The top 10 ed-tech stories of 2010: No. 3

The national broadband plan that federal regulators delivered to Congress in March doesn’t go far enough to satisfy some experts, who warn that the United States would still trail other industrialized nations in prices and speed, reports the Associated Press. That’s because the proposal fails to bring adequate competition to a duopoly broadband market now controlled by giant phone and cable TV companies, critics say.

According to the New America Foundation, a 100-megabit broadband connection costs as little $16 per month in Sweden and $24 per month in Korea, while service that is only half that fast costs $145 per month in the U.S. “What I want is big bandwidth for cheap prices,” said Sascha Meinrath, director of the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative. “But the plan punts on competition.”

One development that could help spur broadband expansion is the opening up of television “white spaces” for use as high-speed internet conduits. The FCC voted unanimously Sept. 23 to allow the use of these so-called “white spaces” between TV stations to deliver broadband connections that can function like Wi-Fi networks on steroids. The agency is calling the new technology “super Wi-Fi” and hopes to see devices with the new technology start to appear within a year.

Education officials also will be closely watching the agency’s efforts to enforce “net neutrality,” which has important implications for schools. By a 3-2 vote in December, the FCC passed new rules meant to prevent internet service providers from discriminating against certain types of online content, with all three of the commission’s Democrats voting for the measure and both Republicans voting against it. The new rules might not be the safeguard that schools and colleges were hoping for, however, as net-neutrality supporters believe the new policy might lead to “bidding wars” that could leave smaller schools without access to a high-speed web connection.

Related links:

Education goals in National Broadband Plan revealed

FCC survey shows need to teach internet basics

FCC announces Children’s Agenda for broadband

National Broadband Plan focuses on e-Rate, online learning

Competition missing from broadband plan, some say

Pennsylvania establishes first statewide Digital Learning Library

Could net-neutrality ruling hinder online education?

Public access to school computers raises questions

FCC aims to simplify e-Rate, expand funding

FCC votes to reconsider broadband regulations

Feds to create an Online Learning Registry

Net-neutrality agreement sparks concerns

Opinion: Corporate policy making would result in a net loss

FCC seeks input on rules for online services

Coming soon: ‘Super Wi-Fi’ connectivity?

e-Rate gets facelift with wireless pilot, community access

FCC opens up unused TV signals for broadband

House Democrats punt on net neutrality

e-Rate administrator: New rules should help fund more applicants

Troubling gaps still exist in broadband use

New report highlights barriers to online learning

FCC to vote on net neutrality rules

Education disappointed by net-neutrality ‘loopholes’

eSchool News Staff

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