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We've explored just how corrupt and dysfunctional West Virginia has been when it came to spending their $126.3 million in broadband stimulus funds
. Local Charleston Gazette
reporter Eric Eyre has been doing an absolutely fantastic job the last few years, highlighting how Verizon, Frontier and Cisco convinced the state to buy ridiculously overpriced, overpowered and unused routers
, and ridiculously overpaid, redundant consultants who haven't actually accomplished anything
Back in March the state buried a study on their spending of the stimulus money
(which they spent $118,000 for) that leaked anyway
, highlighting that how Frontier Communications did a sloppy job in tracking spending, may have overbilled taxpayers substantially, and only built a mish mash of geographically scattered fiber upgrades that the majority of state residents wouldn't benefit from in the slightest.
Eyre has another story out this week
with yet more detail on the state's shenanigans, noting that the orginal $17,000 per mile fiber estimate by the state has ballooned to $47,500 per mile -- and what fiber that will be deployed will be significantly scaled back. Despite the previously suppressed report that shows Frontier's record keeping was poor and might have resulted in double billing, state officials have blamed everyone but Frontier for the magically soaring costs:
In an annual report posted online last week, state Homeland Security Director Jimmy Gianato blamed the rising fiber costs on "storms in late 2012" -- presumably Hurricane Sandy, which caused an estimated $14 million in damage across West Virginia. The state's report also cited environmental studies for the fiber construction's higher costs. The previous year, state officials blamed fallout from the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami for a sharp spike in fiber prices.
In short: use your money to further entrench the local monopoly, bury the report that shows said monopoly wasn't accountable with their spending, then blame, well, pretty much everything other than the cause. The mess in West Virginia shows pretty clearly what happens when anti-competitive corporations and broken political systems get too cuddly, and unfortunately overshadows the many good things the broadband stimulus has done.
In continuing what is not a particularly great week for the government's surveillance programs, hacker group Anonymous last night leaked a cache of internal DOD documents
(pdf). The documents are from 2008, shortly after the NSA began its just-unveiled PRISM spying program
, and outlines key portions of the DOD's "strategic vision" for monitoring and controlling information online.
A report over at Public Integrity
notes that more and more corporations are throwing money at civil rights groups, and in exchange convincing them to parrot support for bad public policy. We most recently saw this during AT&T's attempted takeover of T-Mobile, when oodles of minority groups that should be supporting more competition, lower prices, and fewer job cuts -- suddenly began magically repeating AT&T talking points on the subject
Last week we noted how
our users had uncovered a scam outfit that appears to be stealing user private information and installation down payments by posing as a series of fake ISPs. The company first popped up under the name "Cable Gator," but as our users began to dig into the suspicious outfit
, the company subsequently changed their name to "Go Cable Solutions." Both of those websites are now offline (correction: one is still up
), but the scammer behind the outfit have yet to be held accountable.
by Revcb Friday 31-May-2013
Users in our Canadian broadband forums
claim to have stumbled into what appears to be an identity theft and scam outfit posing as bogus ISPs in order to swindle users out of installation deposits and personal information. The alleged scam first came to light when users noticed a Canadian ISP by the name of "Cable Gator" offering users 200 Mbps service in regions that can't get those speeds.
Last week reports emerged
that ESPN has at least been in talks to take AT&T up on their idea of cap-exempt content contracts. In short, AT&T has been pitching content companies on the idea of paying AT&T a toll that would allow users of their specific content to bypass user caps.
The Justice Department is under fire for obtaining two months of telephone records for twenty different lines used by reporters and editors for The Associated Press. Said data included phone numbers, names, calls made, and potentially call duration. story continues..
Cablevision's quarterly earnings
this week indicated that the company posted a net loss of $16.1 million for the quarter, while also seeing a drop in video revenues and a quarterly loss of about 4,700 customers. The company did add 23,000 broadband and 23,000 Internet voice subscribers on the quarter, increasing those customer totals to 2.8 million and 2.3 million, respectively. Cablevision insists that a large part of their problems relate to continued Sandy recovery, and that they still haven't been able to contact many of the customers hit hardest by the storm last fall. Cablevision's continued struggles come after a stretch of high profile executive departures from the company
, which have also been accompanied by renewed rumors of a possible sale
As I've been discussing
, law enforcement and intelligence agencies are making a strong new push to mandate backdoors in e-mail, cloud storage services, social networking websites and other encrypted services to make real-time wiretapping easier. As part of this effort to overhaul CALEA, the DOJ has even gone so far as to propose that ISPs be fined for failure to comply
Things are going from bad to worse for copyright troll Prenda Law, who tried to make a revenue stream out of threatening copyrighted porn downloaders to net cash settlements. The firm ran afoul of U.S.
CenturyLink users report that the company is suffering what appears to be a nationwide broadband outage across a significant portion of the company's 38 state footprint. Users in our forums
in locations ranging from Olathe, Kansas to Fort Hood Texas say they're unable to get any broadband connectivity whatsoever, and that the company's support lines have been busy for the last few hours.
Windstream users say that they've spent much of today unable to use Windstream phone service. A statement
posted to our forums by the company insists the outage only impacts 1-800 numbers, though users say that the outage impacts all long distance service and some local calls.
According to Prolexic, a company that sells DDoS protection, the average DDoS attack strength has jumped 718% in a very short period of time. According to the company's latest annual attack report
, the average DDoS attack went from 5.9Gbps to 48.25Gbps in just one quarter. Ten percent of all attacks clocked in at 60Gbps, and the biggest attack Prolexic saw was 130 Gbps. The company believes that last month's claimed attack of 300 Gbps was over-inflated nonsense
, even if attack size and scope is surging. Why the soaring potency? Prolexic blames two things: cheaper botnets for hire and open and misconfigured DNS resolvers
The Canadian wireless market very briefly showed signs of competitive life over the last few years as smaller upstarts like Wind Mobile appeared, despite the very best efforts of incumbent companies
to prevent that from ever happening. A few years on however, and many of these smaller operators are preparing to sell themselves off -- to the same large, anti-competitive incumbents they were supposed to help keep in check. Telus appears poised to buy Mobilcity
, Public Mobile has hired investment bankers to find a buyer
, and rumblings of Wind being sold (potentially to Rogers, barring regulatory objection) have been stumbling around since January
Every so often we see a carrier get the bright idea to use modern network technology to inject their ads into website content -- and once publicized they become very short-lived affairs. You might recall that Mediacom got busted for this back in 2011
AT&T West employees in California and Nevada are currently reporting to work, but have threatened to strike if they can't strike a new deal with AT&T. According to Southern California Public Radio
, the 18,000 workers and CWA members rejected a new contract proposal from AT&T last week over wages and benefits. As is usually the case, AT&T says they have a "contingency workforce of well-trained managers and vendors" to handle the workload disruption if a strike happens, though a strike will of course mean major delays in DSL and U-Verse installs and repairs.
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