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Cloud Immigrants, 3D Telepresence and Immersive Reality Chart New Era for Education and Health, Says Pew Report on Gigabit Apps

WASHINGTON, October 16, 2014 – Three-dimensional holograms, immersive virtual reality environments, instant face-to-face meetings that match physical meetings and inch closer to a real-life virtual hug.

These are among the technologies made available by Gigabit Networks, according to “Killer Apps in the Gigabit Age,” a report released last week by the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project.

“What is striking about the answers in the report is that technologists are way ahead of current reality,” said Lee Rainie, the Director of the Internet Project, in an interview.

The report surveyed more than 1,400 experts from academia, tech firms and the industry about their thoughts on the report’s two titular topics: apps and connectivity in 2025.

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Via: Xbox Culture

Via: Xbox Culture

WASHINGTON, October 16, 2014 – Three-dimensional holograms. Immersive virtual reality environments. Instant face-to-face meetings that match physical meetings and inch closer to a real-life virtual hug. These are among the technologies made available by gigabit networks, according to “Killer Apps in the Gigabit Age,” a report released last week by the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project.

“What is striking about the answers in the report is that technologists are way ahead of current reality,” said Lee Rainie, the Director of the Internet Project, in an interview.

The report surveyed more than 1,400 experts from academia, tech firms and the industry about their thoughts on the report’s two titular topics: apps and connectivity in 2025.

Presently, said Rainie, today’s bandwidth may be adequate for present-day broadband services. But with upstarts like Google Fiber and others, and incumbents including AT&T and CenturyLink beginning to offer Gigabit Services in select areas, experts see a future that is only just over 10 years away.

Filled with techno-optimism, the report documents potential advances with huge impacts on education and health care. Those two industries have not yet experienced the transformative power of the internet.

And while some experts voice concern about a growing digital divide – call it the Gigabit gulch – contingent upon certain broadband speeds or infrastructure builds, others were more optimistic about the future of America’s Gigabit Networks.

Telepresence, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Technologists see telepresence, plus virtual and augmented reality, as areas most promising and exciting for the dawning of a Gigabit age. “Current virtual alternatives to in person presence are insufficient and lacking in power,” said Rainie. “It currently is just not a rich social experience.”

Yet many of the survey respondents see a future with vivid telepresence allowing people to interact and connect instantaneously. Respondents talked about 3D holograms, immersive virtual reality for games and just “hanging out.”

Advances in augmented reality will “extend people’s sense and understanding of their real-life surroundings,” the report reads. One of the wildest insights from the report is Marcel Bullinga’s assertion that people will have to compete for jobs with real-life holograms, which he dubs “cloud immigrants.”

Next Up: Education and Health Care

Just as digital social networks and e-commerce services have redefined the way people interact with others, these experts see these advances in technology and greater and wider-spread connectivity as particularly impactful on education and health and medicine.

There will be more options and immersive experiences for online education. Francois-Dominique Armingaud, a retired computer engineer from IBM, talked about internet protocol multicasting: “Just imagine giving a guitar course online to 18 people or more scattered anywhere at a time.”

A big theme for the future of health apps is telemedicine. This allows patients to be virtually monitored and diagnosed. Responders see wearable technologies providing 24 hour a day, 7 day a week monitoring of users’ body functions. That will help both doctors and patients.

RTI International Senior Clinical Informaticist Robert Furberg discussed health apps that help people manage chronic illnesses. Even remote surgery is under discussion. Chen Jiangong, a Chinese internet business analyst, said that big data will create services that forecast and respond to people’s emotional needs.

Low Latency Is King

Faster speeds and greater bandwidth are important to these technological advances. Increasingly, lower latency will be a crucial factor in the effectiveness of apps.

Latency refers to time between an action and that action being perceived. Conduct business meetings through 3D holograms, performing remote surgery, or interacting with a virtual world will only be effective if there is low latency.

Businessmen must be able to talk without worrying about talking over each other. A surgeon must be able to trust that her scalpel will move exactly when and where she moves it. Participants in a virtual world must be able to instantaneously respond to another user’s action.

Any amount of delay would kill these killer apps, and they would feel more like novelties rather than essential services.

A New Gigabit Gulch?

While most experts agree that Gigabit Networks will be more affordable and widely available by 2025, many fear that a growing Gigabit gulch, with only some able to reap the benefits of the Gigabit age.

If Gigabit Networks are to truly reshape education and health, students and medical patients in areas of the country without the infrastructure to support higher speeds will be harmed. Those areas might well be rural and poor areas.

But some experts are more optimistic about overcoming any new digital divide. Some, like business professional Todd Cotts, doubt that gigabit speeds are truly needed. “Moore’s Law would suggest that applications will be created that require less bandwidth to function at more than optimal levels of user experience,” he said. Others cited Google’s jump into the Gigabit broadband market as an encouraging sign for a future with more widespread high-speed internet access everywhere.

A theme underlying the Pew Research Center report is the vital importance of nationwide, high-speed internet access – and the fear that the current rural infrastructure will not support it. Upcoming Federal Communications Commission decisions about the future of municipal broadband and network neutrality may impact the future path the internet’s evolution – and whether or not these “Killer Apps for the Gigabit Age” will ever truly come to pass.

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FCC

FCC Encouraged to Limit Data Collection on Affordable Connectivity Program, Others Want More

One trade group warns about providers leaving the program if data collection too onerous.

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Photo of Jonathan Spalter, CEO of US Telecom, from ISE

WASHINGTON, August 9, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission is being warned not to overly burden internet service providers with its Congress-mandated order to collect pricing and subscription rates data from participants in the Affordable Connectivity Program.

Under the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act, the FCC is required by November 15 to adopt rules to collect annual data relating to the price and subscription rates of each internet service offering by a provider participating in the broadband subsidy program, which offers up to $30 per month for low-income households (up to $75 per month on tribal lands) and a one-time $100 off a device.

But a number of submissions are warning the FCC against rules that require any additional data collection efforts beyond the scope of the law so as not to unduly burden providers and, at least one other trade group said, push providers away from participating in the program.

Telecommunications company Lumen, for example, recommended the commission limit the scope of the annual reporting to monthly pricing and to exempt “excessively granular” requirements, such as promotional rates, grandfathered plans, or subscriber-level data, which the commission is proposing to collect.

Communications companies and industry groups want to limit data collection

T-Mobile said in its submission that Congress told the FCC to rely on the broadband consumer labels, which are due this November, for pricing. The commission asked for comment on the interpretation of the IIJA requiring a reliance on price information displayed on the consumer labels.

For subscription information, T-Mobile urges the commission to look at data collection from the Universal Service Administrative Company – which administers high-cost broadband programs for the Universal Service Fund – to avoid “adopting a largely redundant collection that would impose additional burdens” on all parties.

“The IIJA leaves the Commission no discretion to collect any additional price information, and the statute does not require collection of data on other service plan and network characteristics,” such as speed and latency and data allowances, the submission said.

“Collection of this additional data would create additional burdens and is unnecessary,” the submission added.

Similar limitations were also proposed by telecom Starry Inc., which pushed for privacy protection by collecting data at a higher level (such as the state) and working with information collected in other transparency efforts, such as the consumer labels.

Industry association IMCOMPAS, which represents internet and competitive communications networks, told the FCC in a submission that data collection should be limited to the state level to protect consumer privacy and proprietary information of the providers; streamline other data collection, including the consumer labels; and provide instruction on how to providers to better understand the data collection rules.

Concurring with this position is the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, which said data collection must be simple and should not go to a level of detail that goes beyond what the IIJA calls for. The trade group, which represents small providers, said such data collection beyond that required in the law could burden companies with small teams.

The included data, WISPA said, should be an annual aggregate of items including broadband plans subscribed to by ACP customers, number of subscribers for each plan, and pricing minus promotional rates, taxes, discounts or pricing breakdowns for bundled services. Any additional onerous collection could see providers leave the program, it added.

Industry groups US Telecom and NCTA – Internet and Television Association similarly urged a simple annual report that captured undiscounted monthly pricing of each broadband service offering and the number of customers subscribed. The Competitive Carriers Association and the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association also recommended a limited data collection approach.

ACA Connects, a trade group representing small and medium-sized independent operators, said the FCC should direct providers to report numbers of ACP households “that are applying their benefit to each speed tier along with the standard price of each tier on a state-by-state basis” – rather than the FCC-proposed continuous collection of subscriber-level data via the National Lifeline Accountability Database, it said, adding the commission should be mindful of the time it takes for completion, as smaller providers have limited resources.

Others pushing for subscriber-level, more data

The cities of New York and Seattle, in their submissions, said the FCC should collect subscriber-level information to assess different service adoption rates on different plans over time – publishing categories based on price, plan and performance by the zip code. It added it is not seeking information about the households itself, and said this would not be a privacy concern as others have pointed out.

Similarly, the Connecticut Office of State Broadband said the commission should go beyond the IIJA requirements by mandating information including performance of the plans and whether a device is offered.

For the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, data collection on the ACP should include data beyond what’s included in the consumer labels, and should include other items such as installation, equipment, service, miscellaneous, data and usage fees, and state and local taxes.

In a joint submission, non-profit media group Common Sense and internet advocacy group Public Knowledge recommended data collection that is necessary to monitor the ACP, which include promotional rates, taxes, overage costs and device and equipment costs. This way, they say, the FCC can get a better idea of how much is going toward internet access after applying the subsidy. They are also asking for the commission to collect information on whether the subsidy is being used to upgrade or discount current service, and how customers are becoming aware of the program.

The commission is currently trying to get more Americans on the program, which has over 13 million households signed up. That number, the commission said last week, should be much higher. As such, it ordered the development of an outreach program to market the subsidy.

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FCC

Former Commissioners Commend FCC in Absence of Fifth Commissioner

But there’s concern a Senate vote on a fifth FCC commissioner will not happen before midterms.

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Screenshot of Former FCC Chairman Richard Wiley

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2022 – Former chairs of the Federal Communications Commission commended the current FCC administration at a symposium on Wednesday for working together on important issues with a 2-2 party split, but expressed increasing uncertainty about the fate of a fifth commissioner.

The Senate vote to confirm Gigi Sohn, a Democrat and net neutrality advocate, has stalled for months. And former FCC commissioners were wary of her prospects before the midterm elections in November. Some Republican critics are concerned that Sohn, nominated by President Joe Biden in October, won’t be able to remain non-partisan on the issues she would encounter as a commissioner.

“Confirmation is still possible, but with the extended August recess and looming midterm election, there aren’t a lot of legislative days to get the job done,” said former FCC Chair Richard Wiley. With each passing day, the confirmation becomes more difficult, agreed panelists, as the Senate could flip to a Republican-controlled chamber come November.

In the meantime, the former commissioners praised the efforts of the current staff. “A lot of credit should go to the Chairwoman [Jessica] Rosenworcel and indeed to all the commissioners for maintaining a robust agenda over the last year and half and really getting decisions made,” said Wiley. “Two Democrats, two Republicans have worked together to serve the public interest.”

William Kennard added that, “this is an energetic commission, they want to get things done.”

Some initiatives that have received unanimous FCC votes include spectrum-sharing initiatives and robocall enforcement.

Editor’s note: The comments in this story were quoted from and attributed to a July 20, 2022, symposium. That symposium was hosted by the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council. 

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FCC

FCC Adopts Spectrum-Sharing Incentives, Proposal on Call Traffic Arbitrage

The agency voted to incentivize the sharing of underutilized spectrum to increase connectivity in the nation.

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Photo of Nathan Simington, Brendan Carr, Jessica Rosenworcel of FCC (left to right)

WASHINGTON, July 14, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission voted at its July open meeting Thursday to adopt spectrum-sharing incentives and to crack down on the practice of driving up revenue from call traffic inflation.

The commission voted to adopt a program that will build incentives for larger spectrum holders to make underutilized spectrum available to smaller carriers, tribal nations and entities serving rural areas. The program, called the Enhanced Competition Incentive Program, will have incentives including longer license terms, extensions on buildout obligations, and more flexible construction requirements.

The commission is also seeking comment on whether to expand the program eligibility to non-common carriers serving non-rural areas.

“I’m excited to see the new deployments this program will foster,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “I think it will help expand wireless deployment in rural and tribal communities… to make sure we reach 100 percent of us with high-speed service.”

Experts have advocated for more carve-outs for unlicensed spectrum to tackle the growing demand for connections and relieve congestion on existing frequencies. The Rural Wireless Association applauded the FCC Thursday on the vote, saying it believes that program can “encourage the necessary transactions that can expand telecommunications and broadband service in rural America.”

Cracking down on call traffic arbitrage

The commission also proposed rules to address the practice of telephone companies inflating traffic to generate more revenue, which raises costs for long-distance carriers.

Intercarrier compensation is the system of regulated payments that sees carriers compensate each other for cross-carrier call traffic. Some companies, however, continue to take advantage of the system by inflating traffic to extract additional revenues, the FCC identified. As a result, the FCC proposes to adopt monitoring rules to identify illegal arbitrage practices.

“This rulemaking is designed to shut down the loopholes these companies are exploiting,” said Rosenworcel. It would require providers to tally and report call traffic volumes to the FCC to verify its compliance with access stimulation rules, which were adopted in 2019 to clarify financial responsibility for calls.

Other actions

The FCC also proposed a $116 million fine against ChariTel Inc. for a robocall scheme that made nearly 10 million robocalls to toll-free numbers, which then generated revenue for the company from payments by the toll-free service provider.

FCC commissioners further voted to open an inquiry to evaluate how the Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Program can be modified to support the connectivity needs of domestic abuse survivors.

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