Super-Fast Google Fiber Could Be Coming to a City Near You

Google may soon increase Internet speeds across America by a factor of 100 as the search giant explores expanding its Google Fiber across the nation. The service currently operates out of Kansas City, Missouri, and is opening new “fiberhoods” in Kansas and Missouri. Google CEO Larry Page and CFO Patrick Pichette have told reporters that the super-fast Internet experiment is more than a hobby for the company. Continue reading Super-Fast Google Fiber Could Be Coming to a City Near You

CES 2013: President Clinton Surprises at Samsung Keynote

The man who sent the first email into space took to the stage to talk about technology’s role in improving the planet. Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States and ambassador for Samsung’s Hope For Children Foundation, was the closing act at the keynote presentation by Samsung Device Solutions President Stephen Woo at the Venetian Hotel Wednesday. Continue reading CES 2013: President Clinton Surprises at Samsung Keynote

Will Failure of Internet Self-Regulation Lead to Do-Not-Track Option?

“If you want to see how industry self-regulation can fall short, take a look at the online advertising business and the fight over a do-not-track protocol to protect consumer privacy,” suggests the Wall Street Journal. “It would seem to be in business’s interest to keep customers happy,” notes the article, “to give those who want it the guarantee that they aren’t being tracked on the Internet.” Continue reading Will Failure of Internet Self-Regulation Lead to Do-Not-Track Option?

Browser Evaluation: Is Google Chrome Superior to Internet Explorer?

  • Although only 13 percent of Internet users have chosen Google Chrome thus far, Digital Trends makes a compelling argument why the browser may be a step above competitors such as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera.
  • The author believes Chrome is a leader in speed, compatibility and Web page rendering — and credits the V8 JavaScript engine for the browser’s superior performance.
  • “Chrome remains the unchallenged performance leader. Peacekeeper browser benchmark scores for Chrome are much higher than they are for other browsers — in fact, when compared to IE9, the latest version can almost double Internet Explorer’s score.”
  • The post includes tips for installing Chrome, understanding the interface, helpful shortcuts, bookmarking and downloads, security and privacy settings and more.
  • “It’s an impressive suite, and generally better than what other browsers offer by default,” suggests Digital Trends. “But some of its biggest advantages — such as its speed — are only apparent after using the browser for a few minutes.”

Future of the Internet: Do Web Technologies Need an Owner?

  • Software engineer Joe Hewitt proposed in a recent blog post that Web technologies may need an owner, and the assumption that the Web must not be controlled by anyone is a dangerous one. “The HTML, CSS, and JavaScript triumvirate are just another platform, like Windows and Android and iOS,” he writes, “except that unlike those platforms, they do not have an owner to take responsibility for them.”
  • He also suggests that “the arrogance of Web evangelists is staggering” since they “place ideology above relevance.”
  • Standards bodies cannot create the kind of cutting edge platforms developers need like they are doing with iOS, Android and Windows.
  • “My prediction is that, unless the leadership vacuum is filled, the Web is going to retreat back to its origins as a network of hyperlinked documents,” writes Hewitt. “The Web will be just another app that you use when you want to find some information, like Wikipedia, but it will no longer be your primary window. The Web will no longer be the place for social networks, games, forums, photo sharing, music players, video players, word processors, calendaring, or anything interactive. Newspapers and blogs will be replaced by Facebook and Twitter and you will access them only through native apps.”

Bar Fights: Videogame Fans Muscle their Way into Sports Bars

  • Sports bars have become venues for live Internet videogame matches between professional gamers.
  • The events attract a large numbers of gaming fans that have already been watching alone at home, but are attracted to the energy and screams of other fans. One tournament in July attracted some 85,000 online viewers via Twitch.tv.
  • “This summer, ‘Starcraft II’ has become the newest barroom spectator sport,” according to The Wall Street Journal. “Fans organize so-called Barcraft events, taking over pubs and bistros from Honolulu to Florida and switching big-screen TV sets to Internet broadcasts of professional game matches happening often thousands of miles away.”
  • The “Starcraft” franchise is very popular in Korea, where two cable stations provide dedicated coverage of “Starcraft II” (in addition to “Halo,” “Counter-Strike” and “Call of Duty”). Fervor for public viewings is spilling into the U.S. for the first time.
  • “This feels like the World Cup,” said one Barcraft attendee recently in San Francisco. “You experience the energy and screams of everyone around you when a player makes an amazing play.”

Internet Radio for Vehicles Set To Explode: Pandora Driving Demand

  • The number of vehicles worldwide with Internet radio service is projected to grow from 168,000 in 2010 to 24 million in 2018, according to IHS iSuppli.
  • U.S. sales alone are expected to move from 149,000 to 10.9 million during the same period.
  • “The next several years will see an explosion in the use of in-vehicle apps in cars, driven by booming shipments of automobiles employing head units designed to integrate Cloud-based content,” says IHS. “These apps, whether built into cars or provided via connected mobile devices like smartphones, will provide a range of infotainment, entertainment, remote diagnostics and navigation services. Internet radio is expected to lead the in-vehicle app revolution.”
  • The study concludes that the following are currently driving demand: Pandora, iHeartRadio, Slacker and Spotify (and in the Cloud: Apple’s iCloud, Google Music and Amazon’s Cloud Drive).

Where Would We Be Today if the World Wide Web had Been Patented?

  • August 6 marked the 20th anniversary of Tim Berners-Lee publishing the first website at CERN. Techdirt provides a few guesses regarding where we might stand today had Berners-Lee sought and received a patent for the World Wide Web.
  • The article suggests that innovation would be dramatically limited and rather than an open World Wide Web, we would be using proprietary, walled gardens such as AOL, Compuserve and Prodigy. The idea of open Internet development would be hampered by lawsuits.
  • Search functionality would most likely be dismal (no Google, for example), and limited to proprietary systems. We may also not have seen the meteoric rise of smartphones without the Web.
  • And try to imagine this: “Most people’s use of online services would be more about ‘consumption’ than ‘communication.’ There would still be chat rooms and such, but there wouldn’t be massive public communication developments like blogs and Twitter. There might be some social networking elements, but they would be very rudimentary within the walled garden.”
  • What are your thoughts? If Berners-Lee had not been so generous, would innovation be stalled in patent hell? Or would we have moved forward with other systems in development at the time?

FCC Study Reveals Broadband Internet Closer to Advertised Speeds

  • A study released last week by the FCC reports that broadband Internet speeds in the U.S. are within 80 percent of the speeds advertised by Internet Service Providers. The study calls this a “significant improvement” from just two years ago, when some ISPs were delivering Internet at less than half the advertised speed.
  • The study looked at 13 U.S. broadband providers delivering Internet over cable, DSL, and fiber-optic services. Overall, Verizon’s service was best at meeting or exceeding advertised speeds, while Cablevision’s was the worst.
  • There are currently no sanctions or enforcement mechanisms in place to punish ISPs for advertising faster Internet than they deliver, a situation that some public interest groups insist must change.
  • The study comes as the FCC is promoting its National Broadband Plan, a roadmap expanding Internet speed and availability nationwide.
  • A full copy of the report, as well as the raw data from the study, are available at the FCC website: fcc.gov.

IEEE Publishes 802.22 Standard for Wireless Internet

  • The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) published the 802.22 standard for Wireless Regional Area Networks (WRANs), designed to make wireless Internet widely available in sparsely populated areas.
  • The new standard sends and receives data in the so-called “whitespaces,” the places in the UHF and VHF spectra between TV broadcast signals.
  • IEEE claims the standard will allow transmission of data at speeds of up to 22 Mbps, and will be able to communicate over distances as great as 100 kilometers without interfering with reception of existing TV broadcast stations.
  • In addition to channel specifications, the standard addresses “the required cognitive radio capabilities including dynamic spectrum access, incumbent database access, accurate geo-location techniques, spectrum sensing, spectrum etiquette, and coexistence for optimal use of the available spectrum.”

Op-Ed: The Internet Cannot Remain Free Forever

  • Brian Barrett of Gizmodo provides a compelling and timely opinion piece that addresses various issues related to the current and future cost structure of online media (“The Biggest Lie the Internet Ever Told: Free Everything, All the Time”).
  • Barrett’s post reminds us that the Internet is still in its infancy — and online media is still essentially in beta, and as it continues to grow we should accept that not all content can remain available for free.
  • We’ve seen an interesting collection of revenue and advertising models in recent years that were designed to keep up with online media distribution and related technological advances (all of which are really still in beta form) — as well as a steadily climbing level of consumer demand.
  • Barrett points out that in order to move forward we may need to recognize the need for paid subscriptions and get past the philosophy that everything on the Internet is meant to be free.
  • He cites recent examples of online media approaches that have drawn criticism (“each one a flaming arrow launched straight at the heart of free”), such as Hulu Plus, the New York Times paywall, the TIME magazine paywall, and Fox’s recent decision to delay new episodes from streaming.

Advisory Committee Releases Report on Closed Captioning of Internet Video

  • The Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee (VPAAC) released its report to the FCC last week on the closed captioning of IP-video programming (a PDF of the report is available from the Broadcast Law Blog).
  • VPAAC (co-chaired by Vince Roberts, chairman of the board for ETC@USC) submitted the report as required by the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act passed in October.
  • ETCentric member Brad Collar points out this will require closed captions be included in Internet distributed programming (the Accessibility Act requested rules requiring that once a program has aired on television with closed captions, any subsequent online distribution must also include closed captions).
  • The VPAAC report proposes a compliance schedule based on the date of the FCC’s revised rules: programming that has been prerecorded and unedited for Internet distribution (within six months), live and near-live programming (within 12 months), and programming that has been prerecorded and substantially edited for Internet distribution (within 18 months).
  • The report also includes recommendations for performance objectives, technical requirements and capabilities related to online closed captioning.

Over-the-Top TV: Growing Numbers from Generation Y

  • Nearly a quarter of Generation Y viewers are now opting for Internet-connected TVs over broadcast.
  • A new survey from Knowledge Networks indicates viewers 13 to 31 are more likely to cut the cord than other generations.
  • Of this demographic, 44 percent still watch regular prime-time broadcasts, compared with 66 percent of baby boomers.
  • It is interesting to note that Generation Y also uses DVRs significantly less than Gen Xers.
  • Multichannel News asks: “Will the younger generation at some point subscribe to ‘real’ TV? Or do their current media-consumption habits point toward an eventual decline of traditional television viewing?”

Piracy Takes to Broadway with The Book of Mormon

  • Trey Parker’s “The Book of Mormon” has joined the growing collection of pirated media available on the Internet.
  • In what may be a first for Broadway musicals, a bootlegger shot the popular award-winning production on video and made it available online.
  • The recording was made in March and is now available as a 1GB download on sharing sites.

Proposal: Develop a New Internet to Address Cybersecurity

  • The U.S. may want to create a new, more secure Internet infrastructure that would support critical services like banking, suggests former CIA director Michael Hayden.
  • The public Web would not be able to access this network making it more secure from the threat of cyberattacks.
  • Visitors on the secure network would need certified credentials. There would be no privacy. And network operators could scan traffic content.
  • The Obama administration and Congressional lawmakers are working on cybersecurity legislation that would increase oversight of commercial and government networks.

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