Thursday, October 01
MIT’s Technology Review takes a long and interesting look at Julius Genachowski’s recent proposal for net neutrality regulations on wireless Internet and asks whether wireless Internet can, in fact, really be neutral:
Defining and regulating “fairness” as it pertains to wireless Internet traffic is inherently difficult, says Mung Chiang, a Princeton electrical engineering professor working on broadband access algorithms. “The notion of congestion—what is it, how often it happens, who is to blame—it’s much harder to define in wireless networks,” compared to landline Internet connections, he says. “Who is going to take the blame when somebody close to a tower transmits signals that may wipe out others, even if this person may not be downloading movies?”
Another issue is the fact that deploying wireless technology takes time and money, and that until new regulations are formalized investment could be slowed to a crawl:
However the FCC chooses to define Net neutrality, Chiang says the specter of regulation hangs heavy over wireless Internet businesses. “As with other industries, uncertainty is worse than anything,” he says. “Deploying towers, digging up roads, and standardizing new equipment is a very long-term, capital-intensive thing. If people don’t know what is going to happen until litigation sets precedents, that will be a big deterrent to capital expenditures, and that generally is a concern.”
A new report from the FCC (via Information Week) pegs the cost of truly universal broadband in America as high as $350 billion. While that might inspire some sticker shock, according to the agency the total reflects providing service at 100 Mbps or higher. The lowest figure is estimated at $20 billion.
While both numbers are well above the $7.2 billion earmarked for national broadband in the federal stimulus, the FCC says universal broadband would create major economic benefits that could eventually out-pace the cost of bringing high-speed Internet to all of America.
After 11 years, the United States is giving up some of its control of the Internet. Reports the Wall Street Journal:
“This reflects the globalization of the Internet,” said Rod Beckstrom, chief executive of the body, called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann. “By America relaxing some control and inviting other countries to have an active hand, that increases the possibility that the global Internet will remain unified,” Mr. Beckstrom said in an interview.
Instead of reporting to the U.S., Icann now will go under regular review by a series of panels, including representatives from other countries and fields. But management of the domain-name system, also known as the root, won’t change, at least for now. The Department of Commerce has a separate contract with Icann, which expires in 2011, to manage the technical aspects of the root.
Icann was established during the Clinton administration and tasked with overseeing “important Internet governance decisions” related to architecture and addressing.
Tuesday, September 29
Today is the FCC’s Open Meeting on the current state of a national broadband plan. The meeting is being streamed live, and related documents have been provided should you wish to follow the meeting from your computer.
Last week, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski sent the Internet and opinion pages abuzz when he announced his intention to move forward with so-called “net neutrality” rules. Now, the Washington Post reports, he may be getting some help with his effort courtesy of a new bill sponsored by Sen. Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Sen. Snowe (R-Maine). The exact contents of the bill are still hazy, but Sen. Dorgan told the Post that it will “likely be something that is helpful in the process.”
The FCC has scheduled October 22 as the date it will formally propose new net neutrality rules.
With more and more airlines providing Wi-Fi service for passengers during flights, there’s a question of whether Internet phone calls should be allowed. USA Today investigates the issue:
It’s a controversial issue that’s triggering fierce debate among travelers, airlines and regulators. Federal regulations prohibit in-flight cellphone use — but not Internet-based phone calls — lest they interfere with flight operations and create congestion in ground cell towers. A bill in Congress seeks a similar ban on all in-flight voice communications by passengers.
It’s all the more controversial because airlines in Europe, Asia and the Middle East allow calls and have even taken it a step further by introducing pay-by-minute cellphone service using satellites.
A recent poll found the public almost evenly split on whether phone calls should be allowed on flights. The major concern: in-cabin noise, with chatters ramping up their volume to be heard over the hum of the plane.
Via TechCrunch comes word on a new mobile application from mSpot that will allow owners of smart phones to stream major movie releases directly to their device.
The service, called “Mobile Movies,” will reportedly have 350 movies at launch.
IIA is pleased to welcome its newest Ambassador: Dr. Joseph P. Fuhr, PhD.
Dr. Fuhr is a widely read and well respected expert in a number of areas which combine economics and issues facing society. His specific areas of inquiry include antitrust, health economics, pharmacoeconomics, and telecommunications.
Dr. Fuhr’s work in the areas of health economics and pharmacoeconomics is especially timely as the government and industry are using broadband as a significant tool in helping to control the spread of the H1N1 virus. In fact, an essay co-written by Dr. Fuhr for Disease Management, “Comparative Effectiveness of Total Population versus Disease Specific Neural Network Models in Predicting Medical Costs,” is particularly timely during this flu season, especially in helping to determine patterns of seasonal flu as they overlap with, or are replaced by, swine flu.
Telemedicine is a major area of interest for those involved in expanding access to and acceptance of broadband. Physicians working out of smaller health facilities have the ability, through broadband, of consulting with specialists working out of major facilities hundreds or thousands of miles away.
As a Professor of Economics at Widener University, Dr. Fuhr brings to the Internet Innovation Alliance an academic rigor which is crucial to every stakeholder in the issues surrounding broadband in America. We welcome his voice and intellect to the IIA as we continue to work with private companies, advocacy organizations, and the federal government to bring broadband into every home and business in the United States.
Monday, September 28
The Rural Health Care Pilot Program provides funding for the construction of state or regional broadband networks and for the advancement telecommunications and information services provided over those networks for health care providers. 67 projects, serving 6,000 health care facilities, in 42 states are eligible for the program.
Copps, Michael J. “Bringing Broadband to Rural America.” Federal Communications Commission. Washington, D.C. May 22, 2009.
More facts about broadband and health care.
Over at the FCC’s Blogband site, Blair Levin of the Omnibus Broadband Initiative foresees assertions that the commission hasn’t heard from enough of the major players in the industry. Writes Levin:
If we’re going to be criticized now (which we undoubtedly will be) the numbers suggest we may be in danger of the critique that we haven’t heard from enough industry giants. So far, academics have comprised over 13 percent of all participants at the workshops, followed by consumer and public interest groups (9.3%). The largest industry group was equipment makers, comprising a little over 8% of the participants, followed by alternative wireless services at nearly 6 %.