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May 26, 2011

UN gets a telephone country code for disaster relief

According to a post by Alec Saunders, the United Nations has been given its own country code — you know, the thing that confuses Americans get wrong when we have to call another country. “Tomorrow, Voxbone will announce an agreement with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to implement country code +888 on behalf of UN agencies engaged in rendering assistance to nations or regions affected by natural disasters.” Here’s Alec’s explanation, based on a conversation with Voxbone CEO Rodrigue Ullens:

In cases of humanitarian need, where telephone systems may be inoperable because of natural disaster, the first teams on the ground would deploy a local GSM antenna, connected via satellite to the rest of the world. Then Voxbone would simply forward calls to the +888 country code via satellite to the local GSM station on the ground. The impact is that UN inter-agency, intra-agency, and external users will be able to dial a +888 number assigned to a relief agency from anywhere in the world, and be immediately connected to that relief agency in the field, in whatever country being served. Not only that, the numbers need never change. Relief staff will be reachable on the same numbers in whatever location they are currently assigned.

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September 25, 2009

Broadband. Trust them.

At last, that brave band of oppressed companies who have been granted near-monopolies to deliver over-priced, under-performing broadband to the entire USA (exempting the parts they don’t find particularly profitable) have managed to scrape together an organization to give voice to their position. BroadbandForAmerica.com is finally going to air their views about why de-regulated near monopolies are the best and only way to bring affordable, open Internet to everyone in the country — views that until now have gone unheard, except from their hundreds and hundreds of lobbyists. Why, the industry could barely put together a mere $765,000 to send to John McCain’s campaign!

The site itself seems innocuous. Their history of the Internet nods in some appropriate directions, including to Al Gore and to students who have innovated on the Net. (It oddly leaves out Tim Berners-Lee.) Of course, it’s actually a paean to private industry that cleverly equates the role of creative individuals who have contributed mightily for free and the incumbent infrastructure providers whose financial incentives lead them to prefer to tilt the field against cash-starved start-ups. The closest the organization comes to stating its actual intent is in the wording of the print ad they’re running. Hmm. On the open medium of the Internet the organization hides its purpose, but in the controlled medium of print, they come close to stating it. How unexpected!

So, welcome to the Web, BroadbandForAmerica. Now — after your long list of rules of discussion, followed by a forum that is only soliciting happy stories — how about engaging in some honest, forthright discussion?


[Later that day:] Here’s a New Yorker interview with Julius Genachowski about Net Neutrality.

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April 28, 2009

Australia: Broadband as electricity

Stephen Conroy, Australia’s Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, today gives a talk ([Tags: ]‘>transcript here) to the National Press Club in which he outlines the case for treating broadband access as a service as fundamental as electricity. Australia is implementing a national rollout, providing wholesale access to competitive access retailers. They want 90% of the country connected. “Our rollout will start at 100Mbps, but once fibre is distributed, future hardware upgrades can boost speeds even further to 1000Mbps and beyond.” (No mention of Net neutrality or the openness of access; a truly competitive market would help ameliorate some of the need for that.)

Conroy ends his talk with a summary:

Broadband, like electricity in the century past, has the potential to drive innovation, productivity, efficiency and employment across the economy.

It will, over time, influence every activity and process throughout our daily lives.

Broadband will transform health care.

Broadband will revolutionise education.

Broadband will underpin our future carbon constrained economy.

vBroadband will secure our infrastructure investments.

The National Broadband Network will support applications and services in these and other sectors that today we cannot begin to imagine.

And for the first time they will be delivered over a genuinely competitive platform.

It is our responsibility and obligation to ensure that these opportunities are available to future generations of Australians.

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April 2, 2009

Kevin Werbach on the role of the FCC

Here’s a snippet from an interview with Kevin Werbach running at [email protected] Kevin was one of the chairs of Obama’s FCC transition team.

The FCC really needs to think about itself as an economic stimulus agency, as an agency that’s about creating jobs and fostering investment. Look at the telecommunications and media and technology sectors — there is a tremendous opportunity for growth. These are not industries that are going down. These are industries that, in many ways, are growing. And they’re the foundation for other kinds of new jobs

There’s a ton of policy stuff that needs to be done, but this is the kind of strategic thinking we need going forward. Here’s some more of Kevin. You know, I really wouldn’t be crying in my beer if Kevin were made an FCC Commissioner. In fact, you’d hear a whoop coming from my house that’d have you dialing the emergency number of the Happiness Police.

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January 29, 2009

Radio Berkman: Steve Schultze on regulating the Internet – an explainer

Steve Schultze explains how the FCC got into the business of regulating the Internet in this Radio Berkman interview. I’m the interviewer, so I’m biased, but I think Steve does a great job talking us through this, so that Title I vs. Title II, etc., is clear at last.

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January 11, 2009

Should Telco 2.0 be Telco -1 ?

Ken Camp follows up on his follow up to his provocative post that says that Telco 2.0 is not a winning idea. He compares telcos to five attributes of social media companies:

Five words that do not describe telecommunications or the telecom industry – Participation, Openness, Conversation, Community and Connectedness. The industry, the whole construct of that framework is to control four of those by ensuring there is no community in the first place. To embrace community is not to become Telco 2.0, but to create something entirely new.

Ken worked in the industry for twenty years, btw.

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January 27, 2008

The FCC auction is coming unglued

Harold Feld, who understands this stuff as well as anyone and 150 times better than I do, is calling on the FCC to stop the current spectrum auction because of underhandedness in the killing of the bid by the Frontline group. Harold has more details here. And Dow Jones has a shorter version here. Harold also points to an op-ed by one of the Frontline members.

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