Monday, July 06
The FCC has launched a website specifically for America’s National Broadband Plan.
Broadband.gov is still in its beta stage, but early visitors can find an overview on broadband, information on the FCC’s workshops around the country, and even enter a contest to design the Broadband.gov logo. There’s also a countdown clock to the day when the plan is expected to be finalized.
30 percent of US consumers view their broadband connection as the service they are ‘least likely to cut if forced to trim their spending during the current economic downturn.’ [Household Telecom Spending and the Economic Crisis: A Consumer Survey, conducted by Pike & Fischer]
— Sean Buckley, “Leggo my broadband line!” Telecommunications Online. May 13, 2009.
More facts about broadband adoption.
Thursday, July 02
Yesterday the Agriculture and Commerce departments released guidelines for receiving a portion of the $7.2 billion set aside for high-speed Internet expansion in the federal stimulus. From July 14 to August 14, private companies, non-profits, and state and local governments can apply, with the winners expected to be announced in November.
Covered in the guidelines is the required speed of at least 768 kilobits/second downstream and 200 kilobits/second upstream. Underserved areas are defined as having no more than 50% broadband penetration in households.
While any progress is good progress when it comes to bringing high-speed Internet to more Americans, the timing of the grant awarding means that many projects—especially those in the northeast—could be delayed until the ground has thawed enough for trenches to be dug. This, unfortunately, might slow job creation, which was one of the major goals of the stimulus plan.
As America works towards bringing high-speed Internet access to every doorstep, a new report from TeleGeography (via Ars Technica) finds the digital divide is far deeper around the world. Looking at Internet penetration in 127 countries, the study finds only 10 countries have broadband penetration over 80%, while 64 countries are well under 20%.
Then there’s this sobering fact:
“Broadband represents the most extreme example in the gulf between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’,” said TeleGeography Executive Director John Dinsdale. “Less than 2 percent of African households have broadband compared with 68 percent of North American homes.”
While the deadline for comments on the national broadband plan has been extended to July 12, new FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has announced that won’t be the end of the discussion. In fact, public meetings are being planned across the country—and, fittingly, online—up until the final plan is presented to Congress on February 17, 2010.
Wednesday, July 01
A hacker from Boston has been sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for his online shenanigans. Reports eWeek:
Matthew Weigman, 19, also known as “Little Hacker,” was accused of being part of a gang of telephone hackers that made more than 60 fake emergency calls and broke into the phone network to make it appear as though the calls came from somewhere else.
Weigman pleaded guilty in February to one count of conspiracy to retaliate against a witness, victim or informant as well as one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud. According to Wired, which has interviewed Weigman in the past about his activities, the FBI had been chasing the hacker since he was 15, and at times treated him as an informant. As part of his plea, he admitted to conspiring with other hackers to place bogus emergency calls that sent SWAT units to the homes of their unsuspecting victims.
Curious footnote: Weigman is blind.
The Washington Post reports on a new government website:
Vivek Kundra, the federal chief information officer, on Tuesday announced a new Web site designed to track more than $70 billion in government information technology spending, showing all contracts held by major firms within every agency.
The revamped site, USAspending.gov, was launched early this morning, and Kundra unveiled it at the Personal Democracy Forum conference on technology and politics. The site shows detailed information about whether IT contracts are being monitored and budgets being met.
The new website is the product of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, which required the government to provide a searchable website detailing every Federal award.
Via Wall Street Journal, a look at the rise in online doctor-patient consultations:
This year, 39% of doctors said they’d communicated with patients online, up from just 16% five years earlier, according to health-information firm Manhattan Research, a unit of Decision Resources Inc. So far, the most common digital doctor services are the simplest ones, like paying bills, sending lab results and scheduling appointments.
The number of patients offering online consultations is still small, but it’s expected to grow steadily, especially as more and more insurance companies start covering online consultations.
More information online health care is available in the IIA Broadband Fact Book.
Google has released its quarterly spam report, and for those of us—as in, all of us—who hate sifting through annoying pitches and messages and in our inboxes, the news isn’t encouraging. According to the report, spam levels were up 53% in the second quarter, with the much-welcome 70% in the wake of last November’s shutdown of the malicious McColo ISP now a distant memory.
Meanwhile, a separate report from Symantec’s MessageLabs finds that over 80 percent of spam is originally sent by non-human botnets.
With $7.2 billion in federal dollars earmarked for broadband expansion in rural and underserved areas, members of the Obama administration are hitting the road to tout the benefits of being wired.
Today Vice-President Joe Biden is making stops in northwestern Pennsylvania, while Commerce Secretary Gary Locke is in Cleveland.