Friday, April 17
On Thursday, April 2, the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet held a hearing on broadband and its role American Recovery Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Bringing together witnesses from both the private and non-profit sectors, the full hearing is available in audio form on the Subcommittee’s site. And compiled below are some selections from the hearing:
Oversight of the American Recovery Act: Broadband - Opening Statements
The Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet held a hearing titled, “Oversight of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: Broadband” on April 2nd, 2009. This podcast contains the opening statements by Chairman Rick Boucher (D-Va), Cliff Stearns (R-Fl), John Dingell (D-Mi), and Zack Space (D-Oh) concerning deployment and access to broadband in urban, rural, under-served and unserved areas across the country.
Oversight of the American Recovery Act: Broadband - Nicol Turner-Lee
Nicol Turner-Lee, Senior VP, External Affairs of One Economy Corp., discusses strategies for getting broadband into low income housing communities.
Oversight of the American Recovery Act: Broadband - Rachelle Chong
Rachelle Chong, Commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission, discusses the broadband mapping project in California and how a mapping initiative should be prerequisite for receiving funds from the NTIA and RUS.
Oversight of the American Recovery Act: Broadband - Brian Mefford
Brian Mefford, Chairman and CEO of Connected Nation, discusses the importance of broadband mapping. He also addresses the fact that many people have access to broadband but choose not to adopt it because they do not see the value in it.
More and more Hollywood content is being distributed online, causing cable companies like Time Warner threatening tiered pricing out of to fear of losing cable customers to online viewing. And now, via the New York Times comes word of on a major new deal:
In another step in its transformation from an online jumble of amateur videos to a destination for mainstream TV programs and movies, YouTube said Thursday that it had signed deals with Hollywood studios to showcase thousands of TV episodes and hundreds of movies on its Web site.
And Google, which owns YouTube, said it might eventually bring another innovation to the site: payment for some premium content.
The agreements with the studios, which include Sony, Lions Gate, MGM and others, are significant because YouTube dominates online video. Nearly two-thirds of all video views in the United States occur on YouTube, according to the measurement firm Nielsen. Last month the site had more than 90 million visitors, 10 times as many as the next biggest site, comScore said.
Meanwhile, Miami New Times has the scoop on another big deal potentially in the works:
CBS, which will broadcast next year’s game, is hoping to persuade the NFL to bring the big game into the Internet age. The network made $30 million off streaming the recent NCAA basketball championship and is eager to apply the model to the Super Bowl.
The NFL has yet to agree to the deal, but given the success of NBC’s experiment streaming games last year, they’d be crazy to turn it down.
In the ongoing war between the entertainment industry and online pirates, four members of the online site Pirate Bay have been found guilty by a Swedish court of “making copyright content available” for illegal downloads. As Torrent Freak reports, each defendant received a one year jail sentence, with fines levied at the group totaling over $3 million.
In response to the verdict, TechDirt has this to say:
[B]asically, the entertainment industry will gleefully declare victory, and make statements about how this is a major victory against “piracy.” But, in actuality, the exact opposite of that will occur. Unauthorized file sharing continues (or even increases) and it becomes that much more difficult for the legacy industries to win back customers and embrace these new, useful and efficient tools of distribution and promotion. It’s a classic case of winning the battle and losing the war. The ultimate problem, of course, is that the entertainment industry still (amazingly) thinks this is a legal issue, not a business model one. It can win as many legal battles as it wants, but in thinking it’s a legal issue, it will never recognize how its business models need to change.
Thursday, April 16
With European Internet providers embroiled in controversy over EU’s Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive—which allows courts to force ISPs to turn over user data in order to cut down on piracy, among other things—one Swedish ISP is taking a stand. As Ars Technica reports:
Jon Karlung, the head of ISP Bahnhof, says that his company won’t turn over any user data to authorities because it refuses to keep any log files. That decision is legal—for now.
Recently, Sweden’s Internet traffic dropped by an alarming 50% in a single day when the new piracy rules were applied.
InternetNews has a rundown of the current debate over the federal broadband stimulus. Quoted in the piece are IIA co-chairmen Larry Irving and Bruce Mehlman.
From the article:
Larry Irving, a former assistant Commerce Secretary under the Clinton administration and co-chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance, said the agencies are unlikely to take the stimulus process as an opportunity to rewrite the existing regulatory regime for the Internet.
“My sense is what’s likely to happen is something along the lines that there are existing regulatory models that can be bootstrapped for the purposes of these grants,” Irving said.
Irving, recently returned from a stint with the Obama transition team, joined fellow IIA co-chair Bruce Mehlman, himself a former assistant Commerce Secretary under the George W. Bush administration, on a conference call with reporters discussing the decision-making process the agencies
The grants, Mehlman said, “offer a nice chance to jumpstart progress toward national broadband.” Nevertheless, he cautioned that the federal money is only a small fraction of what ISPs invest each year toward expanding and maintaining their networks, suggesting that the ultimate goal of delivering broadband to more people would be best-served by a relaxed regulatory approach.
“After the 7 billion is spent, we’re going to need ongoing private investment,” Mehlman said. “If regulations are onerous, then yes, it will slow down investment.”
Check out the full InternetNews article.
The New York Times “Bits” blog points to a new search service with an admirable mission. Hoongle, the brainchild of three University of Richmond undergrads, is a custom Google search engine that donates 20 grains of rice for each search on its engine.
The project has been up and running since September, and already 8.5 million grains of rice have been donated—equal to 4,000 meals for those in need.
Wednesday, April 15
A new study has tackled the carbon footprint of Spam. Via Slashdot:
A new study entitled ‘The Carbon Footprint of Spam’ published by ICF International and commissioned by McAfee claims that spam uses around 33 billion kilowatt hours of energy annually, which is approximately enough to power 2.4 million US homes (or roughly 3.1 million cars) for a year. They calculated that the average CO2 emission for a spam email is around 0.3 grams. Interestingly, the majority of energy usage (around 80%) comes from users viewing and deleting spam, and searching for legitimate emails within spam filters.
Recently, a French law that would sever the Internet connection of online pirates went down in defeat. Now, Ars Technica reports, South Korea has picked up the idea:
South Korea is crazy for baseball—it’s national team made it to recent finals of the World Baseball Classic, only to lose to Japan—so it seems especially appropriate that the country would be one of the first in the world to adopt an official “three strikes” policy toward copyright infringement on the Internet. While the government can order the disconnection of individual users, a key emphasis here appears to be on websites. Host some infringing content, and the government can shut you down at its discretion.
There’s a problem with focusing on individual websites, however:
An anonymous source summed up the problem for the paper: “It is virtually impossible for Web portals to totally filter illegal content when there are millions of postings coming up everyday. And I am talking about companies that spend massive amounts of money to monitor copyright violations and hire hundreds of monitoring personnel. I mean, how much does the government expect us to spend in developing and operating a simple Web service? No matter how hard we try, the culture minister will easily find his three strikes and could order us to shutdown a site at anytime, regardless of whether the copyright holder has a problem with us or not.”
It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.
Today’s Wall Street Journal on the fight over the broadband stimulus:
Officials from 38 states have told the administration they should have a big say in allocating broadband stimulus money. State regulators want the Obama administration to give them time to rank broadband projects in their areas. And they’re asking for stimulus funds to hire a few full-time employees to review the applications.
“States have intimate knowledge of their communications environment, geography and demographics, along with every incentive to make certain the money is not wasted and is properly targeted,” said regulators from 38 states in a recent letter to the administration.
Some smaller Internet providers favor state involvement in picking projects, because they’re concerned it may be too costly to compete for grants on their own. Steve Mossbrook, president of Wyoming.com, a wireless Internet service provider who serves about 10,000 customers, said about 80% of his costs come from leasing access to local Internet lines, which are owned by larger phone companies. “I’m trying desperately to encourage the state to take a leadership role and build some [Internet] backbone systems for Wyoming,” he said.
Read Write Web points to a new report released by the market research firm eMarketer on gender and Internet use. Among the findings:
• Men spend an average 4.4 more hours online than women.
• Women are less tolerant of online advertising than men. They’re also more likely to be “put-off” by something they see/read online.
• Of people who have never been online, 15% are men, 20% are women.
Check out eMarketer’s full report.