David Kirkpatrick

September 21, 2009

New America Foundation supports the latest in net neutrality

Hot from the inbox and this blog:

Chief Technologist, Robb Topolski, Applauds FCC Net Neutrality Announcement

Washington, DC, September 21, 2009 – Today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski announced his intention to pursue concrete Network Neutrality policies and rules governing American’s Connections to the Internet.
“We applaud that the FCC will be taking the necessary steps to continue freedom and openness for all Internet users,” said Robb Topolski, Chief Technologist at the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative. In 2007, Topolski, then a network products developer, discovered Comcast Corporation secretly blocking his peer-to-peer transfers of public domain barbershop quartet music and memorabilia. His testing and results were independently reproduced by the Associated Press and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, reigniting the Net Neutrality debate.  Following an investigation, the FCC ordered Comcast to disclose all of its network management techniques and to stop blocking peer-to-peer file transfers of lawful content.
To preserve and encourage freedom, openness, and investment, the Chairman proposed:
1) Adopting the four principles defined in the 2005 Internet Policy Statement into rules
2) Adding two new principles including:  A fifth principle stating that broadband providers cannot discriminate against particular Internet content or applications and a sixth principle requiring that providers of broadband Internet access be transparent about their network management practices
3) A determination that these principles apply to the Internet however accessed (wired or wireless).
The FCC’s move is expected to encourage investment in both Internet infrastructures and applications.  For example, Venture Capitalists will not have to wonder if they’ll need the permission of the nation’s ISPs to develop applications on the Internet.  “ISPs won’t be able to cut costs by blocking traffic, nor will they be able to generate revenues by degrading everything else,” explained Topolski, referring to the capabilities now available to ISPs such as Deep-Packet Inspection (DPI) devices to monetize traffic on last-mile Internet connections.  “This means that investment dollars will return to real infrastructure upgrades that produce actual bandwidth improvements.”
The Open Technology Initiative of the New America Foundation formulates policy and regulatory reforms to support open architectures and open source innovations and facilitates the development and implementation of open technologies and communications networks. OTI is a founder of measurementlab.net, a platform that helps users test their broadband connections and helps researchers analyze trends from the data.  Consumers and researchers are invited to use www.measurementlab.net.

About the New America Foundation
The New America Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States.

July 16, 2009

Google, New America Foundation and public opinion on the National Broadband Plan

A release from today’s inbox:

For Immediate Release

July 16, 2009 

As part of the economic stimulus legislation (ARRA), Congress charged the FCC with creating a National Broadband Plan by next February.
The Commission has called for “maximum civic engagement” in developing a broadband strategy, reflecting input from all stakeholders.  Initial comments have been filed and now it’s the public’s turn to contribute their views and ideas.
To encourage public input, the New America Foundation is joining forces with Google to launch a Google Moderator page to aggregate public opinion on this critical policy issue. Google Moderator provides the general public with a forum to submit and vote on ideas you think the Commission should include in its National Broadband Plan.
After two weeks, Google and NAF will take the most popular and most innovative ideas and submit them to the official record at the FCC on your behalf.
We hope you will post your views on Google Moderator – and also forward this to your contacts and constituents. 
We can all help answer the FCC’s call for input from stakeholders ‘outside the beltway,’ including “industry, American consumers; large and small businesses; federal, state, local, and tribal governments; and disabled communities.”  
Among the key elements of a national broadband plan under consideration:

  • The most effective and efficient ways to ensure ubiquitous broadband access for all Americans;
  • Strategies for achieving affordability and maximum utilization of broadband infrastructure and services;
  • Evaluation of the status of broadband deployment, including the progress of related grant programs;
  • How to use broadband to advance consumer welfare, civic participation, public safety and homeland security, community development, health care delivery, energy efficiency, education, worker training, entrepreneurial activity, job creation and other national purposes.

As Commissioner Michael Copps noted, “Broadband can be the great enabler that . . . opens doors of opportunity for all Americans to pass through, no matter who they are, where they live, or the particular circumstances of their individual lives.”  A national broadband plan promises far-reaching consequences for economic growth and equal opportunity across all sectors for decades to come.
You can join the discussion at: http://moderator.appspot.com/#16/e=a4977 

New America’s Wireless Future Program develops and advocates policy proposals aimed at achieving universal and affordable wireless broadband access, expanding public access to the airwaves and updating our nation’s communications infrastructure in the digital era. For more information, visit http://www.newamerica.net/programs/wireless_future.
About the New America Foundation
The New America Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States.

July 7, 2009

New America Foundation and the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program

Hot from the inbox.

The release:

For Immediate Release

July 7, 2009


New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative Offers Recommendations for the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program

NAF’s Open Technology Initiative, in partnership with the Columbia Telecommunications Corporation, has released a memorandum with analysis, strategic guidance, policy concerns, and recommendations on the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).
The memorandum includes the latest developments in the BTOP and how they will impact applicants. It also gives strategic recommendations on activities to undertake to maximize the chances of being funded and precautionary steps to take during the application process.

The memorandum also discusses policy concerns surrounding how the BTOP is being implemented and why it does not, in many ways, live up to promises established by the ARRA.
Click here for full text of the memorandum.
About the Open Technology Initiative
The Open Technology Initiative (OTI) formulates policy and regulatory reforms to support open architectures and open source innovations and facilitates the development and implementation of open technologies and communications networks.
About the New America Foundation
The New America Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States.

June 26, 2009

Broadband access news from New America Foundation

Hot from the inbox, here’s a set of links from the New America Foundation on spectrum scarcity (or lack thereof) and broadband access. Lots to ponder from a very useful think tank.

As the FCC begins its year-long process to recommend a National Broadband Plan, one starting point is to unlock publicly-owned spectrum assets that can facilitate ubiquitous, affordable broadband access.  Public policy seems stymied by the myth that spectrum is scarce. In reality, only government permission to access the airwaves (licenses) is scarce – spectrum capacity itself is barely used in most locations and at most times. This underutilized spectrum represents enormous, untapped,capacity for pervasive broadband connectivity.  


On Thursday, June 25th, New America’s Wireless Future Program released four new papers outlining several technology and policy reforms to enable dynamic, opportunistic access to these underutilized spectrum resources:


The End of Spectrum Scarcity: Building on the TV Bands Database to Access Unused Public Airwaves

By Michael Calabrese, Director, Wireless Future Program


This paper recommends that the Obama administration and the FCC make mapping and actively facilitating opportunistic access to unused and underutilized frequency bands a priority as part of any national broadband policy through: 1) A White House-led initiative to conduction an Inventory of the Airwaves that maps how our public spectrum resource is being utilized or underutilized in various bands, by both commercial and government users; 2) build on the TV Bands Database to include frequency bands not being used at particular locations or times;  and, 3) commence a set of inquiries into the technologies, incentives, institutional arrangements and “rules of the road” that can best facilitate a future of more open, intensive and opportunistic sharing of the nation’s spectrum resource.


You can read the paper here.


Revitalizing the Public Airwaves: Opportunistic Unlicensed Reuse of Government Spectrum

By Victor Pickard and Sascha D. Meinrath, Director, Open Technology Initiative  


The paper proposes a “third way” for the airwaves: opportunistic reuse of government spectrum on an open and unlicensed basis.  One-time auctions are no longer the best way to ensure the advancement of new technologies and expanded broadband access for underserved areas. The paper concludes with a series of policy recommendations for implementing opportunistic reuse of government spectrum. By exploring models for spectrum management that take advantage of technological innovations, the paper aims to initiate a policy debate on spectrum reforms with profound implications for the future of communications.  

You can read the paper here.


New Approaches to Private Sector Sharing of Federal Government Spectrum  

By Michael J. Marcus, Principal, Marcus Spectrum Solutions LLC 


Although the military currently shares radar bands with users of low-power, unlicensed devices, it does so in a overly limited and entirely passive way. Advances in spectrum sharing technologies allow more intensive and efficient sharing of underutilized federal bands with the private sector — and among federal agencies — if only the government would adopt a more affirmative policy and upgrade its technologies and protocols.  Unfortunately, the current federal spectrum management system provides little incentive to allow sharing of existing federal spectrum.    

You can read the paper here.


A Potential Alliance for World-Wide Dynamic Spectrum Access: DSA as an Enabler of National Dynamic Spectrum Management

By Preston F. Marshall, Director, Information Sciences Institute, Viterbi School of Engineering, USC and Former Program Manager, DARPA‘s NeXt Generation Communications 


The paper describes how Dynamic Spectrum Access (DSA) technologies can greatly benefit incumbent federal and non-federal spectrum users – and are a win-win for the military in particular. Marshall highlights four erroneous preconceptions about DSA that create unnecessary resistance among spectrum incumbents who could benefit from moving to a more dynamic and networked approach to spectrum access. In particular, while there is tension between the advocates and military authorities in considering sharing spectrum within the United States, there may be mutual interest in obtaining access for DSA devices internationally.  Marshall also urges advocates of dynamic spectrum access to  adopt a more nuanced approach that does not seek to supplant spectrum management nor incumbents.


You can read the paper here.


The Wireless Future Program also hosted a companion event, with a panel of experts including the above authors, along with Wharton School Professor Kevin Werbach, who co-led the Obama Administration’s FCC Transition review,  and Tom Stroup, CEO of Shared Spectrum Company.


You can download audio and video from the event here.




New America’s Wireless Future Program develops and advocates policy proposals aimed at achieving universal and affordable wireless broadband access, expanding public access to the airwaves and updating our nation’s communications infrastructure in the digital era. For more information, visit http://www.newamerica.net/programs/wireless_future.

About the New America Foundation
The New America Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States.

January 22, 2009

Building a broadband superhighway

The New America Foundation has an interesting position paper out on utilizing some of the infrastructure stimulus spending. Interesting and at first glance looks like a great idea for a number of reasons.

This is from an email sent by the think tank:

Last Friday the New America Foundation hosted a debate on proposals to spur investment in broadband in the upcoming economic stimulus bill. There were clear differences on how best to encourage investment and the merits of placing conditions on federal subsidies, which you can view at the video highlights below.

New America also released a paper by Benjamin Lennett and Sascha Meinrath, focusing on a long-term approach to broadband investment. Building a 21st Century Broadband Superhighway seeks to leverage federal spending on traditional infrastructure (road, bridges and possibly railways) to create a fully interconnected, public access fiber infrastructure to bring high-speed connectivity to nearly every community.

The hundreds of billions that will be spent over the next few years to rebuild the nation’s crumbling transportation infrastructure provide a unique opportunity for the U.S. to extend critical middle-mile fiber connections, at an incremental cost to taxpayers. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that 90 percent of the cost deploying fiber in public rights of way along roadways is associated with digging up and repairing the road to install the buried fiber. Thus, the U.S. has a tremendous opportunity to leverage the construction, repairing, and upgrading of the nation’s infrastructure that will already occur to deploy fiber at a fraction of the cost of typical deployments. 

The paper calls for the federal government to fund and mandate the installation of conduit and high-capacity, dark fiber bundles along all federally-subsidized and direct federal highway projects. The approach offers a cost-effective and sustainable means to build the middle-mile wholesale fiber links necessary to facilitate high-speed broadband deployment by all providers; creating a foundation for universal and affordable broadband access, improving competition, increasing speeds and lowering prices.   

You can download a copy of the paper at:
http://www.newamerica.net/publications/policy/building_21st_century_broadband_superhighway .

And this is the conclusion of the paper:

The Interstate Highway System and broader National Highway System serve as the backbone of transportation and commerce in the United States. A 21st Century Broadband Superhighway would serve as the backbone for communication and commerce in the 21st century.  Given the nation’s current woeful standing in terms of broadband adoption, availability, speeds, and prices compared to other developed nations, a dramatic intervention is necessary to maintain U.S. technological and economic competitiveness. 

It was federal leadership and funding that helped build ARPANET and NSFNET, the research networks that served as the foundation for the Internet. Once again, it will take a national effort to regain our technological standing.  The U.S. needs a sustained broadband build-out effort that brings the necessary infrastructure to communities across the country and provides the speeds and capacity to meet, not just the communication needs of today, but the demands of tomorrow.  Mandating and funding the deployment of high-speed, open access fiber bundles along all Federal-aid highway and direct Federal highway projects offers a cost-effective and sustainable means to achieve these goals, bringing high-speed connectivity to nearly every community and providing the foundation for universal, affordable access to high-speed broadband.


October 16, 2008

Selling the “white space” for broadband — pro and con

On the pro side of the argument is the Federal government. Here’s a Technology Review article on the subject.

From the link:

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday proposed opening up unused portions of the television airwaves known as “white spaces” to deliver wireless broadband service.

The proposal by FCC chief Kevin Martin appeals to public interest groups and many of the nation’s biggest technology companies, including Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp., which hope it will bring affordable high-speed Internet connections to more Americans.

“No one should ever underestimate the potential that new technologies and innovations may bring to society,” Martin said in a statement.

That article contains a few contrarian views, such as these two:

His plan could run into opposition from the nation’s big television broadcasters, which have argued that the use of the fallow spectrum to deliver wireless Internet services could disrupt their over-the-air signals. The National Association of Broadcasters had no immediate comment.

Shure Inc., a manufacturer of wireless microphones, has also raised concerns about interference with audio systems at concerts and sporting events.

For even more detail on the con side of this issue, check out this New America Foundation paper. This link goes to the summary with a link to the full report in PDF format at the bottom of the page.

October 13, 2008

RIAA losing battles and already lost war

I’ve done some blogging on the RIAA and MPAA copyright battles. I love the entertainment industries, but these organizations are doing much more harm than good suing ordinary people and flailing about in death throes.

And even the base strategy is a losing propostion. I think the war is long over even if both are still fighting.

From the second link, a New America Foundation analysis:

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has been taking a lot of people to court–basically, harassing folks in an attempt to curb file-sharing. The $220,000 verdict against Jammy Thomas got a lot of news (and probably worried a lot of folks). However, on appeal (i.e., after a new court not cherry-picked by the RIAA to try the case looked things over), the RIAA lost… again. ZDnet covered the verdict.

At its heart, the verdict reaffirms that simply making a copyrighted work available is not the same as actually distributing the work. In other words, copyright holders actually have to show harm before they can sue the pants off of people. More importantly, it lends yet more weight to the notion that our copyright laws are woefully out of date and that the RIAA has systematically overstepped the legal bounds of its authority under existing copyright law.

September 2, 2008

Fiscal voter’s guide from New America Foundation

Filed under: et.al., Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 7:23 pm

Here’s a link to a fiscal voter’s guide from the think tank, New America Foundation. Follow the link to a page where you can download the 743.17 KB PDF file.

From the link:

Promises, Promises: A Fiscal Voter Guide to the 2008 Election

The United States faces serious fiscal challenges. Large budget deficits have returned, and shifting demographics along with growing health care costs are putting intense pressure on the long-term federal budget outlook. Over time, sustained deficits will weaken the economy and adversely affect the American standard of living.

The two major political parties’ presidential candidates are campaigning on a lengthy list of policy initiatives, most of which would have significant impact on the federal budget. While not all of these proposals will become law, they do reflect the candidates’ values and priorities, and the policies each candidate is likely to pursue once in office. In addition to these new initiatives, a number of outstanding tax and budget issues exist that will need to be addressed, such as which of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts should be made permanent, how to fix the Alternative Minimum Tax, what to do about growing entitlement spending, how to control health care cost growth, and how to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The next president will face difficult fiscal challenges. It is therefore critical that voters understand the potential budgetary impacts of the candidates’ plans.

US Budget Watch’s report, Promises, Promises: A Fiscal Voter Guide to the 2008 Election, will help voters find their way through the thicket of policy proposals put forward by the likely Republican candidate for president, Senator John McCain, and the likely Democratic candidate for president, Senator Barack Obama. It presents a capsule summary of the candidates’ major policy proposals and includes an estimate of the likely fiscal impact of each proposal. The guide is not intended to express a view for or against either candidate or any specific policy proposal.

See the full report in the PDF below.

June 26, 2008

Broadband, the US and the future

The New America Foundation — a think tank self-described as investing in, “new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of critical challenges facing the United States” — hosted a forum on broadband in the US.

Here’s a quick description from an email I received from the group:

On Monday New America’s Wireless Future Program hosted a policy forum highlighting the critical need for developing an affirmative national broadband strategy to keep the U.S. prosperous in the 21st Century.  We also released a new Issue Brief, by NAF’s Benjamin Lennett, that explains how unlicensed access to TV band ‘white space’ will give a big boost to rural broadband.  

Here’s a link to a PDF of the report’s executive summary.

Update — this post was initially only going to cover the NAF forum, but here’s some interesting broadband news via KurzweilAI.net:

Time reversal allows wireless broadband under the sea
New Scientist news service, June 25, 2008

Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and NATO Undersea Research Center have developed an “acoustic time reversal” technique that boosts underwater wireless broadband speed by up to three times, or extends the range up to 3500 km.

The system compensates for reduced signal/noise ratio due to phase-delay artifacts from surface and sea-bottom echoes. A receiver first transmits an acoustic carrier signal. The sender then time-reverses what they receive, and also modulates the signal to carry a message.

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