Tech Leaders: NSA Damages Digital Economy

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) convened a roundtable on “The Impact of Mass Surveillance on the Digital Economy,” at Palo Alto High School — the same gym where the Senator held a school record of leading scorer in basketball.

Wyden, now better known as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, was flanked by executives and lawyers from some of U.S. tech’s biggest companies: Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Dropbox.

The hour-long session shifted from talk about the digital economy to the risks posed by government surveillance programs to human-to-human communications.

Wyden cited a study from Forrester Research that found that surveillance concerns could cost U.S. companies a quarter of their foreign revenue by 2016.

According to Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith:

“The fundamental issue is pretty straightforward. It’s all about trust. And it is personal to people. Just as people would not put their money in a bank they don’t trust, they will be reluctant to store their personal information in a data center or on a phone that they don’t trust. These issues have undermined people’s trust in American technology, and that’s a shame.”

“If you’re a consumer or a company, you own your email, your text messages, your photos and all the content that you create,” he said. “Even when you put your content in our data centers or on devices that we make, you still own it and you are entitled to the legal protection under our Constitution and our laws. We will not rebuild trust until our government recognizes that fundamental principle.”

Congress has been considering reforms to U.S. digital communication laws, particularly the USA FREEDOM Act. But those efforts have been slow going, reports the Washington Post. With only a bare majority of Americans opposed to U.S. government anti-terrorism surveillance, the event was likely a preview of how the issue will be framed when Congress returns to session: as a personal affront to American citizens, to U.S.-based technology entrepreneurs and to the global community.

“The simplest outcome is we’re going to end up breaking the Internet,” said Google’s Schmidt. Foreign governments, he said, are “eventually going to say, we want our own Internet in our country because we want it to work our way, and we don’t want the NSA and these other people in it.”

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said the spying scandal will continue to impact Google and other tech companies.

The impact is “severe and is getting worse,” Schmidt said. “We’re going to wind up breaking the Internet.”

FCC: Better Rural Broadband & 5G Spectrum

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wants to see to the program that provides subsidies for Internet service in public schools and libraries known as E-Rate address broadband access by schools and libraries in rural areas, reports Roll Call.

In prepared remarks for an education technology event in Washington on Monday, Wheeler said that “75 percent of rural public schools today are unable to achieve the high-speed connectivity goals we have set.” He pointed to lack of access to fiber networks and the cost of paying for it when it’s available.

Wheeler says the FCC has set a clear target of $1 billion per year for Wi-Fi based internal networks for schools and libraries. “As a result, we will begin to see results in the next funding year, with expanded support for Wi-Fi to tens of millions of students and thousands of libraries”.

Wheeler’s speech comes after the FCC made changes to the E-Rate program this summer. Wheeler’s earlier plan to shake up the program was only partly successful — his FCC colleagues agreed to make more money available for Wi-Fi, as Wheeler proposed in June, but only if the money isn’t needed for basic Internet connections.

In other news, in announcing its agenda for its Oct. 17 open meeting, the FCC said it will vote on a Notice of Inquiry to “explore innovative developments in the use of spectrum above 24 GHz for mobile wireless services, and how the Commission can facilitate the development and deployment of those technologies.”

In a blog post, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wrote that the inquiry is aimed at broadening the FCC’s “understanding of the state of the art in technological developments that will enable the use of millimeter wave spectrum above 24 GHz for mobile wireless services.”

“Historically, mobile wireless services have been targeted at bands below 3 GHz due to technological and practical limitations. However, there have been significant developments in antenna and processing technologies that may allow the use of higher frequencies – in this case those above 24 GHz – for mobile applications”, wrote the Chairman.

5G or 5th generation wireless systems is expected to be the next major phase of mobile telecommunications standards and use frequencies above 5-6 GHz (where more spectrum is available. 5G does not describe any particular specification in any official document published by any telecommunication standardization body, and is expected to deliver over 10 Gbps, compared to 1 Gbps in 4G. It is expected to be first utilized for backhaul to cell sites.

Currently, Ubiquiti’s AirFiber has set the standard in 24 GHz at $3K for 700 Mbps while SAF, Trango, and others have announced similar products at $5000 or less.

Regarding “net neutrality”, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler says financial arrangements between broadband providers and content sites might be OK so long as the agreement is “commercially reasonable” and companies disclose publicly how they prioritize Internet traffic.

Not everyone agrees. Netflix and much of the public accuses the FCC of handing the Internet over to the highest bidders. There is no deadline for the FCC to pass a new rule, and deliberations at the agency could continue into next year.

Proponents of government-owned broadband networks claim they introduce competition into the market, while critics say they are an inappropriate use of tax dollars and an example of government improperly competing with the private sector.

The 3G4G Blog, compiled by Zahid Ghadialy, is perhaps the most comprehensive site covering 5G technology news.

Google Joins New Submarine Cable Partnership

Google is investing in another submarine cable project — at least its third in the last six years – reports Light Reading.

Google is one of the partners in the FASTER subsea consortium, which just tapped NEC to build out a $300 million Trans-Pacific cable. The other partners in FASTER are China Mobile, China Telecom, KDDI, SingTel and Global Transit.

FASTER will feature 6-fiber-pair cable with an initial design capacity of 60Tb/s (100Gb/s x 100 wavelengths x 6 fiber-pairs).

Google also invested in the Trans-Pacific Unity Cable and the Southeast Asia-Japan Cable (SJC) in recent years.

The Southeast Asia-Japan Cable (SJC) became operational in June, 2013, providing residents in seven countries with greater Internet connectivity.

Google reportedly retains ownership in more than 100,000 fiber route miles around the world. Fellow web titan Facebook also has invested in at least one submarine cable and, like Google, has been viewed as a potential acquirer or investor in others.

Below is a picture of WCI and Southern Cross oceanic cables dangling over an Oregon river after a washout in 2008. Both oceanic cables make landfall at Nedonna Beach. The fiber is layed along the Tillamook Bay Railroad which runs down the coast and into Portland. They start at the West Coast cable landing station at Nedonna Beach.

WCI Cable is a wholesale provider of fiber-optic communications service connecting major Alaska markets to the continental United States. It relays traffic from users like the Alaska Satellite Facility (ASF) which downloads data from polar orbiting platforms like RadarSat. Southern Cross connects to Hawaii, Fiji, Australia (PineGap?) and New Zealand; with connections for two other carriers that connect to Japan, South Korea, Mainland China and Taiwan.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Google’s Transpacific Fiber Ready , Unity Cable Gets Checked, Google + SingTel = Unity Submarine Fiber, Google: Now it’s Transpacific Fiber, and Fiber Crosses the Pond.

Oceanic Fiber: Threat and Promise

Builtvisible has a detailed history of undersea cables along with their role in espionage, starting with Operation Ivy Bells through the USS Jimmy Carter and the latest threats from earthquakes and terrorists.

Some factoids from the story:

  • There are 277 undersea fibre optic cables in the world today.
  • These cables carry 99% of all international communications, including Internet and telecom traffic.
  • They span a total of 986,543 km, and each day route a quantity of data equivalent to several hundred US Libraries of Congress.
  • Global Internet traffic in 2013 was approximately 51 exabytes and will increase to 132 exabytes by 2018
  • National economies are at risk when cable systems are disrupted.
  • Over 80% of international fibre optic data from Latin America currently routes through the United States
  • Modern tapping can be accomplished in one of two ways: either by splicing the cable or by bending the cable to a point where it begins to leak data.
  • The Guardian revealed how British intelligence agency GCHQ was intercepting data
  • Reuters reports that the EU has threatened to suspend data transfer agreements with the US until Washington strengthens guarantees to protect the privacy of EU citizens.
  • In December 2006 communications were rocked across Asia when the Hengchun earthquake severed a whopping 80% of the cables connecting Taiwan with the rest of the world.
  • Concerns over data terrorism are aimed at the cable infrastructure
  • Three men were arrested off the coast of Alexandria for allegedly cutting the SEA-ME-WE 4 cable connecting much of East Africa, to the rest of world. Damage to the cable affected 614 networks connected to Telecom Egypt.
  • UAVs require 500Mbps of bandwidth each to function. Their missions depend massively on global network reliability
  • The objective of initiatives like Project Loon and Oluvus is ubiquitous and democratic access to the Internet.

The OptIPuter is a personal supercomputer that instantaneously connects to global databases as fast as local hard drives. The OptIPuter uses dedicated (not shared) 10-GigE optical strands that users can “dial up”.

The global dependency of oceanic fiber and the vastness of the ocean indicates there probably have been and will continue to be terrorists threats on fiber.

How far surveillance should go will be debated for the foreseeable future. The growth of cellular and the Internet of Things will soon expand fiber’s global impact.

Related Dailywireless articles include; NSA Spying Threatens Global Internet?, NSA’s Cable Tapping Explained, Ocean Observatory Network Lands in Oregon, Google’s Transpacific Fiber Ready, Google + SingTel = Unity Submarine Fiber, Google: Now it’s Transpacific Fiber, NSA’s Utah Data Center, NSA Revelations: “Tip of the Iceberg”, Snowden: Hero or Traitor?, Fiber Crosses the Pond, The Other Atlantis, Surveillance State, Top Secret America: The Book, The Telephone Game, How Your Location & Preferences are Recorded, Behavioral Targeting: Kill/Capture, Google Vs The Feds, US Government: More Surveillance Power, The Secret Patriot Act, Facebook Invests in Asian Oceanic Fiber , Transoceanic Fiber Upgraded, Underwater Streetview, NSA Stores Social MetaData on US Persons

More Broadband Subs Than Video Subs

US MSOs will soon have more broadband subscribers than video subscribers for the first time in the industry’s 65-year history, reports Moody’s.

In a new report issued last week, Moody’s Investors Service predicts that US cable operators will have more high-speed data customers than pay TV customers by next year. It calculates the crossover point is already occurring, with both services now boasting about 50 million subscribers.

A Pew Research Center study showed that 53% of adults said it would be “very hard or impossible” to give up their broadband service while just 35% said the same for TV.

Several major US MSOs already have more broadband customers than video customers.

Both Time Warner Cable and Charter — the second- and fourth-largest US MSOs — now have more broadband than video customers.

Cablevision Systems may well have reached the crossover point at the end of the second quarter.

But companies with significant overlap with Verizon’s FiOS and AT&T’s uVerse, such as Cablevision and Time Warner Cable, will especially need to invest in a competitive video product to survive, notes Moody’s.

Customers are displaying a slow but steady shift away from cable to satellite or IPTV (fiber, such as Verizon FiOS or AT&T uVerse) television programming.

Verizon sold its western holdings to Frontier Communications and is not laying new fiber. At the close of 2013, AT&T had 10 million uVerse high-speed Internet customers while Verizon had about 5.5 million FiOS customers.

Tour de France 2014

The 101st Tour de France (NY Times, Wikipedia and Twitter), began on Saturday July 5, 2014 and continues until July 27, 2014.

The 21-stage race began in Yorkshire, U.K., and stretches across Europe including Spain and Belgium. The race spans a total of 3,664 kilometers (or approximately 2277 miles).

Some 3.5 billion people watch some part of the 4,700 hours of television coverage. It’s the most-watched sports event in the world after the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. Unlike the other two, the Tour de France does not stay put in a few stadiums.

Broadcasting live to more than 180 countries from 21 stages over the course of a month is one of the most difficult challenges in broadcasting. Almost 200 riders compete over huge distances, many of which snake up and down isolated mountain passes.

This year they have experimented with fitting small cameras to riders, even though the footage can only be accessed after the race. Virgin Media used Siklu’s tiny Gigabit 60GHz radio for backhauling WiFi hotspots in Leeds, England.

Orange, a French communications multinational supplied infrastructure for the event. Cycling fans can follow live each of the stages directly on their PCs via the Orange portal. There are lots of apps, of course, on the Google Play and Apple’s Appstore

Fans have been risking life and limb to snap a selfies at the 2014 Tour.

Comcast’s NBC is charging $4.99 a day for live coverage.

Every morning, 25 engineers start building a communications headquarters from scratch, based in four trucks that travel from town to town. One truck is for the press, the second for photographers, and the third for broadcasters. The fourth truck is the heart of the communications infrastructure for the world’s media. The Orange Event trucks connect fiber to the France Telecom network and via satellites.

The feed is sent to one of two identical trucks provided by Orange, which provides all the communications infrastructure for the Tour. It is piped into high-bandwidth fiber optic lines and sent back to France, from where it is beamed to 185 countries and broadcast live with a delay of less than a second. Networks can add their own commentary on top.

Orange in partnership with EuroMedia France (formerly SFP), manages the Tour’s TV broadcasting.

EuroMedia provides motorcycle cameras, helicopters and aircraft in order to ensure broadcast (especially in the mountains). Images from motorcycle cameras are transmitted via high-frequency links to helicopters flying at 600 meters altitude that then retransmit them to aircraft flying at 3000 meters.

The aircraft then broadcast the image to the town where the finish line is located, via 4 HF aerials mounted on a crane 50 meters up. Out of the 4 aerials, 2 are used exclusively to receive images, while the other 2 are used to coordinate helicopters and motorcycle cameras with the production team.

Coverage of the race inside the 1750 m long Croix-Rousse tunnel in Lyon was made possible thanks to the special receiver system installed inside the tunnel.

NBC has online coverage of the Tour de France. Live video is shown in the upper left, but one can toggle the video to full screen.

The text column on the right has frames showing the peloton and other rider groups and a curated, Twitter-like news feed. The graphic frame at the bottom has five optional modes.

Orange telecom customers can access exclusive content on their mobile phones and tablet. Orange launched LTE-A this month in select cities, utilizing carrier aggregation encompassing frequencies in the 800MHz and 2600MHz bands, which will provide downlink transmission speeds of up to 75Mbps (800MHz) and 150Mbps (2600MHz) respectively, to deliver a combined download rate of 225Mbps.

Orange is installing Ericsson RBS 6000 base stations in Paris, as well as in the south-west and north-east regions of France. Orange plans to deploy LTE-A in early 2015 in 14 of the most densely populated cities, and expand outward. Orange expects 4G roaming will be available across Orange’s European footprint by the end of 2014.

The announcement came on the back of the commercial launch of rival Bouygues Telecom’s LTE-A network in Lyon, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Vanves, Issy-les-Moulineaux, Malakoff and Rosny-sous-Bois in June. It aggregates frequencies in the 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz spectrum bands. Residential users can access the LTE-A network using the Bbox Nomad mobile hotspot (above).

France is forecast to hit 10 million LTE connections within five years, accounting for close to one in eight of the country’s total connections by 2017.

More Tour de France news is available from Cycling News, BBC, ITV, Sky Sports, Reddit’s Page, NBC Facebook page and NBC’s $15 app. Digital Trends explains how to watch the 2014 Tour de France.