Ethos Wireless is a new telecommunications consulting firm focusing on the community benefits of wireless technology. We follow three core principles: accessibility, accountability, affordability. We prioritize the needs of the community in our assessments and work directly with municipal representatives as well as local residents to deliver proposals and networking options tailored to each community's particular needs.
Broadband Data Improvement Act Passes Senate, House. A.K.A. Finding Out Why the US is Falling Further and Further Behind.
In a major win for the public interest, the Broadband Data Improvement Act passed the Senate (on September 26th) and the House (on September 29th). Due to amendments, it now goes back to the Senate for final approval (should be pro-forma) before it lands on George Bush's desk.
With the United States falling further and further behind a host of other countries, the question on many people's minds (including the folks over at Point-Topic who created this graphic) is, "Why is this happening?":
[Yes, that's the United States, chugging along ever closer to the bottom of the pack. Click here for a full-size image.]
Senator Inouye and Congressman Markey have been pushing for the passage of this bill for quite some time -- resurrecting the idea from congress to congress. The Act, with its explicit purpose "To improve the quality of Federal and State data regarding the availability and quality of broadband services and to promote the deployment of affordable broadband services to all parts of the Nation." has drawn widespread opposition from telcos who've claimed that our current data collection efforts are "good enough." Full text of the Act can be found here.
Among it's mandates, the Broadband Data Improvement Act requires that:
- Demographic Information for Unserved Areas- As part of the inquiry required by subsection (b), the Commission shall compile a list of geographical areas that are not served by any provider of advanced telecommunications capability (as defined by section 706(c)(1) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (47 U.S.C. 157nt note)) and to the extent that data from the Census Bureau is available, determine, for each such unserved area
(1) the population;
(2) the population density; and
(3) the average per capita income.
For those of us studying the digital divide, these data will provide much-needed information about the nature of underserved communities. Of course, they could also paint a damning picture of systematic, institutionalized redlining of poor and rural constituencies.
The Act also calls for an in-depth international comparison of broadband service levels, speeds, and pricing. 75 communities in 25 countries, matched "to the extent possible [by] population size, population density, topography, and demographic profile...comparable to the population size, population density, topography, and demographic profile of various communities within the United States" will be assessed.
Even more importantly, the Act requires a "Consumer Survey of Broadband Service Capability" -- in other words, it requires collection of real-world information on what's happening with broadband services in the United states. According to the Act:
- For the purpose of evaluating, on a statistically significant basis, the national characteristics of the use of broadband service capability, the Commission shall conduct and make public periodic surveys of consumers in urban, suburban, and rural areas in the large business, small business, and residential consumer markets to determine
(A) the types of technology used to provide the broadband service capability to which consumers subscribe;
(B) the amounts consumers pay per month for such capability;
(C) the actual data transmission speeds of such capability;
(D) the types of applications and services consumers most frequently use in conjunction with such capability;
(E) for consumers who have declined to subscribe to broadband service capability, the reasons given by such consumers for declining such capability;
(F) other sources of broadband service capability which consumers regularly use or on which they rely; and
(G) any other information the Commission deems appropriate for such purpose.
Along with requirements to investigate how best to collect a host of different metrics and a mandate for states to likewise engage in broadband data collection efforts, the Broadband Data Improvement Act represents an important step forward in addressing the broadband market failure gripping the United States. Though the Act's loopholes may yet allow for further obfuscation of critically important data, overall, this Act adds a great deal of momentum to efforts to increase digital inclusion and foster universal, affordable broadband access.
The Ethos Group and Acorn Active Media are working with leading local broadband researchers to enhance collaboration amongthose who study local communications infrastructure. The purpose of this project is two fold: 1) To move the field closer to a less confusing, shared taxonomy. 2) To identify opportunities for collaboration in data collection and analysis across the field.
The Pubic Interest Communications Infrastructure Taxonomy Project lays
the groundwork for a data-commons for the field of local broadband
research and advocacy, establishing a published data-model and a
publicly searchable data-set based on that model. Prospects for
deeper data coordination will be researched including direct query of
the data-set as a web-service, as well as data sharing between trusted
The Public Interest Communications Infrastructure Taxonomy Project Goals
Increase Coordination: We can minimize redundant data collection by understanding how other researchers define their taxonomies, what they are interested in collecting and where overlaps occur.
More Accurate, Extensive and Robust Data for the Field: Our aim is to point a path to more extensive and more credible data sets on local broadband. By surveying both the “what” of data collection in this field and also the “how,” we can propose methods and tools that will both simplify and amplify collection and analysis across the field.
What is Required to Participate?
Public interest researchers are encouraged to contact project coordinator Dharma Dailey (dharma _at_ ethoswireless.com) to participate. Interviews will be scheduled through the end of January 2008. Confirmed participants include The Alliance for Community Networking (AFCN), The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), the New America Foundation, and the Community Wireless Information Research Project (CWIRP).
Researchers must have at least some interest in possible collaboration on data, including making data publicly available.
Researchers must agree to two 30-45 minute phone interviews.
The first interview will focus on the nature of the data that you hold, your data policies, and data needs. After the first interview, you will be supplied with a Summary of Partner Data Profiles and a Draft of a Data Model for the field. The second interview will comprise your feedback on the summaries and draft.
Interested reseachers should contact us.
In order to promote the quality of dialogue concerning the new roles and challenges of scientific knowledge within today’s global Society, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, in partnership with UNESCO, ICSU and the European Commission, is organising the third World Science Forum to be held between 8-10 November 2007 in Budapest.
This time the Forum focuses on „Investing in Knowledge: Investing in the Future”.
Encouraged by the success of the World Conference on Science organised by UNESCO and ICSU in Budapest, Hungary in 1999, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences initiated a series of events called World Science Forum taking place biannually in Budapest. As in 2001 UNESCO demarcated the 10th of November as „World Science Day”, a day dedicated to science and scientists, the biannual World Science Forum takes place on and around the 10th of November of every odd year.