As people are increasingly wanting to consume their entertainment at any time and in any way, content creators are experimenting with ways to deliver it. At paidContent, Laura Hazard Owen writes about an unexpected issue one content provider is facing since taking their product online:
The original idea behind soap operas was that daily episodes would keep viewers hooked and advertisers happy. But few people have time to devote to mid-day TV any more, and as TV viewing shifts online, the model is changing.
It’s been just two and a half weeks weeks since popular soap operas One Life to Live and All My Children were reborn as online-only shows — but production company Prospect Park has already decided to cut back on the number of new episodes released online each week. The change in schedule, the company claims, is due to the fact that viewers are “binge-watching” instead of watching one episode a day, and this makes it too hard for them to keep up.
In a speech before the Media Institute yesterday, Craig Silliman, Senior Voce President of Public Policy for Verizon, argued that outdated regulations risk holding back innovation and investment. It’s a similar argument other telecom providers have made recently. As Silliman told the crowd:
[W]e need to ensure is that we do not let an increasingly outdated regulatory regime for the Internet ecosystem slow innovation and investment. The 1996 Telecom Act succeeded in what it was designed to achieve, but almost two decades later it is leaving the FCC struggling to shoehorn Internet-era technologies into phone-era regulations. I am not suggesting that the answer is to abolish all regulation. But I am suggesting that we need a 21st century policy framework that is designed for 21st century technologies and marketplaces, not 19th century ones.
We need to start by asking the right questions. It has been suggested that a key question for the next FCC chairman will be how to keep the FCC relevant in the Internet era. I believe that is the wrong question. I recognize, of course, that tactical battles to secure budgets and resources are part of any organization or entity, including the federal government. But a strategic view of policymaking starts by asking what objective we are trying to achieve, and then asking whether regulation is needed, why it is needed, and who is best placed to administer it.
The full speech is worth checking out.
Apple’s App Store, which launched in 2008, has already hit a massive number—and one lucky man received a big gift. Via Joanna Stern of ABC News:
Brandon Ashmore from Mentor, Ohio, hit the app jackpot Tuesday afternoon when he pressed the download button on a word game app called Say the Same Thing and sent Apple over the 50 billion app download mark, winning the $10,000 prize.
50 billion apps and counting. In an ecosystem that didn’t exist just five years ago. Wow.
Google believes the future is in wearable computing, and that their innovative glasses Google Glass is going to lead the way. But as Brendan Sasso of The Hill reports, at least some members of Congress aren’t too keen on where Google is attempting to go:
Eight members of Congress raised privacy fears about Google’s wearable computer, Google Glass, expressing concern the device could allow users to identify people on the street and look up personal information about them.
The lawmakers, members of the congressional Privacy Caucus, said they are concerned users could access individuals’ addresses, marital status, work history and hobbies.
“As members of the Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, we are curious whether this new technology could infringe on the privacy of the average American,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Google CEO Larry Page.
In response, Google has reassured the members of Congress that privacy concerns are very much on their radar:
“We are thinking very carefully about how we design Glass because new technology always raises new issues,” a Google spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. “Our Glass Explorer program, which reaches people from all walks of life, will ensure that our users become active participants in shaping the future of this technology — and we’re excited to hear the feedback.”
Broadband is revolutionizing education across America. To coincide with today’s Technologies in Education Forum, hosted by The Atlantic, we put together the below infographic breaking down all the ways kids are using technology to excel in school.
An embed code so you can post the infographic on your own site is available here. And for more on broadband and education, check out our webinar with iNACOL’s Director of Policy, David Teeter, and Kwame Simmons, principal of Kramer Middle School in Washington, D.C.
You can also read Simmons’ op-ed for the Washington Post.
Late last week, the FCC’s Technology Transitions Policy Task Force announced it was issuing Public Notice seeking comment on proposed “beta” trials to transition America’s networks to all-IP. Below are reactions to the announcement from IIA leadership.
From Honorary Chairman and former Congressman Rick Boucher:
”The FCC’s recognition of the importance of the move from TDM to all-IP networks is a welcome building block, but it’s disappointing that comprehensive IP transition trials have not been authorized. Only through a comprehensive examination can potential issues be identified and addressed and consumers be protected.”
From Co-Chairman Bruce Mehlman:
“The Commission is steering in the right direction, but traveling at the wrong speed. Fully committing to all-IP networks would bring the greatest benefits to consumers and best-equip America to compete on a global scale. Baby steps won’t keep pace with technology.”
From Co-Chairman Jamal Simmons:
“The three areas on which the FCC seeks comment are all important pieces of the puzzle, but instead of a piecemeal approach to figuring out challenges with the IP Transition, the Commission should quickly adopt a holistic strategy, including well-defined trials in designated wire centers, to bring broadband-enabled benefits in health care, education and entrepreneurship to all Americans.”
For further reading, check out FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai’s statement on the FCC’s Public Notice.
4G LTE is just starting to be widely adopted here in the States, but as Jon Russell of The Next Web reports, Samsung is already working toward the next big leap in mobile broadband:
The Korean tech giant says its 5G wireless technology will be capable of providing users with data speeds of “up to several tens of Gbps per base station”. That, it says, is “several hundred times faster” than even yet-to-be-released 4G LTE technology.
In practical terms, Samsung’s estimated speeds would allow a movie to be downloaded in under one second, and it could enable a host of new services that feed off the ability to transfer large files quickly.
Mobile broadband is just getting started.
Via Michelle Healy of USA Today comes some troubling news when it comes to technology and kids:
If your teen texts while driving, chances are he or she also practices other dangerous motor vehicle habits — including failing to buckle up and driving after they have been drinking, a new federal analysis finds.
In 2011, 45% of all students 16 and older reported that they had texted or e-mailed while driving during the past 30 days, says the study by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and reported in June’s Pediatrics, released online today.
Later in the piece, Healy quotes CDC Director Thomas Frieden:
“Multitasking may be fine if you’re sitting at your desk, but not when you’re driving a car,” Frieden adds. “Things can go so badly so quickly. That’s what I think teens don’t recognize.
Good advice for teens and adults.
At Read Write Web, Brian S. Hall writes about how “mobile is taking over the world,” as he puts it:
Figures published earlier this year from the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU), for example, reveal the amazing spread of mobile connectivity. According to the ITU’s “facts and figures” publication, mobile penetration rates are now about equal to the global population - including an 89% penetration rate in “developing countries,” which currently have the highest mobile growth rates.
In other words, nearly everyone on the planet has a mobile phone — or will have one soon enough.
It’s official: current Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski will be handing over the gavel on May 17th. While Commissioner Mignon Clyburn will lead the agency until Obama nominee Tom Wheeler gets confirmed and sworn in, it’s worth taking a look at the top two pressing issues Wheeler will face once he takes the helm of the Commission.
Agenda Item: IP Transition
The trend is undeniable. Americans are leaving their traditional phone service, dropping their standard connection in favor of wireless and IP-based phone connections. You’re probably one of them. If you have your home phone service bundled with cable, you might not even realize you no longer rely on the plain old telephone service (POTS) network.
With scores of people changing the way they communicate (some estimates peg the number at 500,000 people each month), network providers want to gradually sunset their old networks so they can concentrate billions in investment dollars to new, Internet-based services. In other words, they want to put their money where consumers want to go … and are going.
This transition to all-IP (Internet Protocol) networks won’t be as easy as flipping a switch. Ensuring everyone still has a reliable connection, especially seniors and those living in rural areas, is critical. That’s why AT&T submitted a proposal to the FCC for “beta trials” in select markets to identify potential pitfalls, an idea FCC Commission Ajit Pai strongly endorsed in a speech sponsored by the Hudson Institute back in March. As Pai said in his speech:
Right now, the most critical choice we face is whether to move forward with an All-IP Pilot Program. This program would allow forward-looking companies to choose a discrete set of wire centers where they could turn off their old TDM electronics and migrate consumers to an all-IP platform. Now, you may have noticed that when it comes to the IP transition, everyone has a prediction about what will or will not happen if carriers are allowed to provide services exclusively through an all-IP platform. But as we found out during yesterday’s “snowstorm”—what we Kansans call “weather”—predictions are no substitute for hard facts. Albert Einstein had it right: A “pretty experiment is in itself often more valuable than twenty formulae extracted from our minds.”
Fortunately, we don’t need to rely on formulae any longer. The FCC has sought and received comments on a proposal to create an All-IP Pilot Program. I’ve reviewed the record carefully. And having done so, I am proposing today that the FCC move forward with this program.
Going forward with beta trials is just part of the greater IP transition discussion Wheeler will no doubt be having as head of the FCC. Also on the burner will be regulations — specifically, what will be the regulatory framework in an all-IP world? The 1996 Telecommunications Act is by all accounts painfully outdated. Modernizing rules to keep pace with today’s technology in ways that encourage continued investment in network infrastructure and protect consumers will be critical for the IP transition to succeed. And Wheeler, from the driver’s seat of the FCC, will need to lead the discussion.
Agenda Item: Spectrum
Outgoing Chairman Julius Genachowski deserves a ton of credit for recognizing the coming “spectrum crunch” (as he’s coined it), but the FCC’s proposed solution to the problem — incentive spectrum auctions — is barely past the 50-yard line. The auctions are still being shaped, the details still being argued over. Some are pushing for limited involvement in the auctions by certain wireless providers. Others question whether enough broadcasters will participate to make a difference.
Meanwhile, thousands of Americans are adopting mobile broadband every day. They are firing up smartphones and tablets for the first time and pushing data into the ether. And all that data is joining the bits and bytes being pushed out from tens of millions of other people who are already relying on a wireless connection to the Internet for their daily activities.
To keep up with this flood of data traveling on their networks, wireless providers have been trying to make deals for spectrum left and right. But it’s still not enough, which means a lot will be riding on the FCC’s spectrum auctions. Will Wheeler and the other Commissioners successfully put together proceedings that are open to all qualified bidders? Auctions that maximize much-needed revenue for the Federal government? As my colleague Rick Boucher succinctly put it:
Only through truly competitive, open spectrum auctions will America’s wireless industry continue to thrive. After all, the best way to ensure competition is to encourage everyone to compete.
These are the two most critical issues Wheeler will face once he’s in charge of the FCC (and underlying both of those issues is the most important part of his job — increasing access for all Americans to participate in the technological revolution we are experiencing. High-speed access to the Internet only increases in importance as job searches, entrepreneurial opportunities, education and health care are all enhanced by being online). While some have criticized his selection given his past life running both the NCTA and the CTIA, such experience offers encouragement that he has the ability to successfully get the job done. As President Obama remarked during the announcement of his selection:
”If anybody is wondering about Tom’s qualifications… [He] is the only member of both the cable television and the wireless industry hall of fame.”
Here’s hoping Wheeler will one day be inducted into the FCC hall of fame as well.