Posts Taged national-broadband-plan

Don’t Slow Down Broadband Adoption Just for Spite

This post originally appeared on the huffingtonpost.

Now that the midterm elections are over I’ve been reading all the reactions from voters and have noticed a trend. A lot of people have openly admitted that they voted for a candidate that opposes President Obama’s policies just to send a message; also admitting that candidate was less qualified and that they essentially did it for spite. Once that really started to sink in, I thought about how damaging that kind of mentality is to everyone.

I started to think about my world of technology and broadband and started to wonder if spite was the motivation of certain people pushing Net Neutrality regulations. They say that they are trying to “Save the Internet,” but whenever they are asked what danger the Internet is in, they jump to talk about how the telecoms make too much profit and how they need to be regulated, all while not being able to point to one single issue that shows their claims are credible. None of their reasons sound like they are trying to “save” the Internet at all. Instead of giving the consumer real information and data by which to make informed decisions, they feed on their emotions and fears with phrases like “it’s a civil rights issue” and “don’t let them control your internet.”

What is truly spiteful is when you hear the FCC say “We need to partner with the corporate world to deliver on the National Broadband Plan in order to get high speed Internet access to everyone.” And then you purposely conduct activates to take attention away from working towards that goal. Who are you hurting? The Government? The Telcos? No! You are hurting the very people who you say you’re trying to “save” the Internet for, misleading them to believe that your plan will work out better in the end. Good plan. And when a large group of us get left behind in this broadband revolution you won’t be there to help them because you will have achieved your goal. If that is not spiteful, I don’t know what is.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Put the Politics Aside And Get To The Business of Broadband

This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post

Elections, the economy, and everybody is up in arms. With Nov. 2 right around the corner, I can’t help but think about how much political capital has been exhausted on the issues of net neutrality and Title II reclassification over the past few months. Though the future of the Internet — and the implementation of the National Broadband Plan — undergird our efforts at economic recovery and increased global competitiveness, those “two magic words” have seemed to steer us off course from our primary intentions because of their politically charged nature, and uber-divisive implications.

In 2008, then-Candidate Obama was vying for my vote as the next President of the United States. It was one of the first times that the ever-elusive, ever troublesome phrase “net neutrality” became a colloquial part of the modern lexicon, and the rest, as they say, is history.

For nearly two years, for those of us who live our lives online, this issue of how Internet regulations would be framed going forward has consumed far more energy than most of us would care to admit. In some cases, business partnerships have been splintered, friendships have been broken, and partisan and ideological lines have been drawn, crossed and broken. And for what? We’re still living under the same regime that we’ve always had, the Internet is not broken, the sky has not fallen, the only difference is, we’re all a lot angrier. What’s all the fuss been about? Has it done us any good? I don’t know, but it’s sure made for a good hot button issue during a contentious election year.

Last week, with the critical midterm elections looming on the horizon, I found hope above the mire of the net neutrality fray in two filings made before the FCC in its Open Internet proceeding. One filing was by the National Association of Multicultural Digital Entrepreneurs (NAMDE), the new trade association for people who produce content, applications, infrastructure and a variety of other business models online. The other was by the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC), joined by 25 other national organizations, including NAMDE.

At a time that is so critical to the future of our country, these filings made the critical point that the politics of broadband can and should be checked at the door as we collaborate to close the digital divide. Two points were abundantly clear in those filings. First, we all believe in and aspire to preserve the open Internet. It’s what our culture thrives on and, frankly, it’s what we’re all actually fighting for, though we may at times disagree over how to accomplish it. Second, in striving to protect the Internet we all know and love, we do not want to thwart the prospects of success for those who have historically been disadvantaged in business and economic development – women, people of color, members of low-income communities. The longer any among us stays disenfranchised, the longer and more severely we will all suffer.

That’s really what this is all about isn’t it? Creating opportunity and paving a better path forward for all Americans generally, and the traditionally disadvantaged specifically?

If you put all the self-interested rhetoric and snarky banter aside, I think that’s what it all boils down to. Though a counter-culture insurgence is brewing below America’s surface, why can’t we take a moment to pause and focus on creating universal opportunity for all Americans, eliminating the digital divide that currently exists along social and economic lines in our country, and helping all our people learn how to harness the power of the Internet to transform their lives? It should be both our duty and our privilege to move past anger and aggression and coalesce around the creation of meaningful opportunities that benefit us all.

It’s time to put the politics aside, and get down to the business of broadband.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Economic Study Misconstrues Benefits of Computers, Broadband

This post originally appeared on

A recent article in Investor’s Business Daily revealed a startling bias against the potential benefits of broadband, particularly for low-income and minority students.

According to Norm Alster, the article’s author,

[T]he latest research suggests that dumping technology on people actually widens the gap between haves and have-nots.  Kids who are given computers and high-speed Internet begin to slip in math, reading and English.  The impact is worst among the poor students who were supposed to gain the most…

While the study Alster references provides a troubling view about the impact of computers and broadband on our culture, it does not tell the whole story.  As John Horrigan, FCC Consumer Research Director, Omnimus Broadband Initiative noted:

[T]his finding was not as earth-shattering as some may have assumed.  In fact, it is consistent with the findings in the National Broadband Plan: connectivity and hardware matter, but computers and broadband access cannot replace parents, teachers and broader social support as critical inputs into student achievement.  Laptops in the home are not a silver bullet–digital literacy training for parents and teachers, appropriate content for online learning systems, and broader community digital literacy efforts are necessary to ensure children benefit from technology…instructional gains come about only if schools undertake new instructional approaches tethered to technology and if they adopt new practices to support the technology.

So there you have it.  There is no silver bullet.  And while a student may be given access to the implements of a modern economy, absent new methods of learning that compliment these tools, we cannot expect substantial educational gains to result from the mere presence of technology in the home.

What Alster fails to realize, however, is that the Internet is a part of almost every aspect of our lives, from healthcare to education and job creation and everything in between.  Anyone who looks around for a second knows this.   The people who are falling behind in all of these areas — typically minorities and people subsisting in the lowest income brackets — have either chosen not to, or are unable to, adopt broadband into their homes.

We live in an increasingly digital economy, and despite the result of the study described by Alster, broadbad is the single most viable option we have toward increasing positive economic impacts for people of color and for those who have been historically marginalized and underserved.  Were it not such a vital infrastructure for our nation’s recovery, success and prosperity, the Obama Administration likely would not have encouraged Congress to include $7 billion in broadband stimulus in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the FCC would not have gone to such great pains to create our country’s first National Broadband Plan.

While Alster may be personally biased against the substantial investments being made into broadband expansion and use in this country, his is not an attitude we can afford to adopt.  And in fact, it runs counter to the overwhelming evidence that broadband can and must be the critical infrastructure in an information economy – our increasingly digital society.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Broadband Access Saves Budgets, Improves Education, Just Ask The State of Oregon

I live in New Jersey and I’ve been following our new governor’s massive education budget cuts.  Everything from clubs and sports programs are being removed. Teacher’s are being let go and classes are being consolidated. The public school experience as we know it is changing dramatically for the worse. For those who want to know more about the issues in New Jersey you can read here and here. I’m sure that there are similar issues going on  in the your states as well.

The point here is that states are looking for ways to cut budgets and are willing to jettison almost anything to get there.  I’m pretty sure that in most of these budget debates no one has really looked into how technology and broadband access can create cost savings. I know from experience it can, but am always looking for proof. I came across a story today about how the state of Oregon  has moved  to using Google Apps in every classroom in the state.  For those unfamiliar with Google Apps is it “offers simple, powerful communication and collaboration tools for any size business – all hosted by Google to streamline setup, minimize maintenance, and reduce IT costs.

Google Apps includes Gmail for business, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Sites, and more for $50 per user per year.” For  companies of 50 employees or less there is a free version.  So think of it as a version of Microsoft office products  that operate totally through your web browser.

The one key things is that Oregon will save 1.5 million a year  once they make the move for teachers and students, but honestly that is only one part of the value proposition. This will change the way students interact with each other, with teachers and how work is done and shared. Here are a  few examples

  • All documents are stored in the cloud (over the internet) so that they are stored in a central location and available. (so the dog will never be able to eat your homework)
  • Real time collaboration of documents allows to students to work on one document together real time from multiple locations ( THIS IS HUGE)
  • Google Marketplace gives you access to other apps that can extend features even more. (expect an education marketplace soon)

There is a great except from the article that speaks to this

“If all goes smoothly, Casap wrote on the official Google blog, the Oregon experiment has the power to reshape the classroom experience. Students, for instance, will be able to access a range of documents from home; teachers will be able to provide feedback remotely; projects that once required hours in the library can be organized and executed via the cloud.

It blows my mind to think about how far technology in the classroom has come since I was in school, and how far we still have to go to make sure kids in classrooms everywhere have access to these tech resources,” Casap wrote. “Cloud computing tools like Google Apps are one way teachers, schools – and now a whole state – are addressing the issue.”

Of course, Oregon students can already access the cloud, provided they have a working laptop and an Internet connection. The difference in Oregon is that the cloud itself will become institutionalized – a buzzing, whirring extension of the classroom”
So my question is why aren’t urban centers making changes like this. It gives them the dual value by saving money and also give the students access to a new suite of tools that allow them to collaborate and learn more effectively. Actually I believe in most cases there are school systems who can’t afford to give access to desktop computer tools to the entire school body now due to software licensing costs, etc.. So imagine the immediate benefits in those cases. And ALL IT TAKES IS AN INTERNET CONNECTION AND A COMPUTER, So instead of cutting teachers and cutting programs that make our younger generation more well rounded and in some cases keep them out of negative lifestyle choices let’s look at how technology and broadband access to can cut costs and improve the education experience at the same time. Let’s just take a cue from Oregon. Maybe I’ll give Governor Christie a call or better yet send him an email with the Google apps link in it. Maybe we can get some of our programs back.

You can follow me @navarrowwright on Twitter, hear my audio casts at

Lack of Broaband Adoption Widens the Education Gap

I took part in two panels panels last week.  The question of how broadband access can help enhance education came up on both panels. When the question was directed to me I told the audience about a post I had written before here where I talked about how i used free online services to learn iphone app development. Whenever I tell that story to people and compare the $99 developer fee to the start-up costs of some brick and mortar businesses, it really hits home. I started thinking to myself that if people who already have access to broadband don’t know about all the educational opportunities available online then imagine what people who have not adopted broadband are missing out on. Just off the top of my head I can think of a few things:

  • Free Education: My Iphone development example is only one of many. Itunes has a whole Itunes U section with hours of free content available in almost any subject from some of the top universities in the country. Other sources of free and low costs content are just a Google search away.  Just Think about the new skills people can acquire to create new employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for themselves.
  • Online Degrees: I remember when people thought online degree programs were  scams and had no real value but that is no longer the case. These programs allow students access to scholars from any part of the world as well as access to  an enriching education experience that they otherwise would not be able to take advantage of. These degrees are recognized in the same way traditional degrees are and programs are popping up at institutions all over the country. Imagine a person who never thought that getting a degree was a reality for them who is now be able to achieve that goal with the help on a internet connection. An article I came across talks specifically about how the National Broadband Plan is aiming to help ensure that these opportunities are available to everyone. You can read about it here

I truly hope that the FCC follows through our their promise of broadband access and adoption for all.  Without it the ones who already are missing out on these education will continue to fall behind and the education gap will widen even more.

Daily Digest 04_12: My Thoughts on The Comcast Ruling and The FCC’s Reaction

Trying something new today. Instead of writing decided to do an audio podcast. Let me know what you think

CitizenTube picked me???

I submitted a few questions to the CitizenTube Livestream interview with FCC Chairman Genachowski and guess what, it was picked and answered. Take look at the video below and let me know what you think of his answer.

Navarrow’s Question for FCC Chairman Genachowski from Navarrow Wright on Vimeo.

Daily Digest 3_18

The National Broadband Plan: What’s in it for Businesses?

I found an article that asked that very question. It mentions how even though the plan is primarily focused on boosting broadband adoption it does create some benefits for the enterprise. The key benefit they focus on increased telecommuting options for employees and companies. The plan will do this by effectively increasing broadband speeds for all and extending broadband into rural areas where employees currently have long commutes to work. I agree that this is a great benefit to both companies looking for ways to improve their bottom line and employees working to improve their work/life balance. The article brought a few other benefits to mind that the article did not cover. They are listed below:

  1. Increase skilled workforce: By increasing adoption a new diverse set of workers will emerge once they have access to the information and skills training currently available online.
  2. Travel costs: No longer will employees have to constantly travel for meetings. The notion of web conferencing from anywhere can truly become a reality.
  3. Virtual Conferences: Trade Conferences  have been truly suffering in this economy. Now those conferences can be offered in an interactive virtual experience. Creating value and savings for themselves and their participants.  This is definitely coming.

These are just a few that came to mind. Can you think of any others?

25 years ago it all started with a .com But Where are we now?

Monday was the 25th anniversary of the first  .com domain ever registered. The company is defunct but that action started a revolution. We now live in an era where  .com domain names play a crucial part in our everyday lives.  A web presence is an essential reality for most businesses, and as a general rule, companies that do not have a website domain registered are not really in business.  As I think about how far the Internet has come and how much our world has been changed by it, I’m left to marvel at the possibilities for where we’ll be twenty-five years from now.

Businesses started in garages and dorm rooms have achieved in years what used to take decades to achieve. The playing field is more level than it’s ever been, but I can’t help but think about all the people who are still not part of this world of opportunity.  There are millions of people who are not aware of the wealth of education, health, and career information available online that could change their lives.  They are not aware that even in this time of economic depression, the barriers to creating new businesses online are lower than they’ve ever been.  Based on almost any study you get your hands on, minorities and people living in underserved communities are the ones that are on the wrong side of this equation. The FCC is introducing it’s National Broadband plan on March 17, 2010 as a means of correcting the digital divide that has plagued our country for far too long, and we have to all make sure that it includes the steps and resources necessary to bridge the Gap that keeps too many in our communities behind. We can’t wait another 25 years. The time is now. I have read a few articles on this topic where people have added their predictions for the next 25 years so it makes sense for me to add my predictions/hopes as well.

  • Every public school will have broadband internet access and classes will be taught on digital literacy at the elementary school level and technology development will be taught at the middle school level.
  • Mobile broadband devices will replace credit/ and debit cards as means of payment
  • Entertainment will be delivered via broadband instead of cable and satellite
  • Internet based health care will help change the way we interface with doctors
  • There will be 10 new minority technology entrepreneurs who will make it on the Forbes billionaire list by making one of the other predictions happen. Will it be you?  I hope so!

Daily Digest 3_12_10

The Net Neutrality Title Game

So today I came across an article on CNET News that explains how proposed Net Neutrality rules (rules that will enabled the FCC to regulate private sector Internet providers in a manner that could potentially stifle the competitive landscape, shift the costs of expansion and advancement into the hands of everyday consumers, and slow down the adoption of high-speed Internet by minorities and the under-served by ultimately raising prices for everyone) could be adapted. Now you see why everyone just uses the term Net Neutrality 🙂 The article gives a good explanation of the difference between Title I and Title II Classifications that were put into place in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 . It explains how neutrality proponents want the FCC to reclassify Internet service providers to be governed under Title II. By reading this you can get an understanding of what effect that will have on the services currently available. The key word here is “explain,” and as I have mentioned in the past, my key complaint with pro-neutrality groups is that they don’t explain anything in their arguments. They give opinions and the same examples in almost everything I read. I’m a cause and effects kind of guy. Show me the cause and the actual effect based on real examples, not based on conceptual ones. Anyway give this article a read and it will help you better understand the issue.

National Broadband Plan Has Everyone Talking

If you have not heard, the FCC is releasing it’s broaband plan on March 16th and there is no shortage of coverage on it. I like this post from Rey Ramsey, CEO of One Economy, where he illustrates how the Internet changed the life of one businessman. And as you can see below there are alot of people wating to see what is announce on the 16th.—ameri_b_496751.html

iPad Frenzy is Starting. Go to Techcrunch and Try to Win a free One!

The pre-orders have started. The iPad arrives in April but TechCrunch is giving one away! Just go to this article and follow the directions.