Category Archives: Policy

New ITIF Report: "Explaining International Broadband Leadership"

The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) has just released a new report examining in depth broadband policies in 9 nations, and concludes that while we shouldn’t look to other nations for silver bullets or assume that practices in one nation will automatically work in another, U.S. policymakers can and should look to broadband best practices in other nations.

Learning the right lessons and emulating the right policies here will enable the United States to improve our broadband performance faster than in the absence of proactive policies. The report analyzes the extent to which policy and non-policy factors drive broadband performance, and how broadband policies related to national leadership, incentives, competition, rural access, and consumer demand affect national broadband performance. Based on these findings the report makes a number of recommendations to boost U.S. broadband performance.

Executive Summary (pdf)
Full Report (pdf)

The report is extensive, and has some very good policy recommendations that should be heeded by all levels of government.

Overall, at the broadest level, nations with robust national broadband strategies–that is, those that make broadband a priority, coordinate across agencies, put real resources behind the strategy, and promote both supply and demand–fare better than those without.

AT&T Going to Provide a Filtered Internet all in the Name of Copyright Protection?

David Isenberg talks on his blog about how AT&T is going to filter all of the internet they provide looking for copyright violations. He importantly teases apart the difference between filtering for copyright violations and general network congestion management:

I nominate the end-user to make the decision. If, as I propose above, Internet access providers were to provide explicitly different tiers of service for different, explicitly laid out throughput plans charged at different rates, the user could make that decision. And it would be a free market decision that even a libertarian would love. The carrier would need to decide whether to (a) eat the cost of upgrading its infrastructure to allay the risk of losing customers to bad performance or (b) implement tiered service to save network upgrade costs but risk losing customers who don’t like paying for tiered service. But, hey, that’s business.

Carriers know all this. But, as it turns out, they don’t want to frame the picture simply because they don’t want to be in the Stupid Network business. They’re addicted to adding value. They’ve convinced one class of customers, music and movie moguls, that they can add value for them. Importantly to the carriers, the value they propose to add is network-resident value; the return of the Intelligent Network. Network-resident value is business as usual, even when it imposes huge costs on the rest of society. This is why they persist in framing the two issues as inter-related.

Harold Feld also has weighed in on David Weinberger’s blog:

Which leads to my final point. The very idea of traffic control is that you have to give the ISP the power to decide what is best. But wouldn’t it actually MAXIMIZE network efficiency to treat capacity as a spot market and let users decide? This does not require any great sophistication (assuming the right software). Furthermore, because we keep hearing that it is a relatively few number of sophisticated “bandwidth hogs” that are causing all the heartburn, altering the incentives of these few highly sophisticated actors to change their behaviors will have a substantial global effect.

But the Telcos and Cable Cos do not like this choice, because they want to own the customer.

NYC Broadband Advisory Committee Public Hearing in Manhattan

On Wednesday, December 12th, 2007 from 1-4pm, the NYC Broadband Advisory Committee will be holding a meeting at the Manhattan School of Music, Greenfield Hall, 120 Claremont Avenue at 122 Street, New York, NY 10027 If you live or work in Manhattan, you should attend this meeting. NYCwireless will be there, representing our work building free, public Wi-Fi.

From Kunal Malhotra, Director of Legislation & Budget, Office of Council Member Gale A. Brewer:

Coming on the heels of successful public hearings in the Bronx and Brooklyn where hundreds of people attended, the New York City Broadband Advisory Committee will hear from policy experts and Manhattan residents and business people in a Public Meeting of the Broadband Advisory Committee in Manhattan. During this official hearing on the borough’s Broadband status, the City Council seeks to answer the following questions: How important is affordable Broadband to businesses and to under-served communities? How will high-speed Internet connections improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers and their families?

“New York is the most dynamic city in the world. But when it comes to the Internet, we’re working to catch up to other jurisdictions,” said Council Member Brewer, Chair of the New York City Council’s Committee on Technology in Government. Brewer sponsored Local Law 126, which created the NYC Broadband Advisory Committee. “I am excited to work with the Mayor’s Office in making New York a place where you don’t have to pay to go slow. We need affordable high-speed Internet connections to bring in jobs, help schools, and make the city safer.”

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 27% of American households are still not using the Internet at all and “those with less education, those with lower household incomes, and Americans age 65 and older are less likely to have embraced broadband than those who are younger and have higher socio-economic status.” Seeking to address these same imbalances, Broadband Advisory Committee Chairperson, Shaun Belle, and CEO of Mount Hope Housing Company said, “Understanding the challenges to Broadband connectivity for the average New Yorker is a primary focus of the Broadband Advisory Committee; exploring and potentially implementing solutions to address these challenges will be the basis of our future planning.”

Andrew Rasiej, an Advisory Committee Member and the Founder of the Personal Democracy Forum and MOUSE said, “These hearings are critical to focusing broad political attention and building consensus for the need to guarantee all New Yorkers an opportunity to participate in the 21st Century economy.”

The New York Broadband Advisory Committee was created by Local Law 126, a bill sponsored by Council Member Gale Brewer. The purpose of the Committee is to advise the Mayor and the City Council on how to bring affordable high-speed Internet connection to all New York City residents, nonprofit organizations and businesses. The public hearing in Manhattan is the third in a series of five being convened in every borough. Queens and Staten Island hearings are scheduled for early 2008.

NYC Broadband Advisory Committee Meeting on March 30 in The Bronx

On March 30, the New York City Broadband Advisory Committee will meet in the Bronx for the “first of five public hearings to both educate the public on broadband and learn from the public about their experiences, or lack of, with broadband and Internet technology in New York City.” Over the past couple of years, NYC Council Member Gale A. Brewer, based on the testimony of a number of New Yorkers, including NYCwireless, helped create the Broadband Advisory Committee to try to move New York City to the forefront of broadband accessibility and affordability.

NYCwireless will be there to help represent the interests of free public Wi-Fi, which hasn’t had as extensive distribution as midtown and downtown Manhattan. We’ve heard from a number of people and organizations in the Bronx that there’s a tremendous interest in free public Wi-Fi. We’ve been working with Professor John McMullen and his students at Monroe College to build more free hotspots in local businesses.

If you have any interest in helping New York City get affordable, universal, ubiquitous high-speed internet access, you should join us at this meeting.

The public hearing will be on March 30, from 10am-12pm at the Gould Memorial Library Auditorium, Bronx Community College, University Ave. at W. 181st Street. Council Member Brewer and Borough President Carrion invite all Bronx residents, nonprofit organizations and businesses to testify about the availability and affordability — or lack of — of broadband (that is, a high-speed connection to the Internet) in their neighborhoods.

Some questions that the Committee has are:

  1. Why is a fast affordable Internet connection important to you?
  2. What do you consider an “affordable” fee to pay for an high-speed connection to the Internet?
  3. If you have a broadband connection, what do you use it for (e.g., help your child do his/her homework)?
  4. If don’t have broadband or if you had a faster connection to the Internet, what would you use it for (e.g., market your business on-line or look for a job)?

The hearing in the Bronx will kick-off a series of five public hearings that will be convened in every borough of New York City. Based on these hearings and with the help of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the Advisory Committee will report their findings and recommendations to the Mayor and City Council.