There is probably little doubt that the phrase “buzz kill” was invented to describe Washington, D.C. At a Nationals game last week, the ceremonial first pitch was tossed by…the acting administrator of the EPA. To be fair, it was Earth Day, and I do not intend any personal or professional affront to the acting administrator. But, only in Washington would bureaucracy be confused with celebrity.
I experienced another brush with the concept of substitution last week, also at Nationals Park. I took my family to the Nationals-Reds game, mostly because my former “hometown” Reds were in town. But, my enthusiasm for the Reds had dipped during a period of soulless management that coincided with the 1994/1995 strike, and the rebirth of baseball in D.C. over the past several years (and also energized by the Nats’ stunning regular season and wrenching post-season last year) made me somewhat ambivalent as I entered the first base gate. To the accurate meaning of the word, I had strong feelings in both directions: the white “C” on the Reds caps still affects me, yet on daily basis I still check for the Nationals scores first. An economist might ask whether (for me, at least) the Reds and Nats are effective substitutes. Read more
In a recently published letter, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office denied Apple’s request to trademark the term “iPad Mini,” ruling that “mini” merely describes small things.
It is an interesting piece of news, and also reminiscent of the fact that while many users identify their device correctly, many others refer to any tablet as an iPad, much the way we often seek a Kleenex for a runny nose or a Band-Aid for a bloody thumb: products that capture great shares of their respective market often become eponymous with the product.
Such confusion can become a double-edged sword. Manufacturers enjoy loads of “advertising,” but risk consumer confusion of second-rate products with the original.
A similar risk attend current FCC proceedings addressing IP-enabled networks. Within the industry, those with whom we agree and those with whom we do not agree recognize the distinction between “IP-enabled” and the Internet — the former refers to technical protocols and the latter refers to the interconnected system of networks and, colloquially, the apps, contents, and services that run across it. But more casual observers who deal in telecom regulation as well as any other number of legal or regulatory issues across multiple industries may from time to time equate “Internet Protocol” and the Internet. Read more
The FCC held a workshop last week focused on Gigabit Communities, with the goal of outlining how broadband providers can work with local and state leaders to deploy networks capable of delivering speeds of at least 1 gigabit per second to end-users. The workshop included proponents of privately owned systems, in addition to those involved in municipal systems and those deployed through public-private partnerships. Many of the issues discussed dovetail closely with matters highlighted by the Smart Rural Community initiative that NTCA has pursued for the past year.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski opened the workshop, noting that he had issued a “Gigabit City Challenge” in January while speaking to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. In that address, the Chairman challenged service providers and community leaders to establish at least one community with a gigabit-capable network in every state by 2015. Toward that end, the Chairman promised last week that the FCC would: Read more
Three-quarters of respondents to NTCA’s most recent broadband survey cited regulatory uncertainty as an impediment to broadband deployment, second only to deployment cost overall.
In spite of the uncertainty, 74% of respondents indicated they currently offer fiber to the home to some portion of their customer base, up from 64% in 2011. The pace of future deployment, however, may be in jeopardy.
The results of the survey of NTCA’s membership are collected in the “NTCA 2012 Broadband/Internet Availability Report.” Twenty-five percent of NTCA’s pre-OPASTO unification members responded to the survey, which was conducted in late 2012.
Rural communications providers are finding it increasingly difficult to gain access to fairly priced “must-have” video content. Every single respondent to the survey cited difficulty obtaining video programming at a reasonable cost as an impediment to the provision of video services.
There were some promising findings. Seven out of ten of respondents’ customers can receive broadband service of up to 6 Mbps; 51% between 6 and 10 Mbps; and 40% in excess of 10 Mbps. The overall broadband take rate for survey respondents was reported to be 69%, up from 66% in 2011.
Think Broadband draws our attention to as survey recently conducted by Halifax, which finds that 30% of UK residents report access to a “good” broadband signal is likely to affect their decision on whether to buy a home in a particular area. The survey defines “good” broadband at a minimal speed of 2 Mbps.
Thirty-two percent of people in urban areas say it is likely to affect their decision, compared to 25% of people in rural areas. Younger people are more likely to say it is likely to affect their decision, with 40% of 18-24 year olds compared to 24% of those aged 65 and over. And there is also a clear split along gender lines, with men (34%) more likely to say it is likely to affect their decision than women (26%).
Also of note, one fifth (20%) report that they would be prepared to pay more for the same home if it had good broadband. Read more
The results of a study posted recently by the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA) indicate that the average household can save $8,870 per year through the use of high-speed broadband Internet access to comparison-shop, make purchases, and engage in other transactions. The savings estimates ranged from a high of nearly $2,500 in average entertainment savings to $47 in annual costs of postage for paying bills.
IIA Founding Co-Chairman Bruce Mehlman commented, “These money-saving tactics are critical in a challenging economy and are contingent upon access to high-speed broadband. Transitioning to next-generation networks is crucial for all Americans to be able to make the Internet part of their financial strategy.” Read more
After Google’s July 26 announcement that it’s Kansas City (Kansas and Missouri) fiber to the home network, named Google Fiber, was ready to launch, there appear to be a few wrinkles that need to be ironed out. The company has lowered the number of customers who must pre-register for the neighborhoods – called “Fiberhoods” by Google – to qualify for the ultra fast Internet service.
Google requires interested residents of each” Fiberhood” to pre-register for service so that Google can determine demand before committing to installation of the Google Fiber network. Google set the thresholds at between five percent and 25 percent of identified homes committed as necessary to qualify for the services. The percentages differ by neighborhood based on density and the costs and difficulty of wiring the area. Read more