Tuesday, April 28
Congress Daily reports on how the major telecoms are reacting to the $7.2 billion marked for broadband in the federal stimulus. Quoted in the article are IIA Co-Chairmen Bruce Mehlman and Larry Irving:
[E]xperts acknowledge there’s a real possibility key players could sit the program out, or not participate as heavily as expected.
“If regulation is onerous, then yes, it will slow down investment,” warned Bruce Melhman, who ran the NTIA during President George W. Bush’s first term. He now wears several hats, including co-chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance, which represents companies and public-interest groups that support wider broadband deployment.
But co-chairman Larry Irving, who ran NTIA during the Clinton administration, noted that the agency’s previous grants have usually gone to municipalities, nonprofits and states that often partnered with companies. “There’s no real reason for me to believe that this would be markedly different,” said Irving, adding that the RUS historically has favored the private sector with its federal assistance.
Check out Congress Daily’s full report.
Let this be a lesson: If you tell your employer you’re took sick to be at work in front of a computer, don’t get caught perusing Facebook.
Geoff Daily at AppRising is concerned about slow movement on federal broadband stimulus:
The first is that from a policy perspective there’s a whole lot more discussion going on about how to distribute these limited BTOP dollars than there are conversations about how to craft a national broadband strategy. Given that we have less than a year to create and come to a consensus around that strategy, we can’t afford to have the stimulus distract us from pushing this larger dialog forward.
The second, and much bigger concern, is that as things currently stand the stimulus is doing more to slow down deployment than speed it up. I’ve now heard from multiple people of projects that could already be deploying but instead are waiting to see if they can leverage stimulus dollars to help fund their projects.
On the one hand, I don’t blame anyone for doing this. Why put in your own money when the federal government might pick up the tab for you?
But on the other this is an unbelievably bad unintended consequence of making government dollars available. Now we don’t just have to deal with whether or not government can distribute its dollars quickly and fairly; we also have to worry about the entire broadband industry slowing its pace of deployment in the hopes of snagging some subsidies.
Daily goes on to write that, overall, he’s okay with using federal money to build out broadband. But:
I just wish we’d done more to think through the unintended consequences of making a big pot of government money available without any real direction. It would’ve been great if instead of tossing the hot potato to NTIA and RUS Congress would’ve been more prescriptive in its legislation.
Monday, April 27
Data cards allow you access to Internet on your laptop even without an Internet connection. But, as Ars Technica reports, before you go download happy while on vacation, you might want to read the fine print:
$62,000 to download a movie? That’s what happened to a caller named Alberto, who told his data roaming tale of woe on the air to HLN “money expert” Clark Howard on CNN. Alberto made the grave mistake of downloading Wall-E for his nephew while vacationing in Mexico over his data card and was slapped with a $62,000 bill from his wireless carrier when he returned home. Alberto tried to contest the charge and the carrier reduced the bill to $17,000, arguing that the five-figure charge was what it cost them to deliver the movie.
Needless to say, both Alberto and Howard were completely incredulous that a simple movie download would generate such an impressive data bill. Indeed, $62,000—or $17,000—is pretty daunting for a 98 minute animated movie about a robot. However, it’s pretty clear that Alberto made a rookie mistake after he purchased the data card for his laptop that could have been easily avoided. Instead, he inadvertently joined the legions of other mobile users who failed to pay attention to the fine print before traveling.
Before the $7.2 billion earmarked for broadband expansion in the federal stimulus gets put to use, some basic steps need to be taken. Telephony reports:
One of the principal tasks now undertaken by the agencies that will distribute roughly $7.2 billion in federal broadband stimulus funds is defining what exactly they mean by “broadband.”
In addition to other key terms such as “unserved” and “underserved areas,” “broadband” is one of the terms that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration is currently asking the public to help define for the purposes of distributing that funding. Public input so far has been voluminous.
While the U.S. works to bring broadband access to every American home, mobile web use is exploding. Via Read Write Web comes a report from web browser developer Opera on the use of its mobile application, which saw a staggering 157% increase:
As of last month, more than 23 million mobile web surfers used Opera Mini to surf more than 8.6 billion pages in March, which equates to 148 million megabytes of data sent to handsets worldwide. Since Opera Mini compresses data before sending, that number actually represents 1.4 petabytes (PB) of uncompressed data. Data traffic is up 319%, year-over-year, and page views have increased by 255%.
With all the media attention on the so-called “Swine Flu,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have turned to Twitter to keep the public informed:
Availability and price are the main issues for 1/3 of the adult population who do not have broadband service.
Horrigan, John B., “Obama’s Online Issues II: If you build it, they will long on?,” Pew Internet & American Life Projects.
More facts about broadband adoption.
Friday, April 24
Wonder how much broadband access would mean to many unserved rural areas? Look no further than this article from The Tennessean:
The high-speed computer connections most urban residents and businesses take for granted are nowhere to be found in many rural, and not-so-rural, areas in Middle Tennessee.
The federal government is hoping to change that with an infusion of $7.2 billion in broadband stimulus money to the states.
“We’re desperate for broadband access,” said James T. Marshall, supervisor of technology for Robertson County schools, who spends his days setting up online educational programs that many of his students can’t access at home. Many parts of Robertson County are unserved by any high-speed Internet provider — including Marshall’s neighborhood, just south of Springfield.
“I am four miles from a major city. Four miles. And I cannot get DSL at my house,” he said, referring to the high-speed lines he has tried, without success, to convince AT&T to extend his neighborhood. “How much sense does it make that people are begging for a service and companies still won’t provide it?”
For the past few weeks, Apple has been counting down to its one billionth download of an application for its popular iPhone. Today, the company has announced that they’ve reached the mark, along with the person who hit it. From the press release:
Apple® today announced that customers have downloaded one billion applications from its revolutionary App Store, the largest applications store in the world. The one billionth app, Bump created by Bump Technologies, was downloaded by Connor Mulcahey, age 13, of Weston, CT. As the grand prize winner of Apple’s one billion app countdown contest, Connor will receive a $10,000 iTunes® gift card, an iPod® touch, a Time Capsule® and a MacBook® Pro.