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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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Obama's Budget Plan Includes Increased Funding for Health IT | iHealthBeat.org

Obama's Budget Plan Includes Increased Funding for Health IT | iHealthBeat.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

President Obama's fiscal year 2014 budget proposal generally provides increased funding for health IT-related initiatives, Health Data Management reports (Goedert, Health Data Management, 4/10).

 

On Wednesday, Obama released his $3.77 trillion budget proposal, which would raise taxes on higher-income individuals and cut spending on health care programs by $400 billion (Hennessey, "Politics Now," Los Angeles Times, 4/10).

 

The bulk of the health care savings would come from reduced payments to hospitals and health care providers (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 4/10).

 

Republican members of Congress have indicated they do not support the tax increases in Obama's budget. However, the IT portions of Obama's budget do not appear to be controversial, according to Federal Computer Week (Mazmanian, Federal Computer Week, 4/10).

 

Under the proposal, HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT would receive nearly $78 million for FY 2014 -- a 28% increase from the $61 million allocated for ONC in FY 2012 (Bowman, FierceHealthIT, 4/10).

 

That total includes:

 

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MPAA Starts Backing Away, Slowly, From Bogus Piracy Stats (But New Bogus Stats Are On Their Way) | Techdirt

MPAA Starts Backing Away, Slowly, From Bogus Piracy Stats (But New Bogus Stats Are On Their Way) | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

We've been among the many, many people who have highlighted the MPAA's penchant for using totally bogus "piracy" numbers in arguing for why it needs ever stronger copyright laws and enforcement. Others have stepped in with thorough debunkings as well, including its favorite "$58 billion" in losses that was bandied about regularly during the SOPA fight. The Government Accountability Office famously mocked the MPAA's piracy claims as totally unsubstantiated, in part because the MPAA wouldn't even explain the basis for the numbers it used.

It appears that so many people now realize that the MPAA's claims on "losses" from piracy are so ridiculous that even the MPAA has decided not to use those numbers any more. Buried in a longer Wall Street Journal piece by Carl Bialik is this tidbit:

 

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MN: Lake County Stringing High-Speed Internet Cable | WDIO.com

MN: Lake County Stringing High-Speed Internet Cable | WDIO.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

 

Lake County is building a broadband network despite federal lawmakers asking the USDA why the project got $66 million in taxpayer money.

 

The concerns about the funding are complicated. The Department of Agriculture awarded the federal money to Lake County over two years ago. A requirement for that funding was to bring broadband access to rural areas lacking the high-speed connection.

 

However, U.S. Representatives questioned if the Lake County project met the funding requirements last month. The Committee on Energy and Commerce asked the USDA if the actually expands access or is just overbuilding.

 

Lake County officials said the questions floating on the federal level are not slowing down construction. Crews were connecting fiber optic cable to homes in Silver Bay on Wednesday.

 

The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) is the branch of the USDA that approves money spent on the project. County Administrator Matt Huddleston said there is no indication the money will stop flowing.

 

“In the meantime we're focused on building the network and RUS is continually seeing our contracts move to them, and they're approving them and providing us the funds at this time to continue building it,” Huddleston said.

 

He said $20 million is tied up in contracts, and construction will move forward.

 

Connections to homes and businesses in Two Harbors and Silver Bay should be finished by July according to officials. Then a connection to Duluth will be built to connect the entire network to the rest of the world. Officials said the network will reach up to Ely by the end of 2015.

 

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Rural doctors slow to adopt electronic medical records | Marketplace.org

Rural doctors slow to adopt electronic medical records | Marketplace.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

These days when you go to the doctor, many rely on an electronic health records system. With just a few clicks of a mouse, they can bring up your medical history, prescribe you medication, or chart your test results.

 

The 2009 Recovery Act actually set aside $20 billion to help health care providers ditch the paper records and go electronic. The idea was to cut soaring health care costs in the U.S. But while physicians backed by large health care groups can afford the system, many rural physicians are struggling to make that transition.

 

At the Fayette Medical Clinic in rural Missouri, Shauna Young brings her one-year-old daughter Caroline in for a checkup. Dr. Kevin Frazer pulls up a graph of Caroline’s weight on the computer in the exam room.  Because Caroline’s electronic health record shows her weight has dipped, Frazer talks to Shauna about Caroline’s eating habits.

 

Health care providers generally have accepted electronic records as an efficient tool. It can cut costs and time. Frazer says he can use the computer to help diagnose conditions, bill patients, and show them changes in their weight or glucose levels.

 

“It gives us more information that the patient can see in real time,” Frazer says.

The federal government has set a deadline. If health care providers don’t implement an electronic health records system by 2015, they’ll get dinged with Medicare penalties. The problem for many rural health clinics is they don’t have the money to make the switch.

 

A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research last year suggests that costs rise sharply in the first year of adoption for health centers in less tech-savvy locations. And they can remain up to 4 percent higher for years.

 

There are big upfront costs for licensing the software and purchasing the computer equipment, according to Brock Slabach, senior vice-president of the National Rural Health Association. “It could be $30,000-$40,000 per physician possibly in terms of getting one of these set up in a clinic -- possibly more depending upon the complexities that might be present within that particular facility,” he says.

 

Those complexities often include adding a broadband connection, training staff to use the system and convincing patients they won’t lose their personal relationship with their doctor.

 

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OH: OneCommunity to Offer Shared Broadband Services to Community Partners | OneCommunity.com

OH: OneCommunity to Offer Shared Broadband Services to Community Partners | OneCommunity.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

OneCommunity, in conjunction with Stark County and four other Northeast Ohio counties, has won a $100,000 grant from the State of Ohio’s Local Government Innovation Fund to help facilitate shared broadband services among government entities.

 

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Aereo May Have Unlikely Ally | MediaPost.com

Aereo might call a Wall Street analyst as a witness in its case versus leading broadcasters. Entities linked with the major networks have charged that the service could deprive them of carriage or retransmission consent fees, but Barclays’ Anthony DiClemente disputes that in a report issued this week.

 

DiClemente isn’t making the case to defend Aereo, but simply to suggest to investors that the service doesn’t pose much of a threat to the value of major media companies.

 

There have been suggestions that if Aereo, which streams live TV to digital devices with DVR functionality, prevails against media companies that want to shut it down. Cable operators might look to develop similar technology allowing them to skirt the retrans payments. That could, of course, hurt networks. 

 

But DiClemente writes their parent companies have little to worry about. They tend to “bundle” broadcast stations' in package deals with cable assets and aren’t likely to allow a cable operator to get one without paying for the other. “Distributors could have a hard time disaggregating the two to save” on retrans payments, the analyst says.


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T-Mobile Breaks Free of Cellphone Contracts and Penalties | NYTimes.com

T-Mobile Breaks Free of Cellphone Contracts and Penalties | NYTimes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Where, exactly, is your threshold for outrage?

 

Would you speak up if you were overbilled for a meal? Would you complain if you paid for a book from Amazon.com that never arrived?

 

Or what if you had to keep making monthly mortgage payments even after your loan was fully repaid?

 

Well, guess what? If you’re like most people, you’re participating in exactly that kind of rip-off right now. It’s the Great Cellphone Subsidy Con.

 

When you buy a cellphone — an iPhone or Android phone, let’s say — you pay $200. Now, the real price for that sophisticated piece of electronics is around $600. But Verizon, AT&T and Sprint are very thoughtful. They subsidize the phone. Your $200 is a down payment. You pay off the remaining $400 over the course of your two-year contract.

 

It’s just like buying a house or a car: you put some cash down and pay the rest in installments. Right?

 

Wrong. Here’s the difference: Once you’ve finished paying off your handset, your monthly bill doesn’t go down. You keep reimbursing the cellphone company as though you still owed it. Forever.

 

And speaking of the two-year contract, why aren’t you outraged about that? What other service in modern life locks you in for two years? Home phone service? Cable TV service? Internet? Magazine subscriptions? Baby sitter? Lawn maintenance? In any other industry, you can switch to a rival if you ever become unhappy. Companies have to work for your loyalty.

 

But not in the cellphone industry. If you try to leave your cellphone carrier before two years are up, you’re slapped with a penalty of hundreds of dollars.

 

If you’re not outraged by those rip-offs, maybe it’s because you think you’re helpless. All of the Big Four carriers follow the same rules, so, you know — what are you gonna do?

 

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Surprise: Rep. Bob Goodlatte Thinks The Justice Department Is Too Cozy With Hollywood

Surprise: Rep. Bob Goodlatte Thinks The Justice Department Is Too Cozy With Hollywood | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the current head of the House Judiciary Committee, is seen as a friend of copyright maximalists -- generally supporting their legislative efforts. He's not nearly as extreme as his predecessor, Lamar Smith, but he's hardly seen as a problem for Hollywood. So, it's a bit surprising to see Goodlatte pen an article for Politico, talking about "waste" at the Justice Department, where he explicitly calls out the DOJ's cozy relationship with Hollywood.

While he isn't talking about the cozy relationship that worries us -- the domain seizures, the willingness (and eagerness) to act as Hollywood's personal police force, and the revolving door between DOJ lawyers and big entertainment lobbying and litigation firms -- it is still interesting to see Goodlatte less than happy about some aspect of the DOJ and Hollywood's close and personal relationship:

 

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CISPA Amendment Proves Everyone's Fears Were Justified While Failing To Assuage Them | Techdirt

CISPA Amendment Proves Everyone's Fears Were Justified While Failing To Assuage Them | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The single biggest criticism of CISPA is that it could be used by the federal government in a way that infringes on people's privacy, allowing government agencies, including the NSA, to sift through the private data of American citizens with little to no oversight. It's pretty obvious why that fear exists — just look at the relevant paragraph in what, until the recent and final round of markup, was the text of the bill:

 

(7) PROTECTION OF INDIVIDUAL INFORMATION—The Federal Government may, consistent with the need to protect Federal systems and critical information infrastructure from cybersecurity threats and to mitigate such threats, undertake reasonable efforts to limit the impact on privacy and civil liberties of the sharing of cyber threat information with the Federal Government pursuant to this subsection.


So, um, the feds may worry about privacy, if they want to and as long as it doesn't hinder their cybersecurity efforts. It's disconcerting that this even needed to be spelled out, and it certainly doesn't count as a safeguard. The response to criticism from the bill's authors has been the same since last year: they deny that this bill has anything to do with spying on people, and insist it's just about sharing technical threat data. Just this week, Rep. Rogers flatly stated this is not a surveillance bill. Still, in an attempt to placate the opposition, they backed an amendment (pdf and embedded below) from Rep. Hines replacing that paragraph, which passed in the markup phase. Here's the new text:

 

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Google and AT&T pony up separate gigabit-speed fiber projects for Austin | ComputerWorld.com

Google and AT&T pony up separate gigabit-speed fiber projects for Austin | ComputerWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google chose Austin for its Internet service because the city is known globally as "a mecca for creative and entrepreneurial people, including musicians, artists, tech companies and the University of Texas and its new medical research hospital," Google wrote in an FAQ (at the end of the sign-up page). Austin also made a request to be considered for Google Fiber more than two years ago when Google selected Kansas City as its first city to receive the service.

 

Austin is also the state capital of Texas and the fourth most populous city in the state, with nearly 2 million people in the metropolitan area. The city has more than 800,000 residents.

 

Austin residents interested in the service can sign up here.

 

AT&T, in an emailed statement, said that its intent to build a separate gigabit fiber network in Austin is part of its previously announced Project Velocity IP expansion of broadband access, a three-year, $14 billion investment in wired and wireless broadband infrastructure.

 

AT&T, which is based in Dallas, also said that it expects to win from government regulatory bodies in Austin and Texas the "same terms and conditions as Google on issues such as geographic scope of offerings, rights of way, permitting, state licenses and any investment incentives."

AT&T said it doesn't expect a material impact on its 2013 capital expenditures because of the Austin expansion. "Our potential capital investment will depend on the extent we can reach satisfactory agreements," AT&T said.

 

Larry Solomon, an AT&T spokesman, said AT&T has just begun discussions with Austin officials and doesn't have a timeline or pricing information. "Once we can confirm that we will have the same terms and conditions as Google, we'll be able to announce timing and additional details," he said via email.

 

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IRS claims it can read your e-mail without a warrant | CNET News

IRS claims it can read your e-mail without a warrant | CNET News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Internal Revenue Service doesn't believe it needs a search warrant to read your e-mail.

 

Newly disclosed documents prepared by IRS lawyers say that Americans enjoy "generally no privacy" in their e-mail, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages, and similar online communications -- meaning that they can be perused without obtaining a search warrant signed by a judge.

 

That places the IRS at odds with a growing sentiment among many judges and legislators who believe that Americans' e-mail messages should be protected from warrantless search and seizure. They say e-mail should be protected by the same Fourth Amendment privacy standards that require search warrants for hard drives in someone's home, or a physical letter in a filing cabinet.

 

An IRS 2009 Search Warrant Handbook obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union argues that "emails and other transmissions generally lose their reasonable expectation of privacy and thus their Fourth Amendment protection once they have been sent from an individual's computer." The handbook was prepared by the Office of Chief Counsel for the Criminal Tax Division and obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

 

Nathan Wessler, a staff attorney at the ACLU's Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, said in a blog post that the IRS's view of privacy rights violates the Fourth Amendment:

 

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Even New York Times Is Oblivious To Fact That Sharing 'HBO Go' Passwords To Watch 'Game Of Thrones' Breaks Law | Forbes

Even New York Times Is Oblivious To Fact That Sharing 'HBO Go' Passwords To Watch 'Game Of Thrones' Breaks Law | Forbes | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This weekend, New York Times tech journalist Jenna Wortham made a confession that could be used to send her to prison for a year or more. What was the startling criminal admission? She uses someone else’s HBO Go password to sign into the cable-subscriber-only app to watch ‘Game of Thrones.’

 

In the piece headlined, “No TV? No Subscription? No Problem,” Wortham wrote:

 

"[Some friends and I] all had the same plan: to watch the season premiere of “Game of Thrones.” But only one person in our group had a cable television subscription to HBO, where it is shown. The rest of us had a crafty workaround."

 

She says “crafty.” A federal prosecutor might substitute “illegal” there.

 

"We were each going to use HBO Go, the network’s video Web site, to stream the show online — but not our own accounts. Our behavior — sharing password information to HBO Go, Netflix, Hulu and other streaming sites and services — appears increasingly prevalent among Web-savvy people who don’t own televisions or subscribe to cable."

 

While Wortham was aware that the companies she contacted for comment about this might not be happy about her accessing their services for free, she seems wholly unaware that the activity was potentially illegal. Just like the many BitTorrenters who have made Game of Thrones the most pirated show on the Internet, Wortham is getting her content in a way that could put her on the wrong side of the law.

 

After the New York Times got a flood of complaints about Wortham committing piracy by jumping over entertainment providers’ pay walls, New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan addressed the issue in a column. Strangely Sullivan only addressed the ethics of password-sharing not the legality of the practice, concluding by saying that Wortham might write another column “exploring the ethical issues” and might now instead watch ‘Game of Thrones’ at a bar.

 

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Taking on Murdoch, SOPA and the FCC | Money & Politics, What Matters Today | BillMoyers.com

Taking on Murdoch, SOPA and the FCC | Money & Politics, What Matters Today | BillMoyers.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

From the digital divide to media consolidation to net neutrality, Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free Press, is on the front lines of media reform. In a discussion with Moyers & Company’s Michael Winship, Aaron says he’s hopeful for the future of the movement.

 

“I think our opponents have very deep pockets. I think they haven’t begun to try all of their dirty tricks. But ultimately, I believe that organized people can still beat organized money, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” he says.

 

The conversation* was recorded at the National Conference on Media Reform in Denver, organized by Free Press.

 

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Media Impact Funders's curator insight, April 12, 2013 7:31 AM

Media - control of and access to - are defining issues of our time. Funders who "don't fund media" must consider the power and impact media has on their other work.

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FCC Budget Aids Wireless Broadband | Wall Street Journal

FCC Budget Aids Wireless Broadband | Wall Street Journal | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Two programs funded under the 2014 budget show the Obama administration is moving forward with plans to free up more airwaves for wireless broadband as Americans’ demand for wireless devices grows.

 

Next year, the Federal Communications Commission plans to begin the process of auctioning television airwaves that have been voluntarily relinquished by station owners. The administration’s 2014 budget allocates $500 million for broadcasters as they rework their infrastructure during that process. Wireless carriers are expected to be the major bidders at the auction, which hasn’t been scheduled yet, so they can provide customers with better service for smartphones, tablets and other devices.

 

The budget also provides $7.5 million in funding for a spectrum-monitoring program at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which oversees spectrum used by federal agencies and is within the Commerce Department. Under the program, NTIA would study usage patterns in 10 major metropolitan areas. The goal, according to the budget document, is to find ways to potentially repurpose some of the airwaves currently used by government agencies or the military for commercial uses.

 

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The Contenders: Municipal fiber providers meeting or beating the incumbent competition | FierceTelecom.com

The Contenders: Municipal fiber providers meeting or beating the incumbent competition | FierceTelecom.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In this installment of The Contenders, we take a look at five standout municipal broadband providers.

 

Just a few years ago, municipal broadband looked like a long shot to many communities. State or local regulations, legal challenges by established broadband providers, and a shaky economy were among the hurdles that communities had to surmount to bring affordable, high-speed service to businesses and residents.

 

But times appear to be changing. Legislative victories, like the recent defeat of an anti-municipal broadband bill in Georgia, are keeping the city-operated broadband dream alive for many. And Google's high-profile buildout of a 1 Gbps FTTH network in Kansas City--and now Austin, Texas--is drawing the attention of businesses around the country.

 

In the midst of this change are a number of municipal broadband projects that have been successfully serving government, businesses, and residents in their respective areas through the past decade.

 
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Grant-Funded Broadband Enabled Health Care Online Course Released For California Nurses | The Sacramento Bee

Grant-Funded Broadband Enabled Health Care Online Course Released For California Nurses | The Sacramento Bee | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

According to the White House, the U.S. spends $2.2 trillion each year in health care, and Americans spend more on health care than on food or housing.  An upward trend in health care cost is projected over the period of 2015-2021 at an average rate of 6.2 percent annually, reflecting the net result of the aging of the population, several provisions of the Affordable Care Act, and generally improving economic conditions reported by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 

 

Many experts believe that broadband enabled health may be a critical answer to controlling costs, while enhancing quality health care, and is being considered by many to be the next great frontier of American medicine. A recent study by U.S. Telecom suggests that health care expenditures could be cut by $200 billion over the next 25 years using broadband.  High-speed transmission capability has generated efficiencies such as faster patient diagnoses, reduced medical errors, and additional control over skyrocketing patient care costs. Successful broadband adoption requires implementation of broadband-dependent applications that add value to health care organizations, businesses and consumers. This requires that clinicians and consumers are broadband technology-literate.

 

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Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/04/04/5316200/grant-funded-broadband-enabled.html#storylink=cpy
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Big data could mean big savings in health care – but here’s what has to happen first | GigaOM MedTech News

Big data could mean big savings in health care – but here’s what has to happen first | GigaOM MedTech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Properly exploiting big data in health care could mean up to $450 billion in savings health care organizations and consumers according to a recent reportfrom consulting firm McKinsey. But don’t get too excited yet – that data-optimized future isn’t just going to fall in our laps.

 

An abundance of newly available information — from research and development data aggregated by pharmaceutical companies to digitized patient records to recently-released health information from the federal government and other public sources — combined with new technology has the potential to transform health. But, according to the report, to really “jujitsu” that data (as the country’s CTO Todd Park likes to say), the industry may need to shift its thinking and scale some obstacles first.

 

“Stakeholders will only benefit from big data if they take a more holistic, patient-centered approach to value, one that focuses equally on health-care spending and treatment outcomes,” McKinsey’s report said.

 

To do that, the analysis laid out a few guidelines, including:

 

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AT&T: Virtual MSO? | Multichannel.com

AT&T: Virtual MSO? | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Intel Media is gearing up to launch a "virtual" MSO service later this year that will be delivered to customers over-the-top. Is AT&T preparing to do something similar?

 

It's an idea that seems to spring from a survey that the telco floated to U-verse customers on  March 24. According to Variety,  AT&T asked if customers would be interested in a "new video and Internet service" that could be delivered to a range of IP-connected devices without need for a separate set-top, and provide the option to bundle in broadcast TV channels, "popular sports and entertainment" networks, and even some streaming video services from sources such as Netflix.

 

While delivering live TV and VoD content to IP devices without a set-top isn't exactly all that fresh and new in the TV Everywhere era, the notion of taking offering a subscription TV service bundle out of footprint could be a bit more interesting.  "This service could be offered by any broadband provider, not necessarily AT&T," the survey notes, according to the publication.  

 

The idea of marketing pay-TV services outside of cable's traditional franchise areas has been a topic of discussion in recent years as MSOs mull ways to grow their video subscriber bases amid a saturated market. 

 

Faster broadband connections, adaptive bit rate technologies and content delivery networks have removed many of the technology hurdles that could prevent such an offering.  New carriage deals between programmer s and pay-TV operators typically include out-of-home streaming rights, so the business side of the equation is starting to come into focus, as well.

 

But any sort of cable OTT video service comes with some tricky political components. The cable industry has a collaborative chumminess about it in large part because MSOs don't typically compete against each other.  If cable operators started to deliver pay-TV packages outside their traditional footprints, that would change the whole dynamic of the industry. I don't think cable's ready to take such an explosive step, at least not while they are having some success trimming back their quarterly video subscription losses.

 

But companies like Intel Media and AT&T don't have such reservations; they're not part of the cable club.

 

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Verizon CEO hints at a la carte pricing for video | FierceCable.com

Verizon CEO hints at a la carte pricing for video | FierceCable.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Verizon Communications Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam said his company is being pressured by consumers to offer a la carte pricing for its FiOS TV service and he believes this is a concept worth considering.

 

The company, which offers FiOS TV service to 5.5 million customers, can track how much a customer watches each channel and McAdam hinted that this would make a la carte pricing feasible.

 

Speaking at the National Association of Broadcasters conference here Tuesday, McAdam also said he does not envision implementing data caps for Verizon's FiOS broadband service, although the company does enforce data caps on its wireless data service. "Because we did fiber to the home, it doesn't matter," he said. "I don't see a horizon with data caps being put in place."

 However, he did leave the door open to having different data pricing tiers for customers who might want to pay a lower monthly fee because they use only a small amount of data.
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TN: Downtown Knoxville discusses sluggish internet issues | wbir.com

TN: Downtown Knoxville discusses sluggish internet issues | wbir.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

On the eleventh floor of the Conley Building in Downtown Knoxville, Ian Blackburn keeps the office network up and running for AC Entertainment.

 

"I'm the I.T. guy at AC Entertainment. I'm the person people come to when they say, 'Hey, why is the internet so slow up here?," said Blackburn.

 

These days the internet is not as sluggish as it used to be for Blackburn. For years the company's bandwidth hit a bottleneck of bytes at the building's front door because high speed cable service is not available in pockets of downtown.

 

"Comcast would not provide service in our building, so the fastest connection we could get was a T1 line and DSL. We had 30 people in this office sharing a 6 MB line. Your typical cable modem at home can usually go several times faster than that.  We move a lot of datain and out of here with huge amounts of video, promotional material, high resolution graphics, and so forth. Without high speed internet everything takes a lot longer so we absolutely needed an upgrade," said Blackburn. "It was like, 'Wow, Chattanooga has fiber to the front door and we can't even get Comcast on Gay Street.' It was frustrating."

 

Blackburn said he does not expect Knoxville to install a fiber optic network comparable to the one that has become Chattanooga's claim to fame. Their fiber optic lines were constructed on city-owned utility network, cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and relied heavily on one-time federal grants. However, Blackburn does expect downtown buildings to be able to receive the same levels of bandwidth you can find in the rest of Knoxville.

 

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MA: Leverett bushwhacks its own route | The Recorder

MA: Leverett bushwhacks its own route | The Recorder | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If there’s a “poster child” for broadband development in rural western Massachusetts, it’s Leverett, which last month signed a $2.7 million contract to build a “last-mile” fiber-optic network along its 40 miles of roads, for universal telecommunication service that’s expected to be up and running sometime next year.

 

“It’s a real milestone,” Selectboard member Peter d’Errico says. “It’s taken us almost two years in the making. “As far as we’re aware, we’re still out front in getting this done first.”

 

In fact, while the town won a critical $40,000 grant from Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) that paid for a detailed design study by G4S — the same company that won the $2.7 million construction contract — the journey has taken much longer. It’s also meant taxpayers agreeing to shoulder the burden of paying to have their network built, in part to assure that their home values keep up with the ever-growing demand for affordable high-speed telecommunication.

 

Robert Brooks, who chairs the town Broadband Committee, has been working on trying to bring high-speed telecommunications to the town for 10 years. Working with Shutesbury, Leverett began by approaching Verizon and Comcast to extend service, with little satisfaction.

 

“Out of our own internal sense of frustration of trying to deal with Verizon,” recalled d’’Errico, “it was pretty clear we were going to have to do it on our own. (Brooks) was the point person for exploring other avenues, saying, ‘We can work this out. If Leverett wants to do it, Leverett is going to have to do it.”

 

The town’s frustrations over telecommunication weren’t limited to simply bringing high-speed Internet service to its residents. Residents’ reports of interruptions in service, static and other noises that interrupted phone conversations and problems using the town’s reverse-911 calling system led to complaints against the telephone company to the state Department of Telecommunications and Cable.

 

“Any time we had any moisture or rain, whole sections of town would have no telephone service,” d’Errico said.

 

Similar complaints, brought by a variety of towns, including Rowe and Shutesbury, eventually led to a settlement that required Verizon to repair its copper phone wires, and those problems have largely abated, according to d’Errico. He emphasized that telephone service and Internet service are treated differently, however: DTC oversees land-line telephone, but not cellphone or broadband service.

 

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The second coming of Facebook | CNNMoney

The second coming of Facebook | CNNMoney | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it
Back in 2010 Mark Zuckerberg made a very bad decision. Instead of building separate apps for iPhones, Androids, BlackBerrys, Nokia devices, and, yes, even Microsoft phones, he put his engineers to work designing a version of Facebook that could operate on any smartphone. In effect, he was betting that as different operating systems jostled for control of mobile devices, standalone apps would go away and soon we would surf websites on our phones, just as we do on PCs.

Zuckerberg was wrong. Google's Android and Apple's iOS quickly became the dominant mobile operating systems, and Facebook's applications, which were built with its CEO's web-centric worldview in mind, didn't work well on either platform. They were buggy and slow, crashing often. A 2011 update garnered 19,000 one-star reviews in the Apple App Store within the first month. "It's probably one of the biggest mistakes we've ever made," Zuckerberg tells me during an interview at Facebook's Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters in late March.

 

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Budget plan doles out more cash for cybersecurity | Tony Romm | POLITICO.com

Budget plan doles out more cash for cybersecurity | Tony Romm | POLITICO.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Another round of increases to federal science and research spending complement a significant cash boost for cybersecurity programs in the 2014 budget released by the White House on Wednesday.

 

The new funds for federal research and development — totaling $143 billion by the administration’s count — follow years of similar investments proposed in President Barack Obama’s annual spending plans. Many of the research initiatives included with this year’s budget, however, actually are repeat appearances that have lagged on Capitol Hill.

 

The blueprint devotes just as much attention to cybersecurity across multiple federal agencies. Those highly sought increases for the 2014 fiscal year arrive about two months after the president signed an executive order that aims to bring sweeping reforms to the nation’s cyberdefensive posture.

 

Still, the budget might be more symbolism than substantive policy: The House and Senate each has articulated its own vision for spending, though the two plans differ significantly. The looming mandatory cuts of sequestration further cast uncertainty over the entire budget process.

 

For the tech set, at least, there’s still much to weigh — from widely popular, revived high-tech initiatives on manufacturing and more to the return of thornier ideas about fees on certain users of wireless spectrum.

 

Science and technology long have figured heavily in Obama’s budget blueprints: His plan last year sought about $140 billion for federal R&D across the government. And repeatedly, the administration has fought for that aid. As mandatory sequestration loomed over Washington, top government R&D leaders tried to rally the ranks of science and research experts to defend that category of spending.

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Air Force classifies cybersecurity tools as weapons | Salon.com

Air Force classifies cybersecurity tools as weapons | Salon.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

While the U.S. Air Force and other military branches have for a number of years been developing and using a host of cyber tools with offensive capabilities, only this week have a number of these tools been officially classified as weapons. Six unnamed tools have been classified as weapons by the Air Force, a general announced at a Colorado Springs conference Monday. What to the tools are and do has not been made public. The weapons classification is, above all, an effort to get more funding for these cyber tools.

 

“It is a semantic move that has little, if anything, to do with the tools themselves or how they’re used,” noted The Kapersky Lab Security News Service:

 

"The Air Force has emerged as one of the key military branches for offensive and defensive cyber capabilities. The U.S. Cyber Command is the overarching strategic command that’s responsible for cybersecurity operations, and it comprises groups from the Army, Navy and Air Force. But it’s the Air Force that has become the most vocal and public about its capabilities and intentions when it comes to cybersecurity."

 

At a conference in Colorado Springs on Monday, an Air Force general said that the branch has now classified six of its cyber capabilities as weapons. The move is an effort to make it easier for the Air Force, and presumably other branches as well, to get funding for these tools.

 

“It’s very, very hard to compete for resources … You have to be able to make that case,” Lt. Gen. John Hyten said during the National Space Symposium."

 

It is notable that it’s easier to get funding for a security tool if it officially labeled a weapon.

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Corralling the Internet: NY Advocates Fight Back | PublicNewsService.org

Corralling the Internet: NY Advocates Fight Back | PublicNewsService.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The National Conference for Media Reform brought together thousands of policymakers, advocates and tech experts who spent three days discussing such issues as protecting the Internet from government and corporate attempts at limiting its free and unfettered usage. Congressional bills to regulate the Internet, known as SOPA and PIPA, were roundly rejected last year when grassroots activists organized petitions, protests and a one-day service blackout on the Web.

Brooklyn-based activist Elizabeth Stark said the next threats to the Internet are on the doorstep, but she hoped it would not come to similar uprisings.

"We can't have an Internet blackout every few months because that just won't work," she said. "We need to instead keep the pressure on, get people excited and engaged in an ongoing fashion."

Advocates warned about a cyber-security bill in Congress called CISPA that they said is deeply flawed, a move by AT&T to dissolve regulations regarding affordable and open networks, and international trade agreements that would affect Internet freedom.

Stark, an open-Internet advocate and former academic, said blackouts cannot be mounted every time there is a threat. She called it a marathon, not a sprint.

 

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