Recently, the power of Web 2.0 came to the fore front on influencing copyright legislation in Canada. The story wasn’t about individuals on Facebook, MySpace, or in blogs influencing the drafting of legislation, but rather how they were able to prevent it from being introduced. Prior to this chapter of Canada’s ongoing copyright protection saga, government officials had signalled they were about to introduce legislation, rumoured to be ratifying specific WIPO treaties. However the bill’s specifics were not shared with those concerned and naturally, the lack of information lead stakeholders to draw their own conclusions on what it would or wouldn’t entail. Through a number of social media outlets, the ringleaders against potential copyright measures were able to quickly generate a flood of negative press and even mobilize a protest at the office of the government Minister who is responsible for copyright. The coverage forced the government to withhold the tabling of legislation and rethink its strategy.No matter what side of this issue you fall on, the reaction demonstrates the power of Web 2.0 to disseminate information and mobilize support or opposition to an idea. It certainly bodes well for the evolution of e-government and participatory democracy. Gauging reaction to the potential bill, it was obvious that views of all stakeholders had not been properly presented to the Minister. In addition to formal hearings and written submissions, elected officials and government bureaucrats need to put resources into more collaborate consultations. Future generations will demand government use these types of tools.Here are links to some of the coverage the issue garnered:Globe & MailNational Post CBC itWorld Canada
With just days left before “short form” applications to be filed in the high-profile US 700 MHz spectrum auction, Verizon Wireless has made a bold move — announcing Nov. 27 a new open applications, open software, and open handset policy for its existing network effective next year. Wow… this from the company that at first filed an appeal of the FCC’s decision imposing those conditions on the 700 MHz “C-block”. Verizon has since withdrawn that appeal. This is a game-changing moment for the US mobility industry. Text of the press release below. Read More »
Washington, D.C. -- We’re almost exactly 15 months away from the most audacious technology migration in modern US history -a one day”flash cut” of the way in which Americans receive their free, over-the-air television signals. Elected and appointed officials here in Washington are picking up the pace in an effort to ensure that the transition goes smoothly -- a goal that will be achieved if all households who want to continue to receive free over-the-air broadcasting can do so on the day after the transition. Let’s get to the most important developments first. It appears that the vendor responsible for issuing $40 government-issued coupons toward the purchase of analog-to-digital set top converter boxes will begin mailing those coupons around April 1, 2008. Households that have TVs currently receiving free over-the-air analog signals, and who want to continue to use those TVs post-transition, may want to consider applying for and obtaining up to two coupons, which will pay for the majority of the cost of a digital set top converter box (retail: $50-$70) that you’ll attach to your old analog TV. Households will likely be able to apply for coupons before April 1, 2008 -maybe as soon as January 2008 (more details on how to do that will be forthcoming). The federal government will keep the coupon application process open throughout 2008 and into the first part of 2009. I’ve previously written about the benefits of the digital switch for consumers and the choices that consumers will need to make here.While the details about the process are firming up, will there be converter boxes available? Yes. The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration has already certified the first two set top converter boxes to participate in the program. The first two boxes are manufactured by Digital Stream Technology, Inc., but NTIA officials say that additional boxes from other companies are in line to be certified soon. That’s good news for consumers, who will have a choice of boxes and manufacturers.Even better, most of the large national chains have announced their intent to participate in the retailer program, accepting the government-issued coupons. Executives from Radio Shack, Best Buy, Circuit City, Target and WalMart have all advised Washington officials of their intent to participate. Participation by these major chains is enormously important to ensuring that consumers have easy access to boxes and a way to redeem their coupons. You can find more information about the converter box program at NTIA’s website. This website includes a short quiz that will help you decide what you need to do to get ready for the digital transition. Even more information about the transition is also available from the Federal Communications Commission. In fact, the FCC’s site has a very educational test you can take to become a certified”DTV Deputy,” able to explain the DTV transition to your family and friends. I took the quiz and got my certificate! You should, too! And even more information is available from a coalition representing private industry .Check out these sites and start learning about the digital transition!
Policymakers around the world are questioning what is the minimum speed for a connection to be considered broadband. While speed is important, it is only one more element of many others that need to be considered such as, latency, bursting jitter, and symmetry. Read More »
Washington, D.C. — During the years that we all have been debating whether we have enough broadband or fast enough broadband, one interesting little detail has always been true — we really don’t know where broadband is available nor do we know what speeds are available. Remarkably, we’ve been flying blind in analyzing broadband policy in the absence of this basic data. Although the FCC provides some data on broadband availability, it is universally recognized — even by the FCC itself — that the data is inadequate. The FCC data does not specifically indentify locations where broadband is not available, nor does it differentiate based on the speed of services.Where the federal government has failed, states often fill the void. And that is partially the case with broadband maps. States like Kentucky have used detailed broadband maps to identify unserved areas, resulting in dramatic improvements in broadband availability. California is currently in the process of developing a detailed broadband map, using data at the address level and identifying service speed tiers as well. Only with data like this will it be possible to scope the problem and design effective programs to lead to ubiquitous broadband availability.The Congress is moving its attention to broadband mapping this year. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is scheduled to mark up a bill on broadband mapping this week. Hopefully, the final product that comes out of Congress will produce the very detailed maps that states are finding effective in working to bridge the digital divide.