Posts tagged ‘broadband’

Smart Phone Skeptic

America’s National Broadband plan seems predicated on the idea that smartphones can serve poor people. The cellcos are telling Wall Street’s financial analysts and the policy makers in Washington that there are more cell phone-based internet connections in the world than fixed wireless or wireline connections. But skeptics are starting to show that those cellphones may be underused, overpriced, and come with caps. Meanwhile, cellcos’ core businesses are threatened. Prices will rise and service caps will fall. Washington — and policymakers around the world — should allocate more resources and spectrum to services that deliver true internet, not the restricted walled garden of the cellcos.

This debate was central to the fascinating discussion at the State of Telecom event at Columbia’s Instititue of Tele-Information, held in mid-October. I attended the afternoon sessions.

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Susan Crawford Says That The US Could Become a Backwater In Broadband

Susan Crawford spoke today at NYU at Evan Korth’s Computers and Society class. I was thrilled to attend. She is an enthusiastic speaker, blogger, and activist. A professor at Cardozo Law School, she founded OneWebDay and was recently Special Assistant to the President for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy. The video is available here.

She warned that key decisions being made about the internet now could harm the U.S. forever.

Crawford opened her speech by recommending the new movie “Inside Job,” which is about the banking industry and about how regulators failed to stop it from taking risks that caused the current recession.

“There is a constant flow of people, a revolving door back and forth between the industry and the regulators. The banking industry, therefore, places key people in DC, as fundraisers as well as regulators.”

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ISOC-NY: Building Tomorrow’s Broadband, Part II: All Infrastructure Projects Are Corrupt

(For Part I of this report, see: ISOC-NY: Building Tomorrow’s Broadband, Part I: The Networks)

While everyone in theory understands that the internet brings wealth and business and tax dollars, far too many governments are trying to tax it in ways that could kill it in their area. Recently, the state of North Carolina lost a lawsuit in which it tried to collect taxes on sales to North Carolina residents by Amazon, which is based in Washington state.

Newby’s Allied Fiber avoids very serious government regulation by providing only the core of the network and not trying to build the last mile. Few appreciate the scale of regulation in the last mile. Donny Smith of Jaguar Communications in Minnesota has a fiber network covering almost 10,000 square miles (a 100 mile by 100 mile area). He told me a few years ago that he had to deal with:

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ISOC-NY: Building Tomorrow’s Broadband, Part I: The Networks

A meeting of the Internet Society of New York (ISOC-NY), Building Tomorrrow’s Broadband, three speakers presented alternative methods for building the broadband that America needs.

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Widely Publicized FCC Study Demonstrates User Ignorance

A widely publicized study by the FCC on users’ perceptions of their broadband speeds (.pdf) found that 80 percent don’t even know what those speeds are supposed to be.

Also, a clear majority believe that the broadband provider should always “deliver the promised speed” — they clearly don’t know that the contract they signed but did not read merely promises a “best effort”.

Only a third of cell phone customers are pleased with the price and speed they get, though a majority are happy with the cell phone as a phone.

It is not clear at this time how or whether the survey will influence FCC policy.

The Sad State of Broadband in Canada

Excellent post by Elliot Noss today on this topic. Noss runs Tucows, and he cares.

OneWebDay Speech: What Broadband Is And Why We Need It

Today is OneWebDay and around the world, people will be celebrating the internet and drawing attention to the digital divide. Events will be held around the world, including here in New York City, where several speakers will talk about freedom and the internet.

On Saturday, I spoke at a related event, talking about What Broadband Is And Why We Need It. I argued that broadband is not a luxury.

What is Broadband?

Broadband is faster than dialup, and the speed enables not just convenience but entirely new applications. I like to compare it to the diffrence between a phone call and the telegraph. The telegraph was patented in the U.S. in 1837, while the telephone was patented almost forty years later.

With a phone call, you get direct contact, intimacy, and the ability to ask and answer questions immediately. The telephone does more than transmit data faster than the telepgraph.

In order to use broadband for real time applications, it needs to have low latency. Just as a phone call on earth is different than a phone call to the space shuttle, applications that encounter latency break or degrade in quality.

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