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The Internet Innovation Alliance is a broad-based coalition of business and non-profit organizations that aim to ensure every American, regardless of race, income or geography, has access to the critical tool that is broadband Internet. The IIA seeks to promote public policies that support equal opportunity for universal broadband availability and adoption so that everyone, everywhere can seize the benefits of the Internet - from education to health care, employment to community building, civic engagement and beyond.
Wednesday, April 23
Monday, April 21
Think mobile phones are a fairly recent invention? Think again. As this old newsreel from British Pathé shows, people in 1922 could stroll down the sidewalk and talk on the phone too.
With the FCC moving toward its upcoming incentive spectrum auction, The Hill‘s Kate Tummarello examines a debate over Wi-Fi:
Next year, the Federal Communications Commission will auction off airwaves worth billions to wireless companies. While the agency has pledged to set aside some unlicensed airwaves — which fuel consumer electronic devices like garage door openers and Wi-Fi routers — some fear the FCC might not reserve enough of the valuable airwaves as it tries to meet congressionally set revenue goals.
The highly anticipated 2015 auction will involve buying airwaves back from broadcasters and then selling new licenses for those airwaves to spectrum-hungry wireless companies looking to expand their networks.
While most focus on the battle between wireless companies over the agency’s plans to limit certain companies in the auction, the tech industry is watching to see how much of the available spectrum the FCC will set aside for unlicensed use.
With wireless companies in dire need of more airwaves — and the government in need of revenue — it’s clear the FCC faces a precarious balancing act. Finding a solution that works for everyone will be tricky, but it needs to be done in order for consumers not to end up on the losing end of the auction.
At the Huffington Post, Bianca Bosker offers a fascinating look at how Myanmar, which up until recently was pretty much an Internet black hole, is dealing with being connected. An excerpt:
Eh Thaw Taw—“Royal” to his Facebook friends—relies on his Huawei smartphone for the usual message-sending, picture-taking and status-updating, but he never, ever uses Google for the simple reason that he doesn’t know how.
“I can’t search,” the 24-year-old says, thumbing his phone as we stand under trees on the Yangon University campus, which reopened last fall after being shut down in 1988 by a military regime wary of protests. What if Royal, an economics major, needs to look up, say, the gross domestic product of the United States? “I ask my teacher, who will search for it,” he answers.
Royal’s classmate, 20-year-old E Lawm Nap, is appalled. “In this century, every person can use website or the Google!” she chides him.
But then again, this is Myanmar, a country that only three years ago had a lower cellphone penetration rate than North Korea, and even now enforces a policy of one SIM card per family. It’s a country where computer schools still lack computers; text messages can take two hours (or two days) to arrive; and Royal is forced to be nocturnal, since the only reliable Internet connection he can get is from midnight to dawn.
Wednesday, April 16
As the FCC continues to design its upcoming incentive spectrum auction, 78 House Democrats have penned a letter — led by Congressmen John Barrow and Bennie G. Thompson — encouraging the Commission to maximize the benefits of the auction by ensuring they are open to all entities willing to bid. An excerpt from the letter:
For the auction to be a success, the Commission should maximize participation by both broadcasters incented to relinquish their spectrum rights and bidders seeking to buy those rights in the spectrum auction. In fact, inviting as many bidders as possible to compete in an open and fair auction on equal terms will allow for the full market price for spectrum to be realized and, in turn, lead to higher compensation to incent greater broadcaster participation resulting in more spectrum for the auction.
We agree with the position taken by the House Democrats. As our Honorary Chairman, former Congressman Rick Boucher, wrote in an op-ed for Light Reading last year:
In order to meet these multiple needs simultaneously, it’s essential that the auction be open to all financially qualified bidders. Some have suggested that the largest mobile carriers be restricted in their ability to participate fully in the auction in order to favor smaller carriers. Limiting the ability of the largest carriers to purchase the spectrum their customers are demanding will mean fewer services for consumers and lower auction proceeds, rendering very difficult the challenge of meeting all of the competing and urgent demands for the auction revenues.
Moreover, it is not at all clear that spectrum acquisition restrictions on the largest carriers would actually promote competition.
Monday, April 14
In an op-ed for Roll Call, IIA Broadband Ambassador Kristian Ramos makes the case for modernizing our nation’s networks. An excerpt:
As consumers continue to flee the aging telephone network, modernizing our telecommunications law is essential to provide the right incentives to accelerate high-speed broadband deployment and establish a regulatory framework that advances key consumer protections unique to 21st century broadband networks. Rules designed to address the antiquated telephone system during a monopoly era are ill equipped to promote a level playing field among numerous technologies and high speed broadband network providers. Robust and vibrant wireless and wired broadband is key to advancing economic opportunity, education, and civic engagement, and strengthening our global competitiveness.
You can read Ramos’ full op-ed at Roll Call.
According to a report by Greg Bensinger and Evelyn M. Rusli in the Wall Street Journal, online commerce giant Amazon is about to take a cannonball into the smartphone market:
Amazon.com Inc. is preparing to release a smartphone in the second half of this year, according to people briefed on the company’s plans, part of a broad push into hardware that would pit it against Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.
The retailer has been demonstrating versions of the handset to developers in San Francisco and its hometown Seattle in recent weeks, these people said. People briefed on the company’s plans have been told that Amazon aims to announce the phone by the end of June and begin shipping phones by the end of September, ahead of the holiday shopping season.
The people said Amazon hopes to distinguish its phone in a crowded market with a screen capable of displaying seemingly three-dimensional images without special glasses, these people said. They said the phone would employ retina-tracking technology embedded in four front-facing cameras, or sensors, to make some images appear to be 3-D, similar to holograms.
Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and now Amazon… what U.S. tech company won’t have a smartphone soon?
At the Washington Post, Cecilia Kang has an extensive profile of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. An excerpt:
“I’m not sitting here sucking eggs,” Wheeler said at his first public meeting in November, a warning shot of what was to come. “I’m looking seriously at these issues.”
Such candor has defied early assumptions about President Obama’s FCC pick. The former lobbyist was pegged by many as a lame-duck regulator, likely to lay low and stick to worker-bee issues.
Instead, the 68-year-old has eagerly grasped a national megaphone on the defining — and the utterly arcane — telecom policy issues of the day.
Remember kids, joking about terrorism on Twitter — especially in response to an airline — is a really, really, really bad idea.
Tuesday, April 08
Miss our Internet Academy on the future of America’s telecommunications policy yesterday? We’ve got you covered.