Earlier today the Blandin Foundation hosted a local viewing of Opportunities for Bipartisan Tech Policy, hosted by Next Century Cities in DC. You can watch the program yourself….
It was an interesting discussion. The spoke primarily on Rural broadband, privacy and security and spectrum and 5G. I took pretty loose notes and I’ll start with Rural Broadband. The general consensus is that it costs more money than you can make back to deploy broadband in high cost areas. That is compounded by misunderstanding that rural citizens can make do with lower speeds and higher costs than their urban counterparts when it comes to broadband. There also a divide in the provider community. Larger, national providers seem less interested in improvements in rural areas that local solutions.
There were some suggestions to help correct the problems:
- Break down supply chain to consumer and figure out how to bring down cost
- Make sure everyone in an area has access – there is no law saying a provider needs a service (universal service mandate)
- We have done this with energy with smart grid – should we focus on interconnection rather than just a network?
Data and security seems like a cat’s out of the bag situation. Everyone agrees there’s a problem. There’s a problem that effects individuals and society as a whole. Some people seem reticent to work on solutions to technology that’s ever changing and there needs to be greater recognition that privacy isn’t free. Many websites and online tools are “free” but what we give up is personal data. If we can keep personal data safe, we may pay for more services. Also a good note on the blurring between sensitive and non-sensitive data. As big data goes granular information that seems non-sensitive becomes more sensitive.
There were some suggestion on how to move forward with low hanging fruit in privacy?
- Lack of strong enforcement
- Lack of enforcement with sharper teeth
- Lack of technical expertise with enforcers
What does congress need to learn?
- Need to know more about third party vendors who don’t need to get consent (when people give/sell your data)
- Need to look into the cost of cutting off some streams of revenue (the price of a free website)
When it comes to technology we need to look at what technologies are converging and where the funding should go – both in terms of to which technologies but also whether the public or private sectors can better manage ubiquitous deployments and upgrades.