Thursday, January 29, 2009

Net Neutrality Provisions Inserted Into Democratic Broadband Stimulus Bill

Warning To Carriers: If You Are Dumb and Greedy Enough To Take The Money - YOU DESERVE TO BE CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT

The confluence between "technology" and "civil rights" is a strange orgy of ideas. The government seeks to expand the coverage of broadband in America while controlling the carriers as they make use of various bandwidth rationing schemes.

On the one side are the supposed consumer advocates who see traffic shaping as a violation of consumer rights. In their view - If a consumer was promised 6mb of throughput they should be free to make use of it as they please. On the other side is the operator. They know that if all of their customers made constant use of 6mb that their network infrastructure would crash.

Add a wireless access scheme which is by default a shared medium and you can double the assurance of catostrophy. Where as with a wire line access technology the carrier can add a better medium (ie fiber) or faster electronics - in the wireless world "God ain't making more spectrum" so the only way to go is to attempt to get better modulation schemes within the very same spectrum.

I assure you that the very same people resisting traffic shaping schemes by the carriers will be the first people suing the carriers if and when their individual performance suffers as a result of unmitigated use of the infrastructure ,that is by definition a shared one.

House Democrats are signaling support for network neutrality as the Energy and Commerce Committee attaches network neutrality and open access mandates to almost $3 billion in grants and loans for network build-outs to unserved and underserved areas of the country.

Democrats sent a strong signal Jan. 22 that network neutrality would play a starring role in the $6 billion broadband piece of the U.S. House's overall $825 billion economic stimulus package. In approving $2.9 billion for network build-outs in rural and underserved areas, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce insisted that network neutrality and open network mandates be attached to the funding.

"These are public dollars. Networks built with this funding should be open," Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) said. The mandates require the winners of the funding to allow any legal device to be connected to the new networks, and network operators are prohibited from discriminating in the handling of network traffic.

In a business meeting that extended late into the night, the House panel approved a grants program to be operated by the NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration) that calls for 25 percent of the $2.9 billion to be spent on areas of the country with no broadband access with the remaining 75 percent poured into "underserved" areas.

The other half of the $6 billion dedicated to broadband build-out in the House stimulus package calls for $2.9 billion in grants and loans to administered by the Rural Utilities Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program is not under the jurisdiction of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, but it is expected that the same network neutrality and open network mandates will be attached to the funding.

The overall stimulus bill may reach the floor of the House the week of Jan. 26. The Senate's version is currently being drafted.

The mandates represent a major shift in the policy battle over network neutrality. Under Republican control and the Bush administration, efforts to pass network neutrality laws faced opposition from telecommunications and cable companies, which adamantly objected to the idea of government control over their network management practices.

In the House, a network neutrality amendment to a telco reform bill failed in 2006. The Senate has never had a floor vote on network neutrality, but the Senate Commerce Committee voted against a network neutrality amendment to the 2006 telco reform bill.

Since then, the network neutrality debate has centered around the FCC's legal status and ability to enforce the agency's Internet principles. In August 2005, the FCC declared that consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice, run applications and services of their choice, and plug in and run legal devices of their choice. The FCC also said consumers have a right to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.

Monday, January 26, 2009

How Stuff Works Web Site

HowStuffWorks site growing, entering into TV realm

HowStuffWorks wasn’t Arnold’s idea. Credit a computer science professor appropriately named Marshall Brain. In 1998, Brain started the Web site as a hobby. His first article: “How Car Engines Work.” He even did his own primitive illustrations — “eventually expunged,” he noted.

When deemed his site “cool,” Brain said traffic began to build. In 1999, he turned HowStuffWorks into a business.

Four years later, Brain sold the site to Arnold’s company for $2 million. Arnold built the company and in late 2007, sold it for $250 million to Discovery Communications, based in Silver Spring, Md. (Primary operations for HowStuffWorks remain in Buckhead.)

Arnold, who is still the company CEO, liked that the audience for the Discovery Channel is similar to that of HowStuffWorks. To spice up the site, it has added 35,000-plus videos from Discovery archival footage and purchased articles from the likes of World Book and Reader’s Digest.

Plus, in November, HowStuffWorks started a new TV show on Discovery Channel, beginning with basic commodities such as corn, wood and wheat.

The goal this year is to get up to 20 million unique visitors a month.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cell Towers Translate Into Income For Schools

Cell Towers Placed On Campus Are A Boon For Schools

Not all the towers on 17 Cobb campuses are as decorative, but the financial incentives for renting space to cellphone companies outweigh the aesthetics at some schools.

Each tower yields an immediate $150,000, with 60 percent going to the school where the tower is built, said Dennis Campbell, planning director for Cobb schools. The remainder of the money goes into a fund for schools without towers that can be drawn from as needed.

And it gets better. The contracts with cellphone companies are 15-year deals, or three five-year contracts. Over the length of a lease, a school with a tower earns $270,000, or $90,000 every five years.

Most of the towers on Cobb campuses are owned by T-Mobile, but other cellphone providers can pay to add their antennas. Additional antennas can bring in at least $800 a month, Campbell said.

To me this appears to be one of those "You Are Not Gonna Put Your Tower In My Back Yard but YOUR COVERAGE SUCKS Improve It Or Im Gonna Switch To Someone Else" stories.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Teens "Sexting" Out Of Synch With The Law and Societal Standards

Sexting - the practice of taking nude picture with a cellphone camera and send it off to someone else as an act of flirting or invitation for more "hands on" contact.

(Damn I wish I was younger and still single. Why weren't certain things available when I was in my early 20's?)

Hat tip to "3g 4g Blog". Where as I get frequent spam on my Skype client - I had no idea that teens were using technology in such a manner. Then again I am not surprised at all.

America! Please don't go so far as to make the Mullahs correct about our lascivious culture.

Greensburg People Want Students' 'Sexting' Charges Dropped

GREENSBURG, Pa. - Six teenagers have been charged with sex crimes for sending naked pictures on their cell phones, but the court of public opinion says this isn't a case for the legal system to worry about.

WTAE Channel 4's Jennifer Miele reported that Mayor Karl Eisaman and the Greensburg Police Department have received dozens of e-mails from people who think the kids' parents -- and not a judge -- should punish them.

"These are good kids that made mistakes ... What they did was wrong, but they are not sex offenders," one of the boys' mothers said in an e-mail to Channel 4 Action News on Monday.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Delaying The Digital TV Cut Over Has Some Consequences

I was going to write a blog entry with the very same argument.  No need to bother - this guy argues the very same thing:

In summary - the very same 700Mhz space that is now being used by many UHF stations that are not getting much play in the day of cable is slated to be used by the next generation of high speed wireless Internet networks.

It is quite ironic that the same people who claim that the USA has fallen behind on technology and broadband access are unwilling to pull the plug on analog TV on February 17th, effectively delaying the transition.

Obama's Broadband Challenge By Kevin Fitchard

Today we have a new president. While it’s probably unseemly to start taking shots at Barack Obama on the day of his inauguration, I believe it’s only fair to point out that our new president is starting his new administration’s broadband policy with a contradiction.

Obama wants to delay the Feb. 17 digital TV transition date in order to buy more time for millions of Americans who don’t yet have the conversion technology necessary to receive digital signals. Cutting off millions of constituents from their primary source of news and entertainment wouldn’t just be politically disastrous; it would be socially unconscionable, considering the majority of the people affected by the analog cutoff are those who can’t afford a fancy new digital TV, cable or satellite service.

But on the other hand, Obama has begun to promote a new broadband policy that emphasizes faster and better data connections to more Americans over a greater variety of platforms. The argument goes that broadband infrastructure is just as vital as the highways, bridges and electrical lines to achieving future prosperity.

The problem is that the 700 MHz spectrum at the center of the DTV transition debate is one of the keys to growth as a broadband nation. The long-term evolution (LTE) and other data networks that go up over those frequencies may not target rural areas, but they do plenty to realize other requirements of a broadband society. First, 4G technologies will be the first truly mobile means of broadband, expanding the narrow pipes currently available over 3G networks while eliminating the mobility barriers between Wi-Fi hotspots. Second, 4G technologies will drive down the cost of wireless broadband, taking advantage of a simplified network architecture and more efficient use of spectrum. 4G won’t revolutionize broadband overnight, but it’s a critical step in building an unfettered broadband lifestyle. For Obama’s new administration, delaying the deployment of these technologies by three months isn’t a good way to kick off its new broadband policy.

I realize that there are many factors that could delay deployment of these networks — vendor production delays, access to capital, carriers’ unrealistic timetables — some for far longer than 90 days. A new June 12 deadline probably won’t stop AT&T and Verizon’s LTE networks in their tracks. But Qualcomm has made it very clear it’s set to flip the switch on hundreds of transmitters the day after Feb. 17. After spending years working around broadcasters in hundreds of markets, it has been waiting for the day that channel 55 goes static across the country to finally complete its nationwide MediaFLO network. Now at the 11th hour it’s told it will probably have to wait.

Qualcomm rightly points out that it spent millions of dollars purchasing those licenses and millions more building out its TV networks with the expectation it would have unfettered access to them on a specific date. What’s probably most frustrating is the money to fund the DTV transition, education program and digital converter subsidization program came directly from the proceeds Qualcomm and other 700 MHz winners forked over at auction. The government had the money and it most certainly had the time, but it botched it just the same. It may not be Obama’s administration that did the botching, but he’s inherited the problem, and if he’s not careful he could make a miserable situation even worse. He and Congress probably have no choice but to extend the transition deadline — too many people would be left looking at dead air — but he can’t do it without consequence, nor without concession to the wireless industry. Some restitution needs to be made to Qualcomm and other operators that can prove they had immediate plans for the 700 MHz bands. If no concession is made, then Obama might find his broadband plan harder to implement. Telcos might not be so keen to accept one of Obama’s broadband grants or loans, bid in auction or even support a new initiative if they know the terms could change instantly and arbitrarily.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Scientists Learn How To Levitate Small Objects

Scientists discover way to levitate tiny objects

CHICAGO - U.S. scientists have found a way to levitate the very smallest objects using the strange forces of quantum mechanics, and said on Wednesday they might use it to help make tiny nanotechnology machines.

They said they had detected and measured a force that comes into play at the molecular level using certain combinations of molecules that repel one another.

The repulsion can be used to hold molecules aloft, in essence levitating them, creating virtually friction-free parts for tiny devices, the researchers said.

Quantum mechanical forces
The discovery arose from Capasso's prior work as vice president of physical research at Bell Labs, the research arm of telecoms gear marker Lucent Technologies, now Alcatel-Lucent.

"I started to think how can I use these exotic quantum mechanical forces for technology," he said in a telephone interview.

Bell had been working on new devices known as Micro Electromechanical Systems or MEMS, the technology used in air bag sensors to measure deceleration of cars. "We started to play with nanomechanics or micromechanics," Capasso said.

He knew that as devices became smaller and smaller, they would fall prey to what is known as the Casimir force, an attractive force that comes into play when two very tiny metallic surfaces make very close contact.

In very small objects, this force can cause moving parts to stick together, an effect known as stiction.