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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.

FCC

Federal Communications Commission Implements Rules for Affordable Connectivity Program

The agency implemented new rules on the Affordable Connectivity Program, which makes a new subsidy permanent.

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Photo of Jessica Rosenworcel by Rob Kunzig of Morning Consult

WASHINGTON, January 24, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission adopted rules Friday for its Affordable Connectivity Program that changes and, in some cases narrows, the eligibility requirements for the subsidy to allow for more households to be connected.

An extension of the former Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, which offered discounts to broadband service providers to subsidize connectivity and devices, the new program will make it easier for providers to get in the program by automatically making eligible providers in good standing.

Additionally, the FCC maintains that the monthly discount on broadband service is limited to one internet discount per household rather than allowing the benefit for separate members of a household. “Adopting a one-per-household limitation best ensures that Program funding is available to the largest possible number of eligible households,” the agency said in its report.

To accommodate the volume of eligible households enrolling in the ACP, the FCC allowed providers until March 22 – 60 days after its Friday order is published in the Federal Register– to make necessary changes to ensure that the ACP can be applied to providers’ currently sold plans.

“So much of our day to day—work, education, healthcare and more—has migrated online. As a result, it’s more apparent than ever before that broadband is no longer nice-to-have, it’s need-to-have, for everyone, everywhere,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “But there are far too many households across the country that are wrestling with how to pay for gas and groceries and also keep up with the broadband bill. This program, like its predecessor, can make a meaningful difference.”

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act transformed the EBB to the longer-term Affordable Connectivity Program by allocating an additional $14.2 billion to it.

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FCC

FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel Shares Proposal to Promote Broadband Competition In Apartment Buildings

If adopted, the FCC’s regulations would increase broadband options for tenants.

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FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

WASHINGTON, January 21, 2022––Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel shared a draft regulation that aims to would promote competition and greater broadband choice for tenants in apartment buildings.

If adopted, the regulations would prevent practices that keep tenants from choosing their own broadband provider.

“With more than one-third of the U.S. population living in apartments, mobile home parks, condominiums, and public housing, it’s time to crack down on practices that lock out broadband competition and consumer choice,” said Rosenworcel.

The proposal would prohibit broadband providers from entering into revenue-sharing agreements with apartment building owners. If approved by her fellow commissioners and hence adopted as official agency rules, the regulation would also require providers to disclose any existing marketing arrangements they have with building owners to tenants.

“Consumers deserve access to a choice of providers in their buildings. I look forward to having my colleagues join me in lifting the obstacles to competitive choice for broadband for the millions of tenants across the nation,” Rosenworcel said.

Her proposal builds on a September 2021 notice that invited a new round of comments during an examination of broadband access In apartment and office buildings. The FCC said the proceedings revealed “a pattern of new practices that inhibit competition, contrary to the Commission’s goals, and limit opportunities for competitive providers to offer service for apartment, condo and office building unit tenants.”

More than one third of the U.S. population lives in condominiums or apartment buildings.

Exclusive agreements between broadband providers and buildings owners limit options for tenants, who are precluded from access to new carriers. “Across the country throughout the pandemic, the need for more and better broadband access has never been clearer,” Rosenworcel added.

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FCC

FCC Announces Largest Approval Yet for Rural Digital Opportunity Fund: $1 Billion

The agency said Thursday it has approved $1 billion to 69 providers in 32 states.

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Photo illustration from the Pelican Institute

WASHINGTON, December 16, 2021 – The Federal Communications Commission announced its largest approval yet from the $9.2-billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, greenlighting on Thursday $1 billion from a reverse auction process that ended with award announcements in December but that the new-look agency has been scrutinizing in recent months.

The agency said in a press release that this fifth round of approvals includes 69 providers who are expected to serve 518,000 locations in 32 states over 10 years. Its previous round approved $700 million worth of applications to cover 26 states. Previous rounds approved $554 million for broadband in 19 states, $311 million in 36 states, and $163 million in 21 states.

The agency still has some way to approve the entirety of the fund, as it’s asked providers that were previously awarded RDOF money in December to revisit their applications to see if the areas they have bid for are not already served. So far, a growing list have defaulted on their respective areas, some saying it was newer FCC maps that showed them what they didn’t previously know. The agency said Thursday that about 5,000 census blocks have been cleared as a result of that process.

The FCC also said Thursday it saved $350 million from winning bidders that have either failed to get state certification or didn’t follow through on their applications. In one winning bidder’s case, the FCC said Thursday Hotwire violated the application rules by changing its ownership structure.

“This latest round of funding will open up even more opportunities to connect hundreds of thousands of Americans to high-speed, reliable broadband service,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.  “Today’s actions reflect the hard work we’ve put in over the past year to ensure that applicants meet their obligations and follow our rules.  With thoughtful oversight, this program can direct funding to areas that need broadband and to providers who are qualified to do the job.”

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