Wednesday, February 18
Here’s something cool. Scientists at the University of Southern Australia have developed a way for cars to connect to municipal Wi-Fi and hotspots. As Read Write Web points out, the innovation could have a number of uses:
With the DSRC system in place, cars can become nodes on Muni-Wi-Fi networks, Wi-Fi hotspots, and home Wi-Fi networks. The possibilities are nearly limitless for what that could mean. Dealerships can diagnose vehicles cable-free, cars can receive real-time downloads of maps and traffic conditions, they could communicate wirelessly with toll stations, and the vehicles could even automatically download music from home PCs. (Or maybe iTunes Wi-Fi store? We don’t see why not.)
In addition the numerous applications that would make a connected car both useful and fun, there’s a public safety element to the system as well. Vehicles could alert their drivers of congestion and accidents, could help drivers safely perform maneuvers like lane changes, could help prevent collisions, and much more. As you traveled, the data about what lies on the road ahead could be relayed from car to car so there is no lag between when the tractor trailer overturned and when you, the driver five miles back, is informed of this.
According to the developers, the technology is just three years from wide availability. Stay tuned.
The economic stimulus bill President Obama signed into law yesterday included $7.2 billion for rural broadband and another $19 billion for health information technology. But, as the Washington Post reports, those numbers are just the beginning of a larger broadband push:
A tech adviser to President Obama said today that $7.2 billion in stimulus funds to bring broadband lines to rural areas is just the start of the administration’s plan to bring high-speed Internet to the entire nation.
Alec Ross, a member of Obama’s Technology, Innovation and Government Reform Team, said at the Mobile Learning Conference in Washington that the new administration has called on the Federal Communications Commission to create within one year a comprehensive strategy for broadband Internet.
The stimulus “is not the puzzle but just a piece of the puzzle,” Ross said.
Meanwhile, IBM is already planning to jump on the stimulus funds:
IBM plans to take advantage of the U.S. economic stimulus package signed earlier on Tuesday by offering Internet services over power lines to more rural consumers.
IBM said its venture with International Broadband Electric Communications (IBEC), a company that provides broadband over power line (BPL) services, had begun to sign up Internet customers in rural parts of Alabama, Indiana, Michigan and Virginia and that it hoped to access more government funds.
Tuesday, February 17
• A stimulus package that spurs or supports $10 billion in investment in 1 year in broadband networks will support an estimated 498,000 new or retained U.S. jobs for a year.
Robert D. Atkinson, Daniel Castro and Stephen J. Ezell “The Digital Road to Recovery: A Stimulus Plan to Create Jobs, Boost Productivity and Revitalize America.” ITIF Study. January, 2009.
More facts about broadband and the jobs.
This post was written by Brian Mefford, CEO of Connected Nation. Mr. Mefford is also an IIA Broadband Ambassador.
The New York Times recently wrote an article regarding the value of a nationwide broadband inventory as described in the federal stimulus plan. The article provides various points of view and justifications for the $350 million price tag currently allocated for a “nationwide inventory map of existing broadband service capability and availability in the United States.” Connected Nation and its many state-based affiliates have long been developing and updating similar broadband efforts and these maps are valuable vehicles for change among the state broadband landscape.
However, as Connected Nation’s experience has demonstrated, and as Congress and the Obama administration have so aptly laid out in the new “broadband stimulus,” the broadband service inventory is only one component of the required efforts to ensure that everyone has access to broadband and is able to realize the value of getting connected. As laid out in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (and as funded by the $350 million for state grant programs) the broadband inventory must be complimented by:
• Efforts to increase awareness of broadband availability, adoption and applications;
• Statewide public-private partnership that is dedicated to full broadband deployment;
• Community-level demand creation program that brings together local citizens to educate them and energize the opportunity of broadband; and
• Computer distribution programs to put computers in the hands of low-income households.
Simply put, these broadband inventories outline where broadband is and where it is not. Understanding the landscape of the broadband environment as well as available connectivity options develops educated consumers and entices providers to build out. Coupled with serious and comprehensive demand side activities, these inventory maps become a critical tool in addressing the challenges to digital inclusion.
As prescribed in the stimulus and as included in Public Law 100-385 (the Broadband Data Improvement Act) Connected Nation works closely with the private sector throughout all efforts to successfully improve digital inclusion in our states and local communities. During map development, we work closely with telecom providers of all types and sizes to exchange detailed versions of their coverage data. Provider information is sometimes unavailable at the start of a process, it is rarely in any standard format and it always requires special considerations on the part of the aggregator so that a certain level of confidentiality is upheld for the most sensitive data.
This engagement with the private sector at all points in the process allows for more informed decision-making for companies and more effective policy making among the public sector. It is the essence of effective public-private partnership. We commend Congress and President Obama for taking the bold step to enable this type of partnership in each and every state. America will be better for it.
— Brian Mefford, CEO, Connected Nation
Dow Jones (via CNN Money) recently had a rundown of the economic stimulus package set to be signed by President Obama today. Included in the article was a familiar name…
Technology firms generally are happy with the infusion of money for health information technology and the “smart” energy grid. They are also pleased with some $7 billion in grants for new high-speed Internet connections in rural areas, according to Bruce Mehlman, who is co-chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance, or IIA.
In addition to the smart grid money, the bill provides $19 billion to help health providers adopt electronic medical records systems. Both provisions will be a boon to technology companies that have built those systems and are waiting for companies to buy them, Mehlman said.
Sunday, February 15
IIA is hosting an informational Internet Academy on Wednesday entitled “Broadband 101: Understanding the Debate.” IIA hosts these events on the Hill every few months to inform Congressional staffers and other participants of various internet-related topics like the exaflood or the need for a national broadband strategy. With the massive stimulus package, there is suddenly billions of federal dollars for expanding broadband to underserved areas. Co-Chairs Bruce Mehlman and Larry Irivng, along with colleague Dr. Robert Pepper, will lead a discussion on the various terms and concepts involved in the debate about broadband and hopefully give attendees a better understanding of these issues. If you work on the Hill or can come by, this is definitely something worth attending.
Wednesday, February 18
2:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Science and Technology Committee Room 2325
Rayburn House Office Building
Friday, February 13
Duplicate web pages have long proved challenging for Internet search engines. But as the New York Times “Bits” blog reports, efforts are underway to solve the problem:
In a rare instance of collaboration among otherwise fierce rivals, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft said Thursday that they would support a new Web standard that will allow millions of Web publishers to remove duplicate pages from their Web sites. As a result of the effort, search engines should be able to find and index more Web pages, making their search results more comprehensive.
“There is a lot of clutter on the Web and with this, publishers will be able to clean up a lot of junk,” said Matt Cutts, an engineer who heads Google’s spam fighting efforts. “I think it is going to gain traction pretty quickly.”
Now that an agreement has been reached between the House and Senate, details on what the stimulus bill contains are starting to leak out.
For broadband, the joint bill reportedly sets aside $7 billion for building out broadband to rural and unserved areas. Gone, however, are the proposed tax credits for boosting broadband speeds.
Also included in the proposal is $19 billion to digitize health records.
The bill is expected to voted on today. For more coverage, see the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, GigaOm, and DSL Reports.
Thursday, February 12
Nailing down the exact number of rural broadband subscribers has, up until now, been a challenge. But Daily Yonder has dug into numbers in the 2007 Census of Agriculture and found that…
...farms in rural and exurban counties were less likely to have broadband connections than farms located in metro counties. Nationally, 31.3% of farms in rural counties had broadband connections. In urban counties, nearly 40% of farm operators had high speed Internet connections.
Daily Yonder goes on to note that the Census only contacted farm operators, but that the results…
...may be a good surrogate for how far broadband has penetrated across rural America. In a 2007 phone survey, The Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 31% of rural Americans had broadband connection — a percentage that exactly matches the overall findings of the Census.
Check out Daily Yonder’s full report.
Wednesday, February 11
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines has joined American Airlines, Virgin America, and Delta Air Lines in testing in-flight Wi-Fi for some of its flights. But unlike the others, Southwest is the only airline…
...using satellites to deploy its service, which will allow Internet connection to remain turned on when the aircraft is flying over water. Other carriers, which are working with Chicago-based Aircell, use ground cellular towers to beam transmission, and their connection is available only when flying over land.
The first Wi-Fi enabled planes roll out in March. No word yet on pricing.