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    Saturday, August 15, 2009

    Reuters - Deadline for U.S. broadband grants, loans extended

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    Deadline for U.S. broadband grants, loans extended

    Friday, Aug 14, 2009 5:30AM UTC

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The deadline for online applications for the first round of the U.S. government's $7.2 billion program to provide broadband access to all Americans was extended to August 20 from August 14 because of technical problems caused by the high number of applicants.

    Applicants who started the process using the online Easygrants System will be given until the close of business Thursday, August 20, the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) said.

    The NTIA said additional servers had been added.

    Paper applications are still due by Aug 14.

    The Commerce Department administers the broadband program with the Agriculture Department.

    The government is awarding $4 billion in loans and grants to applicants who meet certain criteria and compete for the funds. The money would have to be used to expand broadband infrastructure.

    Companies, organizations, and state and local governments are eligible to apply in the first round. Big carriers like Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc are not expected to apply.

    Broadband has been the central focus of workshops being held by the Federal Communications Commission, which has been charged with creating a national broadband plan, that will be presented to Congress in February.

    As part of the stimulus broadband plan, the government is overseeing a $350 million mapping program to determine the extent of broadband use in U.S. homes and bring high-speed Internet service to more people.

    Last week, the NTIA said telecommunications providers such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast Corp had agreed to provide some information about their broadband networks as part of the mapping program.

    (Reporting by John Poirier; Editing by Toni Reinhold)

    Reuters - Asian Web connections set to resume by end of Thursday

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    Asian Web connections set to resume by end of Thursday

    Friday, Aug 14, 2009 1:33PM UTC

    TAIPEI (Reuters) - Up to 90 percent of all voice call and Internet services from parts of East Asia that were disrupted after Typhoon Morakot damaged undersea cables will resume by the end of Thursday, a senior Chunghwa Telecom official said.

    Many Web users in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines experienced slow Internet connections this week as undersea landslides damaged cables connecting them to websites hosted in the United States.

    Full repair work on the damaged cables will only be completed in about two months, and Chunghwa is working with other affected telecommunications companies in the region to use alternative routes to restore connectivity.

    Chunghwa Telecom, a former state-owned monopoly and Taiwan's largest telecoms company, shares the undersea cables with other operators in East Asia.

    "We see that most Internet and voice connections should be back to near-normal levels by the end of Thursday," said T.F. Leng, president of Chunghwa's International Business Group.

    "The typhoon didn't destroy the cables all in one go, which would have led to a sudden outage of services. It slowly destroyed some of the cables, which is why it took a few days before some users were affected."

    The cost of repairing the cables will be shared among various telecoms companies, and Chunghwa Telecom's share of the costs should not exceed T$3 million ($91,240), Leng said, declining to name the other companies involved.

    The last time Internet users in East Asia experienced an Internet outage as a result of a natural disaster was in 2006, when an earthquake off the coast of Taiwan damaged undersea cables.

    (Reporting by Kelvin Soh; Editing by Chris Lewis and Sugita Katyal)

    Reuters - Leaked Radiohead song has fans on alert for new EP

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    Leaked Radiohead song has fans on alert for new EP

    Friday, Aug 14, 2009 9:16PM UTC

    By Andre Paine

    LONDON (Billboard) - There is speculation that Radiohead will issue a new digital EP as early as Monday, after the leak of a track online assumed to be a new song by the band.

    Fan site At Ease reports that the track "These Are My Twisted Words" was posted on its message board, and it has since appeared on YouTube. According to At Ease, the source file includes the title "Wall of Ice" -- assumed to be the name of the EP -- and the release date August 17.

    Radiohead, which does not have a long-term label deal at present, released its 2007 set "In Rainbows" via its own Web site on a pay-what-you-want basis for the MP3 and followed that with a full release in January 2008 via XL Recordings in the U.K and ATO/Red in the U.S.

    In an interview with the Australian Friday, multi-instrumentalist Jonny Greenwood said: "Traditionally we'd be looking for 10 or 11 songs and putting them together, but that doesn't feel as natural as it used to, so I don't know what we'll do. Maybe we'll find four songs that work together and we'll call that a release. I don't know. No one knows how to release music any more, including us. How to put it together, in what format, how long. We're in the dark as much as anyone, I think."

    Radiohead is rehearsing for festival appearances including Leeds and Reading (August 29 and 30) in the U.K.

    Last week it issued the digital track "Harry Patch (In Memory Of)," with proceeds going to the British Legion, the U.K. charity that supports the armed forces and its veterans. Harry Patch, who died aged 111 on July 25, was Britain's last surviving veteran of World War I.

    (Editing by SheriLinden at Reuters)

    Reuters - Facebook to face off with new Web rivals

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    Facebook to face off with new Web rivals

    Saturday, Aug 15, 2009 4:14PM UTC

    By Alexei Oreskovic

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook's vision of becoming a "utility" that offers activities to keep people online for hours could set it on a collision course with the Web's giants.

    In recent days, the No.1 social networking company revamped its search engine and bought a start-up that some call a rival to hot micro-blogging service Twitter. It is also testing a stripped-down version of its service to boost growth overseas and is developing an electronic payments system.

    These moves mark a new phase in Facebook's evolution as the five-year-old company meshes the viral power of social networks and its huge member base to barge into new markets.

    "When you become the site that people spend enough hours on everyday it's very natural to take advantage of that and to become the site that tries to provide all the services that portals provide," said Haim Mendelson, a professor at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business.

    The site, co-founded by 25-year-old Mark Zuckerberg in a Harvard University dorm room, could challenge Web portals like Yahoo Inc and Google in content and communications, Brigantine Advisors analyst Colin Gillis said.

    Facebook, which Zuckerberg has described as a "social utility," could take on eBay Inc's PayPal online payments system and maybe Apple Inc's iTunes for digital downloads, he added.

    "People only do so many things on the Web," said Jeffrey Rayport, founder of digital media consultancy firm Marketspace. "There are a lot of companies that would like to own that set of activities."

    FACEBOOK AND GOOGLE? SEARCH ME

    With more than 250 million members, Facebook was the world's fourth most visited website in June, according to comScore. It is on track to bring in more than $500 million in revenue this year, most of it from advertising sales.

    The new initiatives represent the natural evolution of the service, said Facebook Vice President of Product Christopher Cox. He downplayed the increasing overlap between Facebook's new search engine and Twitter's search engine, or Google's dominant Web search engine.

    Facebook's previous search engine was useful for finding other people on the site, but the new version lets users look up what others are saying about particular topics, from healthcare to Iran. The search results are relevant to each person, Cox said in an interview.

    "When you're trying to figure out what to eat, or what shoes to buy, or who to vote for, you don't go ask thousands of strangers," said Cox. "The Web should reflect that."

    Facebook's recent acquisition of FriendFeed, which lets people share and search for content in real time across social networks and blogs, gives it another key asset as it seeks to perhaps extend its search scope beyond the site's boundaries.

    Google recently unveiled new search engine prototype, dubbed Caffeine, that promises faster, more relevant searches.

    Asked about Facebook's search efforts, a Google spokesman said, "We have many competitors, and we take them all seriously. But what we take more seriously is innovation and making search better."

    Facebook is likely not interested in going head-to-head in Internet search with Google, Stanford's Mendelson said. But the areas of overlap between the companies are increasing, and by beefing up search, Facebook could become more competitive with Google, he added.

    At the same time, Facebook could go after PayPal with the online payments system it is developing. Companies like 1-800-Flowers have already set up shop within Facebook, and e-commerce could become more popular on the site.

    Software developers who sell applications on Facebook are testing the payments system, Cox said, but it is not clear whether it will handle e-commerce transactions across the Web.

    "We're really just trying to get our bearings on what the right product is here with a handful of people at this point," said Cox.

    (Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic. Editing by Robert MacMillan)

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    If you know me then you know my name. I am The Black Rider and the world is my Flame. The rider writes, observes, creates, produces, and learns the world around him. Ride on. Ride on!

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