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  • Sylvia Moore 6:46 pm on December 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , julius genachowski, , mobile devices, , , , ,   

    Internet Freedom On the Line 

    On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission is set to vote on new rules that critics say could allow media conglomerates to decide whose content gets to be seen on the Internet and whose doesn’t. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is said to have the votes he needs to pass net neutrality regulation.

    Internet freedom advocates are blasting Genachowski and the Obama administration for reneging on a campaign promise that candidate Obama made, saying he would protect the Internet from corporate meddling. But, the proposed rules – which haven’t been made public – would let telecommunications companies block or slow down Web content accessed through wireless devices, advocates complain. Mobile devices, like smartphones and iPads, are poised to become the dominant medium through which people access the Web.

    Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, who has been a tireless advocate for net neutrality, wrote in The Huffington Post this morning that no less than our free speech and right to information is at stake:

    For many Americans — particularly those who live in rural areas — the future of the Internet lies in mobile services. But the draft Order would effectively permit Internet providers to block lawful content, applications, and devices on mobile Internet connections.

    Mobile networks like AT&T and Verizon Wireless would be able to shut off your access to content or applications for any reason. For instance, Verizon could prevent you from accessing Google Maps on your phone, forcing you to use their own mapping program, Verizon Navigator, even if it costs money to use and isn’t nearly as good. Or a mobile provider with a political agenda could prevent you from downloading an app that connects you with the Obama campaign (or, for that matter, a Tea Party group in your area).

    It gets worse. The FCC has never before explicitly allowed discrimination on the Internet — but the draft Order takes a step backwards, merely stating that so-called “paid prioritization” (the creation of a “fast lane” for big corporations who can afford to pay for it) is cause for concern.

    It sure is — but that’s exactly why the FCC should ban it. Instead, the draft Order would have the effect of actually relaxing restrictions on this kind of discrimination.

    Everyone who uses the Internet should make this issue a top priority. I can imagine a world where there is no protection against discrimination on the Internet, where the Web is no longer the dynamic and fascinating medium it is now. A world where people can only get the same old, tired crap offered on television and terrestrial radio. A world where dissent is drowned out or blacked out in favor of corporate propaganda and innovation is squashed in favor of ossification. A world where you may no longer get to read this blog. Hopefully, these new rules can be struck down, which is what an Internet law expert, interviewed below, predicts:

    Vodpod videos no longer available.

  • Will Coley 9:36 am on March 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , julius genachowski, National Broadband Plan   

    Video: FCC Chairman “Net Neutrality Essential in Minority Communities” 

    via Garlin Gilchrist of the Super Spade:

    FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski took questions about the recently-released National Broadband Plan (NBP) on YouTube Monday.

    We’ll be discussing this very issue at the L.A. Media Reform Summit on March 27. Register now!

  • Sylvia Moore 6:47 am on November 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , julius genachowski,   

    FCC Chair Genachowski Touts New National Broadband Plan 

    Ever since I found out in a business magazine a few years ago that South Koreans enjoyed much faster Internet connections than in the U.S., and pay less than we do, I’ve been cursing my DSL service. I had dial-up up until relatively recently, and when I got my new DSL modem, I thought it was so cutting edge. Oh, was I naive. Knowing that there’s something better out there, I now feel like I’m operating in the technological Dark Ages.

    Even factoring in faster cable modems, the U.S. is painfully behind other industrialized countries. The average connection speed in the U.S. is a tortoise-like 5.1 megabits per second (mpbs), compared with 20.4 mpbs in South Korea, according to Speed Matters, a group that advocates for more affordable broadband for all Americans. The U.S. is behind Japan, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany and even some eastern European countries like Latvia, Lithuania and the Balkans. In other words, if you want to purchase and download your favorite summer blockbuster in high-definition, you’ll be waiting several hours, instead of minutes if you were living abroad. We’re still driving horses and buggies, while other countries are zipping around in Ferraris. For the country that invented the Internet and launched the computer age from Silicon Valley, this is embarrassing. I wonder if many Americans – living in a society that thinks it’s number one at everything – even know how far behind we are.

    We’re at this point for a couple of reasons: not enough investment in upgrading our broadband infrastructure and the lack of a national policy that promotes high-speed broadband. But that’s changing. The change in administrations last January has brought a new makeup to the Federal Communications Commission. Julius Genachowski, the former technology executive who was sworn in as FCC chairman in June, says his goal is to boost America’s global competitiveness by improving the country’s broadband infrastructure. The FCC will be rolling out a National Broadband Plan in February 2010, and Genachowski says it will focus on three issues: deploying broadband in underserved communities such as rural areas; helping the approximately 40% of Americans who don’t use broadband adopt it; and developing a strategy to use broadband to make innovations in education, healthcare, energy and public safety. Genachowski says this policy will further economic growth and help create jobs. See below this recent interview with Genachowski discussing the new plan:

    Having a faster Internet will not only make it easier to upload your favorite photos onto social networking sites, but will make it possible to take university classes online in real time via teleconferencing, allow medical providers to conduct procedures remotely, and let people stream high-definition video. The FCC’s plan sounds very exciting, but I’m also hoping the high cost of broadband in the U.S. will be addressed. At anywhere from $30 to upwards of $200 a month, broadband is unaffordable for those with low incomes. That just exacerbates the digital divide and leaves opportunities out of reach for many. It’s unfair to have to pay such high prices for slower service compared with other countries. The higher prices are a result of too little competition among telecommunications companies, as explained in this article from the New York Times.

    Still, faster broadband means nothing if Internet service providers are allowed to choose what content can be accessed at the faster speeds. So it’s reassuring to hear Genachowski affirm his support for net neutrality – a free and open Internet that doesn’t discriminate. If you’d like to express your opinion about net neutrality, go to the FCC’s public comments page, OpenInternet.gov.

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