News Room

Our picks of the latest in local and national communications technology news.

News Updates:

Three Potential Black Swans for Telecom 2011 By Harold | January 10, 2011

Jan 13, 2011 The Columbia Journalism Review has launched the News Frontier Database with profiles of an initial 50 prominent digital news sites. The database "is a searchable, living, and ongoing documentation of digital news outlets across the country," the industry mag said. "Featuring originally reported profiles and extensive data sets on each outlet, the NFDB is a tool for those who study or pursue online journalism, a window into that world for the uninitiated, and, like any journalistic product, a means by which to shed light on an important topic." CJR aims to make the database "the most comprehensive resource of its kind." Read more

NEW DIGITAL DIVIDE [SOURCE: Associated Press, AUTHOR: Jesse Washington] When the personal computer revolution began decades ago, Latinos and blacks were much less likely to use one of the marvelous new machines. Then, when the Internet began to change life as we know it, these groups had less access to the Web and slower online connections — placing them on the wrong side of the "digital divide." Today, as mobile technology puts computers in our pockets, Latinos and blacks are more likely than the general population to access the Web by cellular phones, and they use their phones more often to do more things. But now some see a new "digital divide" emerging — with Latinos and blacks being challenged by more, not less, access to technology. It's tough to fill out a job application on a cellphone, for example. Researchers have noticed signs of segregation online that perpetuate divisions in the physical world. And blacks and Latinos may be using their increased Web access more for entertainment than empowerment. Fifty-one percent of Hispanics and 46% of blacks use their phones to access the Internet, compared with 33% of whites, according to a July 2010 Pew poll. Forty-seven percent of Latinos and 41% of blacks use their phones for e-mail, compared with 30% of whites. The figures for using social media like Facebook via phone were 36% for Latinos, 33% for blacks and 19% for whites. A greater percentage of whites than blacks and Latinos still have broadband access at home, but laptop ownership is now about even for all these groups, after black laptop ownership jumped from 34% in 2009 to 51% in 2010, according to Pew. benton.org/node/47735 | Associated Press

Will the iPad Help Close the Broadband Gap? [Source:10/15/10 by Bernie Arnason Telecompetitor.com] Arguments I hear from broadband carriers about broadband adoption rates, or lack thereof in certain communities,includes the fact that many people lack a computer at home and some people simply don’t want/need broadband. Pew Research supports one of these assertions with their latest market research on Americans and Their Gadgets, reporting 76% of Americans own a computer (laptop or PC). Read more

City of Portland Broadband Stategic Plan: 9/22/10 City Councilors say they'll approve a resolution Wednesday to jumpstart a Broadband Strategic Plan that probably will pinpoint specific goals, outline expenses and suggest ways to pay for high-speed infrastructure.

For the Poor, Cellphones Can Offer Lifeline [SOURCE: By Cecilia Kang Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, September 8, 2010] SEATTLE - For the world's poorest, cellphone technology carries opportunity, aid groups say, as text messages and other mobile applications have created a new platform to reach the most remote farms and crowded urban slums of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Read more

Is Apple Hijacking TV Everywhere? [SOURCE: Telecompetitor.com] Is TV Everywhere, the concept being pushed by the traditional pay TV industry as an answer to free over-the-top video, doomed before it really gets started? Or is it just evolving into a concept driven largely by Apple's influence? One argument made on a TV Everywhere panel that I attended at the recent Independent Show, made by Michael Quigley, VP of business development for Turner Broadcasting, said that ...Read more

Broadband Stimulus Program Cut by $302 Million [SOURCE: Telecompetitor.com] There's been a threat of a reduction in the total dollars available through the broadband stimulus program for over a month now. That threat has become reality, with President Obama signing into law a $26 billion fiscal aid package for the states to help them with their own budget issues. Part of the horse trading that happened with this bill is $302 million from ...Read more

GOOGLE'S PLEA FOR BROADBAND CONDUITS [SOURCE: ars technica, AUTHOR: Matthew Lasar] Since early February, over 1,100 communities have applied to be part of Google's experimental 1Gbps, open-access, fiber-to-the-home Internet service, including applicants who have promised to change the name of their town to Google (temporarily), name their expected twins after Google's co-founders (if they're boys), or train their puppy to bark "Google" (sort of) every time the phrase "high speed Internet" is mentioned. But while the search engine giant has yet to decide which of these applicants will win the 1Gbps prize, the company is trying to enroll all of them, and everybody else, in what amounts to an advocacy campaign "for common-sense federal and local policies that would help fiber deployments nationwide." All the details will show up on Google's new fiber-for-communities website, which will update the public on the project. The key components of this campaign include showing support for bills in the House and Senate that would require all new federally funded construction projects to include broadband conduit -- plastic pipe that can house fiber-optic communications cable. Google also wants cities to establish the same policies for construction projects that involve street work. benton.org/node/39302 | Ars Technica | GigaOm

FUTURE OF ONLINE VIDEO [SOURCE: Washington Post, AUTHOR: Cecilia Kang]
Comcast says it has no incentive to withhold NBC shows and channels from Internet distributors such as YouTube and Vuze because the company want as many eyeballs as possible. Comcast says that market is too young to regulate and that the Federal Communications Commission shouldn't impose conditions on the merged company that would force it to share NBC and Comcast channels with online video distributors. Even if it did keep competitors from getting their shows, "there is no basis for expecting withholding current NBCU networks from online providers could significantly harm the ability of an online provider to attract or retain subscribers," according to a Comcast online video report written by Mark Israel and Michael Katz. Indeed, the market for online video is dynamic. The number of videos online is booming. YouTube is still the top distributor of content, and in May it achieved a record level of viewing with 14.6 billion videos watched, according to Comscore. Eight out of 10 Internet users watched video online in May, and the average Hulu viewer watched 27 videos in May. But regulators and critics of the merger say that market is precisely where the FCC and Justice Department should place much of its attention.
benton.org/node/39317 | Washington Post

NATIONAL PRIVACY PLAN PROPOSED [SOURCE: Multichannel News, AUTHOR: John Eggerton] Consumer privacy groups want the Federal Trade Commission to come up with a privacy rights plan similar to the Federal Communications Commission's comprehensive National Broadband Plan. The FTC has held consumer privacy workshops toward the end of producing a report this fall, and groups including the Center for Digital Democracy, Consumers Union, ACLU. the Benton Foundation and Public Citizen, want bold statutory and regulatory recommendations. In a letter to FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz, they asked the agency to 1) establish a comprehensive privacy law that spells out consumer rights to personal information; 2) come up with specific regulations for information collection online by the ad industry; 3) look at location-based targeting and digital signage; and 4) make it easier for the public to understand the commission's enforcement actions and their significance. Others signing on to the letter were Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Watchdog, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Essential Information, National Consumers League, Privacy Lives, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Privacy Times, US PIRG, and the World Privacy Forum.benton.org/node/39311 | Multichannel News

RELIABLE BROADBAND [SOURCE: App-Rising.com, AUTHOR: Geoff Daily]: An interesting study by BroadbandChoices that suggested consumers care more about broadband reliability than speed. While our national broadband plan does touch on the issue of broadband reliability, suggesting it's a topic worth researching further and one that's essential for applications like public safety and smart grid, it's pretty much silent on the issue of whether or not America's broadband infrastructure is currently reliable enough. benton.org/node/37471 | App-Rising.com

IS BROADBAND A RIGHT? [SOURCE: GigaOm, AUTHOR: Stacey Higginbotham]:
In Finland, the Ministry of Transport and Communications said that as of July 1 the country's citizens have a basic right to broadband speeds of 1 Mbps and suggested that for operators who have to supply such a service a reasonable charge would be between 30 to 40 Euros ($36.70 and $48.90) per month. benton.org/node/37469 | GigaOm | Ministry of Transport and Communications

DISH SUES FCC [SOURCE: Las Vegas Sun, AUTHOR: Steve Green]: Satellite TV company DISH Network sued the Federal Communications Commission on July 1 in a bid to block enforcement of a law requiring it to carry the high definition programming of public television stations around the country. benton.org/node/37491 | Las Vegas Sun | Multichannel News

LOSING LIBRARIES [SOURCE: Los Angeles Times, AUTHOR: Marilyn Johnson]:
The U.S. is beginning an interesting experiment in democracy: We're cutting public library funds, shrinking our public and school libraries, and in some places, shutting them altogether. benton.org/node/37509 | Los Angeles Times

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