Blog posts tagged with 'Broadband Access'
Wednesday, September 19
Over at Light Reading, Jeff Baumgartner highlights a new idea aimed at bridging the digital divide:
The pre-paid model has worked wonders for the mobile market over the years, so why shouldn’t it be applied to U.S. broadband?
Wipro Ltd. is pitching the idea to the nation’s cable operators as they think about how to stoke broadband service growth. They’d like to tailor packages to lower-income consumers (or students), but without the associated risks of non-payments and bad debt.
“There’s sort of a hole out there that’s not being addressed,” says Stephen Snyder, the global head of business innovation for Wipro’s Global Media and Telecom unit. “It could open up a whole new revenue stream.”
Monday, August 27
Brendan Sasso of The Hill reports that in order to achieve its goal of connecting everyone to broadband, the FCC is considering a new tax:
The Federal Communications Commission is eyeing a proposal to tax broadband Internet service.
The move would funnel money to the Connect America Fund, a subsidy the agency created last year to expand Internet access.
The FCC issued a request for comments on the proposal in April. Dozens of companies and trade associations have weighed in, but the issue has largely flown under the public’s radar.
Wednesday, August 22
From FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell’s statement:
“It is discouraging that, for the third year in a row, the majority has decided to clutch to its earlier negative findings as to whether “advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion” pursuant to Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. In reality, the growth of broadband deployment in America, especially regarding the mobile marketplace, has been swift and strong. For instance, between 2003 and 2009, broadband deployment steadily increased from reaching 15 percent of Americans to 95 percent of Americans.
Furthermore, mobile broadband is the fastest growing segment of the broadband market. America has always led the world in wireless connectivity thanks to de-regulatory policies and our lead is growing. For instance, our country has approximately 21 percent of the globe’s 3G/4G subscribers and approximately 69 percent of the world’s LTE subscribers even though the United States is home to less than five percent of the global population. Furthermore, the investments made by American wireless providers have been higher than their international counterparts. For example, in 2011, over $25 billion was invested in United States’ wireless infrastructure compared to $18.6 billion invested in the 15 largest European economies combined.
From FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai’s statement:
From 1999 to 2008, the Commission found that broadband was being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion. In 2010, however, this suddenly changed.
Despite our general economic problems and the current regulatory environment, the private sector deserves credit for what it has been able to accomplish recently when it comes to infrastructure investment. Communications network operators invested $66 billion in 2011. According to State Broadband Initiative data, private sector investment brought fixed terrestrial broadband service meeting the Commission’s speed benchmark to 7.4 million Americans and mobile broadband service to 46.7 million Americans from June 2010 to June 2011.
The Commission has consistently ignored in recent years the statute’s direction that “advanced telecommunications capability” may be deployed “using any technology.” That instruction does not permit us to segregate fixed connections from mobile connections, focusing on the former and neglecting the latter.
The FCC’s 706 report discounts the significant efforts being made by the private sector — despite uncertainty for investment stemming from a persistently weak economy and repeated attempts by the Commission to exercise greater direction and control over this inherently unpredictable yet consistently innovative sector — to continue building out broadband infrastructure, particularly next-generation wireless networks, to connect all Americans. Last year, wireless service providers invested nearly $26 billion in the creation and maintenance of the mobile infrastructure that puts better health care, education and job opportunities in reach for consumers. Of course there is more work to do.
Contrary to the FCC’s assertions, more government control over the telecommunications industry with new rules is absolutely not a prerequisite for closing the digital divide — in fact, fixed regulations are inherently inimical to the competitive, innovative, rapidly-changing reality of modern telecommunications. Instead, the FCC and policy makers need to adopt a more flexible approach that is humble in scope and recognizes the fast-paced, innovative environment in which industry operates.
Most new regulatory initiatives of the past five years have hindered innovation and high-tech leadership, whereas deregulatory efforts have helped them. Minimal government intervention will support the Internet’s continued, consumer-driven growth and bring us closer to reaching President Obama’s goal of 4G wireless coverage for 98 percent of the population by 2015.
Tuesday, August 21
As an advocate for the Asian American community, I aim to advance policies that benefit not only my community but all Americans. One great example is promoting the wireless revolution that is creating enormous opportunities for minority communities to flourish. As our networks grow faster and more reliable and our devices become more powerful, these opportunities will continue to expand.
Every day, more and more Asian Americans are using mobile devices to access the Internet. Recent studies show that Asian Americans, followed by other communities of color, are leading the way in smartphone adoption. While these studies do not take into account that certain Asian American subgroups likely have lower adoption rates, it is clear that no one should be denied access to this technology that improves our lives. Major barriers to Internet adoption, such as limited English proficiency, lack of digital literacy skills, and affordability need to be addressed. Yet limited deployment to low-income and rural communities also continues to negatively affect Asian Americans and other communities of color. That’s why I agree with President Obama’s goal of delivering next generation wireless broadband services to 98 percent of Americans by 2016.
But it’s going to take a couple of things to make that happen.
First, we have to make sure the private sector continues to invest in wireless networks and the devices and apps that use them. Last year, wireless service providers spent about $26 billion on building and maintaining the mobile infrastructure needed for wireless connectivity. These expenditures translate into jobs and economic opportunities for our communities. We need that investment to continue, and even increase, if we are to reach the President’s goal. The government must have policies in place that encourage this investment.
Second, more spectrum — the invisible airwaves that carry wireless signals — is required. As the wireless revolution continues to boom, we’ll need more spectrum to meet our growing demand. While recently passed legislation will free up a limited amount of spectrum, the government is the largest holder of spectrum. The government should quickly move to use its spectrum more efficiently and make spectrum available for consumer use. If we can do this, all Americans will be major beneficiaries.
Jason T. Lagria is the Telecommunications and Broadband Policy Staff Attorney at the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice. AAJC works to promote universal access and reduce barriers to critical technology and services for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other underserved communities.
Monday, July 30
Kenneth Mallory and Tiffany Bain on Politic365 have written a good wrap-up of last week’s National Urban League panel “Job Creation and Education: Programmatic Efforts to Increase Broadband Adoption in African American Communities,” which featured the likes of FCC Commission Mignon Clyburn and Minority Media and Telecommunications Council President David Jonig, among others. Here’s a taste:
The panelists underscored that Internet was essential to living a meaningful life in the 21st century. Honig illustrated four main advantages of adopting broadband – having greater access to healthcare (through tele-health technologies), education, job opportunities, and civic engagement.
Thursday, July 26
As part of their 2012 conference in New Orleans, the National Urban League is holding the panel discussion “Job Creation and Education: Programmatic Efforts to Increase Broadband Adoption in African AmericanCommunities.”
Moderated by Kristal High, Editor-in-Chief of Politic365, the discussion will feature David Honig of the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, the NUL Policy Institute’s Madura Wijewardena, and Charisse Lillie of the Comcast Foundation.
With the digital divide still very much in place in America — especially among communities of color — this will be an important discussion in the midst of an important event. Even if you’re not in New Orleans for the convention, you should tune in to watch the livestream. You can also follow along on Twitter via the hashtag #Urbanleague
Wednesday, July 25
Courtesy of The Hill‘s Brendan Sasso, the FCC is making another major contribution to boost efforts aimed at closing the digital divide:
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said on Wednesday that it will spend $115 million over the next three years to expand high-speed Internet service to 400,000 homes and businesses that currently lack it.
That funding will be coupled with “tens of millions” of dollars of private investment, the commission said.
The money is part of the FCC’s Connect America Fund, a subsidy that the commission created last year when it overhauled its Universal Service Fund, which focused on ensuring telephone access.
Monday, July 23
New numbers from Nielsen show how mobile broadband is increasingly playing a role in our lives. Via Phil Goldstein of FierceWireless:
In the first quarter of 2012 the average U.S. mobile subscriber used 450 MB of data per month, according to research firm Nielsen. That figure is more than double the average of 208 MB per month for all U.S. mobile subscribers in the first quarter of 2011.
While this is definitely good news — mobile broadband is a driving force in closing the digital divide — it also highlights the critical importance of freeing up more airwaves for wireless use.
Monday, July 16
Via John Eggerton of Broadcasting & Cable, the House Small Business Committee is scheduled to hold an important hearing about broadband access this week:
[O]n the list of witnesses for the hearing, Digital Divide: Expanding Broadband Access to Small Businesses, are former FCC commissioner and current Rural Utilities Service Administrator Jonathan Adelstein and National Telecommunications and Information Administration chief Larry Strickling. Strickling and Adelstein’s agencies are responsible for handing out and overseeing billions in broadband stimulus money.
The hearing is on the role of the federal government in expanding broadband to small business, particularly in rural areas.
The House hearing is this Wednesday, July 18. Also scheduled to testify is current FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. We’ll have coverage here on the blog and on Twitter.
Tuesday, June 26
Earlier today, IIA hosted a teleconference on government regulations in the broadband ecosystem. Titled “The Role of Government in the Broadband Economy: Making Regulations Work,” the participants were Michael Mandel of the Progressive Policy Institute, Dr. Joseph P. Fuhr of the American Consumer Institute, and our own Co-Chair Bruce Mehlman.
You can download and listen to the conversation below. A full transcript is also available after the jump.
Download IIA Teleconference Audio (3.2 mb mp3).
Thursday, June 21
At The Hill, Brendan Sasso reports on some positive news in the ongoing — and often stalled — effort to connect rural communities to broadband:
The Senate unanimously added an amendment to the farm bill on Wednesday that would require that a portion of federal grants be used to expand high-speed Internet access to under-served areas.
The Senate’s farm bill would double funding for the Agriculture Department’s rural Internet programs — from $25 million to $50 million.
The amendment came courtesy of Sen. Mark Warner.
Thursday, June 14
In what could prove to be a major step in closing America’s digital divide, President Obama is signing an Executive Order today aimed at making broadband deployment faster and easier. From the White House website:
The Executive Order (EO) will require the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Interior, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs as well as the US Postal Service to offer carriers a single approach to leasing Federal assets for broadband deployment. The EO also requires that available Federal assets and the requirements for leasing be provided on departmental websites, and it will require public tracking of regional broadband deployment projects via the Federal Infrastructure Projects Dashboard. In addition, the Executive Order will direct departments to help carriers time their broadband deployment activities to periods when streets are already under construction—an approach that can reduce network deployment costs along Federal roadways by up to 90 percent.
The EO also launches an effort being called “US Ignite,” which is aimed at connecting communities and campuses with 1 gigabit/second broadband in order to promote the public good. Again, from the Order:
This network will become a test-bed for designing and deploying next-generation applications to support national priorities areas such as education, healthcare, energy, and advanced manufacturing. US Ignite will challenge students, startups, and industry leaders to create a new generation of applications and services that meet the needs of local communities while creating a broad range of job and investment opportunities. This initiative will open up countless new opportunities for households and small businesses, helping them experience the economic and community benefits of next-gen applications while demonstrating a path for other communities to join.
More on US Ignite can be found on the initiative’s website.
Tuesday, June 12
Highlighted by Janet Lyons on the Cisco company blog, IIA last November called for expanding broadband Internet access in order to help military families stay connected with loved ones serving our nations from around the world. This is a cause Cisco has long championed, as Lyons points out in her post.
Friday, May 18
Over at Politic365, Kristal High digs in to the National Urban League’s report “Connecting the Dots: Linking Broadband Adoption to Job Creation and Competitiveness”:
The report explains that in 2010, 56 percent of African Americans had access to broadband at home, compared to 67 percent of whites, or an 11 percent difference. But in 2009, the difference between those same groups was 19 percentage points.
These findings show that increasing numbers of consumers are discovering the limitless potential and possibilities brought by access to mobile broadband. It’s clear that broadband drives economic growth, job creation, and innovation in every industry—but for individuals and families, the benefits include better access to health care and educational opportunities, as well as the ability to find a job, network online, and obtain job training. And for one group that has traditionally had less access to this life-changing technology, things are changing.
The National Urban League’s report is available here (PDF).
Wednesday, March 21
At Talking Points Memo, Carl Franzen looks at an innovative idea to help bridge the digital divide:
KeyWifi, an ambitious New York-based startup company, aims to help solve this problem by letting anyone who currently pays for wireless Internet access to rent out their connection to those who don’t or can’t afford to, for a nominal fee. It’s a peer-to-peer Internet renting platform.
“You want WiFi and it’s all around you but its locked up,” said KeyWifi CEO Adam Black, 48, at a startup presentation in Manhattan in early march. “Think of all the spare WiFi not being used all around you and the people who might want to use it. The digital divide is within 100 yards of where you live. That’s a problem.”
The company is currently working with Internet Service Providers in the hopes of launching sometime in April.
Monday, March 19
At the Huffington Post, Peter Svensson looks at the return of ‘90s Internet provider NetZero:
United Online Inc. announced Monday that it will offer free wireless Internet service under its NetZero brand, the one that started the free dial-up phenomenon in 1998. The company is backing up the plan with TV, print and online advertisements.
While free mobile broadband access sounds great, Svensson reports there are some snags for consumers:
The free accounts are limited to 200 megabytes of data per month_ enough for some email and Web surfing, but little else. Half an hour of full-screen streamed video will eat up the whole month’s allotment. By comparison, AT&T Inc.‘s cheapest wireless data plan costs $14.95 per month for slightly more data – 250 megabytes per month – but that plan is only available for tablets with built-in cellular modems.
When the monthly traffic allotment is exhausted, NetZero cuts off Internet access until the start of the next month, and users are prompted to upgrade to the paid plan.
Thursday, March 01
At the Huffington Post, Gerry Smith examines the digital divide. The whole piece (which mentions IIA’s own analysis “10 Ways Being Online Saves You Money”) is worth a read. Here’s a taste:
[B]eing disconnected isn’t just a function of being poor. These days, it is also a reason some people stay poor. As the Internet has become an essential platform for job-hunting and furthering education, those without access are finding the basic tools for escaping poverty increasingly out of reach.
“The cost of being offline is greater now than it was 10 years ago,” said John Horrigan, vice president of policy research at TechNet, a trade association representing high-tech companies. “So many important transactions take place online. If you don’t have access to high-speed Internet, you’re missing out on a lot.”
Friday, February 03
At GigaOm, Om Malik highlights a new report from Akamai on the state of broadband adoption in America:
In the third quarter of 2011, global broadband adoption (2 Mbps or higher) grew 1.6 percent to reach 66 percent. The United States now has 81 percent broadband adoption, the report says.
While over 80% adoption is good, we obviously have a ways to go until we achieve the goal of 100% access and adoption. (Oddly enough, Bulgaria currently leads in adoption with 96% of the population connected.)
Tuesday, January 10
Yesterday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced the Commission was looking to reform its Lifeline program to better reflect the broadband age. Today the FCC published a handy fact sheet (PDF) breaking down its proposed changes.