Regional Broadband Conference on November 8 to Feature Prominent Speakers Discussing the Status and Future of Broadband Access and Technology
NEW BRITAIN, Conn., November 2, 2018 – Consumer Counsel Elin Swanson Katz is pleased to announce a broadband conference entitled, Connected New England: A Regional Broadband Convening at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Connecticut, (300 Capitol Ave.), Room 2C, on November 8, 2018, from 9:00 am – 4:30 p.m.
Registration is required, but the event is free for government, academic, and non-profit employees to attend, while the registration fee for others will be $150. Press are invited to attend. The event is being co-hosted by Next Century Cities, a non-profit coalition of innovative municipalities that recognize the importance of leveraging gigabit level internet to attract new businesses and create jobs, improve health care and education, ensure civic participation, and connect residents to new opportunities, as well as the Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC), the State of Connecticut’s utility consumer advocate, and the Connecticut State Broadband Office within OCC, which works to facilitate the availability of broadband access to every state citizen, including by working with municipalities on community broadband efforts.
The conference keynote speaker Gigi Sohn is one of the nation’s leading public advocates for open, affordable and democratic communications networks. Sohn served as Counselor to the former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler, from 2013 to 2016, and is credited as one of the prime architects of the Wheeler FCC’s net neutrality rules, which have since been repealed by the current FCC. Sohn is currently is a Distinguished Fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy and a Benton Senior Fellow and Public Advocate.
The event will begin with a welcome address from State Representative Josh Elliott (D-Hamden), and then feature a panel including the Honorable Toni Harp, Mayor of New Haven, the Honorable David Martin, Mayor of Stamford, and the Honorable Marcia Leclerc, Mayor of East Hartford, moderated by Senator Beth Bye (D-5th District), discussing the current status in their respective cities and their goals and initiatives for additional broadband development.
Following that, prominent speakers from across industry, government, and broadband policy experts will discuss: successful models for community broadband development; the continuing problems with lack of internet access in parts of the region; the status and potential of the 5G wireless network and the implementation of small cells (wireless transmission systems) in communities throughout the region; financing for broadband development projects; and other topics.
Consumer Counsel Katz noted, “This conference, Connected New England: A Regional Broadband Convening, will provide excellent information for use by municipal governments, state and local elected officials, broadband industry representatives, those interested in broadband policy and technology, and others, as well as opportunities to hear from many who are working daily to bring high-speed internet access to citizens and businesses in Connecticut, the New England region, and the nation as a whole. This is an ever-changing field, and it is great for Connecticut to be hosting an event that will discuss the future of and recent developments in what has been called the essential ‘Utility of the 21st century,’ broadband internet access.”
The conference agenda and registration information can be found here or at https://nextcenturycities.org/event/new-england-connect/.
(Photo of Connecticut capitol by Dannel Maloy used with permission.)
David Flower: 5G and Hyper-Personalization: Too Much of a Good Thing?
5G, IoT and edge computing are giving companies the opportunity to make hyper-personalization even more ‘hyper’.
It’s very easy for personalization to backfire and subtract value instead of add it.
Consider the troubling fact that we may be arriving at a moment in hyper-personalization’s journey where the most hyper-personalized offer is no offer at all. Nobody likes to be constantly bombarded by content, personalized or not.
And that’s the paradox of hyper-personalization: if everyone’s doing it, then, in a sense, nobody is.
5G and related technologies such as IoT and edge computing are giving companies the opportunity to make hyper-personalization even more “hyper” via broader bandwidths and the faster processing of higher volumes of data.
This means we’re at a very interesting inflection point: where do we stop? If the promise of 5G is more data, better data, and faster data, and the result is knowing our customers even better to bug them even more, albeit in a “personal” way, when, where, and why do we say, “hold on—maybe this is going too far.”?
How do you do hyper-personalization well in a world where everyone else is doing it and where customers are becoming increasingly jaded about it and worried about how companies are using their data?
Let’s first look at what’s going wrong.
Hyper-personalization and bad data
Hyper-personalization is very easy to mess up, and when you do mess it up it has the exact opposite of its intended effect: it drives customers away instead of keeping them there.
Consider an online ad for a product that pops up for you on a website a couple days after you already bought the thing being advertised for. This is what I call “noise”. It’s simply a nuisance, and the company placing that ad—or rather, the data platform they’re using to generate the algorithms for the ads—should already know that the person has already bought this item and hence present not a “repeat offer” but an upsell or cross-sell offer.
This sounds rudimentary in the year 2022 but it’s still all too common, and you’re probably nodding your head right now because you’ve experienced this issue.
Noise usually comes from what’s known as bad data, or dirty data. Whatever you want to call it—it pretty much ruins the customer experience.
Hyper-personalization and slow data
The second major issue is slow data, which is any data being used way too slowly to be valuable, which usually includes data that has to the trip to the data warehouse before it can be incorporated into any decisions.
Slow data is one of the main reasons edge computing was invented: to be able to process data as closely to where it’s ingested as possible in order to use it before it loses any value.
Slow data produces not-so-fun customer experiences such as walking half a mile to your departure gate at the airport, only to find that the gate has been changed, and then, after you’ve walked the half mile back to where you came from, getting a text message on your phone from the airline saying your gate has been changed.
Again, whatever you want to call it—latency, slow data, annoying—the end result is a bad customer experience.
How to fix the hyper-personalization paradox
I have no doubt that the people who invented hyper-personalization had great intentions: make things as personal as possible so that your customers pay attention, stay happy, and stay loyal.
And for a lot of companies, for a long time, it worked. Then came the data deluge. And the regulations. And the jaded customers. We’re now at a stage where we need to rethink how we do personalization because the old ways are no longer effective.
It’s easy—and correct—to blame legacy technology for all of this. But the solution goes deeper than just ripping and replacing. Companies need to think holistically about all sides of their tech stacks to figure out the simplest way to get as much data as possible from A to B.
The faster you can process your data the better. But it’s not all just about speed. You also need to be able to provide quick contextual intelligence to your data so that every packet is informed by all of the packets that came before it. In this sense, your tech stack should be a little like a great storyteller: someone who knows what the customer needs and is feeling at any given moment, because it knows what’s happened up to this point and how it will affect customer decisions moving forward.
Let’s start thinking of our customer experiences as stories and our tech stacks as the storytellers—or maybe, story generators. Maybe then our personalization efforts will become truly ‘hyper-personal’— i.e., relevant, in-the-moment experiences that are a source of delight instead of annoyance.
David Flower brings more than 28 years of experience within the IT industry to the role of CEO of Volt Active Data. Flower has a track record of building significant shareholder value across multiple software sectors on a global scale through the development and execution of focused strategic plans, organizational development and product leadership. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.
Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.
FCC Denies Funding for Two of the Biggest Winners of Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Money
‘We are continuing to review the letter and are evaluating our next steps,’ LTD said.
WASHINGTON, August 10, 2022 – LTD Broadband’s prolonged effort to get certification status in several states and Starlink’s still nascent and pricey satellite broadband project have proven enough for the Federal Communications Commission to deny them funding from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, the agency announced Wednesday.
The reverse auction process for the $9.2-billion fund culminated in December 2020 to awards of $1.3 billion for LTD Broadband – the largest winner in the auction – and $885 million for SpaceX’s Starlink project. But since the winners were announced, a new-look commission emerged under the leadership of Jessica Rosenworcel to weed out projects that did not align with the goals of the program – including bids in areas with adequate coverage or areas that don’t need the services pitched.
In a decision on Wednesday, the commission said that the limited number of dollars available cannot go to support Starlink’s still developing technology. “Starlink’s technology has real promise,” Rosenworcel said in a press release. “But the question before us was whether to publicly subsidize its still developing technology for consumer broadband—which requires that users purchase a $600 dish—with nearly $900 million in universal service funds until 2032.”
For LTD, the commission ruled that it “failed to timely receive eligible telecommunications carrier status in seven states,” adding the “relatively small fixed wireless provider…was not reasonably capable of deploying a network of the scope, scale, and size required by LTD’s extensive winning bids.
“We must put scarce universal service dollars to their best possible use as we move into a digital future that demands ever more powerful and faster networks,” Rosenworcel said. “We cannot afford to subsidize ventures that are not delivering the promised speeds or are not likely to meet program requirements.”
In a statement to Broadband Breakfast, LTD CEO Corey Hauer said, “We are extremely disappointed in the FCC staff decision. I don’t believe the FCC fully appreciated the benefits LTD Broadband would bring to hundreds of thousands of rural Americans. We are continuing to review the letter and are evaluating our next steps.”
In the same release on Wednesday, the FCC announced it has authorized $21 million in funding to three companies to deploy gigabit service to nearly 15,000 locations in Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming. The commission has so far authorized more than $5 billion to bring fiber gigabit to over three million locations in 47 states, it said.
The FCC had provided winning bidders an opportunity last year to review the areas in which they won bids and to relinquish those areas they find are not in need of services. The aftermath included several defaults in areas, some of which were attributed to updated broadband maps from the commission. The commission said that it may waive penalties for the defaults, but last month proposed fines of $4.3 million against 73 RDOF applicants for violations related to those defaults.
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.
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.
- David Flower: 5G and Hyper-Personalization: Too Much of a Good Thing?
- FCC Denies Funding for Two of the Biggest Winners of Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Money
- Grid Broadband Bill, Ting Gets Financing, Finley Engineering Has New CEO
- Broadband Breakfast on August 17, 2022 – Summer of Broadband: Tennessee
- FCC Encouraged to Limit Data Collection on Affordable Connectivity Program, Others Want More
- FTC Phillips Stepping Down, Chips Act Now Law, Alaskan Entities Getting $50M in Broadband Grants
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