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Broadband's Impact

FCC Eyes Apple’s Blockage of Google Voice

WASHINGTON, August 6, 2009 – A top Federal Communications Commission official sent letters of inquiry on Friday to Apple, AT&T and Google over Apple’s move to block Google’s voice technology on the iPhone.

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WASHINGTON, August 6, 2009 – A top Federal Communications Commission official sent letters of inquiry on Friday to Apple, AT&T and Google over Apple’s move to block Google’s voice technology on the iPhone.

James Schlichting, acting chief for the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, asked Apple Vice President Catherine Novelli why Apple had rejected Google’s Voice application and removed related third-party applications from its app store. He also asked Novelli to identify which third-party applications had been removed or rejected.

Schlichting also asked whether Apple had acted alone or in consultation with AT&T and whether or not there were any contractual or non-contractual conditions with AT&T affecting Apple’s decision.

In his letter to James Cicconi, senior executive vice president of external and legislative affairs at AT&T, Schlichting asked similar questions and whether any devices operating on AT&T’s network allow use of the Google Voice application. He also inquired whether other applications have been rejected for the iPhone and whether consumers’ access to and usage of Google Voice is disabled on the iPhone but permitted on other handsets such as Research in Motion’s BlackBerry devices.

According to a report by Jason Kincaid in TechCrunch, John Gruber, a technical writer and technology pundit, “has confirmed with a trusted source that AT&T is to blame for the Google Voice ban.”

This allegation has met with some skepticism.

According to a report by Om Malik on Gigaom, this allegation that AT&T is behind Apple’s blocking of Google Voice is “flat-out wrong.”

“If it were true,” said Malik, “then Google Voice would be banned on BlackBerry devices that use AT&T as well….As of this morning, everything is working fine on my AT&T-connected Bold.

Malik also noted that AT&T’s voice network is needed to send and receive Google Voice calls.

Accord to a report by Marin Perez on Information Week, AT&T states that it does not manage or approve applications for the App Store.

“We have received the letter and will, of course, respond to it,” said AT&T spokesman Michael Balmoris.

Schlichting also sent a letter to Richard Whitt, Washington telecom and media counsel member at Google, asking whether an explanation was given for Apple’s rejection, whether Apple has approved any Google applications for the Apple App Store, what services they provide, and whether Google has any other proposed applications pending with Apple.

“We will continue to work to bring our services to iPhone users, for example by taking advantage of advances in mobile browsers,” said Google Global Communications and Public Affairs spokesman Dan Martin.

“We will be supplying the information that the commission has requested,” he said.

“Consumers everywhere should be pleased at the quick response of the Federal Communications Commission to the reports that Apple was blocking access to the Google Voice application, said Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn.

“This is exactly the type of aggressive, pro-consumer, pro-competitive action that we want to see from the FCC, and which has been long mission from the commission’s policy agenda,” she said.

Sohn said she looks forward to reading the official responses to the commission’s letters from Apple and AT&T.

The letters are part of a trend showing that the FCC is trying to craft a more open market where consumers can access mobile networks easier, said Charles Golvin, analyst with Forrester Research.

According to a report by AP technology writer Michael Liedtke on ABCNews, just days after the letters were sent, Google CEO Eric Schmidt resigned from the Apple board, “because of the companies’ conflicting interests as competition between the one-time allies heats up.

Digital Inclusion

Popularity Of Telework And Telehealth Presents Unique Opportunities For A Post-Pandemic World

A survey released earlier this month illustrates opportunities for remote work and care.

Benjamin Kahn

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Screenshot of Hernan Galperin via YouTube

April 20, 2021—A survey conducted by the University of Southern California in conjunction with the California Emerging Technology Fund explored the popularity and availability of opportunities for telework and telehealth in California.

At an event hosted by USC and CETF Monday, experts dissected the survey released earlier this month to explain the implications it may have for the future. Hernán Galerpin is an Associate Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California. He served as the lead investigator for the survey, which analyzed Californians’ attitudes towards their new schedules during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

The first statistic Galerpin noted was the extent of broadband growth in California between 2008 and 2021. According to the survey, in 2008, only 55 percent of Californians had broadband coverage. By 2021, the number had risen steeply to 91 percent, with 85 percent of Californian’s utilizing broadband through either a desktop, laptop, or tablet (with the rest connected exclusively through a smartphone).

This is significant because it helps to explain the next statistic Galerpin showed; according to his data, Galerpin stated that approximately 38 percent of employed adults worked remotely five days a week over the course of the pandemic, while 45 percent did not work remotely (17 percent worked between 1-4 days remotely).

When asked how many times they would like to telecommute to work, respondents were most likely to indicate a preference for what they had become accustomed to; those who worked from home five days a week had a 42 percent chance of preferring working from home 5 days a week; those who worked from home three to four days a week had a 35 percent chance of preferring a three to four day telecommute schedule; those who worked remotely one to two days per week had a 56 percent chance of favoring a one to two day telecommuting schedule.

The data collected also indicated that low-income and Hispanic workers were disproportionately unable to telecommute.

Overall, telecommuting five days a week was the most popular option, with 31 percent of total respondents favoring that arrangement. By comparison, only 18 percent of respondents favored a schedule without any telecommuting.

President and CEO of CETF Sunne Wright McPeak called this data “unprecedented,” and stated that broadband had the potential to serve as a “green strategy” that could limit the number of miles driven by employees, and ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as other harmful pollutants. According to the data, as many as 55 percent of work commutes could be offset by a reconfigured telecommuting schedule.

The benefits of broadband did not stop there, however. Data also indicated that nearly 70 percent of Californians 65 years and older were able to utilize telehealth services, whether that was over the phone/smartphone or computer. Unsurprisingly, wealthier Californians were also more likely to benefit from telehealth services, with nearly 56 percent of low-income Californians going without telehealth, compared to 43 percent of “not low income” Californians.

An additional positive sign was that the overwhelming majority of disabled individuals were able to utilize telehealth services, with 70 percent of disabled respondents indicating that they were able to do so over the course of the pandemic.

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Education

Multilingual Digital Navigators Crucial For Inclusion

Digital liaisons who speak multiple languages can help guide multilingual communities for the digital future.

Derek Shumway

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Screenshot taken from the Net Inclusion webinar

April 19, 2021 – Encouraging multilingualism among digital navigators will help facilitate better inclusion in digital adoption, experts said last week.

Speaking Spanish is a huge plus for digital navigators in Salt Lake City, Utah, for example, as many of its focused neighborhoods needing to be connected to broadband speak the language,  said Shauna McNiven Edson, digital inclusion coordinator at Salt Lake City Public Library.

Edson and other panelists spoke last Wednesday at the 2021 Net Inclusion Webinar Series hosted by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, a digital inclusion advocacy group on what skills are needed to become a digital navigator.

At the Salt Lake City Public Library, progress is there but challenges persist for digital inclusion and navigation. Edson said there were about 450 participants in its library program’s group for digital inclusion. However, only about 5 percent of participants, or 22 people, have adequate broadband at home. Seventy-five percent of members said they needed help finding a computer or internet-enabled deice, and 10 percent of its 450 members have contacted the library’s support staff for It issues.

Digital navigators are crucial because they connect community members with the skills and resources they need to become digitally literate and help them get adequate broadband. Navigators can be volunteers or cross-trained staff who already work in social service agencies, libraries, health, and more who offer remote and socially distant in-person guidance. 

Compared to the rest of the country, Salt Lake City is highly connected, said Edson. Every community has a unique demographic make-up, and if the communities who need access to broadband mostly speak Spanish or English or even Mandarin, there should be community anchors with highly trained digital navigators to help the underconnected.

Andrew Au, director of operations at Digital Charlotte, said digital inclusion should include adult education. Every library and public institution that offers internet services should have digital navigators available and onsite to guide individuals in their communities and offer continuing education resources to keep digital skills literacy up, he said.

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Broadband's Impact

Mentorship Instrumental To Women Involvement in Telecom Industry

Experts advise mentorship and encouragement to get more women in the industry.

Derek Shumway

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Photo of Mitsuko Herrera, center, via Montgomery County, Maryland

April 19, 2021 – A group of women were asked to rate gender equality in their workplace on a scale of 1-10. Their average score? About a four. The solution? More mentorship early in their lives.

The women, experts in network companies, spoke at the event, “Women in Broadband: Achieving zero barriers,” hosted by fiber network company Render Networks last Wednesday.

Kari Kump, director of network services at Mammoth Networks, said that in the broadband industry, she rates it a four, and in government jobs, a bit higher at five. Kump said she sees lots of women in marketing positions and non-technical managerial positions that “may oversee tech.” She said the worst gender equality in her view is at the construction site, where women “pay the bills” in the office rather than being out on site.

What’s causing gender inequality? The problem starts long before the job interview. Mitsuko Herrera, from planning and special projects for Montgomery County, said in her current work, only 2 out of 25 colleagues are women.

“The opportunity may be there, but we don’t see a lot of qualified women in the industry,” she said. Even before they reach college, women and girls need to have opportunities for engagement across various industries. Having mentors at an early age would greatly increase women participation and influence at work. In the workspace, praising women privately is just as important as praising them publicly, said Herrera. Women need to know they are supported at all times with all people.

Having better representation at the table is crucial because diverse perspectives affect industry and society for the better, said Laura Smith, vice president of people and culture at Biarri Networks. “The groups making decisions should reflect society,” she said.

And even if there is diversity, it’s not enough to have women at work for diversity’s sake—you also need to listen to that diversity and not ignore it.

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