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Everything about Broadband Policy, Network Infrastructure, Voice, Video and Data Services, Devices and Applications for Managing our Planet
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Judge Tells Homeland Security To Shut Up And Release Aaron Swartz's File | Techdirt

Judge Tells Homeland Security To Shut Up And Release Aaron Swartz's File | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

After Aaron Swartz's suicide, Kevin Poulsen filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Department of Homeland Security, asking for the Secret Service's file on Aaron Swartz, since it was the Secret Service that handled the bulk of the investigation.

 

Aaron, himself, was a big user of the FOIA process, including retrieving his own FBI file concerning his earlier run-in with the authorities over downloading PACER material. So it seemed bizarre that the Secret Service denied Poulsen's request, "citing a FOIA exemption that covers sensitive law enforcement records that are part of an ongoing proceeding." Considering that the case was closed and Swartz was dead, that seemed like a ridiculous excuse.

Poulsen went through the official appeal process, which was ignored leading him to officially sue. In May, the government admitted that the law enforcement exemption no longer made sense, but then continued to do nothing about releasing the documents.

 

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The Issues: Combating Closed, Slow, Expensive, Networks Everywhere | New Networks

The Issues: Combating Closed, Slow, Expensive,  Networks Everywhere | New Networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

According to a recent survey, America’s Internet, broadband, cable, and phone companies – sometimes called “ISPs” are the most hated companies in America.

 

We’ve retooled New Networks to be able to not only give the you, your family and your company the skinny about what’s going on but we’ve got a plan to stop or reverse the phone and cable companies’ abuses as it’s out of hand.

 

The networks are not open: You can’t choose you own Internet or broadband or cable service over the wires in your home. In most of America, you either buy everything from your cable company or you have few, if any choices.

 

Fast? While Google has started to roll out 1 gigabit speeds in Kansas City, and some municipalities decided to circumvent the incumbent phone and cable companies, like Chattanooga,  AT&T, in 22 states, is still based on the old copper wiring –with a current top speed of 24 Mbps in 1 direction. The cable companies keep telling everyone that they have 100 mbps capability – but they aren’t selling it and it’s only fast in 1 direction.

 

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong you can get 1 gigabit for $25, in France you can get 300 Mbps in both directions, as well as TV and phone for about 45 bucks. – In your town…?

 

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How Secretly Redefining 'Relevant' Empowered Vast NSA Data-Gathering | WSJ.com

How Secretly Redefining 'Relevant' Empowered Vast NSA Data-Gathering | WSJ.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The National Security Agency's ability to gather phone data on millions of Americans hinges on a secret court ruling that redefined a single word: "relevant."

 

This change—which specifically enabled the surveillance recently revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden—was made by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a group of judges responsible for making decisions about government surveillance in national-security cases. In classified orders starting in the mid-2000s, the court accepted that "relevant" could be broadened to permit an entire database of records on millions of people, in contrast to a more conservative interpretation widely applied in criminal cases, in which only some of those records would likely be allowed, according to people familiar with the ruling.

 

In interviews with The Wall Street Journal, current and former administration and congressional officials are shedding new light on the history of the NSA program and the secret legal theory underpinning it. The court's interpretation of the word enabled the government, under the Patriot Act, to collect the phone records of the majority of Americans, including phone numbers people dialed and where they were calling from, as part of a continuing investigation into international terrorism.

 

"Relevant" has long been a broad standard, but the way the court is interpreting it, to mean, in effect, "everything," is new, says Mark Eckenwiler, a senior counsel at Perkins Coie LLP who, until December, was the Justice Department's primary authority on federal criminal surveillance law.

 

"I think it's a stretch" of previous federal legal interpretations, says Mr. Eckenwiler, who hasn't seen the secret ruling. If a federal attorney "served a grand-jury subpoena for such a broad class of records in a criminal investigation, he or she would be laughed out of court."

 

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Former NSA Director On Privacy Vs. Security Balance: Would 'Shave Points' Off Effectiveness For 'Public Comfort' | Techdirt

Former NSA Director On Privacy Vs. Security Balance: Would 'Shave Points' Off Effectiveness For 'Public Comfort' | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The administration, various members of Congress and heads of security agencies all agree: there must be a balance between security and privacy. The defenders of the NSA's actions all seem to agree the balance should swing heavily in the favor of 'security.' Obviously, many of our nation's citizens (and now, many citizens of our allies' nations) disagree.

Obama has said that he "welcomes the debate" on these issues, but so far has done little to dispel the notion that "debate" is just administration-specific slang for "regurgitate talking points and safety v. privacy platitudes."

Does the NSA welcome this debate? It's highly doubtful it even considers there to be room for argument, much less be willing to cede ground to privacy concerns. Every bit of data harvesting and surveillance makes everyone that much "safer," according to its claims. Surely the security of the American people (and the agencies themselves) is more important than the comfort level of the public.

Former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden certainly believes it is. But unlike the current head of the NSA, Hayden is willing to tweak the all-important balance if that will make everyone a tiny bit happier.

 

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An MIT Project That Lets You Spy On Yourself | Planet Money | NPR

An MIT Project That Lets You Spy On Yourself | Planet Money | NPR | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It's my favorite in large part because it's my metadata. It comes from my Gmail account. The relationships it maps are, more or less, my life — orange circles for Planet Money, purple for Brooklyn, brown for college. The big red circle that gets cut off at the bottom of the screengrab is my mom.

 

The picture shows just how revealing metadata can be. Without knowing anything about the content of my emails, you can paint a pretty complete picture of my personal and professional universe.

 

I didn't make this picture, or choose the colors, or create categories, or anything. I just went to and gave the site permission to access my Gmail account and map my metadata. You can do it, too. It's fun and kind of creepy. It's like being your own Big Brother.

 

The project, called , was created by a few guys at the MIT Media Lab. It went live yesterday, .

 

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Benicia, California is ready to invest in its broadband future | Steve Blum's Blog

Benicia, California is ready to invest in its broadband future | Steve Blum's Blog | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The City of Benicia, in the northern San Francisco Bay Area, is jumpstarting industrial grade broadband development. The city council gave a green light to a plan to put $750,000 the table and ask private companies to come up with ideas for bringing high capacity broadband access to a prime industrial park and the surrounding area.

 

Tellus Venture Associates evaluated the broadband facilities available in and around the Benicia Industrial Park. I presented our analysis last week, recommending that the city explore a public-private partnership, with both incumbent and competitive carriers, to build high capacity infrastructure, including links to Tier 1 exchanges. $750,000, previously earmarked by the council, sweetens the pot for the project.

 

A few high tech companies have trickled into the Benicia Industrial Park in recent years, but many others have passed it by because broadband service is limited to whatever AT&T’s ageing lines can support. Comcast, despite what it tells the public (and the California Public Utilities Commission), is missing in action. Some companies have solved their connectivity problems with custom wireless or wireline solutions, but those are expensive and only capable of addressing specific needs.

 

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Stop Verizon's Voice Link Wireless | New Networks

Stop Verizon's Voice Link Wireless | New Networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Starting in 2010, The Wall Street Reported that Verizon was going to stop their upgrading of FiOS, And in 2011, DSL Reports reported that AT&T was not going to be expanding it’s U-Verse broadband/TV service. By 2012  Lowell Mc Adams, CEO of Vreizon  : Verizon would  “kill the copper.” and in rural areas the customers would be given wireless  and “so we  are going to cut the copper off there.” AT&T announced in 2012, that they, too had no plans to upgrade 50% of their territories to be able to use cable TV and they too, would turn off the copper and put customers onto wireless.

 

At the same time, AT&T and Verizon been pursuing a massive state and federal campaign to close down all regulations and obligations, like ‘carrier of last resort’ which would eliminate any requirements to fix services if they break – or even provide service. With a group called ALEC, they have gotten 25 states to rewrite basic protections, and have got the FCC to create a group to ‘senset the netwrks  and more recently  a ‘Transition Task Force” to ‘close down the PSTN, the copper utility networks.

Sandy and Voice Link

In 2012, a storm named Sandy hit along the East Coast and true to their word, Verizon, instead of putting customers back into service after an emergency simply said — tough. Areas of New York City, including Manhattan, the Rockaways, had customers without service for over 6 months.

 

Verizon filed a wavier to fix Sandy damaged locations and after some wangling, signed an agreement with the New York State Department of Public Service it would do a limited test  in the Western part of Fire Island, of Voice Link, a wireless box that is based on pre-smart phone cell service and can’t do basic data applications.

 

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Five Questions For GM's President Of Global Connected Consumer Unit Mary Chan | GM Authority Blog

Five Questions For GM's President Of Global Connected Consumer Unit Mary Chan | GM Authority Blog | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

13 months ago, Mary Chan joined General Motors in the newly-created role of President of Global Connected Consumer, where she is responsible for the automaker’s global infotainment along with the global business operations of OnStar. Chan, who reports directly to GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky, joined The General from Dell — where she served as senior vice president and general manager of Enterprise Mobility Solutions & Services.

 

Currently, Chan is driving the set up and execution of GM’s strategic global infotainment plans, including OnStar’s global expansion as well as the integration of all in-vehicle connectivity services and solutions across GM’s various vehicle brands.

 

Here are five questions and answers of Chan, who is heading (arguably) the most fast-changing part of The General’s business:


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Dianne Feinstein: War profiteer and war criminal | The Columbus Free Press

Somewhere in northwest Pakistan Tuesday a sound was heard. Hellfire missiles streaked towards a residential compound. Eighteen people, possibly including civilians, were incinerated and another sound was heard in Washington: the sound of change dropping into Dianne Feinstein's purse.

Since the beginning of the recent revelations of a vast system of American and British government spying on nearly every person on Earth, Senator Feinstein has been quick to be at the forefront of defending these programs and denouncing leaker Edward Snowden as a "traitor." Does she mean that Snowden has betrayed America, or betrayed her own profits from illegal surveillance, indefinite detention and extrajudicial murder?

Feinstein's political fortunes rest not on representing the human rights values of her base in San Francisco, but on the considerable fortune of her husband, investment banker Richard Blum. This fortune, although technically separated from hers by various trusts, has been greatly enhanced by the war on terror. Blum's war profiteering is anchored by his Blum Capital group, which owns major defense contractor URS. Blum also has ownership interest in a defunct cargo airline with defense department contracts, Astar Cargo, and a major construction firm with major contracts for the military as well as civilian reconstruction contracts with Iraq.

URS's position as a major defense contractor was secured by its purchase of EG&G from the Carlyle Group in 2002 and re-branding the company URS Federal Services. The Free Press has a list of all the DoD contracts that URS is party to as a prime or subcontractor. The list, which was downloaded from publicly accessible government computers is so incomprehensibly huge our IT department custom built a computer to crunch the data. For instance, URS is party to 12147 contracts that we could find with the Special Operations Command alone.

 

URS Federal Services provides communications maintenance support to the 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing, the key military unit that operates Predator drones worldwide. Thus Feinstien's position as chairwoman of the Senate select intelligence committee provides the veneer of congressional legality for the secret illegal assassination program.

 

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Agreements with private companies protect U.S. access to cables’ data for surveillance | Wash Post

The U.S. government had a problem: Spying in the digital age required access to the fiber-optic cables traversing the world’s oceans, carrying torrents of data at the speed of light. And one of the biggest operators of those cables was being sold to an Asian firm, potentially complicating American surveillance efforts.

 

Enter “Team Telecom.”

 

In months of private talks, the team of lawyers from the FBI and the departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security demanded that the company maintain what amounted to an internal corporate cell of American citizens with government clearances. Among their jobs, documents show, was ensuring that surveillance requests got fulfilled quickly and confidentially.

 

This “Network Security Agreement,” signed in September 2003 by Global Crossing, became a model for other deals over the past decade as foreign investors increasingly acquired pieces of the world’s telecommunications infrastructure.

 

The publicly available agreements offer a window into efforts by U.S. officials to safeguard their ability to conduct surveillance through the fiber-optic networks that carry a huge majority of the world’s voice and Internet traffic.

 

The agreements, whose main purpose is to secure the U.S.

telecommunications networks against foreign spying and other actions that could harm national security, do not authorize surveillance. But they ensure that when U.S. government agencies seek access to the massive amounts of data flowing through their networks, the companies have systems in place to provide it securely, say people familiar with the deals.

 

Negotiating leverage has come from a seemingly mundane government power: the authority of the Federal Communications Commission to approve cable licenses. In deals involving a foreign company, say people familiar with the process, the FCC has held up approval for many months while the squadron of lawyers dubbed Team Telecom developed security agreements that went beyond what’s required by the laws governing electronic eavesdropping.

 

The security agreement for Global Crossing, whose fiber-optic network connected 27 nations and four continents, required the company to have a “Network Operations Center” on U.S. soil that could be visited by government officials with 30 minutes of warning. Surveillance requests, meanwhile, had to be handled by U.S. citizens screened by the government and sworn to secrecy — in many cases prohibiting information from being shared even with the company’s executives and directors.

 

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KY: Covington is becoming a home for innovation | Cincinnati.com

KY: Covington is becoming a home for innovation | Cincinnati.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It's entirely appropriate that the successful effort to relocate UpTech to its future home in Covington took a mix of developers, non-traditional funders, corporate sponsors and elected officials from around the region and across the river.

 

After all, establishing a more collaborative environment was among UpTech’s top goals as it prepared for its second class of startups, which is scheduled to start working in September.

 

The city of Covington’s commissioners last month unanimously approved a five-year lease to bring UpTech to 112 Pike St. But the story is bigger than just new co-working space for a 2-year-old accelerator and the information technology companies that it’s helping to build.

 

It’s also about collaboration across the Ohio River, efficient public-private partnerships and the latest example of how civic leaders are linking the urban core with economic development. It’s also about creating a tech corridor in Northern Kentucky, and adding influence to a growing core of startups and entrepreneurial efforts already here.

 

UpTech is just one part of a larger, $1.5 million plan to renovate the 112 Pike St. building into space where bright, young entrepreneurs want to work and live. UpTech, developed out of the Northern Kentucky ezone and Vision 2015, will take the first floor. Higher floors will be transformed into residential apartments.

 

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Trust Is Not An Algorithm: Big Data Are Hot, But They Also Miss A Lot | Doors of Perception

Trust Is Not An Algorithm: Big Data Are Hot, But They Also Miss A Lot | Doors of Perception | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

By some accounts the world’s information is doubling every two years. This impressive if unprovable fact has got many people wondering: what to do with it?

 

Many big brands hope that the analysis of Big Data will give them a ‘360 degree view’ of customers: Who they’re interacting with, where they shop, how they think about a bank, hotel, or store.

 

Banks and insurance companies are especially fired up by the prospect that Big Data will yield more accurate and profitable pricing models. They’re also keeping a nervous eye on start-up land where a queue of newbies perceive an opportunity to re-design financial services from scratch. Some of the latter are launching peer-to-peer insurance platforms that allow individuals to develop their risk pools without the participation of major insurers. Others have built platforms to sell risk coverage on-demand, as micro-transactions: “You want to ski off-piste? Click here and you’re covered”.

 

In Malaysia, you can already buy lifestyle insurance, as it’s called, from a Facebook page. In the UK, special insurance cover for Chihuahua owners is available right now.

 

In the so-called health care ‘space’, open data advocates are confident they can help citizens better understand different kinds of treatment. Improved citizen awareness, they argue, will spark action to improve performance. There is evidence that  health outcomes improve when  patients have access to shared healthcare information in ways that allow them to compare treatments with others like them.

 

Nearby, in the Personal Data Economy space, the promise of ‘self-knowledge through numbers’ has spawned dozens of new ventures. One such, Quantified Self, has become a movement; QS groups meet the world over to devise new forms of ‘self-tracking’.

 

In the world’s city halls, a not-so-small army of consultants is pitching the concept of Smart Cities to beleaguered officials. The promise: collect data from the five billion people now using mobile phones; combine these with data from 50 billion inter-connected sensing and monitoring devices- and lo! the resource efficiency of a city’s transport, energy, industry and buildings can be transformed.

 

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Nuala Dent's curator insight, July 13, 2013 6:59 AM

Economic rationalism won't provide all the answers. Interesting article on  valuing the things that can't be measured.

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Coloradans with disabilities connect in virtual world | The Denver Post

Coloradans with disabilities connect in virtual world | The Denver Post | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Using her avatar, Alice Krueger moves around a spacious living room filled with her friends. The party is laid-back. A man and woman relax on a gray couch, chatting. Others mingle about. These animated friends — all avatars — are talking about how they met and about real life.

 

In real life, Krueger uses a wheelchair. She has multiple sclerosis and walks with the help of crutches. In the virtual world, the 63-year-old Centennial woman uses an avatar — a three-dimensional alter ego that she calls Gentle Heron.

 

As Gentle Heron, Krueger has no physical restrictions. She can walk, dance, ride horses and even fly. And, she interacts daily with hundreds of other people across Colorado and the globe who — at least in the virtual world — also have no physical restrictions. In real life, most of them have disabilities or live with and care for someone with a disability.

 

Krueger created the computer program — called Virtual Ability — in 2007. The community, which exists within the computer world of Second Life, has grown to more than 700 people.

 

Users create avatars — much like those popularized in the Hollywood movie "Avatar."

 

This particular community includes people who are blind or deaf, who have suffered strokes and amputations or have other disabilities.

 

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GLN invites applications for Super Wi-Fi pilot project in US | Telecompaper

GLN invites applications for Super Wi-Fi pilot project in US | Telecompaper | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Gigabit Libraries Network (GLN) is inviting libraries and their communities in the US to participate in a national pilot programme to explore uses for unlicensed spectrum called Super Wi-Fi or White Space to support remote library Wi-Fi hotspots. The capacities of White Space or 'Super Wi-Fi' technologies to deliver wireless connectivity through barriers such as trees, hills and buildings, combined with the internet will allow libraries to provide broadband access at remote and mobile library sites.

 

The RuralConnect product will also allow libraries to create an in-house network. Each qualifying library facility will receive a trial system including host a single Super Wi-Fi Base Station (BS) and three remote library Wi-Fi hotspots, all wirelessly connected to the BS. Each remote hotspot will be sited at a public location to provide patrons a basic level of no-fee library Wi-Fi broadband access.

 

The Super Wi-Fi Pilot will examine how integrating these two wireless communication technologies can benefit library users by combining the near universal compliance of Wi-Fi with the range and penetrating capacities of Super Wi-Fi.

 

Using the recently announced 'KC K-20 Libraries' Super Wi-Fi Pilot initiative in Kansas City, Kansas as a template, GLN seeks more libraries in their role as natural community technology hubs to join in pursuing location-specific outcomes by running similar Super Wi-Fi projects in their area.

 

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The U.S. is Creating a Massive New Cable Broadband Monopoly - And our National Press is Only Just Starting to Notice | DSLReports.com

We've been talking for more than a year about how Verizon is jacking up DSL prices and returning to forcing DSL users to bundle costly landline service in order to drive those users to their new cable industry BFFs, resulting in a stronger cable monopoly. Elsewhere, Verizon is using Sandy damage as an excuse to abandon millions of customers, refusing to repair downed lines and offering a lower quality Voice Link wireless voice only service as a "replacement."

This is one of the biggest transitions in telecom in thirty years, and as such you'd think the mainstream press would notice it was going on. However, they've been notably absent from the necessary conversation about what we're supposed to do for these abandoned users. As such, it's nice to see the Washington Post this week finally notice what Verizon's up to, even if the coverage doesn't see the full picture yet. The Post does a good job with regional anecdotes from users whose life previously relied on copper infrastructure Verizon no longer wants to keep running:

 

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Big Disconnect: Telcos Abandon Copper Phone Lines | Associated Press

Big Disconnect: Telcos Abandon Copper Phone Lines | Associated Press | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Robert Post misses his phone line.

 

Post, 85, has a pacemaker that needs to be checked once a month by phone. But the copper wiring that once connected his home to the rest of the world is gone, and the phone company refuses to restore it.

 

In October 2012, Superstorm Sandy pushed the sea over Post's neighborhood in Mantoloking, N.J., leaving hundreds of homes wrecked, and one floating in the bay. The homes on this sandy spit of land along the Jersey Shore are being rebuilt, but Verizon doesn't want to replace washed-away lines and waterlogged underground cables. Phone lines are outdated, the company says.

 

Mantoloking is one of the first places in the country where the traditional phone line is going dead. For now, Verizon, the country's second-largest landline phone company, is taking the lead by replacing phone lines with wireless alternatives. But competitors including AT&T have made it clear they want to follow. It's the beginning of a technological turning point, representing the receding tide of copper-wire landlines that have been used since commercial service began in 1877.

 

The number of U.S. phone lines peaked at 186 million in 2000. Since then, more than 100 million copper lines have already been disconnected, according to trade group US Telecom. The lines have been supplanted by cellphones and Internet-based phone service offered by way of cable television and fiber optic wiring. Just 1 in 4 U.S. households will have a copper phone line at the end of this year, according to estimates from industry trade group US Telecom. AT&T would like to turn off its network of copper land lines by the end of the decade.

 

For most people, the phone line's demise will have little impact. But there are pockets of the country where copper lines are still critical for residents. As a result, state regulators and consumer advocates are increasingly concerned about how the transition will unfold.

 

"The real question is not: Are we going to keep copper forever? The real question is: How are we going to handle this transition?" says Harold Feld, senior vice president of Public Knowledge, a Washington-based group that advocates for public access to the Internet and other communications technologies.

 

The elderly and people in rural areas, where cell coverage may be poor or nonexistent, will be most affected by disappearing phone lines, Feld says. "Are we going to handle this transition in a way that recognizes that we have vulnerable populations here?"

 

Verizon says replacing the lines just doesn't make economic sense. When they were originally laid down, the phone was the only two-way telecommunications service available in the home, and the company could look forward to decades of use out of each line. Now, it would cost Verizon hundreds of dollars per home to rewire a neighborhood, but less than a quarter of customers are likely to sign up for phone service and many of those drop it after a year or two.

 

 

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NE: Gigbit broadband providers lining up in Omaha | CivSource

NE: Gigbit broadband providers lining up in Omaha | CivSource | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Omaha, Nebraska is slated to be a new entrant to the gigabit internet club. The city is nearby Google Fiber city – Kansas City and now has two gigabit providers. Both CenturyLink and Optica Networks are looking at bringing the service to Omaha. Optica has already completed a gigabit fiber to the home network in Cambridge, Nebraska.

 

As CivSource has reported, Google Fiber is rapidly adding to its number of Google Fiber cities, although waiting on a single provider is a less than palatable option. Big incumbent providers don’t seem to be in a big hurry either, in fact some are refusing to repair their existing slower services. In this gap, providers like Optica, or the new TV white space broadband pilots could provide promising options to get more people on higher speed access.

 

Optica recently completed a gigabit network for a group of municipalities in Georgia. The gigabit service is called Xcelerate and will be available to several communities in Baldwin, Putnam, and Hancock counties in Georgia. The company was picked based on previous work in Cambridge, and hopes to extend these services to Omaha residents.

 

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Falcone seeks to block Ergen from receiving LightSquared compensation | TeleGeography

Philip Falcone, the tycoon behind ill-fated open access Long Term Evolution (LTE) provider LightSquared, is preparing to submit a reorganisation plan to a bankruptcy judge that would specifically block DISH Network’s Charlie Ergen from receiving compensation for his shares in the stricken company.

 

According to a report by the New York Post, citing unnamed sources, LightSquared founder Falcone is said to be mulling a reorganisation plan that would seek to compensate all creditors — except for Ergen.

 

If Falcone moves forward with the plan, he intends to argue before a bankruptcy judge that Ergen should not be compensated, as DISH is technically a competitor, and therefore in violation of LightSquared’s loan agreement that bans strategic buyers from owning its debt.

 

The Post adds that Ergen has quietly amassed more than half of LightSquared’s USD1.7 billion of secured loans through hedge fund firm Sound Point, but may yet find himself lumbered with a large portion of LightSquared’s debt without an obvious pay-off.

 

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Justice Dept. defends secret rulings in new spy court filing | GigaOM Tech News

Justice Dept. defends secret rulings in new spy court filing | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Obama administration, in a new court filing, urged the nation’s surveillance court to throw out a request by civil liberties groups to disclose its secret rulings about the scope and legality of the Patriot Act.

 

In the filing, embedded below, the Justice Department quotes with approval the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s own view of its power, expressed in 2007, that “[t]he FISC is a unique court … [o]ther courts operate primarily in public, with secrecy the exception; the FISC operates primarily in secret, with public access the exception.”

 

The filing, which comes in response to a June lawsuit from the ACLU,  coincides with a critical profile by the New York Times that claims the FISA court has “become almost a parallel Supreme Court” with its own “secret body of law” that bolsters the powers of the NSA.

 

In its June lawsuit, the ACLU challenged the secret nature of the decisions with support from 16 members of Congress; the suit claims the FISA court has a First Amendment and public policy duty to disclose the constitutional grounds for the surveillance powers it is granting to America’s spy agenices. The ACLU, which made a similar request in 2007, says that it’s possible to reveal such information without compromising classified intelligence operations.

 

The request attempts to shed light on the workings of the FISA court which, in the past 30 year, has disclosed only a handful of its decisions (most recently in 2009.) In the last month, though, the court has attracted unprecedented attention over its role in authorizing the federal government to collect vast amounts of meta-data from phone companies and from tech firms like Google and Facebook.

 

The Justice Department, in its response, rejects the First Amendment argument and claims that the ACLU has no standing to bring the case in the first place. It also urges the court to show deference to the executive branch in deciding what counts as classified material.

 

Such arguments may provide further grist to critics who argue the FISA court is a “rubber stamp,” and that its secret operations undercut the separation of powers between the executive and judicial branches of government.

 

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IN: Online visits coming to the Porter County Jail | NWITimes.com

IN: Online visits coming to the Porter County Jail | NWITimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Anyone who has visited an inmate at the Porter County Jail knows face-to-face encounters have long been replaced with a monitored and recorded video call.

 

This approach, which jail officials say requires less labor and results in more visits per week, is about to be expanded to include the option for an Internet link from home or some other off-site location.

 

"It's an enhancement, not a change," Porter County Sheriff Dave Lain said.

The option, however, is coming with a price tag of $20 per 20-minute visit, according to Jeremy Rohr, sales engineer with Securus Technologies of Dallas.

 

Lain, who won approval for the system last week from the Porter County Board of Commissioners, said this optional approach should benefit the jail by offering another way to reduce frustration among inmates, while generating money for the county.

 

The county will receive 20 percent of the proceeds after 750 paid visits are carried out each month during each of the first two years, Rohr said. The county will receive 20 percent from all calls from the third year forward.

Securus will be installing $340,000 in equipment at no cost to the county, he said.

 

"It's pretty expensive," Rohr said of the company's investment.

Once up and running, which should come in about four to six months, users will be required to register with the company's website and secure approval from the sheriff's department.

 

Calls will be monitored and recorded, and can then be carried out via most PC or Mac computers, Rohr said. Efforts are underway to include hand-held devices in about a year.

 

Rohr said this approach is popular among those who don't live near the jail.

 

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The 147 Companies That Control Everything | Forbes.com

The 147 Companies That Control Everything | Forbes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Three systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have taken a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide and analyzed all 43,060 transnational corporations and share ownerships linking them. They built a model of who owns what and what their revenues are and mapped the whole edifice of economic power.

 

They discovered that global corporate control has a distinct bow-tie shape, with a dominant core of 147 firms radiating out from the middle. Each of these 147 own interlocking stakes of one another and together they control 40% of the wealth in the network. A total of 737 control 80% of it all. The top 20 are at the bottom of the post. This is, say the paper’s authors, the first map of the structure of global corporate control.

 

The #occupy movement will eat this up as evidence for massive redistribution of wealth. The New Scientist talked to one systems theorist who is “disconcerted” at the level of interconnectedness, but not surprised. Such structures occur commonly in biology, things like fungus, lichen and weeds. Economists say the danger comes when you combine hyperconnection with the concentration of power. The Swiss scientists warn that this can lead to an unstable environment. No Scheisse, Sherlock.

 

But the web of corporate control is not de facto a conspiracy of world domination. There are many reasons for tightly bundled nodes and connections: anti-takeover strategies, reduction of transaction costs, risk sharing, increasing trust and groups of interest.

 

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CA: GUEST OPINION: Local lawmakers should oppose NSA spying on Americans | PressDemocrat.com

CA: GUEST OPINION: Local lawmakers should oppose NSA spying on Americans | PressDemocrat.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Revelations about the Obama administration’s secret surveillance of American citizens are causing widespread alarm.

 

While some members of Congress from Northern California have publicly addressed the matter, the two from our area have so far failed to speak up after news broke about the spying by the National Security Agency. Why so much silence from Reps. Mike Thompson, D-Santa Rosa, and Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael?

 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein wants us to believe that the NSA’s snooping on our telephone records is no big deal because it’s “metadata.” Yet in this era of supercomputers, such information is highly intrusive.

 

Despite the Fourth Amendment, a dragnet is pulling in huge quantities of personal information without anything near “probable cause.”

 

Make no mistake about it: The government is compiling vast data on the phone calls placed and received by everyone in the United States — you, me, my mother, your grandmother, your daughter’s fiancée.

 

Whoever compiles this metadata can learn a great deal about us: whom we called, who they called, when the calls took place and how long they lasted, where the calls originated and where the recipients were located. It’s as intrusive as listening in on the actual content of the calls.

 

The Press Democrat wisely wrote in its June 13 editorial: “Contrary to the contentions of some, we don’t believe that living in a digital age and in a time of terrorism obligates Americans to abandon a presumption of privacy.”

 

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Forget servers; One day Facebook, Google and other web giants will make their own custom chips | GigaOM Tech News

Forget servers; One day Facebook, Google and other web giants will make their own custom chips | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It has become clear that ARM is invading the data center as chips built using its designs grow more powerful for enterprise computing loads and as the workloads and economics of webscale computing make the ARM architecture more attractive. But using ARM cores also changes the cost of designing a new chip, and frees the non-CPU elements on the chip from being dictated by a specific vendor.

 

Both of these trends are driving webscale companies to discuss making custom CPU cores for their specific workloads, and are allowing startups to try to break into the world of interconnect fabrics and memory management that used to be locked to a specific x86 core. Right now big web companies like Google and Facebook are designing and building their own gear but soon they may want to have a few chip designers on hand as well.

 

Andrew Feldman, GM and corporate VP at AMD, explained this idea in a series of conversations with me over the last few weeks in which he estimated that one could build an entirely custom chip using the ARM architecture in about 18 months for about $30 million. He compared this to the three or four-year time frame and $300 million to $400 million in development costs required to build an x86-based server chip.

 

He wrote in an email:

 

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Forget social and mobile: Our economy needs more "white space" innovation | GigaOM Tech News

Forget social and mobile: Our economy needs more "white space" innovation | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

What do General Motors, Intel, 3M, Johnson & Johnson, Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter have in common? Beside being textbook American success stories, they are all torchbearers of true, groundbreaking innovation – whether it’s technology,  supply chain, business model or any combination of those. But more than that, they are all legitimate creators of new industries.

 

Yet when you look at the relative contribution of these companies to U.S. GDP, to U.S. employment numbers – and, especially, to perceived innovation – stark differences arise. The last three are surely the perceived leaders of innovation today and garner much more coverage from the popular media . But they are laggards when it comes to meaningful employment generation and fueling large-scale economic growth. And it’s those two factors that are critical for stimulating our economy and getting us on a path toward a more economically stable future.

 

I believe Silicon Valley needs to jump in and extend its innovative spirit in sectors that impact large portions of our economy and are critical to getting us out of the recession. More specifically, it needs to foster a breeding ground for white space innovation. That means ones involved in large markets; that there is differentiation based on fundamental innovation; and there is potential to reinvent established industries – or also creating new ones.

 

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The 3 big U.S. Internet infrastructure policy choices | EldoTelecom.com

The 3 big U.S. Internet infrastructure policy choices | EldoTelecom.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The United States now has three major policy options on the build out of Internet infrastructure to serve all American homes, businesses and institutions:

 

1. Continuation of the status quo of investor-owned Internet infrastructure and associated private market failure that will leave significant numbers of premises lacking affordable Internet access over the long term and potentially permanently.


2. A well funded federal aid program including technical assistance grants for community fiber to the premise network construction projects, funded by existing programs such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service, a program jointly administered by multiple agencies or by a newly created, dedicated agency.  In addition, federal preemption of state laws barring local governments from constructing, owning or operating Internet infrastructure.

 

3. De-privatization of all Internet infrastructure (either immediately or over a period of years) combined with a fast track federal construction project to build out fiber to serve all U.S. premises, similar to the 1950s interstate highway project.

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