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Study show competition in cable companies reduce prices, and increase internet speeds

When gigabit Internet comes to town, it could mean savings for consumers   FTTH COUNCIL    Oct.25 2016 Good news for consumers: the growth and competition in ultra-high speed broadband services in your area may mean more money in your pocket — and better services across the board! This week, the Fiber to the Home Council is in Minneapolis with Broadband Communities for a conference focusing on how communities can reap the economic benefits of ultra-high speed services. We have a growing body of evidence that bringing ultra-high speed service to community supports economic development: Our research shows that having access to gigabit fiber-to-the-home connections can increase your home’s valuation by up to 3.1%. That’s roughly equivalent to adding a fireplace, just under half the value of a bathroom or a quarter of a swimming pool to your home. And our research out this summer shows that this finding extends to condos and apartment buildings. Not only does fiber increase the value of your home, it also increases the GDP of your community. A 2014 FTTH Council study found higher per capita GDP (1.1%) in communities where gigabit Internet was available. In dollar terms, the 14 gigabit communities analyzed by the FTTH Council enjoyed approximately $1.4 billion in additional GDP over other similarly situated communities. In another real life application, look at Kansas City, Missouri. Google Fiber introduced its product to this midwestern city in 2012. Just one year later, ratings agency Fitch upgraded the city’s bond ratings from “negative” to “stable.” Why? The city’s growing gigabit offerings had “already attract[ed] a number of smaller Internet and data companies,” bringing in new... read more

Comcast use page out of Wells Fargo playbook; gets fined record millions for ripping off customers

by John Eggerton The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau says the nation’s largest cable operators, Comcast, has agreed to pay the largest civil penalty assessed a cable operator—$2.3 million—to settle an investigation into whether it charged customers for services and equipment they did not authorize or so-called “negative option billing.” Comcast says it was already making fixes and has been “laser focused” on customer service. “It is basic that a cable bill should include charges only for services and equipment ordered by the customer—nothing more and nothing less,” said Enforcement Bureau chief Travis LeBlanc.  “We expect all cable and phone companies to take responsibility for the accuracy of their bills and to ensure their customers have authorized any charges.” The FCC said it had received “numerous” consumer complaints about being charged for premium channels or set-top boxes or DVRs even though they had declined those services or had not ordered the equipment. The cable operator will also be required to implement a detailed program for redressing disputed charges in a standardized and expedient fashion, and limits adverse action (such as referring an account to collections or suspending service) while a disputed charge is being investigated. Comcast will send confirmation of any new products or charges separate from monthly bills. Comcast says it was already in the process of making such changes and agrees with the fixes. Under the terms of the settlement, Comcast will implement a five-year compliance program to obtain “affirmative, informed consent” before charging for any new service or equipment. It will also send confirmation of any new products or charges separate from monthly bills. Comcast disputed the specific allegations’ illegality,... read more

United Nation say US owe African American Reparation for slavery and terrorism

The history of slavery in the United States justifies reparations for African Americans, argues a recent report by a U.N.-affiliated group based in Geneva. This conclusion was part of a study by the United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, a body that reports to the international organization’s High Commissioner on Human Rights. The group of experts, which includes leading human rights lawyers from around the world, presented its findings to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday, pointing to the continuing link between present injustices and the dark chapters of American history. “In particular, the legacy of colonial history, enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality in the United States remains a serious challenge, as there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent,” the report stated. “Contemporary police killings and the trauma that they create are reminiscent of the pastracial terror of lynching.” Citing the past year’s spate of police officers killing unarmed African American men, the panel warned against “impunity for state violence,” which has created, in its words, a “human rights crisis” that “must be addressed as a matter of urgency.” The panel drew its recommendations, which are nonbinding and unlikely to influence Washington, after a fact-finding mission in the United States in January. At the time, it hailed the strides taken to make the American criminal justice system more equitable but pointed to the corrosive legacy of the past. “Despite substantial changes since the end of the enforcement of Jim Crow and the fight for civil rights, ideology ensuring the domination of one... read more
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