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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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LA building's lights interfere with cellular network, FCC says | NetworkWorld.com

LA building's lights interfere with cellular network, FCC says | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

When a certain Los Angeles office building lights up, it's a dark day for nearby cellphone users, according to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.


Fluorescent lights at Ernst & Young Plaza, a 41-story tower near the heart of downtown, emit frequencies that interfere with the Verizon Wireless 700MHz network, the agency said in a citation issued on Friday against building owner Brookfield Office Properties.


The FCC's message comes through loud and clear in the filing: Brookfield could be fined up to US$16,000 a day if it keeps using the interfering lights, up to a total of $112,500. The alleged violation could also lead to "criminal sanctions, including imprisonment," the citation says.


Responding to complaints from Verizon, the FCC approached building management last April and was told they were already investigating. The agency said it asked Brookfield to file reports but never got them. Verizon kept complaining, so the FCC showed up with direction-finding gear and confirmed the interference was coming from the building's lights.


Verizon is still complaining of interference from those lights, so on Friday the FCC ordered Brookfield to report on what it's found and how it's fixing the problem. The agency wants a final report from them in 60 days. But Brookfield can also challenge the FCC's finding within 30 days.


The building owner declined to comment on the citation. "Brookfield strives to be a good neighbor and we are committed to resolving any technical issues associated with our properties," spokeswoman Melissa Coley said via email.


The interference comes from the ballast, a transformer in the lighting fixture, according to the FCC citation. General Electric, which made the lights, said in a 2012 customer bulletin that a small number of its UltraMax ballasts "produced unintentionally high-frequency radio emissions that have the potential to cause interference with certain types of wireless communications," according to the citation. GE then told customers how to exchange the faulty products, the FCC said. GE did not respond to a request for comment.


Though they aren't used for communications, fluorescent lights are regulated as ISM (industrial, scientific and medical) equipment under the FCC's rules, and GE's lights were tested under those rules. Brookfield is being cited for operating ISM equipment that causes interference.


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UT: Fork in the Road For UTOPIA: Forward or Backward? Community Broadband Bits Episode #85 | community broadband networks

UT: Fork in the Road For UTOPIA: Forward or Backward? Community Broadband Bits Episode #85 | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency, which we have written about many times, is at a crossroads.


An Australian corporation specializing in infrastructure is prepared to infuse $300 million into the project but the Utah Legislature may prohibit it from expanding and even from using existing connections outside member cities.


We asked Jesse Harris of Free UTOPIA and Pete Ashdown of XMission to join us for Community Broadband Bits Episode #85 to sort out the stories.


Jesse explains the potential Macquarie investment and how the bill HB60 could hurt both that deal and more broadly, connectivity in the area. Pete Ashdown discusses how he learned of the bill and what it would mean to his business if the network were able to be expanded.


We previously spoke with Pete Ashdown and Todd Marriott about UTOPIA in Episode 3 of this podcast.


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Trial for alleged Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht set for November | ComputerWorld.com

Trial for alleged Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht set for November | ComputerWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Ross Ulbricht, the alleged creator of the Silk Road online black market, will go to trial in November and will be held until then without bail, the U.S. Department of Justice said.


Ulbricht has pleaded not guilty to a range of charges tied to his alleged activities with Silk Road, including a so-called "kingpin" charge often reserved for organized crime groups. He was arraigned Friday at the U.S. Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan.


At that hearing, Judge Katherine Forrest set the trial for November. Prosecutors and defense attorneys will attempt to sort out what evidence can be presented at trial, according to a schedule laid out by the judge.


On Feb. 27, the government will provide the defense with data from computers that were seized during the investigation, said a spokeswoman at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.


According to a Forbes report Friday, prosecutors said they also have between eight and 10 terabytes of data that they will share with defense attorneys and may use at trial. At a hearing in December, the government referred to data it had collected from Silk Road's servers and Ulbricht's own laptop, the report said.


Ulbricht is being held at a detention center in Brooklyn.


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MN: Bemidji State to build teleconference system with regional tribal colleges | Bemidji State University

MN: Bemidji State to build teleconference system with regional tribal colleges | Bemidji State University | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it
A Bemidji State University-led consortium of higher education institutions has won a $500,000 grant from the U. S. Department of Agriculture to expand distance learning and telemedicine opportunities for rural northern Minnesota residents.


The grant will allow schools in the BSU-led Aazhoogan (Bridge) Consortium, which includes Northwest Technical College, Leech Lake Tribal College, Red Lake Nation College and White Earth Tribal and Community College, to build a network of high-definition video connections linking the five institutions. The Native colleges currently have no existing or functioning interactive distance learning equipment. The network will give students on those campuses access to industry-driven certification training, bachelor’s degrees and specialized associate’s degrees not available at their home colleges.


Dr. Anton Treuer, executive director of Bemidji State’s American Indian Resource Center, says the grant is part of a broader strategic initiative by members of the consortium to increase collaboration across a broad spectrum, including course delivery, sharing of institutional data, recruiting and retention, and improving students’ ability to transfer from the tribal colleges to Bemidji State or Northwest Tech.


“This grant really is designed to build some of the physical capacity for delivering and exchanging information,” Treuer said. “We have had faculty exchanges in person, and now we will be able to do it through this new technological capability. We’re looking for lots of ways to grow our connection and work together. Ultimately, we’re working together to serve the same students.”


The grant is part of a funding package totaling nearly $16 million that provides support for President Obama’s ConnectED initiative. In June 2013, the president announced an effort to connect 99 percent of America’s students to broadband internet by 2018. Since 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has provided support for more than 3,300 educational institutions receiving distance learning services to help rural children get an education that is as good as that of their peers in cities.


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Here's how Europe thinks the internet should be run | GigaOM Tech News

Here's how Europe thinks the internet should be run | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

How should the internet be run? Now that we know that the U.S. and its partners have largely co-opted the network of networks as a surveillance tool, the question of the internet’s governance is at the top of many people’s agendas. An international commission launched in January to investigate the topic, and Brazil will convene a conference in April to do the same. There are other such gatherings on the horizon, too.


And now we know roughly what stance (PDF) the European Union will take as these discussions ensue. On Wednesday European Commission digital chief Neelie Kroes unveiled a list of centrist proposals for, as she put it, “redrawing the global map of internet governance.”


“Europe must contribute to a credible way forward for global internet governance. Europe must play a strong role in defining what the net of the future looks like,” she said in a statement. “Our fundamental freedoms and human rights are not negotiable. They must be protected online.”


So, what are the EU’s proposals?


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Bitcoin exchanges halt withdrawals as "massive" attack spreads | GigaOM Tech News

Bitcoin exchanges halt withdrawals as "massive" attack spreads | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Bitcoin’s bad week got even worse on Tuesday as the chief security officer of Blockchain.info reported that hackers are launching DDoS attacks across the Bitcoin eco-system in an effort to exploit a software vulnerability that allows attackers to tamper with transaction records.


CoinDesk has further details, but the bottom line is that the core code of Bitcoin appears to be secure, but that many other services — including exchanges like BitStamp — that are built on top of it, are exposed to the vulnerability. As a result, services are locking down as they try to repel the attacks and stabilize their services.


The vulnerability itself is called “transaction malleability” and is not something new. In a blog post yesterday, Bitcoin’s lead developer Gavin Andresen explained that the issue has been around since 2011 and described it this way:


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MO: Lawsuit over Bluebird Network’s use of stimulus funds may go to trial soon | ColumbiaTribune.com

MO: Lawsuit over Bluebird Network’s use of stimulus funds may go to trial soon | ColumbiaTribune.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A lawsuit accusing a Columbia-based broadband network that received a multimillion-dollar grant from the federal stimulus act of misleading the government could go to trial within a month, but without the federal government's help.


Martin Schell, a former vice president of Bluebird Network, accuses Bluebird, which in 2010 received $45 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to build a 1,000-mile broadband network across northern Missouri, of misleading the federal government to win the grant. The lawsuit accuses Bluebird of anti-competitive practices, allowing people allegedly barred from participating in the grant to direct company operations, obtaining a smaller-than-required in-kind contribution from the state of Missouri and terminating Schell for bringing his concerns to management's attention.


Bluebird argues the federal government was fully aware of the company's actions, operations and changes it made to certain grant requirements. It notes that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, or NTIA, which administered the stimulus grant, last year acknowledged Bluebird had met its obligations under the grant and closed out the grant project.


"Bluebird's conduct toward the government throughout the grant process, from the initial application through the grant's successful closeout, was truthful and transparent," Bluebird says in court filings.


Bluebird was originally formed in 2009 as Bluebird Media by local real estate magnate Otto Maly; lobbyist and former director of legislative affairs for Gov. Mel Carnahan, Greg Johnston; and brothers Chris and Tatum Martin, who own entities affiliated with tower and telecommunications construction and engineering firm GlenMartin. Later, it merged with Missouri Network Alliance, a network of rural telephone companies, to form Bluebird Network. The original Bluebird Media owners retained a controlling interest, according to court filings.


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Rural carriers start connecting customers to doctors via mobile video chat | GigaOM Tech News

Rural carriers start connecting customers to doctors via mobile video chat | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If you’re a Cellular One customer in Louisiana or Texas and need to talk to a doctor, you now have a very high-tech option. You can conduct a video chat using Skype or Facetime, or just have a phone conversation with a board-certified physician on your mobile phone. It costs $30 per consult and is billed to your mobile account.


The service is powered by iSelectMD, a telemedicine outfit founded in 2010 that is trying to create a health network via mobile phones. iSelectMD is working with companies as a supplemental healthcare service for non-emergency medical services, but it’s also trying to work directly with mobile carriers to make mobile health an element of their service plans.


That’s where the Competitive Carriers Association comes in. The CCA represents the myriad of regional and rural carriers in the U.S. (along with Sprint and T-Mobile scratching out a market under the imposing shadows of AT&T and Verizon Wireless. In an effort to level the playing field the CCA is partnering with different companies, from cloud services outfits to crowdsourced Wi-Fi providers, to offer its collective membership a means of differentiating themselves from the big operators.


CCA’s work with iSelectMD is one of those partnerships. It’s starting with Cellular One but will expand to other regional carriers. These operators serve the most furthest-flung consumers in the U.S., many of whom live in areas where immediate access to healthcare isn’t a given.

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Federal Communications Law Compliance for 2014 - Notes from Baller Herbst | Blandin on Broadband


Thanks to Jim Baller for allowing me to share his Federal Communications Law Compliance for 2014 document. It is so valuable – and I think it’s so generous for him to share.


He has gone through everything from key principles of the Federal Universal Service program to Digital Media Copyright Act. I’ll include the table of contents below


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Cable TV Revenues in California | Jonathan Kramer's Blog | CellTowerSites.com

Cable TV Revenues in California | Jonathan Kramer's Blog | CellTowerSites.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Each year, under California’s statewide cable TV franchise law (DIVCA) the California Public Utilities sets a fee to offset its administration costs.  It releases a report each year setting that fee.  As part of the 2013-2014 draft report, just released at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/SearchRes.aspx?docformat=ALL&DocID=88214113, the Commission disclosed that the Cable Industry’s gross video income for 2012 (the calculating basis) was $5,492,310,300.  When I say video service. that exclude income from Internet, Telephony, and a host of other income sources for cable TV systems.


The California Cable & Telecommunications Association reports that there are 5.5 million cable subscribers in this state.


Doing some very complicated math with the aid of a supercomputer on my cell phone, it turns out that the average annual video fee paid by each California cable subscriber in 2012 was $998.60, or $83.22 per month for just video service.


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Who's behind The Mask? A guide to the spyware-on-steroids bundle | GigaOM Tech News

Who's behind The Mask? A guide to the spyware-on-steroids bundle | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Russian security firm Kaspersky Lab announced late Monday that it had uncovered what it calls “The Mask”, a bundle of cyber-nastiness that was apparently used to spy on people for as much as 7 years.


Here’s a primer on what The Mask was apparently capable of, and the hints we have as to its origins.


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You Want People To Have Strong Passwords? What Are You, Some Kind Of Communist? | Techdirt.com

You Want People To Have Strong Passwords? What Are You, Some Kind Of Communist? | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it


Passwords are a pain. If they are strong, they are hard to remember, and if you can remember them they probably aren't strong. Of course, there are all those excellent password managers out there, but using them requires an even stronger password.... No wonder, then, that time and again we hear of people giving up and using simple-to-guess passwords, and of the awful consequences that result.


Stefania Maurizi points us to an Italian journalist, Nicola Porro, who's also had enough. He's written a blog for the newspaper Il Giornale, in which he describes tech people who keep giving him a hard time over his weak passwords as the "new communists" (original in Italian):


So why do I say they are communists, and not just idiots? For the simple reason that they don't believe in free will, or in individual freedom. Can't I be free not to change my password every month? Can't I be free to use a simple password? Can't I be free to choose whatever the devil I like? Can't I be free to consider it irrelevant whether somebody steals my data? Isn't it an option that whenever I'm online they screw me over and steal precious information from yours truly and that I'm not at liberty to put myself intentionally in danger in order to have an convenient password?


He goes on to say:


"and as for anyone who dares to say something about the risks of getting conned blah blah blah, I am quite happy to sign online once and for all that I accept full responsibility for any password theft."


I wonder if he's considered what might happen if his system were taken over as part of a botnet that took out a hospital's computer system, say, or were used to host and distribute child pornography: would he be happy about accepting responsibility for those too?


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U.S. CIO Urges Feds to Fail Fast, Not Fail Big | NetworkWorld.com

U.S. CIO Urges Feds to Fail Fast, Not Fail Big | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If Steve VanRoekel has his way, the end of large-scale, multi-year federal technology projects is near at hand.


VanRoekel, the CIO of the federal government, is calling for a dramatic shift in the way departments and agencies plan their IT projects. Speaking at a government IT conference last week, he urged attendees to embrace an agile, iterative strategy for tech deployments that would supplant the more ambitious, big-bang approach that has resulted in innumerable projects that ran over budget, past deadline and failed to deliver the anticipated results.


"When I say fail fast versus fail big, we need to think really hard about how we challenge ourselves to break these things down, to start small, to iterate rapidly, to do things in a way that you can fail and learn from that failure and then move quickly into the next phase," VanRoekel said.


In that sense, he suggests that department and agency CIOs follow the lead of the private sector, where the model of incremental development is in wide use. Talk to startups in Silicon Valley as well as large government IT contractors in Northern Virginia, he said, and agile is "the new normal. This is the mentality."


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George Packer: Is Amazon Bad for Books? | The New Yorker

George Packer: Is Amazon Bad for Books? | The New Yorker | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Amazon is a global superstore, like Walmart. It’s also a hardware manufacturer, like Apple, and a utility, like Con Edison, and a video distributor, like Netflix, and a book publisher, like Random House, and a production studio, like Paramount, and a literary magazine, like The Paris Review, and a grocery deliverer, like FreshDirect, and someday it might be a package service, like U.P.S. Its founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, also owns a major newspaper, the Washington Post. All these streams and tributaries make Amazon something radically new in the history of American business. Sam Walton wanted merely to be the world’s biggest retailer. After Apple launched the iPod, Steve Jobs didn’t sign up pop stars for recording contracts. A.T. & T. doesn’t build transmission towers and rent them to smaller phone companies, the way Amazon Web Services provides server infrastructure for startups (not to mention the C.I.A.). Amazon’s identity and goals are never clear and always fluid, which makes the company destabilizing and intimidating.


Bezos originally thought of calling his company Relentless.com—that U.R.L. still takes you to Amazon’s site—before adopting the name of the world’s largest river by volume. (If Bezos were a reader of classic American fiction, he might have hit upon Octopus.com.) Amazon’s shape-shifting, engulfing quality, its tentacles extending in all directions, makes it unusual even in the tech industry, where rapid growth, not profitability, is the measure of success. Amazon is not just the “Everything Store,” to quote the title of Brad Stone’s rich chronicle of Bezos and his company; it’s more like the Everything. What remains constant is ambition, and the search for new things to be ambitious about.


It seems preposterous now, but Amazon began as a bookstore. In 1994, at the age of thirty, Bezos, a Princeton graduate, quit his job at a Manhattan hedge fund and moved to Seattle to found a company that could ride the exponential growth of the early commercial Internet. (Bezos calculated that, in 1993, usage climbed by two hundred and thirty thousand per cent.) His wife, MacKenzie, is a novelist who studied under Toni Morrison at Princeton; according to Stone, Bezos’s favorite novel is Kazuo Ishiguro’s “The Remains of the Day,” which is on the suggested reading list for Amazon executives. All the other titles, including “Sam Walton, Made in America: My Story,” are business books, and even Ishiguro’s novel—about a self-erasing English butler who realizes that he has missed his chance at happiness in love—offers what Bezos calls a “regret-minimization framework”: how not to end up like the butler. Bezos is, above all things, pragmatic. (He declined to be interviewed for this article.)


It wasn’t a love of books that led him to start an online bookstore. “It was totally based on the property of books as a product,” Shel Kaphan, Bezos’s former deputy, says. Books are easy to ship and hard to break, and there was a major distribution warehouse in Oregon. Crucially, there are far too many books, in and out of print, to sell even a fraction of them at a physical store. The vast selection made possible by the Internet gave Amazon its initial advantage, and a wedge into selling everything else. For Bezos to have seen a bookstore as a means to world domination at the beginning of the Internet age, when there was already a crisis of confidence in the publishing world, in a country not known for its book-crazy public, was a stroke of business genius.


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Fibre Channel will come with 32-Gigabit, 128-Gigabit speeds in 2016 | NetworkWorld.com

Fibre Channel will come with 32-Gigabit, 128-Gigabit speeds in 2016 | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Storage teams will be able to double the performance of their Fibre Channel infrastructure starting in 2016, while the real speed demons among them will have a chance to multiply it by eight times.


"Gen 6" Fibre Channel switches and adapters that can deliver 128Gbps (bits per second) should hit the market in 2016, the Fibre Channel Industry Association said on Tuesday. That same year, vendors will also offer Gen 6 products with 32Gbps, it said. Fibre Channel specifications are developed by a committee of ANSI (the American National Standards Institute) in cooperation with the industry group.


Late last year, the FCIA had said a 32Gbps Gen 6 standard would be finished early this year and a 128Gbps capability would follow. On Tuesday it predicted that gear supporting both speeds would be generally available in 2016. Brocade Communications Systems said Tuesday it will ship both speeds of Gen 6 in 2016. QLogic, another major Fibre Channel vendors, said it will offer 32Gbps products starting next year.


Fibre Channel has doubled in speed twice and reached 16Gbps in 2011. Enterprises will need new hardware to enjoy the higher speeds of Gen 6, but that equipment will be backward compatible with existing Fibre Channel gear.


Faster SANs (storage area networks) will help enterprises keep up with growing performance pressure from servers and storage arrays, said George Crump of research firm Storage Switzerland. Server virtualization keeps computing infrastructure constantly busy and demanding data, while SSDs (solid-state disks) are able to deliver that data more quickly. The network connections in between lag behind in some cases, he said.


To cut out network delays, some IT shops are putting flash right in servers, but that solution can get complicated and expensive at a large scale, Crump said. Gen 6 Fibre Channel will offer an alternative that lets them keep their traditional shared-storage architecture, he said.


"If you can share it, why wouldn't you? Because then you can use the resource more effectively," Crump said.


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Smart cities are here today -- and getting smarter | ComputerWorld.com

Smart cities are here today -- and getting smarter | ComputerWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Smart cities aren't a science fiction, far-off-in-the-future concept. They're here today, with municipal governments already using technologies that include wireless networks, big data/analytics, mobile applications, Web portals, social media, sensors/tracking products and other tools.


These smart city efforts have lofty goals: Enhancing the quality of life for citizens, improving government processes and reducing energy consumption, among others. Indeed, cities are already seeing some tangible benefits.


But creating a smart city comes with daunting challenges, including the need to provide effective data security and privacy, and to ensure that myriad departments work in harmony.


What makes a city smart? As with any buzz term, the definition varies. But in general, it refers to using information and communications technologies to deliver sustainable economic development and a higher quality of life, while engaging citizens and effectively managing natural resources.


Making cities smarter will become increasingly important. For the first time ever, the majority of the world's population resides in a city, and this proportion continues to grow, according to the World Health Organization, the coordinating authority for health within the United Nations.


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Can PayPal Beat Apple, Google, Amazon And Icahn In The Wallet Wars | Forbes.com

Can PayPal Beat Apple, Google, Amazon And Icahn In The Wallet Wars | Forbes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

PayPal is in the center of two battles: one for control of every transaction on the planet, the other for control of its own destiny. 


The clogged roads of San Jose teem with Priuses, which merely serve as earnest slalom gates for David Marcus to blow through in his black Porsche Panamera Turbo on a January afternoon. The 40-year-old president of PayPal has been in a rush since taking the top job 21 months ago. He’s overseen a sweeping overhaul of the payment company’s technology. He’s rolled out a passel of new products to let his 143 million users pay with their phones. And he’s seen his parent company, eBay, become a public target–Carl Icahn has quietly amassed a 2% stake, ahead of a just-promised proxy fight–as the division he runs increasingly appears more valuable than the core business that purchased it.


Eager to show off some of the magic, we’re racing to Birk’s, a bustling Silicon Valley chophouse that accepts PayPal from diners. Marcus fires up the PayPal iPhone app, which locates him in the restaurant and allows him to scan a bar code before the meal and watch the check update on his phone in real time. The idea is to bring the speed and simplicity of Internet shopping into the physical store. “I like to think of it as The Matrix, ” grins Marcus, a slight accent revealing his French and Swiss upbringing.


But there’s a glitch in this matrix. The restaurant is not running the latest program. There’s no bar code to scan before the meal and none on the check. Instead Marcus must type in a seven-digit code attached to the bottom of the check. When the check arrives the code is missing. “ The challenge,” Marcus says, trying hard to mask his frustration, “is not only scaling the technology but having people understand it on the merchant side.” Ten minutes later the waiter returns, code in hand. Marcus enters a tip, pays the bill via iPhone and sighs: “When it actually works you don’t have to wait.”


Marcus and PayPal have neither the luxury of glitches nor of waiting. Money is going mobile, and the race is on to control the flow of bits and cash across a billion smartphones and at millions of online and physical locations. Research firm Gartner estimates that mobile payments will top $720 billion a year by 2017, up from $235 billion last year. The upside remains enormous: Humans made $15 trillion worth of retail transactions in 2013. Whoever ends up with controlling interests in this new digital ecosystem will reap billions in transaction fees, collect massive amounts of consumer data and control the type of targeted advertising that makes marketers drool. Giants such as Apple, Amazon, Google, Visa and MasterCard all want to be your mobile digital wallet, as do several well-financed startups, including Square, founded by Twitter billionaire Jack Dorsey.


Right in the middle of it all: PayPal, the precocious child of the last dot-com boom, which is now inflicting as much disruption on its parent company as it hopes to on global banking. PayPal moved $180 billion in 26 currencies across 193 countries last year, and its revenue grew 20% to $6.6 billion–41% of eBay’s total revenue and 36% of its profits. In fact, it’s no longer fair to call eBay an online auction company. PayPal, purchased in 2002 for what everyone thought was an outrageous price of $1.5 billion, is now worth at least half of eBay’s $70 billion market capitalization, with many people thinking it could be worth far more.


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Close the "Water's Edge" Loophole | Truth-Out.org

Close the "Water's Edge" Loophole | Truth-Out.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Corporations can't have their cake and eat it too.


Right now, corporations are making billions of dollars off of you and me, and are hiding those billions in offshore bank accounts to avoid paying taxes to our government.


But what if we closed the tax loopholes that allow corporations to skip out on paying taxes, and brought those trillions of dollars back home?


Some states are already doing that, and they're seeing some pretty amazing results.


Back in 2003, the Montana state legislature closed that state's tax loophole, a so-called "water's edge" loophole, that allowed companies to avoid state taxes by hiding their profits in offshore bank accounts.


In the decade since, Montana has brought in over $40 million, which is a lot considering that state only spends about $1.8 billion each year.


Last summer, Oregon jumped on the bandwagon, and closed a similar tax loophole. The state now expects to bring in an additional $17 million in tax revenue from corporations this year alone.


And, a new report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) found that if 21 other states and the District of Columbia had closed their offshore corporate tax-evading loopholes, they would have brought in over $1 billion in additional tax revenue in 2012.


Now just imagine what would happen if the federal government took similar actions, and closed corporate tax loopholes that allow giant transnational corporations like Apple to hide billions in profits overseas.


According to Apple, the giant tech company paid around $6 billion in taxes in 2012, and will probably pay around $7 billion in taxes for 2013.


But as multiple tax experts and lawmakers have said, Apple should be paying a lot more in taxes to our government.


After all, it's one of America's most profitable companies. In 2013 alone, it took home $37 billion in profits on $171 billion in revenue.


So, how is Apple making so much, but paying so little in taxes to support our nation?


It's hiding a lot of its money offshore.


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Verizon donated $100 million to schools. That’s just 7.5 hours of revenue | WashPost.com

Verizon donated $100 million to schools. That’s just 7.5 hours of revenue | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This week, President Obama announced the latest in his plan to bring high-speed Internet to 99 percent of the nation's schools. The Federal Communications Commission said it would increase investments in educational broadband by $1 billion a year, effectively doubling what it spends now. And on Tuesday, three of the nation's biggest telecom companies — Verizon, Sprint and AT&T — each announced a $100 million commitment to provide free wireless data or other in-kind donations for up to four years.


But while the corporate charity will make a big difference to some students, policy experts say it won't be enough to fill the yawning gap between educators' needs and what the government can reasonably accomplish on its own.


To be a student or library user without Internet access is pretty much unthinkable these days. Yet that's precisely the problem facing many of the country's educational facilities. Their biggest complaint about broadband? Adequate service is unaffordable, according to a 2010 government study. Forty-four percent say their existing connections can't keep up. The high cost of better plans, meanwhile, keeps 39 percent from upgrading; 27 percent say they lack the money to install high-speed cables.


In other words, there's a dire need for cheaper service and infrastructure — and it's going unmet, even as the Internet providers who can do the most to remedy the situation rake in billions of dollars in profit every year. Yes, they're businesses, and their duty is to shareholders. But what we now take for granted as an ironclad corporate norm favoring shareholder dividends is a fairly recent phenomenon; it was less than a century ago that communications companies like AT&T operated on a belief in public service. Today's broadband providers should aspire to that.


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The $4.38 billion reason it’s so hard for U.S. cord-cutters to watch the Olympics online | WashPost.com

The $4.38 billion reason it’s so hard for U.S. cord-cutters to watch the Olympics online | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics start tonight. But if you're among the 9 percent of U.S. households who have broadband but don't subscribe to paid television, it will be nearly impossible to (legally) watch the games online this year.


That's because while NBC is streaming all of the events live online, full access to the livestream will only be available to paying cable subscribers. And thanks to a $4.38 billion exclusive deal NBC struck with the International Olympics Committee (IOC) in 2011 for the privilege of broadcasting the Olympic games in the U.S. through 2020, cord-cutters don't have a lot of options.


Since the games started being broadcast, television contracts have become an important source of revenue for the IOC — with broadcast deals now bringing in nearly half of Olympic revenues.  And the actual broadcasts have changed substantially: The first "televised" version of the games was in the 1936 Berlin games, and that only included them being beamed by closed circuit to specified halls. Similarly, there was a televised broadcast of the 1948 games at Wembley but it was limited to certain receivers within range of the stadium. But the first significant financial payouts for exclusive U.S. coverage came in 1960, when CBS paid $394,000 for the privilege of showing the games.


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Pinterest is to young designers as YouTube is to rising rock stars… | Blandin on Broadband

I have written about Target’s use of Pinterest in the past. I think it’s interesting to see the role that social media is playing in certain fields – like music and now design.


It’s the whole flattening of the world. I like to see a Minnesota company on the edge of making it happen. I would love to see Minnesotans get found through these channels. It’s just one more way that folks without broadband are at a disadvantage.


According to Fast Company


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FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Remarks at Silicon Flatirons | Benton Foundation

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Remarks at Silicon Flatirons | Benton Foundation | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The message is simple, so simple it can be summed up in a quote from Abraham Lincoln’s second address to Congress.


“As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew.”


All of us have observed the growing convergence of previously separate and distinct communications services and with it, inevitably, the growing obsolescence of the Communications Act’s categories -- principally the titles that address common carriage, broadcasting, and cable. While there may continue to be a viable distinction on the consumer, or demand, side, it certainly is no longer true on the production, or supply, side.


As we consider the Communications Act, there is one high-level point that deserves emphasis. Internet speed means that even a new Telecommunications Act will be out of date the moment it is signed. The only way to deal with this reality is to have an expert agency capable of being as nimble as the innovators redefining technology and re-drawing the marketplace. In the event that the Commission is thwarted in its ability to apply its expert policy judgment then, in light of the new, ever-changing technology landscape, I believe the best and ultimate outcome would be Congress’s significant modification of the Communications Act.


Bigger picture, the FCC has the authority it needs to provide what the public needs -- open, competitive, safe, and accessible broadband networks. Indeed, that we have authority is well-settled. What remains open is not jurisdiction, but rather the best path to securing the public interest. Those are the challenges that the FCC will confront with the Open Internet, the IP transitions, the Incentive Auction, and other issues.


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Majority of Organizations That Accept Payment Cards Fail to Maintain PCI Security Standards, New Verizon Report Finds | MarketWatch.com

Majority of Organizations That Accept Payment Cards Fail to Maintain PCI Security Standards, New Verizon Report Finds | MarketWatch.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A new Verizon report has found that too many businesses, following their annual assessment for meeting the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, fail to maintain ongoing compliance -- putting the businesses at an increased risk for data breaches, and financial and reputational damages.

 

The " Verizon 2014 PCI Compliance Report " affirms that payment card transactions remain a prime target for attackers, and the rate at which data breaches are occurring appears to be increasing. It is estimated by The Nilson Report that global credit cards fraud exceeded $11 billion in 2012 alone.


According to the report, in most cases, payment card data breaches are not a failure of security technology or of compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, but rather a failure to implement appropriate compliance and security measures as intended.


"We continue to see many organizations viewing PCI compliance as a single annual event, unaware that compliance needs to have a 365 day-a-year focus," stated Rodolphe Simonetti, managing director, PCI practice, Verizon Enterprise Solutions.


However, there is a bright spot in the report: Organizations' initial compliance with the PCI standard has shown some improvement. In 2013, more than 82 percent of organizations were compliant with at least 80 percent of the PCI standard at the time of their annual baseline assessment, compared with just 32 percent in 2012.


There were also regional differences due to breach notification laws, varying legal requirements and levels of adoption. The Asia-Pacific region took the top spot (75 percent), followed by the U.S. with 56 percent and Europe with 31 percent in meeting at least 80 percent of the PCI requirements.


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Glenn Greenwald, Nate Silver, Ezra Klein, Bill Keller, and the New Public-Interest Journalism | The New Yorker

Glenn Greenwald, Nate Silver, Ezra Klein, Bill Keller, and the New Public-Interest Journalism | The New Yorker | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Lately, there’s been a lot of coverage of well-known journalists launching their own Web sites or going it alone with their existing ones: Glenn Greenwald, Nate Silver, Ezra Klein, and the All Things Digital crew come to mind. Now there’s an unlikely addition to the field: Bill Keller, the former executive editor and columnist of the Times. On Sunday, Keller announced he was leaving the paper to lead an online startup devoted to covering the criminal-justice system.


The news about Keller came hours before Greenwald’s new site, The Intercept, went live. It launched with an exclusive and disturbing story about the N.S.A.’s role in selecting targets for drone attacks, which, it claimed, contributes to the killing of innocent civilians in places like Pakistan and Yemen. The story relied on an unnamed source who used to operate U.S. drones, and it also quoted from documents that Edward Snowden leaked, which discussed drone operations. (Greenwald and Laura Poitras, one of his colleagues at The Intercept, were two of the journalists who broke the Snowden story.)


Keller’s baby, the Marshall Project, will be strictly not for profit, in the mold of ProPublica, the investigative news site that launched in 2007, under the leadership of Paul Steiger, a former managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, and has since received many journalism awards. The initial financial backing for the Marshall Project will come from Neil Barsky, a former hedge-fund manager who was also a reporter at the Wall Street Journal; it will also seek tax-deductible donations from charitable foundations and other sources. The Intercept represents the initial rollout of a larger venture funded by Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire founder of eBay, which will have both a charitable and a commercial aspect. The journalism operation will be organized as a nonprofit, with editorial independence, and the technology side will be a regular business. Last fall, Omidyar said he would commit two hundred and fifty million dollars to the over-all venture, First Look Media, which is looking to launch a range of “digital magazines” and other media products.


Despite their differing origins and sources of funding, however, the Marshall Project and First Look Media share one thing in common: a commitment to high-quality, independent journalism, which tackles serious subjects and, when necessary, upsets powerful interests. In an era when it’s widely believed that online journalism has no place for in-depth reporting and muckraking, these developments caution against blanket statements.


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Cyberespionage operation 'The Mask' compromised organizations in 30-plus countries | NetworkWorld.com

Cyberespionage operation 'The Mask' compromised organizations in 30-plus countries | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A cyberespionage operation that used highly sophisticated multi-platform malware went undetected for more than five years and compromised computers belonging to hundreds of government and private organizations in more than 30 countries.


Details about the operation were revealed Monday in a paper by security researchers from antivirus firm Kaspersky Lab who believe the attack campaign could be state sponsored.


The Kaspersky researchers dubbed the whole operation "The Mask," the English translation for the Spanish word Careto, which is what the attackers called their main backdoor program. Based on other text strings found in the malware, the researchers believe its authors are probably proficient in Spanish, which is unusual for an APT (advanced persistent threat) campaign.


"When active in a victim system, The Mask can intercept network traffic, keystrokes, Skype conversations, PGP keys, analyze WiFi traffic, fetch all information from Nokia devices, screen captures and monitor all file operations," the Kaspersky researchers said in the research paper. "The malware collects a large list of documents from the infected system, including encryption keys, VPN configurations, SSH keys and RDP [remote desktop protocol] files. There are also several extensions being monitored that we have not been able to identify and could be related to custom military/government-level encryption tools."


Data found by investigating and monitoring a set of command-and-control (C&C) servers used by the attackers revealed more than 380 unique victims from 31 countries. The main targets of the operation are government institutions; embassies and other diplomatic missions; energy, oil and gas companies; research institutions; private equity firms and activists.


Victims were targeted using spear-phishing emails with links leading to websites that hosted exploits for Java and Adobe Flash Player, as well as malicious extensions for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. The URLs used were meant to impersonate the websites of popular newspapers, many in Spanish, but also The Guardian, The Washington Post and The Independent.


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