Wednesday, July 22
Cisco’s High Tech Policy blog points to a World Bank report released earlier this month on broadband’s impact on economies. Among the findings:
• A 10-point increase in broadband connections translates into a 1.3-point increase in economic growth.
• Mobile networks, now 4 billion connections strong, rule data distribution.
• The vast majority of new mobile customers will be found in developing countries over the next few years.
Right now, only portions of the World Bank report are available online. But there’s also a data tool available so you can experiment with crafting your own reports.
Ever post something online during a heated moment and immediately regret it? Worried that flame war you took part in when you were younger will come back to haunt you during job interviews?
Up until now, the immortal nature of data on the Internet has been both a blessing and a curse. On the upside, information always remains at hand. On the downside… well, information always remains at hand. But now, as Read Write Web reports, researchers at the University of Washington are working on a way for you to “take back” that unadvisable missive or blog post you fired off without thinking. They’re calling it Vanish:
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Vanish is that it’s capable of erasing messages posted practically anywhere on the web. For example, the system is able to erase messages from any web-based email system like Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo, instant messaging chats, or even social networking sites like MySpace or Facebook.
To accomplish this, the messages sent with Vanish are encrypted with a secret key, never revealed to the end user. The key is then divided into dozens of pieces and sent out over peer-to-peer (P2P) networks - the same ones where music and movie files are traded every day. Because file-sharing systems are in a state of constant change, the various key parts eventually become inaccessible. Once enough of them are lost, the message can no longer be decrypted and read.
Right now Vanish is still in beta, which means you can try it out for yourself.
Information Week reports that the National Security Agency is embracing cloud computing:
The system, currently in testing, will be geographically distributed in data centers around the country, and it will hold “essentially every kind of data there is,” said Randy Garrett, director of technology for NSA’s integrated intelligence program, at a cloud computing symposium last week at the National Defense University’s Information Resources Management College.
The system will house streaming data, unstructured text, large files, and other forms of intelligence data. Analysts will be able to add metadata and tags that, among other things, designate how securely information is to be handled and how widely it gets disseminated. For end users, the system will come with search, discovery, collaboration, correlation, and analysis tools.
The new system, once up and running, is expected to help solve a long-standing problem for U.S. intelligence efforts—namely, a lack of sharing between separate intelligence agencies.
Tuesday, July 21
Just how seriously does China take Internet addiction? So seriously that they’ve been using shock therapy on teenagers in attempts to break excessive online habits. Egads.
Thankfully, as China Daily recently reported, this absurd practice of scrambling adolescent brains has been brought to an end:
The Ministry of Health has ordered a halt to a controversial electroshock treatment intended to help treat Internet addiction in teenagers, the Beijing News reported on Tuesday.
The Ministry said the therapy, which was administered by a clinic in Linyi, Shandong province, has not been proven to be safe.
Kong Lingzhong, editor of a domestic Internet addiction-themed portal told the Beijing News that there was still fierce debate over whether electroshock therapy was appropriate for young internet addicts.
“We have no clue whether this freaky treatment has side-effects,” Kong said.
A new report from Parks Associates finds that worldwide broadband adoption could potentially reach 650 million households within the next four years, and that the Asia-Pacific market will lead the charge with close to 50% of the global market share.
The report also cautions that service providers will have to continue investing heavily in their networks in order to keep up with the growing flood of online video and social networking applications.
IIA has submitted its feedback to the FCC on the National Broadband Strategy. Below are some highlights.
Regarding the state of broadband access in America:
A large number of first-round comments to the Commission started from the premise that broadband in America is an unmitigated failure. We disagree. In roughly one decade our nation has gone from practically no broadband deployment or adoption to roughly 90% availability and 50% adoption. This is an astounding accomplishment. Indeed the Orszag Report found broadband usage in 2008 (66.6 million households) nearly six times that in 2001 (10.4 million households). Cross-platform competition continues to grow between wire line, wireless and cable offerings, with promising new technologies such as broadband over power lines emerging. Market players invest roughly $60 - $80 billion annually in infrastructure upgrade and expansion of footprints, with an even more robust and competitive market for online applications.
As for what the commission’s next steps should be:
Despite the thousands of pages of comments and years worth of reports, there is still plenty that we do not know. Through the broadband mapping, FCC surveys, upcoming Census Bureau efforts and private efforts such as Pew, we will continue to learn much more precise information about where broadband is and is not and who is adopting and who is not (and why). Preliminary actions should therefore focus first on what we do know.
We know roughly 10 million households have no broadband choices. As has been noted previously, the vast majority of Americans with no option for broadband Internet are those living in rural areas, where sparse population density and difficult terrain inhibit private investment. Initial efforts and investment by the government should address these market failures, catalyzing investment in unserved communities where private returns would not justify it. Societal returns from ubiquitous connectivity warrant some measure of public investment, though specific investments must always be weighed against alternatives for reaching other unserved users (such as digital literacy programs in urban centers).
We also know roughly 40 percent of households choose not to invest in broadband. They fail to see the value despite compellingly low connection costs, especially now in tough economic times. That suggests the need for government efforts to promote digital literacy, lead by example in broadband-enabling government applications and educate consumers about the benefits and possibilities enabled by broadband Internet usage.
Read IIA’s full reply to the FCC (pdf).
Monday, July 20
The new study by former Clinton economist Jonathan Orszag presents some interesting facts and figures examining nationwide trends for adopting broadband Internet.
Orszag found that the number of households adopting broadband Internet service has increased six-fold from just 10.4 million households in 2001 to 66.6 million households in 2008. Not surprisingly, a corresponding decrease in households with dial-up Internet was identified during the same period, falling from 44.2 million in 2001 to just 10.5 million last year. And the number of homes without Internet service has also declined from 53.6 million to 39.7 million.
While this extraordinary growth in broadband adoption is satisfying for advocates like me, it also reminds us that we have a great deal of work left to do because almost 40 million homes still have not signed up for any Internet service at all. Fortunately, Orszag’s study also demonstrates that Americans’ positive attitudes toward broadband Internet are aligned with its continued expansion, capacity and adoption.
These are encouraging signs, but we must persist in our efforts until broadband adoption rates approach 100 percent and reach every corner of the country. Broadband offers too many opportunities in education, employment, health care, information and entertainment to leave so many families without the service.
The number of U.S. subscribers with broadband access on their smartphones and other devices has grown from 3 million in 2006 to 73 million in 2008.
Grant Gross, “US Broadband Ranking: Does it Matter?” NYTimes.com. June 5, 2009.
More facts about mobile broadband.
Friday, July 17
Consumers, regardless of their financial situation, prize broadband. In fact, a study conducted by former Clinton NEC advisor Jonathan Orszag has found that consumers are using this technology to reap $30 billion dollars in benefits annually.
The report predicts those gains will increase as more people adopt broadband and more applications become available. Today, consumers use the Internet for buying and selling, accessing news and information, social networking and managing financial activities, among other pursuits. Future broadband-enabled technologies will dramatically increase health care applications and make election processes run smoother. Users will be able to access smart power grids via broadband, to help them monitor and reduce their energy usage.
Orszag’s research also showed that unemployed and retired households value broadband just as much as the employed and students.
Between 2001 and 2008, U.S. broadband households jumped from 10.4 million to 66.6 million, while dial-up users dropped from 44.2 million to 10.5 million. Homes with no Internet access at all numbered only about half that total, at 39.7 million.
And it’s only a matter of time before these households themselves discover the benefits of broadband.
Wednesday, July 15
Our third, and final, guest post from the authors of the report “The Substantial Consumer Benefits of Broadband Connectivity for U.S. Households.”
Broadband as a household necessity: Data on households’ actual choices in the market are consistent with recent survey results
An April 2009 national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project asked what familiar household appliances Americans can’t live without. There were some striking re-evaluations, no doubt at least in part triggered by the belt-tightening effects of the recession. The proportion of Americans that considers a dishwasher or a cable or satellite TV as a necessity has dropped sharply since 2006, with dishwashers dropping 14 points with just 21 percent of Americans now rating it as a necessity, and cable or satellite TV dropping 10 points with just 23 percent rating it as a necessity. On the other hand, the public judgment about high-speed Internet actually increased, with 31 percent of Americans now considering it as a necessity, up from 29 percent in 2006.
This shift in consumer perceptions towards increasingly viewing broadband as a household necessity, based on what 1,003 Americans replied in telephone interviews, has now been confirmed and amplified by the Dutz-Orszag-Willig study, based on a much larger data set: the market choices of roughly 30,000 different heads of households, covering the type of Internet service (no home Internet, dial-up versus broadband connection) and the prices paid in the top 100 metropolitan regions across the U.S. over the period 2005 through 2008. Based on these data, the study finds that households are increasingly less willing to alter their broadband purchases in response to change in the broadband price. This is what economists refer to as the “own-price elasticity of broadband”, and it actually progressively declines over time, from -1.53 in 2005 to -0.69 in 2008. In other words, in 2005 a 10 percent rise in the overall price of broadband would have led to a 15.3 percent decline in the quantity demanded, but by 2008, a 10 percent rise in the price of broadband would lead to only a 6.9 percent decrease in the quantity of broadband demanded. This result indicates that broadband is progressively being perceived by those who are using it as a household necessity!
The full Orszag-Willig-Dutz study, “The Substantial Consumer Benefits of Broadband Connectivity for U.S. Households” is available here (PDF). Your can also read posts by study authors Jonathan Orszag and Robert Willig.