Wednesday, May 01
The Hill‘s Brendan Sasso reports President Obama has made his pick to replace outgoing FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski:
President Obama on Wednesday will nominate Tom Wheeler, a former telecom industry lobbyist, to head the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a White House official confirmed to The Hill.
Commissioner Mignon Clyburn will be named as acting chairman until the Senate confirms Wheeler, the source said.
Over at Rolling Out, our Co-Chairman Jamal Simmons has a piece on how technology can help lead to healthier lives, particularly in minority communities. Here’s a taste:
Broadband Internet access, especially mobile broadband, can go a long way in terms of achieving the goals of improved health care access and affordability. According to comScore, smartphone ownership is at 54 percent in the U.S. That’s a lot of iPhones and Androids in the pockets of Americans across the map, and when it comes to health care information, Pew Research reports more than half (52 percent) of the people owning these gadgets report using them to access health or medical information.
You can read Jamal’s full piece over at Rolling Out.
Tuesday, April 30
Via Janko Roettgers of paidContent, streaming service Hulu hit some big numbers during the first quarter of this year:
Hulu now has more than four million paying users subscribing to its Hulu Plus service, and the number of subscribers has doubled since last year. The service also streamed more than one billion videos in the first quarter of 2013, which is another record for Hulu.
This is on the heels of last week’s announcement from Netflix that it had hit more subscribers than HBO.
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the World Wide Web entering the public domain. To mark the occasion, CERN — the research group that made the web as we know it possible — has relaunched the world’s first website at its original URL. The image above is what the page looked like, but check it out in all its sparse glory on your own.
My how things have changed.
In a piece for Politic365, Hispanic Leadership Fund President Mario H. Lopez (HLF is an IIA Member) writes about how the Hispanic community is leading the charge in adopting mobile broadband:
The modern Hispanic community is not only going mobile, but it’s outpacing the general population in doing so. Survey data tells an incredible story of how far our community has come in a short time in adopting new technologies. ComScore tells us that in two years (2010-2012), Hispanic adoption of smartphones increased from 43 percent to 57 percent whereas adoption of smartphones among the general population increased from 36 percent to 46 percent. And as recent data from Pew shows, 76 percent of Hispanics are more likely to use their mobile devices to go online.
Mobile Internet connectivity gives Hispanics access to the civic, health, social, and entertainment content that they crave. At a time when economic growth and employment remains sluggish, mobile Internet access allows Hispanics to search for work and take advantage of online training and education. Mobile Internet also keeps Hispanic entrepreneurs and innovators connected to their customers.
Keeping this positive trend going, Lopez argues, will take smart regulatory policy:
Opportunities available to Hispanics are on the rise, and our community is leveraging the economic and social benefits of mobile broadband to make the most of them. Policymakers in Washington must recognize this growing trend and do everything in the power to support it. In recent years the FCC has made some progress on the spectrum front.
It will be important for successors to outgoing FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Commissioner Robert McDowell to speed up that progress and act upon the need to free up more spectrum for commercial use. The use of broadband connectivity will continue to be a crucial factor in creating jobs and economic growth, spurring innovation, and generating educational opportunities for all Americans.
Monday, April 29
In an op-ed for Governing, Richard Bennett, senior research fellow at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, pushes back against the idea America’s broadband networks would be better suited through government control like the electrical power grid:
Apart from a few superficial similarities—they’re both networks, both involve wires of some sort, and both involve billing and maintenance—broadband information networks are as different from power networks as they could possibly be. Power networks deliver the same service to each user all the time, but the technology-driven services that information networks deliver are dynamic, tailored to the needs and activities of each customer, and constantly adapting to a changing environment.
Bennett also tackles the “natural monopoly” myth when it comes to broadband:
Broadband service is many things, but a “natural monopoly” is not one of them. In fact, advances in technology such as wireless LTE, faster satellites and increased deployment of fiber optic cable are combining to make broadband markets more competitive year after year. Forward-looking policymakers would love electricity markets to enjoy the benefits that competition brings where it’s practical and meaningful.
As for the claim that America’s broadband networks are woefully inadequate when compared to other nations, Bennett writes:
[C]ritics of the American broadband system like to charge that our services are slower than those of most other countries, an oft-repeated fib. It certainly was the case that the average speeds of the most popular service plans in use in the U.S. during the economic collapse of 2008-2009 were not the world’s fastest: On average, American broadband speeds were 22nd in the world in late 2009.
Tremendous attention was paid to America’s 2009 standing, but very little mention has been made about the fact that our position in the global ranking has since risen to 8th place thanks to steady increases year after year. The publicity campaign around the 2009 figures and the subsequent silence has left many with the mistaken impression that we’re in dire straits when quite the contrary is true: 82 percent of American homes are passed by a broadband network capable of delivering 100 Mbps service today, and we’re the world leader in the adoption of the fastest mobile technology.
Take a moment to read the full op-ed at Governing. It’ll be time well spent.
When the Associated Press’ Twitter account was hacked last week, false tweets that the White House had been attacked led to a tumble in the markets. Examining the fallout, Amy Chozick and Nicole Perlroth of the New York Times report financial institutions are taking a good look at the effect social media can have on the stock market:
On Tuesday, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission plans to hold a public meeting in Washington with a couple of dozen high-frequency traders to discuss whether there should be additional safeguards to protect against the effects of social media on markets.
Even as markets rebounded on Tuesday, some investors lost money on the quick decline while others made money if they bet on a sharp drop.
“In 2010, we passed Dodd-Frank, the big financial reform bill, but nowhere in there do they mention high-speed trading or technology,” said Bart Chilton, a member of the trading commission. “That’s how quickly markets are morphing. Now, here we are three years later, woefully unprepared.”
Friday, April 26
Our Honorary Chairman Rick Boucher has an op-ed in The Hill on the need to modernize regs to keep up with today’s technology. Here’s a taste:
the development of the Internet has brought us to another critical juncture in communications policy as we consider how to complete the transition from the bygone era of plain old telephone service to the digital bonanza of the 21st century. It’s a critical transition, given the Internet’s increasingly dominant role in every part of our economy, as well as its ability to improve lives and help achieve important national goals. It’s also something that just about every stakeholder, including the Federal Communications Commission, regards as inevitable. As we move forward, the guiding principle must be to put consumers first.
You can read the full op-ed at The Hill.
Thursday, April 25
In a must-read opinion piece for the National Journal, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai makes the case that America should be making a big push to transition to all IP-based networks:
America is in the midst of a technological revolution, what some call the IP Transition (“IP” stands for the Internet Protocol, which is the technical foundation for all these changes). IP-based networks are different from the copper-based networks of yesteryear in a fundamental way: They were not designed for voice service alone. Instead, IP-based technologies break down every kind of communication (voice, video, e-mail and more) into digital bits and transport those bits more efficiently and cheaply than ever before.
Despite these vast changes in the communications marketplace, the Federal Communications Commission hasn’t caught up. We still view the world as if consumers were at Ma Bell’s mercy, relying on copper lines to get basic voice service. As a result, we have a lot of obsolete rules on our books. (Just two months ago, the FCC finally repealed a rule first adopted by its Telegraph Division during the Great Depression!) These old rules aren’t just harmlessly yellowing with age. They are affirmatively discouraging companies from investing in next-generation networks.
You really should read the whole thing at the National Journal.
Our Co-Chairman Jamal Simmons has penned an op-ed for The Grio on the critical need to provide urban schools with Internet access. Here’s a taste:
When it comes to digital access, location matters and not all students stand on equal footing. While more than half (54 percent) of these teachers report that almost all students have sufficient access to these tools in school, only 18 percent say students have sufficient access at home. Low income students are least likely to have access in school or at home. For urban students, they face greater barriers at school and rural students have less access at home.
Erasing the barriers to digitally enhanced learning for students in disadvantaged situations requires a multifaceted approach.
Read the full op-ed over at The Grio.