Here's Yochai Benkler, one of the smartest people I know on the subject of policy and the Internet, talking about the broadband stimulus package in the US, and what effect it is likely to have. You can't tell the players without a scorecard, and this is that scorecard -- for example, did you know that the House proposal would give half the broadband money to the Secretary of Agriculture to spend (!?). Still, this looks like a remarkably sane and effective proposal. Good news for America.
The House bill also adds some explicit important definitions for understanding broadband. It defines "advanced broadband," for which 75% of the money is marked, as 45 Mbps downstream, 15 Mbps downstream. Now, I continue to be baffled about the willingness to formalize asymmetric speeds as the measure, but this is the first time any formal regulatory requirement has even begun to speak in 21st century terms about what counts as broadband. (The requirements from wireless and basic broadband are, as might be expected, lower, but still better than used now by the FCC.) These numbers will almost certainly anchor any future debate over the state of broadband deployment, which, in turn, could also affect the FCC's powers and responsibilities across all its broadband policy, including systems not funded by the stimulus. It also funds the NTIA to build capacity to actually study and benchmark broadband availability and performance, and requires the FCC to issue a broad strategic plan, within a year, for broadband deployment and use in the United States. The Senate bill, although it was stronger on the amount of money and the centralization of responsibility in the NTIA, is weaker and more vague on the access provisions. Still, it gives the NTIA the power to impose on any facilities at least partly funded by the stimulus funds conditions for interconnection and nondiscrimination. This is more vague. "Interconnection" can be interpreted much more narrowly than "open access," and "nondiscrimination" is looser than the direct reference to the FCC's policy. But together with the concentration of the 9 billion dollars in its hands, and the requirement that recipients of the funds do so through partnership with a state or municipality, this power will give the NTIA a much more powerful and interesting regulatory role than it has had in the past, in a context where we might actually see systems built with these funds in fact offer more open systems than those that the incumbents have been trying to build over the last few years. The Senate bill is also the first serious effort to invest in skills training and connecting the availability of physical infrastructure to programs to teach people how to use the systems. An incredibly important, and oft ignored, facet of the problem.
The first 100 days of Trump’s presidency were a shambolic festival of incompetence and looming catastrophe. But it’s not all about beltway politics, you know! Because the intense (and reasonable) focus is upon on the media-friendly dimensions of his buffoonery, we sometimes miss how it affects specific aspects of American life. The Verge took a […]
Ajit Pai, the newly appointed chairman of the Federal Communications Commission under Donald Trump, today announced his plans to undo government oversight of broadband ISPs, and destroy Net Neutrality.
Vietnam’s government today said Facebook has promised to work with the communist nation to prevent the publication and distribution of banned online content.
Bamboo has lots of uses beyond just being panda food. Things like bikes, roads, scaffolding, and musical instruments are made from the fast-growing grass. But unless you are participating in a tropical-themed LARP, you probably wouldn’t want a shirt made from bamboo stalks. So why do bamboo bed sheets make any sense? Because yarn extracted from […]
If you want to work in tech, but don’t have any desire to code web apps to help businesses sell things to other business, you might want to consider a career in cybersecurity. Judging from the apparent complete infiltration of Russian hackers in American cyberspace, it seems fair to speculate that there’s a major shortage of […]
All moms are different. But all moms like getting flowers on Mother’s Day, and that’s a fact (not, however a fact we can document in any fashion.) Instead of getting chewed out for forgetting to call her on the second Sunday of May, you can take care of it ahead of time with Teleflora’s flower […]