Rural Broadband Providers Discuss Cybersecurity Issues

Ransomware, distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks, phishing campaigns – is your company prepared to address and mitigate current cyber threats? Within the last few years, cyberattacks have intensified in frequency, sophistication and severity. Corporations, networks and individuals are under constant attack from cyberthreats originating within the United States and abroad. Bad actors are targeting all organizations, regardless of their size or business mission. A cyberattack could adversely affect the continued viability of your company. 

Bad actors typically target credit card information, employee data, customer data, intellectual property—often information that is found on your “enterprise” or company network(s). Additionally, those that operate a telecom network may face broader exposure. A bad actor may desire to infiltrate a telecom voice and/or data network(s) to access and exploit networking gear, disrupt communications or reach the networks of your business customers. 

Want Happier Wireless Customers? Sign 'Em Up...

New Edge  A recent J.D. Power study found that customers who subscribe to wireless service on a contract basis have higher levels of satisfaction than those subscribing on a non-contract basis.

According to the market research firm’s “2016 U.S. Wireless Cell Phone Satisfaction Survey, Volume 2,” overall satisfaction among wireless carriers in the full-service carrier segment was 8.30 out of 10.00, compared to 7. 86 for customers purchasing service from non-contract carriers.

One possible explanation for the discrepancy is the fact that contract customers tend to have more up-to-date handsets, which allow them to do more with their service. Non-contract customers, on the other hand, generally have older and/or less sophisticated phones.

As the FCC Examines New Privacy Rules, My Dislike for Broccoli Could be Protected Information

  The FCC is currently weighing proposals to regulate the protection of broadband customers' information. The intent behind the proposals is simply an extension of customer proprietary network information (CPNI) requirements to broadband Internet access service (BIAS). ISPs were historically not subject to CPNI requirements, since BIAS was a non-regulated service. The reclassification last year of broadband, however, to a common carrier offering renders BIAS subject to Federal laws that govern telecommunications customer privacy.

To be sure, there has been a significant amount of debate surrounding the rules, with many of the arguments taking expected forms (private industry promoting greater flexibility, public interest groups advocating strict protections).

Reports of the Death of Fixed Broadband Have Been Highly Exaggerated

New Edge  In his keynote address at the Broadband World Forum (BBWF) in London this week, Federico Guillen, president of Nokia’s Fixed Network Business Group, underlined the role that fixed networks will play in achieving network transformation and true convergence with mobile as the world moves relentlessly into the seamless communications era of 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT.)

“A few years ago some people saw mobile as the only technology and, to some, fixed, wireline networks were effectively ‘dead,’” Guillen said. “Reality is, however, that fixed is very much back, stronger than ever, and it is a necessary technology to realize our gigabit societies of the future, delivering higher speeds than mobile, and being highly complementary.”

“This is especially true in the world of 5G and if we are to cope with the incredible opportunities of the IoT as we move towards digital societies of the future,” he added.

NTCA Members Discuss Rural Broadband With the FCC

This week NTCA members discussed broadband with United States senators, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Commissioner Ajit Pai. 

Wheeler met with members in Ohio on October 7 and West Virginia on October 11. He also took part in a roundtable discussion hosted by the Ohio Telecom Association that included representatives of large and small telecom service providers. NTCA members Ayersville Telephone Co. (Defiance, Ohio) and New Knoxville Telephone Co. (New Knoxville, Ohio) were in attendance, and they outlined the small-company perspective and the challenges they face, including how to sustain service in high-cost markets.

Ohio Telecom Association with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler

The next week U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D–W.Va.) hosted Wheeler at a broadband connectivity roundtable in Thomas, W.Va. NTCA members Hardy Telecommunications, Inc. (Lost River, W.Va.), Shenandoah Telecommunications Co. (Edinburg, Va.) and Spruce Knob Seneca Rocks Telephone, Inc. (Riverton, W.Va.) attended and discussed the challenges and opportunities of deploying broadband networks in the state. The discussions also included a debate about the second phase of a universal service mobility fund and access to “middle mile” networks.

Smart Phones, Smart Cops

  NYPD Blue, the ABC drama that aired from 1993-2005, is the source of a colloquialism that is used to describe the pairing of a short-sleeve dress shirt with a necktie: the Sipowicz. The namesake of that fashion statement was also one of two characters on the show to carry a Smith & Wesson revolver (model 36, to be specific) as opposed to a Glock, which at the time was on-duty firearm of the NYPD (officers currently can choose from Sig Sauer and Smith & Wesson models, as well). Sipowicz clung to the Smith & Wesson, an illustration of the character’s long-time roots in the department and his basic, no-nonsense approach to policing (“People, places, the things they do, the times they do them”). Although one might wonder what type of phone Sipowicz might carry if the show were broadcast today, the actual NYPD answered that definitively earlier this year when it completed a roll out of Windows smart phones to its 36,000 officers.

Is This the Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy?

New Edge  Undoubtedly, the 18 month-long presidential campaign that is now mercifully grinding its way toward a conclusion has left many longing for a means of escaping from the harshness of the real world.  According to IHS Markit, dramatically more people around the globe will be able to do just that in the near term future.

According to recently released forecasts from the London-based market research firm, the installed base of virtual reality (VR) headsets will grow from 4 million in 2015 to 81 million by 2020. That same year, consumer spending on VR headsets will reach $7.9 billion, and total spending on VR entertainment will reach $3.3 billion.

“While the VR headset installed base will escalate significantly to 81 million by 2020, we predict that expensive, higher-end headsets will dominate content monetization,” said HIS Technology director of games analysis Piers Harding-Rolls. “There will be a polarization of the VR market between lower volume premium VR headsets, which will have strong paid content conversion rates, and higher-volume cheaper smartphone VR headsets, which will monetize content at a lower rate.”

What's Standing Between Consumers and Smart Homes?

  Two main challenges are currently facing the smart homes market—cost, and customer understanding of the potential benefits of the new technologies.

This is the primary finding of a new report issued by Beecham Research, entitled “Smart Home Market—Current Status, Consumption Trends and Future Directions.”

“A basic light bulb is more than 20 times cheaper than its smarter counterpart,” said Beecham Research senior analyst Olena Kaplan, one of the report’s authors. “But evidence shows that consumers are willing to pay a premium price if they understand the value of the more expensive product. The crucial question is; does the smart bulb, or any smart home product, offer sufficient benefits for consumers to justify the price tag?"

In addition to cost and understanding, the report cites concerns about data privacy and lack of device interoperability as additional barriers to be overcome.

A Less Linear Approach

  I usually leave major NTCA meetings feeling simultaneously impressed and energized; impressed by the scope of issues that are implicated by rural broadband and the rural condition, generally, and energized by the ingenuity and opportunities they present.

This week’s Fall Conference featured a panel of three students – two high school and one college – who shared their perspectives on broadband connectivity. They discussed usage patterns for school, work and social needs; aspirations for the future and their individual desires to live in connected rural areas; and how parents’ “grounding kids from their phones” was a failed exercise in discipline when one mom realized she could not text her daughter.

I tend to view broadband applications in a somewhat linear form: how does broadband improve education, health care, economic development or public safety? But, three articles I read during a series of airport delays following the conference taught me about the scope of what broadband can do, and how increased connectivity is spilling back to effect change in so-called “brick and mortar” environments. If Robert Frost contemplated the road not taken, I was left thinking about analyses less linear.

You Have Built It...and They Have Stayed

New Edge  As the snail-like (yet doggedly persistent) recovery from the Great Crash of 2008-09 continues, one measure of economic health—the nation’s unemployment rate—had fallen from above 10% to its current level just south of 5%. But that’s an aggregate number. Certain demographic groups have done better than others, and some have seen their situation deteriorate substantially.

Just look at men in their twenties without a college degree, for example. In 1990, 4% of that demographic had not worked in the previous twelve month period. In 2015, that number ballooned to 20%.

So if these young men are not working, exactly what are they doing? Economists from Princeton, the University of Rochester, and the University of Chicago have studied that very question and concluded that many are living in their parents’ basements, playing video games.