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by spamster 06:26PM Tuesday Sep 02 2014
By now I'm sure you've all heard the various horror stories about how your web browsing activities are being spied upon and stored. This has included government agencies, web site trackers, and possibly even your ISP. Recent stories in the news have confirmed that the FBI has been involved in tracking users web browsing activities, and that they have even gone so far as to install malware on some systems in order to enhance their tracking ability.

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For the most part however, this has been limited to those that engage in illegal activities, such as child pornography, and at least one child pornography ring has been busted by using the malware installed by the FBI. It's important to note that the malware was installed only because the default administrator password was not changed, thus giving total access to the system in question.

So, how can you protect yourself from this tracking and storing of your web browsing, and how can you attempt to be anonymous as well? One easy way to do this is to use the Tor (The Onion Router) network in conjunction with the Tor Browser Bundle, which I will refer to as TBB from now on. The TBB is free open-source software that is available for Windows, Mac, Linux and Android, that you can download from here. The TBB is based upon the Firefox browser, with specific privacy enhancements and addons.
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by Karl Bode 04:37PM Tuesday Sep 02 2014
Back in May Cox Communications tried to jump on the 1 Gbps excitement bandwagon by announcing they would offer 1 Gbps service to all users -- in a few years or more. As part of that announcement Cox announced something more immediate: a bump in Preferred & Premier tier speeds to 50Mbs & 100Mbs respectively.
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by Karl Bode 02:19PM Tuesday Sep 02 2014
As we noted recently, two different cities with their own broadband networks (Wilson, NC and Chattanooga, Tennessee) have formally asked the FCC to declare that laws in their states hindering community broadband aren't enforceable, giving FCC boss Tom Wheeler the perfect opportunity to back up claims that he'd take action. Such bills are written and lobbied for by companies like Comcast, AT&T and Time Warner Cable, and often restrict local citizen rights to determine for themselves what the best course of action for their community is.
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by Karl Bode 12:29PM Tuesday Sep 02 2014
Frontier's $2 billion attempt to acquire AT&T’s local wireline, broadband and video operations in Connecticut (originally announced last December) seemed to have been going swimmingly, recently gaining approval by the FCC and even union leaders that had originally opposed the deal. But the deal appears to have hit a snag in the form of the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), which has denied a deal settlement the companies reached with state officials.

PURA argues that the deal's conditions don't mean much, and the deal doesn't do enough to benefit Connecticut consumers:
quote:
But the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority said in a filing Thursday that the settlement, as drafted by Connecticut's Attorney General George Jepsen and Consumer Counsel Elin Swanson Katz, does not do enough for state residents. Instead, regulators sent the parties back to the drawing board, saying the settlement's provisions contained "merit for further discussion in an effort to rehabilitate them wherever possible."...Proposed broadband internet investments lack specifics, they said...
The deal is still expected to ultimately move forward; meetings on hammering out updated technical specifics of the deal are expected this month.

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by Karl Bode 10:39AM Tuesday Sep 02 2014
Retrans season is apparently heating up, and with it the now-all-too-familiar channel outages that plague consumers when broadcasters and cable operators can't agree on price. DirecTV users are the latest to face missing channels, as the company has reached a retrans fee negotiations impasse with Raycom Media, which owns 53 stations (predominately local network affiliates) in 37 markets across 18 states.

"Raycom Media is denying DirecTV customers and some of its own most loyal viewers access to its local broadcast stations unless they pay more than double just to receive the same broadcast shows that remain available over the air for free.,” DirecTV said in a statement. “We will always work to protect our customers and prevent them from enduring any unnecessary interruptions, no matter how brief. We appreciate their patience since it has a direct impact on their bill."

"We share their frustration and are committed to doing everything we can to resolve this issue and have been for the last 12 weeks of discussions," Raycom said in a statement of their own.

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by Karl Bode 09:12AM Tuesday Sep 02 2014
SoftBank will take advantage of their new Sprint ownership stake by selling robots at Sprint stores sometime next year, notes Bloomberg. SoftBank's "Pepper" robot, available in Japan for 198,000 yen ($1,900), is about four feet tall, dances, makes jokes, and "estimates human emotions based on expressions" according to the report.

"We will sell Pepper in the United States within a year after gathering information in Japan," insists SoftBank robotics CEO Fumihide Tomizawa. "I won’t be surprised if Pepper sales will be half to business and half to consumers." There's no word yet on pricing for Pepper here in the States, though you can learn more about the robot here (the video of the June unveiling is worth a look).

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by Karl Bode 08:33AM Tuesday Sep 02 2014
Verizon's ActionTec routers have never been what you'd call cutting edge, the company taking an extraordinarily long time to even offer 802.11N Wi-Fi functionality (and when they finally did, only offering 2.4Ghz).

Now Dave Zatz has noticed that Verizon FiOS customers will finally be getting newer gear, some FiOS Quantum customers getting the new Greenwave G1100. The G1100 offers everything up to 802.11ac, and looks to have integrated Zigbee home automation support.

Users in our forums suggest Verizon's purging old router inventory by providing their older ActionTec routers free with upgrades to 50 Mbps speeds or higher.

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by Karl Bode 07:41AM Tuesday Sep 02 2014
The FCC has moved to take aim at advertisements that are intentionally louder than the TV programming you're watching. The FCC recently announced (pdf) that they're taking additional action to further enforce restrict volume restrictions on television commercials under the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act. "It is our hope that these changes will result in a modest decrease in the perceived loudness of certain commercials," states the agency. The updated rules, which go into effect June 4, 2015, give the agency a wider variety of tools to measure commercial volume for enforcement.

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by Revcb 07:29AM Tuesday Sep 02 2014

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by Karl Bode 06:30PM Friday Aug 29 2014
Everyone here at DSLreports.com wishes you a happy and safe three day weekend!

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by Karl Bode 05:16PM Friday Aug 29 2014
For months now Netflix has claimed that the largest ISPs have intentionally let their peering points get congested so that Netflix would be forced to pay them for direct interconnection (an argument companies like Level 3 and Cogent support). So why is Netflix paying AT&T, Time Warner Cable, Verizon and Comcast for these links if they feel they're being railroaded?

According to Netflix filings made with the government (hat tip to Quartz and ReCode), the company was beginning to lose customers who were told by Comcast Netflix was responsible for the problems:
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“For many [Comcast] subscribers, the bitrate was so poor that Netflix’s streaming video service became unusable,” he writes, then notes that Comcast reps eventually told subscribers to take their beef to Netflix. “Those customers complained to Netflix and some of them canceled their Netflix subscription on the spot, citing the unacceptable quality of Netflix’s video streams and Netflix’s inability to do anything to change the situation."
You'll recall that when Netflix started giving impacted customers warning message blaming ISPs, Verizon rather quickly threatened to file a lawsuit, insisting they were the ones losing customers over the fracas. The FCC launched an investigation into whether incumbent ISPs were acting anti-competitively back in June.

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by Karl Bode 03:08PM Friday Aug 29 2014
Speaking recently at the IP Summit in London, Former Senator turned MPAA boss Chris Dodd pronounced his love for forcing ISPs to block and filter websites accused of aiding copyright infringement. Despite the fact filters can be easily bypassed by anyone with a modicum of technical knowledge, often accidentally filter legitimate content, and appear to have done nothing to slow piracy, Dodd believes filters are the "most effective tools anywhere in the world" at fighting piracy.

To prove it, the MPAA released a report this week supporting their own thesis: Internet filters are a really great idea. While their findings run in contrast with previous studies and the MPAA doesn't show their methodology, the group insists that:
quote:
“Recent research of the effectiveness of site blocking orders in the UK found that visits to infringing sites blocked declined by more than 90% in total during the measurement period or by 74.5% when proxy sites are included,” it reads.
Unlike the UK the MPAA has struggled to get laws passed that encourage filters here in the States, though TorrentFreak argues that the MPAA is preparing a new push to have the US voluntary six strikes initiative include them.

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by Karl Bode 01:07PM Friday Aug 29 2014
Over the years we've seen no limit of astroturf and sockpuppet groups defending the status quo while pretending to stand up for consumers. Vice directs our attention to a particularly amusing new one backed by the Koch Brothers by the name of "American Commitment." According to Vice, American Commitment is the Koch Brothers contribution to fighting net neutrality, the group sending emails to individuals insisting net neutrality is the "first step in the fight to destroy American capitalism altogether."

The group, lead by Phil Kerpin, insists that consumer neutrality protections are akin to a "federal Internet takeover," which "sounds more like a story coming out of China or Russia." What's more, Kerpin proclaims, net neutrality is a concept only really supported by a few extremists, who should get out of the way of the sector's amazing level of free-market competition:
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"Americans have been getting faster and faster Internet speeds because of competition in the free economy, not because of anything the government has done," the petition reads. "The people calling for government control over the Internet are a tiny minority of far-left political activists, and the FCC knows it."
The group has also rushed to the defense of ALEC, an organization used by AT&T and many others to craft "draft legislation" on behalf of clients that politicians are then paid to support. Of course instead of net neutrality rules you could push the FCC to vehemently support real, open network competition so consumers could vote with their wallets. However, these groups tend to pay lip service to such a concept; real broadband competition where revenues could potentially be harmed is usually the very last thing they want.

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by Karl Bode 11:00AM Friday Aug 29 2014
A TiVo support note first spotted by Dave Zatz is the first to highlight Comcast's looming migration away from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4. According to the note, Comcast is transitioning its systems in Augusta, Georgia, from MPEG-2 format to MPEG-4, meaning "that cable channels in this region will not be viewable on older equipment that is incompatible with the new format." I contacted Comcast who confirmed that they were migrating HD channels from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 in Augusta (SD channels will remain on MPEG-2), which the company notes will provide a "much more efficient use of bandwidth." The company could not offer any information on upgrade timelines for other markets.

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by Karl Bode 08:59AM Friday Aug 29 2014
An analysis of monthly cable bills by SNL Kagan found that while all cable TV bills are high (and increasing, sometimes twice a year) Cablevision customers have it the worst in terms of high rates. Cablevision customers on average now pay the company $152.72 a month, significantly higher than the next most expensive cable operators -- Comcast ($137.24 per month on average) and Verizon FiOS ($122.57 per month on average).
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by Karl Bode 08:59AM Friday Aug 29 2014
While Sprint's acquisition of T-Mobile may not longer be in the cards, Deutsche Telekom is still very much open to an acquisition offer. According to a report at Bloomberg, Deutsche Telekom is open to acquisition offers of at least $35 to $40 per share. French telco Iliad submitted a $33 per month share bid in late July that was effectively laughed off by Deutsche Telekom, though a higher bid is eventually expected. Sprint's attempted acquisition would have been blocked by regulators for killing off one of the four competitors -- a Dish offer still remains possible, though Ergen and company have been quiet about any such ambitions.

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by Karl Bode 08:33AM Friday Aug 29 2014
We've come quite a way from the era of clunky 300 baud modems: Intel this week announced they've built the world's smallest modem. The company's XMM 6255, with an area of just 300 sq mm, is a standalone 3G radio intended to be embedded into all manner of connected devices around the home.

"It's not just about the size of it," Intel insists. "What Intel is really doing is going after a significant stake in the Internet of Things market, where connectivity is most important."

According to the Intel announcement, the penny-sized modem utilizes the Intel SMARTi UE2p dual-band single transceiver delivering 7.2 Mbps downstream and 5.76 Mbps upstream speeds.

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by Revcb 08:05AM Friday Aug 29 2014

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by Karl Bode 06:22PM Thursday Aug 28 2014
On the heels of a recent RootMetrics study that lauded Verizon as having the fastest, largest and most reliable network, the company is again receiving praise from JD Power and Associates. According to a new JD power study (pdf), Verizon ranked highest in wireless network quality in five geographic regions (Northeast, Southeast, North Central, Southwest and West), while AT&T ranked highest in one geographic region (Mid-Atlantic).
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by Karl Bode 05:03PM Thursday Aug 28 2014
Sixty-five consumer, social justice and media reform groups have fired off a letter voicing their opposition to Comcast's planned $45.2 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable. The letter, sent just as the FCC's open comment period ended earlier this week, complains that the Comcast deal will "inevitably lead to unprecedented gatekeeper control over our nation’s telecommunications and media landscape." Given Comcast's history of failing to meet NBC merger conditions (many of which they themselves recommended) the groups argue that "no amount of promises or conditions would be good enough to assuage concerns about this merger" and that the "deal needs to be rejected outright."

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