Federal Communications Commission


Wi-Fi marks 25 years this month since the FCC decision of 1985 that allowed using spread-spectrum technologies in unlicensed spectrum and sparked a huge dose of innovation in the process. Today if you offer even million dollars for a laptop without Wi-Fi, you will not get it. It has become embedded in the DNA of all portable computers. As a result we can bypass phone networks and make free calls using Skype, Googletalk etc. Only dumb authorities don’t provide Wi-Fi in the airports.
We have been following the emotionally loaded net neutrality debate for some time with some detachment. Our research clearly shows that low prices are critical if the BOP is to join the Internet economy and that low prices are not sustainable without the adaptation of the budget telecom network model to broadband supply. One of the most controversial of the recommendations that came out of this work is that which said one should go gentle on regulating quality. The main reason we said that was because we believed that the poor needed access in the form of different price-quality bundles; that if high quality standards were imposed by fiat, the only victims would be the price-sensitive consumers who would get priced out. While we did not take an explicit position on net neutrality those days, we now have to, based on what we have learned.
The US universal service fund is among the oldest and most inefficient, spending more on administration than comparators and not targeting the subsidies well. Our research has been cited in debates about improving it. The FCC under the Obama appointed Chair does not appear to be engaging in fundamental reforms, but is instead seeking to use the Fund as the main vehicle for executing its broadband plans. Instead of repurposing the existing funds, it is raising additional money by taxing customers of the telcos. Chief among its goals, the F.
The title is bold, we agree, but it is true. The FCC is asking broadband and smartphone users in USA to use their broadband testing tools to help the feds and consumers know what speeds are actually available, not just promised by the nations’ telecoms, reports wired.com. Starting yesterday (March 11), netizens can go to the FCC’s Broadband.gov site, enter their address and test their broadband speed using one of two testing tools.
TPRC was the first organization set up to connect scholarly research and communication policy/regulation. CPRsouth, which is just three years old, was modeled on TPRC and EuroCPR. CPRsouth differs from its sister organizations by its explicit focus on capacity building and mentoring, tasks that are looked after by the well established universities and research institutes in North America and Europe. We were pleased that I and Alison Gillwald (who will be leading the CPRafrica initiative) were invited as guests to the 2009 TPRC conference, facilitated by Prabir Neogi, among others. Alison and I chaired sessions, at the kind invitation of Judith Mariscal who is in the leadership of DIRSI and also on the program committee of TPRC).

Defining broadband

Posted by on August 21, 2009  /  2 Comments

In our work, we refer to both the OECD and ITU definitions of broadband. They are quite different, indicating this is not settled science. Now the FCC has entered the fray, asking for comments on interpreting broadband. This is what one online commentator says: Nicely put, but defining and, even more, “interpreting” broadband may be a tough call. The FCC’s Notice certainly doesn’t make it easy.
The $825 billion proposal from the Obama transition team and House Democrats includes $6 billion to improve the U.S. broadband infrastructure, which is lacking in many rural and mountainous areas, particularly the West. There aren’t a lot of details yet on how that $6 billion would be given out, but it doesn’t seem to encompass the tax breaks phone and cable companies were lobbying for. Even so, the wireless industry was cheering Thursday morning because a summary of the spending released by House Democrats calls for the money to be used on “broadband and wireless grants.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin is proposing giving innovators free unlicensed access to valuable airwaves if the company that buys a license to the channels doesn’t meet tough requirements to build a nationwide Internet network. The proposal has been added to a pending auction of the airwaves. The FCC is scheduled to vote on rules for the sale on Dec. 18. Mr.
In the remaining weeks of his tenure, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin will push for a free, no-porn wireless Internet network across the nation, according to the agency. Martin is expected to put his proposal for the free Internet network on the agency’s Dec. 18 meeting agenda despite criticism by wireless operators like T-Mobile, who say using the spectrum could interfere with their new high-speed data network. T-Mobile, a unit of Germany’s Deutsche Telecom, spent $4 billion for nearby spectrum and has disputed a report by the FCC that rejected the firm’s concerns of interference.
President-elect Barack Obama has named two telecom industry and policy veterans and a leader of Google’s philanthropy arm to craft the new administration’s high-tech policy priorities. The policy working group on Technology, Innovation and Government Reform will “develop proposals and plans from the Obama Campaign for action during the Obama-Biden Administration,” according to the president-elect’s transition web site www.change.gov. The authors of what could be sweeping changes in broadband rules, privacy and government transparency include: –Blair Levin, a telecom investment analyst at Stifel Nicolaus and former chief of staff to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Reed Hundt.
The Federal Communications Commission, as expected, approved a measure that would make “white space” spectrum available for wireless broadband. White space is industry lingo for the unused airwaves that abut broadcast TV spectrum, providing a buffer zone from stray signals and other inferference. The buffer zone was set up more than 50 years ago when TV was first invented. The FCC’s white-space plan was initially proposed four years ago. More than 25,000 comments — from supporters as well as critics — were submitted.
We pay for other utilities (electricity, water, phone services) by the amount utilised, but usually a flat rate for broadband depending upon the bandwidth. I have earlier compared this to paying for water based on the diameter of the pipe, instead of liters consumed. The following letter by a reader to USA Today highlights similar concerns – may be in another context. WHY SHOULD BROADBAND BE FREE? James Lakely – Chicago Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin’s reference to the phone industry exposes the weakness of his argument to provide free broadband access in the USA.
Comcast Corp. filed suit against the Federal Communications Commission Thursday to overturn the agency’s decision to sanction the company for blocking certain Internet traffic. The lawsuit involves a 3-2 decision the FCC handed down in early August that found Comcast’s practices violated so-called net-neutrality principles, and ordered the company to provide more details of its network-management policies within 30 days. The FCC also ordered Comcast to stop by the end of the year blocking traffic related to specific applications, such as file-sharing software that allows users to swap videos. It was the first time the FCC had found a company in violation of the commission’s net-neutrality principles, which lay out consumers’ Internet rights.
Where exactly the line that segregates ‘Broadband’ from ‘Narrowband’? Interestingly every country and every organization seems to have one’s own definition. 256 kbps is adequate ‘broadband’ for some countries to claim to be at the top of the broadband map. More ambitious have kept the level at 1 Mbps or even 2 Mbps. FCC too was happy with 200 kbps (on either direction) for some time, but apparently has apparently realized that outdated.
CellCast Technologies urges the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) tomorrow to fully consider a proven technology, cell broadcast, in the nationwide emergency alert system for cell phones. On Thursday, the FCC is slated to vote on a committee report that did not specify cell broadcast technology. “In the best interest of the general public, the FCC must focus on serving the public safety with a proven technology that can be implemented nationwide immediately,” said CellCast Chief Operating Officer Paul Klein. “We should not wait until 2010 when more lives could be lost to hurricanes, tornados and other disasters or crises.” CellCast Urges FCC to Include Proven Cell Broadcast Technology in National Emergency Alert System for Cell Phones 
Broadband Access Data Mischief — SSRC There is clear consensus that our nation’s ability to compete in the high speed broadband world is essential to our economic future. Unfortunately, the Administration and the Federal Communications Commission continue to rely upon inadequate, highly-flawed data to assess the marketplace for high-speed Internet access. The Administration’s “mission Accomplished” rhetoric does not match reality: * According to a September 2007 Pew Internet & American Life Project phone survey, roughly half of all Americans don’t have broadband at home. Half is far from universal. * Fewer than 25% of New Yorkers in rural areas have access to broadband service and nearly two-thirds of people living in New York City lack access to affordable, high-speed broadband.
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