Wednesday, August 05
Due to worries about the spread of malware and spam, the United States Marine Corps has blocked the use of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. The ban is for a year, allowing the Pentagon to research what, if any, steps can be taken to ensure online security for troops.
Tuesday, August 04
Business Week has crunched some numbers in an attempt to find out just how much it would really cost to bring broadband to every American. By their estimates, the initial $7.2 billion allocated in the federal stimulus, while certainly a large figure, won’t nearly by enough:
Many estimates say that about 40 million U.S. households may be unserved or underserved by broadband networks and that providing those homes with broadband connections will cost about $1,500 per household. That comes to $60 billion at minimum, since this math excludes the money consumers will need to spend to acquire PCs and other computer gear.
The $60 billion estimate also excludes the cost of bringing users who are in areas served by slow broadband connections up to the emerging national standard. Our best estimate of the minimum capital requirement is about $120 billion. This assumes substantial provision of wireless Internet service to rural homes and elsewhere, which is contingent on making available more radio spectrum.
Technology and geography are major contributors to the expense. While the hurtles aren’t insurmountable, it’s going to take major investment from both government and private industry to make a true national broadband plan a reality.
Twitter—the popular 140-character-limit service—had over 40 million unique visitors in the month of June, an increase of 19% from the previous month.
Unfortunately, as the New York Times reports, a number of NFL coaches aren’t too keen on the idea of their players Twittering with abandon, and have banned its use during the season.
Melissa Hathaway, the first “Cyber Czar” under the Obama administration, is leaving her post. Reports the Wall Street Journal:
Melissa Hathaway, who completed the Obama administration’s cybersecurity review in April, said in an interview that she was leaving for personal reasons. “It’s time to pass the torch,” she said, adding that she and her colleagues have provided an “initial down payment for what’s needed to start to address cybersecurity.”
In the past year, intelligence officials have grown increasingly concerned about Chinese and Russian cyberspies surveilling U.S. infrastructure and military networks.
Given that cybersecurity is a big priority for President Obama, expect the position to be re-filled soon.
Australia’s education department recently installed filters on school computers in order to block objectionable content. Unfortunately, the new filter didn’t quite work as planned:
George Cochrane said his school-aged son and daughter, who study by distance education from their farm in Grenfell, were horrified by the sites they could access.
Other educational sites and harmless web pages for the local member of parliament - and even Education Minister Verity Firth’s own site - have been blocked by the filter.
The Department of Education and Training confirmed that the filter would be used on thousands of laptops for high school students. It is also currently used on all computers in schools.
“My daughter typed in ‘swallow’, as in the bird, and it blocked access to a documentary on swallowing toothpaste but gave you access to a male site talking about inappropriate material,” Mr Cochrane said.
As you’d expect, the education department is moving quickly to correct the error.
IIA member One Economy has received the profile treatment from Fierce Broadband Wireless:
One Economy, born out of the affordable housing and community development world, understands well how money is funneled down at the local level into affordable housing projects. As such, it has been able to successfully work at a local level to bring in the necessary funds to give housing projects free broadband access and the training to make people proficient computer users.
Check out the full article, which highlights some of the good work One Economy has done over the years.
According to the latest numbers from comScore, Facebook is now the fourth largest website in the world — more than Wikipedia, eBay, and even Amazon.
Monday, August 03
Broadband Census interviewed IIA Co-Chairman Bruce Mehlman about the state of broadband in America and the push for a national broadband plan. From the story:
Internet Innovation Alliance Co-chairman Bruce Mehlman, who was assistant secretary of Commerce for technology policy during the most recent Bush administration, told BroadbandCensus.com that although many parties with an interest in the debate are displeased with the National Telecommunication and Information Administration’s broadband initiative, the state of the nation’s broadband is not dire.
“Speeds have gone up, prices have gone down, percentages of populations served have expanded,” he said.
But he noted that “the tenor of many of the comments [to the broadband plan] is that the sky is falling and America is the broadband Banana Republic.”
Mehlman also talks about Jonathan Orszag’s recent study, “The Substantial Consumer Benefits of Broadband Connectivity for U.S. Households,” and how it shows broadband is an “experience good” for people—meaning, the more people experience the benefits of broadband, the more they want it.
In other IIA media news, the Philadelphia Inquirer recently asked Co-Chairman Larry Irving his thoughts on new FCC head Julius Genachowski. The full article is worth checking out.
Geoff Daily of App-Rising brings up a good point: communities that land under the category of un-served and underserved should be educating their citizens about the benefits of broadband. And they should start doing it right away.