Monday, March 30, 2009

Community Assessment Guides

So you're busy trying to figure out how to get your hands on some of that $7.2 billion in broadband stimulus money. But, you know you're going to have to figure out where your community ranks and how to fit in with evaluation criteria the BTOP and RUS folks create.

Look no further -- we have a good start on what you need. At the link above, in item number 4, you'll find two different assessment guides. One's little bit smaller than the other but both can help you get a sense of the important communities -- -- education, government, healthcare, and public safety -- -- when you're trying to define where broadband services are needed in your community.

And don't forget, FirstMile.US's recently published report: A Comprehensive Determination of Broadband Deployment to Designate Unserved and Underserved Communities Using Fact-based Measurement Criteria.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Open Networks Key to Broadband Deployment in Underserved U.S.

[ I participated in this Big Think. Incredible experience.]

“Big Think” International Team Declares Open Networks Cost Less and Create Naturally Competitive Markets

March 27, 2009 Bucketty, Australia An international team of telecommunications experts has weighed in the current debates on US broadband policies. Their “big picture” idea -- open networks -- can, if brought into practice, bring positive and transformative change to America’s communications infrastructure, and, indeed, the large swaths of social and economic activity that rely on that infrastructure, particularly in the underserved rural areas.

“We are not suggesting some radical new experiment in regulatory philosophy,” said Paul Budde, leader of the Big Think team. “The idea of open networks is already deeply embedded in the U.S. communications regulatory framework. We are suggesting a return to traditional regulatory concepts and values that have served the U.S. well for many decades, both in communications regulation and elsewhere.”

The 19-page report outlines how open networks can:
  • Unlock the potential for economic growth
  • Operate with greater efficiency and permit higher levels of beneficial economic and technological activity
  • Encourage increased productive use of all infrastructures
  • Utilize principles that are simpler and more transparent and result in less regulatory requirements
  • Require significantly less public funding
  • Provide a cost effective means for building expensive rural infrastructure
The report has been produced by an international team of telecommunications experts from the following countries: America, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and the United Kingdom. This group is composed of strategists, economists, attorneys, technologists, representatives of national and international telecommunication organisations and telecommunications company directors.

The full paper is available at URL here.

For more information and/or comments from experts:

75.5 percent of the total US internet audience viewed online video

The folks at Marketing Charts provided a nice summary of US Internet online video habits. Pretty amazing. Check out the full article for more.

"February online video statistics:

  • 75.5 percent of the total US internet audience viewed online video.
  • The average online video viewer watched 312 minutes of video (more than 5 hours)
  • 98.8 million viewers watched 5.3 billion videos on (53.8 videos per viewer).
  • 41.2 million viewers watched 384 million videos on (8.5 videos per viewer).
  • The duration of the average online video was 3.5 minutes."

Examining Broadband Demand and Access with GIS

Geospatial Solutions Magazine has an article this month on the GIS aspects of a Redwood Coast Connect broadband mapping project. The article discusses the complexities of broadband mapping for rural areas.

[I participated in this project and utilized the maps extensively for both analysis and for posting synthesized results.]

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

AT&T Breakup 25th Anniversary Event Videos Available for Viewing

The Internet Society New York's chapter has made available a fascinating set of videos of America and its broadband status from a historical perspective.

The videos are an archive of the March 2008 event: AT&T Breakup 25th Anniversary.

"The goal of this conference was to outline the history of the last 25 years, discuss the current market issues, then give a view of the future of broadband and telecom in the US that has been mostly untold in the media. It is a future that leads to ubiquitous, very high speed networks based on an infrastructure that is open to all competitors — giving customers choice, lower prices and new quality products and innovative services. And widely acknowledged as critical for long term economic growth."

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hispanics 211% More Likely to Download Digital Content

The folks at Marketing Charts have provided a great summary of a report from Scarborough on The Power of the Hispanic Consumer Online.

"The study also found that Hispanic internet usage overall has reached a critical mass. The majority (54%) of Hispanics are now online, and internet access among Hispanic adults has increased 13% since 2004. In contrast, internet access by all consumers nationally grew only 8% during this time period."

Now that critical mass has been reached, perhaps we can see more Hispanic-focused Internet applications that will drive adoption and be attractive to Hispanics with lower income.

Full PDF report:

Monday, March 16, 2009

Underserved, Unserved - How to Measure

We at FirstMile.US just posted a new document called A Comprehensive Determination of Broadband Deployment to Designate Unserved and Underserved Communities Using Fact-based Measurement Criteria

This was a revamp of a set of criteria developed in 2008 for creating a regional ranking of unserved and underserved communities in California's rural north coast area. I encourage you to take a look at the 5 significant criteria we determined as useful in ranking:
  1. Number of service providers
  2. Price
  3. Coverage
  4. Upload and download speed
  5. Backhaul/Middle Mile availability
The report is intended to be a self-help document for regions trying to convey a deep understanding of their broadband situation.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Home Access Internet Study Available at Nielsen

Marketing Charts reports the availability of a new study available from the Nielsen research folks. I recommend that you read the summary then the full report if you have the time.

“Our findings indicate that there remains opportunity for growth in internet access in the US. Indeed, President Obama stated during the campaign that we had to view broadband internet access the same way we did telephone service and electricity - an essential utility available to all regardless of economic status,” said Steve McGowan, SVP of insights and client research initiatives at Nielsen. “But part of the challenge in extending web access to all Americans is the fact that there are more homes without computers, than there are homes with computers but lacking internet access.”

Marketing Charts summary of the report is here:

The full report is available here:

Google Voice

MarketingVOX reports that Google Voice is opening to the public very soon. This is a revamp of a broadband unified messaging service called Grand Central. As a long-time user of Grand Central, I predict this new application will be a favorite of many and just might be a good tipping-point incentive application for people who haven't yet adopted broadband. Current Grand Central users can upgrade now.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Shopping for Broadband from Consumer Reports

A reprint from Consumer Reports in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is a nice "how-to-choose-services" article including broadband. Good, solid advice. Definitely worth sharing if you want to help your unconnected friends and relatives.

5.4 Million New Broadband Subscribers in 2008

Om Malik reports that broadband growth slowed in 2008 -- still grew, but much slower than previous years. While this is not a big shock considering the economy, it is worthy to look at the actual numbers -- total growth from the telephone companies and cable companies was 5.4M connections for the entire year. This does not include mobile wireless, WISPs or other "alternate" broadband connectivity.

In California, an aggressive in-state public awareness campaign will begin soon -- the goal is million new broadband connections by June 2010. I'll keep you posted of details in future postings.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Video Rules - YouTube tops 100M viewers

The folks at MarketingVOX sum up some interesting stats on who's watching online and where they are watching. Some factoids: length of videos is up; numbers of people watching are up; and my favorite stat - The average online video viewer watched 356 minutes of video (approximately 6 hours), up 15% vs. December.

And for YouTube:
More than 147 million US internet users watched an average of 101 videos per viewer in January.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Rise of Netbooks

Nice article on the rise of Netbooks from the folks at Wired. I've been thinking for months that Internet service providers in the US need to do a bundled deal, much like cellphones, for in-home fixed broadband access. Looks like the Brits beat us to it.

"Netbooks are so cheap, they're reshaping the fundamental economics of the PC business. Last October, British mobile-phone carrier Vodafone offered its customers a new deal: If they signed a two-year contract for high-speed wireless data, Vodafone would give them a Dell Mini 9 netbook. That isn't quite the same as getting a free computer; after all, Vodafone bills users $1,800 on that two-year contract, so it can afford to throw in the netbook. (In December, RadioShack offered a similar deal: a $99 Acer Aspire netbook for anyone who signed up for two years of AT&T's 3G service.)"

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Angel is in the Details

I just love this summary of the stimulus and the Free Press suggestions. Read the summary and then go get the PDF. Thanks to Eric Lee for forwarding.

Putting the Angels in the Details: A Roadmap for Broadband Stimulus Success

Putting the Angels in the Details: A Roadmap for Broadband Stimulus Success
Submitted by Benton Foundation on February 26, 2009 - 1:30pm
Originally published on: February 26, 2009


The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, signed into law last week by President Barack Obama, allocates $4.7 billion to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for broadband adoption and deployment in "unserved," "underserved" and low-income communities; $2.5 billion to the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) for rural broadband; and directs the Federal Communications Commission to develop a national broadband strategy. To ensure that these stimulus programs are successfully implemented, Free Press recommends the following:

1) Protect the open Internet: The NTIA and FCC should prohibit grant recipients from selling any service that violates open Internet principles and should require recipients to offer interconnection on a reasonable and nondiscriminatory basis.

2) Promote speed: The NTIA should establish speed guidelines and benchmarks and require grant applicants to detail actual -- not advertised -- network speeds, with priority given to next-generation projects.

3) Provide clarity: The NTIA and FCC should adopt definitions of unserved and underserved areas that are based on U.S. Census Bureau geographic boundaries (either census blocks, block groups or tracts), and are informed by new FCC broadband data.

4) Prevent waste: The NTIA should require grant applicants to provide extensive documentation showing how their proposed project qualifies as a new investment.

5) Gather information: The FCC should immediately initiate proceedings to gather data and ideas to inform the national broadband strategy.

6) Focus resources: The NTIA should refocus the $350 million currently allocated for state broadband mapping toward projects that work to stimulate broadband demand, because the FCC is already collecting this data.

7) Remove roadblocks: The RUS should eliminate current regulations that restrict broadband upgrades, create barriers to new entrants and undermine competition.

8) Ensure transparency: The NTIA and RUS should create a single, publicly accessible online database that hosts all the information relevant to the broadband projects funded by the Stimulus Act.