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Wi-Fi Passpoint standard now knits together SF, San Jose, London

A partnership that lets Wi-Fi users get on free public networks in San Francisco and San Jose, California, with a one-time joining process now also covers a hotspot along the River Thames in London.

The cities at either end of Silicon Valley used the Wi-Fi Alliance’s Passpoint specification to set up Wi-Fi roaming between their city-owned networks earlier this year. The technology lets residents and visitors set up a secure connection with either network and then automatically get on the other city’s system whenever they enter its coverage area.

It’s an arrangement that makes a lot of sense between the two cities: They’re both home to major tech companies and are commuting distance apart. Adding in a river halfway around the world may seem like a stretch, but for travelers, the easy access to Wi-Fi across borders could be a nice convenience—and a sign of things to come.

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FCC pushes TV spectrum auction to 2016 after legal challenge

The auction intended to turn many U.S. TV channels into spectrum for mobile services won’t start until early 2016, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission says.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler had earlier forecast that the auction would begin in the middle of next year. But in August, the National Association of Broadcasters challenged some aspects of the agency’s plan in court. Due to the schedule for briefings and hearings in that case, plus the complexity of putting together the auction, the agency has pushed back its calendar. It now expects to start accepting applications in fall 2015 and to launch the auction early the following year, according to an FCC blog post on Friday.

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The ratings: Most net neutrality groups get poor grades for funding transparency

After a spate of news stories about alleged "astroturf" advocacy in a contentious U.S. net neutrality debate, the IDG News Service looked into the funding transparency of several think tanks and advocacy groups involved in the issue. Several disclose limited or no information about their funding, we found.

Astroturfing is commonly defined as a lack of funding transparency, paired with the appearance of grassroots support.

The IDG News Service looked at 14 of the most prominent think tanks and advocacy groups involved in the debate. The following list is not exhaustive, however. It does not include some small organizations, and a handful of groups that have joined the conversation recently.

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Secretive funding fuels ongoing net neutrality astroturfing controversy

The contentious debate about net neutrality in the U.S. has sparked controversy over a lack of funding transparency for advocacy groups and think tanks, which critics say subverts the political process.

News stories from a handful of publications in recent months have accused some think tanks and advocacy groups of "astroturfing" -- quietly shilling for large broadband carriers. In a handful of cases, those criticisms appear to have some merit, although the term is so overused by people looking to discredit political opponents that it has nearly lost its original meaning.

+Also on Network World: 2014 Tech Industry Graveyard +

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Advocacy groups accused of obscuring corporate ties in net neutrality debate

A spate of recent news stories have revealed that a wide variety of lobby groups have financial ties to broadband carriers and trade associations, accusing them of faking grassroots opposition to strong net neutrality rules.

The recent coverage from news organizations has overwhelmingly targeted a lack of funding transparency in groups opposed to strong net neutrality regulations. Some of that coverage disparity may be because groups advocating for strong net neutrality rules tend to be more transparent about their funding than groups opposed, but some pro-net neutrality groups also have limited funding transparency mechanisms.

Much of the reporting on so-called astroturfing has come from Vice.com, the news and culture website that has championed “immersionist” journalism. Vice is perhaps most famous for sending former Chicago Bulls basketball player Dennis Rodman to North Korea in early 2013.

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