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Open RAN Technology Could Play Key Role in Narrowing Digital Divide

Generic radio components could provide the flexibility and versatility needed to bring broadband access to those in need.

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BT Global Service's Neil McRae

WASHINGTON, December 20, 2021 – Some experts believe that open radio access network efforts will play a critical role in ensuring the bridging of the digital divide.

Open radio access network, or open RAN, is an ongoing effort to make generic the various proprietary components involved in the production of radio systems.

Proponents of the open RAN movement argue that the propriety nature of these vital components bottlenecks their production, contributing to supply chain issues, and stunting competition in the industry.

On Wednesday, Managing Director and Chief Architect for BT Global Service Neil McRae sat down for a virtual fireside chat as part of Fierce Telecom’s Digital Divide Summit. “We look at filling the digital divide with literally any technology or any tool that allows us to connect people,” McRae said. “That can be fiber, that can be Wi-Fi, it can be open RAN – it can be whatever we feel is the right solution.”

But McRae said he does not think efforts to bridge the digital divide should also pigeonhole providers into only using generic technologies. “I’m a realist: if I’ve got something that is proprietary, but it gives me an edge, why wouldn’t I use it?” he said.

“[However, I definitely think] that we can gain a competitive advantage – we strongly believe at BT that open RAN will give us a competitive advantage in a world where customers are demanding more and more, particularly on the service quality,” he said.

“We are very much looking at open RAN as another tool in that Swiss army knife of connectivity solutions.”

The utility of open RAN is significant, McRae said, in both low-density and urban regions alike. “We are looking at things like neutral hubs, where can we build a solution that allows multiple operators to connect in rural locations,” he said.

“We are also looking at it in some dense urban locations,” he said. “These are these tend to be kind of high-rise tower blocks where the normal connectivity for fiber is difficult to penetrate the building or build in a tall building.

“Sometimes a radio solution can be the right solution.”

McRae said that these techniques could be employed to enable more efficient precision agriculture techniques and other profitable sectors of the economy, providing operators with a sufficient return on their investments, and allowing this technology to fund itself in the pursuit of bridging the digital divide.

Blockchain

Commodity Futures Chairman Calls for Single Regulator as Crypto Falls and Fraud Rises

‘Our guiding principle at the CFTC must be to stop fraud or harmful conduct that harms our markets.’

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Screenshot of Rostin Behnam, chairman of the CFTC from Monday's Brookings event

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2022 – In light of dwindling crypto stock prices and reports of the increasing risk of fraud associated with the digital currencies, the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said at a Brookings Institution event Monday that there needs to be more regulation.

Rostin Behnam said amid the crypto market chaos, regulation is needed to protect Americans. Since the beginning of 2021, “More than 46,000 people reported losing over a billion dollars in crypto to scams” and that the median loss per individual was $2600 from crypto, Behnam said.

“Our guiding principle at the CFTC must be to stop fraud or harmful conduct that harms our markets,” Behnam said, explaining the need to use CFTC authority to bring justice to those who harm our markets. However, without current regulation, Behnam added that “existing ambiguities force hard decisions at the CFTC.”

Behnam praised recently introduced legislation – the Responsible Financial Innovation Act –which proposes a regulatory framework for cryptocurrency under the CFTC’s authority. “I’m encouraged by the bipartisan, bicameral support for legislation that recognizes the need for guardrails around the digital asset economy,” he said.

Behnam has previously pitched his commission as the preferred regulator. In February, he said there needs to be a single regulator to “fully police conflicts of interest and deceptive trading practices impacting retail customers.

“The CFTC is well situated to play an increasingly central role in overseeing the cash digital asset commodity market,” he said then.

Until then, Behnam said the CFTC is monitoring how it can get mitigate some harms in lieu of legislation. We “need to constantly monitor risky behavior,” he said, adding the commission is thinking “creatively about how [to] use existing regulatory authority to root out fraud and manipulation in the market.”

There has been debate about what type of regulation should be imposed on the digital currencies and who should be administering that. Some have suggested that there should be a singular regulatory body, as there is confusion as to whether the currencies are commodities or securities, which would but them under the purview of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In June, the Department of Justice announced four cases of criminal offenses of cryptocurrency fraud, one of which was the largest non-fungible token scheme ever brought. All cases involved over $100 million in losses.

“As cryptocurrency marketplaces advance and offer new opportunities for consumers, criminals also seek ways to exploit them,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division.

“We have moved past the stage where digital assets were once a research project,” Behnam said. “There is a critical need to educate and protect the public.”

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Artificial Intelligence

Deepfakes Pose National Security Threat, Private Sector Tackles Issue

Content manipulation can include misinformation from authoritarian governments.

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Photo of Dana Roa of Adobe, Paul Lekas of Global Policy (left to right)

WASHINGTON, July 20, 2022 – Content manipulation techniques known as deepfakes are concerning policy makers and forcing the public and private sectors to work together to tackle the problem, a Center for Democracy and Technology event heard on Wednesday.

A deepfake is a technical method of generating synthetic media in which a person’s likeness is inserted into a photograph or video in such a way that creates the illusion that they were actually there. Policymakers are concerned that deepfakes could pose a threat to the country’s national security as the technology is being increasingly offered to the general population.

Deepfake concerns that policymakers have identified, said participants at Wednesday’s event, include misinformation from authoritarian governments, faked compromising and abusive images, and illegal profiting from faked celebrity content.

“We should not and cannot have our guard down in the cyberspace,” said Representative John Katko, R-NY, ranking member of House Committee on homeland security.

Adobe pitches technology to identify deepfakes

Software company Adobe released an open-source toolkit to counter deepfake concerns earlier this month, said Dana Rao, executive vice president of Adobe. The companies’ Content Credentials feature is a technology developed over three years that tracks changes made to images, videos, and audio recordings.

Content Credentials is now an opt-in feature in the company’s photo editing software Photoshop that it says will help establish credibility for creators by adding “robust, tamper-evident provenance data about how a piece of content was produced, edited, and published,” read the announcement.

Adobe’s Connect Authenticity Initiative project is dedicated to addressing problems establishing trust after the damage caused by deepfakes. “Once we stop believing in true things, I don’t know how we are going to be able to function in society,” said Rao. “We have to believe in something.”

As part of its initiative, Adobe is working with the public sector in supporting the Deepfake Task Force Act, which was introduced in August of 2021. If adopted, the bill would establish a National Deepfake and Digital task force comprised of members from the private sector, public sector, and academia to address disinformation.

For now, said Cailin Crockett, senior advisor to the White House Gender Policy Council, it is important to educate the public on the threat of disinformation.

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Blockchain

Hunter Abramson: Why Ticket Sales are the Next Stage of Non-Fungible Tokens on the Blockchain

NFT ticketing also enables a safer, fairer secondary market.

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Author of this Expert Opinion is Hunter Abramson

Many new technologies tend to evolve rapidly, and that has particularly been the case with non-fungible tokens. It’s a technology that has shown vast potential, and early adopters picked up on this, starting an early — and short-lived — NFT craze that has since passed its initial height. However, new developments in NFTs have led to a possible course correction with exciting implications for the blockchain and every industry it touches.

The issue with early NFTs, and what caused the trend to be met with such initial hesitance, is that the general public is hesitant to accept anything without a tangible benefit to them. However, the recent trend towards utility NFTs — in other words, NFTs that offer some value or benefit to the user beyond the string of blockchain code they are composed of — has opened up the door to numerous opportunities for their implementation in various industries.

Why NFTs are the future of ticketing

The ticketing industry is a perfect match for the NFT revolution. For one, the technology used in the ticketing industry has been around for decades. QR codes, which make up most ticketing operations, were introduced in the 1990s, and the barcode system two decades before. The industry has primarily operated on an “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset, but it is time that leaders begin to embrace this shift towards newer, better technologies.

NFT ticketing will help combat many issues plaguing the ticketing industry right now. Fraud will be discouraged — if not entirely eliminated — thanks to the blockchain technology upon which NFT tickets are built. Blockchain code is virtually impossible to replicate, which means that fake tickets cannot be produced. When combined with the revolving QR code technology that has been implemented in NFT ticketing systems, this means that virtually no money will be lost by event organizers, and thus, no unhappy customers being scammed.

From the consumer’s perspective, there aren’t many differences between using an NFT ticket and a standard ticket. Like any other ticket, you simply scan its code and enter the event. But the greater security features will assure customers they aren’t being ripped off, and the pre, during, and post-event benefits that come along with an NFT ticket will be highly desirable.

After a ticket is scanned, the ticket becomes a collectible NFT in the ticket-holder’s Ethereum-based digital wallet. For one, it’s a unique souvenir that fans can keep to remember their experience of going to the event, but the NFT could provide value in and of itself. Trading and selling the collectible NFT after the event could continue its influence long after it is over.

Building a community with NFT ticketing

In addition to these utilities, NFT ticketing benefits from the feeling of community that is associated with going to events. For example, because concerts are generally attended by fans of the artists performing, attendees are relatively like-minded in their interests, creating a built-in audience for NFTs. Many NFT projects fail due to a lack of community support, but with NFT tickets, there is no need to build that community from scratch.

NFT ticketing also enables a safer, fairer secondary market, further establishing that sense of community and protection for the consumer against ticket scalping or fraud. Thanks to the built-in verification of blockchain, Consumers are able to buy tickets on the secondary market without worrying about whether or not they are legitimate. Furthermore, blockchain technology prevents massive purchasing transactions. thanks to its more easily verifiable record-keeping, meaning scalping in the secondary market is substantially reduced, if not outright eliminated.

These advantages offered by NFT tickets show the potential of the technology to make the consumer experience significantly better. Many NFT projects have failed because of their lack of utility — and thus, relevance — to the user and inability to form a community around them. NFT ticketing is not susceptible to either of these issues, making them the future of NFT technology.

Throughout his career as a marketer, Hunter Abramson has contributed to all aspects of experience, from cross-promotional marketing to operations to ticket sales. He always pushes the limits to create positive experiences for both the enterprise and the consumer. He is currently the co-founder and CEO of Relic Tickets, which aims to disrupt the ticketing industry with NFT tickets.This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@breakfast.media. The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

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