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

Monday, August 24

Hearing From Those Who Need Help

By Bruce Mehlman

Last week, IIA Broadband Ambassador Craig Settles participated in one of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan workshops, where he spoke about low adoption and the benefits of increased broadband use. All in all, Settles found the workshop to be a positive experience. But as he notes on his blog, simply talking about a plan isn’t enough. Writes Settles:

Our national broadband policy could put us on track to transform millions of lives and businesses in hundreds of communities. Or it could be great mental gymnastics that many look back on one day and wistfully ponder what could have been. I lean toward the former with a couple of cautions.

One suggestion Settles has is for the workshops to not be limited to the traditional players, but rather, be open for the people a national broadband plan is meant to help—and the FCC may have to go to them:

The value of the workshops to date will be doubled or tripled if the FCC brings the people with the pain into the needs analysis process. But you have to go to them. As I said last week in my FierceBroadband column, go into formerly un- and underserved rural and urban areas that now have effective community-driven broadband networks. See firsthand what technologies they’re using, how these technologies were selected, what were the challenges to implementing the technology, what are the challenges to keeping everything operational and current.

Settles is right. As the FCC continues its workshop program — and especially with regional workshops having been planned for the coming months — hearing from those without broadband access is going to be very important if a national broadband plan is going to work.

Broadband Fact of the Week


Fact of the Week

If only 10 percent more of the workforce regularly teleworked - roughly a doubling of today’s percentage - greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced each year by an additional 42.4 million tons of carbon dioxide, as well as 2.6 million tons of other pollutants.

Rintels, Jonathan. “An Action Plan for America: Using Technology and Innovation to Address our Nation’s Critical Challenges.” The Benton Foundation. 2008.

More facts about broadband the environment.

Friday, August 21

An Extension to the Extension

By Brad

After already granting an extension for filing for the initial round of broadband grants, the National Telecommunications & Information Administration has found it still needs a bit more time to keep up with all the overwhelming number of applications flying their way. Reports Multichannel News:

The agency said that while bids are still due Aug. 20, to insure applications are complete and to “minimize problems,” it will accept supporting documents in the mail up to a postmark, hand delivery, or “appropriate electronic delivery” date of Aug. 24.

Bidders who made it past the first round of cuts are scheduled be revealed on September 14.

I Can Quit Any Time I Want

By Brad

Up until now, treating people for so-called Internet addiction was mainly left to China and South Korea. But now a new treatment program called “reStart” is being offered right here in America, in the town of Fall City, Washington.

How much will it cost to cure yourself of your overwhelming addiction to Facebook and World of Warcraft? Try $14,500 for a 45-day stay — and that’s after the initial $200 filing fee, and the $800 screening.

Be Careful With That “Status Update” on Facebook

By Brad

Via the New York Times “Bits” blog comes news of a new study that finds of employers are now using social networks to screen job applicants:

According to a new study conducted by Harris Interactive for, 45 percent of employers questioned are using social networks to screen job candidates — more than double from a year earlier, when a similar survey found that just 22 percent of supervisors were researching potential hires on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn.

The study also found that Facebook was by far the most used site for employers—not too terribly surprising since the site has over 250 million users.

What is Broadband?

By Bruce Mehlman

That’s what the FCC would like to find out—and they’re asking for input. From a Public Notice (pdf) issued by the agency:

In this first Public Notice, we seek tailored comment on a fundamental question—how the Plan should interpret the term “broadband” as used in the Recovery Act, recognizing that our interpretation of the term as used
in that statute may inform our interpretation of the term in other contexts
. In particular, the Recovery Act requires the Commission to develop a “national broadband plan” that seeks to ensure “access to broadband capability” for the entire United States. An understanding of what constitutes “broadband” thus is essential to evaluating the extent to which “broadband capability” is available, and informs the evaluation of particular policy approaches intended to ensure access to broadband capability. The National Broadband Plan NOI observed that “broadband can be defined in myriad ways,” and sought comment on possible approaches. We now seek more targeted comment on three aspects of this issue: (1) the general form, characteristics, and performance indicators that should be included in a definition of broadband; (2) the thresholds that should be assigned to these performance indicators today; and (3) how the definition should be reevaluated over time.

Thursday, August 20

The Demand Must Be There

By Bruce Mehlman

While close to 90% of Americans now have access to broadband, a reported 37% still don’t subscribe to the service in any form. And as Computer World reports, during yesterday’s FCC workshop on the national broadband plan, getting those non-subscribers online should be a focus of any plan on the table:

[M]any who don’t subscribe believe broadband is too expensive or don’t see the benefits, several speakers said at a broadband workshop hosted by the FCC. The agency, tasked with developing a national broadband plan by early next year, needs to show the benefits to those nonsubscribers, particularly elderly people, ethnic minorities and some people in rural areas, they said.

Also taking part in yesterday’s workshop was President (and IIA Broadband Ambassador) Craig Settles, who spoke about the need to ensure communities have a stable broadband provider:

“If you can’t get the networks built, and if you can’t get an operator or a community to run that network year after year because they can’t get enough individual subscribers, the network itself is going to fail, and all of the rest of this discussion isn’t going to matter,” [Settles] said.

IIA Video: Broadband, Economics & Education


Debbie Goldman, Telecommunications Policy Director for Communications Workers of America, discusses the perspective of telecommunications workers and the economic and education benefits of broadband for all Americans.

This Will Not End Well

By Brad

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have discovered a way to make robots evolve. That’s cool and all, but here’s the part that should concern all of mankind: Some of the robots that evolved learned how to lie:

By the 50th generation, the robots had learned to communicate—lighting up, in three out of four colonies, to alert the others when they’d found food or poison. The fourth colony sometimes evolved “cheater” robots instead, which would light up to tell the others that the poison was food, while they themselves rolled over to the food source and chowed down without emitting so much as a blink.

Seems like now would be a good time to re-visit Isaac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics.”

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Let’s hope lying and scheming robots still adhere to the rules.

Wednesday, August 19

Watching the Tube Through the Tubes

By Brad

Streaming video sites like Hulu are growing in popularity—especially among the younger generations. And as Investors Daily Business reports, traditional cable companies have taken note and are experimenting with streaming services of their own.

That’s good news for consumers. But rarely addressed is the question of whether America’s digital infrastructure will be able to keep up with the amount of bandwidth heavy content. Good ol’ TV still rules when it comes to viewers and ad dollars, but with even the cable companies preparing for the market to shift, now is the time to start planning and investing for the flood of bandwidth heavy content that’s obviously just around the corner.

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