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@The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy
Our Global Future in the 21st Century is based on "The Third Industrial Revolution" which finally connects our new ICT infrastructure with distributed energy sources that are both renewable and sustainable
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UK: BT and EE finalise MVNO agreement | TeleGeography.com

UK fixed line incumbent BT has completed a deal under which it will move its mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) services from the network of Vodafone UK to that owned by wireless market leader EE.


According to a press release by BT, the multi-year agreement, which will allow BT mobile customers to use EE’s 2G, 3G and 4G networks, further strengthens the existing relationship between the two companies, and the development follows reports in October 2013 which revealed that the duo were planning to partner up in this fashion, subject to a final contract.


In the wake of confirming the deal, BT has said that it will ‘carefully manage the change from its current UK MVNO provider to EE to ensure a seamless transition for customers’.


As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in April 2013 BT was said to have started looking for a partner to help support a renewed push into the mobile voice sector. At that date reports claimed the telco had issued a tender seeking an operator to provide mobile services to both its residential and business customers. While the tender was understood to have been opened to all of the UK’s mobile network operators, it had in fact been suggested that a deal with O2 UK, the mobile unit divested by BT back in 2001, could be favoured.


Commenting on the development, BT was cited as saying at the time: ‘We can confirm we are looking for a fresh partnership with a mobile operator. We won some excellent 4G spectrum just recently so it makes sense for us to explore the new opportunities that 4G presents. We have a strong position in the Wi-Fi market and we are looking to build on that.'


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IN: BP Confirms Oil Spill into Lake Michigan From Whiting Refinery | Fox17 Online

IN: BP Confirms Oil Spill into Lake Michigan From Whiting Refinery | Fox17 Online | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A malfunction at the BP refinery in Whiting, IN forced a slug of crude oil into Lake Michigan on Monday, the company confirmed today.

It was not immediately clear how much oil spilled into the lake or how long the discharge continued. A spokesman for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management said the leak was plugged by 1 a.m. today.


The effect on Lake Michigan, the source of drinking water for 7 million people in Chicago and the suburbs, likely won’t be determined for several days. Emergency response crews from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard are on the scene.


BP laid booms on the water in an attempt to keep the oil from spreading beyond a cove between the refinery’s wastewater treatment plant and an Arcelor Mittal steel mill. Winds were pushing the oil toward the shore and frigid temperatures caused some of it to harden into a waxy consistency that made it easier to collect, said Scott Dean, a BP spokesman.


The malfunction apparently occurred at the refinery’s largest distillation unit, the centerpiece of a $4 billion overhaul that allowed BP to process more heavy Canadian oil from the tar sands region of Alberta. The unit, which Dean said has resumed normal operations, performs one of the first steps in the refining of crude oil into gasoline and other fuels.


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Public Carrier Networks for Smart Grids | SmartGridObserver.com

Public Carrier Networks for Smart Grids | SmartGridObserver.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Smart grid infrastructure is reliant upon the underlying communications technology in order to become smart. It is the communications technology that allows the grid to become intelligent, adaptive, and integrated between the transmission, distribution, and generation of energy. There are a variety of communications technologies that provide two-way communications between the various nodes in a smart grid network and the utility itself. These include wired solutions, like power line communications (PLC), fiber, or copper leased line networks, and wireless solutions, like cellular, Wi-Fi, microwave, and radio frequency (RF) mesh. Both wired and wireless communications can be run either as a private network or as part of an existing public communications network.

Traditionally, most utilities have preferred to use private networks, particularly in North America, to run their smart grids. However, of late there has been a resurgence of interest in public cellular networks as a viable option to run smart grids. In regions like Europe and (to some extent) the United States, public cellular networks have been used to backhaul data from concentrator nodes, which often employ PLC or mesh communications for the last mile. Yet, connecting the smart meter endpoints directly over a public cellular network - without the need for concentrator nodes - is where substantial growth potential lies. According to Navigant Research, this shift to public carrier networks is not going to happen overnight, though. The market brings a number of challenges along with the opportunities that it presents:


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Western Australia: Broadband network spreads its services | inmycommunity

Western Australia: Broadband network spreads its services | inmycommunity | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

There are now more opportunities for Peel residents to access the high-speed National Broadband Network than in any other location in Western Australian (WA).

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Telstra area general manager Nicola Swarbrick said the Peel Region was the NBN capital of WA with Mandurah at the centre.


She said NBN now available in San Remo and Madora Bay opened up access to high speed broadband for more than 9000 families and businesses in the Mandurah/Peel region.


“This is more than double the number in other NBN areas in WA,’’ she said.


Local Telstra technician Rebecca Dhu gets a thrill out of connecting locals to the next-generation in phone and internet services.


“I’ve been a part of the Telstra team in Mandurah for more than three years and helped customers get online with the introduction of ADSL technology and now optic-fibre broadband,” she said.


“For some people the big lift in internet speeds is life changing.’’


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From Spain to Scotland … the Connected Cities of the Future are Starting to Emerge | LinkedIn.com

From Spain to Scotland … the Connected Cities of the Future are Starting to Emerge | LinkedIn.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

It's fashionable to attach the 'smart' tag to any technological trend today and this is particularly true of our cities. But, digging beyond the hype, what actually is a smart city and what progress are we as a society making towards that vision?


There is no doubt of the need for more intelligent urban infrastructure to cope with a growing urban population. Globally, three-quarters of people will live in cities by 2050 - 80 per cent of the UK population already does.


Check out this definition of a smart city from the analysts at IDC. They say it must "...involve a multifaceted transformation of services and infrastructure. Such initiatives must impact numerous areas, from the provision of transport, energy, and healthcare services, to the state of public safety and government services."


Here are some real-world examples of the progress we are making towards true smart cities.


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Statoil | Partner Webcast | MIT Technology Review

Statoil | Partner Webcast | MIT Technology Review | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

One of the greatest challenges our society faces is how to provide sustainable energy to the 9 billion people who will be alive on the planet in 2050. The new energy mix needed to solve this global challenge will require imaginative thinking as well as openness and collaboration between organizations, academic institutions, and government entities. How can leaders in the oil and gas industry encourage purpose-driven innovation and act as responsible stewards for the next generation’s energy needs? How do we engage and empower future energy leaders?


MIT Technology Review’s Jason Pontin and Statoil’s Jonathan Matthews discuss how today’s energy companies stay competitive not just through technological innovation, but also by engaging in education and sponsoring programs like the Svalex Arctic Expedition. The expedition, a multidisciplinary program organized on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, offers a unique learning environment for students in petroleum-related fields. After the interview you can watch a documentary for an exclusive look at what a student’s life on the expedition is like.


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Why Massachusetts Lags On Governor Patrick’s Wind Power Goal | WBUR.org

Five years ago, Gov. Deval Patrick set an ambitious goal: He declared that by 2020 the state should develop enough wind-generated electricity to power 800,000 homes. Patrick said a quarter of that wind power should come from turbines located on Massachusetts land.


But with half the time gone, we’re still far from reaching the governor’s goal for wind power.


Dec. 3, 2012, was an overcast day in Berkshire County, but that didn’t dampen Patrick’s enthusiasm. He went to the rural northwest corner of Massachusetts to mark the near-completion of the Hoosac Wind Power Project, the largest in the state — 19 huge turbines built on two mountain ridges in the towns of Monroe and Florida.


“You don’t want them everywhere, but when you think about what they’re doing in terms of a clean, renewable and reliable source of electricity, it adds to the beauty,” Patrick said. “I think they’re quite elegant.”


But when it comes to wind power, beauty is in the eye — and ear — of the beholder. Opponents sued Hoosac, calling the 330-foot-tall turbines eyesores, loud and unhealthy. The lawsuits doubled the permitting time and the initial cost estimates.


After eight years of delay, the state’s highest court settled the matter. The $90 million Hoosac wind farm was built.


And Patrick was finally able to claim Massachusetts was on its way to meeting his ambitious wind energy goal.


“When I first took office, there were three wind turbines in the commonwealth and three megawatts of wind energy capacity installed, all throughout the state,” he said. “Since then, Massachusetts has experienced one of the fastest rates of wind energy development in the whole nation — more than 30-fold increase in our wind energy capacity. In fact, more this year alone than all previous years combined.”


But in the year since Patrick gave this speech, only one new wind turbine has been built in Massachusetts. And if the governor’s ambitious goal is to be met, we’ll need a dozen wind farms the size of Hoosac.


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Nokia delays closure of sale to Microsoft of smartphone business | NetworkWorld.com

Nokia delays closure of sale to Microsoft of smartphone business | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Nokia has delayed to April the sale of its smartphone business to Microsoft as it still hasn't received approvals from certain antitrust authorities in Asia.


Microsoft said in September it plans to acquire Nokia's Devices & Services business, which includes the smartphone and mobile phones businesses, for over US$7 billion. The deal, which also includes licensing of patents by Nokia to Microsoft, was expected to close in the first quarter of this year.


Nokia said Monday the deal had already received most of the required regulatory approvals, including approvals from the European Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice. The two companies continue to make good progress related to the closing conditions and integration planning, Nokia said.


"We are nearing the final stages of our global regulatory approval process -- to date we have received approvals from regulatory authorities in 15 markets on five continents," wrote Microsoft's general counsel Brad Smith in a blog post announcing the delay in closure of the transaction.


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Australian government inks AUD18.4m deal to improve NBN interim satellite service | TeleGeography.com

Australian communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has revealed that the state has reached a deal under which it hopes to improve the performance of the Interim Satellite Service (ISS).


According to ZDNet Australia, Mr Turnbull revealed to parliament that a deal worth AUD18.4 million (USD16.8 million) has been struck with satellite operators IPStar and Optus under which the duo will upgrade capacity for all ISS users. It is understood that there will be new, stricter rules governing how customer can use the satellite-based broadband service, with the minister noting: ‘We will institute a new stringent fair use policy to ensure a minority of very heavy users cannot crowd out the majority’.


With NBN Co claiming to have registered an improvement in the service in the wake of trialling the new policy, Mr Turnbull added: ‘It will not be as fast as the speeds promised, and not delivered, by Labor, but it will be broadband. And much higher, and certainly not anywhere near the anaemic speeds at present.’


Meanwhile, an unnamed spokesperson for the minister was cited as saying that capacity will be increased by one third, from 30kbps to 40kbps, while the new arrangements will see download speeds in peak periods increased from below 500kbps to more than 1.5Mbps.

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Vodafone Spain to launch commercial FTTH services on 1 April | TeleGeography.com

Vodafone Spain has announced a date for the launch of its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH)-based services, revealing that from 1 April 2014 customers in Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Valencia, Malaga and Zaragoza will be able to access the network. Speeds of up to 200Mbps downstream and 20Mbps upstream are being offered over the new infrastructure. Prices for the operator’s FTTH services begin at EUR54 (USD74) per month for a bundle comprising a 100Mbps/10Mbps fibre connection, plus a mobile voice tariff with 600MB data usage and 200 call minutes per month, and a fixed voice calls package which includes call allowances to both fixed and mobile numbers.


As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in March 2013 Vodafone Spain and Orange Espana outlined plans to invest up to EUR1 billion on the construction of a joint fibre-optic network. Under the terms of the agreement, the two telcos said they would each deploy street-level fibre in complementary geographies, and while the fibre will be owned independently it will share the same technical specifications to ensure compatibility as a single network, with each partner having guaranteed access to the whole infrastructure. The duo expects that some three million premises will have access to the FTTH network by September 2015, with that figure rising to seven million by 2017. In total, the fibre-optic network will cover 50 of Spain’s major cities when complete.


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ATM malware, controlled by a text message, spews cash | NetworkWorld.com

ATM malware, controlled by a text message, spews cash | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A group of enterprising cybercriminals have figured out how to get cash from a certain type of ATM -- by text message.


The latest development was spotted by security vendor Symantec, which has periodically written about a type of malicious software it calls "Ploutus" that first appeared in Mexico.


The malware is engineered to plunder a certain type of standalone ATM, which Symantec has not identified. The company obtained one of the ATMs to carry out a test of how Ploutus works, but it doesn't show a brand name.


Ploutus isn't the easiest piece of malware to install, as cybercriminals need to have access to the machine. That's probably why cybercriminals are targeting standalone ATMs, as it is easy to get access to all parts of the machine.


Early versions of Ploutus allowed it to be controlled via the numerical interface on an ATM or by an attached keyboard. But the latest version shows a remarkable new development: it is now controllable remotely via text message.


In this variation, the attackers manage to open up an ATM and attach a mobile phone, which acts as a controller, to a USB port inside the machine. The ATM also has to be infected with Ploutus.


"When the phone detects a new message under the required format, the mobile device will convert the message into a network packet and will forward it to the ATM through the USB cable," wrote Daniel Regalado, a Symantec malware analyst, in a blog post on Monday.


Ploutus has a network packet monitor that watches all traffic coming into the ATM, he wrote. When it detects a valid TCP or UDP packet from the phone, the module searches "for the number "5449610000583686 at a specific offset within the packet in order to process the whole package of data," he wrote.


It then reads the next 16 digits and uses that to generate a command line to control Ploutus.


So, why do this?


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Researchers explore growing solar panels from bacteria | NetworkWorld.com

Researchers explore growing solar panels from bacteria | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

MIT engineers have succeeded in creating "biofilms," which combine bacterial cells with nonliving materials, such as gold nanoparticles, that can conduct electricity or emit light.


The hope is that biofilm, that slippery, slimy material made of bacteria that forms substances like dental plaque, may someday create functioning circuits that could be used to manufacture photovoltaic solar panels or act as "biosensors" that could sense toxins.


A depiction of the engineered bacteria that has incorporated gold nanoparticles and quantum dots -- the red and green balls (Source: Yan Liang).


The hybrid biofilms have the attributes of living cells, which reproduce and assemble into structure and react to their environment, and materials such as metal that can conduct electricity.


The research, lead by Timothy Lu, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and biological engineering, was published in the March 23 issue of the journal Nature Materials.


The researchers used E. coli bacteria for their initial experiments because the biofilms produced with it contain "curli fibers," protein chains that help material attach to surfaces. The curli fibers can be modified by adding peptides, which trap nonliving nanoparticles, such as gold or quantum dots, a semiconductor material the size of a nano particle that can be embedded into living cells. The result is a biofilm that reproduces and can conduct electricity.


"It's an interesting way of thinking about materials synthesis, which is very different from what people do now, which is usually a top-down approach," Lu said in MIT News.


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MN: Koch Power Raised Gasoline Prices By 40 Cents A Gallon Overnight | DailyKos.com

MN: Koch Power Raised Gasoline Prices By 40 Cents A Gallon Overnight | DailyKos.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Koch Power is not the name of a company.  It is the oligopolistic power wielded by the Koch brothers over the Minnesota retail gasoline market. On May 16, 2013, they exercised that power to raise the price of retail gasoline by 40 cents a gallon overnight. But that story, like all stories involving the Kochs, does not end there.  Below the fold you will read a story that could easily be titled House of Cards: Minnesota.


The House of Cards, for the unacquainted, is fundamentally a story about how private economic power intersects and conflicts with government power, with each sector manipulating personal ambition to achieve their respective goals. The power conflicts are personified by a billionaire electric power baron who is a friend and financial backer of the president of the United States, and  Francis Underwood, an unscrupulously ambitious Democratic leader in the House of Representatives. In one episode (spoiler alert), the baron shuts off electric power to Washington DC by shutting down one of his power plants, and threatens to shut down his power plants serving much of the southeastern United States, claiming the plants need scheduled maintenance, all in order to force the president and congress to adopt policy changes favorable to his business interests in China.


The parallel episode in Minnesota can be fully understood only with an understanding of the retail gasoline market in Minnesota and of the governor and state legislature.


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Court suspends Turkish Twitter ban | BBC Tech News

Court suspends Turkish Twitter ban | BBC Tech News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Turkish users of Twitter are expected to regain access shortly after a court ordered the suspension of the ban on the social media site.


The court in the capital, Ankara, issued a stay of execution on last week's decision by the country's telecommunication authority (TIB).


Once the court informs the TIB, the ban is expected to be lifted.


Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to "wipe out Twitter" after users spread allegations of corruption.


At a rally ahead of important local elections on Sunday, Mr Erdogan was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying: "I don't understand how people of good sense could defend this Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. There are all kinds of lies there."


A ban was imposed on Friday on the grounds that Twitter had failed to remove the allegations of corruption involving senior officials.


However, users found many ways of circumventing the prohibition, which was widely criticised and ridiculed.


A number of complaints were filed to courts, arguing the ban was illegal and unconstitutional.


The administrative court in Ankara issued a temporary injunction on Wednesday ordering the TIB to restore access to Twitter, the Associated Press reports.


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Corporate Sovereignty Provisions Called Into Question Around The World | Techdirt.com

Corporate Sovereignty Provisions Called Into Question Around The World | Techdirt.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A couple of weeks ago, we noted that Germany just threw a big spanner in the TTIP works by calling for corporate sovereignty provisions to be excluded. Although perhaps the most dramatic repudiation of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), it's by no means the only one. Indeed, the tide really seems turning, as country after country calls into question the need to put corporations on the same level as entire nations. For example, according to this report from the Yonhap News Agency, South Korea wants to re-visit the corporate sovereignty chapter in its trade agreement with the US:


"South Korea plans to hold talks with the United States to rework the investor-state dispute (ISD) clause in their two-year-old free trade pact that has long been cited by critics as being unfair, a government source said Sunday."


That's possible because of the following prescient move by South Korea at the time of the trade agreement's signing:


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Australia: New fixed wireless broadband services now available west of Coffs Harbour | ABC Online

Australia: New fixed wireless broadband services now available west of Coffs Harbour | ABC Online | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

NBNco is continuing the rollout of fixed wireless services to smaller communities on the North Coast, with more becoming available this week.


NBN fixed-wireless services have been switched on for Nana Glen, Coramba and the surrounds of Bellingen, west of Coffs Harbour.


The broadband is provided through wireless towers, and received through antennas fitted to individual properties.


The wireless services are provided for communities where the underground cable will not reach, usually smaller towns and villages.

NBNCo Community Relations Advisor, Tony Gibbs, said the service is significantly faster than what is currently available.


"It is just a far more reliable, consistent service, that enables new things to do," he said.


"You can get the whole family online at once, two or three people accessing the internet, downloading, uploading, using their tablets or iPads without having any issues in getting a quality, reliable service."


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Global Warming: Most of Us Have a Vested Interest in Not Wanting to Think about It | CityWatchLA.com

Global Warming: Most of Us Have a Vested Interest in Not Wanting to Think about It | CityWatchLA.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The American Association for the Advancement of Science came as close as such a respectable institution can to screaming an alarm last week. "As scientists, it is not our role to tell people what they should do," it said as it began one of those sentences that you know will build to a "but". "But human-caused climate risks abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes."  


In other words, the most distinguished scientists from the country with the world's pre-eminent educational institutions were trying to shake humanity out of its complacency. Why weren't their warnings leading the news? 


In one sense, the association's appeal was not new. The Royal Society, the Royal Institution, NASA, the US National Academy of Sciences, the US Geological Survey, the IPCC and the national science bodies of 30 or so other countries have said that man-made climate change is on the march. A survey of 2,000 peer-reviewed papers on global warming published in the last 20 years found that 97% said that humans were causing it. 


When the glib talk about the "scientific debate on global warming", they either don't know or will not accept that there is no scientific debate. The suggestion first made by Eugene F Stoermer that the planet has moved from the Holocene, which began at the end of the last ice age, to the manmade Anthropocene, in which we now live, is everywhere gaining support. Man-made global warming and the man-made mass extinction of species define this hot, bloody and (let us hope) brief epoch in the world's history. 


If global warming is not new, it is urgent: a subject that should never be far from our thoughts. Yet within 24 hours of the American association's warning the British government's budget confirmed that it no longer wanted to fight it. 


David Cameron, who once promised that if you voted blue you would go green, now appoints Owen Paterson, a man who is not just ignorant of environmental science but proud of his ignorance, as his environment secretary. 


George Osborne, who once promised that his Treasury would be "at the heart of this historic fight against climate change", now gives billions in tax concessions to the oil and gas industry, cuts the funds for onshore wind farms and strips the Green Investment Bank of the ability to borrow and lend.


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New BitCrypt ransomware variant distributed by bitcoin stealing malware | NetworkWorld.com

New BitCrypt ransomware variant distributed by bitcoin stealing malware | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A new variant of a malicious program called BitCrypt that encrypts files and asks victims for bitcoin payments is being distributed by a computer Trojan that first pilfers bitcoin wallets.


BitCrypt is part of a growing category of malicious programs known collectively as ransomware that attempt to extort money from victims by locking their files or computers.


One of the first variants of BitCrypt appeared in February and its development was likely inspired the success of a similar program called Cryptolocker that infected more than 250,000 computers in the last three months of 2013 alone.


Like Cryptolocker, once installed on a system, BitCrypt encrypts a large range of files, from documents and pictures to archives, application development and database files. Victims stand to lose access not just to personal files, but also work projects, if they have no external backups.


While the first variant of BitCrypt claimed to be using relatively strong RSA-1024 encryption, security researchers from Airbus Defence and Space found flaws in the implementation that allowed them to create a program to decrypt affected files.


However, according to security researchers from antivirus vendor Trend Micro, an improved version of the malware appeared this month and is likely designed for wide distribution. The new version appends a .bitcrypt2 extension to encrypted files and can display its ransom note in 10 different languages: English, French, German, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese and Arabic.


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UK: The future of TV is here but please don’t all try it at once | MediaTel.co.uk

UK: The future of TV is here but please don’t all try it at once | MediaTel.co.uk | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Research The Media's Richard Marks argues that the recent UK launch of Google Chromecast and the fate of BBC3 are part of the future of television delivery, but he questions how quickly that future will arrive. The public Internet itself is just not ready for the world's biggest linear entertainment medium to turn up en masse.


I took part in MediaTel's recent Connected Consumer event with a fairly open mind, but an underlying feeling that the future of television delivery probably lies in software rather than hardware. I left with that view rebooted, which must be the sign of a good event.


So let me explain what has got me (re)thinking, and why I think we are in a classic Catch 22 situation when it comes to the delivery of television content for the foreseeable future.


Firstly, to pursue this argument it's important to define terms - by 'television', I mean television the medium, as opposed to TV sets and screens delivering TV. So if we break the delivery of television down into content, platforms and screens, then my expectation up to now has been that the middle part of the ecosystem - the delivery - would consolidate around wireless broadband, with no need to attach set top boxes to screens.


However...


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No, Barack Obama Isn't Handing Control of the Internet Over to China | NewRepublic.com

No, Barack Obama Isn't Handing Control of the Internet Over to China | NewRepublic.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

On March 14, the U.S. government announced that it would seek to relinquish a privileged role in the management of Internet names and numbers. An organization called ICANN—the non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers—is to continue doing what it’s doing without maintaining an ongoing contract with the Department of Commerce to do it.  And what does ICANN do?  It helps keep IP addresses in order, ensuring that each address—used to let parties on the Internet identify one another—is not assigned more than once.  And it facilitates the addition of “top level domains,” those suffixes like .com, .org, .uk, and more recently, .clothing, which, with a concatenation of names to their left, become the names for nearly all online destinations, including newrepublic.com. A receding role for the U.S. government has been anticipated for over a decade, and the move is both wise and of little impact.  Some reaction has been surprisingly alarmist.


A Wall Street Journal columnist described it as “America’s Internet surrender.” Said one member of Congress: “Giving up control of ICANN will allow countries like China and Russia, that don’t place the same value in freedom of speech, to better define how the internet looks and operates.”


From a former Bush administration official in the Daily Caller: “This is the Obama equivalent of Carter’s decision to give away the Panama Canal—only with possibly much worse consequences.” (Namely, to “endanger the security of both the Internet and the U.S.—and open the door to a global tax on Web use.”) And Newt Gingrich: “Every American should worry about Obama giving up control of the internet to an undefined group. This is very, very dangerous.”


The venerable information technology publication The Register summed it up this way: “US govt: You, ICANN. YOU can run the internet. We quit.” And from the National Journal: “When U.S. Steps Back, Will Russia and China Control the Internet?” As Betteridge’s Law of Headlines suggests, the answer is no.  Indeed, the truth is much less salacious—and far more interesting—than any of the reactions above.


To understand why, we need to talk about the difference between owned and unowned technologies. Owned technologies are easy to grasp, because they’re so prevalent. They’re technologies that are developed and shaped by a defined group, usually someone selling it. The original AT&T phone system was an owned technology—and so are its descendants like Verizon landline services and mobile phone networks. TV broadcasting is owned, in the sense that governments around the world have asserted power over the airwaves that permeate their territories, deciding who can use what bandwidth and why—and those with licenses then, with exceptions determined by regulators, decide what to broadcast. If you’re reading this article on a digital device, chances are good that its hardware is owned—Apple or HP or Lenovo designed and built it—and so, too, is its operating system, whether iOS, Android, or Windows.


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Saudi Arabia: CITC announces several new projects under the USF | TeleGeography.com

Saudi Arabian telecoms watchdog the Communications and IT Commission (CITC) has introduced several projects under the Universal Service Fund (USF), for the provision of telecoms services in 28 locations in the provinces of Medina, Ghazala, Asir, Jazan and Tabuk.


According to a press release, the CITC has received bidding documents from all companies eligible to participate in these projects – Saudi Telecoms Company (STC), Etihad Etisalat (Mobily), Zain Saudi Arabia (formerly Saudi MTC) and Atheeb Telecom (GO).


The projects will include the provision of voice and data services to six remote locations in Medina, Ghazala (one), Asir (five), Jazan (eleven) and Tabuk (five), covering a combined population of 13,500 people.

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UK: DCMS unveils GBP10m fund for rural broadband rollout technology pilots | TeleGeography.com

The UK government has announced that companies can now bid for funding which can be spent on testing ‘innovative ways to help take broadband to Britain’s most remote communities’. With a GBP10 million (USD16.5 million) fund having been created to support such investment, British culture secretary Maria Miller was cited as saying that the focus for the state has shifted to bringing connectivity to the hardest to reach premises, with the government’s broadband programme said to be on track to deliver superfast speeds to 95% of the UK by 2017.


According to a press release from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), the fund will enable a range of pilot projects to be run, with suppliers able to bid based on three different categories, those being: technology – seeing whether a technology that works can be used in remote areas; operating models – trying novel operating models such as joining smaller networks together into a common larger network; and financial – testing innovative public/private funding models that could bring in new investment.


Commenting on the development Ms Miller noted: ‘[The] government’s rollout of superfast broadband is already reaching more than 10,000 homes every week but now we need to focus on the hardest to reach communities. These pilots will be instrumental in helping us understand how to overcome the challenges of reaching the most remote areas of the UK, and I hope to see a wide range of suppliers coming forward with innovative proposals.’


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Apple settles Belgian guarantee dispute | NetworkWorld.com

Apple settles Belgian guarantee dispute | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Apple has settled a legal dispute with Belgian consumer organisation Test-Aankoop over its warranty practices, the consumer organization said Monday.


Test-Aankoop had sued Apple accusing the company of violating Belgian guarantee law. Apple presented consumers with misleading information about their legal guarantee rights in order to push the sales of its AppleCare warranty, according to the consumer organisation.


Apple however has now agreed to adhere to Belgian law in an agreement with Test-Aankoop, the organisation said in a news release.


From now on, Apple will explain clearly on its website to which statutory warranty Belgian consumers are entitled and will explain how that right relates to the commercial AppleCare warranty, Test-Aankoop said. The company will also explain more clearly what consumers get if they buy AppleCare, and Apple will inform its resellers of the legal warranty requirements, it added.


Apple declined to comment.


In line with European law, Belgian sellers are obliged to provide a two-year warranty on products. The seller is obliged to repair or replace a faulty product without the need for consumers to prove the manufacturer was at fault within the first six months. After this period the burden of proof lies with the consumer.


Apple however had been offering a one-year warranty on products, offering a replacement product in that period. On top of that, Apple also offered AppleCare, an extended paid-for warranty that let's consumers prolong that one-year period to three years, or two years for iPhones, iPads and iPods.A


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Australia: Coalition's biggest achievement: making the NBN boring | ZDNet

Australia: Coalition's biggest achievement: making the NBN boring | ZDNet | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Six months after the Abbott government came to power, the debate around the NBN has shifted markedly and its ferocity attenuated dramatically. Labor's attempts to push a progressive and disruptive telecoms agenda, predicated on building an industry that could finally be free of Telstra's dominance, has faded into the distance as Malcolm Turnbull winds back the clock – and Australia's expectations – in a strategy that is turning the NBN into something that can only be described as... boring.


Stephen Conroy used to paint big visions of broadband-enabled businesses, telehealth, distance education, economic growth, and so on. Today, however, years of Labor's aspirational statements about the transformative power of high-speed broadband have been replaced by a casual disdain from a government that is now focused more on completing the project cheaply, than completing it well.


Turnbull speaks little of the transformational power of broadband and instead prefers to spruik his party's NBN platform on the basis of its still-theoretical economic credentials. His  NBN may be cheaper, but there's scant discussion about what value it will provide, or why it's worth spending $41 billion to build. 


Perhaps this was always to be expected: in the Coalition's business-centric philosophy, after all, there is no room for innovation or even enablement; the government's job, as Abbott has said time and again, is to collect all our tax monies and then stay out of our way.


A government in this context cannot afford to be innovative because the spectre of a government that is both well-resourced and innovative will simply discourage the private sector from doing anything for itself.


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30 million more Chinese homes to have fiber optic connection | Shanghai Daily

China plans to put fiber optic connections into 30 million more homes nationwide in this year, according to Miao Wei, minister of industry of information technology.


The move will bring the total number of users benefited from the country's Fiber-To-The-Home program to nearly 200 million by the end of this year.


The new broadband map includes 13,800 villages.


Higher bandwidth -- 50 M to 100 M -- will come to regions with mature networks this year, while over 30 percent of total users will have 8M Internet access, he added.


Most Chinese Internet surfers connect via 2M to 4M broadband, and government support has reduced the cost per M by 50.8 percent from that of 2011.


The 4G network is also part of the plan, with 30 million new TD-LTE users and 300,000 new base stations expected this year.


China' s broadband strategy has been written into the government policy and highlights 4G mobile communications, fiber optic networks and Internet speed.

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