Tag: "mobile"

Posted April 7, 2020 by Katie Kienbaum

This week on the Community Broadband Bits podcast, Christopher speaks with Steve Song, a fellow at Mozilla who works to connect unserved communities across the globe.

Steve shares his background starting out at a nonprofit Internet service provider in 1990s South Africa, and they discuss the negative but mostly positive effects of widespread Internet access. While acknowledging the limitations of mobile connectivity, Steve describes the essential role wireless technologies have played in connecting people worldwide. To get everyone online, Steve argues that we need a mixture of models, including wireless providers.

Christopher and Steve also talk about how the potential impact of 5G is being diluted by focusing on high speeds instead of affordable, rural Internet access. At the same time, Steve explains that the U.S. has been a global leader in terms of opening up wireless spectrum for many uses. For better rural connectivity, Steve points to cooperatives as an exemplary model to follow, and he speaks to the need to treat spectrum differently in rural areas.

Talk to us! Would you like to hear shorter, more frequent episodes instead of our usual weekly episodes to keep up with the ever-changing times? Let us know by commenting below, sending an email to podcast@muninetworks.org, or connecting with us on social media.

This show is 29 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed. You can listen to the interview on this page or visit the...

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Posted February 19, 2020 by lgonzalez

The merger between T-Mobile and Sprint is moving forward, notwithstanding legal opposition from multiple state attorneys general. In a recent article, Christopher Mitchell Director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance's Community Broadband Networks Initiative, and Paul Goodman, Technology Equity Director from The Greenlining Institute, explained the tenuous reasoning behind the recent court decision and why they expect nothing good for subscribers and the state of competition as this deal comes to fruition.

We've shared the article in full here; you can also read it at The Greenlining Institute website.

EXPECT BROKEN PROMISES FROM T-MOBILE/SPRINT MERGER

By Christopher Mitchell and Paul Goodman

Earlier this week, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit to stop the proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint. As a result, it’s highly likely that by the end of the year, Sprint will no longer exist, and that AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile will be the only major wireless providers in the United States. The judge’s decision is 170 pages long but boils down to this: The judge believes that even though T-Mobile will have the ability to increase prices, it won’t, because T-Mobile promised not to.

What, Exactly, has T-Mobile Promised?

The same things that communications providers have promised us for decades when drumming up support for a merger—lower prices, the creation of thousands of jobs, and new and exciting service offerings. As a result, the company argues, T-Mobile will have the size and resources to transform itself into a company like AT&T.

It’s that last sentence that’s particularly troubling. In 2018, AT&T purchased Time Warner Media, arguing that doing so would result in lower prices, the creation of thousands of jobs, and new and exciting product offerings. Which sounds fantastic, except for the fact that AT&T failed to deliver on those promises:

  • Instead of lowering prices, AT&T has increased its prices twice in the past year (it also gave some its customers a “bonus” of 15 GB of data a...
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Posted February 7, 2020 by lgonzalez

Tribal Technology Assessment: The State of Internet Service on Tribal Lands, a report from the American Indian Policy Institute at Arizona State University (AIPI) provides a detailed examination of broadband access, device use, and uses of the Internet by Tribal peoples on Tribal lands. Authors Brian Howard and Traci Morris completed the 2019 report aiming to develop a closer look at the digital divide and "to create a new baseline for future studies with the expectation of potentially measuring growth in coming years."

The AIPI worked with Tribal leadership and members to design a study that would include the participation of those living on Tribal lands. In addition to providing historical perspective on why the issue of digital inclusion has not been studied adequately, the authors address the multiple facets of the digital divide(s) that Native American peoples who live on Tribal lands face and how the large ISPs have left most behind.

The report explains in detail the survey questions, results, and methodology.

Based on the results of the survey, AIPI provides policy recommendations directed at different public and private sectors. At the foundation of their recommendations is the link between local self-reliance and increased adoption of better connectivity:

There needs to be a new model to address the Digital Divide prevalent in rural and Tribal America. What is needed is a positively related regulatory disruption to find new solutions for community based networks for positive social disruption.

AIPI makes recommendations for Congress, such as:

  • Establish the Office of Native Affairs and Policy as a standalone, independent office at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with a permanent annual budget.
  • Establish a Tribal Broadband Fund to support broadband deployment, maintenance, and technical assistance training.

Recommendations for the telecom industry include:

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Posted January 17, 2020 by lgonzalez

When his Twitter feed announced the “arrival of 5G” last December, tech reporter Chris Matyszczyk made a beeline for the nearest T-Mobile store and asked, “Can I have some of this 5G, please? I will become a much more desirable, admirable person if I have 5G!” From there, it was all downhill.

The Pain of the Hype 

We aren’t the only ones who have pointed out the hype around 5G as telecom companies rush to outdo each other. In another case of marketing mayhem overtaking technical truth, Matyszczyk shares his rain soaked pursuit in the Bay Area. Expecting fanfare, he was met with a surprisingly subdued store:

I wandered into a T-Mobile store that was emptier than a politician's tweet.

Oddly, there weren't 99 pink balloons hanging from the ceiling to celebrate 5G. There weren't even five.

He goes on to describe how the less-than-enthusiastic salespeople didn’t seem very well informed about when, where, or why 5G isn’t available to him when the company indicated that it arrived nationwide:

"But isn't it a bit annoying to be told there's this incredibly exciting 5G when you can't get it for at least another six months?"

They seemed neither to agree or disagree. They seemed like they were annoyed it was raining and that I was there, dripping.

Read the full article, "I went to T-Mobile to ask about 5G. The response was painful" here. You can also watch an interview with Matyszczyk.

He expressed sympathy for the salespeople. After all, he says, “it’s hard for them to present something they can’t actually sell you.”

Marketplace spoke with experts, including Gigi Sohn and our Christopher Mitchell, about the hype surrounding 5G. Sohn said, "5G is 80% marketing and 20% technology. The hype around this technology is enormous, and also the hype around needing to win a so-called race around 5G."

Listen to the story here:

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Posted November 1, 2019 by Sayidali Moalim

An increasing number of local governments around the country have started taking steps to improve broadband adoption and accessibility in their communities. A recent Brookings Institution article discusses the role of states in broadband deployment and adoption and how lawmakers are making efforts, but still have room for improvment.

Special Interest Lobbying Leaves an Imprint

A few states have explicitly banned municipal government from telecommunication services while others have confusing and hard-to-understand laws and regulations. Local governments have stepped up in the best interest of their residents but the imposed barriers have created tension between the local and state governments. Huge players influencing state legislation affecting broadband are the telecom lobbying interest groups. Due to their efforts, 19 states face barriers ranging from blocks to outright bans.

Brookings writes that states are a key factor in expanding high-quality Internet access to citizens and calls for a state-centered approach to improve the situation:

Instead of waiting for the stars to align in Washington, we should focus on states as an important middle ground. States have access to a range of tools and resources—independent of federal action—to promote broadband availability and adoption within their borders. The question is whether they will actually use them.

Specifically, Brookings recommends that states allow local communities to function with local telecommunications authority:

However, there is still more that states can do. Many should reconsider laws that block local efforts to expand broadband access, which limit opportunities to service populations that privately owned broadband networks will not.

The various barriers set up by the state governments may be hard to find but researchers at Pew Charitable Trusts have created the State Broadband Policy Explorer, a handy tool to make research easier. Using this tool, anyone from lawmakers to concerned citizens can search...

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Posted August 27, 2019 by lgonzalez

When we released our Pocket Guide to 5G Hype, we expected to see some reactions from others on the unrealistic expectations about 5G. When this week’s guest contacted us because he disagreed with some of the Pocket Guide content, however, we knew we should bring him on the show. 

Sascha Segan, PCMag.com’s lead mobile analyst has seen generations of mobile wireless come and go during more than a decade of reporting. In this interview, he provides more detail about 5G versus millimeter waves and he and Christopher talk about the distinctions. You'll walk away knowing more than you ever thought you could about mobile wireless connectivity.

Christopher and Sascha also discuss 5G marketing that has swiftly turned into hype. They talk about the next generation in mobile wireless through a more practical lens, considering how it will impact rural connectivity, competition, and innovation. The each share their predictions for fiber optic deployment in rural regions and explain why -- or why not -- they believe rural communities will ever have access to fiber connectivity. Advances in technology move forward, notes Sascha, but the real issues that prevent ubiquitous coverage in the U.S. continue to be regulatory and political roadblocks.

After you've learned more about 5G from Sascha, check out the Pocket Guide to 5G Hype for yourself.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please ...

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Posted August 12, 2019 by lgonzalez

It’s difficult to separate 5G fantasy from reality as reported in traditional news sources. Misunderstandings surrounding the demands and capabilities of 5G has snowballed, creating an incorrect assumption that the technology will solve America’s many connectivity problems. It’s true that 5G is an improvement, but it has limitations. In A Pocket Guide to 5G Hype, we address the most repeated errors surrounding 5G and explain why the technology should be considered another tool, not an exclusive remedy.

Download A Pocket Guide to 5G Hype [PDF] here.

Mistakes We Hear Over...and Over...and Over

Regardless of the source, several errors seem to be repeated and we address those in the fact sheet. We provide context to:

  • The fact that 5G still needs fiber optic connections
  • Why it won’t solve the problem of lack of competition
  • Why 5G won’t eliminate the digital divide
  • The myth of the 5G race

Orders, Complements, and More

The fact sheet also provides information about the FCC’s 2018 Order that interferes with local communities’ ability to control negotiations with 5G carriers. By choosing big telecom companies over local governments the FCC is preventing cities and counties from finding efficient paths to digital equity.

Our Pocket Guide to 5G Hype lays out a comparison between 5G and Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH). Rather than replacing fiber with 5G, the two technologies can have the most impact when they work together; on the fact sheet, we've laid out the reasons in a side-by-side chart.

We want you to delve deeper into the issue of 5G and find out the truth, rather than get lost in the hype and we've offered a few additional resources to get you started on your own research. Share the fact sheet with others who are interested in the truth about 5G and be sure to send it to your local elected officials. As they create local policies affecting 5G deployment in your community, they need to base their decisions on realities, not hype.

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Posted June 26, 2019 by htrostle

Protestors around the country have taken a stand against 5G ⁠— often based on myths of health effects from the new technology. But Doug Dawson at CCG Consulting argues that the protestors do have an element of truth. Dawson addresses these health concerns around 5G and small cells on his blog, POTs and PANs. The first item of business that Dawson takes care of is explaining in clear terms what 5G even is. Then he dives into what the actual health effects are and how concerned we should be.

5G Basics

5G is confusing because it actually refers to three types of technologies: mobile cellular, gigabit radio, or high-speed wireless connections. Protestors have conflated these types of 5G together. Dawson explains the differences among these technologies and whether there are actual health risks to any of them. He also notes that 5G is not going to be here any time soon:

"It might be a decade until we see a full 5G cellular installation. There are 13 major specifications for improvements between 4G and 5G and those will get implemented over the next decade. This won’t stop the marketing departments of the cellular carriers to loudly claim 5G networks after one or two of these improvements have been partially implemented."

Health Concerns

Most of the 5G technologies should not pose a problem; the concern is with the particular technology that uses millimeter wave spectrum. Some research suggests that this can have ill effects on the environment. Other studies have shown few health effects, such as this article about millimeter wave spectrum and lab rats, but more research is needed. Dawson points out that most countries, including the U.S., have agreed to explore millimeter wave spectrum deployment except for Belgium, which has banned it until there is more research on the health effects. He describes the potential problem here:

"A deployment of millimeter wave loops means constantly bombarding residential neighborhoods with millimeter wave spectrum from poles on the curb. The other planned use of millimeter wave spectrum is for indoor routers that will transmit gigabit bandwidth inside of a room. People can clearly decide to not use millimeter wave...

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Posted June 18, 2019 by lgonzalez

This week, Communications Specialist Jess Del Fiacco interviews Christopher about some of the many events that we’ve been following lately.

Jess and Christopher start off the show with a healthy dose of outrage as they comment on an advert from Verizon that takes the 5G hype just a little too far. Next they discuss a recent report from several authors, including Sascha Meinrath at Pennsylvania State University. We helped develop the report, which used data from Measurement Lab (M-Lab) based on real world Internet access speeds as compared to self-reported data from ISPs.

Read the report here [pdf].

During the conversation, Jess and Christopher also talk about the recent media reports on super-affordable Internet access in Ammon, Idaho, where the city’s software defined network is creating choices for residents and businesses. They talk about Ammon’s infrastructure and other possibilities for open access, along with pros and cons. Lastly, the interview turns toward a hotly debated policy proposal that would cap the amount of funding allocated to the Universal Service Fund. Christopher explains what the funds are used for and what concerns need to be addressed with the proposal.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

This show is 35 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed. You can listen to the interview on this page or visit the Community Broadband Bits page.

Read the transcript for this episode.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index...

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Posted February 13, 2019 by lgonzalez

At the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, we believe that competition for goods and services helps communities, consumers, and the economy. This belief carries over into the mobile Internet access market, which is one of the reasons we oppose a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile. We’re not alone and we’ve now joined with other organizations as part of the 4Competition Coalition.

As the prospect of 5G wireless connectivity becomes more probable, these two companies claim that they need to merge in order to remain competitive with the other two mobile Internet access providers. In reality, reducing mobile subscriber options from four to three, creates no benefit for anyone except the companies with less competition.

In a press release announcing ILSR’s decision to join the Coalition, Christopher stated:

“Market competition between Sprint and T-Mobile has made mobile Internet access available to millions of low-income households. We are deeply concerned that this merger will harm those households and leave them without any affordable Internet access.”

Along with ILSR, trade group INCOMPAS joined the 4Competition Coalition. INCOMPAS also strongly advocates ample choice in the broadband arena and recognized Sprint and T-Mobile’s past work to keep competition alive.

So Much to Lose

Losing a mobile Internet access provider as an option is bad, but it isn’t the only consequence that we face if the merger goes through. The Coalition recognizes that results will likely be job losses, higher rates, locking out new entrants to the market, broken promises regarding 5G, and harm especially to people in rural areas. At least 11 states are also not convinced that a Sprint/T-Mobile merger is in the interest of their citizens and are reviewing the proposal.

In order to help spread the word and share information, the 4Competition Coalition is making resources available online. In addition to Petitions to stop the merger that have already been filed, anyone can access and read relevant...

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