The new FCC chairman wants to dismantle the rule that equalizes access to the Internet. If he succeeds, it will hurt all of us.

This alarming turn of events comes on the heels of Congress voting to roll back a Federal Communication Commission (FCC) rule, which eroded consumers’ abilities to keep their information private from internet service providers.

Net neutrality is a fairly basic first step to be sure we all have access to Internet, and at the same terms of pricing and speed.

Net neutrality rules were first put in place in 2015 when the FCC determined that broadband Internet service providers were to be considered “common carriers” – entities that provide an important service to the public relating to moving things (in this case, data) from place to place – and prohibiting them from charging customers different rates for different speeds.

Now Pai is making a case for reversing those rules.

Chairman Pai stated on April 26th that Title II (net neutrality) is adversely affecting low income rural and urban neighborhoods and widening the digital divide (see ~28:10 in the linked video) because investment in internet infrastructure went down between 2014 and 2016.

Pai said that during that same time period (see ~27:36 in the linked video), “According to one estimate by the non-profit Free State Foundation, Title II has already cost our country $5.1 billion in broadband capital investment. Given the multiplier effect from such spending, that means Title II has already cost us approximately 75,000 to 100,000 jobs.”

The connection between Title II, job losses, and net neutrality is theoretical and shaky at best. Correlation isn’t causation – and the Free State Foundation (FSF) “think tank” consists of a former FCC Associate General Counsel, his wife, and a few Fellows who regularly quote Chairman Pai in their materials and whose non-profit 990 tax return doesn’t reveal their donors. FSF has ties to the conservative leaning American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) through Seth Cooper, who joined FSF as a research fellow in 2010. Mr. Cooper is the former director of the ALEC Telecommunications and Information Technology Task Force and acts as Amicus Counsel for ALEC.

What is Net Neutrality?

Net neutrality in its ideal form is when all Internet traffic (emails, streaming video, music, etc.) is treated equally without preference for or against any particular type, or source, of data. Data creators and users are thereby treated by owners of the connection (the Internet Service Providers, ISPs) without bias – i.e. neutrally. The ISPs can’t price access differently for different application service providers (i.e. Netflix) based on who they are, and can’t give one application service provider a speed advantage over another in return for more money.

Until recently, ISPs could not look at the data that flowed through the pipe, but now they can, and they can sell it, as a result of the rollback of Internet privacy rules this month. Net neutrality thereby allows the Internet to be a free and open market; in this case a market that underpins basic household needs and foundational commercial transactions, both large and small.

To illustrate, imagine one super-sized highway, with multiple lanes. There are four ambulances carrying four heart-attack patients to the hospital. One patient pays for fast lane service; three can’t afford it. The patient who can afford more gets to his destination a lot more quickly – but if every patient deserves the same opportunity for basic services, then access to the road should the same for everyone. That’s net neutrality in a nutshell.

Without net neutrality, it’s the same highway – but with multiple paid express lanes that have no speed limit for some, while others are stuck in specific lanes with lots of traffic and varying speed limits.

Net neutrality and free markets

In America, we generally support the notion of free markets, believing that markets work better and are more fair when unencumbered by burdensome regulations or unfair trade practices. Citizens and businesses have over the years come to require certain basic services and accesses, and attendant rules have evolved in order to balance consumer needs with market forces. Rules are put in place by lawmakers to combat financial fraud, pollution, price fixing, and abusive monopolies, while still allowing for a balance that allows market growth.

Typically, those who lean right politically have supported free market economics, commonly defined as economies “where buyers and sellers can make the deals they wish to make without any interference, except by the forces of demand and supply.” As applied to net neutrality, it is difficult to understand how lawmakers espousing free market principles can support extinguishing the rights of individuals and small businesses to have equal terms and access to the communications channels and tools of education and commerce that each entity and individual should possess.

The rollback of net neutrality is contrary to an individual’s rights and liberties in this modern world, where even your child’s elementary school homework is online, and it also undercuts the most important sector of our economy – small businesses.

While proponents of net neutrality say Big Telecom already has too much power, those opposing net neutrality argue that it gives disproportionate power to the government to govern the Internet – the same government that is incapable of running its own technology. While it’s tough to argue for the competence of the government in this regard, or its speed or efficiency, this point conflates the notion of directing Internet traffic with regulating the companies that provide Internet service, and ensuring that those companies are treating people fairly. The government plays a role in overseeing the equitable use of basic services like water, power and roads, and this is no different.

The impact on Nevadans – less access, diminished ease of use and hard on new businesses

The biggest Internet issue for Nevadans is simple access. This is mostly an issue in the rural areas, but it is also true in some urban areas where the carriers do not earn a high return on establishing residential service.

Although Americans embrace capitalism and the notion of a business’s right to generate a return on investment, they also believe that certain basic services are essential to most American’s ability to survive and thrive: water, power, and telephone communications services are among them. That is why these services have rules that enable all households and businesses to be treated fairly and in a manner that does not impair their ability to fully participate in daily activities and the economy.

Today, Internet connectivity has moved from a luxury to an essential service – as it did in the past with with electricity or the telephone. Indeed, the most financially fragile are the most dependent on the Internet and smartphone connectivity to find employment, housing, and transportation

Recently 56 senators from both parties, including our own Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D), wrote a letter to the FCC stating that “Many operators remain unable or unwilling to offer such broadband because their prices would still be unreasonably high … despite the reforms last year, millions of rural consumers are still not seeing widespread affordable standalone broadband services.”

In May 2016, then-candidate Cortez Masto stated that she would work to ensure “every rural community has access to high-speed broadband, and small businesses have access to necessary capital to keep and create jobs.” She followed up on that in a speech in April to a joint session of the Legislature, “The Internet has become a necessity in today’s society, and no Nevadan should be without access, regardless of where they live.”

Killing the net neutrality laws on the books would make this lack of access worse.

The internet needs to be treated like a utility. In fact, that was the underlying premise when the FCC ruled in 2015 that ISPs (especially high speed Internet) are common carriers. This built on precedent that defines this term such as when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1924 ruled that “A common carrier is generally defined as one who, by virtue of his calling and as a regular business, undertakes to transport persons or commodities from place to place, offering his services to such as may choose to employ him and pay his charges.” In this case the commodity is data.

Why speed matters: Three words – PAGE LOAD TIME

Right now, by law, your Internet Service Provider is required to provide access to all content on the Internet to you at the same speed. This means that your connection to the kid who is starting a cool website out of his basement is the same speed as your connection to Facebook. This matters.

According to a 2008 Aberdeen Group study “A 1-second delay in page load time equals 11 percent fewer page views, a 16 percent decrease in customer satisfaction, and 7 percent loss in conversions.” That difference means that a small business or a tech startup may not be able to get off the ground if they are at the bottom of the speed priority list, while their deeper-pocketed corporate competition thrives.

After all, how often would you really use a retail website that made you wait much longer than Amazon? About as often as you would go that funky neighborhood boutique if you every time you shopped there, you had to wait in line significantly longer than at a major department store.

To see what this could mean, consider this true story. It is January 2005, and three friends named Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim decide to figure out a better way of sharing some videos they had made during a friend’s dinner party in San Francisco. They soon went on to found YouTube – a site where users could easily upload, share and view video content. Now imagine that this video content took forever to load because they couldn’t afford to pay the ISP fees to guarantee fast speeds and priority access. There would likely be no YouTube, and we would not be using YouTube today as a hub for personal creativity, study and work. (Incidentally, YouTube was sold to Alphabet for $1.65 billion in November of 2006. That’s rather notable economic value creation.)

Without net neutrality, the next YouTube, PayPal, or Facebook – web-based products that have clearly contributed both to our economy and well-being through job and value creation, as well as our education and our entertainment – may not be created or will die just after birth.

Killing net neutrality kills the fundamental thing that makes the Internet so great for consumers in the free world: choice. When you kill net neutrality, you take the choice out of the hands of the individual and put it in the hands of their Internet Service Provider. Killing net neutrality not only destroys today’s competition but also stifles tomorrow’s innovation. This creates tremendous disadvantages for the smaller players, and for end users.

Small businesses and startups will be disadvantaged

For the 238,000-plus businesses in Nevada that employ more than 40 percent of the private workforce, loss of net neutrality can and probably will have a large impact – and disproportionately in the rural areas of Nevada and smaller cities that have a greater percentage of their population engaged in commerce generated by small business, versus people working for big corporations.

How much does page load time affect a small business in Nevada? PC911, a leading Las Vegas IT service, video surveillance and security company, used a Content Delivery Network to decrease its average page load time by 22 percent. That improvement alone made the “bounce” rate (how many people leave your website after reading just the page they came to) drop by 28 percent. That’s right: reducing page load speed by one-fifth caused more than one-quarter of the people that visited the website stay and look at other content.

Today’s small businesses are tomorrow’s major companies. “It is estimated that two thirds of the companies that will make up the S&P 500 in 10 years’ time haven’t even been created yet,” according to Michael Hayman. Now more than ever small businesses and startups matter, and slow page load times will drastically affect them.

Further eroding the competitive landscape for small businesses is page load time impact on Internet search results. All search engines use an algorithm to decide what to put on your search results based on a multitude of factors including web page load times. Slow page load times lower your Google and Bing rankings in search results. The lower your website is ranked, the fewer people will see it or initially go to it. Without net neutrality, creativity and merit matters less, or not at all. This results in less opportunity for small businesses to grow into big business and in turn erodes our economic growth.

Population data taken from Nevada Demographics.

Firm data taken from the Small Business Administration.

How does it affect individuals? Higher costs, worse service

A loss of net neutrality means individual consumers, already at the bottom of the pay-to-play totem pole, may have less access and could even have to pay more for existing services.

First, access. A company (especially a startup or small business) will most likely buy higher priority speeds based upon market penetration. They are going to think, “How can I reach the most potential users for the least amount of money?” Clearly buying “fast lane” access in a big city like Las Vegas is going to make much more sense than paying an ISP in Sloan or Tonopah. After all, they are going to spend their money to target a bigger market (i.e. more people) than places that have a smaller market, in part because they have a limited budget. Reduced demand will naturally diminish services over time to smaller markets. If we kill net neutrality, a nationwide company would have to pay every single ISP in America to get priority access to make sure their app works as they tested it. That does not seem affordable.

Without net neutrality, those who will require “fast lane” access to maintain their existing business models – for example Netflix, to which almost 4 out of every 10 households in America subscribes – will most likely be charged more by their ISPs to maintain the same speeds due to the high volume of data it takes to stream video. They will then pass those additional charges down to you, the consumer. To stay competitive without net neutrality, websites and apps like Netflix, Skype, and YouTube will have to increase prices, start charging to maintain the same speeds, or force you to view more ads. This is why Netflix, and others who want to keep their prices low and customers happy, have come out against killing net neutrality.  

Another possibility is that people will pay more for the services they already have without even getting a faster speed. Because ISPs are regional, a company will in all likelihood charge everyone a higher price, instead of charging by area or zip code, which can lead to headline risk – when bad news stories lower a company’s value. So you would pay more for Netflix whether you lived in Los Angeles or Georgetown, South Carolina, but only users in Los Angeles would maintain the speed they already have.

Nevada is a good state-level example of this problem. In Tonopah (89049) there are only three home Internet options and four business Internet options – and only wired Internet or DSL. By contrast, parts of Las Vegas (89118) have four home Internet options and 29 business Internet options including fiber, cable, wired Internet, and DSL. In this case businesses have almost five times as many options in Las Vegas than Tonopah for providing internet, and faster internet options too like cable and fiber internet.

How does it affect the country? It will divide us more.

Killing net neutrality will further divide our country. It will further split those who live in big cities from those who live in smaller communities. The coasts and big cities will have the same access, but everywhere in between could pay higher prices for slower service.

Places such as Hawthorne, Ely, Fallon, and smaller communities in Nevada will suffer the most. Households could end up with different access to technology based solely on the demographics of the area. It will affect how people get their news, educate their children, and find medical resources, among other things.

Killing net neutrality is the best way to turn today’s big tech companies into tomorrow’s robber barons. Consumers will be gouged and small businesses will die before they ever have a chance. We need to speak up to keep the Internet neutral.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will seek public comment in May and then the FCC will formulate a new set of regulations that will require a vote. Some Republicans in Congress have supported open-Internet legislation that would override the FCC rules. Democrats say they will oppose overturning the current rules.

This article was published on thenevadaindependent.com by Heather MurrenBY

Categorized in Business Research

The following is a translation of an article written by Russian journalist Darya Luganskaya. The post has been edited for clarity and length, and reprinted with the author's permission. You can read the original text here

“The Internet was created as a special project by the CIA, and is developing as such,” Vladimir Putin announced three years ago last week. Since then, Russian authorities’ faith in the Internet has declined even further.

Despite this negative reputation among officials, the commercial side of the Russian Internet plays an important part of the country’s economy, accounting for around 1.35 trillion rubles ($23.7 billion), or 2.4 percent of Russian GDP in 2015, according to statistics from the Russian Association for Electronic Communications (RAEC). If officials are seriously thinking about “bringing order” to the Internet, as they say they want to, it’ll be a very costly endeavor. OpenEconomy has learned of three potential ways the authorities might begin to “restore order” to the Internet in the coming years.

1. Total Wiretap

On July 1, 2018, the second part of the so-called “Yarovaya packet,” a set of anti-terror laws prepared by State Duma MP Irina Yarovaya that advances a new way of storing and decoding Internet traffic, will come into force. Service providers including MTS, MegaFon, Beeline, and Rostelecom, will be obligated to store phone call records and user messages, as well as all Internet traffic data (information about who visits which sites, and when) within six months.  This information must be turned over to the security services upon request.

Storing this information is very expensive: TMT Consulting estimates that it will cost the Russian telecommunications market nearly $1.7 trillion rubles ($29.8 billion) in 2016. The Ministry of Communications is talking with the security services about ways to reduce storage tenfold, but the costs will still be enormous.

Participants at the 2014 Internet Entrepreneurship in Russia Forum. Source: Kremlin.ru

Under the rules, Internet services are also obligated to turn over encryption keys to the FSB (the Federal Security Service) upon request or risk being fined, though it's unclear precisely which keys they've requested and from whom. And Kommersant reported in September that the FSB is trying to find a way to decrypt all internet traffic in Russia using Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), despite the fact that it is less effective when sites use the https security protocol, which many major Russian sites do.

Beginning in September 2015, all this personal information was ordered to be stored on Russian soil, forcing foreign companies question whether they wanted to continue operating in Russia. Adding additional servers isn’t cheap, and the political implications of such a move could be costly for their users and their reputations around the world.

In November 2016, LinkedIn was blocked in Russia for violating this order. But this could change — according to Andrei Soldatov, the co-author of “The Fight for the RuNet,” LinkedIn parent company Microsoft has been known to cooperate with Russian authorities. For example, Windows reportedly handed over source code to Russian authorities so that the government would continue to use its products. This appears to have increased the odds that LinkedIn will be unblocked in Russia at some point.

The end of LinkedIn in Russia?

Twitter has long refused to comply with this data localization law, though the company has said that it is reviewing relevant policies for Russian users, and that it may reconsider “where it stores the data of Russian users who have a commercial relationship as advertisers on the platform.” The messaging system Viber and the ride-share app Uber have made similar announcements.

Soldatov belives that Facebook and Google will not hand over users’ personal information to the authorities. Roskomnadzor, the main RuNet regulator, has not yet threatened to block them. And, Soldatov says, they won’t be added to the list of companies that are up for compliance checks anytime soon.

Other countries are taking similar measures to control the internet, Rose Dlougatch, a senior research associate at Freedom House, which releases an annual ranking of Internet freedom around the world, told Open Economy. “In Turkey, PayPal lost its license for violating data localization laws. The Iranian authorities have indicated that communication services will soon have to store data within Iran. At the beginning of 2016, an analogous data localization law was adopted in Kazakhstan. Citizens’ information is thereby made accessible to the authorities and foreign platforms are pushed out of the local market,” Dlougatch explained.

2. Blocking Sites

In 2012, Russian authorities began thinking about a mechanism by which they could control the Internet—a “black list” of websites. Landing on the government’s register of forbidden sites for violating one of the many laws governing Internet content (like those prohibiting propagandizing suicide and drugs, or those banning calls to extremism or terrorism), websites are blocked, often without court review. By the middle of April 2017, free expression news site Roskomsvoboda counted more than 4 million sites that had been blocked in this manner.

Roskomnadzor has repeatedly threatened to block major websites like YouTube, Reddit, Vimeo, and Wikipedia (and access to these sites has been cut for hours at a time). But these warnings are not about the websites as a whole, but rather about specific pages that, according to authorities, violate one law or another. If a site uses the https security protocol, service providers aren’t able to block only a single page, meaning they have to shut down an entire site until the owner decides to remove the content in question.

It’s possible to access blocked sites by using anonymizers like VPN services that mask the location of your IP address, making it look like you are visiting websites from, say, Britain, rather than Russia. And Russians actively use these anonymizers. For example, only Americans use the well-known anonymizer Tor more than Russians, and nearly 12 percent of Tor’s clients are located in Russia.

At the end of April 2017, Vedomosti reported on a Roskomnadzor project aimed at blocking access to tools that allow users to visit blocked websites. Services can avoid being blocked, however, if they voluntarily cut users’ access to sites on Roskomnadzor’s “black list.” Proposed legislation also obligates search engines to prevent blocked websites from appearing in their search results. They could be fined up to 700,000 rubles if they do not comply.

Image: Pixabay and Kremlin Press Service, edited by Kevin Rothrock.

The goal of this initiative is to make it illegal to circumvent blocks and to block major anonymizers. Still, anonymizers aren’t going away.

Vedomosti also reported that rather than blocking specific sites, measures could be taken that make it difficult for users to access sites, including slowing them down. But this would be very difficult and costly to accomplish. According to the Institute for Internet Research, limiting traffic at the subscriber level would require special equipment that could cost as much as $5 billion to develop and implement.

3. An Autonomous RuNet

Finally, Russia is trying to regulate the so-called “critical infrastructure” of the RuNet—Internet exchange points with other countries and the .ru and .рф domain names.

Two years ago at a meeting of the Russian Security Council, Putin instructed state organs to think up ways to maintain the stability of the RuNet if it were to be cut off from the outside world. And at the end of last year, the Ministry of Communications and the FSB discussed legislation on this very topic.

The Ministry proposes bringing traffic onto a single Government Information System, which Vedomosti has reported would be necessary to localize Internet activity. It also proposes moving Internet exchange points under the administrative control of Russian companies, exclusively. Finally, the Ministry wants to introduce a rule mandating that the administrator of a national domain name system is a Russian legal entity and an executive body with power over communications—that is, the Ministry itself.

The FSB, meanwhile, is proposing changes to the Criminal Code for causing damage to or threatening the nation’s critical information infrastructure—with punishments running up to 6 years in prison.

Both proposals have faced loud criticism. Microsoft and Cisco have come out against the FSB’s plan, and the Ministry of Communication’s proposal has not yet been approved by RAEC or expert committees in the government. Neither proposal has become law.

This article was  published on globalvoices.org

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Today, with nearly half the world's population wired to the internet, the ever-increasing connectivity has created global shifts in strategic thinking and positioning, disrupting industry after industry, sector after sector. Seemingly, with each passing day, some new technological tool emerges that revolutionizes our lives, further deepening and embedding our dependence on the world wide web.

And why not? Human beings have always enthralled themselves into one pursuit after another, all with a means to an end of improving our lives. Clearly, the conveniences afforded by the internet are quite literally earth-shattering to say the least. Three decades ago, few could have ever imagined the present state of our on-demand-everything society, with the ability to instantly communicate and conduct business in real-time, at a pace that often seems dizzying at the best of times.

However, with all of these so-called modern conveniences to life, where technology's ever-pervading presence has improved even the most basic tasks for us such as hailing a ride or ordering food or conducting any sort of commerce instantly and efficiently, many are left in the dark. While all of us have become self-professed experts at consuming content and utilizing a variety of tools given to us, all of the noise being created has effectively drowned us in a sea of digital overload.

The truth? Today, rising above the noise and achieving any semblance of visibility has become a monumental undertaking. How are we supposed to get notice while swimming in this sea of misinformation and disinformation? We've become immersed in this guru gauntlet where one expert after another is attempting to teach us how we can get the proverbial word out about our businesses and achieve visibility to drive more leads and sales. But we all still seem to be lost.

It's clear that online marketing is no simple task. And the reason why we've landed in this world of "expert" internet marketers who are constantly cheerleading their offers to help us reach visibility and penetrate the masses is because of the layer of obscurity that's been afforded to us in part thanks to one key player: Google. Google's shrouded algorithms that cloud over 200+ ranking factors in a simple and easy-to-use interface has confounded businesses for well over a decade now.

Understanding Online Marketing

Google's core algorithms and its propensity to shroud its data in layers of obscurity is not something new. However, it is critical to any understanding of marketing on the internet simply because this visibility is at the heart of everything else that you do. Forget about social media and other forms of marketing for the time being. Search engine optimization (SEO) offers up the proverbial key to near-limitless amounts of traffic on the web.

The better you learn and understand SEO and the more strides you take to learn this seemingly confusing and complex discipline, the more likely you'll be to appear organically in search results. And let's face it, organic search is important to marketing online. Considering that most people don't have massive advertising budgets and don't know the first thing about lead magnets, squeeze pages and sales funnels, appearing visible is critical towards long-term success.

When traffic is coming to your website or blog, nearly unfettered, it gives you the opportunity to test out a variety of marketing initiatives. However, without that traffic, you're forced to spend money on costly ads before really determining the effectiveness of your offers and uncovering your cost-per acquisition (CPA), two things which are at the core of scaling out any business online.

I liken this to a paradoxical Catch-22 scenario, because it seems like without one you can't have the other. It takes money to drive traffic, but it takes traffic to make money. So don't make the mistake that millions of other online marketers make around the world. Before you attempt to scale or send any semblance of traffic to your offers, be sure to split-test things to oblivion and determine your conversion rates before diving in headfirst.

Gaining Google's Trust

The biggest problem that most people have when trying to learn anything to do with driving more traffic to their website or boosting their visibility across a variety of online mediums, is that they try to do the least amount of work for the greatest return. They cut corners and they take shortcuts. Because of that, they fail. Today, if you're serious about marketing anything on the web, you have to gain Google's trust.

Gaining Google's trust doesn't happen overnight. It takes time. Think about building up your relationship with anyone. The longer you know that person, the more likely that trust will solidify. So, the reasoning is, that if Google just met you, it's going to have a hard time trusting you. If you want Google to trust you, you have to get other people that Google already trusts, to vouch for you. This is also known as link-building.

But I'm not talking about any kind of link building. I'm talking about organic link building by getting out there and creating insatiable "anchor content" on your website, then linking to that content with equally-great content that's created on authority sites like MediumQuoraLinkedIn and other publishing platforms. It's not easy by any measure. Google is far more wary of newcomers these days than it once used to be.

However, if you're going to understand online marketing, you have to understand the importance of building Google's trust. There are three core components involved here. These three core components are like the pillars of trust that comprise all of Google's 200+ ranking factor rules. Each of those rules can be categorized and cataloged into one of these three pillars of trust. If you want to rank on the first page or in the first spot, you need to focus on all three, and not just one or two out of three.

Trust Component #1: Indexed Age

The first component of Google's trust has to do with age. Age is more than a number. But it's not just the age when you first registered your website. The indexed age has to do with two factors: i) the date that Google originally found your website, and; ii) what happened between the time that Google found your website and the present moment in time.

Just think about any relationship for a moment. How long you've known a person is incredibly important. It's not the be-all-end-all, but it is fundamental to trust. If you've known someone for years and years and other people that you know who you already trust can vouch for that person, then you're far more likely to trust them, right? But if you've just met someone, and haven't really vetted them so to speak, how can you possibly trust them?

Trust Component #2: Authority

What's the authority of your website or webpage, or any other page on the internet for that matter where you're attempting to gain visibility? Authority is an important component of trust, and it relies heavily on quality links coming from websites that Google already trusts. Authority largely relates to the off-page optimization discipline of SEO that occurs away from the webpage as opposed to the on-page optimization that occurs directly on the webpage.

For example, what are the quality and quantity of the links that have been created over time? Are they natural and organic links stemming from relevant and high quality content, or are they spammy links, unnatural links or coming from bad link neighborhoods? Are all the links coming from the same few websites over time or is there a healthy amount of global IP diversification in the links?

Trust Component #3: Content

Content is king. It always has been and it always will be. Creating insightful, engaging and unique content should be at the heart of any online marketing strategy. Too often, people simply don't obey this rule. The problem? This takes an extraordinary amount of work. However, anyone that tells you that content isn't important, is not being fully transparent with you. You cannot excel in marketing anything on the internet without having quality content.

Quality content is more likely to get shared. By staying away from creating "thin" content and focusing more on content that cites sources, is lengthy and it reaches unique insights, you'll be able to gain Google's trust over time. Remember, this happens as a component of time. Google knows you can't just go out there and create massive amounts of content in a few days. If you try to spin content or duplicate it in any fashion, you'll suffer a Google penalty and your visibility will be stifled.

An Overarching View Of Marketing On The Web

Okay, if you're still with me, fantastic. You're one of the few that doesn't mind wading through a little bit of hopeless murkiness to reemerge on the shores of hope. But before we jump too far ahead, it's important to understand what online marketing is and what it isn't. That definition provides a core understanding of what it takes to peddle anything on the web, whether it's a product, service or information.

When we talk about marketing on the internet, we're talking about driving traffic or boosting visibility via a number of means. Any type of advertising done on the internet to promote any product, person, service, business or place for that matter, can be deemed as online marketing. However, to succeed in this arena, whether it's SEO, social media, email marketing or beyond, you need to ensure you adhere to the three pillars of trust first and foremost.

Types Of Online Marketing

There are ten essential types of marketing that can be done online. Some of these can be broken down into organic marketing and others can be categorized as paid marketing. Organic, of course, is the allure of marketing professionals from around the planet. It's free and its unencumbered traffic that simply keeps coming. Paid marketing, on the other hand, is still a very attractive proposition as long as the marketing pays for itself by having the right type of offer that converts.

#1 -- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO should be a core tactic in any marketing strategy. While it might seem difficult to understand at first, as long as you find the right course, book or audiobook, and devote your time to learning, you'll be in good shape. Considering that there are over 200+ ranking factors in Google's current algorithms, learning, digesting and successfully implementing good SEO tactics is essential to the success of your website or blog.

  • Pay attention to the often-overlooked on-page optimization elements such as your page speed, which can be determined by using tools like GTMetrixPingdom and Google's own Page Speed Insights.
  • Leverage Google's new Accelerated Mobile Projects (AMP) specification to ensure that you appear relevantly on mobile searches using this new lightning-fast loading spec.
  • Utilized Google's Webmaster Tools for suggestions on fine-tuning your site's structured data, rich cards, and other HTML improvements such as discovering duplicate title and meta tags, and so on.
  • Read Google's Webmaster Guidelines and ensure that your content and your overall SEO strategies are in harmony with what the search giant is looking for.
  • Always build high quality, relevant content that's unique, insightful and engaging, paving the way for a higher likelihood of visitors sharing that content organically and naturally.

#2 -- Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Organic SEO's flip-side offers up a paid method for marketing on search engines like Google. SEM provides an avenue for displaying ads through networks such as Google's Adwords and other paid search platforms that exist across the web throughout social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and even video sites like YouTube, which, invariably, is the world's second largest search engine.

By utilizing SEM, it provides you with a great avenue for getting the word out quickly and effectively. If you have the budget, then marketing on search engines for competitive keywords might be the right fit for you. But be prepared to pony up. Keywords can range anywhere from a few cents to upwards of $50 and more. The quality score for any term is reflective of what you can expect to pay for bidding on that keyword. The lower the competition, the lower the quality score and the lower the price.

However, SEM doesn't just cover paying for clicks, but also paying for impressions. That means, for example, that every 1000 times your ad is displayed, you pay a pre-arranged amount, regardless of whether anyone clicked on it or not. While this is a less popular form of advertising, it still exists today on some platforms.

#3 -- Social Media Marketing

One of the hottest forms of marketing anything online right now is through social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram, amongst others. Social media provides a near-direct avenue for reaching the masses, but it most certainly isn't a simple or easy thing to achieve saturation, especially when we're talking about millions of followers.

In a number of recent articles, where I've interviewed some of social media's rising stars such as Jason Stone from Millionaire MentorSean Perelstein, who built StingHD into a global brand and Nathan Chan from Foundr Magazine, amongst several others, it's quite clear that multi-million-dollar businesses can be built on the backs of wildly-popular social media channels and platforms.

However, getting that saturation is a frustrating process. Obviously, it doesn't happen overnight. Based on my conversations with numerous rising stars in social media, there are a few things that should be done when it comes to gaining attention through a variety of social media channels.

  • Find your voice: decide what your message is going to be and stick to it. Don't try to be everything to everyone. Make a decision and stay committed to it. Whether it's a topic, idea, niche, business or something else, do your best not to waver.
  • Be real and be yourself: people can see through those that try to put up a front on social media channels. Don't try to be something that you're not. Be real and be yourself. It will resonate with people.
  • Deliver value no matter what: Regardless of who you are and what you're trying to promote, always deliver value, first and foremost. Go out of your way to help others by carefully curating information that will assist them in their journey. The more you focus on delivering value, the quicker you'll reach that proverbial tipping point when it comes to exploding your fans or followers.
  • Constantly engage with others: many of the social media superstars I've spoken to have said that, in the beginning, they followed the popular profiles and constantly commented, shared and engaged with others. Not just on their own profiles, but by directly commenting on photos and engaging in conversations on other feeds.

If you're serious about finding your voice and discovering the secrets to success in business, one of the best people to follow is Gary Vanyerchuck, CEO of Vayner Media, and early-stage invest in Twitter, Uber and Facebook, has arbitraged his way into the most popular social media platforms and built up massive followings and often spills out the secrets to success in a highly motivating and inspiring way.

#4 -- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ads

PPC advertising is a method of advertising on search engines like Google and Bing. As mentioned earlier, with PPC ads, you pay each time that ad is clicked on. PPC ads also exist on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook as well. However, if you're going to engage in PPC advertising, it's important that you determine conversion rates by using tracking pixels.

By using the Facebook tracking pixel or the Adwords pixel, you can help to define your audience and work to entice them to come back to your site. Let's say the didn't finish their purchase or they simply showed up and left after adding something to their shopping cart, or they filled out a lead form and disappeared, you can re-target those individuals.

Re-targeting is one of the most effective ways to market your business online, because you're marketing to "warm" traffic, or people who've already visited your site. If you've ever gone to a website and then seen those ads following you around the internet, then you're well aware of what re-targeting is.

When running PPC ads, it's important that you keep careful track of the specific ads and keywords that you're targeting. You can do this by using the Google Analytics UTM builder to create campaign URLs that you can use to track the campaign source, the medium and any keywords or terms that you might be targeting. This way, you can determine the effectiveness of any campaign that you run and figure out the precise conversion rate.

#5 -- Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is the art of marketing products, services or information for others. It doesn't require that you ever house or warehouse a single thing. But it does require that you have an audience to market those things to online. Without that audience, whether it's through search engines like Google or social media channels like Facebook, you'll find a difficult time with affiliate marketing.

However, if you are seasoned online marketer, and you've built a substantial following, then marketing as an affiliate might be the right fit. Jason Stone from Millionaire Mentor has built a seven-figure business with affiliate marketing, while David Sharpe from Legendary Marketer has built up an eight-figure business by creating an army of affiliates that market products in collaboration with his team.

There are numerous repositories to source affiliate products and services from. However, some of the biggest are sites like ClickbankCommission JunctionLinkShare and JVZoo. You'll need to go through an application process, for the most part, to get approved to sell certain products, services or digital information products. Once approved, be prepared to hustle.

#6 -- Email Marketing

For those that are not in the know, email marketing is a substantial money generator. In fact, email marketing can far outstrip standard website sales because, at least for unknown brands or websites that are not household names, clinching a sale on the first interaction often doesn't happen.

That's why seasoned online marketers build squeeze pages with lead magnets, webinars and sales funnels to drip-deliver value and build a close personal relationship with their email subscribers, effectively moving them up a value chain to sell them high-ticket products and services.

If you have a website or a blog, be sure that you create a lead magnet or give something else of value away for free such as a trial software to a SaaS system or anything else for that matter that people could get value out of. Exchange your free offer for the email address and drop them into your sales funnel.

Use an email marketing system like InfusionSoft, ConvertKit or MailChimp, amongst others, to drip-feed value to those subscribers while also working to move them up your value chain. Russell Bruson does a great job of explaining sales funnels and marketing virtually anything on the internet is his best-selling book, Dot Com Secrets.

#7 -- Influencer Marketing

Using influencers to market your products or services is a great way to quickly saturate yourself into the marketplace, no matter what you're peddling. However, finding the right influencer at the right price is the hard part. You don't necessarily have to go to the top-tier influencers; you can also opt for micro-influencers (those that have 10,000 to 100,000 followers or fans).

Some influencers charge a hefty sum for a simple post on platforms like Twitter and Instagram. You can expect to pay upwards of a million dollars and more for some of the top-tier influencers. If you're looking for mid-level influencers, you'll likely get away with paying roughly a couple hundred-thousand dollars and up.

The really important part of influencer marketing is to find influencers that are in your niche. Be sure that they represent your target demographic audience before deciding to part ways with your hard-earned cash. It can get incredibly costly, but it can also bring you instant attention and business.

#8 -- Blogging

Blogging is one of the best forms of marketing online. It's free and it gives you a platform to build a massive audience as long as you don't give up. While starting a blog is relatively easy, actually following through and growing the blog is nothing short of downright frustrating and seemingly impossible.

However, some of the world's top-earning blogs gross millions of dollars per month on autopilot. It's a great source of passive income and if you know what you're doing, you could earn a substantial living from it. You don't need millions of visitors per month to rake in the cash, but you do need to connect with your audience and have clarity in your voice.

#9 -- Video Marketing

Video marketing is a great avenue for exposure on the internet, and utilizing a platform like YouTube to deliver value in the form of tutorials and other useful information such as courses or entertainment is a great way to grow your brand and build a presence.

While there are several platforms for doing this, clearly YouTube is the most popular for doing this. However, video marketing is also a great form of both content marketing and SEO on its own. It can help to provide visibility for several different ventures, and if the video is valuable enough in its message and content, it will be shared and liked by droves, pushing up the authority of that video through the roof.

#10 -- Content Marketing

Content marketing is one of my favorite go-to strategies when it comes to marketing on the web. It's my favorite because it's one of the most powerful, free and organic methods that are available for online marketers no matter where they're from. However, marketing content is difficult. So be prepared to put in the sweat equity.

My favorite style in this is article marketing. You create anchor content on your website or blog, then you build authority-content links to that content, effectively driving up the visibility. I've used this single strategy to rank hundreds of keywords in the #1 spot on Google, and I would highly recommend that if you're going to learn any marketing strategy, that you get really good at this one.

The type of content you can market is wide open. Aside from articles, you can use infographics, tutorials, ebooks and many other forms of content marketing. As long as it's done the right way, and it isn't intentionally setup to trick or fool search engines, but rather to add value to human beings, you'll see immense results from this.

R.L. Adams is a software engineer, serial entrepreneur, and author. He runs a wildly-popular blog called Wanderlust Worker and contributes to Entrepreneur, Engadget and the Huffington Post.

This article was published on forbes.com by R.L. Adams

Net Neutrality is without question one of the most important principles in modern life. Whether you realize it or not, the idea that web services should be provided equally without preference to one type of traffic or another has been the cornerstone of the web as we know it. And the Trump administration is doing everything in its power to trample the principle.

In the latter Obama years, net neutrality came to be enshrined, at least in part, by the FCC. The Open Internet Order of 2015 reclassified internet service providers as “common carriers.” This came with stricter rules regarding how ISPs handled internet traffic. It protected user privacy and forbade companies from prioritizing traffic from specific sites or services.

The current chairman of the FCC and Trump appointee, Ajit Pai, announced his plan to upend the Open Internet Order. Pai will hold a meeting to look re-examine parts of the order. First, Pai will push for reclassification of ISPs, removing the common carrier requirements, then the FCC will take a look and at provisions that prohibit ISPs from throttling traffic to their competitors, for instance.

That last bit is particularly concerning because internet service providers, particularly in the United States, have built themselves into tremendous companies wielding broad and dangerous power. Comcast, for instance, is part of the same mega-corporation that controls NBC and Universal. Already you can see a problem — Comcast provides internet and cable services, and without strict rules governing how Comcast handles consumer internet traffic or cable accessibility, there’s little to stop them from making competitors’ movies and television shows harder or more expensive to access.

We’ve already seen this happen a few times. Netflix was notably throttled until it agreed to pay more to have its traffic given priority. This kind of practice is the same that created the type of mega-monopolies of the gilded age. Rail companies, having few regulations, would often charge farmers more to send their goods to market than they were worth. That led to insane concentrations of wealth and many of the worst social disasters in history — not to mention countless anti-trust laws. As a global society, we’ve already learned this lesson, or at least we should have.

fcc

Now the internet faces its greatest existential threat. The US internet is already among the worst in the industrialized world, and it’s precisely because ISPs have had unchecked growth. As a result, there’s often only one high-speed company operating in any given city. Internet service providers have diced up the country to reduce consumer choice. No choice means no competition which leads to higher prices and lower quality for everyone. That’s one of the many reasons Comcast and pals’ customer service is so terrible — they know you don’t have a choice.

To be fair, ISPs are at least partially right. Having more than one major service company working in an area can cause a lot of redundancy regarding basic infrastructure. Typically services like this are what’s known as natural monopolies. Things like power companies or other utilities are common examples. And these are special cases where it doesn’t make sense to have lots of competition. Imagine having five different power lines running to your house so you could switch providers whenever you wanted — the costs would be higher because that system has lots of excess.

That said, the internet is something that most people aren’t comfortable trusting to just one entity — and for good reason. The ability to control information or gather data on users is unsettling. And that’s precisely why the FCC filed the Open Internet Order. It simply doesn’t make sense for us to allow companies to have unchecked power over the market. These sorts of systems aren’t just anti-consumer, they’re anti-capitalist, and they only serve to further support the wealthy and help entrench a fundamentally broken system.

Doom and gloom aside, Ajit Pai’s proposal could also just make your browsing experience suck a lot more. As Ars Technica reports, before 2015, services like video streaming could often be unstable — the companies that carried the signals would always have to work out an exchange when the signal left systems owned by one company and transitioned to those of another. Classifying ISPs as common carriers got rid of that problem, requiring providers to leave all transmitted data essentially alone. So even if you don’t care about the fate of the internet or think I’m being melodramatic, your YouTube surfing is still about to get a lot more frustrating.

The one upside in all of this is that Tmobile customers and those who take advantage of data-free services that their providers offer will get to keep using them. Previously, the FCC was investigating whether or not allowing consumers to use Spotify, for example, without taking from their data cap qualified as a violation of Net Neutrality (it totally does, by the way). Now, Pai’s suspended that investigation. That’s nice for people like myself who use TMo, but it’s hardly worth everything else we may stand to lose.

Pai’s scheduled the initial meeting for May 18. If you’re so inclined to leave your thoughts, the FCC typically takes comments from the public on proposed rule changes. It’s also worth following closely as Pai will be unveiling more details as we get closer to the meeting. Regardless, hopefully, one day, we won’t still be stuck in this tired fight.

This article was  published on geek.com by DANIEL STARKEY

Categorized in Internet Privacy

FACEBOOK FREEBIES: Social network is looking at ways to bring free internet to disaster zones

FACEBOOK has announced plans to bring free internet to the masses with this new Wi-Fi-supplying helicopter.

Facebook’s desire to bring internet, and its social network, to the world has just been taken up a notch.

Having already started trialling its high-flying internet drones that will bring wireless internet access to the developing world, the internet giant is now working on specialist internet supplying helicopters. 

The autonomous machines are for use closer to home, however, and will one day take to the skies above urban settings.

The small helicopters, known as Tether-tenna, will deliver free internet to areas where natural disasters have wiped out the existing infrastructure.

For them to function, some remaining fibre line functionality will still be needed, however, with the helicopter being tethered to a fibre line, creating a replacement internet tower of sorts.

“One of Facebook's goals is to not only connect communities, but to connect them when they need it most,” Facebook’s Yael Maguire wrote in an official blog post.

He added: “When completed, this technology will be able to be deployed immediately and operate for months at a time to bring back connectivity in case of an emergency - ensuring the local community can stay connected while the in-ground connectivity is under repair.”

The tethered helicopters will fly “a few hundred feet from the ground” and transmit a wireless signal to a broader area.

“When completed, this technology will be able to be deployed immediately and operate for months at a time to bring back connectivity in case of an emergency,” Maguire explained.

Despite making the announcement to coincide with its ongoing F8 developer conference, Facebook has warned that its internet bringing helicopters won’t be taking to skies above cities anytime soon.

“This is still in the early stages of development and lots of work is needed to ensure that it will be able operate autonomously for months at a time, but we're excited about the progress so far,” Maguire stated.

Facebook’s internet drones have been taken on their maiden test flights in recent months and will be flown above developing nations in the not too distant future.

Facebook introduce Facebook Stories

Despite already having well over 1 billion users, Facebook believes that by bringing internet access to billions of new people, it can rapidly expand its active monthly user base.

It’s internet-supplying helicopters are just one way it is looking to do this.

Elsewhere, the social giant has updated a number of its services in recent weeks, with the core Facebook app echoing rival Snapchat by adding Facebook Stories.

These let you upload short picture and video clips that expire at the end of every day and are visible to all of your friends.

A knock-on affect of this new feature is that you can now .

This article was published in dailystar.co.uk by Luke Johnson

Categorized in Social

We'll show you how to protect your online privacy as governments around the world, including the U.S., step up their online surveillance efforts.

One of the most important skills any computer user should have is the ability to use a virtual private network (VPN) to protect their privacy. A VPN is typically a paid service that keeps your web browsing secure and private over public Wi-Fi hotspots. VPNs can also get past regional restrictions for video- and music-streaming sites and help you evade government censorship restrictions—though that last one is especially tricky.

The best way to think of a VPN is as a secure tunnel between your PC and destinations you visit on the internet. Your PC connects to a VPN server, which can be located in the United States or a foreign country like the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, or Thailand. Your web traffic then passes back and forth through that server. The end result: As far as most websites are concerned, you’re browsing from that server’s geographical location, not your computer’s location.

We’ll get to the implications of a VPN’s location in a moment, but first, let’s get back to our secure tunnel example. Once you’re connected to the VPN and are “inside the tunnel,” it becomes very difficult for anyone else to spy on your web-browsing activity. The only people who will know what you’re up to are you, the VPN provider (usually an HTTPS connection can mitigate this), and the website you’re visiting.

A VPN is like a secure tunnel for a web traffic.

When you’re on public Wi-Fi at an airport or café, that means hackers will have a harder time stealing your login credentials or redirecting your PC to a phony banking site. Your Internet service provider (ISP), or anyone else trying to spy on you, will also have a near impossible time figuring out which websites you’re visiting.

On top of all that, you get the benefits of spoofing your location. If you’re in Los Angeles, for example, and the VPN server is in the U.K., it will look to most websites that you’re browsing from there, not southern California.

This is why many regionally restricted websites and online services such as BBC’s iPlayer or Sling TV can be fooled by a VPN. I say “most” services because some, most notably Netflix, are fighting against VPN (ab)use to prevent people from getting access to, say, the American version of Netflix when they’re really in Australia.

For the most part, however, if you’re visiting Belgium and connect to a U.S. VPN server, you should get access to most American sites and services just as if you were sitting at a Starbucks in Chicago.

What a VPN can’t do

While VPNs are an important tool, they are far from foolproof. Let’s say you live in an oppressive country and want to evade censorship in order to access the unrestricted web. A VPN would have limited use. If you’re trying to evade government restrictions and access sites like Facebook and Twitter, a VPN might be useful. Even then, you’d have to be somewhat dependent on the government’s willingness to look the other way.

Anything more serious than that, such as mission-critical anonymity, is far more difficult to achieve—even with a VPN. Privacy against passive surveillance? No problem. Protection against an active and hostile government? Probably not.

HideMyAss Pro 2

HideMyAssA VPN service provider such as HideMyAss can protect your privacy by ensuring your internet connection is encrypted.

The problem with anonymity is there are so many issues to consider—most of which are beyond the scope of this article. Has the government surreptitiously installed malware on your PC in order to monitor your activity, for example? Does the VPN you want to use have any issues with data leakage or weak encryption that could expose your web browsing? How much information does your VPN provider log about your activity, and would that information be accessible to the government? Are you using an anonymous identity online on a PC that you never use in conjunction with your actual identity?

Anonymity online is a very difficult goal to achieve. If, however, you are trying to remain private from prying eyes or evade NSA-style bulk data collection as a matter of principle, a reputable VPN will probably be good enough.

Beyond surveillance, a VPN also won’t do much to keep advertisers from tracking you online. Remember that the website you visit is aware of what you do on its site and that applies equally to advertisers serving ads on that site.

To prevent online tracking by advertisers and websites you’ll still need browser add-ons like GhosteryPrivacy Badger, and HTTPS Everywhere.

How to choose a VPN provider

There was a time when using a VPN required users to know about the built-in VPN client for Windows or universal open-source solutions such as OpenVPN. Nowadays, however, nearly every VPN provider has their own one-click client that gets you up and running in seconds. There are usually mobile apps as well to keep your Android or iOS device secure over public Wi-Fi.

Of course that brings up another problem. Since there are so many services to choose from, how can you tell which ones are worth using, and what are the criteria to judge them by?

First, let’s get the big question out of the way. The bad news for anyone used to free services is that it pays to pay when it comes to a VPN. There are tons of free options from reputable companies, but these are usually a poor substitute for the paid options. Free services usually allow a limited amount of bandwidth usage per month or offer a slower service. Tunnel Bear, for example, offers just 500MB of free bandwidth per month, while CyberGhost offers a free service that is significantly slower than its paid service.

CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhostEverybody loves free services; but when you want to use a VPN, the free version usually isn't the best deal.

Then there are the free VPNs that use an ad-supported model, which in my experience usually aren’t worth using at all. Plus, free VPNs are usually anything but; in lieu of payment they may be harvesting your data (in anonymized form of course) and selling it as “marketing insights” to advertisers.

The good news is VPNs aren’t expensive. You can usually pay as little as $5 a month (billed annually or in blocks of several months) for VPN coverage.

We won’t get into specific VPN service recommendations in this article; instead, here are some issues to consider when shopping around for a VPN provider.

First, what kind of logging does your VPN provider do? In other words, what information do they keep about your VPN sessions and how long is it kept? Are they recording the IP addresses you use, the websites you visit, the amount of bandwidth used, or any other key details?

All VPNs have to do some kind of logging, but there are VPNs that collect as little data as possible and others that aren’t so minimalist. On top of that, some services discard their logs in a matter of hours or days while other companies hold onto them for months at a time. How much privacy you expect from your VPN-based browsing will greatly influence how long you can stand having your provider maintain your activity logs—and what those logs contain.

TunnelBear interface

TunnelBear
TunnelBear is one of the author's favorite VPNs, but there are many good choices on the market.

Second, what are the acceptable terms of use for your VPN provider? Thanks to the popularity of VPNs with torrent users, permissible activity on specific VPNs can vary. Some companies disallow torrents completely, some are totally fine with them, while others won’t stop torrents but officially disallow them. We aren’t here to advise pirates, but anyone looking to use a VPN should understand what is and is not okay to do on their provider’s network.

Finally, does the VPN provider offer their own application that you can download and install? Unless you’re a power user who wants to mess with OpenVPN, a customized VPN program is really the way to go. It’s simple to use and doesn’t require any great technical knowledge or the need to adjust any significant settings.

Using a VPN

You’ve done your due diligence, checked out your VPN’s logging policies, and found a service with a great price and a customized application. Now, for the easy part: connecting to the VPN.

Here’s a look at a few examples of VPN desktop applications.

TunnelBear, which is currently my VPN of choice, has a very simple interface—if a little skeuomorphic. With Tunnel Bear, all you need to do is select the country you want to be virtually present in, click the dial to the “on” position, and wait for a connection-confirmation message.

SaferVPN works similarly. From the left-hand side you select the country you’d like to use—the more common choices such as the U.S., Germany, and the U.K. are at the top. Once that’s done, hit the big Connect button and wait once again for the confirmation message.

SaferVPN

SaferVPN

With SaferVPN, all you need to do is choose the country you wish to have a virtual presence in.

HMA Pro is a VPN I'll be reviewing in the next few days. This interface is slightly more complicated, but it’s far from difficult to understand. If you want to select your desired virtual location click the Location mode tab, click on the location name, and then choose your preferred location from the list. Once that’s done click the slider button that says Disconnected. Once it flips to Connected,you’re ready to roll.

There are numerous VPN services out there, and they all have different interfaces; but they are all similar enough that if you can successfully use one, you’ll be able to use the others.

That’s all there is to using a VPN. The hard part is figuring out which service to use. Once that’s done, connecting to a VPN for added privacy or to stream your favorite TV shows while abroad is just a click away.

Source : techhive.com

Categorized in How to
NASA is developing a trailblazing technology that will provide a high-speed Internet connectivity between Earth and space terminals. Effective space communication system is vital in the success of space-based missions. 
(Photo : Aubrey Gemignani/NASA via Getty Images (Disposition: AFS 8/101 - Permanent))
 
Space communication is vital, and NASA is taking steps towards high-speed Internet connectivity for the sky.
 
The space agency is currently developing a "trailblazing" and long-term technology geared towards improving Internet connectivity and space communication systems. The project is called the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) and it's designed to help NASA discover ways to improve laser communications systems in space.
 
 
Part of the technology is to enable higher data rates for a high-speed connection between the Earth and certain spacecraft. This will result in faster scientific data transfer from space to Earth and vice versa.
 
"LCRD is the next step in implementing NASA's vision of using optical communications for both near-Earth and deep space missions," Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator of NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate, and team lead of the LCRD project said in a press release.This means that the project includes an innovative Internet technology that is not yet available here on Earth. Laser communications, called optical communications uses, the beam of light to transmit data.
 
Optical communications yield 10 to 100 times better results compared to radio-frequency (RF) technology. The new laser communications are also smaller and lighter in weight, which also requires lesser power to operate. The advancements are deemed necessary for future deeper space explorations to Mars and even beyond.
 
 
"We are also designing a laser terminal for the International Space Station that will use LCRD to relay data from the station to the ground at gigabit-per-second data rates," Don Cornwell, the director of Advanced Communication and Navigation division of the Space Communications and Navigation program at NASA, said in a statement.
 
Cornwell said they're planning to operate the new terminal by 2021. They hope that the new technology will also be used in other NASA missions that orbit the Earth.
 
The new project LCRD aims to demonstrate the longevity and reliability of laser connectivity and its ability to adapt to different weather conditions. The LCRD is designed to work for a maximum of five years. There are two ground terminals each with laser modems located in Table Mountain, California and another one in Hawaii.
 
 
Categorized in Science & Tech

If you follow discussions about the Internet of Things, you’ve probably heard this stunning prediction at least once: The world will have 50 billion connected devices by 2020. Ericsson’s former CEO Hans Vestburg was among the first to state it in a 2010 presentation to shareholders. The following year, Dave Evans, who worked for Cisco at the time, published the same prediction in a white paper.

Today, that figure has arguably done more than any other statistic to set sky-high expectations for potential IoT growth and profits. Remarkably, those projections weren’t even close to the highest of the time—in 2012, IBM forecasted 1 trillion connected devices by 2015. “The numbers were getting kind of crazy,” recalls Bill Morelli, a market research director for IHS Markit.

Now it’s 2016, and we’re nowhere near 1 trillion IoT devices, or even 50 billion for that matter. The current count is somewhere between Gartner’s estimate of 6.4 billion (which doesn’t include smartphones, tablets, and computers), International Data Corporation’s estimate of 9 billion (which also excludes those devices), and IHS’s estimate of 17.6 billion (with all such devices included).

Since they first made their projections, both Ericsson and Evans have lowered their expectations from 50 billion for 2020: Evans, who is now CTO of Stringify, says he expects to see 30 billion connected devices by then, while Ericsson figures on 28 billion by 2021. Other firms have adopted similar tones: IHS Markit projects 30.7 billion IoT devices for 2020, and Gartner expects 20.8 billion by that time (excluding smartphones, tablets, and computers). Lastly, IDC anticipates 28.1 billion (again, not counting those devices).

Meanwhile, the popular 50 billion figure continues to be widely cited. Even Evans is a bit surprised by its lasting power. “I think people do tend to latch onto numbers that seem really hard to fathom,” he says. “Fifty billion is pretty staggering.”

Forecasting the future is no easy task, and there’s nothing unusual or wrong about analysts and companies revising their projections. However, IoT forecasts are especially large with significant variability among firms and over time, skewing tens of billions of units in either direction.

At the same time, any market with such potential girth dazzles entrepreneurs and investors. For comparison, 18.6 billion microcontrollers were shipped in 2014, and 10.4 billion RFID tags will be shipped this year. Given the forecasts, IoT is expected to top them all. “I don't think we’ve seen this type of market size before, to be honest,” says Vernon Turner, a senior IoT analyst for IDC.

Peter Middleton, a research director at Gartner involved in the firm’s IoT forecasts, says future IoT projections are intended to create “market efficiency,” helping companies make smart choices about whether they should enter a new area and informing venture capitalists as they decide where to place their investments. Earlier this week, Intel executive Venkata Renduchintala emphasized the company’s enthusiasm for IoT in a keynote at its annual developers’ forum.

Still, it would seem the practical utility of IoT estimates is limited if they have the potential to be revised by many billions of units. Turner at IDC says such variation and fluidity of these numbers is typical of early estimates focused on nascent markets. The point, he suggests, is to think of the estimates as a general signal, rather than focus on the specific numbers.

There are many reasons why projections from different firms may change over time, or simply not match up in the first place. Each company starts with its own definition of IoT and refines its methods over time.

To begin, many collect annual sales data from manufacturers that produce connected devices, or components such as semiconductors, as well as from companies that sell and ship those products to customers. Then firms subtract a percentage of devices to account for those that will be replaced or thrown out each year. When added to estimates from past years, that leaves the firms with the “install base,” or approximate number of connected devices in use at a given time.

Some firms include other variables, such as the amount of money that companies spend annually on information technology. Evans factors in industry growth rates based in part on Moore’s Law, the longstanding prediction that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles every year or two, and Metcalfe’s Law, which states that the utility of a network increases with each new device that connects to it.

Firms often have no real way to know how many devices that are sold and shipped actually wind up connected to the Internet, so some conduct consumer and business surveys to gauge how devices are used. Morelli at IHS Markit estimates 90 percent of communications devices (including smartphones) are switched on, but perhaps only 50 percent of cars and accessories are ever connected.  

Janna Anderson, an expert in emerging technologies at Elon University, says there is a degree of self-interest at play in projections, too. In 2013, she helped the Pew Internet Project survey more than 1,600 experts about what the IoT might look like in 2025. Not surprisingly, she found that “those who are marketing it and those whose bottom line is somehow impacted by enthusiastic predictions are more likely to make them.”

Middleton at Gartner, who publishes one of the most conservative IoT estimates available, also believes boosterism plays a role in some analyses. “It's human nature,” he says. “If you're a participant in the industry, and you’re launching new products, there’s a lot of enthusiasm that builds and a lot of hype.”

One of the puzzling things about IoT estimates is that they attempt to anticipate demand for devices that have largely not yet been invented or commercialized. At this point, even the strictest definitions of IoT remain fuzzy because companies are still working on the technologies and business cases. “Will connected pets be a thing of the future? No one knows,” Evans says.

 

 

In fact, IoT skeptics often point to Bluetooth-enabled toasters as an example of senseless connectivity that will only ever be used by a handful of early adopters. But Evans is confident that entrepreneurs will find many millions of practical ways to serve customers through the IoT in due time. “I think technology needs to solve real problems, and if it doesn't solve real problems in the real world, it's probably a gimmick and will die on the vine,” he says.  

Though past estimates haven’t exactly panned out, Bob Heile, standards director for the Wi-SUN Alliance and chair of IEEE 802.15 (a working group for wireless personal area networks), says the general trend that early IoT analysts predicted has proven true. There are more and more connected devices today than five or 10 years ago, even if they’re being connected at a slightly slower rate. “What I do know, because the trend is absolutely undeniable, is more and more things are getting the ability to communicate and connect to something else,” he says.

As the next 10 billion IoT devices come online, the industry will face some formidable challenges, such as ensuring the security of its devices, powering billions of sensors, and handling all the resulting e-waste. Despite those issues, Evans isn’t bashful about anticipating an even bigger future. “I could see trillions of connected things, ultimately,” he says.

Author: Amy Nordrum
Source: spectrum.ieee.org

Categorized in Internet of Things

In the kingdom of apps and unicorns, Rossotti’s is a rarity. This beer garden in the heart of Silicon Valley has been standing on the same spot since 1852. It isn’t disruptive; it doesn’t scale. But for more than 150 years, it has done one thing and done it well: it has given Californians a good place to get drunk.

During the course of its long existence, Rossotti’s has been a frontier saloon, a gold rush gambling den, and a Hells Angels hangout. These days it is called the Alpine Inn Beer Garden, and the clientele remains as motley as ever. On the patio out back, there are cyclists in spandex and bikers in leather. There is a wild-haired man who might be a professor or a lunatic or a CEO, scribbling into a notebook. In the parking lot is a Harley, a Maserati, and a horse.

It doesn’t seem a likely spot for a major act of innovation. But 40 years ago this August, a small team of scientists set up a computer terminal at one of its picnic tables and conducted an extraordinary experiment. Over plastic cups of beer, they proved that a strange idea called the internet could work.

The internet is so vast and formless that it’s hard to imagine it being invented. It’s easy to picture Thomas Edison inventing the lightbulb, because a lightbulb is easy to visualize. You can hold it in your hand and examine it from every angle.

The internet is the opposite. It’s everywhere, but we only see it in glimpses. The internet is like the holy ghost: it makes itself knowable to us by taking possession of the pixels on our screens to manifest sites and apps and email, but its essence is always elsewhere.

This feature of the internet makes it seem extremely complex. Surely something so ubiquitous yet invisible must require deep technical sophistication to understand. But it doesn’t. The internet is fundamentally simple. And that simplicity is the key to its success.

The people who invented the internet came from all over the world. They worked at places as varied as the French government-sponsored computer network Cyclades, England’s National Physical Laboratory, the University of Hawaii and Xerox. But the mothership was the US defense department’s lavishly funded research arm, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (Arpa) – which later changed its name to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) – and its many contractors. Without Arpa, the internet wouldn’t exist.

An old image of Rossotti’s, one of the birthplaces of the internet.

As a military venture, Arpa had a specifically military motivation for creating the internet: it offered a way to bring computing to the front lines. In 1969, Arpa had built a computer network called Arpanet, which linked mainframes at universities, government agencies, and defense contractors around the country. Arpanet grew fast, and included nearly 60 nodes by the mid-1970s.

But Arpanet had a problem: it wasn’t mobile. The computers on Arpanet were gigantic by today’s standards, and they communicated over fixed links. That might work for researchers, who could sit at a terminal in Cambridge or Menlo Park – but it did little for soldiers deployed deep in enemy territory. For Arpanet to be useful to forces in the field, it had to be accessible anywhere in the world.

Picture a jeep in the jungles of Zaire, or a B-52 miles above North Vietnam. Then imagine these as nodes in a wireless network linked to another network of powerful computers thousands of miles away. This is the dream of a networked military using computing power to defeat the Soviet Union and its allies. This is the dream that produced the internet.

Making this dream a reality required doing two things. The first was building a wireless network that could relay packets of data among the widely dispersed cogs of the US military machine by radio or satellite. The second was connecting those wireless networks to the wired network of Arpanet, so that multimillion-dollar mainframes could serve soldiers in combat. “Internetworking,” the scientists called it.

Trying to move data between networks was like writing a letter in Mandarin to someone who only knows Hungarian

Internetworking is the problem the internet was invented to solve. It presented enormous challenges. Getting computers to talk to one another – networking – had been hard enough. But getting networks to talk to one another – internetworking – posed a whole new set of difficulties, because the networks spoke alien and incompatible dialects. Trying to move data from one to another was like writing a letter in Mandarin to someone who only knows Hungarian and hoping to be understood. It didn’t work.

In response, the architects of the internet developed a kind of digital Esperanto: a common language that enabled data to travel across any network. In 1974, two Arpa researchers named Robert Kahn and Vint Cerf published an early blueprint. Drawing on conversations happening throughout the international networking community, they sketched a design for “a simple but very flexible protocol”: a universal set of rules for how computers should communicate.

These rules had to strike a very delicate balance. On the one hand, they needed to be strict enough to ensure the reliable transmission of data. On the other, they needed to be loose enough to accommodate all of the different ways that data might be transmitted.

Vinton Cerf (left) and Robert Kahn, who devised the first internet protocol.

“It had to be future-proof,” Cerf tells me. You couldn’t write the protocol for one point in time, because it would soon become obsolete. The military would keep innovating. They would keep building new networks and new technologies. The protocol had to keep pace: it had to work across “an arbitrarily large number of distinct and potentially non-interoperable packet switched networks,” Cerf says – including ones that hadn’t been invented yet. This feature would make the system not only future-proof, but potentially infinite. If the rules were robust enough, the “ensemble of networks” could grow indefinitely, assimilating any and all digital forms into its sprawling multithreaded mesh.

Eventually, these rules became the lingua franca of the internet. But first, they needed to be implemented and tweaked and tested – over and over and over again. There was nothing inevitable about the internet getting built. It seemed like a ludicrous idea to many, even among those who were building it. The scale, the ambition – the internet was a skyscraper and nobody had ever seen anything more than a few stories tall. Even with a firehose of cold war military cash behind it, the internet looked like a long shot.

Then, in the summer of 1976, it started working.

If you had walked into Rossotti’s beer garden on 27 August 1976, you would have seen the following: seven men and one woman at a table, hovering around a computer terminal, the woman typing. A pair of cables ran from the terminal to the parking lot, disappearing into a big grey van.

Inside the van were machines that transformed the words being typed on the terminal into packets of data. An antenna on the van’s roof then transmitted these packets as radio signals. These signals radiated through the air to a repeater on a nearby mountain top, where they were amplified and rebroadcast. With this extra boost, they could make it all the way to Menlo Park, where an antenna at an office building received them.

It was here that the real magic began. Inside the office building, the incoming packets passed seamlessly from one network to another: from the packet radio network to Arpanet. To make this jump, the packets had to undergo a subtle metamorphosis. They had to change their form without changing their content. Think about water: it can be vapor, liquid or ice, but its chemical composition remains the same. This miraculous flexibility is a feature of the natural universe – which is lucky, because life depends on it.

A plaque at Rossotti’s commemorating the August 1976 experiment.

The flexibility that the internet depends on, by contrast, had to be engineered. And on that day in August, it enabled packets that had only existed as radio signals in a wireless network to become electrical signals in the wired network of Arpanet. Remarkably, this transformation preserved the data perfectly. The packets remained completely intact.

[moduleplant id="583"

So intact, in fact, that they could travel another 3,000 miles to a computer in Boston and be reassembled into exactly the same message that was typed into the terminal at Rossotti’s. Powering this internetwork odyssey was the new protocol cooked up by Kahn and Cerf. Two networks had become one. The internet worked.

“There weren’t balloons or anything like that,” Don Nielson tells me. Now in his 80s, Nielson led the experiment at Rossotti’s on behalf of the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), a major Arpa contractor. Tall and soft-spoken, he is relentlessly modest; seldom has someone had a better excuse for bragging and less of a desire to indulge in it. We are sitting in the living room of his Palo Alto home, four miles from Google, nine from Facebook, and at no point does he even partly take credit for creating the technology that made these extravagantly profitable corporations possible.

'This thing is turning out to be a big deal,' he remembers thinking

The internet was a group effort, Nielson insists. SRI was only one of many organizations working on it. Perhaps that’s why they didn’t feel comfortable popping bottles of champagne at Rossotti’s – by claiming too much glory for one team, it would’ve violated the collaborative spirit of the international networking community. Or maybe they just didn’t have the time. Dave Retz, one of the researchers at Rossotti’s, says they were too worried about getting the experiment to work – and then when it did, too worried about whatever came next. There was always more to accomplish: as soon as they’d stitched two networks together, they started working on three – which they achieved a little over a year later, in November 1977.

[moduleplant id="583"

Over time, the memory of Rossotti’s receded. Nielson himself had forgotten about it until a reporter reminded him 20 years later. “I was sitting in my office one day,” he recalls, when the phone rang. The reporter on the other end had heard about the experiment at Rossotti’s, and wanted to know what it had to do with the birth of the internet. By 1996, Americans were having cybersex in AOL chatrooms and building hideous, seizure-inducing homepages on GeoCities. The internet had outgrown its military roots and gone mainstream, and people were becoming curious about its origins. So Nielson dug out a few old reports from his files, and started reflecting on how the internet began. “This thing is turning out to be a big deal,” he remembers thinking.

What made the internet a big deal is the feature Nielson’s team demonstrated that summer day at Rossotti’s: its flexibility. Forty years ago, the internet teleported thousands of words from the Bay Area to Boston over channels as dissimilar as radio waves and copper telephone lines. Today it bridges far greater distances, over an even wider variety of media. It ferries data among billions of devices, conveying our tweets and Tinder swipes across multiple networks in milliseconds.

The Alpine Inn Beer Garden today – still a place where Silicon Valley crowds gather.

This isn’t just a technical accomplishment – it’s a design decision. The most important thing to understand about the origins of the internet, Nielson says, is that it came out of the military. While Arpa had wide latitude, it still had to choose its projects with an eye toward developing technologies that might someday be useful for winning wars. The engineers who built the internet understood that, and tailored it accordingly.

That’s why they designed the internet to run anywhere: because the US military is everywhere. It maintains nearly 800 bases in more than 70 countries around the world. It has hundreds of ships, thousands of warplanes, and tens of thousands of armored vehicles. The reason the internet can work across any device, network, and medium – the reason a smartphone in Sao Paulo can stream a song from a server in Singapore – is because it needed to be as ubiquitous as the American security apparatus that financed its construction.

The internet would end up being useful to the US military, if not quite in the ways its architects intended. But it didn’t really take off until it became civilianized and commercialized – a phenomenon that the Arpa researchers of the 1970s could never have anticipated. “Quite honestly, if anyone would have said they could have imagined the internet of today in those days, they’re lying,” says Nielson. What surprised him most was how “willing people were to spend money to put themselves on the internet”. “Everybody wanted to be there,” he says. “That was absolutely startling to me: the clamor of wanting to be present in this new world.”

The fact that we think of the internet as a world of its own, as a place we can be “in” or “on” – this too is the legacy of Don Nielson and his fellow scientists. By binding different networks together so seamlessly, they made the internet feel like a single space. Strictly speaking, this is an illusion. The internet is composed of many, many networks: when I go to Google’s website, my data must traverse 11 different routers before it arrives. But the internet is a master weaver: it conceals its stitches extremely well. We’re left with the sensation of a boundless, borderless digital universe – cyberspace, as we used to call it. Forty years ago, this universe first flickered into existence in the foothills outside of Palo Alto, and has been expanding ever since.

Author: Ben Tarnoff
Source: theguardian.com

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Jim Yong Kim said rising broadband access had created a world where "keeping up with the Jones's" meant those in the developing world were comparing their lives with those in advanced economies.

Technology and the internet could fuel a fresh migration surge from developing countries as robots and automation destroy millions of low-skilled jobs, according to the president of the World Bank.Jim Yong Kim said rising broadband access had created a world where "keeping up with the Jones's" meant those in the developing world were comparing their lives with those in advanced economies.While these rising aspirations had led to "dynamism" and "inclusive, sustainable growth" when accompanied by local opportunities, Mr Kim said it also risked creating a generation of "frustrated" workers.

"The evidence is very good that if you get access to broadband, overall satisfaction goes up, but the likelihood of wanting to migrate also goes up, and it goes up pretty dramatically. So seeing how other people live directly makes you want to migrate more," said Mr Kim."

It used to be that keeping up with the Jones's used to be about keeping up with your neighbours, but now the Jones's can be everywhere in the world."

Mr Kim said income growth expectations tended to increase as people realised the opportunities open to them.

"Aspirations linked to opportunity leads to dynamism and growth in the economy, but aspirations linked to lack of opportunity lead to frustration and there's some very suggestive research that makes us extremely worried."

As aspirations rise, more and more people get frustrated because the kinds of jobs that are available - certainly low skilled ones are going to be gone," he said.

average

 

"The traditional path to economic development, where you go from agriculture to light manufacturing to industrialisation, the path that Korea followed, that China followed, that so many countries followed, is not going to be open to huge numbers of low income countries today.

"So you're seeing the possibility that if broadband access becomes global quickly, then you can see reference incomes go up pretty dramatically which means that it makes our development task much much more urgent."Mr Kim stressed that technological developments had benefited the global economy, including those in developing countries.

labour share of income

He said organisations like the World Bank could use their ability to borrow at low interest rates on financial markets to help private sector companies to invest and create jobs.

Overseas development aid has fallen in many developing countries, particularly in Africa, as countries such as Germany use foreign aid money to cope with an influx of refugees from Syria, said Mr Kim.

He said that, with the exception of the UK, many countries had not increased their overseas development aid to countries he believed were most vulnerable to globalisation.

"Those of us in the development field have to have a much greater sense of urgency - we have to wake up to rising aspirations, we have to do something differently [and] let the private sector take on the things that are commercially viable."

Growth strengthening

Mr Kim said global growth was likely to strengthen over the next two years amid a brighter outlook in advanced and emerging economies.

He said there were “bright signs” appearing around the world as emerging markets recover from a commodity slump and growth in Europe shows signs of gathering momentum.


The World Bank chief also said he was “encouraged” by his conversations with President Donald Trump, despite signs that support for international financial institutions like the the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are waning under the new administration.


Mr Kim added that “question marks” remained over the direction of the US economy under Mr Trump, even though world growth, which is forecast at 2.7pc this year, was likely to “go up again in 2018”.


The World Bank predicted growth of 2.9pc next year at its most recent forecast in January.


Mr Kim said the outlook would be influenced by tax and spending decisions made by Mr Trump, noting that the “exuberance” displayed by markets and economic surveys in the wake of his election victory has been tempered in recent weeks.


“With US growth there’s still a question mark. There was a lot of exuberance at first and it’s a bit tempered now. But if Mr Trump is serious about investments in infrastructure - I know they’re having very in depth discussions about just how to do that - you can see the US continuing to perform.”


He said the European Union was also “doing better”, even as Brexit was likely to pose a downside risk to the bloc.


In a separate speech at the London School of Economics last night, Mr Kim said organisations like the World Bank had to do more to encourage private sector investment and not “crowd out” finance from businesses and individuals.


He said large organisations had to steer away from “low hanging fruit” and help to foster ambitious goals to create more jobs, boost growth and ensure low income countries were protected as technological developments destroy millions of jobs.


While the World Bank is perceived as a lender to developing countries, he said it needed to play the role of an investor.


“This is a no brainer, and the only way we’re going to get the resources we need to support the aspirations out there.”


Mr Trump’s nomination of Adam Lerrick as the next Treasury assistant secretary for international finance signalled that bodies like the World Bank will be scrutinised more carefully.


However, Mr Kim, who has met with Mr Trump as well as his advisers, including Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs chief, said: “They’re very interested in the possibility of working with us on issues that they care about.


“We’ve been really encouraged by our conversations with the Trump administration, so we’ll see what happens. I don’t think you really know what they’re going to come out with on any single issue yet because they’re just voraciously learning how government works.”

Author: Szu Ping Chan
Source: telegraph.co.uk

Categorized in Science & Tech

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