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Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream
Everything about Broadband Policy, Network Infrastructure, Voice, Video and Data Services, Devices and Applications for Managing our Planet
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Too Good To Fail: What’s Wrong With the Electric Grid? | CleanTechies Blog

Too Good To Fail: What’s Wrong With the Electric Grid? | CleanTechies Blog | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The temperature is 100 degrees and we have no air conditioning, no running water, no telephone and no Internet. It’s been 60 hours since our household lost electricity because of the super derecho, a rare surprise storm that swept ten US states and the nation’s capital on June 29.

 

About 5 million of us suddenly are living in conditions of a century earlier. And as we fumble in the dark, it’s easy to see how vulnerable our profound reliance on electricity makes us.

 

The notion of grid reliability is embedded deeply in the American psyche. We are so accustomed to electricity flowing, we can barely comprehend its absence. By habit, we still flip on the light switch when entering a room, even after the power has been out for hours.

 

We have good reason to trust. After all, behind the switch is the world’s largest machine, the North American power grid. With 211,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines and 5,800 power plants feeding electricity to our homes and businesses, the grid is an engineering wonder.

 

A wonder – until a storm, or a heat wave, or even a squirrel chewing the right wire in the right place knocks out power to large swaths of customers.

 

It is the grid’s size and interconnectivity that makes it remarkable and efficient, but also susceptible to widespread mishap. We saw that most clearly in the Northeast Blackout of 2003, when a cascading event caused failures that tumbled quickly from neighborhood to neighborhood, state to state, finally leaving 50 million without power.

 

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HI: Cable Access Gets Slammed, Time Porner Gets the Land | community broadband networks

HI: Cable Access Gets Slammed, Time Porner Gets the Land | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

There is a new land grab in Hawaii whereby the government is giving away valuable public land to private business without getting anything in return for the people.

 

Sound familiar? It has happened before in Hawaii – with agriculture, with beaches, with water and now, with the public airwaves. This time the difference is that the land in question is in the form of public electronic real estate, the electromagnetic spectrum. These are the frequencies you pay for to watch cable TV, use the internet or talk on the phone.

 

Most people don’t know this, but in exchange for using public rights of way - airwaves, telephone poles, electric wires and underground conduits - cable monopolies like Oceanic Time Warner have to pay “rent” in the form of community access channels like Olelo on Oahu, Akaku on Maui, Na Leo on Big Island and Hoike on Kauai.

 

Now, because of new technology, the frequencies or space these channels occupy have suddenly become extremely profitable to cable companies. (Not unlike how lands once granted to indigenous people by treaty became more valuable once minerals were discovered.)

 

That is why Time Warner wants to take over this public property and move these channels to inferior locations while vastly reducing the amount of non-commercial electronic real estate. That is why, if you are an Oceanic Time Warner Cable subscriber, channels are disappearing from your channel line-up altogether, or re-appearing someplace else.

 

So far, instead of holding your land in public trust, the state is falling for the Time Warner plan - hook, line and sinker.

 

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How the Phone Companies Are Screwing America: The $320 Billion Broadband Rip-Off | AlterNet

How the Phone Companies Are Screwing America: The $320 Billion Broadband Rip-Off | AlterNet | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Americans are stuck with an inferior and overpriced communications system, compared with the rest of the world, and we're being ripped off in the process.

 

Since 1991, the telecom companies have pocketed an estimated $320 billion --- that's about $3,000 per household.

 

This is a conservative estimate of the wide-scale plunder that includes monies garnered from hidden rate hikes, depreciation allowances, write-offs and other schemes. Ironically, in 2009, the FCC's National Broadband plan claimed it will cost about $350 billion to fully upgrade America's infrastructure.

 

The principal consequence of the great broadband con is not only that Americans are stuck with an inferior and overpriced communications system, but the nation's global economic competitiveness has been undermined.

 

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Obama Outlines Emergency Communications Authority | National Journal

Obama Outlines Emergency Communications Authority | National Journal | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

President Obama on Friday issued an executive order outlining which agencies and officials have authority over government emergency communications systems.

 

"The federal government must have the ability to communicate at all times and under all circumstances to carry out its most critical and time sensitive missions," Obama wrote in the order. "Such communications must be possible under all circumstances to ensure national security, effectively manage emergencies, and improve national resilience."

 

Officials at all levels of government must be involved in developing emergency communications policies and systems, the order stated.

 

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Xplornet Vastly Expands Canadian Rural Broadband! | Rural Living Canada

Xplornet Vastly Expands Canadian Rural Broadband! | Rural Living Canada | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Xplornet Communications Inc. is pleased to announce the successful launch of EchoStar XVII, a Hughes 4G broadband satellite that will greatly expand Xplornet's 4G footprint across rural Canada.

 

The satellite was launched from French Guiana at 5:36 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday July 5th, 2012 into a geosynchronous orbit 35,888 kilometers above sea-level; high enough to get a clear view of the vast Canadian territory it will be covering.

 

A game-changer in terms of ubiquitous broadband access in Canada, EchoStar XVII will greatly expand Xplornet's 4G footprint across rural Canada, especially in British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

 

The next-generation satellite is capable of providing Internet access to Canadians in rural and remote areas with download speeds up to 25 Mbps, and at monthly prices similar to what urban Canadians pay.

 

Together with Xplornet's national 4G terrestrial network and another recently launched 4G satellite, Xplornet will close Canada's urban/rural digital-divide for over 2 million of the 2.4 million Canadian households located in regions where wired broadband is unavailable.

 

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Will The Failures Of SOPA & ACTA Highlight The End Of The MPAA & RIAA's Disproportionate Influence On Policy? | Techdirt

Will The Failures Of SOPA & ACTA Highlight The End Of The MPAA & RIAA's Disproportionate Influence On Policy? | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Following the rejection of ACTA and the surprising USTR recognition of copyright exceptions and limitations, Harold Feld has a really worthwhile postgame analysis that highlights why pretty much every other industry (and the US government) should be pissed off at the MPAA and the RIAA.

 

Basically, he points out that there were aspects of reasonableness in those efforts: some of the parts focused on real counterfeiting. But because the MPAA and RIAA decided to use an incredibly heavy-handed approach to get the US government to include totally unrelated copyright issues among them, both proposals completely flopped.

 

If those efforts had just focused on the issue of real harm -- true counterfeit products that are confusing people and even putting lives at risk -- no one would be opposed.

 

But due to this ongoing desire to conflate copyright infringement with counterfeit drugs, they overplayed their hand -- and all of that effort is now wasted.

 

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AT&T Tech Channel : AT&T Archives

AT&T Tech Channel : AT&T Archives | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Our deep dive into the AT&T video vault uncovers a bounty of classic gems from the heyday of the Bell System.

 

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Cable, Broadband Providers Have Edge in 'Smart Home' Market | V2M

Cable, Broadband Providers Have Edge in 'Smart Home' Market | V2M | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Connected entertainment will drive revenues in the so-called "smart home" market to nearly $60 billion by 2017 – up from just $25 billion in 2012.

 

That's the finding of Juniper Research in a new report examining the smart home market and the financial opportunities derived from connected devices and service models.

 

Beyond entertainment, smart monitoring and control – as well as smart health – will give the market a solid push over the next five years, Juniper said.

 

With the role of broadband connectivity moving beyond its traditional uses, the researcher says new applications and enhanced services have emerged such as connected TVs, home automation systems and smart meters. These new and improved applications, connected via broadband (mobile or fixed) network systems, will increase the service revenue attributable to the area.

 

While there are no single leaders within this space, service providers are coming forward and taking a proactive role, said report author Nitin Bhas.

 

“Cable operators and broadband service providers have a major role to play as they have an existing billing relationship with the consumers," Bhas said in the report. "Bundling other features into existing services enable them to be in a much better position within the pyramid, compared to other new entrants."

 

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White Space Wireless for Rural College Towns | Blandin on Broadband

Thanks to Teresa Kittridge for the heads up on a recent Daily Yonder article on plans for wireless broadband in rural college towns.

 

There’s a group called Advanced Internet Regions (AIR.U), a consortium of over 500 higher learning institutions and tech industry partners like Google and Microsoft, that plans to bring wireless broadband to rural college communities over the unused spectrum between licensed television stations (white space).

 

According to the National Journal…

 

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Canada: Shaw Cable Ending Aggressive Pricing Promotions; Price War is “Lose, Lose Situation” | Stop the Cap!

Canada: Shaw Cable Ending Aggressive Pricing Promotions; Price War is “Lose, Lose Situation” | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Shaw Communications executives last week announced, to the relief of Wall Street, the cable company is pulling back on great deals for cable TV, Internet and phone service this summer.In an effort to appease Wall Street analysts like Phillip Huang, a researcher for UBS Investment Bank — who fear lower prices could “spiral into a price war, which obviously would be a lose, lose situation,” Shaw has made it clear it intends to stop some of its most aggressive promotions this summer.

 

“When you talk about promotions in the market, we’ve been very disciplined in that regard,” Shaw executives told analysts on last week’s quarterly results conference call. “It’s a highly competitive environment and will continue to be that way and we’re going to operate in a certain fashion.”

 

That “certain fashion” has cost them at least 21,500 subscribers who have already left Shaw this past quarter, most headed to Shaw’s biggest competitor Telus.

 

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Ron And Rand Paul: Net Neutrality And The Public Domain Are Really Evil Collectivist Plots | Techdirt

Ron And Rand Paul: Net Neutrality And The Public Domain Are Really Evil Collectivist Plots | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

I tend to be a pretty big supporter of free market capitalism and the importance of real property rights (not imaginary property rights). As such, I've always been intrigued by Ron Paul's libertarian stance against big government and excessive regulation. I think that position is pretty clearly staked out in my writing over the years.

 

However, I'm perplexed by the new "internet freedom" manifesto from Ron Paul and Rand Paul, which seems like a hodgepodge of poorly thought out concepts -- some of which make sense, and some of which do not.

 

While I agree about keeping the government out of internet regulations, the document seems to attack many of those who actually agree with the Pauls by setting up ridiculous strawmen. In particular, the Pauls come out vehemently against both net neutrality as a concept and any effort to expand the public domain -- even though both are really about limiting big government.

 

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US Gov't And Hollywood Have Turned Kim Dotcom Into A Beloved Cult Hero | Techdirt

US Gov't And Hollywood Have Turned Kim Dotcom Into A Beloved Cult Hero | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Kim Dotcom is not a sympathetic individual. Anyone who's followed his career over the years (even from well before Megaupload) has known that. He's loud, obnoxious, ostentatious and seems to have little shame about his past efforts to be on the wrong side of the law. If there's anyone out there who could easily be framed as "Dr. Evil," it is Dotcom.

 

So, it's really quite stunning to realize that the US government and Hollywood have taken perhaps the easiest person to demonize around... and turned him into a lovable "cult hero." Over the past six months, it appears that the US's massive overreaction to Megaupload, at the urging of a typically clueless Hollywood, has done the exact opposite of what they hoped.

 

Whereas they figured the prosecution of Megaupload and Dotcom was a slam dunk, and that it would act as a clear "education campaign" for others, the truth seems to be the exact opposite. People are realizing that the government and Hollywood overreacted, and it's almost entirely rehabilitated Dotcom's image.

 

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Malware Monday: Thousands May Lose Access to Internet | USTelecom Blog

Due to malware from international hackers, that may have infected hundreds of thousands of computers last year, some may find it impossible to connect to the Internet on Monday, July 9th. An Associated Press report, stated that approximately 64,000 computers in the U.S., may be infected, according to the FBI. On a global scale, the report estimated that over 277,000 computers are infected with this malware .

 

The malware was launched, when an international group of hackers attempted to take control of computers worldwide by running an advertising scam in 2011. Computers still infected, with this malware on Monday, July 9th will lose their ability to reach the Internet and will need the assistance of their service providers to remove this malware and re-connect to the Internet.

 

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'Internet freedom' becomes hot cause for politicians across political spectrum | The Hill's Hillicon Valley

'Internet freedom' becomes hot cause for politicians across political spectrum | The Hill's Hillicon Valley | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Advocacy groups and politicians from across the political spectrum have taken up “Internet freedom” as their rallying cry in recent months.

 

Although many people eagerly declare their support for a free Internet and promise to protect privacy, the broad consensus breaks down when people begin discussing specific policies, such as net neutrality or cybersecurity.

 

On Tuesday, a coalition of more than 100 advocacy groups unveiled their “Declaration of Internet Freedom,” and libertarian groups TechFreedom and the Competitive Enterprise Institute quickly countered with their own alternative Internet freedom proposal.

 

Later in the week, Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) and his son, freshman Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), declared their support for an Internet freedom manifesto from the Campaign for Liberty.

 

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) got into the act last month when they called for a “digital bill of rights” to protect Internet users from intrusive legislation.

 

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Storm-ravaged West Virginia makes the case for a smart grid | The Globe and Mail

Storm-ravaged West Virginia makes the case for a smart grid | The Globe and Mail | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For a broad swath of the United States, it’s been the week of heat. Battered by storms, stifled by rippling, unremitting bands of warmth, a cross-section of the country has suffered through power outages, leaving millions to swelter without air conditioning or refrigeration, sometimes for days.

 

But the worst-hit place is West Virginia, the rugged, coal-mining heart of Appalachia. Nearly half the capital lost power for days after Friday’s derecho, an intense windstorm. State troopers were called in to control crowds trying to buy gas, ice ran out across the state and many residents remain in temporary shelters after more than a week.

 

A series of smaller storms over the past week has hampered attempts to restore electricity, while a string of unusually hot days hasn’t helped, taxing lines that are functional.

 

The derecho itself struck with little warning, said Roy Smyth, a 56-year-old miner in denim work clothes, as he stood in the scorching, 40-degree morning sunshine amid fallen cottonwoods in a hillside neighbourhood of Charleston.

 

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US NSF - News - Special Reports - US Ignite & GENI Video Interviews

Seven video interviews from the White House launch of US Ignite and GENI.

 

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Verizon's Bizarre Constitutional Argument: Net Neutrality Rules Violate Its First & Fifth Amendment Rights? | Techdirt

Verizon's Bizarre Constitutional Argument: Net Neutrality Rules Violate Its First & Fifth Amendment Rights? | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Verizon is continuing to fight back against the FCC's (relatively weak) net neutrality rules with a few different arguments. It has one key argument that I think is a relatively strong one: which is that the FCC probably does not have a mandate to regulate in this way.

 

That's something that Congress could conceivably change, but it certainly does look like the FCC tried to overstep its bounds in putting out the rules that it did.

 

That said, Verizon goes even further to make some bizarre constitutional claims, including that net neutrality rules violates its free speech (First Amendment) rights, as well as its Fifth Amendment rights by "taking" its property.

 

Neither Constitutional argument should hold up.

 

The First Amendment argument is based on the idea that this somehow blocks Verizon's ability to communicate its ideas:

 

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How Getting Internet Provisions Right In TPP Trade Talks Could Boost Economy For All | Forbes

President Obama’s senior trade officials are in San Diego this week for negotiations on the deal being billed as the 21st Century Trade Agreement – the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The administration is touting this Partnership between the U.S., Australia and seven other countries as a model for future negotiations on trade in everything from industrial goods to Internet services.

 

For the U.S., the Internet sector is a major export industry. And so a big question going into the San Diego round of talks is whether and how hard the U.S. negotiators will push for Internet-friendly provisions, and how they will respond to push back from special interests or other countries.

 

The U.S. government is under pressure by some, including many in Hollywood, not to support language that’s good for the Internet. But early this week USTR proposed some key copyright language that emphasizes the importance of limitations and exceptions (such as “fair use” in the U.S.) that industries, which represent one-sixth of the U.S. GDP, depend on.

 

Previous trade deals like the flawed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement would have exported the intellectual property enforcement provisions of the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act minus the kind of limitations and exceptions that have allowed US companies to flourish. That’s problematic — just ask British Prime Minister David Cameron. To put this in perspective, copyright limitations and exceptions allow search engines to link to websites, prevent Facebook from having to prescreen everyone’s wall posts and are vital to the existence of thousands of Internet companies.

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Internet Access Is a Human Right, Says United Nations | Mashable.com

Internet Access Is a Human Right, Says United Nations | Mashable.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Is Internet access and online freedom of expression a basic human right? The United Nations’ Human Rights Council unanimously backed that notion in a resolution passed Thursday.

 

The resolution says that all people should be allowed to connect to and express themselves freely on the Internet. All 47 members of the Human Rights Council, including notoriously censorship-prone countries such as China and Cuba, signed the resolution.

 

China’s support for the resolution came with the stipulation that the “free flow of information on the Internet and the safe flow of information on the Internet are mutually dependent,” as Chinese delegate Xia Jingge told the Council in a sign that the country isn’t about to tear down the so-called “Great Firewall of China.”

 

The concept was first affirmed by a U.N. agency, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), in 2003. The ITU has recently come under fire after rumors arose that member states were preparing proposals to give the United Nations more control over the Internet ahead of a December conference. The ITU has rejected many of those claims.

 

Internet access as a human right has since been supported by several of the Internet’s most well-known proponents, including Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web.

 

“[It's] an empowering thing for humanity to be connected at high speed and without borders,” Berners-Lee told the BBC in April of last year while reflecting on the Internet’s role in the Arab Spring uprisings.

 

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Verizon makes progress with Eastern region wireline service restoration | FierceTelecom

Verizon is making progress with restoring wireline services in its Washington, D.C., and Virginia areas due to power outages from a recent storm.

 

As reported in FierceTelecom's sister publication FierceCable, a storm that took place last Friday left thousands of Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) and Verizon FiOS TV, Internet and phone customers in the Washington, D.C., area without service after the storms knocked down trees and power lines. In Prince William County, Md., and Fairfax County, Va., some Verizon customers were unable to dial 911 because of a power outage at one of the ILEC's facilities.

 

The service provider said that because of the storm, its wireline repair load is "running two to three times normal levels."

 

One of the main problems with service restoration has been power outages. As of yesterday morning, it reported that they were in the process of repairing 156 downed utility poles and 897 downed copper or fiber-based cables in the region.

 

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T-Mobile subsidiaries get FCC approval to bid in Mobility Fund auction | TeleGeography

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has confirmed that four separate T-Mobile USA subsidiaries will be allowed to participate in its forthcoming ‘Mobility Fund Phase One’ auction, which seeks to spread mobile broadband coverage to rural parts of the country.

 

The decision follows a petition filed by T-Mobile on behalf of four of its wholly owned subsidiaries, requesting that they be conditionally designated with eligible telecommunications carrier (ETC) status.

 

The companies in question are PowerTel/Memphis (covering Alabama and Tennessee), T-Mobile Central (covering Alabama), T-Mobile South (covering Florida and North Carolina), and T-Mobile Northeast (covering New Hampshire, New York and Virginia).

 

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FBI Continues To Insist There's No Reason For Kim Dotcom To Be Able To See The Evidence Against Him | Techdirt

FBI Continues To Insist There's No Reason For Kim Dotcom To Be Able To See The Evidence Against Him | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

We already noted that the New Zealand judicial system apparently isn't as willing as the US expected to rubberstamp approval of the extradition of Kim Dotcom. Part of that ruling was a requirement that the US turn over the evidence they're using against Dotcom, so that he can counter it in fighting against the extradition.

 

However, it appears that the US is still fighting this, having the New Zealand prosecutor (who is fighting on their behalf) argue that Dotcom should only be allowed to see a single document out of the 22 million emails the FBI collected and that this really isn't a matter for the New Zealand courts to concern themselves with, as they should just let the Americans handle it.

 

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Mid-Atlantic Storm Damage Shows Big Telecom Unprepared for Bad Weather | Stop the Cap!

Mid-Atlantic Storm Damage Shows Big Telecom Unprepared for Bad Weather | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A series of severe thunderstorms accompanied by near-hurricane-force winds caused millions of customers in several Mid-Atlantic states to lose power and telecommunications services late Friday, and some are expected to remain without service until at least this coming weekend.

 

The storm, known as a “derecho,” uprooted trees, which in turn knocked down power lines and caused wind-related damage to buildings from Ohio to West Virginia, Virginia to Maryland, and even into North Carolina.

 

But the storm also is raising questions about the massive failures in commercial telecommunications systems that left entire 911 emergency response systems offline for days, wireless networks non-operational, cell phone systems overwhelmed, and broadband service, deemed a lower priority by emergency officials, down and offline.

 

Some of the biggest problems remain in and around the nation’s capital and in the states of West Virginia and Virginia, where inadequate infrastructure proved especially susceptible to the storm’s damaging winds.

 

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Danada: Rogers Doubles Maximum Overlimit Usage Fee from $50 to $100 to “Protect Customers” | Stop the Cap!

Danada: Rogers Doubles Maximum Overlimit Usage Fee from $50 to $100 to “Protect Customers” | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Rogers Communications is quietly notifying its broadband customers it is doubling the overlimit fee for excessive use of its broadband service from $50 to $100, effective Aug. 16, 2012.

 

The company characterizes the new maximum fee as “protecting you from unexpected high charges,” but of course does nothing of the sort.

 

Rogers’ charges eastern Canada some of the continent’s most expensive prices around for usage-limited broadband. Its Internet Overcharging scheme has relied on all of the classic tricks of the trade to get consumers to pay higher and higher prices for broadband service, while assuring investors the company can rake in additional profits at will just by adjusting your allowance and overlimit fee.

 

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Is Time Warner Cable Really Listening? TWC’s One Way Conversation | Stop the Cap!

Earlier this week, Time Warner Cable unveiled its new 5GB limited-use broadband plans in Austin, Tex. The company told customers it would be “listening” to their concerns on the cable operator’s “TWC Conversations” website, and many Stop the Cap! readers shared with us copies of their own two cents, submitted as comments on that website.

 

But so far, the conversation seems very one-sided. To date, here is Time Warner’s presentation of the opposing point of view:

 

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