The desire to increase equal opportunities for all Americans is a noble one. But the process of achieving this worthy goal is complicated, and it requires a variety of approaches—each tailored to meet the different needs of different communities.
For example, the Asian-American community is incredibly diverse, comprised of some groups that traditionally have achieved higher levels of education and economic stability. But their success doesn’t tell the whole story: The Asian-American community also includes many that continue to struggle with poverty, language and educational barriers, as well as health disparities. Their struggles mirror the challenges that affect many other minority communities in America.
It turns out that one way to increase equality of opportunity for these communities and for virtually every American is through increased access to high-speed broadband service. This service provides improved access to additional educational, professional, and social opportunities, in addition to opportunities for better health care and civic engagement. President Obama, recognizing the importance of broadband access, set a goal for providing 98 percent of all Americans with access to high-speed broadband by 2016.
Unfortunately, the availability of high-speed broadband is still limited in many parts of the country and within many minority communities, for a variety of reasons. This is a problem because in our modern, digital age, broadband access is now a necessity, not a luxury. Broadband service can strengthen communities and families, present new possibilities that lead to a better quality of life, and even act as a bridge to a brighter future.
In addition, too much of today’s communication regulatory and legislative decision-making processes are incorrectly based on yesterday’s communication network of wired connectivity. This has slowed the expansion of high-speed broadband and thus contributing to widening the inequalities we face today.
For example, distance learning has become both a viable alternative and a valuable supplement to traditional classroom learning for students at all levels and at any age. Online classes and job training can even make it possible for people to learn on their own time, a particularly important benefit for workers and families. With broadband access, non-native English speakers can choose from several language applications and programs to help them achieve proficiency in English.
Additionally, broadband-enabled applications in telehealth and mobile health (mHealth) offer better access to quality care and increased options for improved wellness and health. These health technologies also offer improved management of chronic diseases, including those that affect minority communities (including Asian-American communities) at disproportionately higher rates.
Conversely, lack of broadband access constitutes more than just an inability to get these and other benefits. In our modern time, it puts people at a tremendous disadvantage. For those without access—including many Asian Americans (in particular, our Pacific Islander and Southeast Asian communities), as well as many African Americans, Hispanics, and rural Americans—a fast solution is needed. Many minorities and other underserved groups face a real risk of falling behind and missing out on all that these exciting technologies have to offer.
That’s why it’s so important to upgrade our nation’s communications networks to Internet Protocol (IP)-based networks. Transitioning to such an infrastructure will bring increased access to next-generation, high-speed broadband networks with new capabilities and applications. These modern networks deliver faster speeds and enhanced connectivity. Moreover, unlike outdated networks, they support a variety of devices while also offering new options for services and technologies. The IP transition can transform and improve health care and education as well as provide more opportunities for civic engagement, professional development, and economic growth for us all.
Investment in modern networks is good for our economy, too. A study by Deloitte estimated U.S. investment in modern networks to be between $25–53 billion during 2012–2016; this corresponded to a conservative estimate of $73–152 billion in GDP growth and 317,000–771,000 new jobs for that same period. That investment presents many opportunities for our country and for all Americans.
The transition to next-generation networks will increase broadband access and result in economic growth and countless benefits for Americans; therefore, it must become a national priority. I believe that this transition can be achieved if our policymakers focus on encouraging private sector investment and creating a modern regulatory framework. Achieving rapid deployment of modern communications networks is the key to achieving the President’s national broadband goal and to creating true equality of opportunity. All Americans, regardless of background, should have access to broadband and to the brighter future it can deliver.
This week, the tech industry, tech reporters, and tech enthusiasts have descended on Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show. Over at Forbes, Eric Savitz has penned a preview highlighting four trends for this year’s show. Chief among them is what Savitz calls the “post-smartphone era,” which he describes as:
[E]arly commercials for the first iPhone show that it really was originally designed primarily as a mobile telephone. Now 65% of mobile phone use time is in non-communications activities. The eco-system is becoming less beholden to the phone. There are unintended consequences of phones and tablets becoming hub devices: TV remotes, power notebook computers, measure blood pressure, weigh babies, etc.
With the gadgets we carry with us doing so much more than transmitting our voices, transforming the backbones that keep our gadgets connected — a transition to all IP-based networks — will be increasingly important. As Savitz also notes in his piece, 350 million IP devices are expected to ship this year, which means keeping up with demand will require more and more investment.
We’ll have more highlights from CES throughout the week.
IIA Endorses USTA Petition Urging FCC to Modernize Regulations for Switched Services amidst Clear Competition
Says outdated requirements for maintaining antiquated public-switched networks siphon investment away from next-generation IP infrastructure
WASHINGTON, D.C. – December 19, 2012 – Following the filing of a petition by US Telecom Association (USTA) with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asking the Commission to make a “Declaratory Ruling” that incumbent ILECs no longer possess market power when providing switched access local phone services to residential and business customers, the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA), a broad-based coalition supporting broadband access and adoption for all Americans, today issued the following supportive statement:
“The vast majority of the nation now benefits from a highly competitive telecommunications marketplace. Consumers have an abundance of wireless and wireline options for telephone communications and are taking their pick from an array of technologies.
“Policy makers should prioritize the modernization of regulations, eliminating rules that are inappropriate to apply in today¹s dynamic and robust marketplace. In places where there is clear competition in the offering of local voice telephone service, the “dominant carrier” status now accorded to local phone companies should be repealed.
“Outdated requirements focused on maintaining antiquated, public-switched networks slow Internet transformation by siphoning investment away from the next-generation broadband infrastructure that is meeting consumers’ evolving needs. Advancement by the FCC of a national conversation on the IP Transition is paramount to keeping innovators innovating, businesses growing, consumers choosing and America competing.”
Earlier this week, Jason Purdy, Affiliated Analyst with market research firmMobileTrax and also Director of Digital Products for Sports Illustrated, published the below opinion piece. We feel it’s worth highlighting (and are publishing it in full with MobileTrax’s permission) because Purdy’s recent challenge in finding an Internet connection to meet his needs helps illustrate that consumers have several options to connect, but that there is still a great need for ongoing private investment in broadband infrastructure — especially wireless networks — in order to keep up with current and growing demand for data. It also offers a good example of how important it is to create a regulatory environment that allows providers to transition away from outdated technologies and move to faster, next-generation IP networks. — IIA
New Home, New ISP - Is Mobile Broadband Ready for Prime Time?
by Jason Purdy
After my wife and I moved to Brooklyn from Manhattan in 2011, the number one priority was to get internet set up. I loved Verizon FIOS, but our Brooklyn pre-war building didn’t have fiber connections, surprise surprise.
In Manhattan, we had a dedicated 50M bps downlink and 5M bps uplink that never returned a Speedtest.net result lower than 45/4. Instead, our options in our new place were DSL or Time Warner cable. I’ve heard horrific things about Time Warner’s customer service, and DSL’s bandwidth is too slow, but if those were my only two wired connections, what were my wireless options?
I have been creating a wireless connection from my 3G iPhone for several years, and it has provided decent wireless connectivity for general internet usage, but it is simply not fast enough nor affordable for an entire home’s Internet usage and downloading rich media like TV shows and movies. Although “4G LTE” is all the hype lately, they cap your bandwidth to 10GB a month. I easily go through that in two days.
Being that I work in the mobile space, I remember reading reports 5+ years ago about how WiMax was going to change everything. The main company implementing WiMax, Clearwire, had to file bankruptcy shorty after launching and investors, including Sprint, Time Warner and Comcast, stepped up to give the company the cash it needed to move into the 4G LTE space.
Today, Clearwire, which markets under the “Clear” brand, is marketed as “mobile 4G broadband”, offering a 3M bps-5M bps downlink. Not exactly the speeds I had before with Fios, but Time Warner’s wait time for installation was at least 10 days, so I took the plunge. I called Clear and they sent the router overnight and waived the activation fee. I only had to buy (not rent) the router for about $100. Amazingly, Internet was up and running from initial call to actually being online in less than 12 hours.
Besides usual internet usage like emails and browsing, I also download a lot of large files like the Apple iOS SDK. So how fast was Clear in reality? The first hour went remarkably well. I downloaded the iOS 6.0 SDK very quickly, averaging over 1.5M bps. After that finished, I tried Netflix which had some initial buffering time, but then seemed to play ok. Unfortunately, half way through a Breaking Bad episode, it started buffering again. This became a common occurrence until I noticed what caused it – any concurrent traffic on the same network. If I received a new email or I checked Twitter on my phone, the entire network was hosed. I ran a few speed tests and bandwidth went from 5.72M bps to less than 1MB bps (0.12M bps). For a frame of reference, Gmail took over a minute to load.
I tried emailing Clear to see if this was common or if I could pay $5 or $10 a month to have preferential access. Their response was “I’m sorry. You may not be a good fit for Clear.” Well, at least they were honest. At this point, it was pretty Clear (sorry) that this wasn’t going to work out, so I ordered Time Warner. I did have to wait a few days to get my Time Warner order processed and installed. This has turned out to be a great solution, and certainly better than trying to run my entire house off my iPhone’s Personal Hotspot, but simply not a long-term solution.
When I cancelled Clear they were very nice about it, asked why and what they could do, and ultimately gave me a full refund. When I called to cancel, I assumed I’d get the $100 back from the router I returned, but I tried to tell them they could keep the $54 monthly fee. I did use their service quite a bit for almost two weeks and was happy to have internet at my new home while we were moving in, but they wouldn’t accept it. Thanks, Clear! Can you imagine if this launched in 2005? Everyone would have switched from DSL and the mobile space would have completely changed.
Scheduling Time Warner wasn’t ideal, with the only times they would show up at our place were between 9-5, but that said, check out my new speeds! Single connection: 28.7M bps, which is amazing, but then I tried what I could not do with Clear: four connections at once including 1) My iPhone streaming Pandora, 2) My AppleTV streaming Netflix, 3) My MacbookPro downloading an update to Photoshop and 4) my iPad uploading a video to YouTube. The result: 25.17M bps.
Realize here that we’re only using Time Warner for internet access. They tried to sell me a cable TV package, but we just didn’t need it. If we watched more TV, it might have been worth it, but I don’t mind paying Time Warner so I can get over the top (OTT) access to movies and some TV shows via sources like Netflix, iTunes and Hulu.
Although wireless speeds are faster than they’ve ever been (remember trying to load a website on your Motorola Razr?), and in theory speeds are faster than any average user would use, in practice wired (cable) internet access is the only option right now. I’ll switch back to Verizon’s FIOS at 10G bps (drool) if they offer it in my area, but Time Warner is working out just fine for now.
You can read this post, along with much more about the current state of mobile broadband, at Mobiletrax.
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