USA


I could not find a better illustration of the positive externalities of broadband than this story about Detroit, a once great American city: Detroit has the worst rate of Internet access of any big American city, with four in 10 of its 689,000 residents lacking broadband, according to the Federal Communications Commission. While difficulties in connecting to the Internet in rural areas are well known, Detroit is becoming a case study in how the digital divide in an urban setting can make or break a recovery. Bridging a Digital Divide That Leaves Schoolchildren Behind FEB. 22, 2016 The deficiency of Internet access in Detroit is particularly glaring given that broadband is now considered as basic as electricity and water. Last year, the F.
Twenty years ago, when NAFTA was still a novelty, Patrick Hadley and I looked at the interface of trade and communication policy. I recalled this when I was asked a question during a TV talk show about safeguards for culture in trade agreements. Looks like the issues we wrote about are becoming mainstream: China’s notorious online controls have long been criticized as censorship by human rights groups, businesses, Chinese Internet users and others. Now they have earned a new label from the American government: trade barrier. United States trade officials have for the first time added China’s system of Internet filters and blocks — broadly known as the Great Firewall — to an annual list of trade impediments.
The NYT Sunday Review carries a fascinating piece on how US and European wildlife officials are using the full panoply of ICTs and big data analytics to manage eco-systems and human-animal conflict. I’ve always felt that Beniger’s discussion of control was central to any realistic understanding of what is happening with big data and ICTs. What happens with animals today may happen with humans tomorrow. Starting in the early 2000s, the recovery program employed ancient and contemporary technology: Net-guns, fired from helicopters, were used to capture bighorn outfitted with collars that carried both GPS and VHF radio transmitters; professional hunters, meanwhile, tracked and darted every mountain lion in the area to outfit them with collars that carried VHF radio transmitters. Biologists at computer monitors began to watch bighorn movements.
The situations in the US and our countries are very different: we have more competition at the access-network level, we have more people who are not connected and our retail pricing schemes are more rational. But it’s illuminating that the FCC is not as excited about zero rating as some other people: Under the FCC’s newly approved net neutrality rules, wireless carriers and other ISPs will not have to go the agency and ask permission every time they want to introduce a new offering or mobile broadband plan, such as a new zero-rating plan, according to FCC officials. The FCC adopted three so-called “bright line” rules for net neutrality: no blocking of legal content; no throttling of Internet traffic on the basis of content; and no paid prioritization of content. For everything not covered by those rules, the FCC approved a catchall “standard for future conduct,” which will used to ensure that broadband providers are not “unreasonably interfering with or unreasonably disadvantaging” the ability of consumers and content providers to use the Internet and connect to each other. Future practices will be judged on a case-by-case basis.

Mobile is not king in the US

Posted by on December 31, 2014  /  1 Comments

A story reporting Pew research on perceptions on the Internet has this little nugget showing how different developed markets are from ours. For all the talk of our culture moving to mobile phones, more than one-third of the respondents said a landline phone was vital to their jobs, compared with the one-quarter that said a cellphone was very important. Pew surveyed 535 American adults employed full-time or part-time in September using a nationally representative online research panel. The margin of error for the survey, which was conducted in English, was plus or minus 5 percentage points. Respondents said the Internet had made them more productive and given them more flexibility in their jobs, but about 35 percent said they were also working longer hours because of it.
In 2010 I wrote a piece of science fiction. It was published in an academic book, so it came out in 2013 as “e South Asia: A social science fiction,” in South Asia in 2060: Envisioning regional futures, eds. Najam, A. & Yusuf, M., chapter 26.
I’ve been asked by several people to comment on the choice of a Japanese standard for digital broadcasting in Sri Lanka, as part of the process of clearing the 700 MHz band of analog TV broadcasting and making the freed up spectrum available for more productive uses. I have not commented, partly because I lack the time to research the subject. But I have not made the effort to reallocate priorities in order to make time for this task because I know that refarming (which is what the digital transition is in essence) is inherently problematic and hard to do. There are pros and cons associated with all standards and there are vested interests that benefit or lose from any standards decision. I have lived long enough to know that there is no objective and undisputed superior standard.
Below is what we said were among critical policy issues in cloud computing: The storage of data in multiple, usually foreign, jurisdictions raises a different set of regulatory issues including data protection and police investigatory powers. The jurisdictional issues are anchored on the location of the firm and the location of the data. In the former instance, wherever the data may be located, the firm may be ordered to ensure that data are subject to the laws applicable to the jurisdiction within which the firm is located. As a corollary, the firm may be required to ensure that the data are located ins jurisdictions where the laws are consistent with those of its home jurisdiction. This was not too difficult a problem in the past because the firms that stored or processed data in foreign locations were large entities with capability to enforce the applicable rules through contracts and otherwise.
The New York Times reported some exciting new changes that are in the works in New York, whereby the entire electricity model is being rethought. New York State is proposing to turn its electric utilities into a new kind of entity that would buy electricity from hundreds or thousands of small generators and set prices for that electricity and for the costs of running the power grid. The proposal anticipates a radically different electric system, dominated by decentralized production, much of it of renewable, intermittent energy sources like solar or wind power. The Public Service Commission is considering how the utilities would have to change. Instead of distributing electricity themselves, the utilities would effectively direct traffic, coordinating distribution of electricity produced by a multitude of smaller entities, according to an outline published last month by the commission, which regulates utilities.
A recent case gave hope to those who wanted the n=all collection of telephone transaction-generated data to cease. But only court that can overrule Smith v Maryland is the Supreme Court. Now a FISA court has explicitly declined to follow Judge Leon. So n=all continues. A telephone company asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in January to stop requiring it to give records of its customers’ calls to the National Security Agency, in light of a ruling by a Federal District Court judge that the N.
If someone can clarify why it is wrong to allow “fast lanes” in broadband but not wrong for the same content companies to pay CDNs like Akamai to bring content closer to the user and thereby make access to the paid data faster? If the new rules deliver anything less, he added, “that would be a betrayal.” Mr. Wheeler rebuffed such criticism. “There is no ‘turnaround in policy,’ ” he said in a statement.
How fast is fast enough? But DSL service, which is delivered over traditional copper phone lines, does not measure up to the speeds of cable Internet service. The most recent F.C.C.
New public policy issues get resolved depending on which analogy wins. In one of the most significant lower-court decisions (this is likely to be appealed up) in recent times, the newspaper analogy won over the town square analogy. If this holds, Google and search engines become the new media. An interesting thought in light of the decline of old media. They move over to the content side, leaving only the telcos on the conduit side.
This is continuation of discussion with Sunil Abraham and Steve Song. It got a little too long for a comment. The problems under discussion are difficult. So it’s good that we have an active discussion. We could have a discussion about all sorts of approaches to privacy.
US agriculture was early to use ICTs to improve efficiency. I recall sharing stories of information-savvy farmers with my classes in Ohio in the early 1990s. Now data is available of soil and weather conditions at a micro-level and farmers are beginning to be concerned that this big data when combined with other data could result in the rigging of futures markets: And the interested parties are familiar names on the farm—names like DuPont and, of course, Monsanto, which is on a buying spree. Monsanto bought the high-tech farm equipment maker Precision Planting in 2012. Last October, it bought the Climate Corporation, a data-analytics firm that provides weather-related farm services and crop insurance, and is also handling Monsanto’s fledgling data-related services.

Praise for regulators in US

Posted by on February 27, 2014  /  2 Comments

They say mergers are coming in both India and Sri Lanka. I’d prefer clear guidelines rather than discretion, for reasons like this. A rash of consumer-friendliness has broken out across the mobile data industry. Over the last year, the four major carriers — AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile — have cut prices and offered greater flexibility in how they sell their voice, text and broadband services. The industry could be on the verge of an all-out price war.