Wednesday, August 5, 2009

States get the grants for building the nation wide map of broadband

Previously on this web log we talked about the $350 million grant for developing a national broadband map. The National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA) has published the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the broadband map on July 2nd. Based on the NOFA the states or their designated organizations are eligible for the grant.

Each state is supposed to provide structured and searchable data to NTIA and the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) that indicates availability of broadband at address level. The data should contain the advertised and "actual expected" speed of broadband service as well as the average per user revenue (ARPU) for the service. It is also expected that the data includes the technologies used for delivering broadband. If the exploited technology is wireless, the data should express the utilized spectrum.

The applications for the grant are going to be reviewed by a panel of at least three expert/peer reviewers. One of the criteria for the evaluation is the provisions for repeated data updating. It is recommended that the applicants demonstrate a workable and sustainable framework for repeated updating of data for at least five years.

NTIA and FCC will make the below data available to the public:
1) Geographic areas in which broadband service is available

2) The technologies used to provide broadband service in such areas

3) The speeds at which broadband service is available in such areas

4) Broadband service availability at public buildings like schools and hospitals

I personally cannot wait to get access to this data. I hope this map will be up and running by the statutorily mandated date for public posting of the National Broadband Map which is February 2011!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Authority's control over telecommunication services

It was the morning of the presidential election in Iran. I logged in to facebook and the first message that caught my eyes was one from a relative in Iran. It said “God! what’s going on?! why SMS is not working?!!!!!” Why does SMS not work on the day that it was supposed to be used to collect third party independent information of the ballots counts?! Why is SMS down when it is the main communication medium of the opposition?!

Earlier on that morning a friend of mine received a phone call. “Can you shut down all the SMS traffic that pass through your servers? ” the man on the other end of the line asked. My friend is the administrator for a service providers of the second mobile phone carrier in Iran. He questioned the authority of the caller and responded that he cannot shut down the server just by a phone call (from a manager in the carrier company). Evidently, if my friend did not do it, someone must have pulled the plug!(You can find more information about the SMS ban here.)

In Ethiopia the government shut down the SMS service to break the communication bridge of the opposition in 2005 election; I learned from an Ethiopian girl, who sat next to me on a plane from San Diego to Seattle. The SMS service were down for almost two years in Ethiopia! (I also remembered hearing that news on the National Public Radio.) Iran and Ethiopia are two examples of authority's control of telecommunication services in countries with totalitarian governments. What are the policies in democratic countries like the United States?

In the United States, shortly after the 2005 bombing in London, the Port Authority in New York City interrupted the wireless service in the transportation tunnels to Manhattan. The transmitters providing wireless service for Holland and Lincoln tunnels were shut down for almost two weeks after the London attack. There are still debates on wisdom of shutting down telecommunication to prevent terrorist attacks. However, carriers work with the government to develop a program to shut down small portions of their networks if there is a threat to public safety. I was wondering if the public safety is the only legitimate reason for disrupting telecommunication services.

I searched through the information available on the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) web site, looking for an answer. Particularly, I reviewed the communication act of 1934 and browsed through other communication acts. After a few hours of online search with no success, I called mobile service providers and regulators to find the answer to my question. One of the associates at Cellular Telephones Industries Association (CTIA) was kind enough to give me a general back ground. I would like to particularly emphasize that his comments should not be considered in any way as an official CTIA position. I will update this post with direct references whenever I hear from the director of public affair at CTIA, or the respective associates at FCC.

Just as a general background, both the FCC and CTIA have been given powers and authorities by congress that could, theoretically, be used to shut down Commercial Mobile Wireless Services over small or large areas. There are strong forces that work against them exercising these powers in most situations. Many 911 calls are sent through wireless phones and public safety entities rely on wireless for some of their applications and as back up to their own radio systems. Wireless Carriers have paid hefty auction fees for the spectrum they use to operate their networks. If these authorities were exercised arbitrarily, brigades of lawyers would be quickly deployed to question whether any such action was legal and necessary.

In a nut shell, theoretically it is possible to shut down telecommunication services in the United States. Practically, it is almost impossible!

edited by Behnam Analui

Friday, June 12, 2009

Update on US Government Broadband Development Initiative

Some of you have been asking me about the $7.6 billion stimulus package. Here, is a short update.

Based on the phone conversation I had with the Department of Agriculture representative, there will be information available by the end of June on the program requirements, eligibility, and how to apply. She suggested to check the recovery web site.

In addition, the Department of Commerce has published a report on May 18th including the deadlines listed in the table below.

Department of Commerce Broadband Grant Deadline
Issuance of Notice of Funds Availability -- Broadband Inventory Mapping Early Summer 2009
Issuance of Notice of Funds Availability--General Early Summer 2009
Outreach and Grant Guidance Workshops Summer 2009
Submission of Grant Applications July 2009 – September 2009
Initial Grant Awards Fourth Quarter 2009
Second and Third Notices of Funds Availability--General 2010
Completion of Grant Awards September 30, 2010
Broadband Map Posted to Website February 17, 2011
Substantial Completion of all Grant Projects September 30, 2012

Based on the information I have collected from the public hearings held by the Department of Commerce, the fund will be primarily invested on the development of broadband communication in the unserved and under-served areas. The fund is not going to be allocated for research.

open developers are touring

If you are interested in developing web 2.0 or embedded devices applications, Stack Overflow developers' day , or as they call it DevDay, may be a good networking venue for you.

The DevDay is touring across the United States in Oct 2009. They are going to have several day long events in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, Boston and Washington DC. In every city they will have about six speakers talking about
* Android

* Objective C and iPhone development

* Google App Engine

* Python

* jQuery


* FogBugz 7.0
* Mercurial and Distributed Version Control

For more information check out the coordinator weblog. The event webpage has the list of some of the speakers.

Stackoverflow is a web site where software developers can ask their questions and contribute by answering the posted questions. It has a user-friendly interface as well as features that separate it from other forums I have seen. It had 3.5 million unique visitors per month- only 6 months after being launched. The large number of visitors encouraged the founders to think of ways to bring the developers together in real life. The October tour is their first effort to facilitate face-to-face interactions between the visitors of their web site.

Embedded Wireless Devices: an interactive webinar

My original plan for today's post was to report the Embedded Wireless Devices: An Interactive Executive Summit webinar. However, I changed my mind, as I learned that is available on demand. I am going to describe the webinar shortly and refer the interested readers to its website.

The webinar was held on Tuesday June 9th. Executives from 12 major companies in the field of Wireless Communications participated in it. They elaborated on the strategies of their respective companies with regard to embedded wireless devices. The participating companies were Ericson, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobil, Sprint, Clearwire, Panasonic, Best Buy, Qualcomm, Jasper Wireless, Intertek, and Accenture.

For me, attending a webinar by itself was a very interesting experience. From the main page of the webinar you could choose to go to either the conference floor or the exhibition floor. On the exhibition floor you could chat with the representatives of the companies. Also you could chat with other participants who were at the same booth on the exhibition floor. At any point you could see the list of other attendance who were online. For more details please check out the Embedded Wireless Devices web page.

Friday, June 5, 2009

future TV remote control

This is the third post on a series discussing broadband penetration. If you are interested, please check out the first and second posts on this series as well. Previously, I discussed using TV as a means for connecting to the Internet. Now the question is how would you like to interact with the TV. Can we add more buttons to the TV remote control? Or do we need more innovative designs for the user interface?

The first remote control came to the market in 1957. It utilized ultrasound technology, had four buttons and was called space command. One of the buttons was for turning the TV on and off. Two other buttons were for changing channel. The fourth button is described in the 1957 commercial of the device as “the one that shuts off the sound of long, annoying commercials while the picture remains on the screen”. It took more than 20 years for the industry to come up with an infrared version of the device that did not get on your dogs nerves.

Today you can find a variety of universal remote controls with sleek and ergonomic designs. They have color displays and soft keys. Some models work with AA batteries but more sophisticated models are rechargeable. One of the most advanced universal remote controls commercially available today is the Logitec’s Harmony 1100 which was exhibited in 2009 Consumer Electronic Show (CES). It has a touch screen and the capability to control 15 devices at a time! It can be programmed to work even as the remote control for you xBox. It costs more than $500, yet it is just another remote control. If the future Internet TV is going to be something between today’s TV and a PC, it needs a controller that allows higher level of interactivity.

There are a variety of paths for the evolution of TV remote controls. The science fiction solution, in my opinion, is what Hitachi has demonstrated in the 2009 CES: just move your hand in the air to control the TV! If this is hard to believe remember how Nintendo Wii has become popular with its unique interface. Remote control manufacturers can also integrate more familiar ways of interacting with the applications running on the TV. Remember Atari? Your remote control can have a miniature joystick to navigate you through your TV screen. Some of you may be happy with my desired miniature joystick, but don’t you wish that the market will become competitive enough to nourish a variety of innovative designs?

edited by Behnam Analui

Friday, May 29, 2009

Engineering Leadership

Last night we have participated in the inaugural forum of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Gordon Engineering Leadership Center. In our after-forum discussion in the parking lot, some of my friends were skeptical about the role of the center. Their view was that you can not teach someone to be a leader. I would like to take a pause from broadband and ask your opinion about engineering leadership.

Below I am listing some of my questions about engineering leadership. I don't mean to ask you to answer these questions here. (But, feel free to do so if you like.) I am just asking you to think about them and acknowledge the differences between an excellent engineer and an engineer leader.

- What is your definition of engineering leadership? Can you describe it as a collection of qualities? (Gordon Center asked similar questions from some of the industry leaders. You can see their answers in a short video here.)

- Do you think a school can teach someone any of the qualities you listed above?

- How do you evaluate engineering leadership potential?

- If you are an engineer leader in your firm, do you think your engineering education in the United States gave you the non-technical tools necessary for your role? Do you think there were some classes missing from your formal curriculum?

- Do you think an engineering school like UCSD will benefit from a center for leadership development?

Next week, I will continue writing about broadband and will share with you what I think about future ways of interacting with your Internet TV.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

We want apps for TV!

On may 8th, I promised to share with you my thoughts on barriers of broadband penetration. One of the barriers I mentioned in that post was ease of use. Today, I would like to discuss how we can make it easier for people to use broadband. My short answer is "open TVs to App developers!"

Since the first TV broadcast of a commercial in the United States, in 1930, the model for controlling the television content has not changed. The big studios decide what you watch! The advent of color television revolutionized the watching experience of the TV audience, but didn't impact the model for content control. The introduction of the digital video recorder (DVR), right before the turn of the millennium, is arguably the only event that enabled viewers to be somewhat in charge. The next major event could be connecting the TV to the internet.

The TV is usually in the living room, it is intuitive to work with it and the family gathers around it. If TVs can be connected to the Internet and open up for software applications, the Internet services will be customized for the living room. You can shop online with your family, do online banking together, chat with kids' auntie, and off course, watch your customized channels sitting on your couch!

The below figure shows an HDTV streaming live video of the bride and the groom in a wedding in India. The HDTV was located on the opposite side of the wedding venue from the bride and the groom, streaming videos for guests who were far from the happenings! Consider some family members who were not able to attend the wedding; they could gather in their living room, tune to the family channel on the TV and participate in the wedding online! Today this application is possible on your PC with softwares like Skype. But unfortunately, the technical complications prevent many people from enjoying it.

You may argue that the keepers of the TV, e.g. cable companies, will not let the TV manufacturers open up their devices. I used to think like that myself. However, recently I see some silver lining for open software development for TV. I have two reasons for my belief. First, the fastest growing expense for cable companies is the cost of TV programs. The money the cable operators pay for the rights to channels like MTV, CNN and ESPN eats up almost $4 of every $10 they take in selling video service. Second, big Media like NBC, ABC, and News Corp. are considering digital medium strongly in their future planning. For more information on the digital shift I refer you to "Big Media's Digital Shuffle" article at Fortune Magazine, May 25, 2009.

This year at Consumer Electronic Show(CES) all four major TV manufacturers presented TVs with ethernet connection. The industry is still far from implementing an infrastructure that let you subscribe to applications and channels that you like, but it is at least acknowledging the demand for connecting TVs to Internet. If you are interested to learn about these products search for LG & Netflix HDTV, Samsung Internet@TV, Sony Bravia, and Panasonic VieraCast.

If one day there are TVs with open access to Internet, Samsung Internet@TV can be their possible ancestor. Samsung is integrating widgets for accessing Yahoo!, eBay and YouTube on its Internet@TV model. There are also some rumors that it is going to support a twitter widget! This is just the first baby step. The bold move is to open access to every developer to come up with its creative application for the TV! See also here.

Next week I am going to write about possible designs for interacting with our Internet TV. Stay tuned for what your future TV remote control will look like!

edited by Behnam Analui

Friday, May 8, 2009

Why a "No, thanks!" to broadband?!

Last week, we were at a bar in downtown, sipping a Martini, and gazing at the red flames in the fire place, when a question popped up: “why people choose not to subscribe for broadband access?” We deeply and truly love Internet! Why are there people in our city who do not appreciate this greatest invention of mankind?! I knew that only 51% of households in the US have broadband subscription, while 91.5% of the zip codes have three or more ways of accessing broadband; of course that night I only remembered some estimates but close enough to heat up the discussion. (These stats are based on the National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA) survey in Oct 2007.) I was claiming that reasons preventing some to avoid Internet got to be ease of use and cost. Firstly, it is not easy enough to use the Internet. People still associate Internet with computers. If one could easily navigate through Amazon on his or her TV, Amazon market size would have increased beyond expectations. My mom still prefers to use the old familiar phone instead of Skype. Secondly, the cost is still too high for substantial number of families. The $20-$30 per month may seem to be worth it, considering the great value Internet add to our life. But $300-$400 per year is significant when the annual household income is $50,000. Based on IRS reports, the $50,000-$75,000 is the income bracket with the most number of people in the United States. Therefore, losing a percentage of customers in this income bracket means more customers will be lost in an absolute sense. Following that night discussion, I researched more about the subject to back up my arguments with statistics. In general, it is extremely hard to study the effect of cost and ease of use separately. The lower income group have probably less education and are less comfortable with using computers. However, I found a report published by NTIA in January 2008 that shows broadband subscription has a high correlation with both income and education. The data has been collected from 117,840 householders all across the United States. Figure (1) shows the percentage of householders with broadband connection at home vs. the household income. If you exclude the bin for households with an income of less than $5,000, the data shows clearly that the chance that a householder has access to broadband at home increases with the household income. Figure (2) shows that the people in the age group of 35-44 years old subscribe to broadband more than the other age groups. It is possible to explain this graph with my theory of cost and ease of use. The 35-44 years old age group has more money comparing to the younger age groups. At the same time they are more comfortable working with a computer comparing to the older age groups. Figure (3) demonstrate very strong correlation between education and broadband usage at home. 74% of the householders with a bachelor degree or higher have access to broadband Internet at home. This is 23% more than the national average! Our discussion that night in the bar didn’t end about the causes of relatively low penetration of broadband. We also discussed solutions for increasing usage of broadband in the society. If you are interested to know "How we can make broadband free" or "How we can remove the barrier of computer interface", stay tuned for my future posts.
edited by Behnam Analui

Thursday, April 30, 2009

National broadband inventory map

Up to $350m of the National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) funding is designated for the development and maintenance of a broadband inventory map. The specifications and features of the inventory map are yet to be determined. The NTIA is soliciting public comments for defining them. Below, I have listed the potential features from the collected information so far. - It could be in the form of a comprehensive Geographic Information System (GIS) - It is preferred that it is publicly available - It will, most probably, require the release of more detailed information by the communication companies beyond current FCC regulations. Current FFC requirements are described here. - It is preferred to have street level granularity - It can be used for other government planning activities, e.g., education and health care, as well as BTOP The funding has been primarily allocated to guide NTIA to how to spend the $4.2 billion for BTOP. The BTOP is not the first grant by a Federal agency to “subsidize” projects for development in the unserved and under-served areas. Normally, a project that is funded by the government, requires a matching fund from a private sector. The prerequisite is to pass an independent evaluation of the viability of the project itself by the private agency. The current funded projects by the US Department of Agriculture are some examples of this private-public partnership. The broadband grant will have similar steps. To be approved for NTIA funding, a 20% matching fund is required. But it can be waived! The tight credit market might be a reason for having such a low percentage of matching fund and including the possibility of a lift. Now, NTIA has a large stake in the projects. Therefore, it is even more important and critical to review the proposals comprehensively. I can see the necessity of developing a broadband inventory map to guide NTIA in evaluating the grant proposals. However, can NTIA successfully achieve the mapping goal with only $350 million without the support of the communication companies?! Even if it does, how could it possibly maintain the map and keep up with the fast growth of the communication infrastructure?! I will have more about this in the future posts and I would love to hear your ideas! also please check out this article for more information. edited by Behnam Analui

Thursday, April 23, 2009

lack of government rules for Reliability of Internet Service

The National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA) is considering criteria for evaluating the proposals for the broadband grants ($4.7b). I think besides the peak data rate as a main factor, it is essential to include some reliability measures. Various factors may play into the reliability of an ISP. I name two. First, every ISP has some down time during which users cannot access the net. Ok, If this averages to 0.1% in a year, that's fine. But what if the network is down 4 random hours a day every week. Can a bussiness rely on it even if when it is not down, it provides extremely high-speed. Second, the nature of the TCP/IP protocol introduces a random delay to the network access time. You would think this delay is hidden from the users senses. True, only if the ISP meets a minimum set of standards in quality of service. Imagine the internet packet that contains your search request to a google's server takes 30 minutes to get there because AT&T, your ISP, does not have enough routers due to high traffic. Is it acceptable, even if your search results are downloaded at lightening speed? Would AT&T stay in ISP business? Evaluating a company's proposal merely based on the peak data rate they can provide and ignoring the quality of service provided might lead to a system that is not reliable. If we want to promote providing broadband Internet as a tool for economical growth, i.e., if we want people to make money by having broad Internet at their disposal, we need to provide a "reasonable" level of reliability with the service. I think the appropriate metaphor here is a "road". If you want to sell your product to the neighbor city you need to be sure that the road between you and that particular city is not closed. If the road is closed for road work half of the time, or if it is always rush hour on that road, you will probably move out of the area, or move out of that bussiness. If you want to sell your product through Internet you need to know that when you need to be connected, there is a high probability that you will be. In metropolitan areas, or anywhere with enough demand to stimulate competition, the services will evolve to becoming more reliable because the users will naturally choose the more reliable solution. However, the recovery act is targeting un-served and under-served areas, mostly rural, that does not have similar level of demands. When the government is investing in such rural broadband infrastructure, it must enforce regulations that guarantee reliability similar to what is available in metro areas. I found it interesting that the Italian government has already established reliability measures to evaluates ISPs. Some examples include “activation time”, “repair time”, “availability”, “real line speed”, and “packet delay”. So far, I could not find any government guide lines for reliability in the United States. The FCC does seek nominations for a new committee called Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council. The new committee is going to focus on the reliability of commercial communication systems, but only in cases of emergency and disaster. A similar committee is needed to at least oversee that the large amount of money spent in developing rural broadband access results in reliable broadband internet for America. edited by Behnam Analui

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The color of india

Just for a break from the broadband, I thought I can share with you the above photo I took in Mumbai, India in December, 2008. The picture is taken in a wedding with ~5,000 guests! It was the most colorful moment of my life; the second one was visiting chihuly's glass work exhibition.

Friday, April 17, 2009

policy making on the fast lane

"Traditionally there is a 1-2 years gap between a public hearing and a call for proposals for the government grants, particularly Federal Communication Commission (FCC) grants." quoting a consultant at Richard S. Becker & Associates, Chartered. However, the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 is planning to have the first set of deadlines for broadband expansion proposals around 3 month after the public hearings.  Here is the NTIA schedule for spending the $4.7 billion grant, in conjunction with the FCC:   - 7 Public hearing meetings were held March 12-24, 2009 - Deadline to submit a public comment to either NTIA or FCC was April 13, 2009 (it is still possible to submit a comment on the NTIA web site. But I am not sure if they will be considered.) - There will be 3 sets of deadlines for submitting proposals. The approximate dates for the proposal deadlines are April-June 2009, Oct-Dec 2009, and April-June 2010. - Based on the Congress plan, all awards are to be made by the end of the September 2010 and all projects are to be completed within two years of an award. Participants in the public hearing of NTIA in Las Vegas, were understandably concerned about this fast pace. Some were skeptical that the grant might go to waste. But the majority of participants were trying to be optimistic. My observation was that most of the attendees were representing small companies who had a history of working with the government through Universal Service Fund (USF). USF is a grant for approximately $7 billion every year, so it has a similar scale as the stimulus grant. Some of these veterans were complaining that they have seen a lot of new faces in the public hearings in Washington DC. They were clearly concerned about opportunists who smell money! There was a minority from large telecommunication companies, particularly cox communications. However, the NTIA representatives clearly addressed that the fund is not going to be granted to large telecommunication companies. They are focusing on creating competition in under-served areas so that the cost of broadband access will drop. I also like to be an optimist and hope that the fund will build an infrastructure that drives our economy for the next decade. What are your thoughts?

Monday, March 23, 2009

NTIA public hearing in Las Vegas

On March 17, 2009 I have attended NTIA public hearing for broadband in Las Vegas, NV. The meeting consisted of 3 panel discussions. It was one from a series of 7 public hearing that held in Washington DC, Arizona, and Nevada. Each panel discussion was an hour long. During this one hour 5 panelists expressed their opinion on the use the $7 billion stimulus money for the development of broadband. Mark Seifert, the lead of the policy side for NTIA broadband grant, host two of the panel discussions. You can find the list of panelist under NTIA broadband grant web page. After each panel discussion the public, from VP of cox communication to myself, was given half an hour to ask their question and express their comments on the tribune. The first panel was about "Reaching Vulnerable Populations, Driving Demand and the Role of Strategic Institutions". Two of the panelist were representing Indian tribes. One of them, Karen Twenhafel, was representing National Tribal Telecommunication Association (NTTA). She was an extremely passionate speaker. The panel addressed three subjects: 1) broadband for Nevada 2)industry usage of broadband 3)broadband in tribal land, with stronger focus on the third subject because of the interest of the panelists and the audience. The second panel addressed "the definition of broadband". I think the second panel was the most diverse one among the three. It consists of a representative of the National Congress of American Indians, economic development professor, the president of, Las Vegas Police department speaker, a digital literacy project director in San Francisco, and the president elect of the Association of Public Safety Communication Officials (APCO). Two of the the panelist suggested hard bandwidth requirements for defining broadband. I will talk more about their definitions in my future posts. One of them suggested that for the new players in the field of broadband we should set a 5Mbps limit for downlink if they want to grant them any money from NTIA fund. The last panelist from APCO objected that we should not limit the definition of broadband any particular number of bits per second. My estimate is that 150 people were present in the meeting. When the last panel started, at 8pm, half of them were gone. The final panelists were representing companies that had a record of developing broadband in the rural areas. The topic of discussion was "Selection Criteria and Weighing Priorities". Every one unanimously agreed that nothing from the government fund should go to big telecommunication companies. The host quoted from a republican congressman that, "The only thing worse than subsidizing competition is subsidizing monopoly." There was also a strong believe that the money should not be spent on any kind of research. They also made it clear that nothing related to white space communication will be included in the grant.

Monday, February 23, 2009

As I mentioned in my previous post, Department of Commerce's National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA) has reported on Jan 31, 2008 that %99 of the zip codes in the united states have access to broadband. I had a hard time finding the definition of Broadband in the report. It is implied that any internet access other than dial-up is considered broadband. Hence, I "think" that broadband in the report means DSL, Cable high speed, Mobile Wireless, Fixed Wireless, Satellite, and Fiber optics. I called NTIA to confirm the definition of broadband. The author of the report, Richard Mills, left NTIA on July 2008. They directed me to the office of public relation: (202)482-7002. Once I asked about the definition of broadband, the answer was that they are working on defining the term. NTIA is inquiring from the public to figure out what is "broadband" in their opinion. They holding a poll to learn what rate of uplink and downlink are considered broadband for the public. They also would like to know if the public prefer Mobile access or fixed access. I am a little skeptical on the result of this polling. For example if you have never experienced broadband how can you tell what speed is sufficient for you. If there was a clear answer for the public opinion the telecomm industry would have found before the government. But, stay tuned for my posting on the definition of broadband and the best way to define it!

broadband penetration and the stimulus

Based on the department of commerce's National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA) report, %53 of the households in the urban areas have broadband access to the internet. While the access to broadband %39 among the families in the rural areas. The reported is based on the data collected on Oct 2007 for 117 million households in the united states. Based on the NTIA report, by December 2006, 91.5 percent of ZIP codes had three or more competing service providers for broadband. In addition, more than 50 percent of the nation’s ZIP codes had six or more competitors providing broadband access. I would imagine the stimulus package wants to increase competition in the rural area to make the broadband access more affordable.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Tax credit for expanding broadband in the rural area

In general I am FOR the broadband for the rural areas. However, I think the requirements for defining Broadband in the stimulus package are too ambitious, particularly for a short term plan. Based on the Bloomberg report, the stimulus plan called for a 10 percent tax credit for carriers that build out broadband networks in rural and underserved areas, providing download speeds of at least 5 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least 1 megabit per second. Carriers would have qualified for a 20 percent tax credit if they expanded broadband service with download speeds of at least 100 megabits and upload speeds of at least 20 megabits per second. I live in San Diego. I think of my neighborhood as suburban as it is 20 minutes away from downtown San Diego. But I guess it could qualify as urban area. I have U-verse service from AT&T and on the description of my account I have 3.0 Mega bits per seconds for down stream and 1.0 Mega bits per second for upstream. God knows how much bandwidth I really have but these are my nominal maximum values. I use a wireless router for having wireless internet access in my house. The wireless router transform the U-verse signal to WiFi which has maximum bandwidth of 1.0 Mega bit second for the downlink. Occasionally I experience slowness in my connection. However, I am happy with the service overall. That's why I think 5 mega bits per second for rural areas is too ambitious for a short term plan. Based on what I am hearing in the media the purpose of the stimulus plan is to jolt the economy in the short term!