The debate about next generation access networks in the UK continues to develop apace. This week, the Broadband Stakeholders Group held a conference on next generation access called ‘Beyond Pipe Dreams’.Two interesting new reports were published at the conference which are relevant for considerations of investment in new access networks more generally.The first report looks at how we can evaluate the economic and social value of a next generation network. While the second report looks at models for public sector intervention in next generation broadband.The discussion at the conference placed as much emphasis on the potential quality of next generation broadband packages as on their raw speed. Characteristics such as symmetry, low latency, predictability etc. were seen to be essential for developing innovative services which could be delivered over broadband. This is an interesting evolution of the debate taking us beyond the simpler numerical modelling of bandwidth requirements that has done before to try and define the demand for better access networks.
It’s no secret that intellectual property is the capital upon which digital age companies build their business. If you look at the Fortune 500, the value of IP for its largest companies ranges between 45% -- 75% and also represents the highest growth area in the global economy.For many companies, the value of IP breaks down to protecting their return on investment while continuing to grow and innovate. It’s an acceptable ROI that enables growth and continued funding of continued innovation. Read More »
When I started to write this week’s blog on Monday’s afternoon, I was very optimistic to see Congress finally voting an agreement that has been pending since 2006 and that should pass on its merits because of the economic and national security benefits for both Colombia and the U.S.The significance of this agreement goes beyond the traditional benefits of free trade. This is also an agreement to back the closest U.S. ally in the hemisphere and a statement of support for democracy in the region.After being very close to collapse ten years ago, something that as a Colombian/American I had an opportunity to witness first hand, Colombia has transformed to an increasingly prosperous and peaceful democracy. The FTA will help Colombia to continue its path to peace and prosperity, by strengthening its economy, while at the same time -according to the U.S. International Trade Commission- will allow U.S. to increase its exports to Colombia by 1.1 billion, benefiting 9,000 American businesses of which 8,000 are small businesses.Unfortunately, my optimism from earlier this week did not last long. On Thursday, it was clear that the vote would not move forward, leaving the agreement indefinitely postponed.What is at stake?The consequences of the recent developments go well beyond the Colombia FTA. The U.S. credibility in negotiating and implementing trade agreements and the competitiveness of the U.S. industry are at risk.Colombia, as well as many countries in the world are opening markets to reap the benefits of international trade. These countries will sign trade agreements with major Asian countries that have industries that compete directly with U.S. industry in every single line of the economy. -As other countries’ FTAs move forward, U.S. industry will be at disadvantage. Foreign companies would have significant price advantages because of the lower tariff and non-tariff barriers they would enjoy. Furthermore, the increased employment that could have been created in the U.S. as a result of trade would not be realized.There is no doubt that among certain groups trade is a complex and sensitive issue, in particular in an election year. However, the stakes are too high to let short-term policy interests interfere with the future of our economy and the hemisphere.
LONDON, UK -- A substantial report called ‘Safer Children in a Digital World’ was published today by the Byron Review which set up by the British Government last autumn. The report looks at child safety in respect of video games and their use of the internet.The report contains a number of recommendations for the technology industry to consider. The overall tone is very constructive and practical. It makes it clear that there are no simple regulatory solutions but that the best outcomes will be achieved where there are partnerships between government, industry and parents working together. It points out that there is no such thing as a risk-free environment so we must also help children to gain the resilience they will need to deal with problems when they occur.When commenting on the report, its author, Dr Tanya Byron, has been complimentary about the internet industry’s willingness to engage with her on these sensitive issues, and of the partnership work that is already taking place. As well as UK specific initiatives, there are some good global examples of industry supporting child safety such as the Family Online Safety Institute.
WASHINGTON, DC — Last week, President Bush announced that his Administration will send the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) implementing legislation to the Congress just after the congressional Easter Recess. There are commercially and politically meaningful reasons to pass this legislation, I’m almost breathless thinking about it (I’m also six months pregnant so maybe that has something to do with it, too):- Goods from Colombia already enter the United States duty-free, so implementation of this agreement will provide open market access for U.S. goods and services being exported to Colombia. High-tech equipment currently encounters a 10% import duty upon entry to Colombia, but as soon as the bilateral agreement goes into effect, Colombia will eliminate import duties on ICT products via adoption of the WTO Information Technology Agreement.- The Uribe government is pro-democracy and anti-crime, having reduced overall homicides by 40% between 2002-2007 and those among union members 87% in the same period. Some members of the U.S. Congress have used violence against unions as justification to oppose passage of the FTA. My question is: How will rejection of the FTA help further decrease union violence in Colombia? I would argue that walking away from further economic engagement with Colombia would actually deepen the economic and social woes of a nation struggling to reform and open up.- It’s also important for United States policymakers and lawmakers to continue their support for an open trade policy, especially as the economy slows. Exports from the U.S. are a bright spot in an otherwise bleak economic picture. Net exports added 1.4 percentage points to economic growth in the latter-half of 2007, more than making up for the 0.7 percentage point subtracted by the decline in residential construction. Lawmakers should embrace a policy mechanism that would help the U.S. economy grow further and help American companies compete internationally.Approval of the U.S.-Colombia FTA presents an opportunity for American lawmakers to enhance the competitiveness of American IT companies internationally, embrace an important ally against violence and extremism in the region, and promote U.S. economic growth.