Infrastructure

Towards Universal Broadband: Flexible Broadband Pricing and the Digital Divide

Reaching Universal Access through Affordability at All Income Levels1

Driven by the conviction that the widespread use of broadband can support economic recovery and help the United States achieve other important national goals, President Obama has proposed that every American should have the opportunity to connect to broadband service. On his campaign web site, the President declared: “America should lead the world in broadband penetration and Internet access” and he promised to bring “true broadband to every community in America.”2 In enacting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Congress signaled its agreement by providing $7.2 billion in dedicated funding to advance broadband’s spread and by directing the Federal Communications Commission to develop a national strategy to achieve universal broadband.

Continue reading “Towards Universal Broadband: Flexible Broadband Pricing and the Digital Divide”

Wireless Overview

More than 95 percent of the U.S. population – those living in urban, suburban and rural America – are served by at least three competing carriers, and more than half live in areas served by at least five.  Eight years ago there were 100 million U.S. wireless customers. Today, there are more than 270 million, and in 2008 they used more than 2.2 trillion minutes – a tenfold increase since 2000.  At the same time, prices have declined precipitously.  Revenue per minute has fallen 89 percent since 1994, and U.S. wireless prices are much lower than in any other industrialized county.  And, while at&t and Verizon are currently the two largest wireless providers, the next two largest, Sprint and T-Mobile, have a combined 82 million customers, and the carriers that round out the top 10 have another nearly 20 million customers among them.

As wireless technology and services have grown exponentially in the last 25 years, California has been one of the prime engines of that growth.  Strategic partnerships between carriers and handset manufacturers, application developers and content providers, the private and public sector give consumers access to unparalleled innovation in the wireless space.

Today, more than 160 wireless service providers in the U.S. directly employ more than 257,000 workers who earn salaries totaling more than $12 billion each year.  This is in addition to the numerous early-stage companies, high-tech start-ups and small businesses in the wireless space that are also key contributors to the U.S. economy. California is home to one of the few areas where wireless start-ups cluster, Silicon Valley, where competition thrives, partnerships form and innovation flourishes.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, California serves the largest number of wireless users, 32,247,015, at the end of 2007.

The number of wireless users has more than doubled in California over the past 7 years.

Exaflood

In the digital world, data is measured in bytes. A single digital character, a letter or number, is a single byte. A typewritten page is about 2,000 bytes, or two kilobytes, and a small, low-resolution image is about 100,000 bytes, or 100 kilobytes. There are about 5 million bytes, or 5 megabytes, in the complete works of Shakespeare, and a pickup truck full of books might amount to one billion bytes, or a gigabyte. One billion of those book-filled pickup trucks, or one billion gigabytes, is an exabyte.

The term “exaflood,” coined by Bret Swanson of Progress & Freedom Foundation, refers to the growing torrent of data on the Internet. By 2010, Internet users worldwide could produce as much as 988 exabytes of data. The Internet was famously overbuilt during the 1990s, but much of that capacity is being used now or soon will be. A shortage of bandwidth will slow down service for everybody, possibly causing Internet brownouts or service interruptions.

The good news is that with investment and wise public policy, we can upgrade our broadband networks to meet the challenge of the coming “exaflood,” ensuring that all Americans have the opportunity to enjoy and benefit from everything the Internet has to offer.

Exaflood facts and figures:

  • Annual global IP traffic will exceed two-thirds of a zettabyte (667 exabytes) in four years. Last year’s forecast anticipated a run rate of 522 exabytes per year in 2012. The economic downturn has only slightly tempered traffic growth, and this year’s forecast predicts 510 exabytes per year in 2012, growing to 667 exabytes per year or 56 exabytes per month in 2013.
  • Global IP traffic will quintuple from 2008 to 2013. Overall, IP traffic will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 40 percent.

Global Internet Highlights

  • In 2013, the Internet will be nearly four times larger than it is in 2009. By year-end 2013, the equivalent of 10 billion DVDs will cross the Internet each month.

Global Video Highlights

  • Internet video is now approximately one-third of all consumer Internet traffic, not including the amount of video exchanged through P2P file sharing.
  • The sum of all forms of video (TV, video on demand, Internet, and P2P) will account for over 91 percent of global consumer traffic by 2013. Internet video alone will account for over 60 percent of all consumer Internet traffic in 2013.
  • In 2013, Internet video will be nearly 700 times the U.S. Internet backbone in 2000. It would take well over half a million years to watch all the online video that will cross the network each month in 2013. Internet video will generate over 18 exabytes per month in 2013.
  • Video communications traffic growth is accelerating. Though still a small fraction of overall Internet traffic, video over instant messaging and video calling are experiencing high growth. Video communications traffic will increase tenfold from 2008 to 2013.
  • Real-time video is growing in importance. By 2013, Internet TV will be over 4 percent of consumer Internet traffic, and ambient video will be 8 percent of consumer Internet traffic. Live TV has gained substantial ground in the past few years: globally, P2P TV is now slightly over 7 percent of overall P2P traffic at over 200 petabytes per month.
  • Video-on-demand (VoD) traffic will double every two years through 2013. Consumer IPTV and CATV traffic will grow at a 53 percent CAGR between 2008 and 2013, compared to a CAGR of 40 percent for consumer Internet traffic.

Global Mobile Highlights

  • Globally, mobile data traffic will double every year through 2013, increasing 66x between 2008 and 2013. Mobile data traffic will grow at a CAGR of 131 percent between 2008 and 2013, reaching over 2 exabytes per month by 2013.
  • Almost 64 percent of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2013. Mobile video will grow at a CAGR of 150 percent between 2008 and 2013.
  • Mobile broadband handsets with higher than 3G speeds and laptop aircards will drive over 80 percent of global mobile traffic by 2013. A single high-end phone (such as an iPhone or Blackberry) generates more data traffic than 30 basic-feature cell phones. A laptop aircard generates more data traffic than 450 basic-feature cell phones.

K-12 High Speed Network

California has a strong K-12 research and education network infrastructure for public and private educational institutions. The K-12 High Speed Network program governs participation in the network and is funded by the California Department of Education. This program provides the K-12 system with a dependable source of high-speed internet services, data reporting, teaching and learning tools, and videoconferencing capabilities, among other features – at no additional cost to participating districts. These programs provide valuable support for teachers and students and help improve performance.  Currently 79% of California schools are connected – a noteworthy achievement. However, plenty of work remains to bring the benefits of the network to all California students.

CALinnovates believes the state should make expanding access to the K-12 High Speed Network a high priority. This program can reduce the achievement gap by methods of learning to students who otherwise might be left behind.  It also provides professional development opportunities for teachers by giving them new tools to complement their lesson plans. Also, the data capabilities provided by the network will make it easier for administrators to evaluate their schools in a number of categories.

The technology industry values its partnership with the education community and believes the potential of this partnership remains untapped. With approximately 1/3 of California students failing to graduate from high school and achievement lagging behind other states, we must find better ways of engaging students academically. Technology like the K-12 High Speed Network is a key ingredient of this.

Broadband

The term “broadband” refers to the high-speed internet service which allows users to access a large volume of data very quickly. Think of it like a highway: the more lanes there are, the more traffic that can pass through efficiently. For instance, a very narrow road (or single-band signal) only has the capacity for light traffic, or Morse Code, for instance. Larger bandwidth can handle more types of data – such as telephone communication or music on the radio. A broadband “highway” has the capacity to move more complex and larger data vehicles very rapidly.

When you refer to cable, DSL, wireless modems, and satellite internet service, you’re talking about different types of broadband service.

Broadband is becoming accessible to more consumers across the country as private companies work to develop and deploy the networks needed to handle the internet traffic. The Brookings Institution found that in the year 2000, there were only 4.1 million broadland lines in the United States. Six years later, the number of lines had increased by 1500% with nearly 54 million broadband lines across the country. With a broadband connection, users no longer need to wait for Web sites to load. You can send e-mail, download and view files, and conduct business very quickly. The deployment of new broadband lines also spurs job creation and narrows the “digital divide” that can leave some regions offline. Policies that continue to promote competition encourage providers to expand and improve their services, and give consumers more choice and better offerings.

CALinnovates supports reasonable deployment of the California Broadband Initiative.  For more information on the initiative, please visit http://www.calink.ca.gov/

What is broadband?

The term broadband commonly refers to high-speed Internet access.  Broadband can be simply defined as a fast connection to the internet that is always on.  It allows a user to send emails, surf the web, download images and music, watch videos, join a web conference, and much more.

Content provided by Broadband for America (http://www.broadbandforamerica.com/)

Universal Broadband To Unlock the Productivity of Government 2.0

Guest blog by Eric Jaye

The Blockbuster video store down the street from my house in San Francisco is now shuttered. I’m unsure of the exact day it closed, or even month. Because our family’s regular trip to the video store to argue over what movie to rent came to an end last year when we signed up for on-demand streaming from Netflix.

That’s the story of California’s economy. The fast – which almost always means the broadband enabled – survive.  And the brick and mortar economy continues to whither.

Just a mile down the road from the now-shuttered Blockbuster, the City and County of San Francisco is preparing to open a new “green” office building. The cost of the building on a square foot basis makes it one of the most expensive ever built in the city.  But it is not the cost of the brick and mortar that matters most – it is a government still trapped in a brick and mortar mindset.

 

The Productivity Surge

Driven in large part by investment in information technology, the average American worker is now 80% more productive then at the dawn of the personal computer era.  But while productivity has soared in the private sector, analysis shows productivity in the public sector is flat, or even falling.

As demands on government services grow during the lingering recession the productivity of the government workforce is an increasingly important issue.  And it is an issue that will not be addressed until government workers can fully employ information technology to do their jobs.

But unlike Netflix and other broadband-enabled innovators, productivity in government requires more than just technical advancement.  True Gov 2.0 also requires that we make sure no one is left behind by this technical change, which means the vital step of guaranteeing Universal Internet Access.

 

Government Can’t Leave Constituents Behind

When Netflix grows at the expense of Blockbuster, it is a boon for the broadband enabled and a loss for those without.  But movie choice is one thing – the vital services performed by government another story.

Because government must, and should, serve everyone in a way that everyone can access, government will not be able to fully embrace the staggering efficiencies of the web while our state remains separated by a digital divide.

According to a recent analysis, the savings generated by a more productive government workforce on a national basis measures in the trillions of dollars.  In California there are tens of billions of dollars to be gained by helping government workers use technology to match the productivity of their private sector counterparts.

And in a world in which students need the Internet to complete their homework and in which their parents can only apply for most jobs online – there is a growing recognition that Universal Internet Access is more than an efficiency tool, it is a civil right.

To address both this equality imperative and to gain the effectiveness dividends that an investment in Universal Access will generate – a new generation of web-savvy leaders are starting to make this part of their policy platforms.

Just one of leasers is San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting, who has proposed a UniversalInternet Access plan at his www.ResetSanFrancisco.org online community.

Ting, with his business and civil rights background, may be one of the first to embrace this issue but there will soon be many others.  With basic civil rights and billions and billions of dollars of savings at stake, this is an idea ready to launch.

Eric Jaye runs Storefront Political Media in San Francisco.  His firm creates both traditional campaigns and new media for clients around the nation.

Wireless Service Taxes

In recent years, wireless users have become a favorite target for new state and local taxes.  Today, state and local taxes and fees average about 14 percent of consumers’ cell phone bills.  That’s almost double the cost of ordinary sales taxes.

Unfortunately, given ongoing state budget troubles, the rush to tax wireless consumers is becoming even more pronounced. Across the country, cities have been rewriting utility regulations to expand the list of taxable wireless services.  And some cities have successfully persuaded courts to impose new “business license taxes” on wireless services at rates as high as 10 percent. (By comparison, other business license taxes are typically about one percent.)

From a public policy perspective, this rush to tax is profoundly disappointing.  First, the government is supposed to use taxes to discourage behavior.  There are cigarette taxes to deter smoking, especially among the young.  Liquor taxes try to curb drunk driving and overdrinking.

But the development of cell phones and other services is one of the great successes in America’s economy, creating jobs and wealth.  It also provides a lifeline for Americans without traditional phone service.

This rush to tax mobile consumers also discourages use of wireless broadband options that can be vital to expanding options for tele-work and reducing greenhouse emissions.

The bottom line: Wireless users already pay more than their share in taxes.  Officials should stop adding to that burden.

Higher broadband adoption? The FCC will find an app for that

 

Arent Fox LLP USA
http://www.arentfox.com/publications/index.cfm?fa=legalUpdateDisp&content_id=3261

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has established several broadband-centered initiatives in recent months that display the agency’s appreciation for the tangible societal potential of high-speed connectivity.

Whereas previously the aim of FCC broadband policy has been enabling service providers to increase the supply of telecommunications service, à la the notion of universal service (both lowercase and capital “u” and “s”), these more recent initiatives aim at increasing demand. It appears that Chairman Julius Genachowski wants not only to spur carriers to deploy broadband, but he also wants to ensure that businesses and consumers will use it.

This intent came to light first in the National Broadband Plan, in which the FCC devoted a significant amount of energy to ascertaining how many Americans forego getting broadband, and why. That issue was not overtly teed up in Congress’s mandate for a plan ensuring “access to broadband capability,” but exploring the question whether Americans would actually use that “access” seemed a reasonable part of the exercise. The answers alarmed the FCC: only 65% of Americans use broadband at home, for reasons having little to do with its retail availability. As a result, the Plan became as much about encouraging broadband adoption as about laying transport cables.

So the Commission has, in addition to revamping Universal Service funding for the broadband era, turned its attention to what drives broadband use: applications. First was the Open Internet Applications Contest announced in January of this year. Programmers were invited to submit white papers, research, or actual applications to tell consumers how their broadband connectivity is functioning on a real-time basis. The project, which essentially commissioned the invention of an electronic watchdog against deliberate traffic disruption, was created in furtherance of the December 2010 Open Internet Order. But the Open Internet Apps Context is not only an innovative way for the FCC to ensure rule compliance – it increases consumer demand by assuring would-be subscribers that they will actually get what they pay for.

A few weeks ago, Chairman Genachowski announced the winners of the Open Internet challenge. Netalyzer was an Open Internet Research Award Winner, and proposes a Java-based applet that will link a computer to remote servers to measure several aspects of broadband-related performance, including HTTP caching and DNS manipulation. Another Open Internet Research Award Winner was the DiffProbe (short for “differential probing”), which detects whether an ISP has deployed mechanisms such as prioritization commands that alter Internet traffic. MobiPerf won both the Open Internet Research Award and the People’s Choice Award, and enables mobile handset users (those with Android and iOS operating systems) to obtain network performance information, and compiles that information anonymously. According to the FCC contest page, the winners will present their work at FCC headquarters, with travel expenses paid up to $500 per person or $1500 per team, and the applications will be featured on the FCC website and social media outlets.

The Apps For Communities contest launched in April 2011, challenging developers to create an application that will make the Internet more attractive to users. With aspirational goals of a “personalized Internet” and obtaining “actionable information,” the contest is another vehicle for the FCC to put its expertise – and up to $100,000 in prize money – behind ensuring that if telecom companies build more broadband, people will in fact come to broadband. Entries are due August 31.

The FCC’s demand-side focus now also embraces the nation’s overall economic agenda: jobs, jobs, jobs. At an event held August 4 in Jeffersonville, Indiana, the Chairman announced a partnership with Jobs4America, a coalition of call center providers, to create 100,000 new call center jobs in the next two years that, he stated, will rely entirely on broadband connectivity. Coalition members located throughout the US will either build new centers or hire persons who, thanks to broadband, can train and work at home. The program seeks to bring these jobs back from foreign countries and give them to people who, for reasons such as a disability or lack of access to child care, need to work remotely. The announcement was a victory on many fronts, none the least of which was a clear message to industry that the FCC is working to prevent a repeat of the DotCom bust in 2000 that was sparked, in large part, by miles of stranded, unused telecommunications infrastructure.

These initiatives show that the FCC is not content to assume or to assert that the mere existence of broadband is a public good. Broadband as a theory will not play. It seems that unless measurable societal benefits are achieved through integrating broadband into our classrooms, our institutions, and our workforce, the Chairman will not feel that his broadband policy was a success. If the market cannot of itself create consumer demand sufficient to create these benefits, the FCC will find an app for that.

 

 

 

 

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