interviews.  There is nothing approaching consensus about IP in Smart Grids, and everyone has an opinion. 

 

Whenever I’m having trouble getting someone to talk, all I have to do is mention either IP or Linux, and then the floodgates open.  Dirty trick, I know, but it works.

 

So what do people think about IP in smart grids?  Well first, let me clarify that I mean all of smart grids.  Not only smart metering, but transmission networks, substations, and distribution networks too.  There appear to be three schools of thought:

 

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Report Attacks Universal Service Program | TeleCompetitor.com

Report Attacks Universal Service Program | TeleCompetitor.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Rural telephone companies are “laughing all the way to the bank,” said Dave Herman, vice president of policy for the Alliance for Generational Equity, on a conference call with reporters today. The purpose of the call was to announce the results of a study that is highly critical of the high-cost Universal Service Fund, which pays part of the cost of delivering communications services in rural areas where the costs of providing service are high.

 

The study, titled “Unrepentant Policy Failure: Universal Service Subsidies in Voice & Broadband,” was penned by George Mason University Professor Thomas Hazlett and Scott J. Wallsten, vice president for research and a senior fellow at the Technology Policy Institute and at Georgetown University Center for Business and Public Policy.

 

In the study, the authors argue that “any plausible cost-benefit test reveals that economic welfare would increase were the entire $9 billion per year USF program eliminated.” The $9 billion number that the authors cite includes not only the high-cost Universal Service program but also several other components of the program that target low-income users, rural healthcare providers and schools and libraries. The authors also argue that in transitioning today’s voice-focused high-cost program to a broadband-focused Connect America Fund, the FCC is providing “a new rationale for subsidies.”

 

Rural broadband association NTCA promptly issued a statement saying that the authors’ claims “rely upon tired, old canards about the program and paint a distorted picture of the rural telecommunications marketplace.” The NTCA added that “with respect to the specific operations and effectiveness of the high-cost program, the authors miss the mark in too many respects to count.”

 

The association noted, for example, that Hazlett and Wallsten ignore the fact that high-cost funding has been used not only to help cover some costs of providing voice service but also has helped cover some costs of providing broadband service.

 

This has occurred because some network facilities are shared by voice and data services.

 

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Build Your Own Internet with Mobile Mesh Networking | MIT Technology Review

Build Your Own Internet with Mobile Mesh Networking | MIT Technology Review | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

After an earthquake crippled Haiti in 2010, killing and injuring hundreds of thousands and destroying the country’s communication networks, Paul Gardner-Stephen found himself thinking about all the cell phones that had instantly become useless. With cell towers out of commission across the country, they would be unable to operate. “If the software on the phones was right,” he says, “they would keep working for at least localized communication, handset to handset.”

 

Gardner-Stephen, a research fellow at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, now leads a project that enables Android phones to do just that. Serval, as the project is called, offers an app that allows nearby phones to link up using their Wi-Fi connections, as long as they have been modified to disable the usual security restrictions. Voice calls, text messages, file transfers, and more can take place between devices with the Serval app installed. Devices don’t need to be in range of one another to communicate, as long as there are other devices running the app in between; data can hop between any phones with Serval installed.

 

This approach, known as mesh networking, is not a new idea (see “Automatic Networks”). But the combination of relatively cheap smartphones and Wi-Fi routers with the progress made by open-source projects such as Serval means that creating and operating such networks is now becoming possible without specialist knowledge.

 

“We’re trying to dramatically increase the usability and take this out of the geekosphere,” says Sascha Meinrath, the leader of a project called Commotion Wireless, which is developing several software packages that allow people to create mesh networks using low-cost Internet and networking hardware, primarily Wi-Fi routers. The Commotion project is run by the Open Technology Institute, an initiative of the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, DC.

 

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NYU's Effort to Gather the Best New Urban Policy Innovations in One Place | The Atlantic Cities

NYU's Effort to Gather the Best New Urban Policy Innovations in One Place | The Atlantic Cities | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The report "Innovation and the City" [PDF] is an important addition to our knowledge of urban policy innovation. It summarizes the results of a six-month research effort by policy researchers at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service and the New York-based Center for an Urban Future. The research team interviewed over 200 experts (including our own Emily Badger) and surveyed more than 120 policy innovations.

 

These responses were vetted by a team of 40 business, policy, philanthropic and non-profit experts and ultimately pared down to 15 policy innovations. Their aim was to identify "rigorous policy experiments" and innovations that are "novel, proven and scalable." While the effort is oriented to New York City, the policy innovations identified provide broad lessons for cities across America and the world.

 

As Neil Kleiman, director of the NYU Wagner Innovation labs and one of the lead authors of the report, put it to me in an email:

 

"We sought out the very best urban reform ideas around the world and what's truly fascinating is that none of them fit into neat categories of housing or education—they are all a mash-ups. The policies pair immigrant assistance with economic development or senior services with zoning and housing policy. What's plain to see is that innovation must happen across silos, it cannot be confined to traditional policy areas or approaches."

 

The 15 highlighted policy innovations include:

 

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Eshoo: FCC Reform Bills Have No Chance | Broadcasting & Cable

Ranking House Communications Subcommittee member Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) says that FCC process reform legislation that is the subject of a July 11 hearing has not, and will not, be going anywhere.

That is according to a copy of her opening statement for that hearing.

She suggested that the committee would be better off focusing on how federal agencies use spectrum and spending less time on legislation that has been repeatedly debated.

While Republicans have argued that some of the proposed changes -- specifically the limits on merger conditions -- is a way to prevent the FCC from backdoor regulating, Eshoo suggested the legislation was a "backdoor" way to gut FCC authority.

 

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Malone floats scenarios for Time Warner Cable – Charter merger | FierceCable.com

Malone floats scenarios for Time Warner Cable – Charter merger | FierceCable.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Liberty Media Chairman John Malone told Reuters he sees a potential for Time Warner Cable to acquire other cable MSOs, and he also suggested a scenario in which a Liberty-backed Charter Communications could acquire the nation's second-largest cable MSO.

 

"Whether A merges with B, B buys A or A, B and C get together to do a joint ventures to do things that have to be done in larger scale, that's really the message I'm trying to deliver," Malone told the wire service in an interview at the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference in Idaho.

 

Liberty Media acquired a 27 percent stake in Charter for $2.6 billion in March, giving Malone four seats on the company's board of directors. There has been speculation since then that Malone could help Charter merge with other U.S. cable MSOs, including Time Warner Cable.


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Where Provo, Utah Intends To Take Google Fiber: 'What If?' | Forbes.com

Where Provo, Utah Intends To Take Google Fiber:  'What If?' | Forbes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As Provo prepares to finalize its deal with Google Fiber in the coming days, Deputy Mayor Dixon Holmes and Chief Administrative Officer Wayne Parker have recently returned from a visit to Kansas to learn all they could about Kansas City’s “fiberhood” implementation before Provo’s transition begins.

 

How close is it? Closing is slightly delayed beyond the original estimate of July 3, but the actual timing is “imminent,” Mayor John Curtis says—perhaps within days. Several unnamed sources report that at least unofficially in some areas of the city the service may already be underway.

 

What Holmes and Parker learned from Kansas: Take rates are going well, according to a recent independent survey by Bernstein Research.  One-third of the 200 homes surveyed are taking the service, and three-quarters of the rest are considering. Eighty-five percent of takers are opting for gigabit speed for a monthly fee as opposed to the free alternative of 5 Mbps/7 years (free service involves a $300 set-up fee, but for gigabit subscribers, the set-up is waived.)

 

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What is 802.11ac and Why is it Better for Public Wi-Fi? | Cable Tech Talk

What is 802.11ac and Why is it Better for Public Wi-Fi? | Cable Tech Talk | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In 2012, 1.5 billion Wi-Fi enabled devices were shipped to consumers across the globe. Everything from baby monitors to cameras to TVs and tablets were sold and are now voraciously feeding off of the wireless broadband in our homes, cafes, and even in our public parks. It’s practically ubiquitous now, but the seemingly magical technology that enables Wi-Fi is barely fifteen years old.

 

When it was first deployed, wireless Local Area Network (LAN) systems were designed to serve a limited number of business applications under controlled environments. Picture a storage facility floor where employees check inventory with a wireless scanner. Today, wireless LANs fuel everything from the biggest billion-dollar businesses to your iPhone.

 

But people are using Wi-Fi on so many devices and for such data-heavy applications that the frequency utilized to transmit Wi-Fi is becoming saturated. It’s struggling to keep up with demand.  In order to ensure a future with widespread access to both public and private Wi-Fi networks, something needs to be done.

 

The current standard, 802.11n operating on the 2.4 GHz band, is capable of a theoretical maximum 300 – 450 Mbps per transmission point. This may seem pretty fast, but looking towards the future, it’s not going to be enough. 

 

That’s where 802.11ac comes in. It’s capable of 1Gbps and it operates on the 5 GHz band, which means it can handle more users, more devices, bigger apps, and pull more of the burden off of cellular networks. Even better, many old devices will work on the new transmission standard (though receive no new benefit) and similarly, new devices will still work on old transmissions, so no need to worry that you’ll need all-new stuff.

 

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MI: Statewide Video Franchising Laws: Still Handing the Balance of Power to Big Telecom | Stop the Cap!

MI: Statewide Video Franchising Laws: Still Handing the Balance of Power to Big Telecom | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast has been a part of life in Muskegon, Mich. for decades, thanks in part to an unusually long 25-year franchise agreement signed when President Reagan was serving his last year in office. In 1988, the Berlin Wall was still in place, Mikhail Gorbachev formally implemented glasnost and perestroika, Snapple appeared on store shelves nationwide, and compact discs finally outsold vinyl records for the first time.

 

All good things must come to an end and Comcast’s contract to serve will finally expire Aug. 2. City officials want residents to understand that after two plus decades, it is appropriate to take some time to consider all the options.

 

But a 2007 law has cut that time of reflection down to a month, and removed most of the powers Michigan communities used to have to select the best cable operator for their community.

 

It’s a fact of life Comcast is well aware of, and it underlined that point by tossing a carelessly written, pro forma/fait accompli franchise renewal proposal into the mail that left Muskegon’s civic leaders cold. But if they fail to act fast, Comcast will win automatic approval of whatever it proposes to offer the 38,000 residents of the western Michigan city for years to come.

 

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No more excuses, Sprint. It’s time to build the mother of all networks | GigaOM Tech News

No more excuses, Sprint. It’s time to build the mother of all networks | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Ever since Sprint began bandying about the term 4G back in 2006, it’s been talking a big game about networks. It’s boasted about its significant spectrum holdings, its willingness to take the lead in new technologies, and its desire to overturn the established business models of mobile telecom.

 

But in those seven years, that promised game-changing network has failed to materialize. Sprint has been hobbled by financial troubles ever since it bought Nextel. And instead of building its own WiMAX network, it outsourced to task to Clearwire, which then found itself in worse financial shape than Sprint. Meanwhile, the vaunted global ecosystem Sprint hoped to build around WiMAX simply collapsed. AT&T and Verizon Wireless have long since passed it by in the 4G race.

 

But Sprint’s fortunes changed this week. On Wednesday, SoftBank closed its $21.6 billion investment in Sprint, picking up Clearwire as part of the package. SoftBank has fronted Sprint $5 billion in capital, and SofBank CEO and new Sprint chairman Masayoshi Son has promised to invest billions more in the company. By taking over Clearwire, Sprint also gains direct control over more than 100 MHz of spectrum in major markets across the country.

 

So, Sprint, it’s time to build that network you’ve been promising.

 

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Investors raise unique surveillance concerns | Blog | AccessNow.org

This week, some of the world’s leading sustainable investment firms joined the growing chorus of voices speaking out against private sector compliance in the U.S. government's sweeping violations of human rights through its widely publicized NSA surveillance programs, calling them “unprecedented and dangerous threats to the privacy of hundreds of millions of people.”

 

Citing the concerns of shareholders and institutional investors, the heads of six major funds called on all publicly-traded U.S. companies to adopt “a pro-active, principled approach to protecting the privacy and rights of their users.” In the form of an open letter, the statement urges action by all stakeholders, asking tech and telecoms companies to issue transparency reports, only comply with government requests for consumer data accompanied by judicial warrants, and institute corporate responsibility for privacy at the highest executive levels.

 

Although press attention has focused largely on the major consumer internet companies, such as Google, Microsoft, and Apple, who have been turning over data to the NSA under PRISM and other programs, the U.S. telcos, who have also reportedly been compelled to turn over information on all of their customers, have remained conspicuously silent.

 

The June 24 statement was signed by executives from Boston Common Asset Management, Trillium Asset Management, Clean Yield Asset Management, Newground Social Investment, Zevin Asset Management and Arjuna Capital. These firms practice “sustainable and responsible investing (SRI),” which refers to an investment process that, along with traditional financial analysis, measures and promotes factors related to a company’s social, environmental, and governance work.

 

In these programs, investors see not only a major danger for users, but also a long-term threat to their own financial interests. They argue that, on the basis of reputational and legal risks, the surveillance programs could “pose material financial risks to the companies involved.” As such, the open letter asked corporate executives to “demonstrate real leadership” in three different areas: transparency, protecting consumer privacy, and corporate management of user rights.

 

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FirstNet Issues RFIs on Technology for Nationwide Wireless Broadband Network | NTIA.gov

FirstNet Issues RFIs on Technology for Nationwide Wireless Broadband Network | NTIA.gov | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As part of its extensive market research to determine the most appropriate network design approach, the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) today announced the release of 10 requests for information (RFIs). These RFIs ask for input from vendors and interested stakeholders regarding potential deployment options for two crucial portions of the nationwide public safety network: the radio access network (RAN) and core network.

 

“These RFIs will enable FirstNet to gather input from equipment manufacturers, service providers and other stakeholders on possible models and partnership and technology platforms,” said Bill D’Agostino, FirstNet General Manager. “We need to hear about innovative, cost-effective solutions for delivering the coverage, capacity, connectivity, cybersecurity and resiliency that a high-speed network dedicated to public safety demands.”

 

The FirstNet RFIs, posted on www.fedbizopps.gov, follow a device RFI issued April 15. They are a key step in the competitive procurement process that FirstNet is following for its network buildout. Equipment and service providers are encouraged to respond to one or more of the new RFIs alone or jointly with other companies. They may describe potential solution elements, complete solutions or combinations of solutions on a regional or nationwide basis.  Questions from respondents are due July 22 and responses are due Aug. 30, 2013.

 

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IL: Mayor Emanuel, GE, Silver Spring Networks And ComEd Announce Multiyear Smart Meter Contracts, Bringing Millions Of Dollars In Investment And Jobs To Chicago | DailyMarkets.com

City of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined GE, Silver Spring Networks and ComEd today at a GE manufacturing facility on the south side of Chicago to announce new Smart Grid contracts that will bring millions of dollars of investment and new jobs to Chicago. GE announced today that it will manufacture smart meters on the city of Chicago’s south side, and that it will seek to hire local residents to build these meters.

 

Additionally, ComEd laid out the general schedule for installation of smart meters throughout the city of Chicago. The city’s south side will start to receive the new meters in 2014 and will have the network fully in place by 2016; at that point the north side will begin to receive the meters and will have them by 2018. By 2018, each of the city’s 1.3 million homes or businesses is expected to have a smart meter.

 

“Chicago’s new Smart Grid is substantially increasing economic opportunity for the City, by adding both manufacturing and professional jobs, opening new offices and facilities, and helping Chicago residents conserve electricity and save money,” said Mayor Emanuel. “A modern, high-tech electric infrastructure is essential for Chicago’s global economic competitiveness.”

 

ComEd and GE are partnering on a $200 million contract for GE to manufacture and deliver approximately 4 million smart meters, which ComEd will install for all customers beginning this September through 2021. GE will assemble the smart meters in Chicago at a south side factory, creating approximately 50 jobs. Smart meters provide timely data to electricity users about how much power they’re using, giving customers more control over their energy use.

 

Silver Spring Networks, which provides the technology platform for ComEd’s smart grid network, will also open a new facility in Chicago that will house dozens of new technology jobs and a next-generation network operations center to serve Smart Grid projects in Illinois and across the Midwest. That facility, which was announced by Mayor Emanuel in January 2012, is being implemented now and is currently being staffed.

 

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Microsoft overhauls, the Apple way | Economic Times

Microsoft overhauls, the Apple way | Economic Times | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A couple of years ago, a satirical set of diagrams depicting the organization of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and other technology companies made the rounds on the Internet. The chart for Microsoft showed several isolated pyramids representing its divisions, each with a cartoon pistol aimed at the other.

Its divisions will war no more, Microsoft said Thursday.

Microsoft said it would dissolve its eight product divisions in favor of four new ones arranged around broader themes, a change meant to encourage a tighter marriage among technologies as competitors like Apple and Google outflank it in the mobile and Internet markets.

"To execute, we've got to move from multiple Microsofts to one Microsoft," Steve Ballmer, the longtime chief executive, said in an interview.

The notion of organizing the company around the trinity of modern technology products - software, hardware and services - is most famously used by Apple. It is yet another sign of how deeply Apple's way of doing things has seeped into every pore of the technology industry.

And in the process, some of the biggest technology companies are starting to look much more alike organizationally. The goal is to get thousands of employees to collaborate more closely, to avoid some duplication and, as a result, to build their products to work more harmoniously together.

"The current model is obviously Apple, given how phenomenally successful they have been," said Kevin Werbach, an associate professor of business at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. "What Apple has been great at is creating these experiences."

 

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Update Regarding Buy America and Utility Relocations | Infra Insight Blog

 

As we have previously reported,  the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently adopted policies requiring Buy America compliance for utility relocations for federally funded transportation projects in cases where the utility performs relocation work. 

 

On June 28, 2013, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), American Public Transportation Association (APTA), streetcar project sponsors, and associations representing electric, gas and broadband utilities sent a joint letter to the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) asking for certain accommodations in implementation of the new policy. 

 

The letter, addressed to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Secretary-Designate Anthony Foxx, asks USDOT to clarify how the requirements will be applied, requests a transition period before Buy America requirements are applied to materials supplied by utility owners, and asks for USDOT to consider issuance of waivers for specialized utility products that may not be available from US manufacturers. 

 

The letter also notes the importance of consistency in applying the Buy America requirements throughout the country, and cites a need for training and education of utility owners, suppliers and manufacturers.

 

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Visualizing Commotion Development Progress | CommotionWireless.net

Commotion Wireless Mesh Network is being developed on multiple platforms and through a variety of interacting packages on each platform. The video animation visualizes the development process over time.

 

The core Commotion project is at the center, with sub-projects exploding out over time as development ebbs and flows. Branches and leaves represent files and code being added to sub-projects like Android, Tidepools, Linux, and OpenWRT.

 

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California High Court Boosts Public-Records Law With Ruling on Mapping Data | Threat Level | Wired.com

California High Court Boosts Public-Records Law With Ruling on Mapping Data | Threat Level | Wired.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

California’s public-records law received a major boost Monday when the state Supreme Court decided local government must turn over mapping data without charging excessive fees.

 

The decision (.pdf) concerned an appeal by the Sierra Club, which was charged $375,000 by Orange County for a mapping database of 640,000 land parcels that were in the GIS format, which stands for geographic information system, and can be read by most mapping software.

 

The case, which took six years to meander through the courts, included a friend-of-the-court brief by Wired and other news outlets who argued that only the cost of the duplication was required to obtain the database.

 

Orange, one of 58 counties in California, said it housed the mapping data on its own proprietary software, and that it would only release the data if the Sierra Club paid a licensing fee.

 

The Sierra Club, which sought the data to identify land that might be suitable for conservation projects, refused to pay and sued. The California Supreme Court reversed two lower courts and agreed with the Sierra Club and Wired. The high court ruled the records were public and should be made available “at a cost not to exceed the direct cost of duplication.”

 

Los Angeles County, the state’s largest by population, has provided the same data to the Sierra Club for $10.

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What the NSA pays telecom & ISP industry to snoop | My Way News

What the NSA pays telecom & ISP industry to snoop | My Way News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

How much are your private conversations worth to the government? Turns out, it can be a lot, depending on the technology.

 

In the era of intense government surveillance and secret court orders, a murky multimillion-dollar market has emerged. Paid for by U.S. tax dollars, but with little public scrutiny, surveillance fees charged in secret by technology and phone companies can vary wildly.

 

AT&T, for example, imposes a $325 "activation fee" for each wiretap and $10 a day to maintain it. Smaller carriers Cricket and U.S. Cellular charge only about $250 per wiretap. But snoop on a Verizon customer? That costs the government $775 for the first month and $500 each month after that, according to industry disclosures made last year to Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass.

 

Meanwhile, email records like those amassed by the National Security Agency through a program revealed by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden probably were collected for free or very cheaply. Facebook says it doesn't charge the government for access. And while Microsoft, Yahoo and Google won't say how much they charge, the American Civil Liberties Union found that email records can be turned over for as little as $25.

 

Industry says it doesn't profit from the hundreds of thousands of government eavesdropping requests it receives each year, and civil liberties groups want businesses to charge. They worry that government surveillance will become too cheap as companies automate their responses. And if companies gave away customer records for free, wouldn't that encourage gratuitous surveillance?

 

But privacy advocates also want companies to be upfront about what they charge and alert customers after an investigation has concluded that their communications were monitored.

 

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Can we afford not to have a fibre optic infrastructure? | The ITU Blog

Can we afford not to have a fibre optic infrastructure? | The ITU Blog | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Fibre-based infrastructure requires vision and recognition of the fact that many of today’s social, economic and sustainability problems can only be solved with the assistance of ICTs. In many situations the capacity, robustness, security and quality necessary for this calls for fibre optic infrastructures. This need will increase dramatically over the next 5 to 10 years as industries and whole sectors (healthcare, energy, media, retail) carry out the process of transforming themselves in order to much better address the challenges ahead.

 

Most discussions regarding the need for fibre optic infrastructure take place from the wrong perspective – based on how fast people need the internet to be when they download their emails, web information, games and movies. Fibre optic technology has very little to do with this – ultimately all of that ‘residential’ traffic will account for less than 50% of all the traffic that will eventually flow over fibre optic networks.

 

The real reason this type of network is needed relates to the social and economic needs of our societies, and there are many clear examples that indicate that we are running out of steam trying to solve some of our fundamental problems in traditional ways.

 

For instance, at this moment discussions are taking place in every single developed country in the world about the fact that the cost of healthcare is unsustainable. These costs will grow – over the next 20 years – to 40%-50% of total government budgets – clearly impossible. So we face a dilemma. Do we lower the standard of healthcare services, at the same time making them more costly for the end-user?

 

If we want to maintain our current lifestyle the only solution is to make the healthcare system more effective, efficient and productive. And this can only be done with the help of ICTs. To make it more productive, health needs to be brought to the people rather than the other way around, as is the case at present. Similar examples apply to the education system, the energy systems and the management of cities and countries in general. We need to create smart cities, smart businesses and smart countries, with high-speed infrastructure, smart grids, intelligent buildings, etc.

 

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Comcast's Cohen Still Hallucinating U.S. Broadband Supremacy - Perhaps He Should Spend a Year in Rural America | DSLReports.com

Comcast's Cohen Still Hallucinating U.S. Broadband Supremacy - Perhaps He Should Spend a Year in Rural America | DSLReports.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast's top lobbying man David Cohen (who the Washington Post earlier this year declared to be a policy "wonk rock star") has been on a bit of a tear lately, telling anyone who'll listen that historically uncompetitive and over-priced United States broadband is secretly incredibly awesome, and that those who claim otherwise suffer from delusion. In a recent editorial Cohen proclaimed the United States was the world leader in broadband, even every objective analysis shows that we're thoroughly mediocre in everything from connection price to availability.

 

Speaking at an audience of minority media entrepreneurs this week at the Minority Media and Telecommunications council's Access to Capital Conference, Cohen lauded Comcast's "Internet Essentials" program, which Cohen used to gain regulatory approval for Comcast's acquisition of NBC (and which has been heavily criticized for being a bit of a show pony heavily laden with restrictions).

Cohen first praised his company's dedication to minorities (even though companies like Comcast often use minority groups as political puppets to support bad public policy that works against their constituents' best self interests), hailed Comcast for advancing civil rights through the delivery of DOCSIS 3.0 modems, then entered into what's becoming a familiar speech:

 

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MO: City leaders meet with Google Fiber representative | The Cass County Democrat

MO: City leaders meet with Google Fiber representative | The Cass County Democrat | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

City leaders from northern Cass County are looking to form a relationship that may someday bring Google Fiber technology to the area.

 

Mayors from Belton, Raymore and Peculiar, along with their city administrators and economic development directors, met with Rachel Hack, Google’s Kansas City Community Manager, in an informative meeting July 9 about Google’s Internet broadband services.

 

“She was more or less just telling us what Google Fiber is all about, how Google is rolling it out, and what they’re looking to do,” Raymore Mayor Peter Kerckhoff said.

 

Google says its fiber network speed, at 1 gigabit per second, is 100 times faster than conventional broadband networks.

 

“What the meeting was not about was an announcement that Google is coming, but to begin that relationship with the cities in north Cass and Google,” Kerckhoff said. “The speed at which they are able to move information across the network is just amazing.”

 

The July 9 meeting was organized by the request of Cass County Economic Developer Melissa Freeman. Associate Commissioner Jimmy Odom also attended the meeting.

 

“It was a meeting with Rachel Hack to get an update on Google’s recent announcement throughout the Kansas City metro area,” Freeman said.

“There was no discussion of Google Fiber in northern Cass County, it was more of an informational meeting for Google to explain what Google Fiber can mean to a community, and their status of the build in KCMO and KCK.”

 

Freeman said it would be up to the local cities to pursue their own relationships with Google Fiber to try to bring the service to their communities.

 

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Report: Microsoft taught NSA how to crack encrypted emails | The Hill's Hillicon Valley

Report: Microsoft taught NSA how to crack encrypted emails | The Hill's Hillicon Valley | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Microsoft helped American intelligence officials gain easier access to their users' electronic communications, The Guardian reported on Thursday.

Documents leaked by former government contractor Edward Snowden show that Microsoft helped the National Security Agency (NSA) work around the encrypted code on its new Outlook portal after the spy agency expressed concern that it wouldn't be able to intercept Web chats, according to The Guardian.

 Microsoft also gave the FBI easier access to its cloud storage service SkyDrive and let the NSA have access to email on Outlook and Hotmail before it was encrypted, according to the paper.


The video service Skype, which is owned by Microsoft, also allowed the NSA to cull video and audio conversations, the newspaper reported. 

 

The accusations are just the latest to surface about the NSA working with top tech companies to conduct surveillance. The Guardian and The Washington Post reported last month that Google, Microsoft, Facebook and other tech companies had allegedly given the NSA "direct access" to their servers that store user data.

 

 

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Has The Smartphone Boom Peaked? Ominous Signs Pile Up | Forbes.com

Has The Smartphone Boom Peaked? Ominous Signs Pile Up | Forbes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Smartphones, for years the key drivers of consumer technology and the companies that profit from it, may finally be peaking.

 

For the better part of a year, a number of folks have predicted the possibility that we’ve reached the high point of smartphone sales and now are poised to see a long, slow decline. Now we finally may be starting to see it. That has huge implications for everyone from Apple and Samsung to makers of apps to marketers looking to target ads to people where they’re increasingly spending hours a day.

 

For now, smartphone sales and revenues are still growing, but clearly that growth is slowing. Well over half of people who own a cell phone in the U.S. have a smartphone, and capturing the second half of any market is always a much slower process. European smartphone sales growth, at 12%, is the lowest in nine years, according to IDC. And it’s not clear that any whizzy new models, such as the Apple iPhone 5S due out in September, are going to reverse the trend. “AAPL and others need more than just a larger screen and smaller price,” Bill Whyman, senior managing director at the investment research firm ISI Group, wrote in a May note to clients. “These help but the core problem is the market structure is maturing.”

 

The signs are piling up:

 

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"Superman memory crystal" could store hundreds of terabytes indefinitely | GizMag.com

"Superman memory crystal" could store hundreds of terabytes indefinitely | GizMag.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Recently, there have been advances in the area of digital data storage promising outstanding data density and super-long-term data storage. A new data storage technology developed at the University of Southampton can do both. Due to its similarities to the “memory crystals” used in the Superman films, it has been dubbed the "Superman memory crystal."

 

Hard-drive memory has a useful lifespan of a couple of decades at best, as it is vulnerable to damage from high temperatures, moisture, strong magnetic fields and numerous kinds of mechanical failures. Because of this, companies and consumers alike are forced to upgrade their storage hardware every few years.

 

Researchers at the University of Southampton have created an extremely dense and durable memory that can store 360 TB of data on a single disc for an indefinite amount of time. The structure, which is made of glass, can resist temperatures up to 1,000° C (1,800° F) and would be perfect for creating portable data archives that can truly stand the test of time.

Information is written using a femtosecond laser, which fires extremely short (a femtosecond is a millionth of a billionth of a second) and powerful bursts of light inside a dense three-dimensional nanostructured glass.

 

 

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