ENTRIES TAGGED "fcc"

Does net neutrality really matter?

Competition, access to bandwidth, and other issues muddy the net neutrality waters.

NetNeutralityPetitionSignatures

Screen shot of signatures from a “Common Carrier” petition to the White House.

It was the million comments filed at the FCC that dragged me out of the silence I’ve maintained for several years on the slippery controversy known as “network neutrality.” The issue even came up during President Obama’s address to the recent U.S.-Africa Business forum.

Most people who latch on to the term “network neutrality” (which was never favored by the experts I’ve worked with over the years to promote competitive Internet service) don’t know the history that brought the Internet to its current state. Without this background, proposed policy changes will be ineffective. So, I’ll try to fill in some pieces that help explain the complex cans of worms opened by the idea of network neutrality.
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Comments: 32

Court prods FCC in unexpected direction in this week’s Verizon ruling

Network neutrality was on the retreat shortly after the Telecom Act of 1996.

A court ruling this past Tuesday on FCC “network neutrality” regulation closes and opens a few paths in a three-way chess game that has been going on for years between the US District Court of Appeals, the FCC, and the major Internet server providers. (Four-way if you include Congress, and five-way if you include big Internet users such as Google — so, our chess game is coming closer to Chinese Checkers at this point.)

A lot of bloggers, and even news headlines, careened into histrionics (“Net neutrality is dead. Bow to Comcast and Verizon, your overlords“). The Free Press, although oversimplifying the impact, did correctly link the ruling to what they and many other network neutrality supporters consider the original sin of FCC rulings: eviscerating the common carrier regulation of broadband providers.

Even better, many commenters noted the ambiguities and double messages in the ruling. Unlike a famous earlier ruling on Comcast regulation, this week’s court ruling spends a good deal of time affirming the FCC’s right to regulate Internet providers. Notably, pp. 35-36 essentially confirm the value and validity of network neutrality (in the form of promoting innovation at the edges by placing no restraints on transmissions).
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Comments: 6

Who will upgrade the telecom foundation of the Internet?

A conference report on the IP transition.

Although readers of this blog know quite well the role that the Internet can play in our lives, we may forget that its most promising contributions — telemedicine, the smart electrical grid, distance education, etc. — depend on a rock-solid and speedy telecommunications network, and therefore that relatively few people can actually take advantage of the shining future the Internet offers.

Worries over sputtering advances in bandwidth in the US, as well as an actual drop in reliability, spurred the FCC to create the Technology Transitions Policy Task Force, and to drive discussion of what they like to call the “IP transition”.

Last week, I attended a conference on the IP transition in Boston, one of a series being held around the country. While we tussled with the problems of reliability and competition, one urgent question loomed over the conference: who will actually make advances happen?
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Comments: 5

NYC’s PLAN to alert citizens to danger during Hurricane Sandy

A mobile alert system put messages where and when they were needed: residents' palms.

Starting at around 8:36 PM ET last night, as Hurricane Sandy began to flood the streets of lower Manhattan, many New Yorkers began to receive an unexpected message: a text alert on their mobile phones that strongly urged them to seek shelter. It showed up on iPhones:

…and upon Android devices:

While the message was clear enough, the way that these messages ended up on the screens may not have been clear to recipients or observers. And still other New Yorkers were left wondering why emergency alerts weren’t on their phones.

Here’s the explanation: the emergency alerts that went out last night came from New York’s Personal Localized Alerting Network, the “PLAN” the Big Apple launched in late 2011.

NYC chief digital officer Rachel Haot confirmed that the messages New Yorkers received last night were the result of a public-private partnership between the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the CTIA and wireless carriers.

While the alerts may look quite similar to text messages, the messages themselves run in parallel, enabling them to get through txt traffic congestion. NYC’s PLAN is the local version of the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) that has been rolling out nation-wide over the last year.

“This new technology could make a tremendous difference during disasters like the recent tornadoes in Alabama where minutes – or even seconds – of extra warning could make the difference between life and death,” said FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, speaking last May in New York City. “And we saw the difference alerting systems can make in Japan, where they have an earthquake early warning system that issued alerts that saved lives.”

NYC was the first city to have it up and running, last December, and less than a year later, the alerts showed up where and when they mattered.

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Comments: 11

A discussion with David Farber: bandwidth, cyber security, and the obsolescence of the Internet

David Farber offers his big ideas about where the Internet is headed: how long it can last, slaying the bandwidth bottleneck, and waiting for the big breach.

Comments: 3
FCC.gov reboots as an open government platform

FCC.gov reboots as an open government platform

The FCC's site taps into open source, the cloud, and collective intelligence.

The new version of FCC.gov incorporates the principles of Web 2.0 into the FCC's online operations. From open data to platform thinking, the reboot elevates FCC.gov from one of the worst federal websites to one of the best.

Comments: 6
"Copy, paste, map"

"Copy, paste, map"

The FCC and FortiusOne launch IssueMap.org, a citizen-generated mapping tool.

IssueMap.org, a new project from the FCC and FortiusOne, aims to convert open data into knowledge and insight.

Comments: 7
Steve Wozniak on the FCC and Internet freedom

Steve Wozniak on the FCC and Internet freedom

For Steve Wozniak, the issue of an open Internet is personal.

After penning an open letter to the FCC on net neutrality, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak made a surprise appearance at the Federal Communication Commission's public hearing on new open Internet rules.

Comments: 4

Geeks and government converge at the FCC

Gina Trapani talks about the ThinkUp app and the FCC's first Open Developer Day.

What's the potential for geeks to work with government for better outcomes? Gina Trapani talked with O'Reilly Media about the first FCC Developer Day, ThinkUp App and Gov 2.0.

Comment: 1
Four short links: 9 September 2010

Four short links: 9 September 2010

Thumb Drives and the Cloud, FCC APIs, Mining on GFS, Check Your Prose with Scribe

  1. CloudUSBa USB key containing your operating environment and your data + a protected folder so nobody can access you data, even if you lost the key + a backup program which keeps a copy of your data on an online disk, with double password protection. (via ferrouswheel on Twitter)
  2. FCC APIs — for spectrum licenses, consumer broadband tests, census block search, and more. (via rjweeks70 on Twitter)
  3. Sibyl: A system for large scale machine learning (PDF) — paper from Google researchers on how to build machine learning on top of a system designed for batch processing. (via Greg Linden)
  4. The Surprisingness of What We Say About Ourselves (BERG London) — I made a chart of word-by-word surprisingness: given the statement so far, could Scribe predict what would come next?
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