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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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Scooped by Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
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MN: Live Streaming of PEG Access Channels Can Increase Community Engagement

Want to know what’s happening in Worthington, Minnesota? Well thanks to WGTN-TV 3, you can now check in online to see what’s happening via local TV programming. WGTN-TV 3 has been showing local programs, such as government meetings or local sporting events for a while but you had to be in the area to access the shows. The Worthington Daily Globe reports that you no longer have to be local to live local…

 

Thanks to a grant from the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities Program (MIRC), WGTN-TV 3, formerly only accessible for cable subscribers in Worthington, can now be accessed through the Internet.

 

Available at www.wgtntv3.com, anyone with an Internet connection can watch live coverage of local sports games, community meetings and other events covered by WGTN-TV 3.

 

The events will also be archived for viewing at anytime.

 

The benefit for snow birds and other seasonal or past residents is easy to imagine. And although it’s tough to imagine that we’ll ever see snow in Minnesota – it will come. And when it does it will be more difficult for many people to get around; viewing programs at home is more reasonable for folks with any mobility issues.

 

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CES Trend: Digital health gadgets galore

CES Trend: Digital health gadgets galore | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Among the expected rows of new televisions, computers, phones and tablets at the Consumer Electronics Show is a growing number of health gadgets. These vary in form and function, but nearly all of them share some common elements: connectivity, mobile applications and social aspects.

 

These devices are no longer the domain of the geeks and early adopters but are hitting their mainstream stride as prices have dropped on gadgets with more and more sensors to monitor our health. The mobile app revolution and rise of social networks have helped bring such health-related tools to the forefront as well. Here’s a peek at just a few of those sharing floor space with the traditional consumer electronic gadgets:

 

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Facebook IPO Could Mean Big Money For California

Facebook IPO Could Mean Big Money For California | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

What's good for Facebook and its employees could be very good for California's treasury.

 

If the Menlo Park company goes public this year, as many have speculated, the state stands to reap hundreds of millions of dollars in capital gains taxes from Facebook investors and employees profiting from stock transactions. That could bring a much-needed windfall to a state government facing a $9.2 billion deficit.

 

In calculating how much revenue the state can expect in the next year or so, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office released a report that considered historical income trends but also budgeted for a revenue bump on the assumption that Facebook and some other California companies will go public.

 

An initial public offering from the Silicon Valley social networking giant is the most anticipated, with the legislative analyst saying the company could issue $10 billion worth of stock. California taxes the capital gains from stock sales.

 

"In the coming months, the state's revenue forecast will need to be adjusted somewhat to account for the possibility of hundreds of millions of dollars of additional revenues related to the Facebook IPO," Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor wrote in the analysis of Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal, released Wednesday.

 

Democrats are already using the so-called Facebook effect to delay the governor's proposed cuts to social programs.

 

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Democrats call for hearing on cellphone-tracking software - The Hill's Hillicon Valley

Democrats call for hearing on cellphone-tracking software - The Hill's Hillicon Valley | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Three top Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are urging the panel's Republican leaders to hold a hearing on Carrier IQ, controversial cellphone-tracking software.

 

"We urge you to hold a hearing as expeditiously as possible to explore the answers to questions raised by recent reports about Carrier IQ and data collection, analysis, and transmission in the mobile device market," Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) wrote in a letter on Thursday.

 

Carrier IQ's software, which is embedded in millions of smartphones, is designed to help cellphone companies track the performance of their devices. The technology collects information on the phone numbers consumers dial, the contents of their text messages, the websites they visit, their search queries and even their locations.

 

"Data collection and transmission by Carrier lQ and similar software is widespread, and consumers appear to have little knowledge and even less control over the practice," the lawmakers wrote.

 

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CES: FCC's Genachowski Calls Net-Neutrality Lawsuit 'Distracting' - 2012-01-11 23:20:19 | Multichannel News

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said Verizon Communications' lawsuit challenging the agency's network-neutrality regulations was "distracting" and could create uncertainty and confusion in the market.

 

Genachowski, in his third appearance at CES, primarily used the stage Wednesday to stump for his favorite issue -- pushing TV broadcasters to auction off their spectrum to be used for wireless broadband.

 

On network neutrality, Genachowski said he was proud of the outcome, which he claimed has not hampered investment in broadband networks and applications.

 

The FCC's network-neutrality regulations, which went into effect Nov. 20, require Internet service providers to disclose network management techniques and forbid ISPs from blocking or degrading specific content or applications.

 

Genachowski, who was interviewed by Consumer Electronics Association president Gary Shapiro, said the FCC was "tempted to focus on other things" but that he felt he needed to take action on network neutrality to bring about a détente between network providers and technology companies.

 

"I thought we had to bring peace to the land," he said. "I'm proud of the result -- our goal was to see increased investment in the broadband economy."

 

About 80% of companies supported the FCC's network neutrality rules, according to Genachowski. Alluding to Verizon's lawsuit, which argues that the agency does not have authority to regulate the Internet, he said, "It's a distracting lawsuit that runs the risk of creating uncertainty, unpredictably and confusion as we move forward."

 

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Chattanooga EPB Geek Hunt--Apply for the Gig Tank by March 1st

Chattanooga EPB Geek Hunt--Apply for the Gig Tank by March 1st | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This summer we’re inviting the smartest and most creative entrepreneurs and students to join the Gig Tank. Part start-up accelerator, part think tank with one mission: imagine the future of the internet when bandwidth is no longer a barrier. We have the country’s first and largest gigabit per second fiber optic network with service to all its residents, right here in the Gig City, Chattanooga TN. And there’s Gig Prizes with up to $300,000 at stake. If you have an idea for the next world-changing killer gigabit app or business, we want to hear it.

 

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BroadbandBreakfast.com: iPods, iPhones, iPads – and the Wired and Wireless Broadband Connections That Feed Them

The Broadband Economy has always been about three things: wired and wireless connections; the iPods, iPhones, and iPads that we got in our Christmas stockings; and the content that makes it fun and useful to “connect” you device to the internet.

 

Some of us talk about the internet and broadband but think only about content – Netflix, social networking, necessary e-mail traffic. Hardware geeks may think only about the fiber-optic cables, or the new cellular towers that are providing faster fiber-optic connectivity or fourth-generation wireless (4G) connectivity.

 

In general, the beauty of the internet has been about the openness of each layer. There are always have been concerns about monopolistic behavior. Consider the potential for “natural monopoly” in infrastructure. Or how a once-dominant player like Microsoft was able, for a time, to serve as a choke-point on the “desktop” of the personal computer.

 

Today’s concerns about competition are just as likely to be had where Google, Facebook and Twitter spar over the integration of their respective social networks, as within Google’s newly revamped search engine features.

 

But as the International Consumer Electronic Show meets in Las Vegas, it’s worth taking stock of the digital devices – not the broadband, and not the content – that are the heart of the ecosystem.

 

Indeed, I want to focus on the Apple platform – iPods, iPhones and iPads – that have shaken up the digital landscape in the post-PC world.

 

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UK: Ofcom outlines 4G spectrum plans

UK: Ofcom outlines 4G spectrum plans | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The biggest auction of space on the British airwaves is to be held at the end of 2012, when telecoms companies will bid to acquire the spectrum they need to enable an explosion in the use of bandwidth-hungry smartphones and tablets.

 

At least 98% of the UK population would have access to mobile broadband, up from at earlier proposal of 95%, according to the rules and timetable for the long delayed auction of 4G spectrum published by telecoms regulator Ofcom on Thursday.

 

The sale of airwaves, which could fetch a one-off windfall of £3bn for the Treasury and millions more in annual licence fees, have been delayed by intervention from government and threats of legal action from rival mobile phone networks.

 

The updated rules remove previous guarantees that two of four UK mobile phone networks – Three and Everything Everywhere – would be reserved a certain amount of valuable spectrum in the 800MHz band, which is currently being used to broadcast television channels. This will be freed when the analogue signal is switched off and all TV sets become digital by the end of 2012.

 

Three is the smallest network by customer numbers, with just under 10% of subscribers, while Everything Everywhere is the largest, having been formed by the merger of Orange and T-Mobile.

 

Both had argued they should have space reserved in the 800MHz spectrum because, unlike Vodafone and O2, none of their current spectrum is in a band below 1000MHz.

 

The lower spectrum bands can send radio waves over longer distances, meaning they require less masts and are cheaper to build networks around.

 

Ofcom has said that it could at a later date introduce protection for Three, or a new entrant, but not Everything Everywhere.

 

Its consultation document states: "UK consumers would be likely to benefit from better services at lower prices in future if there were at least four national wholesalers of mobile services, as at present. We therefore think it is appropriate, and so propose to, in effect, reserve some of the available spectrum for a fourth national wholesaler."

 

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CANARIE’s call to stakeholders to demonstrate support for mandate renewal

CANARIE, Canada’s Advanced Research and Innovation Network, today announced that a wide range of stakeholders have made their voices heard in support of continued funding for its mandate renewal.

 

CANARIE operates Canada’s ultra-high speed network, thousands of times faster than the Internet, which enables world-class research and discovery at universities, colleges, research hospitals, government labs and private sector research facilities across the country. CANARIE also funds the development of software to enable wider access to research data and tools.

 

CANARIE receives funding from the Government of Canada in five-year mandates, and its current mandate expires in March 2012.

 

“We are delighted with the show of support from our stakeholders, and I would like to thank each and every person who wrote a letter on our behalf,” says Jim Roche, President and CEO of CANARIE. “We hope that this will demonstrate that CANARIE is absolutely vital digital infrastructure that supports not only advanced research and discovery, but innovation in education and the ICT sector as well.”

 

In response to a request from CANARIE to send letters of support to key government decision-makers, CANARIE stakeholders, from university presidents to high school teachers and PhD students, have made their voices heard. A few excerpts:

 

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LightSquared owner pitches network directly to FCC staffers - Nextgov

LightSquared owner pitches network directly to FCC staffers - Nextgov | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Philip Falcone, the billionaire chief executive officer of Harbinger Capital Partners, which owns the beleaguered startup wireless broadband carrier LightSquared, personally made a pitch to top Federal Communications Commission staffers last week to approve commercial service over the company's network, which could blanket the country with 40,000 cell towers.

 

When FCC granted LightSquared a conditional waiver to start service on Jan. 26, 2011, it said the company first needed to resolve interference issues with Global Positioning System receivers, which operate in a frequency band adjacent to LightSquared's.

 

LightSquared last spring flunked the first round of tests, which revealed the company's transmitters knocked out GPS receivers operating anywhere from 600 feet to 185 miles from its transmitters. The company then proposed to use only the lower portion of its frequency band furthest away from the GPS and conducted another round of interference tests last summer.

 

The Defense and Transportation departments, along with the multiagency Positioning, Navigation and Timing Executive Committee, reported in December that the latest round of tests showed LightSquared transmitters caused "harmful interference to the majority" of general purpose GPS receivers used in those tests. The Federal Aviation Administration also reported that LightSquared transmitters caused interference with the Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System, which alerts pilots if they fly too close to the ground.

 

Falcone, along with Jeffrey Carlisle, executive vice president for regulatory affairs at LightSquared, and Ashley Durmer, a consultant to Harbinger, met with top FCC officials on Jan. 4 to address the interference issues, according to a filing posted yesterday on FCC's LightSquared regulatory proceedings website.

 

The company executives met with Edward Lazarus, chief of staff to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski; Amy Levine, special counsel and legal adviser to the chairman; and Paul de Sa, chief of FCC's Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis. Falcone and Carlisle, according to the filing, "urged the commission to continue to work toward a resolution that would enable the commencement of commercial service over the LightSquared network." They also emphasized the "significant investment" made in LightSquared -- $3 billion to date.

 

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LG Electronics and Verizon Collaborate to Offer FiOS TV App On LG's Smart TV Platform

LG Electronics and Verizon today announced an alliance that will offer a new entertainment experience for the LG Smart TV* platform, when LG introduces the Verizon FiOS TV app to current LG Smart TVs and Blu-ray players in 2012.

 

The new app will allow Verizon FiOS TV subscribers to access 26 live HD channels directly through their connected LG Smart TV or Blu-ray Player without any additional hardware required. Through the collaboration, customers will also have access to more than 10,000 video on-demand titles available through Flex View – Verizon's at home or away from home on-demand entertainment service for TVs, PCs, tablets and smartphones.

 

"We're very excited to be working with Verizon to bring even more compelling offerings to LG Smart TV," said Sam Chang, general manager of LG's Smart TV Innovation Development Group. "Adding content from the Verizon FiOS service to our robust Smart TV platform further delivers on LG's promise to provide customers with the best solution available."

 

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New Hanover County, N.C., First in Nation to Deploy ‘Super Wi-Fi’ Network

New Hanover County, N.C., First in Nation to Deploy ‘Super Wi-Fi’ Network | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

What’s been marked as a first-in-the-nation launch, New Hanover County, N.C., will begin a phased deployment later this month of a “super Wi-Fi” network in the TV white space spectrum.

 

“We will be using this new technology to extend our networks outdoors into our parks and gardens to provide enhanced services to our citizens,” said county Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman Jason Thompson, in a statement.

 

White space spectrums are created from the area of spectrum that’s left over between TV channels. When TV stations switch from an analog spectrum to digital, leftover spectrum remains, freeing up accessible space, said Leslie Chaney, the county’s IT director.

 

In 2010, the FCC freed up a block of the unlicensed white space spectrum and since then has implemented rules for its use.

 

According to the FCC, these vacant airwaves between channels are ideal for supporting wireless mobile devices. The FCC named the network “super Wi-Fi” because white spaces are lower frequency than regular Wi-Fi and, therefore, can travel longer distances.

 

New Hanover County is deploying the super Wi-Fi in three public parks, starting with a playground area at Hugh MacRae Park on Jan. 26, followed by Veterans Park and Airlie Gardens. Other locations in Wilmington, N.C. — located in the county — will also have access to the new network.

 

“As more and more people carry smartphones, tablets and things, we want to provide them some high-speed access like we do indoors now at our libraries,” Chaney said.

A facility at Hugh MacRae Park will serve as the hub of the network. White space radios will communicate from that hub to the parks. With this facility, the network can extend outdoors.

 

Chaney said mobile devices will be able to access the county’s white space network with equipment that’s already available on the marketplace. The white space spectrum comes with the added benefit of a signal that covers longer distances and doesn’t need a clear line of sight. Consequently a wireless access point can be installed in the park that’s several hundred yards away from the hub, Chaney explained. Even with trees in between the two facilities, the network is still clear.

 

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ICANN CEO: Cities, States Eager for New Top-Level Domains - Tech Insider

Some of the greatest interest in the slate of new top-level Internet domain names set to be opened up Thursday has come from governments, the chief executive of the non-profit body that will oversee those new domains said.

 

In some cases national governments are interested in new top-level domains that, for the first time in history, will be opened up to non-Latin scripts such as Chinese and Arabic, said Rod Beckstrom, CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

 

Even more often, cities and states or provinces are eager for the chance to wield greater control over their Internet presences.

 

A top-level domain is the most common part of an Internet address such as the dot-com in Google.com or the dot-gov in Whitehouse.gov. ICANN will launch a long-planned program Thursday that could add between a few hundred and a few thousand top-level domains to the roughly two dozen that exist now. That could mean booming business for Web entrepreneurs, but others have argued the transition will be a nightmare for intellectual property holders.

 

The U.S. government controls the dot-gov domain, but most other nations have to rely on second-level domains, such as dot.gov.uk. Many states and cities also have second-level domains such as Iowa.gov and Baltimorecity.gov. The expansion of top-level domains would bring municipalities and states much more control over their Internet presences but would also saddle them with some of the responsibilities, both for security and content quality, that have dogged the U.S. government.

 

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FCC commissioner questions whether Comcast misled regulators - The Hill's Hillicon Valley

FCC commissioner questions whether Comcast misled regulators - The Hill's Hillicon Valley | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Robert McDowell, a member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), reportedly questioned whether Comcast misled the agency when it acquired airwave licenses.

 

“Were they purchased under false pretenses?” McDowell asked Wednesday night at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, according to Deadline.com.

 

McDowell, currently the lone Republican on the commission, was likely referring to comments that Comcast CFO Michael Angelakis made at a conference last week.

 

When asked about Comcast’s recent deal to sell its airwave licenses, or spectrum, to Verizon, Angelakis said, “We never really intended to build that spectrum, so therefore it’s a really good use of that spectrum.”

 

The FCC’s mandate is to promote the “best and highest use” of the airwaves, and the regulators might have not allowed Comcast to acquire the spectrum licenses in the first place if they thought the company did not plan to use them.

 

“We always said the spectrum had to be financially optimized and strategically optimized, and I think with Verizon we were able to do that,” Angelakis said.

 

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Survey: Some physicians may miss health IT boat

Health IT is a boon and improving health practices, according to a survey of more than 3,700 physicians in eight countries from consulting and technology services firm Accenture. But adoption and enthusiasm are uneven.

 

While physicians agreed on the top benefits of health IT, some, particularly those over age 50, are not actively using health IT, the survey showed. And U.S. physicians are generally less positive about the benefits of EMR and health information exchange (HIE) than their international colleagues.

 

The survey showed the majority of doctors in all countries surveyed believed that health IT does provide some common top benefits, including better access to quality data for clinical research (70.9 percent), improved coordination of care (69.1 percent) and a reduction in medical errors (66 percent).

 

But, some doctors do not yet see all the benefits of health IT, with high percentages reporting either a negative impact, no impact or that they didn't know the impact for reducing unneeded procedures (43.6 percent), improving access to services (43 percent) or improving patient outcomes (39.2 percent).

 

Routine health IT users, however, rated the overall benefits more positively than their counterparts who are less actively involved with these technologies.

 

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MPAA attacks Ars for "challenging efforts to curb content theft"

MPAA attacks Ars for "challenging efforts to curb content theft" | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Motion Picture Association of America doesn't like us. According to the MPAA blog on Tuesday, "Arts Technica" is a "tech blog with a long history of challenging efforts to curb content theft." (If so, we're the only such tech blog that actually encouraged a now-current MPAA lawyer to do copyright coverage for our site and that recommended the pro-rightsholder book Free Ride in this year's holiday guide.)

 

One can see why MPAA staffers might think this way. "Ars Technica opposes our attempt to gain 'broadcast flag' control over people's digital devices," they might say. "And it doesn't appreciate our plan to censor the Internet. And for some reason they'd like to rip copies of their DVDs to watch on the airplane, even though we managed to write anti-DRM cracking provisions into law. Man, these guys really love piracy!"

 

Put this way, the problem becomes clear: it's a simple conflation of our opposition to absolutely freaking insane (you'll forgive the slight hyperbole) approaches to copyright enforcement with opposition to enforcement of any kind.

 

It's a lot like saying, thirty years ago, that anyone who supported the VCR and its nefarious, time-shifting ways was to copyright holders what the Boston Strangler was to women home alone. (Not that any MPAA official would say anything so ridiculous.)

 

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Google likely to face FTC complaint over 'Search Plus Your World'

Google likely to face FTC complaint over 'Search Plus Your World' | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A privacy watchdog group probably will complain to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that a new Google search feature raises privacy and antitrust concerns.

 

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said his group is considering filing a letter with the FTC.

 

EPIC made the complaint that resulted in Google's settlement with the FTC that requires the Internet search giant to submit to external audits of their privacy practices every other year.

 

"We believe this is something that the FTC needs to look at," Rotenberg said.

 

Google calls the new feature rolling out to users of its English-language search engine "Search Plus Your World." It blends information such as photos, comments and news posted on its Google+ social network into users' search results.

 

It mostly affects the one in four people who log into Google or Google+ while searching the Web. Those users will have the option of seeing search results that are customized to their interests and connections, say, a photo of the family dog or a friend's recommendation for a restaurant.

 

Google has been working for years to create a personal search engine that knows its users so well it delivers results tailored to them. It's also trying to catch up to social networking giant Facebook, which, with more than 800 million users, knows its users far better than Google does.

 

But critics contend Google, a laggard in social networking, is using its dominance in Internet search to favor its own products and take on its chief competitor.

 

"Google is an entrenched player trying to fight off its challenger Facebook by using its market dominance in a separate sector," Rotenberg said. "I think that should trouble people."

 

Critics also say the move raises alarm bells for consumer privacy.

 

"Although data from a user’s Google+ contacts is not displayed publicly, Google's changes make the personal data of users more accessible," EPIC said in a note on his website.

 

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Did Comcast Just Admit They Can't Comply With SOPA? - DNSSEC Upgrades Likely Wouldn't Work With DNS Filters | DSLReports.com, ISP Information

Did Comcast Just Admit They Can't Comply With SOPA? - DNSSEC Upgrades Likely Wouldn't Work With DNS Filters | DSLReports.com, ISP Information | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Yesterday we pointed out how Comcast had finished DNSSEC upgrades -- a very good thing in that it adds a layer of protection for users against DNS cache poisoning and phishing scams. We also noted that an added perk of the upgrades was that Comcast could no longer engage in DNS redirection, a practice whereby ISPs generate additional revenue by sending users who mistype URLs to ad-laden search portals -- instead of delivering a page-not-found result. The practice for years has annoyed some of our resident 'net purists, who argue it breaks key Internet functionality and some networking tools.

 

Mike Masnick at Techdirtraises an interesting point, noting that by acknowledging that DNSSEC and DNS redirection aren't compatible, they're effectively admitting that they cannot effectively use DNS filters to block websites as will be directed should the controversial SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) pass:

 

"Just as NBC Universal and other SOPA supporters continue to insist that DNS redirect is completely compatible with DNSSEC... Comcast (and official SOPA/PIPA supporter) has rolled out DNSSEC, urged others to roll out DNSSEC and turned off its own DNS redirect system, stating clearly that DNS redirect is incompatible with DNSSEC, if you want to keep people secure. In the end, this certainly appears to suggest that Comcast is admitting that it cannot comply with SOPA/PIPA, even as the very same company is advocating for those laws."

 

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Movie Flops Are Driving Internet-Killing SOPA/PIPA Bills in Congress

Movie Flops Are Driving Internet-Killing SOPA/PIPA Bills in Congress | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It's almost certain that in the course of the debate, Senators and Representatives will get up in their respective chambers and/or meeting rooms and bemoan the current state of the movie industry and argue that "pirates" are responsible for the sad state of the movie business. Yet, experts with diverse views on why the industry is in the doldrums were together in the one factor that never came up -- except as a non factor -- the dreaded "piracy" which is the reason for the Draconian bills. No, the causes are much more mundane and in no way justify the drastic efforts Congress is taking on behalf of the Big Media Megaliths.

 

Congress needs these bills as much as Mars Needs Moms. How do we know this? Entertainment Weekly's The Bullseye summarized 2011 in movies pretty succinctly in its Jan. 13 issue: "Movie-theatre attendance plunges to lowest level in 16 years. 'What did I ever do to deserve Mars Needs Moms?' sighs 2011 on its deathbed." For the record, Disney's MNM, which led The Hollywood Reporter's list of box office flops for the year, cost $150 million to make and grossed $39 million at the box office -- worldwide.

Attendance was down to about 1.28 billion tickets sold, the lowest figure since 1995. So was the box office -- down about 4 percent for 2011 from 2010, selling about $10.2 billion worth of tickets.

 

Surely pirates must be responsible for this keelhauling of our film industry? Surely?

Surely not. If the movie biz wants to continue a destructive campaign of some sort, it should start by looking in the mirror, and then at the movie theaters and then at the other activities that also compete for the time, attention and money of moviegoers.

 

It wasn't only the popular press that noticed the lackluster slate of movies in 2011. Influential industry analyst Eric Wold of B. Riley noted the obvious in a Jan. 3, 2012 report, "Rationalizing Recent Box Office Doldrums -- and Potential for a Reversal in 2012":

 

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Domain Names: The End Of The Dot-Com Era?

Domain Names: The End Of The Dot-Com Era? | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It could be the end of the World Wide Web as we know it: After rolling out just 22 top-level domains in the past 10 years, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the nonprofit formed in 1998 to coordinate the Internet's naming system, is flinging the doors open on Thursday, allowing companies, organizations and cities to register for any generic top-level domain (gTLD) they want.

 

While most of the websites people visit now typically have extensions like .com, .org or .edu, companies and organizations will essentially be able to make up their own starting this week. For example, if Pepsi buys .pepsi, it can launch its own drink.pepsi website.

 

By the time the process is finished in 2013, Web addresses could start to look less like the streamlined World Wide Web we know today and more like the Wild Wild West. "We're talking about a large number of words," ICANN spokesman Brad White said. It means a large number of characters as well, in Chinese, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic and Cyrillic -- which White says "can dramatically increase the Internet penetration rates" globally.

 

Why so expansive of a move? "The whole reason we're doing this is to increase competition and innovation on the Internet," White explained. "We were devised by the U.S. government to increase innovation and competition in the domain space. What we're trying to do is give innovators a blank palette here. We don't know how innovators will use this new gTLD space to come up with new ways to use the Internet. The most exciting thing is not what we can visualize, but what we can't."

 

Some entrepreneurs are visualizing this as a big moneymaker, and planning to place their stakes as domain-name speculators, according to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal. Some of the in-demand properties include .eco, .bank and .wine.

 

The opportunities may be endless, but the costs and requirements are exclusionary. It costs $185,000 just to apply for a gTLD, which is "a drop in the bucket compared to the costs of running an Internet registry," White said. "Applicants have to show they have they appropriate capital and technical understanding. The guidebook of how to apply for this thing is 300 pages long. It's not one-size-fits-all, and we don't want people to be caught unaware of what it takes."

 

That means while corporations like Pepsi shouldn't have a problem registering for.pepsi, smaller businesses may be shut out. ICANN does offer an Applicant Support program that provides financial and nonfinancial assistance to what it calls "deserving applicants," based on three criteria sets: public interest benefit, financial need and financial capabilities.

 

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Hollywood or Silicon Valley? — President Obama must choose - The Hill's Hillicon Valley

Hollywood or Silicon Valley? — President Obama must choose - The Hill's Hillicon Valley | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A controversial online piracy bill could force President Obama to choose between two of his most important allies: Hollywood and Silicon Valley.

 

Obama hasn’t taken a position yet on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) that has divided senior lawmakers in both parties, but that will have to change if it clears Congress.

 

If Obama signs the bill, he will dash the hopes of Silicon Valley executives who donated heavily to his 2008 campaign and are vehemently opposed to the anti-piracy measure.

 

But the entertainment industry would see a veto as a betrayal by the administration on its most significant priority.

 

SOPA would empower the Justice Department and copyright holders to demand that search engines, Internet providers and payment processors cut off access to sites “dedicated” to copyright infringement.

 

The legislation is aimed at blocking foreign sites such as The Pirate Bay that offer illegal copies of movies, music and television shows with impunity.

Movie studios, record labels and business groups say the law is necessary to crack down on online copyright infringement, which is hurting businesses and destroying jobs.

 

But consumer groups and major Web companies, including Google, Yahoo and Facebook, warn SOPA would stifle innovation. They say the legislation would impose an unreasonable burden on websites to police user-generated content and could lead to legitimate websites getting shut down.

 

Although Hollywood and Silicon Valley are engaged in an all-out lobbying war over SOPA, they are also two of President Obama’s most important bases of support.

 

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The Free State Foundation: A Vital Lifeline

Probably only telecom groupies realize the monumental efforts of the FCC over the past year to reform the $7 billion dollar Universal Service Fund (USF). The effort culminated in a voluminous order focused on the High Cost Fund that was adopted on November 18, 2011. And, while there will certainly be legal challenges to the USF order, it is no less an important step for the agency.

 

The FCC commissioners and staff should be proud of taking a stand and finally curtailing what has been one of the least efficient and certainly overly costly subsidy programs funded by taxpayers. The USF program has been a poster child for corporate welfare, and it has needed reform for decades.

 

On the other hand, the FCC now has the last piece of overall USF reform to finalize: the portion of the fund that supports qualified Low Income persons. And while I have been a vociferous supporter of reforming universal service for years, I hope that the Commission doesn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. While many have criticized the Low Income Fund for "waste, fraud and abuse" – indeed, I agree all government programs should constantly improve their efficiencies and implement procedures to prevent fraud – the industry has stepped forward with numerous solutions which already have solved most of these criticisms, and more reforms can be implemented.

 

But the bottom line is that low income Americans are still facing extremely high levels of unemployment and the longest recession since the Depression.

 

The low income fund is just that: a fund only for low income persons; only for the poorest of the poor.

 

In many ways, it is the part of the fund that most embodies what Congress intended by creating a fund that ensures all Americans have the opportunities available in a nationwide communications network. Congress indeed foresaw that communications would connect people to jobs, healthcare, schools, and, of course, their families. Today that connectivity should include broadband, and the Lifeline could again be the safety net to insure that no American – no matter how poor – is left behind in the Digital Age.

 

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Reddit's SOPA Blackout Admirable, But Google and Facebook Must Follow - Forbes

Reddit's SOPA Blackout Admirable, But Google and Facebook Must Follow - Forbes | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A week from today, one of the most popular websites on the internet will go dark. Reddit, the current king of all social media sites due to its massive, influential community and ability to send out hundreds of thousands of hits to a single post, is doing its part to help stop internet censorship law SOPA with a display of force.

 

The decision to black out the site for a period of 12 hours next Wednesday comes in the wake of the announcement that Reddit co-founder Alexis “kn0thing” Ohanian is heading to Congress to testify on behalf of the tech community. He’s of the firm position that SOPA could potentially “obliterate” the entire tech industry, a position I strongly agree with.

 

The Reddit blackout is perhaps the greatest “money where your mouth is” moment in the entire anti-SOPA campaign so far, as moving domains away from SOPA supporter GoDaddy can only accomplish so much. It’s an unavoidable message that will reach all the users that have allowed Reddit to become a two billion page view a month website.

 

But unfortunately, it’s not enough, and I worry the blackout may be preaching to the choir. Chances are if you’re a regular Reddit user, you’re either tech savvy enough to know the dangers of SOPA, or if not, you’ve at least been reading about it on the site’s front page for months.

 

Rather, even though Reddit is a massive site, the industry needs a nuclear option to truly decimate SOPA once and for all. Titans like Google and Facebook need to have a similar blackout, which would reach an audience far, far wider than Reddit’s.

 

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Consumer groups question whether FCC's Lifeline program reforms go far enough - FierceTelecom

The FCC has put forward a new plan that it hopes will extend more broadband service to more lower-income by updating its existing Lifeline phone service program.

 

Under the current Lifeline program that's supported by the Universal Service Fund (USF), the FCC provides a $10 per month discounts on both traditional PSTN and wireless phone service for low-income families. Although the program has been successful in bringing phone service to lower-income families, the FCC wants to update it to weed out potential abuse and fraud.

 

The move, which is part of a broader effort to overhaul the existing $8 billion USF program, would focus on preventing consumers from getting unnecessary duplicate benefits, subsidies for ineligible consumers and misuse of Lifeline funds.

 

Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said that while the FCC's proposal is "an important step to narrowing the digital divide--but not yet the quantum leap necessary to include all Americans in the new economy."

 

Henderson added that according to FCC statistics, the Lifeline program currently serves about 10 million Americans, or about 32 percent of eligible households, while about 100 million people do not subscribe to broadband services because they are too expensive.

 

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FCC chairman Julius Genachowski warns of looming wireless spectrum crunch

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski warns of looming wireless spectrum crunch | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski returned to the Consumer Electronics Show to say that we as a country need to address the looming spectrum crunch to enable continued innovation in broadband wireless.

 

One of the ways to do that is to offer so-called incentive auctions that motivate the owners of current wireless spectrum to make them available to those who bid the highest. New York City, Genachowski said, does not need 28 TV stations using valuable spectrum that could be returned for use in wireless applications, and raising money not only for the private companies that own the spectrum but also billions of dollars in money that could help address the budget deficit.

 

He said a third of Americans — almost 100 million people — don’t have broadband at home. Closing the gap between haves and have nots would give the innovators much larger markets to go after. At the same time, the U.S. leads in the number of 3G subscribers and the American mobile industry has recaptured leadership in the industry. Tens of thousands of jobs have been creaetd.

 

“Our apps economy is the envy of the world,” he said.

 

Yet the spectrum shortage was one of the reasons that AT&T made its ill-fated bid to acquire T-Mobile, which owns a lot of spectrum, because of the rapid growth of data usage on mobile devices. Genachowski said that we need to get incentive auctions done for wireless spectrum and “we need to get it right,” he said. “We’ve led the world in spectrum policy.” He urged Congress to adopt legislation to endorse incentive auctions to make the U.S. more competitive with the rest of the world.The approvals should apply to licensed and unlicensed spectrum.

 

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