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Broadband's Impact

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Preserving a Free and Open Internet

Broadband Breakfast Staff



The Internet has been an engine of economic opportunity worldwide, but we cannot take its success for granted. As the free exchange of information and services across borders is increasingly threatened, trade commitments among countries can serve as a powerful tool to maintain the openness that has been the hallmark of the Internet’s success. And while much has been said recently about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one piece is often overlooked: TPP has first-ever commitments that will promote a free and open digital economy and serve as a template for 21st century trade agreements going forward.

Twenty years ago, less than 1 percent of the world’s population was connected to the Internet. Today, more than 40 percent have Internet access. That extraordinary growth has continued in recent years — since 2009, global Internet users have more than doubled, from 1.5 billion to 3.2 billion. Data flows have nearly quintupled. These trends show no signs of slowing down.

The Internet’s growth — and its power to reshape how we connect, share ideas and exchange information with the rest of the world — is largely due to its design. It has been borderless, lowering the costs of transmitting information, supporting freedom of expression, exchange of information and giving our entrepreneurs an open canvas on which to innovate and a level playing field on which to compete.

Not everyone shares this vision for the future digital economy.

Not everyone shares this vision for the future digital economy. Countries are taking steps to fragment the Internet along national borders, legitimize content controls and arbitrary website blockage, force the use of local servers and deploy “cyber-nationalist” policies that could balkanize the Internet and distort innovation.

That’s where the Trans-Pacific Partnership can help, by requiring countries to sign on to principles necessary for a free and open Internet. TPP contains a comprehensive set of commitments to promote a free and open Internet, including provisions to:

Promote the free flow of data. TPP preserves users’ rights to access and move data, subject to safeguards, which helps ensure the flow of information and data that drive the Internet and the digital economy.
Combat forced localization of server capacity. TPP ensures that entrepreneurs will not have to build expensive and redundant data centers in every market they seek to serve. The economies of scale of the digital economy, where capital- and energy-intensive data centers serve multiple countries, depend on this flexibility.
Prevent forced tech transfer. TPP ensures that countries can’t force an innovator to hand over its technology or IP as a condition for gaining access to their market.
Enhance transparency and public participation. TPP promotes public participation and transparency in the development of laws and regulations — including those affecting the Internet — by providing opportunities for the public to view and comment on laws and regulations.
Strengthen consumer protection. TPP requires countries to adopt and maintain consumer protection laws related to fraudulent and deceptive commercial activities online, and similar measures to protect privacy; it also requires countries to maintain and enforce anti-spam and anti-fraud rules.
Open markets for digital goods and services. TPP opens markets for services and digital products; ensures tariffs are never imposed on digital transmissions; and prevents discrimination against online provision of products traded and transmitted electronically, through measures such as outright blocking or other forms of content discrimination.
Establish duty-free treatment for IT goods. TPP abolishes all tariffs in TPP countries on IT products, such as computers, tablets and smartphones, telecommunications equipment, fiber-optic cable, semiconductors and related goods.
Promote competitive telecom markets. TPP includes requirements to promote competition and ensure access to national telecom networks, helping to improve prices, quality and choices for users.
Facilitate digital trade and e-commerce. TPP includes requirements that TPP countries enable secure online payment options, allow express delivery services and take other measures — often particularly important for small businesses and individual entrepreneurs — to secure the necessary tools for trade in the digital environment.
Achieve a balanced approach to IP. Recognizing the role a strong and balanced approach to intellectual property plays in the growth of the digital economy, TPP countries have obligated themselves to continuously seek to achieve an appropriate balance in their copyright systems through, among other things, copyright exceptions and limitations for legitimate purposes, including those for the digital environment.
With these important steps in TPP, we will strengthen the coalition of countries defending the integrity of the Internet and the economic opportunities of its users. These first-ever provisions for the digital economy are extremely powerful for those seeking a world where everyone has the ability to participate in the global economy and safely access knowledge online.

These first-ever provisions for the digital economy are extremely powerful for those seeking a world where everyone has the ability to participate in the global economy and safely access knowledge online.

The Administration is committed to the principles that have allowed the Internet to reshape our world: Preserving the open and “borderless” character of the global Internet; guaranteeing users’ freedom to move, store and manage data; enhancing the growth of the digital economy; and promoting public-interest policies that protect privacy and deter cyber-crime, including theft of intellectual property, and abuse.

Covering 20 percent of the world’s Internet users and over a third of estimated Internet data flow, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is an unprecedented opportunity to move beyond advocacy. It would take concrete steps toward preserving a free and open Internet at a time when the Internet’s underlying principles are in question — but when its future has never been brighter.

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Alan Davidson of the U.S Department of Commerce puts forward a strong defense of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

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Broadband Breakfast is a decade-old news organization based in Washington that is building a community of interest around broadband policy and internet technology, with a particular focus on better broadband infrastructure, the politics of privacy and the regulation of social media. Learn more about Broadband Breakfast.

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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



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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Multilingual Digital Navigators Crucial For Inclusion

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

Derek Shumway



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



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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