Because every American
should have access
to broadband Internet.

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.

The Podium

Wednesday, March 12

Like Electricity

By Brad

Pew has released its second report on the state of the Internet at age 25, this time featuring the thoughts of experts on what the Internet will look like in 2025. An excerpt:

Information sharing over the Internet will be so effortlessly interwoven into daily life that it will become invisible, flowing like electricity, often through machine intermediaries.

David Clark, a senior research scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, noted, “Devices will more and more have their own patterns of communication, their own ‘social networks,’ which they use to share and aggregate information, and undertake automatic control and activation.  More and more, humans will be in a world in which decisions are being made by an active set of cooperating devices. The Internet (and computer-mediated communication in general) will become more pervasive but less explicit and visible. It will, to some extent, blend into the background of all we do.”

Joe Touch, director at the University of Southern California’s Information Sciences Institute, predicted, “The Internet will shift from the place we find cat videos to a background capability that will be a seamless part of how we live our everyday lives. We won’t think about ‘going online’ or ‘looking on the Internet’ for something — we’ll just be online, and just look.”

There’s much more in the Pew report, which is available here. Dig in.

A More Transparent Commission

By Brad

Over at The Hill, Pete Kasperowicz reports on recent moves by the House to open the doors at the FCC:

The House voted Tuesday to require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to operate more transparently, including by ensuring public input on regulations.

The bill’s author, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), said the bill is partially a response to a proposed FCC rule to study the editorial decisions of newspapers. That proposal drew harsh criticism late last year, and Walden said it was a “dangerous” outcome that threatened the First Amendment rights of these papers.

“Somehow, an item as controversial as this study made it all the way through the FCC without so much as a commission vote,” Walden said during floor debate. “Americans deserve greater… transparency and accountability from their government.”

Interestingly, the bill passed through the House easily.

Brick & Mortar

By Brad

First came the Apple Store, then the Microsoft Store, and now, via Samantha Murphy Kelly of Mashable, another tech giant is looking to get into the retail game:

Google plans to open its first retail location in the United States in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood, situated just around the corner from an Apple store, a new report suggests.

According to Crain’s New York, Google will open an 8,000-square-foot retail location at 131 Greene St. If the reports are true, the store would also be across the street from eyewear company Warby Parker, which at one point was rumored to be helping design frames for Google Glass.

Monday, March 10

Boucher in Florida

By Brad

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In an op-ed for the Sun-Sentinel in Florida, our Honorary Chairman Rick Boucher breaks down what the FCC’s IP transition test trial for a community in Delray will mean for residents. An excerpt:

You may have heard by now that Kings Point in Delray is one of two communities in the country that soon may get a Federal Communications Commission -sponsored test of a new broadband communications network to replace today’s telephone network.

While some of us may have an idle phone bolted to the wall, that’s no longer the case for the majority of Americans. Two-thirds have fled the outdated, copper-wire network entirely. In fact, only five percent of American households still rely on it exclusively.

The old telephone network, first invented by Alexander Graham Bell, is wearing out. And as with most technology of yesteryear, it has severely limited functions and capabilities.

You can read Boucher’s full op-ed at the Sun-Sentinal.

Friday, March 07

Up in the Air

By Brad

Speaking of broadband access, Ben Popper at The Verge has a detailed breakdown of plans of both Google and Facebook to deliver high-speed Internet access via balloons and drones. As Popper writes:

There is actually a long history of failed attempts to provide aerial internet access. Starting in the 1990s at least five big projects were announced, including Iridium and Globalstar, both of which aimed to provide cellphone coverage. They were actually built but promptly went bankrupt. Teledesic, a venture funded by by Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, got a lot of people interested but was scrapped before it launched its first constellation. One problem with these early efforts was that people on the ground required bulky, custom handsets in order to receive the signal. But the rapid and widespread proliferation of cheap, powerful smartphones means that’s no longer a major obstacle.

If Google and Facebook are able to pull these projects off, it could revolutionize the developing world.

Seeking Input

By Brad

Via Julian Hattern from The Hill, the FCC has put word out that it wants public input on how best to achieve President Obama’s call to bring high-speed Internet access to every school and library in America:

Comments the FCC receives will be on top of the 1,500 it has already gotten on the issue.

“The record in this proceeding demonstrates overwhelming agreement among stakeholders that the E-rate program has been a crucial part of helping our nation’s schools and libraries connect to the Internet,” the FCC wrote in the notice. “The record also shows a strong commitment to ensuring that the E-rate program quickly evolve to meet the ever-growing need for high-capacity broadband so our students and communities have access.”

No Game in South Africa

By Brad

Next week, one of the biggest video games of the year, Titanfall, will be released. Except, as it turns out, in South America. As Kyle Orland of Ars Technica reports:

When Titanfall finally sees its worldwide release next week, South Africa will not be among the countries to get a version of the game. Early this morning, EA South Africa announced via Facebook that it has decided to hold off on a local release after poor Internet performance during the game’s recent beta test. South Africa’s Gamezone reports that local preorders are being canceled both by Origin and area brick-and-mortar retailers.

“After conducting recent online tests for Titanfall, we found that the performance rates in South Africa were not as high as we need to guarantee a great experience, so we have decided not to release Titanfall in South Africa at this time,” the post reads. “We understand this is a disappointment for local fans and will keep fans posted on any future plans regarding the release of Titanfall in South Africa.”

Interestingly, the video game’s online servers are powered by Microsoft’s cloud service, Azure, and the closest data center to South Africa is in Brazil. While missing out on a video game is no big deal in the grand scheme of things (unless you were excited to play it), Titanfall‘s absence in South Africa highlights the challenges involved in building an international product that is dependent on a robust Internet infrastructure.

Wednesday, March 05

Closing the Achievement Gap

By Brad

Over at Latinovations, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has penned a guest op-ed on how broadband access can help close the Latino achievement gap. Here’s an excerpt:

According to the Department of Education, Latino students on average lag roughly two grade levels behind white students in reading and math exams. And Latino students lag behind their white and Asian peers in high school graduation rates in all but two states. This gap can be even greater for Latino students that are English language learners.

Now, I’m a regulator, not an educator.  But as a member of the Federal Communications Commission, I’ve had a front-row seat to the digital revolution. Broadband and cloud computing are revolutionizing education. The traditional teaching tools that I grew up with – chalky blackboards and hardback books – are giving way to interactive digital content delivered through high-speed broadband.

Commissioner Rosenworcel’s full op-ed is worth checking out.

Monday, March 03

Mehlman on Special Access

By Brad

Over at Fierce Telecom, our Co-Chair Bruce Mehlman responds to a recent article on the Huffington Post claiming special access is a monopoly market. Here’s a taste:

I’m not quite sure what the author was trying to convey; however, I do know that special access is no secret. It’s a decades-old service that many Americans (including American businesses) have already abandoned and virtually all don’t use exclusively. It’s no secret in the marketplace: Far from being some monopoly, today’s reality is that the business market served by special access services is robustly competitive. 

Don’t take my word for it—look at the companies and competitors who use special access services. In 2012, Sprint announced that it would look for other alternatives to telephone company special access service by starting an RFP for competitive bids from other companies. Thirty to 40 competitive providers were expected to offer alternative service to telephone company special access high-capacity services. In fact, at the conclusion of the RFP process, Verizon, the nation’s second largest phone company, obtained a contract to provide special access services to only 6 percent of Sprint’s cell towers in Verizon’s service area.

You can read Mehlman’s full article at Fierce Telecom.

Friday, February 28

Boucher Gives AT&T-Announced Locations for IP Trials Vote of Confidence

By IIA

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From IIA Honorary Chairman Rick Boucher:

Every month, 450,000 people make the transition from the old circuit-switched network to the new, IP-based world of telecommunications. Two-thirds of Americans have fled the old phone network entirely, and only five percent use it as their sole means of communication. It’s clear that consumers prefer newer products, services, and technologies in place of the old. Just as the telegraph once gave way to the telephone, and analog gave way to digital, so we stand at the threshold of another revolution in communication, as Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone network gives way to the advanced IP broadband networks of tomorrow. In fact, by the end of this decade a sunset should occur for the antiquated circuit-switched telephone network.

As a key step in reaching that goal, in its filing today, AT&T has accepted the FCC’s call for the initiation of trials in select local markets where consumers will rapidly be transitioned from the old network to modern broadband communications platforms. The company in its filing underscored a thorough ongoing commitment to the core network values the Commission seeks to promote. Far from being a “regulation-free zone,” the future vision for an all-IP world is one in which communications services are accessible, secure, and reliable. Using the core values of universal service, consumer protection, public safety, reliability, and competition as its guidepost, the FCC can help speed investment in advanced networks that bring the benefits of high-speed broadband to everyone.

During the upcoming trials – to be held under the direct supervision of the FCC – government, consumers, and industry will all work together, in an open and transparent manner, to learn what can go wrong when the consumers who remain on the old telephone network are rapidly transitioned to modern broadband communications. With information from the trials, solutions can be put in place to ensure that the nationwide transition is a success for everyone.  And at this stage and throughout the trials, the traditional phone network will remain in place, providing protections, a kind of safety net, for those who still depend on the old system for essential communications needs.

As we move forward, I’m confident that the IP networks and services to be tested will exceed both consumers’ and the FCC’s expectations for service, reliability, and consumer protection.

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