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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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GigaOM: Verizon's mobile TV plans don't make sense (like its proposed spectrum buy)

GigaOM: Verizon's mobile TV plans don't make sense (like its proposed spectrum buy) | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam is pitching a form of integrated wireless and wireline cable TV package if the government approves its plans to buy $4 billion worth of spectrum from a variety of cable companies. McAdam told the Wall Street Journalabout his plans, but so many aspects of the article don’t add up that it reminds me of sleight of hand.

 

Verizon’s offering a shiny flourish around integrated video to hide the truth: that this proposed spectrum buy isn’t good for consumers and won’t make their TV experience better at all. The Journal’s article neglects to ask some big questions, and when I emailed Verizon to get some clarity a spokesman declined to comment beyond what was in the article. He emailed, “Lowell was simply describing possible outcomes from our joint venture, but he wasn’t announcing products or giving any precise plans. We’ve got nothing to add at this point.”

 

So let’s go to the article and figure out what should be asked.

 

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TWC's Stern: TV Will Evolve To 'Pandora-Like' Model - 2012-03-29 | Multichannel News

TWC's Stern: TV Will Evolve To 'Pandora-Like' Model - 2012-03-29 | Multichannel News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Someday you'll turn on your TV and the programming you're most interested in will just play sequentially -- the way the Internet music service Pandora works.

 

That's a future scenario for cable TV as sketched out by Peter Stern, Time Warner Cable executive vice president and chief strategy officer, who spoke at Multichannel News' "Breaking Through: Innovating Cable TV" event here Thursday.

 

It will be "a very different customer experience," Stern said. "You're going to see a more Pandora-like model, where customers can consume television in a passive way, so they don't have to plan ahead like they do with the DVR model."

 

Cable networks will still have a place but the emphasis will be on the programming itself, served up based on individual preferences. Added Stern, "You don't have to subscribe to as big a package, once we put the tools in place to target the TV to you based on your interests."

 

Such an intelligent TV service also will let Time Warner Cable "learn what ads are relevant" to customers, Stern said: "A lot of the work we're doing with dynamic ad insertion is around that."

 

In the nearer term, Time Warner Cable is working to give video subscribers access to more "TV Everywhere" content across more devices. As an example, Stern pointed to the operator's deal last year with ESPN that gives customers access to WatchESPN on the Web, smartphones and tablets.

 

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New Minnesota Networks Face Tough Challenges | community broadband networks

New Minnesota Networks Face Tough Challenges | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

MPR News recently ran two stories on the trials and tribulations of new and prospective broadband networks. Conrad Wilson's story about the continuing Monticello drama and Jennifer Vogel's account of factors affecting the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) projects give us a good idea of the many hurdles in the way of building new fiber-optic networks.

 

We have reported many times on the drama that has unfolded in Monticello. The municipally owned fiber-optic network has faced some withering challenges and yet perseveres.

 

Monticello asked for a modern communications network but the existing service providers, the cable and phone companies, insisted the city was "sufficiently wired." Conrad's reporting suggests otherwise:

 

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Chattanooga Sees Rewards, Benefits From Community Fiber Enabled Smart Grid | community broadband networks

Chattanooga Sees Rewards, Benefits From Community Fiber Enabled Smart Grid | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Chattanooga Times Free Press, reports that the City's last IntelliRuptor, or "smart switch," will be installed on April 24th. No wonder EPB was named one of The Networked Grid - Top Ten Utility Smart Grid Deployments in North America by Greentech Media. EPB also received a special award for Best Distribution Automation, thanks to its fiber-optic network. EPB and Chattanooga have been similarly recognized in the past.

 

Quickly locating and localizing power outages will continue to limit power loss which will save tens of millions of dollars each year. According to Harold DePriest, CEO of EPB, "Nobody has applied them (IntelliRuptors) in the numbers we've applied them." A tornado on March 2nd tested the new system and, while 3,470 customers lost power, estimates are that the number would have been double without the use of the smart switches. Smart meters are also being installed, allowing customer usage data sent to the utility, which means that EPB will immediately know who has power and who does not in the aftermath of storms.

 

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The China-US-UK Smart Grid Connection : Greentech Media

The China-US-UK Smart Grid Connection : Greentech Media | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Echelon and Holley Metering partner for China’s smart grid market, while Huawei joins Landis+Gyr to aim at U.K. smart meter rollout.

 

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MN: MTA Annual Convention: Clouds, Videos, partnerships and planning for the future

On Monday I had the opportunity to attend the Minnesota Telecom Alliance Annual Convention. With 1,400 attendees, the MTA Annual Convention is one of the largest conferences of its kind in the US. It included two large rooms for trade shows, a series of educational workshops and association meetings (votes, awards, planning). I was able to see a little bit of everything.

 

Here are a couple of the sessions that I thought would be interesting to folks outside the industry as well as those in telecommunications:

 

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U.S. House Committee Approves Global Online Freedom Act

U.S. House Committee Approves Global Online Freedom Act | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

An updated version of a bill that's been floating around for a few years -- the Global Online Freedom Act -- has passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, and some people think that it might actually get somewhere (I'm still a bit skeptical). The point of the bill is to try to stop US companies from supplying tools of online censorship and oppression to repressive regimes. The version that passed out of committee took out some controversial earlier provisions that had potential criminal penalties for those who failed to report information to the Justice Department. It also included some new safe harbors for companies that join the Global Network Initiative. GNI -- set up, in part, by Techdirt book club participant Rebecca MacKinnon -- is an attempt to get companies and organizations to work together on a set of rules and principles to protect free expression around the globe.

 

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MPAA CTO Jumps Ship To Internet Society, An Opponent Of Greater Online Copyright Enforcement

MPAA CTO Jumps Ship To Internet Society, An Opponent Of Greater Online Copyright Enforcement | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Back in January, the day before the big anti-SOPA blackout, I was on a panel at the Congressional Internet Caucus' State of the Net event, and one of the other panelists was the MPAA's Chief Technology Policy Officer, Paul Brigner. Brigner had been somewhat vocal in defending the MPAA's position on SOPA/PIPA -- and especially its view that there were no problems with DNS blocking. In a blog post last summer, he wrote:

 

"DNSSEC was designed to provide consumers with a secure, trusted connection to services like online banking, commercial transactions, and electronic medical records - not to foreign websites operated by criminals for the purpose of offering counterfeit and infringing works. These evolving protocols should be flexible enough to allow for government, acting pursuant to a court order, to protect intellectual property online."

 

That shows a rather complete misunderstanding of how DNSSEC works, which is odd, because Brigner should know better. However, in the brief time that I did get to talk with Brigner, he struck me as one of the more reasonable folks at the MPAA, and I wondered if he was pressured into writing such nonsense that completely misses the point. In fact, on that panel back in January, it seemed pretty clear that he was conflicted about his views on this particular issue

 

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NYTimes: ‘Theft’ Law in the 21st Century

NYTimes: ‘Theft’ Law in the 21st Century | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

THE Justice Department is building its case against Megaupload, the hugely popular file-sharing site that was indicted earlier this year on multiple counts of copyright infringement and related crimes. The company’s servers have been shut down, its assets seized and top employees arrested. And, as is usual in such cases, prosecutors and their allies in the music and movie industries have sought to invoke the language of “theft” and “stealing” to frame the prosecutions and, presumably, obtain the moral high ground.

 

Whatever wrongs Megaupload has committed, though, it’s doubtful that theft is among them.

 

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UK Entertainment Industry: Fair Use Hurts Economic Growth

UK Entertainment Industry: Fair Use Hurts Economic Growth | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Just as we're seeing increased recognition about the importance of exceptions to copyright law in making sure that creativity can thrive, you have a bunch of the biggest copyright trade organizations in the UK putting out a document that completely trashes the notion of copyright exceptions. In a list of "myths about copyright" the most stunning one is:

 

‘…exceptions deliver economic growth...’

 

"Wrong. Exceptions remove the core asset value of the creative work and so reduce incentives for creators for greater economic activity. An exception may benefit the public sector, but that has to be weighed against the loss of revenue to the creative sector of the economy. Far better for the Government to examine ways of modernising copyright licensing that incentivise digital businesses and creators together, so that consumers pay a fair price and creators receive a fair reward and incentive."

 

This shows a rather stunning, and near total, misunderstanding of culture, creativity and economics, all in one brief paragraph. That's impressive! First of all, exceptions do not "removed the core asset" of the creative work. The core asset of the creative work is the creative work. And that remains in place. All it does is allow for a few specific uses that, for the most part, do not interfere with the economic prospects of the work, and can often increase the value of the work itself.

 

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Vint Cerf attacks European internet policy - Telegraph

Vint Cerf attacks European internet policy - Telegraph | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Mr Cerf, often called the father of the internet, said that the so-called ‘right to be forgotten’ online was “not possible to achieve”. He told The Telegraph, “You can’t go out and remove content from everybody’s computer just because you want the world to forget about something. I don’t think it’s a practical proposition at all.”

 

European regulators have yet to clarify precisely what their “right to be forgotten” would mean, but European Commissioner Viviane Reding has said that she expects it to give web users new controls over information, such as posts or pictures on social networks, that appears about them online. It raises the prospect of Facebook or Google, where Mr Cerf now works, being forced to ensure images or posts that an individual objects to are no longer accessible on the web.

 

Britain's Deputy Information Commissioner David Smith recently told a seminar for lawyers that he had "difficulty in working out what the new rights are", saying the right to be forgotten contained "an element of political gesturing".

 

Mr Cerf warned “It’s very, very hard to get the internet to forget things that you don’t want it to remember because it’s easy to download and copy and reupload files again later.”

 

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Musician Jonathan Coulton: I Value The Internet A Lot More Than The Record Industry

Musician Jonathan Coulton: I Value The Internet A Lot More Than The Record Industry | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

We've written plenty about Jonathan Coulton over the years, including two recent stories. The first was his revelation that he grossed about half a million dollars last year -- even with his music being offered under a Creative Commons license such that you could share it. He made a lot of his money because people still pay him for the music just to support him, and also from touring. We also wrote about his thoughtful discussion over what the shutting down of Megaupload meant.

 

Last month he went on Jerry Brito's Surprisingly Free podcast where he talked more about both of those things, as well as his general thoughts on his career and related issues. Where it got especially interesting was a bit further into the discussion, where he admits that he certainly still has an emotional reaction to finding out someone downloaded his music without paying for it, which makes his relationship with copyright more "complicated." However, he then talks about how important the internet is to him, and how in the long run, if it comes down to the internet or copyright law, he's got to side with the internet:

 

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TeleGeography: PVT launches LTE in New Mexico, Texas under ‘Fuego’ banner

New Mexico-based Penasco Valley Telecommunications (PVT) has announced that it is poised to launch Long Term Evolution (LTE) services in its home state and in selected parts of Texas. Operating under the ‘Fuego Wireless’ banner, PVT claims that its footprint will include ‘expansive diverse terrain, rural agricultural communities, and metropolitan areas such as Santa Fe and Las Cruces’. The network has been rolled out by French-US equipment vendor Alcatel-Lucent, which will provide a complete end-to-end LTE solution, including eNodeBs base stations and internet protocol (IP)-based Evolved Packet Core (EPC), as well as taking responsibility for the network’s installation, integration and maintenance.

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SmarterCape Summit Registration is Open!

SmarterCape Summit Registration is Open! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Be part of the movement toward a ‘smarter’ Cape Cod – attend this dynamic two-day event to put ideas into action and help shape Cape Cod’s future. Register now – as space is limited.

 

The first SmarterCape Summit was to explore ideas and potential for our region. Since that time, groups have worked to establish a VISION and developed concepts for the seven categories within the VISION. The SmarterCape Summit 2 will be about action.

 

Working Groups are using a process for action which flows as follows: 1) Ideas, 2) Vision, 3) Concept Paper, 4) Business or Implementation Plan.

 

The Smarter Government Working Group, for example, is developing a Business Plan for implementation of Regional Umbrella Services. The work of the Smarter Government group has yielded funding in the form of a grant to help implement the vision.

 

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Frontier Interview: Caching Reduces Internet Backhaul Traffic by 25%

Frontier Interview: Caching Reduces Internet Backhaul Traffic by 25% | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Caching, a technology originally deployed by Internet service providers in the 1990s, is seeing renewed interest—but this time it’s broadband service providers that are deploying the technology, as an announcement expected today from Frontier Communications illustrates.

 

The idea of caching is to retain popular web content in a cache near the end user to eliminate the need to repeatedly send the same content over wide area connections. In the 1990s, ISPs began deploying caching technology to minimize their costs. Today broadband providers are installing it even closer to the end user to minimize their traffic, which has grown tremendously with the advent of over-the-top video.

 

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Are America’s Largest Utilities Adopting Social Media? Are You Listening?

Are America’s Largest Utilities Adopting Social Media? Are You Listening? | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Every 60 seconds across the globe, 175,000 Tweets and 700,000 Facebook messages are sent and two million YouTube videos are viewed, according to social marketing consultant Social Jumpstart. How much of this torrent of communications have utilities channeled their way to engage their customers?

 

According to 2010 U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data, the top 10 utilities in the U.S. (based on the number of total consumers) serve more than 32 million consumers, and most have accounts that span multiple facets of social media. Indeed, they’ve met the charge to establish a presence, but this is just scratching the surface. The culmination of Facebook "likes" among the leading investor owned and retail power marketer systems misses the mark at a dismal 49,000. The total number of Twitter followers for the Big 10 isn’t much higher at 54,200.

 

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USTelecom Confronts Festering Problems with USF Contributions

USTelecom’s vice president of policy David Cohen filed a letter to the FCC on March 28, 2012 outlining extensive problems with the current USF contributions methodology and recommending several near-term administrative reforms to clean up the system. USTelecom argues that the current system is “rife with outdated methods and procedures that create waste, inefficiency and destabilizing competitive discrepancies.” USTelecom does not believe that the problems will be fixed simply by broadening the contributions base—rather; the FCC should immediately consider some housekeeping and clarification measures for the underlying contributions rules and procedures.

 

USTelecom identifies three categories of pervasive problems with the current system. First, the service classifications are not reflective of the actual marketplace: “With the rapid introduction of…new broadband IP-based services into the market, the dividing line between telecommunications services on one hand, and information services on the other, is becoming increasingly blurred.” The FCC has failed to keep the USF contributions methodology on track with market momentum, which USTelecom believes has slowed down the deployment of IP services. Second, USTelecom believes that jurisdictional distinctions like state boundaries “are simply irrelevant to how consumers select and buy communications services.” Lastly, the resale/wholesale distinction is “burdensome and ineffective;” and “turns wholesale providers into enforcement agents of the Commission, requiring them to collect certifications from reseller customers attesting to USF contributions.

 

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FL Public Service Commission approves changes to Lifeline subsidized ...

FL Public Service Commission approves changes to Lifeline subsidized ... | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Prompted by the federal government, the Florida Public Service Commission on Tuesday approved changes in the Lifeline subsidized phone service for low-income residents, reports the News Service of Florida. The changes include reducing the amount of monthly credits that enrollees can receive from $13.50 to $12.75. Also, the changes include elimination of a process in which people can sign a document certifying that they are eligible for the program. The Federal Communications Commission earlier this year required changes in Lifeline programs across the country, saying the changes are needed to “reform and modernize” the program. In part, the changes reflect a shift from land-line to mobile phones and an effort to expand broadband communications.

 

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Nigeria: Stakeholders seek local content for broadband at eWorld forum

Nigeria: Stakeholders seek local content for broadband at eWorld forum | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The desire for faster deployment of broadband services to all the nooks and crannies of the country for quality services delivery received a big boost last week at the third annual eWorld forum held in Lagos.

 

The forum was organized by publishers of eWorld Magazine in collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC in Lagos.The event was a platform for stakeholders in the industry to look out to issues of broadband deployment, especially the gray areas the regulators need to touch in order to reach the required broadband level in penetration, growth and access that everybody is craving for.

 

Also, stakeholders at the event were expected to articulate other major challenges involved in the deployment process and also proffer solution that would fast-track Nigeria’s journey to ubiquitous broadband services.

 

Areas of access and content equally came to the front burner during deliberations at the forum. Various speakers who spoke at the occasion, including operators emphasized the need for all players in the country to drive local content which to them is the key in creating the critical map that will attract Nigerians to go online. For them, both access and content must go together for the country to achieve the desired goal.

 

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UK Court Wants To Limit Copyright Trolling... But Not Enough To Stop It Entirely

UK Court Wants To Limit Copyright Trolling... But Not Enough To Stop It Entirely | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Earlier this week there was a long and detailed ruling out of the UK's High Court of Justice, looking into the practice of copyright trolling (suing a bunch of alleged infringers based mainly on IP address info, where the real purpose is to send threatening letters to get people to pay up) and finding it questionable -- but still agreeing to force an ISP to hand over some user account information. These kinds of lawsuits certainly feel like a form of legalized extortion, and, over in the UK, ACS:Law and Davenport Lyons each ran into legal troubles for the scheme. A perfect ruling here could have completely slapped down the practice, but instead, it appears the court went for a more nuanced route.

 

The judge here tries to slice a ruling down the middle -- rejecting large parts of this lawsuit for effectively trying to create a "court sanctioned... sale of the Intended Defendants' privacy and data protection rights to the highest bidder," which the court finds questionable. It also goes into a discussion about copyright trolling, or, as it calls it, "speculative invoicing."

 

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Universal Music Claims Piracy Justifies Monopoly, Wants The Power To Control Digital Music Services

Universal Music Claims Piracy Justifies Monopoly, Wants The Power To Control Digital Music Services | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In a short article discussing how European antitrust officials don't appear to be too keen on Universal Music buying up EMI, and turning Universal Music (already the largest music label) into a truly dominant player in the market, there's this little tidbit:

 

"Unnamed sources at Universal have briefed journalists that the competitive threat of digital piracy means consolidation should be permitted. Critics have pointed out that the merged entity's 40+ per cent market share would make it the king-maker for digital music services – and that no service would then survive without Universal's catalogue."

 

We were just discussing how the labels were looking to turn the screws on Spotify to try to wrench even greater profits out of the still unprofitable company. But really, when you put these two sentences side-by-side, it just shows how ridiculous the major labels -- and particularly Universal Music -- are today. Because of "piracy," it needs to be able to merge to create an even larger aggregator of back catalog music... to restrict that same music from appearing on new and innovative digital music platforms, unless those platforms pay more than is reasonable.

 

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Mobile operators seek to 'block' Skype in Sweden - The Local

Mobile operators seek to 'block' Skype in Sweden - The Local | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A spokesperson for telecom service provider Telia told Sveriges Radio (SR) that the technology exists to block users' ability to use mobile voice over IP (VoIP) telephony services.

 

"It's going to mean that there will be service plans where it's not included so it won't work," Telia spokesperson Charlotte Züger told SR.

 

"I believe, quite simply, that we need to be able to get paid for our various services no matter what, as different service plans include different things."

 

A recent report by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), which oversees telecom regulations across the European Union, has found that Swedish telecom operators are not alone in their desire to prevent users from making free VoIP calls.

 

However, Swedish companies looking to ensure users don't forego paid mobile phone calls in favour of VoIP services, may find their plans scuttled by the European Commission, which is considering banning telecom companies from blocking services like Skype and Viber.

 

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If ACTA Is So Great, Where Are All The Supporters Extolling Its Virtues?

If ACTA Is So Great, Where Are All The Supporters Extolling Its Virtues? | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

One of the striking features of the ACTA debate is the deafening silence from those who are in favor of it. Maybe that's down to the SOPA effect: companies and organizations are frightened of being associated with such an unpopular idea. Of course, it could just be that even its most fervent supporters can't really come up with any plausible justifications for it. That's certainly the impression you get reading a rare attempt to raise the ACTA flag from the Institute for Policy Innovation, entitled "Acting Out on ACTA."

 

It begins by focussing on potentially lethal counterfeits -- fake drugs, fake brake linings and fake circuit breaker boxes. That conveniently ignores the fact that no one is against cracking down on such dangerous counterfeits, and that the main problems with ACTA concern its attempt to apply the same rules to digital infringement, where there are no safety issues to justify its harsh and disproportionate measures.

 

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How Comcast is taking advantage of the Schminternet | Marketplace from American Public Media

How Comcast is taking advantage of the Schminternet | Marketplace from American Public Media | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Look, television is great. Plenty of shows to watch, ranging from the brainless to the brainy. Maybe you hate TV and wish it didn’t exist but plenty of people are nuts for it. The rush in technology right now is all these companies wanting to be the one you rely on to get the TV that you want to watch. To that end, Comcast is now available for users of Xbox Live, the online service for Xbox users.

 

When you’re a Comcast customer and watch Comcast shows, that won’t count against your Internet usage for the month. Watch all you want, watch TV all day long if that’s what you choose to do, you never have to worry. Which sounds great, unless you want to watch something other than Comcast.

 

“Imagine if you're a Netflix subscriber and you're loving watching your high definition movies over the Internet,” posits Susan Crawford, a visiting professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School and Harvard Law School, “and you've chosen to do that because you're sick of paying the high-package bundle prices that Comcast charges. If you’re a Netflix customer watching those high-def movies, you may hit Comcast's cap. So contrast that to this Xbox service which will feel exactly the same, it's just streaming video. This service isn't subject to those caps.”

 

That's because the Comcast service isn't traveling over the internet in the same way Netflix is.

 

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Science Daily: First the smart phone, now the smart home: Technology anticipates, meets our needs for health, efficiency

Science Daily: First the smart phone, now the smart home: Technology anticipates, meets our needs for health, efficiency | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

We have all heard of the smartphone and, any day now, most of us will have one. Not far behind: the smart home.

 

Writing in the latest issue of the journal Science, Washington State University's Diane Cook says it won't be long before our homes act as "intelligent agents" that use sensors and software to anticipate our needs and tend to tasks that improve our health, energy efficiency, even social media.

 

Many homes are already halfway there, with computer chips helping microwave popcorn, record TV shows and turn on coffee makers and thermostats.

 

"If you have a programmable thermostat, you have the beginnings of a smart home," says Cook, a WSU professor of electrical engineering and computer science. "What we're trying to do is get the home to take over the job of programming it.

 

"We want your home as a whole to think about what you need and use the components in it to do the right thing," she says.

 

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