FCC to Boost Rural Broadband
In today's news, the FCC is looking at average Internet speeds in rural areas with the hopes of increasing them. Here is an excerpt from a Wall Street Journal article:
Last week, Rep. Rick Boucher chairman of the House Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee sent a letter to the agency suggesting that 80% of Americans should have access to 50 mbps service by 2015.
"I think that's a very worthy goal, but what I think what we want to point out to decision-makers like the congressman, is yeah that's great if we think we have a path for doing it, here's a path," Mr. Levin said. "But if that path requires Congress to act in a certain way or the FCC to act in a certain way, here's what they need to do."
It could cost anywhere from $20 billion to $350 billion to build out high-speed Internet service to all Americans, the FCC estimates, depending on the speed of service.
Providing universal broadband access at 3 mbps would cost about $20 billion, the FCC estimates. The price tag for 50 mbps service across the U.S. would cost more than $50 billion.
Much of that investment would have to come from the private sector, Mr. Levin says, although the agency is considering changes to a $7 billion annual federal phone subsidy program to fund new Internet lines in rural areas.
My thoughts are as they have always been -broadband is as crucial to an economy as roads but I truly believe faster Net access is becoming even more important in the new age. The challenge is in the US we have a hybrid funding model with private companies providing so much investment - it seems unfair to change the rules on investors on an ongoing basis. With that said, if we are going to tinker, let's set up a national broadband policy - a broadband bill of rights which explains the US stance on the issue so investors can get back to funding networks without the fear of regulators allowing competition where there wasn't, etc.
WiMAX Defies Economy
Let's face it, technology seems to be defying the general economy and many sectors are doing relatively well. WiMAX was not an area which many expected to be doing well as LTE which seems to be taking the 4G crown. Still, the WiMAX Forum says wireless
broadband networks based on WiMAX technology have reached 519 networks in 146 countries, including 95 WiMAX networks deployed by 2G mobile operators.
And the growth from some operators is quite impressive. For example, Russian operator Yota has signed up 250,000 active commercial users and its subscribers to the WiMAX network are increasing by 2,300 every day.
The challenge for WiMAX will continue to be device support but devices like the MiFi which convert wireless broadband technology of various flavors into a wireless hotspot could be responsible for helping the WiMAX market grow.
Ford does USB Wireless Modem WiFi
Speaking of MiFi, Ford has just announced an innovative offering in
the world where wireless broadband intersects with automobiles. Specifically, some of their vehicles will come with a built-in WiFi hotspot which will be powered by a USB modem you purchase and plug in.
Since the dawn of time, many automobile manufacturers have been fans of closed systems which made it difficult to connect aftermarket devices. For example, satellite radio consisting of any sort of quality sound would have to be installed by the factory. Otherwise, consumers would have to use FM transmitter technology to get Sirius XM sound into their car speakers.
The iPod started a shift in the market when BMW and other auto manufacturers started to add adapters to work with the Apple-based device. More recently, Ford inked a deal with Microsoft to bring Sync technology into their vehicles - allowing Microsoft devices to interoperate with the automobile.
Ford has gone one step further with their integration, allowing USB modems to be added to the vehicle so as to take advantage of changing technology. For example you could potentially use a WiMAX modem or EVDO or HSPA, etc. I commend Ford for advancing automotive/wireless openness.
In many ways, this idea competes with a MiFi device but it is really useful for someone who doesn't want one and instead has a USB modem they use with a laptop - they can now pop it out and put in the car to light up the who vehicle.