Bruce P. Mehlman
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.
Blog posts tagged with 'Networks'
Friday, October 18
Monday, August 26
Is online retail giant Amazon prepping a new wireless network? According to Olga Kharif and Danielle Kucera at Bloomberg, the answer appears to be yes:
Amazon.com Inc. has tested a new wireless network that would allow customers to connect its devices to the Internet, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The wireless network, which was tested in Cupertino, California, used spectrum controlled by satellite communications company Globalstar Inc., said the people who asked not to be identified because the test was private.
Amazon already has its own network, WhisperNet, which delivers books to customer Kindles. But with a more robust network, Amazon could conceivably deliver much more than books.
Wednesday, February 27
Reporting from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the AP’s Peter Svensson looks at the coming machine-to-machine revolution:
Companies are promising that machine-to-machine, or M2M, technology will deliver all manner of services, from the prosaic to the world-changing. At U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm Inc.‘s booth here at the show, there’s a coffeepot that can be ordered to start brewing from a tablet computer, or an Internet-connected alarm clock. A former president of Costa Rica is also at the show, talking about how M2M can save massive amounts of greenhouse gases by making energy use more efficient — enough to bring mankind halfway to the goal of halting global warming.
The M2M phenomenon is part of the larger drive to create an “Internet of Things” — a global network that not only links computers, tablets and phones but that connects everything from bikes to washing machines to thermostats. Machina Research, a British firm, believes there will be 12.5 billion “smart” connected devices, excluding phones, PCs and tablets, in the world in 2020, up from 1.3 billion today.
Driving the M2M movement will be advanced networks — both wired and wireless — able to power the constant flow of data. To get there will take investment. As my fellow Chair Jamal Simmons recently wrote in Fierce Telecom:
[F]or consumers, businesses and our nation as a whole to benefit from the opportunities enabled by a high-speed, all IP-based broadband network, the entire ecosystem must invest.
Monday, January 28
Last Friday, IIA submitted comments to the FCC on AT&T’s recent petition regarding the transition from copper wire networks to networks that are all Internet Protocol (IP) based. From those comments:
While the era of the telecom monopoly is long over, monopoly-era regulations persist. In some ways this is predictable, since markets move faster than government, and entrepreneurs innovate more rapidly than policy makers. By way of example, one of the most counter-productive, monopoly-era regulations still on-the-books is the requirement for legacy carriers to continue maintaining redundant legacy copper (nonIP) networks even when they are no longer needed for the carrier to serve its customers. While these rules made sense at the dawn of the Internet era when little, if any, competition existed, voice remained the essential product and telephone networks had been built via government-guaranteed-rate-of-return exclusivity, they have longbeen overtaken by events. For example, in many regions incumbent telephone companies have retained less than 30 percent of the customers, yet they are still required to cover 100 percent with their pre-IP, voice-grade networks. Voice is today just another application delivered over multiple IP platforms.
You can read our full comments, penned by our Honorary Chairman Rick Boucher and Co-Chairs Bruce Mehlman and Jamal Simmons, here.
Tuesday, January 08
Fred Donovan of Fierce Enterprise Communications sat down at CES with AT&T vice president of regulatory affairs Hank Hultquist to talk about the company’s plan to transition to an all-IP network. On what the transition will mean for voice communication:
Voice quality is a “perceived obstacle,” Hultquist told FierceEnterpriseCommunications. “I think that perception will change quickly because of the introduction of voice over IP on the mobile side… which will evolve pretty quickly to high-definition voice. High-definition voice has a much wider range of sound, and the voice quality is going to be substantially better than what people have had before.”
“When HD voice over LTE takes off, going forward voice over IP in the enterprise will get much better than the traditional switched voice experience. When that happens, the perceived obstacle will vanish,” he added.
Hultquist also discussed the challenges of maintaining the legacy network of the past:
“The telephone network we all grew up with is now an obsolete platform… that will not be sustainable for the indefinite future. No one is making this network technology any more. It will become increasingly difficult to find spare parts for it. And it is becoming more and more difficult to find trained technicians and engineers to work on it,” Hultquist explained.
“This is a very practical problem. How do we retire this legacy network technology and move into this all-IP world?” he added.
Thursday, December 20
Yesterday’s petition filing from the US Telecom Association urging the FCC to modernize regulations for switched services is just one of what will be many important steps as America upgrades its communications infrastructure.
The legacy POTS network — the copper wires that connect to everyone’s home — has served America well for over a century. But the needs of consumers are making that network obsolete. As the USTA states in its filing:
Today, there are likely more households that have chosen to “cut-the-cord” and subscribe only to wireless service than there are households that subscribe to a switched-access service provided by an ILEC. And within the next year, the number of households being served by an interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) service will surpass the number of households subscribed to an ILEC switched access service.
These statistics are merely the most obvious manifestations of a profound and accelerating technological and societal shift away from “plain old telephone service” (POTS) offered over the legacy public switched telephone network (“PSTN”) to IP-based services offered over fixed and mobile broadband networks.
But even as Americans are increasingly “cutting the cord” (and younger people especially are dropping the old phone line — or not even bothering to subscribe to wireline service at all), dusty regulations require providers to maintain antiquated public switched networks. That’s a substantial annual investment in a service people are abandoning — an investment we can all agree would be put to much better use building out our next-generation broadband infrastructure.
Like all filings with a government agency, the USTA’s petition to the FCC is filled with technical terms and legalese. But at the heart of the filing is the issue of diverted investment — putting money toward the past instead of the future.
A century or so ago, it made sense for the government to grant AT&T the status of regulated monopoly in order to connect every household in America with a telephone. But given the many ways Americans now communicate — and the sheer amount of competition consumers now enjoy in the telecommunications marketplace — the regulations of old are now hurting more than they’re helping.
It’s still critical that we guarantee every American access to communication (be it wireless, VoIP, or through the copper network if no other affordable communications channel exists). But if providers are going to keep up with consumer demand in our digital reality — and if America is going to remain competitive in the global economy — we need to take a look at all regulations and ensure they still make sense. The USTA’s petition is just one of what will be many conversations about the transition to an “all-IP” infrastructure.
Wednesday, December 12
Analyst (and friend of IIA) Bret Swanson is having a busy week.
In an op-ed for Forbes, he examines the effect 20th century phone regulations are having on 21st century networks. After citing Google’s abandonment of offering phone service via its new fiber network in Kansas City due to a number of regulatory hoops, Swanson warns that requiring network providers to continue investing in old technology is slowing innovation — and the economy — down:
Both native apps and Web apps will be powered by increasingly sophisticated and pervasive cloud resources: storage, computation, collaboration, transactions, location services, content distribution, and remote 3D video rendering. This dependence on the cloud, moreover, will require ever increasing network coverage and speed. This means more cell towers, more small cells, more Wi-Fi, more advanced technology like LTE and MIMO, more spectrum, and more Ethernet optical fiber links connecting all these wireless and data center nodes. All of which requires more investment.
But old style phone regulations often require network operators to maintain and expand obsolete copper wires and TDM (time division multiplexing) switching technologies. This necessarily diverts capital from crucial investments in modern optical fiber and 4G wireless.
Tuesday, December 11
Big news from the FCC yesterday, as the Commission announced it is forming a “task force” to study how best to transition the country’s communication infrastructure from legacy wireline networks to next generation, IP-based ones. As Brendan Sasso of The Hill reports:
The group will review the FCC’s policies to ensure that they encourage technological transition, protect consumers, promote competition and ensure network reliability, according to the FCC.
“The Technology Transitions Policy Task Force will play a critical role in answering the fundamental policy question for communications in the 21st century: In a broadband world, how can we best ensure that our nation’s communications policies continue to drive a virtuous cycle of innovation and investment, promote competition, and protect consumers?” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who has called for the formation of a task force since he joined the Commission, is happy with the move. Again from Sasso:
“The analog, circuit-switched copper-wire networks that dominated the 20th century communications marketplace are being replaced by competitive fiber networks that digitally distribute voice, video, and data services. Yet our rules continue to presume static domination by monopoly providers,” Pai said in a statement on Monday.
Also applauding the FCC’s action is AT&T, which in November announced its own plans to work with the FCC in order to smoothly transition its wireline network to all-IP. From the company’s Public Policy Blog:
“Today’s announcement by the FCC to appoint a Technology Task Force to modernize its rules for the transition of traditionally regulated services to applications that ride on an IP broadband infrastructure is welcome news. As AT&T pointed out in our recent filing, that transition is well underway with more than 70% of consumers having already migrated away from POTS service. Addressing these issues in a comprehensive process that crosses the smoke-stacked bureau structure that is a remnant of an almost eight decades old telecom law is critically important.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s full statement about the task force is available on the agency’s website, as is the statement from Commissioner Pai.
Wednesday, November 07
$14 Billion Investment in U.S. Broadband Infrastructure via Project Velocity IP (VIP) Is Boon to American Economy, Say IIA
Transition to next-generation networks will create jobs, benefit consumers and businesses nationwide
WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 7, 2012 – The Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA), a broad-based coalition supporting broadband access and adoption for all Americans, released the following statement in response to IIA member AT&T announcing plans to invest $14 billion to accelerate the Internet Protocol (IP) transition and bring high-speed, next generation wireless and wireline broadband to millions more consumers and businesses nationwide via Project Velocity IP (VIP):
“With the election now behind us, it is time for America to get back to work. The broadband economy has powered America’s recovery for the past four years and offers the brightest opportunities for future jobs, innovation and growth. In the right policy environment, we can expect to see remarkable efforts by entrepreneurs and employers to expand the reach and power of next-generation networks.
“Today’s exciting announcement by AT&T is one striking example of what our innovators are capable of doing. There are others across the nation, from garage start-ups to Fortune 50 companies.
“The Internet Innovation Alliance is eager to work with policy makers around the country, highlighting what works and how the right investment environment can re-ignite our national energies and spur continued innovation across the nation.”
Wednesday, October 31
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the FCC continues to monitor the health and stability of cellphone networks in affected areas. As Maggie Reardon of CNet reports:
“This was and still is a devastating storm with a serious impact on our nation’s communications infrastructure,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said during a conference call with press this afternoon. “The storm is not over. And our assumption is that communications outages could get worse before they get better, particularly for mobile networks because of the flooding and loss of power.”
Genachowski said that as of 10 a.m. ET today, 25 percent of the nation’s wireless companies’ cell sites were not operational in 158 counties in 10 states from Virginia to Massachusetts. This information comes from the carriers themselves, which report outages to the FCC as part of the agency’s Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS).
At the Wall Street Journal, Spencer E. Ante, Thomas Gryta, and Anton Troianovski report a bigger problem for people in storm-ravaged areas has been keeping devices charged:
Cellphone networks that were crippled or overloaded in past disasters held up relatively well in the wake of Sandy, but iPhone-toting residents of the Northeast are closely monitoring a new source of stress: battery power.
People in the region hammered by the storm leaned on their smartphones for news of the outside world even after the lights went out. For those outside of hard-hit Lower Manhattan, where phone service was badly disrupted, the trick was keeping the batteries alive on devices that typically don’t make it through a long work day.
Meanwhile, via Stacey Higginbotham of GigaOm, there was a notable spike in Internet traffic leading up the storm:
Sandvine, a company selling deep-packet inspection gear to ISPs, shared a blog post noting that in one East Coast city on the Monday ahead of Sandy’s landfall in New Jersey, Internet traffic was up 114 percent. Sandvine also tracked a more than 150 percent rise in Netflix traffic, which was later confirmed by Netflix. Skype usage in the afternoon was up as well.
As Higginbotham goes on to note, this bodes well for the sturdiness of America’s digital infrastructure — although all preparations have their limits, namely a lack of power and swamped data centers.
Friday, July 27
At Bloomberg, Kelly Blessing and Amy Thomson highlight the major steps being taken to ensure mobile networks in London stay up and running during the major influx of people from the Olympics:
British telecommunications companies serving London’s Olympic Park say they have created a wireless system capable of handling a large city. Legions of iPhone-toting visitors are about to put them to the test.
Annual smartphone purchases have risen almost fivefold worldwide since the Beijing Olympics four years ago, according to researcher IDC, and many fans and athletes in the 2.5-square kilometer (0.97-square mile) park in east London will be watching video on iPads, chatting with friends and e-mailing photos as they take in the games that kick off with today’s opening ceremony.
Wednesday, January 25
In a post at AT&T’s Public Policy Blog, Bob Quinn, the company’s Senior Vice President-Federal Regulatory and Chief Privacy Officer, argues that the recent announcement from wireless carrier Sprint that it was going to rely on roaming to provide customers coverage in Kansas and Oklahoma reveals major flaws in two orders from the FCC:
First, in 2010, the FCC reversed itself by eliminating the Home Market Rule. That rule, which was pretty logical and straightforward, said that, if a carrier owned spectrum, it was good public policy to require them to build out that spectrum and therefore they should not be able to demand roaming from other carriers in those “home markets.” Thus, if Sprint owned spectrum in Kansas and Oklahoma, it wouldn’t have a regulatory “right” to roam. Then, last April, the Commission extended roaming rules that had previously been limited to voice services (and that now contain no Home Market exception) to broadband infrastructure.
In arguing to impose those requirements on its competitors, both Sprint and the FCC said that broadband roaming obligations would actually promote “the deployment of broadband facilities and thus expand coverage.” Good in theory, I suppose, but not in practice, as I stated at the time. As a result of those two FCC Orders, Sprint can now use other folks’ networks rather than pony up its own investment dollars. Nice work if you can get it.
Quinn goes on to explain why his company is hopeful the D.C. Court of Appears will step in to scale back the FCC’s orders:
We remain hopeful that the Court will reject the FCC’s market intervention here and realize that this regulation actually disincents investment by everyone in the marketplace at a time when promoting investment and job growth should be priority #1 for every policymaker in this country. And it serves as another lesson in why unbridled discretion to shape markets in the name of competition is not always good public policy.
Wednesday, February 11
As eWeek reports, two days ago President Obama ordered Homeland Security advisors to conduct a 60-day review of the nation’s cyber-security.
“The national security and economic health of the United States depend on the security, stability and integrity of our nation’s cyberspace, both in the public and private sectors,” John Brennan, assistant to the president for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security, said in a White House statement. “The President is confident that we can protect our nation’s critical cyber-infrastructure while at the same time adhering to the rule of law and safeguarding privacy rights and civil liberties.”
Again, that was just two days ago. And as it turns out, the review process quickly proved to be necessary, as just yesterday Network World reported that:
The Federal Aviation Administration has joined the growing list of government agencies that have had their supposedly safe systems hacked. The agency this week notified about 45,000 employees that one of its servers was hacked into and employee personal identity information was stolen.
The FAA was quick to say the server that was accessed was not connected to the operation of the air traffic control system or any other FAA operational system. It did say two of the 48 files on the breached computer server contained personal information about more than 45,000 FAA employees and retirees who were on the FAA’s rolls as of the first week of February 2006.
With President Obama planning to completely overhaul government networks, cyber security is going to be more important than ever.
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