Broadband Archives — Page 6 of 26


Tim Wu on the future of the FCC

Posted on January 15, 2014  /  0 Comments

Following the Court of Appeals ruling against its net neutrality order, the FCC is facing an existential challenge, says Tim Wu in an interview with the Washington Post. What could the FCC have done differently? The obvious alternative would have been to do what the FCC should have done and — in the future tense — now should do, which is to reclassify broadband under Title II authority. Other observers seem to think that’ll be hard to do, politically. There’s an effort to define it that way by the carriers, and to get people in Congress excited about that.
An old workaround bites back. Seems little alternative but to classify broadband as a utility. In a decision signed by two judges and joined in part by a third, the appeals court acknowledged that the F.C.C.

Two more years for Bharat Broadband?

Posted on January 7, 2014  /  0 Comments

A few weeks back, we wrote about how late the NOFN train was running. It appears the USOF has accepted the reality that it cannot accelerate from 60 to 25,000 in 12 months and is asking for a two-year delay. We all know why government programs have tight deadlines. It has to do with the electoral cycle. What Nilekani achieved, Pitroda could not.
There was a time when voice telephony was seen as a public utility, requiring government involvement in supply. In most parts of the world, the end result was waiting lists and poor service. Now the same refrain is being sung re broadband. Why not take a look at Hong Kong? Here is where to start.
The full report of the 2012-13 Household Income and Expenditure Survey is not yet public, but LBO had got hold of the Internet data: About 11.4 percent of households in Sri Lanka have internet access at home, with 9.2 percent accessing through other means with communications centres were playing a key role, official data shows. The highest internet access was in the Colombo district at 26.9 percent of households with 15.
Big government administered projects always have a hard time getting rolling. Ask the Australians. We wish the Indian DoT the best in achieving incredible acceleration. The government has provided broadband connectivity to only 60 gram panchayats till now under the Rs 20,000 crore NOFN project, which has to cover 2.5 lakh panchayats by September 2015.
Not the most perfect summary, since I did the interview with half my mind on the need to get to the airport in time for my flight out.
Governments like subsidies. We do not mind, as long as they do not harm competition and are deployed intelligently. One big complaint we had about the Indian Universal Service Fund was that it was not being used (as was the even bigger fund accumulated by Brazil). The Indian government responded with a USD 4 billion plus plan to roll out fiber to village cluster level. That will be among the policy initiatives that will be discussed at ITU Telecom World Forum, 21 November 2013 in Bangkok.

MOOCs and broadband

Posted on November 10, 2013  /  0 Comments

I was at the World Innovation Summit on Education (WISE 13) in Doha, Qatar, last week. The week before I was speaking at the Internet Governance Forum in Bali, Indonesia. At both these events reliable, high-quality, available-on-demand broadband is a precondition for what the people there want to do. For example, everyone at WISE 13 had great expectations (or fears) about MOOCs. Some even went so far as thinking that MOOCs could be some kind of conspiracy against the developing countries, whereby our people would be limited to MOOCs, some kind of poor substitute for real higher education.
This is not to dismiss the idea of connecting via mobile phones. I have spent the last few years researching the challenges of pulling together real connectivity and access for the poorest, and it’s no picnic. Infrastructure constraints, high taxes on imported computers, low income levels and connectivity problems all make the internet extremely challenging for the poorest to access. But is this a reason to give up entirely and focus on mobile instead as policymakers and researchers seem to be doing? At the Internet Governance Forum in Indonesia last week, the prevailing view was that the developing world would use mobile, end of story.
Today at IGF 2013 in Bali, I was part of a panel on cloud and mobile computing. We at LIRNEasia need cloud computing. But we are also realistic about the challenges. Here is the slideset I used to illustrate the quality problems. But I also talked about the weak links in the chain and what was being done to strengthen them.
These comparisons are, of course, problematic. But still engaging especially in the context of the launch of the Alliance for an Affordable Internet. Thailand yields no data. And I assume they work off advertised speeds rather than real . The Economist provides a nice interactive map.
It is easy for Filipino researchers to care about 1 GB of IP transit costing eight times more in Manila than in Singapore. But it not so easy to understand why working to establish a mesh network that includes multiple cables across the continental Asian landmass has any relevance to this archipelagic country. This is the discussion we had today during a presentation organized by the Phil ICT Research Network at University of the Philippines Diliman Campus. The slideset is here.
We’ve been working with UNESCAP since 2010 on addressing a key condition for affordable and reliable broadband in Asia. Today, I was impressed by how far UNESCAP has advanced the process. I am a strong believer in the power of image. They had, together with ITU, commissioned a map of the existing fiber optic cables. This will, after all the necessary approvals have been received (good luck on presenting a map of India that won’t upset somebody!
I thought 35 billion was a bit much. That was what the now under-radical-revision NBN was going to cost the Australian taxpayer. Even for a country with more than 60 times the population of Australia, USD 323 billion seems excessive. But, hey, they have to do something with the cash that’s piling up . .
For those who doubted our narrative that the future of Internet access in our parts is wireless, here is the proof. It’s not that fixed broadband is not growing (year-on-year is 9 percent), but that wireless is growing faster. There are 15 million fixed broadband subscribers v 143 million connecting over wireless platforms. TRAI’s quarterly performance report.