Thursday, February 14, 2013

Georgia bill would prohibit towns from building their own networks if even one resident has "good" private service


There is a bill in the Georgia legislature that would bar towns from setting up their own broadband networks if one home in the town has service over 1.5Mpbs (the FCC considers 4.0 a benchmark for good service).

The bill is being pushed by "incumbent" telecommunications companies.  
  
The concept behind the bill is that private companies rather than networks should provide service.  But some rural areas do not have good service or the ability to attract competition to a local monopolistic telephone company.
   
Timothy B. Lee has a story about this in Ars Technica today here
  
One of the comments asks the question, what is an essential utility, and what is a luxury?  Is fiber-optic cable becoming an essential utility?  

Monday, February 04, 2013

FCC proposal for Super WiFi creates schisms in tech industry


There is a new schism between major tech service and social networking companies (Google, Facebook, and the like) and telecommunications providers (like ATT, Comcast) over an FCC proposal to create super WiFi networks across the nation, enabling lower income people to use the Internet with no fees and reaching rural areas.  Also, such networks would be much more resistance to storms or other physical disruption. 
    
The story by Cecilia Kang in the Washington Post appears Monday February 4, 2013, link here

Republicans say that the government could cut its deficit (and even contribute toward the sequestration hearings and debate) by auctioning off wireless frequencies to private carriers, but possibly stipulating improved performance and speeds, especially in rural areas. 

High quality streaming in heavy volume would still have to be paid for by consumers in subscription plans and contracts in a normal fashion, but very basic service might be free.

I often find that cellular service, especially Internet access, is spotting in rural areas, particularly in West Virginia, where my own Verizon service usually goes over to 1X and connects to Sprint, not always successfully. 
  
Cellular service has been improving on the Metro on most lines and at most stations, except in the deepest tunnels.  
It's important to remember that the government itself cannot set up the super WiFi.  It can license unused airwaves to companies that will do it.  

Saturday, February 02, 2013

FTC encourages mobile apps to have same privacy as desktops -- disco "kids" don't care


Mobile devices so far do not seem to offer users the same degree of control over privacy or “do not track” possibilities as laptops and desktops, and that is a situation that the FTC wants to change, according to a New York Times story Saturday in the Business Section by Edwart Wyatt, link here

The article discussed a social network called Path.

Many people don’t want mobile applications to disclose their physical locations, invitations to burglary or to stalking.  That doesn’t seem to be as controllable as it should be.
  
On the other hand, if you just notice how people behave on dance floors, interrupted by constant texts – they want to know where their friends are – exactly, and constantly – even if only fifty feet away in darkness, strobe lights and noise.   I don’t see how kids can text so well without seeing anything.  I can’t.