Tag Archives: google

Meditations on the Modern Mormon Pioneer, Where ‘The Desert Shall Rejoice, and Blossom As The Rose’

September 29, 2013 – During our Sunday worship these past several Sunday School sessions, we’ve been studying the history of our church. Two weeks ago, the subject was the Latter-day Saints entry into the Salt Lake Valley in July 1847. Last week, we talked about the saints who, in October 1856, left to rescue the two handcart companies stranded on the Wyoming plains during an early-season snowstorm. And today we talked about how, in the words of the prophet from ancient Israel in Isaiah 35:1, “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.”

These lessons have spoken to us in our circumstances right now. In the 25 years of my career in journalism, law and technology, Utah was the last place that I expected we would locate ourselves. And yet, early last month, my family and I, and our dog Pokey, packed up and made our own Great Trek back to the land of my ancestors.

We spent the last three and a half years of our lives in Springfield, Illinois. There, I had a wonderful opportunity to lead a state effort designed to enhance the role of technology’s power to make an impact in people’s lives. I believe in Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s personal motto, “everybody in, and nobody left out.” At Broadband Illinois, we helped unite the Land of Lincoln around a vision of Better Broadband, Better Lives. Illinois’ State Broadband Initiative became the national model for public-private collaboration — providing the tools that citizens, communities and businesses need to get online and to get more out of their internet use.

Having lived in Washington for most of my professional career, the opportunity to get outside of the beltway was important for our progress. Although I’ve commuted back to Washington to participate in our monthly Broadband Breakfast Club discussions, it has been a real plus for my family to be outside the pressure cooker of McLean, Virginia.

So when the time came to move from Springfield, what attracted my family and I to Utah? It may well be that this desert, having blossomed as the rose, speaks still to our people. When we visited the Provo/Orem area four year ago, this area seemed provincial compared to Washington. More recent visits during ski vacations have left us marveling at the vibrancy and economic growth of the Utah — consistently one of the fastest-growing states in the country.

From the day we arrived, we have been blessed. We now have a comfortable house in Orem, Utah, where a wonderful view of Mount Timpanogos and Mount Cascade greets us upon stepping out of our front door. There are mountain trails for running, hiking and bicycling, and soon, skiing. For nearly a full week upon our arrival, our neighbors — who make up our local congregation — brought food, bread and peaches as welcoming gifts. For the first time in our lives, we can walk a block and a half to our local church.

We’ve also been so impressed by the educational opportunities here. We feel that each of our children have what they need to challenge themselves academically. How vital it is that charter schools here provide a competitive alternative to public schools!

And as for my efforts in offering consulting services around broadband internet services, I’m finding that the Salt Lake Valley is an excellent place from which to operate. I’ve already begun a new webinar series. This collection of Broadband Breakfast Club Virtual Events kicked off last week with an event on advancing Gigabit Networks through high-bandwidth applications. (Our next event is October 15.) The Salt Lake and Utah Valleys are home to two significant fiber-optic networks, the iProvo network recently purchased by Google, and UTOPIA, the Utah Telecommunications Open Internet Agency. I’ll continue to expand on my work nation-wide in promoting broadband from Salt Lake, from Chicago, from Washington, D.C., and elsewhere.

Also, earlier this month, I began an additional engagement: working as Senior Contributing Editor for Deseret News. The newspaper is the oldest publication in the Salt Lake Valley, having launched on June 15, 1850, and is rapidly remaking itself for the digital age. In fact, last week we launched national.deseretnews.com, which fills a void in the American media landscape through rigorous journalism on core issues of interest to many Americans: the state of the family, how faith is lived, education opportunity, financial responsibility, care for the poor, and the culture of media. I’m enjoying the opportunity to combine my journalistic, legal and technological skills in working with the Deseret News, and I invite each of you to begin following it more closely.

Net Neutrality and White Spaces Remain in the Limelight at Association Conference

I appreciate all the great traffic I’ve received in recent days for my posts about the white spaces issue. This morning I posted two news articles on BroadbandCensus.com coming out of the Wireless Communications Association’s conference in San Jose. Follow the links to read the pieces.

Net Neutrality Advocates: Wireless Carriers’ Network Management Must be ‘Reasonable’

SAN JOSE, November 7 – Emboldened by their summertime victory against Comcast, advocates of network neutrality said Thursday that the next front in battle for the principle would be against wireless carriers who make “unreasonable” network management decisions. read more

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s Incredible Silicon Valley Wi-Fi Adventure

SAN JOSE, November 6 – It was Kevin Martin’s day to suck up praise from Silicon Valley. The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission – for about two more months – came to the Wireless Communications Association’s annual conference here on Thursday to be feted by many Googlers, including company co-founder Larry Page. read more

Broadcast Networks Seek ‘Time Out’ on FCC Push for White Spaces

By Drew Clark

WASHINGTON, October 23 – The top executives of the four major broadcast networks on Thursday urged the head of the Federal Communications Commission to delay a vote on a politically simmering issue that pits broadcasters against Google and high-tech executives.

In the letter, the CEOs of CBS Corp., NBC Universal and Walt Disney, and the chief operating officer of News Corp., urge that the FCC exercise caution before taking irreparable action with regard to the vacant television channels known as “white spaces.”

Google and the other technology executives, including Microsoft, Motorola, Philips and others, want the FCC to authorize electronic devices that capable of transmitting internet signals over vacant television bands.

The network executives – CBS’s Leslie Moonves, Disney’s Robert Iger, NBC’s Jeffrey Zucker and Peter Chernin of News Corp. – want a time out.

They join their local broadcasting colleagues, as well as manufacturers and users of wireless microphones, like the National Football League and Broadway theater owners, who have been actively lobbying the issue.

The broadcasters want the FCC to delay a pending report and subject the technically-laden document to peer review by engineers.

“It would be unprecedented to let the FCC take action of something of this importance, which could potentially introduce considerable interference into the television band, without allowing the public to comment,” said Dennis Wharton, executive vice president at the National Association of Broadcasters.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is scheduled to release the white spaces report at a commission meeting on Tuesday, November 4, which is also Election Day.

Both advocates and critics of the white spaces proposal expect that the report by the agency’s Office of Engineering and Technology could pave the wave for widespread use of devices transmitting in the white spaces.

Traditionally, advocates of white spaces have been politically out-gunned. Non-profit communications enthusiasts, including officials at the New America Foundation and the Media Access Project, have been promoting the concept for years. But until recently, broadcasters have held sway among FCC commissioners.

Fears of Interference

Broadcasters’ fears of interference have kept stations far, far, apart on the television dial.

That’s why even today, if you live in Washington, DC, no more than four of the 21 channels between 30 and 50 are occupied: 32, 45, 47 and 50. That leaves 17 available as white spaces. The FCC’s allocation of TV channels was set in 1952.

The channel numbers vary from city to city, and will likely change with the transition to digital television (DTV) on February 17, 2009. Still, a lot of unused real estate is and will remain vacant in the sky.

Google’s solution: the FCC should give the industry permission to build smart electronic devices that will automatically “sense” their own geographic location, and then offer connections to the internet only when such transmissions would not interfere with television broadcasts.

In the Thursday letter, the network executives don’t extensively rehash the arguments against interference.

Indeed, they say that their companies “have worked with [broadcasters] and other interested parties toward a final plan to utilize white spaces in the television band because we recognize that better utilization of spectrum could mean improved broadband deployment, especially in rural areas, and economic growth nationally.”

Rather, they highlight their concern about potential irreparable consequences.

“The FCC has to get this matter right the first time,” said the executives. “If millions of unlicensed devices flood the market in the next few years, and it turns out the sensing still does not work, … and the result is massive disruption to Americans’ #1 news, leisure and entertainment option, how will that damage be undone?”

The executives are fighting a rear-guard battle against stepped-up advocacy on the part of the tech companies, including Google co-founder Larry Page. Page appeared at a September 24 pro-white space rally on Capitol Hill.

And on Tuesday, October 21, Google and New America Foundation hosted an event at the search giant’s California headquarters entitled “Pervasive Connectivity.”

At the Tuesday event, Michael Calabrese, director of the New America Foundation’s Wireless Future Program, urged: “take TV off the air” in a few years, according to the trade publication Communications Daily. Calabrese said that all of the TV spectrum should be for wireless broadband, replacing over-the-air broadcasters with cable, satellite and internet viewing, according to Comm Daily. (Also see this report from RBR.com.)

Who’s Right, Broadcasters or Techies?

Currently neglected in the current debate is a “Third Way.”

Instead of turning the white spaces into yet another political football between competing lobbyists, why doesn’t the government put these frequencies up for sale? It’s the kind of idea that you would think a warm-hearted capitalist company like Google would love.

That, at least, is the idea of Professor Thomas Hazlett of George Mason University School School of Law. (Disclosure: I serve as part-time Assistant Director of the Information Economy Project, where I work with Law & Economics Professor Thomas Hazlett, who directs the project.)

Hazlett favors taking a property rights approach to spectrum, and he elaborates on this idea in the October 3 edition of The Wall Street Journal (with Nobel Laureate in Economic Vernon Smith):

Allot all TV band frequencies to, say, seven national licenses, and auction them. (Competition could be ensured by a one-to-a-customer rule.) TV stations would be grandfathered, and continue to broadcast on current channels. But they would also be able to change channels or accept some interference with their broadcast signals. They would happily accept payments to make way for new wireless stuff. Band usage would be radically transformed.

This procedure greases the skids for efficiency, downloading politically arduous tasks to market specialists. Many wireless services, from PCS to Blackberry to MediaFlo, have been launched through such spectrum trades. Those deals only happen when owners can bargain. To free the airwaves, we must liberate them from the pre-World War II template in which they are now trapped.

I first heard about a variant of Hazlett’s proposal about 18 months ago, at the May 2007 Aspen Institute Roundtable on Spectrum Policy, in Queenstown, Maryland. A long-time critic of broadcasters, Hazlett proposed dividing up the remaining 294 Megahertz – this is the spectrum that will remain after the DTV transition – into about seven segments of about 42 Megahertz a piece. (I lay out the spectrum math in this sidebar.)

Each slice could be auctioned off, or, as an alternative, cleared for use by unlicensed Wi-Fi style devices. The nut of the proposal is that auction buyers – presumably Google and the other technology giants – must bargain with incumbent broadcasters to entice them to either exit their broadcasting business, or to keep from interfering with existing broadcasts.

YouTube, eBay Decisions Raise Questions For U.S. Copyright Law

I’ve just written a piece about how two recent copyright-related decisions will impact U.S. copyright law, for Intellectual Property Watch.

Posted by @ 11:59 am

Link This Article Print

By Drew Clark for Intellectual Property Watch
WASHINGTON, DC – Two recent court decisions against key United States internet companies – Google and eBay – are almost certain to reopen a long-standing truce between intellectual property rights-holders and website operators, over liability for the actions of users.

URL: http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/index.php?p=1130