Sunday, November 9, 2008

FCC Broadband Summit - 11/5 in San Jose

On Friday afternoon, I attended an FCC-NARUC Joint Conference on Advanced Services Broadband Summit in San Jose. Here are highlights:

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin made introductory remarks, as did other FCC and State Commissioners. California's Rachelle Chong said there is a need to focus on providing advanced broadband services to the "least, lost, and last" communities in America. NARUC Telecommunications Chair Ray Baum (OR) said there is a need for a broadband best practices guide. A template is being created for states and communities to submit examples.

Legislative Update: Broadband Mapping Bill, S. 1492, "Broadband Data Improvement Act". Purpose of Act is to give baseline statistics in order to eventually deploy broadband to all Americans. Presentation by Drew Clark, Executive Director, Broadband Census. Several state examples shown, including Massachusetts, California, and Virginia Tech "eCorridors". Broadband Census is a consumer-oriented rating service. He says the U.S. must compare to 75 cities abroad on speed, price, availability. We need to identify gaps. The Act encourages statewide initiatives, with 20% state matching funds. Created a state-by-state wiki for users to contribute.

"Future of Broadband". Presentation by Daniel Ballon, Pacific Research Institute. Broadband technologies and speeds have grown exponentially. Innovation drives broadband growth. Innovation and use is driven by CONTENT. For example, YouTube consumes more bandwidth than the entire Internet in YR 2000. Investments by Verizon and AT&T are enhancing America's competitiveness. There is a thriving broadband competition:
  • A huge driver for broadband use is High Definition video-on-demand. Some main players in IP video: joost, babelgum, bling, fancast, brightcove, sezmi, veoh, and vattoo.
  • Video-over-IP (videoconferencing)
  • HD Videoconferencing (CISCO Telepresence, HP Halo)
  • Telemedicine (referenced UCDAVIS Med Center's Dr. Thomas Nesbitt)
  • Virtual Worlds (Second Life and other 3D simulations)
  • Online Gaming [note: popular in many public libraries for teens and seniors]
  • Cloud Computing (Google)
  • Wireless. 4G Wireless networks: WIMAX and LTE (AT&T). Wireless consumers in the U.S. are leading global charge to mobile Internet.
  • Satellite Internet Broadband. O3b networks. Useful because of its reach to remote and rural places. EX: Kizuna Satellite.

Dr. Ballon concluded by urging the FCC not to give unfair advantages or uneven regulations. There are multiple technologies in direct competition.

"Demand-Side Drivers of Broadband Deployment and Adoption" by Tom Koutsky of Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal and Economic Public Policy Studies. He focused on economic and demographic data. Some key indicators of demand for broadband:
+28% if child in school, this dramatically increases subscription to broadband.
All things being equal, immigrant populations in the U.S. are more likely to adopt broadband.

Formula for sound, effective broadband policy:
1- Leverage factors that have positive effect for BB adoption (i.e.: children in school, immigrant communities, younger populations)
2- Mitigate negative factors (i.e.: effect of income inequity; retired and older communities; English language)
3- Collect examples of programs that deliver (i.e.: computer training, in area w/ higher immigrant population)

Note: I asked Dr. Koutsky if he had looked at public library technology data from the Florida State University Study. He said that his wife is a librarian and a member of the American Library Association, and he was aware of the study, but had not used it. After a brief statement by me on the role of public libraries in providing access to the Internet and online library resources, especially in difficult economic times, a number of presenters included a reference to libraries.

"White Spaces: Access to the Future" (Google). This is the item that made the newspapers. Use of TV White Spaces have potential to serve the needs of rural markets. Good technical presentation. Google presenter Dan Conrad urged the FCC to open up regulation so the U.S. can experiment with this technology.

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