Federal regulators have shot down a proposal by a startup called M2Z Networks Inc. to build a free, nationwide wireless broadband network using a spare slice of airwaves, reports the Associated Press. The Federal Communications Commission on Sept. 1 said it has rejected M2Z’s request that the agency demand that the winner of an auction for the radio spectrum provide free internet service to anyone who connects to it. That condition would have mirrored M2Z’s business model of offering free basic wireless broadband access—with speeds of up to 768 kilobits per second—that would be supported by advertising in addition to a faster, premium service. “We gave careful and thorough consideration to the proposal, but ultimately determined that this was not the best policy outcome,” Ruth Milkman, head of the FCC’s wireless bureau, said in a statement. The FCC did not explain its rejection further. M2Z’s plan had encountered resistance from T-Mobile USA and other big wireless carriers, which warned that it would interfere with their own services……Read More
The adoption of high-speed internet service in homes has slowed to a crawl this year after a decade of rapid growth, reports the Associated Press—and it looks as if broadband is going to be a tough sell for those who don’t already have it. The Pew Internet & American Life Project said 66 percent of U.S. adults now use broadband at home, up from 63 percent last year. The difference is not statistically significant. Leichtman Research Group issued a separate report that said cable TV and phone companies added a net 336,000 broadband subscribers in the April-June period, fewer than in any quarter in the last nine years. Of the adults Pew surveyed, 53 percent said they didn’t believe the spreading of affordable broadband access should be a major government priority. That fits in with previous Pew surveys, which have shown that most people who don’t have internet service at home just aren’t interested in it, particularly if they’re over the age of 64. A minority don’t have it because it’s too expensive or not available at all. The Federal Communications Commission’s national broadband plan, released in March, found that 14 million to 24 million Americans do not have access to broadband. The plan, mandated by last year’s stimulus bill, lays out a roadmap for bringing high-speed connections to all Americans. FCC spokeswoman Jen Howard said the Pew report confirms there are still too many barriers to broadband adoption. The agency’s plan includes “digital literacy” initiatives to educate people about the ways that broadband can improve their lives. The Pew survey found one group that has signed up for broadband at a rapid pace in the past year: blacks. Last year, 46 percent of them used broadband at home. This year, the figure was 56 percent, meaning they’re closing the gap with Americans at large, but there’s still room for further gains……Read More
U.S. schools, businesses, and consumers might get more options in wireless service starting next year, with the launch of a new wireless broadband network that aims to provide competition to the incumbent phone companies, reports the Associated Press. Private-equity firm Harbinger Capital Partners on July 20 revealed details of the launch of its wireless network, LightSquared, which should cover 92 percent of the population by 2015. But there are financial and regulatory hurdles to overcome. And in another wrinkle, LightSquared won’t initially be offering conventional cell-phone service, just data. It’s possible to send phone calls over data connections, but that technology is not fully mature or standardized. Still, LightSquared represents a rare new entrant in the wireless market. Only two other companies, Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc., have firm plans to build nationwide networks using the same, fourth-generation network technology that LightSquared will use. Sprint Nextel Corp., through its Clearwire Corp. subsidiary, is building a third one with a different 4G technology that’s likely to get less support from equipment makers. Consumers won’t buy service directly from LightSquared. Instead, it will sell access wholesale to other companies that can resell it to consumers. LightSquared plans to start providing service in the second half of 2011 in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Denver, and Baltimore……Read More
Upgrading the federal e-Rate program to provide more connectivity to schools and libraries, removing the barriers to online learning so that more students can take advantage, and unlocking the power of data to personalize learning and improve school decision-making are three key recommendations to help education prosper under the National Broadband Plan that will be released next month, Federal Communication Commission (FCC) officials said during a Feb. 18 broadband meeting.
Meanwhile, the FCC took its first step toward changing the e-Rate’s rules to make it a better vehicle for delivering broadband access to all citizens: A Feb. 18 FCC order allows school systems to let members of their community use e-Rate funded infrastructure after school hours for the 2010 program year.
At the agency’s broadband meeting, officials revealed what they called “working recommendations” for the broadband plan in sectors such as education, health care, government, security, and job training.…Read More
Roughly 40 percent of Americans do not have high-speed internet access at home, according to new Commerce Department figures that reinforce what some educators believe is causing some students to fall behind.
“There’s lots of talk about digital literacy. That’s something that should be built into the curriculum,” said Charles Benton, chairman and CEO of the Benton Foundation.
“The three R’s alone are not sufficient for today’s needs. We’ve got to be using today’s tools. It’s an old point, but we’ve got to keep beating that drum until we get the funding.”…Read More
Google Inc. plans to build a handful of experimental, ultra-fast internet networks around the country to ensure that tomorrow’s systems can keep up with online video and other advanced applications that the company will want to deliver. The internet search giant’s plans could help rural schools and colleges hoping to expand broadband web access to students and faculty.
The Google project, announced Feb. 10, is also intended to provide a platform for outside developers to create and try out all sorts of cutting-edge applications that will require far more bandwidth than today’s networks offer.
The company said its fiber-optic broadband networks will deliver speeds of 1 gigabit per second to as many as 500,000 Americans.…Read More
To help provide broadband access to more citizens, the Federal Communications Commission should expand the eligible uses of e-Rate discounts to include after-school programs and community centers, many school leaders and education groups say—but only if the $2.25 billion-a-year funding cap also is raised.
The federal stimulus package that Congress passed last year directed the FCC to submit a National Broadband Plan to lawmakers by Feb. 17, but FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has asked for a one-month extension so the agency can comb through the vast number of public comments it has received over the past year as it has gathered input on how to make universal broadband a reality.
Several dozen of those comments come from education stakeholders, who responded to the FCC’s call for feedback on how it might leverage the e-Rate in its national plan.…Read More