The top 10 higher-ed tech stories of 2010: No. 5

The plan seeks to bring broadband internet to 100 million U.S. homes by 2020.

College faculty whose campuses are surrounded by neighborhoods that rely on antiquated dial-up internet connections are hoping the Federal Communication Commission’s National Broadband Plan will bring faster connections that won’t send students running to their campus’s high-speed network every time they need to complete an assignment online.

The plan, unveiled March 16 after a year of intense deliberation among the FCC and various stakeholders, seeks to bring broadband internet to 100 million U.S. homes by 2020. Fourteen million Americans don’t have broadband access, even if they want a high-speed option, according to federal estimates.

Ultra high-speed connections—at least 1 gigabit per second, or 100 times faster than a typical broadband network—also would be made available at “anchor institutions” such as hospitals, libraries, and colleges, according to the FCC’s plan.…Read More

FCC plan could revive ‘net neutrality’

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski wants to reclassify broadband as a 'telecommunications' service, but without as much regulation.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski wants to reclassify broadband as a 'telecommunications' service, but without as much regulation.

The head of the Federal Communications Commission thinks he has come up with a way to salvage his ambitious national broadband plans and his hope for “net neutrality,” a principle favored by many school technology advocates, without running into legal obstacles that have threatened to derail him.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said May 6 that his agency has crafted a compromise in how it regulates high-speed internet access: It will apply only narrow rules to broadband companies. The FCC chairman, a Democrat, said this delicate dance will ensure the agency has adequate authority to govern broadband providers without being too “heavy-handed.”

But his plan likely will hit legal challenges from the big phone and cable companies, and it already faces significant opposition from Republicans at the FCC and in Congress.…Read More

Could net-neutrality ruling hinder online education?

Genachowski's net neutrality and national broadband plans are in danger after the April 6 court ruling.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's net-neutrality and national broadband plans are in danger after an April 6 court ruling.

A federal court threw the future of internet regulations and U.S. broadband expansion plans into doubt April 6 with a far-reaching decision that went against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The ruling poses a major hurdle for federal policy that school and college administrators hoped would ensure the growth of online education and make high-speed internet affordable for even the smallest school systems and campuses.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the FCC lacks the authority to require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all internet traffic flowing over their networks. That was a big victory for Comcast Corp., the nation’s largest cable company, which had challenged the FCC’s authority to impose such “net neutrality” obligations on broadband providers.

The ruling marks a serious setback for the FCC, which is trying to adopt official net-neutrality regulations. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a Democrat, argues that such rules are needed to prevent phone and cable companies from using their control over internet access to favor some online content and services over others.…Read More

FCC’s plans a potential boon for community colleges

Community colleges with broadband access could serve not only students, but community members too.
Community colleges with broadband access could serve both students and community members.

Community college decision makers were encouraged by the Federal Communication Commission’s inclusion in its National Broadband Plan of robust high-speed internet networks on two-year campuses, which soon could be a central location for locals who don’t have broadband internet at home.

The FCC’s detailed strategy, released March 16, describes community colleges as “anchor institutions” that could support ultra high-speed networks and make modern web connections available to towns and cities that still rely on low-bandwidth options that don’t support online video and a host of other common technologies.

The FCC asked Congress for enough funding to bring high-speed internet to all public community colleges and maintain the networks. The National Broadband Plan seeks to bring broadband internet to 100 million U.S. homes by 2020. Fourteen million Americans don’t have broadband access, even if they want a high-speed option, according to federal estimates.…Read More

FCC plan could bring high-speed web to campuses, communities

Genachowski lauded the FCC's plan to expand high-speed web connections across the US.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski unveiled the plan to expand broadband connections across the U.S.

College faculty whose campuses are surrounded by neighborhoods that rely on antiquated dial-up internet connections are hoping the Federal Communication Commission’s National Broadband Plan will bring faster connections that won’t send students running to their campus’s high-speed network every time they need to complete an assignment online.

The plan, unveiled March 16 after a year of intense deliberation among the FCC and various stakeholders, seeks to bring broadband internet to 100 million U.S. homes by 2020. Fourteen million Americans don’t have broadband access, even if they want a high-speed option, according to federal estimates.

Ultra high-speed connections—at least 1 gigabit per second, or 100 times faster than a typical broadband network—also would be made available at “anchor institutions” such as hospitals, libraries, and colleges, according to the FCC’s plan.…Read More

The top higher-ed tech stories of 2009: No. 2

Broadband access is essential for universities, advocates say.
Broadband access is essential for universities, advocates say.

The economic stimulus package approved by Congress in February included $7.2 billion to help bring broadband internet access to more citizens. It also required the Federal Communications Commission to create a national broadband plan–an undertaking with important implications for colleges and universities.

The stimulus authorized the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to implement the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), which is a $4.7 billion, one-time competitive matching grants program. The funds are intended to expand broadband services to underserved areas, improve broadband access for public safety agencies, stimulate the economy, and create jobs. NTIA is implementing the program along side the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Services, which received $2.5 billion for broadband loans, loan guarantees, and grants.

The funding came on the heels of a report from the Benton Foundation calling for robust, affordable, and universal broadband access to the internet, because, according to what the foundation calls “persuasive research,” universal and affordable broadband is “the key to our nation’s citizens reaching for–and achieving–the American Dream.”…Read More