Technology

High-speed broadband networks with a safety net

It is hard to believe that next month marks one year since Superstorm Sandy slammed into the East Coast, flooding streets, tunnels and cutting power in many towns. Beyond causing $65 billion in damage, the storm highlighted the vulnerabilities of our aging telephone network and the broader need to modernize and upgrade our nation’s communications infrastructure to bring 21st Century services and capabilities to all Americans.

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Looking to the past to combat cyberthreats

It’s so obviously true as to be a cliché, that the Internet has revolutionized life as we know it. While it’s brought us conveniences that we would be hard-pressed to give up, cyberattacks are becoming an increasing problem for governments and corporations. Yet ironically, in spite of the novelty of these types of threats, experts are finding that old legal and policy tools are some of the best ways to fight cyberattacks.

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Disclosure’s unintended consequences

Pity Holly Paz, the senior IRS official who has become embroiled in the controversy over her agency’s targeting of conservative non-profits. According to her attorney, Paz and her family have been subject to threatening phone calls and in-person visits, and her son was even followed home after being dropped off by the school bus.

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Crafting a fact-based spectrum auction structure that benefits consumers

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering ways to structure its upcoming “incentive auctions” for a new block of low-frequency spectrum to be re-allocated from broadcast to wireless use.  At a recent hearing on Capitol Hill, Rep. Greg Walden (R-ore.) noted that “The U.S. wireless industry is facing a spectrum shortage…Such auctions can help make spectrum available to meet the growing demand from mobile broadband services.”

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Modernizing America’s communications lifeline

Late last month, the Pew Research Center released a major report on broadband adoption. The results were mixed. On the plus side, 70 percent of U.S. adults have now adopted wireline broadband in the home, which marks a statistically significant rise over the past year. When you factor in smartphone adoption, 80 percent of U.S. households are now connected to the Internet and more than 90 percent of adults under the age of 49 are online at home. That’s all good news. The problem is that means one in five Americans is not connected at home and low-income Americans remain disproportionately on the wrong side of this digital divide. Among families earning less than $30,000/year, one in three is completely offline, and barely half are connected if you remove smartphones from the equation.

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Lifeline is a hand up, not a handout

At a time when many working families have been left behind in the economic recovery, the Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline program has never been more vital – or misunderstood.  Lifeline provides a modest subsidy to low-income consumers to pay for basic telephone service, crucial access that would otherwise be unaffordable.

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Driving American innovation and growth for the next generation

On football fields and hockey rinks across the nation, an increasing number of mothers and fathers are receiving data on their smartphones – sent wirelessly from helmet sensors –  about whether their child has experienced a head impact that could result in a concussion requiring additional medical evaluation is necessary.  This emerging technology is but one example of a new wave of innovation that is forming – the connection of people, data, processes and things to the Internet.

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Public safety network demands successful wireless auctions

The horrific events of September 11, 2001 changed everything when it comes to public safety. In big cities and small towns across America, it was clear first responders needed an expanded toolbox to tackle 21st century threats. Most critically, the brave men and women responding to public safety crises needed better communications tools – they needed a nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network. The 9/11 Commission recommended the creation of such a network,, and yet, a decade later, there is still no dedicated nationwide public safety network for first responders. While first responders constantly modify and adapt public safety approaches, the communications technology that is the backbone to effective response is lagging dangerously behind.  Public safety needs 21st century communication technology.

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Public/private collaboration vital to realize the promise of the 'Internet of Things'

Every parent’s worst nightmares were realized recently when a hacker took control of a Houston couple’s home baby monitor and spewed obscenities at their daughter.
Unfortunately, for many people this outrage was their introduction to the Internet of Things (IoT), and it left many wondering whether the IoT will impose unacceptable privacy and security worries on people and businesses.

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We already have a National Broadband Plan

In his August 13 op-ed, Marco Antonio Lopez's stresses the importance of a national broadband plan for a country's economy. Good thing the Obama administration completed a National Broadband Plan (NBP) three years ago and is waist-deep in its implementation.

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