SAN MATEO, Calif., May 12, 2009 - As the Obama administration's FCC and technology policy agenda begins to take shape, internet policy experts at the Tech Policy Summit expressed relief at what they percieved as a more friendly White House for technology, but clashed on America's success in broadband deployment and the role of wireless in expanding internet access.
Public Knowledge president Gigi Sohn was ecstatc after eight years of a "vast wasteland" in tech policy under the Bush administration. "It's a different world - it's quite mind-blowing."
During the Bush years, there was no one to talk to on technology policy, Sohn said. She compared the climate under Bush to when the incoming Obama administration began to engage the technology community during the transition process. "It's a brand new day," she said. But while praising the administration for focusing attention on broadband issues and network openness, Sohn was cautious. "The devil is always in the details," she warned.
Next-generation internet regulation should take into account that not all ISPs own their own pipes, said Brett Glass, owner of Wyoming-based wireless ISP LariatNet. Glass worried that regulations that might "sting" a large carrier would kill a small business such as his. Instead, he suggessted promoting compeition that would make regulation superfluous. "First, do no harm," he suggested.
Sohn expressed concern over the duopoly market between cable and telephone companies that sell broadband services in many communities. "When you don't have to compete, you don't have to increase your speeds, and you don't have to lower your price," she said.
Sohn noted that even in the old narrowband era, the U.S. had over 7,500 individual businesses providing internet service.
But Paul Brigner, executive director of internet and technology policy at Verizon, insisted that companies are competing furiously. Wireless is an additional competitive force in a "vibrant and competitive marketplace," he said.
Ericcsson senior vice president Jan Uddenfeldt suggested that the U.S. is on par with most other markets in the competition arena. But Sohn pointed out many of the countries receive massive government subsidies for broadband. In particular, Austrailia's government hands out the equivilant of US$800 billion to its telecom companies, she said. And population density is not an excuse for poor deployment, she said.
The deployment problem could be solved with more spectrum being made available to make wireless internet service faster, Glass suggested. And prices could come down if his costs for "backhaul" fiber capacity in "special access markets" were lowered. Backbone providers should have incentives to lower prices for backhaul in rural areas, Glass said.
And by solving the so-called "middle mile" problem combined with additional spectrum, wireless ISPs could provide even faster service to places that cable doesn't currently pass. "WISPs are everywhere," he said.
- Justice Department Collaborating with State Attorneys General’s Antitrust Investigation of Big Tech, Says Chief
- Part II: Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz Want to Repeal Section 230 and Break the Internet
- A Short History of Online Free Speech, Part I: The Communications Decency Act Is Born
- Free Press Denounces Facebook Ads, New Content Moderation, Problems of Broadband Adoption
- House Homeland Security Committee Issues Subpoena to the Owner of 8chan Internet Site
Intellectual Property3 weeks ago
In Congressional Oversight Hearing, Register of Copyrights Says Office Is Responding to Online Users
Broadband Data3 months ago
Pennsylvania Broadband Speeds Worse Than Previously Believed, According to State Report
Fiber2 weeks ago
‘Dig Once’ Provides Future-Proofing Solution for Federal Highway Infrastructure, Says BroadbandNow
Drones2 weeks ago
Greater Commercial Use of Drones Will Force Revisions of Federal Aviation Administration Regulations, Say Experts
Broadband Data2 months ago
California Report: Income Most Significant Factor in Low Broadband Adoption
Broadband Roundup1 week ago
Cable Industry Touts Energy Efficiency, Next Century Highlights Open Access Fiber, Aspen Forum Set
Broadband Roundup6 days ago
Trump Delays 10 Percent Tariff on Chinese Tech Goods, Buttigieg on Broadband, Facebook Eavesdropping
Broadband Roundup2 weeks ago
Rep. Bob Latta and Ajit Pai on Robocalls, Rural Massachusetts Projects, John Horrigan Report on Digital Divide