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

Blog posts tagged with 'Mobile Broadband'

Monday, September 16

Wireless America

By Brad

Via Sue Marek of Fierce Wireless, people in rural areas are increasingly embracing mobile:

A new study from Current Analysis and commissioned by the Competitive Carriers’ Association found that more than 80 percent of rural subscribers plan to purchase a smartphone in the next three months. The study also found that 34 percent of those who own a smartphone use wireless exclusively for their telecommunications needs.

While coverage in rural areas continues to be a concern, the fact that “cord-cutting” is making its way into rural communities is just more evidence that the transition to next-generation, all-IP networks is well underway.

Wednesday, September 11

Vision of the Future

By Brad

At Valleywag, Sam Biddle highlights a vision of the future put forward at the annual TechCrunch Disrupt conference:

Imagine it’s a few years in the future, and you are driving down the road in an Uber, built by Tesla and auto-driven by Google software. You are in a hurry, so you decide to accelerate and pass the other cars. Your vehicle could then interface with the other cars, and pay them a sliver of Bitcoin to let you pass. You get where you are going faster, and everyone is happy. Programmable currency.

Obviously, mobile broadband has the power to take us in amazing new directions. But this scenario is a wee bit creepy.

Monday, September 09

Conversation with Twicsy Founder Chris Seline



Earlier today, we held a Twitterview with Chris Seline, founder of Twicsy. Here’s the extended interview. — IIA

What type of business do you run?

Twicsy is a Twitter picture search engine. Think of Google dedicated to Twitter pictures.

Does your business impact consumers? If so, how?

We give consumers a way to see what’s going on in the world in pictures. Twitter is an incredible source for firsthand accounts of everything from small parties to major world events, and Twicsy captures the public pictures to show you what’s happening right now.

How does broadband relate to your business?

Displaying numerous high resolution photos on a webpage requires lots of bandwidth and we are always trying to push the limits of what the users can download quickly. The faster the user’s connection the better their experience will be.

How has high-speed broadband or wireless broadband helped build, develop, transform or grow your business?

Prior to broadband, displaying multiple high resolution images on a web page would result in page load times in the minutes. That is not a good user experience! I believe Google Images was the first image search engine back in 2001. Back then all they displayed were tiny low resolution pictures.

Is spectrum, the invisible airwaves that carry voice and data signals to and from electronic devices, critical to the future of your business? If so, how?

I believe it is. As more people use the web on their mobile devices, the need for faster broadband accessible from anywhere becomes more and more important. In order for us to deliver a consistent user experience across all devices it is critical that the mobile broadband infrastructure improve to the level of the wired. We currently have over 30% of users access Twicsy from their mobile device, and that number is only going to go up.

How would a ‘spectrum crunch’ impact your business?

It would greatly affect our ability to deliver our service to an increasing number of mobile users. As cell phones rapidly replace desktops as consumers’ primary internet devices they will put larger demands on our mobile broadband infrastructure. A spectrum crunch would affect just about everybody!

Friday, September 06

Connections Are Changing

By Bruce Mehlman

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Jeffrey Sparshott looks at how Americans are abandoning traditional landlines in droves:

More than a quarter of U.S. households have ditched landline phones, a trend driven by younger Americans relying on their cellphones, according to Census Bureau data released Thursday.

Just 71% of households had landlines in 2011, down from a little more than 96% 15 years ago. Cellphone ownership reached 89%, up from about 36% in 1998, the first year the survey asked about the devices.

The youngest households are abandoning landlines in droves. About two-thirds of households led by people ages 15 to 29 relied only on cellphones in 2011, compared with 28% for the broader population.

This fundamental shift in how people connect is one of the big drivers of the so-called “IP Transition.” As providers watch their customers change the way they communicate, they’re upgrading their networks to be powered solely by Internet Protocol. And it’s not just providers who see where things are going. As FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai wrote in the National Journal last April:

America is in the midst of a technological revolution, what some call the IP Transition (“IP” stands for the Internet Protocol, which is the technical foundation for all these changes). IP-based networks are different from the copper-based networks of yesteryear in a fundamental way: They were not designed for voice service alone. Instead, IP-based technologies break down every kind of communication (voice, video, e-mail and more) into digital bits and transport those bits more efficiently and cheaply than ever before.

Despite these vast changes in the communications marketplace, the Federal Communications Commission hasn’t caught up. We still view the world as if consumers were at Ma Bell’s mercy, relying on copper lines to get basic voice service. As a result, we have a lot of obsolete rules on our books. (Just two months ago, the FCC finally repealed a rule first adopted by its Telegraph Division during the Great Depression!) These old rules aren’t just harmlessly yellowing with age. They are affirmatively discouraging companies from investing in next-generation networks.

Commissioner Pai’s focus on “obsolete rules” was important then and even more important today. As the Wall Street Journal article shows, Americans are plowing forward into the all-IP future. Providers are working to build out the infrastructure necessary to keep up with them. We simply can’t risk having dusty regulations slow things down.

Wednesday, August 28

The New Advertising Boom

By Brad

Over at GigaOm, Om Malik reports that Facebook seems to have the whole advertising thing down:

Facebook will nearly triple its share of global mobile advertising in 2013 compared to 2012, according to research firm eMarketer. They forecast that Facebook will have about 15.8 percent of the total global ad market, ahead of Pandora, Twitter and others. Google, however, is still the big kahuna with 53.17 percent of the overall market, up from 2012.

Malik also reports that mobile ads across the board are set to reach $16 billion this year, a jump of close to 90% from 2012. Not too shabby for a market that was struggling just seven years ago. That’s the power of mobile broadband for you.

Monday, August 26

Getting in the Network Game

By Brad

Is online retail giant Amazon prepping a new wireless network? According to Olga Kharif and Danielle Kucera at Bloomberg, the answer appears to be yes: Inc. has tested a new wireless network that would allow customers to connect its devices to the Internet, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The wireless network, which was tested in Cupertino, California, used spectrum controlled by satellite communications company Globalstar Inc., said the people who asked not to be identified because the test was private.

Amazon already has its own network, WhisperNet, which delivers books to customer Kindles. But with a more robust network, Amazon could conceivably deliver much more than books.

LTE on the Rise

By Brad

4G LTE technology is relatively new on the scene, but as Dan Jones of Light Reading reports, it’s picking up steam:

There are now more than 1,000 4G LTE devices available, with more than 200 live networks deployed using the new 4G technology.

The latest report from the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) finds that there are now 202 live LTE networks globally with 1,064 LTE devices available.

Leading the charge among devices is, of course, smartphones.

Friday, August 23

Dial-Up Still Around

By Brad

New numbers from Pew show that home broadband access continues to rise, with only a handful of Americans still choosing lower dial-up search speeds (and, unfortunately in some areas, high-speed broadband may not yet be a choice due to policymakers requiring legacy carriers to maintain outdated copper networks):

In June 2000, when about half of adults were online, only 3% of American households had broadband access. Now, as of December 2012, the tables have turned: 3% of Americans connect to the internet at home via dial-up.

Interestingly, Hispanics are most likely to have dial-up access at home, despite the fact that they lead in mobile broadband adoption.

Wednesday, August 21

The Rise of Apps

By Brad

At Read Write Web, Devanshi Garg examines why mobile apps are on the rise while traditional software is in steep decline:

Prior to the proliferation of mobile devices, downloading software and experimenting with new programs was left primarily to tech-savvy individuals. Consider the painstaking process of finding a free video editor, a music-sharing program prior to iTunes, or a task-management application. Not many people bothered.

With the emergence of app stores, everyday people are constantly interacting with software, judging its value, and installing and deleting apps on their devices at a rapid pace.

Another key factor is the proliferation — and unprecedented adoption by consumers — of mobile broadband. All the more reason for regulators to do everything they can to keep investment in wireless networks happening at a blistering pace.

Auction Problems

By Brad

While the FCC continues to design its critical spectrum auctions, there’s grumbling from some corners of the broadcasting world that many broadcasters won’t be voluntarily coughing up their airwaves. As Brendan Sasso of The Hill reports:

Television stations affiliated with the major networks have no interest in selling their broadcast licenses back to the Federal Communications Commission, according to Preston Padden, the director of a coalition of broadcasters who want to sell their licenses.

To the best of my knowledge, the commission is extremely unlikely to attract affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox to this auction,” Padden said during a panel discussion at a Technology Policy Institute conference. “I am not personally aware of any affiliate of a major network who is planning to participate in the auction.”

Hopefully the FCC figures out a way to incentivize affiliates to put their spectrum up for auctions, otherwise it will be hard for the entire auction to succeed.


Friday, August 16

Boucher on Spectrum

By Brad

At Light Reading, our Honorary Chairman Rick Boucher argues that open spectrum auctions will open the door to growth. Here’s a taste:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) could hand its equivalent of a winning Powerball ticket to select communications companies in the upcoming spectrum auctions. As the FCC creates rules for the incentive auctions, it has the ability to stack the odds, restricting participation in the auctions by some mobile providers and essentially picking winners and losers among our nation’s carriers.

Today, the wireless industry’s future is in the hands of policy makers. The federal government expects to hold spectrum auctions in 2014 in which air frequencies currently used by broadcast television stations, but well-suited for mobile broadband, will be put up for sale. Much is at stake in the way that the auction is structured and in its ultimate success.

Check out Boucher’s full op-ed over at Light Reading.

Thursday, August 15

Mobile Workforce

By Brad

Ars Technica’s Jon Brodkin looks at how mobility is changing the way we work:

Forrester Research has been tracking the rise of mobile workers, saying in its 2013 Mobile Workforce Adoption Trends report, “Gone are the days when employees wielded a simple set of tools to get work done. In today’s world of anytime, anywhere work, employees use whatever device is most convenient: desktop at home, laptop at work, tablet in a client meeting, or smartphone everywhere.”

While people can now work pretty much anywhere, they haven’t been able to completely give up more traditional devices. Forrester’s survey of 9,766 information workers in 17 countries found that 84 percent of respondents use a desktop computer for work at least once a week, and 63 percent use a laptop every week. Nearly half, 48 percent, of workers use smartphones for business each week and 21 percent do the same with tablets.

Wednesday, August 14

The Way of the Dodo

By Brad

At Read Write Web, Dan Rowinski declares the “dumb phone” will soon be extinct:

For the first time in the history of cellphones, the smartphone is now more popular globally than the “feature” phone, which many characterize these days as “dumb” phones. According to a report from research firm Gartner, smartphone sales accounted for 51.8% of cellphone sales in the second quarter of 2013.

According to Rowinkski, the main culprit is a flood of relatively cheap smartphones powered by Google’s Android system.

Monday, August 12

Deal of the Day

By Brad

Here’s something cool: Via Brian Stelter of the New York Times, NBC is tapping into a new, powerful resource for news gathering:

When a plane crashes or a protest turns violent, television crews speed to the scene. But they typically do not arrive for minutes or even hours, so these days photos and videos by amateurs — what the news industry calls “user-generated content” — fill the void.

Those images, usually found by frantic producers on Twitter and Facebook, represented “the first generation of user-generated content for news,” said Vivian Schiller, the chief digital officer for NBC News. The network is betting that the next generation involves live video, streamed straight to its control rooms in New York from the cellphones of witnesses.

On Monday, NBC News, a unit of Comcast’s NBCUniversal, will announce its acquisition of Stringwire, an early stage Web service that enables just that. Ms. Schiller imagined using Stringwire for coverage of all-consuming protests like those that occurred in Tahrir Square in Cairo.

With a smartphone in our pocket — and the power of mobile broadband — we all have the potential to be journalists.

Auctions Are Complicated

By Brad

As the FCC prepares for its spectrum incentive auctions next year, there’s a mind-boggling amount of details to be sorted out. Case in point: The FCC’s TVStudy software, which will gauge areas covered by broadcasters and pinpoint possible areas of interference once spectrum one more spectrum is allocated for wireless. As John Eggerton of Broadcasting & Cable reports, while the proposed software is being criticized by some broadcasters, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai recently took a strong stand in its defense:

Broadcasters have argued the software and data used should be that in existence when the incentive auction law was passed, and that to do otherwise does not square with that law, and in any case is fundamentally flawed.

But in his comments on Friday’s presentation on the status of the incentive auctions, Pai said: ”[B]roadcasters should support updating our software so that it can work on modern computer systems, run more quickly, and perform the type of analysis that will be necessary to support the incentive auction. Likewise, they should be open to including the most recent census data in that software.”

Obviously, this is all very complicated. Which is all the more reason for the FCC to ensure it gets its auction guidelines right.

Monday, August 05

Conflicting Reports

By Brad

With wireless providers in desperate need of more spectrum, the FCC has been working toward making its incentive auctions happen sometime next year. But as John Eggerton of Broadcasting & Cable reports, Sen. Mark Pryor, chairman of the Senate Communications Subcommittee, believes the Commission may not hit the target:

Asked about the state of the FCC incentive auctions, Pryor said he would be “totally fine” with holding those auctions in 2014, but has heard “rumors” it could slide into 2015 and “guessed” it might just make that slide.

Broadcasters have been arguing that the FCC should not hold itself to 2014, but work on getting the auction “done right rather than right away.” The FCC’s incentive auction point people have suggested it can get it right and meet that 2014 deadline, though that deadline is not set in stone.

Not so fast, the FCC told Eggerton in a follow-up report:

“The Commission’s world-class incentive auction team of economists, auction experts, and engineers is making steady progress towards holding the world’s first incentive auction in 2014; which will free up significant spectrum for mobile broadband use,” said [acting chair Mignon Clyburn’s] spokesman. “The auction is a top institutional priority and we are on track to help deliver faster speeds, greater capacity, and more ubiquitous wireless connectivity to consumers and businesses across the country.”

Tuesday, July 30

Boucher on Spectrum Policies

By Brad

Our Honorary Chairman Rick Boucher has taken to the digital pages of The Street to argue for smart spectrum policies. Here’s a taste:

Limiting the amount of spectrum these carriers can acquire would potentially rig the auction results, prevent some carriers from getting the spectrum necessary to give customers the service quality they demand, and forestall future wireless innovation. It’s also at odds with Congress’ clear preference for a competitive, level playing field among qualified bidders.

With fewer qualified participants, the auction is less likely to meet Congress’ desire to maximize auction proceeds to fund a planned nationwide public safety broadband network, to compensate broadcasters for the auction of their spectrum and to reduce the federal budget deficit. A recent Georgetown University study contends that severe bidding restrictions could cut revenues by as much as 40%.

Check out Boucher’s full op-ed at The Street.

Thursday, July 25

App of the Day

By Brad

Via Robin Wilkey at The Huffington Post comes word on a new app that, well…

Launching at the end of August, LeftoverSwap will allow users to upload a photo and description of their pad thai, pizza or pho and connect them with hungry neighbors nearby.

But while the idea may sound a bit crazy, it might actually be contributing to the greater good: LeftoverSwap will start as a donation-only model.

Tuesday, July 23

Conversation with Audingo



Earlier today, we held a Twitterview with innovative social company Audingo, which provides a social platform for fans to connect with their favorite personalities by phone, audio text, audio email, and even video. You can check out the condensed version of our interview via our respective Twitter handles (@iiabroadband, @audingo). Here’s the extended interview. — IIA

What type of business is Audingo?

Audingo is a pioneer in the audio-visual social media space. We offer a mobile platform that gives users the opportunity to hear directly from organizations and personalities that they choose via personalized audio and video messages in the form of a call, text or email. It’s a great way for a company or a celebrity to cultivate a loyal fan base with regular outreach to supporters in a one-to-one format. An organization could also use it, for example, to communicate with a vast network of members or employees.

Does your business impact consumers? If so, how?

Both use of social media and online video consumption have skyrocketed. Audingo fuses these trends and delivers messages in a format that consumers are embracing more and more. As reported by Reuters, DreamWorks Animation Chief Jeffrey Katzenberg recently predicted that the future of social media “moves from text-based communication to video and audio-based, making it more intuitive and instinctual.” Audingo is on the leading edge of technology.

How does broadband relate to your business?

Audingo hinges on the availability of broadband, particularly mobile broadband. It’s required for the delivery of Audingo messages and emails to users’ cellphones/smartphones — the data rides over wireless networks.

How has high-speed broadband or wireless broadband helped build, develop, transform or grow your business?

Mobile technology is becoming ever-more embedded in everyday life. The rise of the smartphone has paved a clear path for the development of Audingo, with users’ wireless devices in their pockets at nearly all times. A majority of Americans can now be reached by text, email or a phone call (almost) whenever, wherever. How does broadband come into play? Smartphones were invented when wireless broadband networks were in place to support the technology.

Does your business rely on access to wireless broadband? If so, in what capacity?

Without wireless broadband, Audingo wouldn’t be able to reach subscribers via text message or deliver video messages to their phones via our enterprise level architecture platform. And, obviously, our mobile application that allows organizations and personalities to easily create messages and send to subscribers using their smartphone depends on access to wireless broadband.

Is spectrum, the invisible airwaves that carry voice and data signals to and from electronic devices, critical to the future of your business? If so, how?

Consumers need good reception to make or receive calls on their cellphones and surf the web, check email or use mobile apps on their smartphones. Audingo is committed to efficiently delivering messages from our clients, organizations and public figures. That’s only possible if enough spectrum is available for wireless carriers to reliably support the explosion in mobile.

How would a “spectrum crunch” impact your business?

A spectrum crunch would mean that calls could be dropped in the middle of an audio Audingo message being delivered by phone call – and that would be completely out of our control. It could mean that text and email Audingos are delayed from reaching recipients – maybe even so much that they’re no longer timely. Audingo is very aware of the need for policymakers to take action now to prevent an extreme spectrum crunch from coming to be.

Friday, July 12

Screen Plays

By Rick Boucher


Last Wednesday, just before Americans fired up barbecues and fireworks, the FCC approved the sale of Sprint to SoftBank. The deal is worth a reported $21 billion, with SoftBank now owning 78% of America’s third largest wireless company.

Acquiring Sprint gives SoftBank more than a foothold in the highly competitive U.S. wireless market. Thanks to Sprint’s long-standing deal with wireless broadband provider Clearwire — a deal fully consummated when Sprint recently purchased 100% of the company — the Japanese firm is also taking control of a company with a clear lead when it comes to all-important spectrum holdings. In fact Sprint now owns more spectrum than any other wireless carrier.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Due to the explosive growth of mobile broadband, providers are constantly on the hunt for more airwaves. But there is an issue in how Sprint positions its vast spectrum holdings with the FCC.

The last time the FCC updated its spectrum screen — its guide for keeping the wireless market competitive, among other things — was in 2008. In that update, the Commission decided to leave out the majority of Clearwire’s 2.5 GHz spectrum — airwaves that were then, and continue to be, used for mobile broadband.

That’s a sizable chunk of airwaves left out of the FCC’s screen, and as the Commission continues to crafts its upcoming spectrum auctions, it should definitely reconsider its previous decision to exclude it.

That is precisely the opposite of what Sprint wants to happen. The company, despite now being the clear spectrum winner in the U.S. wireless market, continues to argue that two-thirds of Clearwire’s 2.5 GHz spectrum — which was a driver of Sprint’s decision to buy all of Clearwire in order to better position itself for SoftBank’s interest — should still be excluded. They argue, even though they employ these airwaves for mobile broadband, that it’s essentially unsuitable for mobile broadband.

If that argument seems confusing and confoundingly at odds with reality, that’s because it is.

Sprint’s endgame is not confusing, however, as they’re clearly trying to position themselves as a weaker player when it comes to spectrum holdings. It’s a savvy business move, but given how important mobile broadband is becoming to the American economy, it’s also an unfortunate one.

Every provider is in need of more spectrum. They need it to keep up with the demands of their customers, and they need it to keep up with the speed of innovation. The FCC’s spectrum screen is an important tool in the Commission’s toolbox. But it needs to encompass all holdings in order to be effective.

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