Techno Bits & Bytes

  • More than 15 million comments have been filed with the Federal Communications Commission on its Restoring Internet Freedom docket, which focuses on the concept of net neutrality, and specifically Title II regulations imposed in 2015 under the previous administration. While this colossal number includes many sentiments – including an unsettling number of foreign and some 6 million fake comments – it does not contain significant representation from poor, minority and senior Americans.

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  • How much is being lost in economic benefits because fixed broadband connectivity is not ubiquitous? A 2017 study by Ohio State University Swank Program on Rural-Urban Policy estimated the economic benefits of providing broadband access to unserved households in Ohio.

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  • It’s essential to the future of network neutrality that we shed some light (and truth) on the baseless arguments being made regarding Title II and broadband investment.

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  • The House Communications Subcommittee, chaired by Rep Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), held a hearing examining barriers to broadband deployment throughout the country.

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  • A Q&A with Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD).

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  • The primary objective of broadband policy ought to be to stimulate faster, better, cheaper broadband. There are many paths up the mountain. Let me offer a couple of thoughts based on my experiences with other communities.

    First, get everyone on. Adoption is a vexing problem, combining elements of affordability, literacy and relevance. But it is also viral; the more members of a community who are own, the greater the incentives for others to get on. And once universality is achieved, it opens the door to all kinds of community improvements not available to those communities half on and half off. The FCC’s reform of its Lifeline program and many successful community adoption programs create new opportunities and models for achieving this goal.

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  • The internet fails to reach millions of women in the small towns and villages of India, so Google is trying to deliver it to them—by bicycle.

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  • Internet companies collect abundant information about people’s online activity. They use this information to determine people’s interests and shopping profiles, and then make money by selling personalized “behavioral” ads. The Federal Communications Commission is not too happy about this barter in people’s information.

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  • Last June, this blog noted that Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler was at the halfway point of his tenure and that he understood that “[t]he template for an effective chairmanship is to identify major priorities and get them underway as quickly as possible.” The Wheeler era is nearing its end.

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  • The Federal Communications Commission’s Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) announced ...

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  • Authorities in the United Kingdom will be able to hack into phones and look through web browsing records, under a proposal put forward by the government.

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  • American capitalism, and its role in the communications industry, should be embraced, celebrated, and exported throughout the world. Instead, it is under continuous assault domestically by self-defined progressives and ultra-liberals, who have found sport in using misguided rhetoric and false pretenses to denigrate one of the core tenets of American society.

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  • Pew Research Center recently issued a report on who is online and who is not. Seniors are most likely to be offline, with 39 percent reporting they do not use the Internet. Yet, there has been significant progress in getting seniors online. In 2000, 86 percent of adults age 65+ were offline. This progress is due in part to baby boomers entering the age 65+ group, but also to the work of many organizations across the country working diligently to help seniors overcome the obstacles they face in broadband adoption. Here are just a few of them.

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  • The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has asked one of the nation’s top appellate courts to order the National Security Agency to stop its bulk records collection, which resumed in limited form in June as part of the USA Freedom Act.

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  • May 12th’s fatal Amtrak crash followed seven years of feuding between Congress and the railroad industry over who should bear the cost of technology designed to prevent such accidents -- while the process of installing the safeguards fell disastrously behind schedule. Some members of the Senate were quick to blame the railroads and their lobbyists for foot-dragging on installing technology that has been available for decades, with Sen Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) also pointing the finger at the agencies that are supposed to regulate them.

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  • Expanding broadband Internet access may produce more global economic benefit than tackling HIV or preventing deforestation, but wouldn’t match gains from improving nutrition for kids or eradicating malaria.

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  • T-Mobile US said 92 percent of MetroPCS' customers on its legacy code division multiple access (CDMA) network in Boston, Hartford (CT) and Las Vegas moved onto T-Mobile's network after T-Mobile shut off MetroPCS CDMA service in those markets.

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  • The Internet thrives when a level playing field allows innovation to come from anyone with a good idea and the ability to act on it. Minimal barriers to entry encourage individual entrepreneurs, small businesses, and global companies to compete in the same arena.

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  • Facebook is moving ahead with changes to its two most important user policies after removing a controversial line that deals with teens and their privacy on the site. The changes went into effect November 15. The company had originally proposed the changes in August, but delayed the changes while the Federal Trade Commission reviewed the policies.

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  • It’s a sad commentary on the state of our public discourse that clever misnaming of issues can totally recast what should be substantive policy discussions. The most obvious example: adding the suffix “gate” onto anything that smacks of real or alleged political wrong-doing in the wake of Richard Nixon’s Watergate is usually sufficient to muddy the waters beyond all reality; often it demolishes any chance for serious debate. Remember Billygate, NannyGate, CoinGate, CableGate and all the rest? The latest example is the current Lifeline program that provides basic prepaid cell phone subsidies to low-income citizens. I knew its opponents were out to kill serious discussion (and the program, too) when they came up with the cute idea of calling the issue “Obama Phones.” As a supporter of the program, I think it would be more realistic to call them “Gipper Phones” since the program started in the Reagan years, or even “Bushie Phones” because that’s when the Lifeline program made room for wireless services. Tempted as I am, I think that would only further distract us from looking at the program on its merits.

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  • Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-NV), a former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, signed legislation legalizing online gambling in Nevada, capping a dizzying day at the state legislature as lawmakers passed the bill through the Assembly and Senate as an emergency measure.

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  • President Barack Obama turned his focus to how he will work with Congress in his second term, while also preparing for the expected departure of many senior administration officials.

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  • The National Telecommunications and Information Administration proposes to add 12 questions to the US Census Bureau’s October 2012 Current Population Survey in order to gather reliable data on broadband use by US households. Comments are due June 4, 2012.

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  • The Internet industry has found a rare sweet spot in Washington. With Google in the lead, the companies have begun building a strong traditional lobbying force in Washington. And, to complement that inside game, websites' millions of users have become a powerful outside weight on Congress.

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