broadband Archives - Shopfloor

Telecom Infrastructure Investment Boosts Manufacturing Innovation

By | Infrastructure, Shopfloor Policy, Technology | No Comments

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) recently released “Building to Win,” a blueprint for the next Congress and president on how to repair and revolutionize the infrastructure that makes the American Dream possible. There are many pieces of infrastructure mentioned in the reporttraditional transportation infrastructure as well as energy, water and communications systems. Broadband is one segment of infrastructure that is often overlooked but cannot be forgotten as the next president and Congress look ahead to a renewed focus on infrastructure.

There is little or no argument about the benefits of widespread adoption of broadband. It creates economic opportunity and equality. In the manufacturing sector, it is helping to power the disruptive technologythe Internet of Things, the cloud, Big Data, 3D printing, drones, etc.that is transforming traditional businesses.

NAM members told us in a recent survey that these new technologies are increasing shop floor efficiencies, enabling new revenue streams and allowing manufacturers to move into completely different product lines. And a common link throughout all these technologies? They all run on top of our nation’s telecommunications infrastructure.

Our products and processes have become increasingly dependent on the latest telecommunications tools and networks. Many manufacturers leverage commercially available networks, and many others manage their own networks for their facilities. No matter what type of network, they are all almost entirely funded with private investment.

Unfortunately, if private investment in this piece of the infrastructure lags, our manufacturing innovation leadership will be further challenged.

The Progressive Policy Institute recently published its “Investment Heroes” report in which it ranks corporations by levels of capital spending. PPI’s primary conclusion was that these private investments raise productivity and wages across the country. It also cited a “vitally important” policy challenge to maintain investment and that was to get regulation “out of the way.”

Those of us in the manufacturing sector agree: a regulatory environment that fosters investment rather than restricts it is needed, especially when it comes to broadband. When companies are faced with a complex, mandatory regulatory regime, it severely reduces investment in infrastructure. This lack of investment will significantly lower the multiplier effect technology has on our industry, the people we employ and the products we create.

Don’t Tax Our Internet: Part IV

By | Taxation, Technology | No Comments

Over the past 16 years, the Internet has become a critical piece of infrastructure for Manufacturers in the United States and a ban on new state and local taxes on Internet access has a lot to do with the incredible amount of investment in the broadband networks. Unfortunately, unless Congress acts soon, this temporary moratorium will expire for the fourth time in November 2014 with the potential of raising costs significantly for all businesses and families.

NAM members wholeheartedly agree with the conclusion of economist George Ford in a recent paper released by the Phoenix Center that a permanent Internet Tax Moratorium will ensure continued robust broadband adoption and investment in the United States. We strongly support bipartisan legislation, H.R. 3086, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, scheduled to be taken up tomorrow by the House Judiciary Committee. Kudos to Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) along with Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Spencer Bachus (R-AL), Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Steve Chabot(R-OH) who cosponsored the bill. Extending the moratorium encourages innovation and economic growth and the sooner Congress removes the tax threat the better.


The Judiciary Committee has officially put the permanent kibosh on taxation of access to broadband internet. This is an important step and manufacturers urge Congress to pass this bill in an expeditious fashion.

Another Step Toward Broadband Deployment to All Manufacturers

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Access to broadband provides limitless opportunities for manufacturers and helps to advance technology, innovation, investment and job creation. Economic growth depends heavily upon the ability of businesses and individuals to secure broadband services.

Today nation’s largest telecommunications companies released a proposal that would help deploy broadband access to underserved Americans living in rural areas. The National Association of Manufacturers applaud the work of the authors of this plan for moving the dialogue forward on the steps needed to ensure access to cutting-edge technology and telecommunications services for all.  You can view the plan by clicking here.

Brian Raymond is director of technology and domestic economic policy.

AT&T and T-Mobile: Sign of Growing Confidence in the Economy

By | Communications, Economy, Regulations | No Comments

Marketplace Morning Report’s Chris Farrell is excited about AT&T’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile for what it means for the U.S. economy. From “The positive side of the AT&T-T-Mobile merger“:

CEOs for the past couple of years have been scared. They’ve been in a survival mode. Well, they’re now leaving the bunker. They’re willing to take a risk; they’re going to buy a business, they’re going to expand. And so, the famous phrase of John Maynard Keynes: Animal spirits of capitalism, at least in the executive suite, are being unleashed.

Extra points to Farrell for invoking Schumpeter’s “creative destruction”: “I think we’re seeing more growth, I think we’re seeing more opportunity. So overall, job creation. But if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, job losses.”

The Hill also blogs today on the predictable opposition for reactionary “consumer groups,” with a good response from AT&T. From “Groups say AT&T merger is job killer“:

“We have a metric that every billion dollars results in 7,000 new jobs, so I think that’s bringing new jobs to the economy, bringing new jobs to the country, extending a critical infrastructure to the country, and I think it’s good for the overall economy,” AT&T executive Ralph de la Vega said in a CNBC interview on Tuesday.

“We have said we are going to invest an additional $8 billion — $8 billion — in infrastructure to facilitate us making this merger work and extending LTE to 95 percent of the population,” he said.

Block efficiency, innovation and investment, and jobs will wither away.

Darn. Left? Left? Or Take a Right? My GPS Just Stopped Working

By | Communications, Regulations, Technology | No Comments

So we were reading the latest GPS World Magazine and thought the article, “Act Now to Protect GPS Signal” did a nice job describing the problems industries have with a proposal to develop a cell phone/broadband service that could disrupt GPS. The website has a short and clear report, as well:

Threat to GPS. You may be following the very serious interference issue that threatens the GPS signal. LightSquared is developing high wireless bandwidth capabilities (4G-LTE) for wireless operators. LightSquared received an unnervingly fast-tracked FCC conditional waiver that permits it to broadcast a new terrestrial broadband service from 1,500-watt terrestrial transmitters. This will be in the portion of the L Band that is immediately adjacent to the band used by GPS. The FCC waiver was required as LightSquared’s FCC license only extended to dual-mode phones, but LightSquared wants to offer the option of terrestrial-only, hence the waiver. According to industry experts, the LightSquared terrestrial broadband signal is about 1 billion times the received power of the GPS signal on Earth. This may result in wide-scale GPS interference and jamming worldwide. As a result of ensuing uproar, a working group conducted by LightSquared and the U.S. GPS Industry Council was formed to study the issue.

The National Association of Manufacturers is one of the founding members of the Coalition to Save Our GPS announced earlier this month. Today the coalition announced its new members, representing major industries. From “UPS, TomTom, the American Car Rental Association, Four Key Aviation Groups and Others Sign on to Expanding Coalition Amid Fears of GPS Interference“:

New members representing a variety of concerned industries including aviation, transportation, technology, shipping, and consumer manufacturers are concerned about a serious threat to the Global Positioning System (GPS) – a national utility upon which millions of Americans rely every day.” GPS now provides smaller airports with equivalent levels of safety to those serving large commercial airlines,” said National Business Aviation Association Senior Vice President for Operations and Administration, Steve Brown. “But unlike carrier airports there are no alternate sources of landing guidance if the GPS experiences interference of any kind. The continued protection of satellite navigation is imperative to safety of flight.”

Meanwhile, LightSquared is moving forward on the business front.

Thanks, Mr. President: More Spectrum Means More Jobs

By | Communications, Infrastructure, Innovation, Technology | No Comments

Yesterday, the White House released the President’s Memorandum on spectrum policy and, in a refreshing change, it looks as if it’s actually geared to encourage investment. 

Thanks to every new gadget from Apple, Microsoft and Google, consumers are inhaling wireless spectrum as they demand more and more mobile broadband applications. The downside is that as more devices compete for a finite amount of spectrum, fewer opportunities to create innovative products and technologies will arise, thus limiting job growth and investment.  By signing the Presidential Memorandum, not only has President Obama doubled the amount of spectrum available for commercial purposes, but he’s set in motion a plan that has the potential to raise tens of billions of dollars that can go into public safety and infrastructure investments that will create jobs.  And we like jobs.

The plan calls for setting up an auction that will release 500 MHz of Federal and nonfederal spectrum over the next 10 years for both mobile and fixed wireless broadband use.  In addition, the FCC would be responsible for reorganizing how spectrum bands are released, so that they’ll be used for their most productive – and lucrative – use. 

The auction proceeds will then be funneled into various good ideas, such as the creation of an interoperable wireless broadband network for public safety use, investment in growth-enhancing infrastructure like NextGen air traffic control, high-speed rail, and Smart Grid,  and even – gasp – deficit reduction.

With the sudden surge of raw capitalism surrounding mobile broadband, it seems as if 44 is trying to put a new dust jacket on Hayek: The Road to Surfdom.

The Broadband Rubicon

By | Communications, Regulations | No Comments

When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49 AD with his legions in tow, defying the Senates’ prohibitions on generals entering Italy proper with their troops, he uttered the famous words “the die is cast” (alea iacta est, to be specific).  Caesar being Caesar, he probably did so through gritted teeth, his sword to his breast, with his flinty stare focused firmly on the Capitoline Hill.

Two thousand years later a different die was cast, by another Julius with his eye on another Capitol Hill crossing his own Rubicon, and defying the will of another Senate.  At today’s Open FCC Meeting, Chairman Julius Genachowski led the Commission in voting in favor of moving forward with opening a proceeding that will inevitably redefine how the FCC regulates broadband services by imposing common carrier rules to the Internet.

Of course, what’s at stake with the roll of today’s die is a bit different from Caesar’s toss: with Old Julius, it was only the fate of Roman Empire.  Today’s stakes are far bigger – the fate of the nation’s information structure.  Why is this bigger you ask?  Let’s put it this way: the manufacturers who build the networks, the manufacturers who own the networks, the manufacturers who rely on new networks being built, could all see up to $62 billion in broadband investment dry up, costing over half-a million jobs.

According to a study released by New York Law School, the report estimates that if New Julius’s “Third Way” broadband plan is instituted, broadband providers and related industries may cut their investments by 10 percent to 30 percent from 2010 to 2015 in response to additional regulation. At 30 percent, the economy might sustain an $80 billion hit, according to Charles Davidson, director of the law school’s Advanced Communications Law & Policy Institute, which released the report on June 16.

What about the pesky Senate?  New Julius is facing his own dilemma as 282 Members of Congress, including 77 Democrats demanded the FCC leave its troops at the banks of the…er…drop its plan to reclassify broadband and allow Congress to do what it was elected to do. But, hey, Congress knew about the National Broadband Plan, and that was blessed by the President. Who we hear was elected by lots of people, too.

Unless Congress decides to defund the FCC, there will be a pretty quick process in which rounds of comments, reply comments, notices of proposed rules, and more comments are flitted through in less than six months.  In fact, the first round of comments are due July 15, reply comments due August 12. And again, unless Congress defunds the FCC, it’s highly probable that New Julius will get his way, only to find that the litigious Visigoths of industry will be banging down the doors of the Commission.

How is this going to end?  Hopefully better for New Julius than it did for Old Julius.  We’d be happy if he just crossed back over the Potomac and dropped his cockamamie plan over the Memorial Bridge.

FCC: It’s my Third-Way or the Highway.

By | Communications, Regulations, Technology | No Comments

So now that the courts have said that the FCC doesn’t have the authority to regulate the Internet under the Comcast decision, Chairmen Waxman and Rockefeller sent FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski a nice note saying they’re too busy to determine what needs to be done, so Julius should go on ahead without them and give himself the authority to start serving up the net neutrality. Despite telling The Washington Post that they wouldn’t dream of starting in as it would ruin their appetite…

The sources said Genachowski thinks “reclassifying” broadband to allow for more regulation would be overly burdensome on carriers and would deter investment.

…FCC Chairman Genachowski told his chefs to start whipping up a banquet and ring the dinner gong on Thursday. That’s when we all found out (and the WaPo to their great chagrin) that net neutrality was not only back on the menu, but it was the main course.

The ethics of using disinformation aside (although I guess we are technically at war…), the FCC’s new Rube Goldberg plan posing as a “Third Way” to regulate without the express consent of Congress seems like a somewhat obvious power grab to effectuate a pretty specific political end, sound network management and engineering principles be damned.

Who knew this would leave us all longing for the days (and weeks, and months, and years) when the 1996 Telecom Act was worked out, where Congress actually decided what the FCC’s authority was? And not to get too nostalgic, but that was when Congress intentionally excluded broadband Internet access from Title II –- choosing not to travel down the Third-Way highway.

FCC: The Internet is Like a Big Phone and We’re in Charge

By | Communications, General, Regulations | No Comments

I was all excited when I read Monday’s Washington Post article reporting that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski intended to keep broadband services deregulated in light of the DC Circuit’s ruling in Comcast v. FCC, which held the Commission exceeded its authority in slapping Comcast on the wrists for monkeying with people’s ability to download pirated movies and other illegal content. That meant I didn’t have to worry about the FCC hanging the big ol’ albatross of shoe-horned regulation around the Internet’s neck. Instead, I was actually going to use the extra time to focus on –- ironically enough — cracking down on people’s ability to download pirated movies and other illegal content.

I guess hunting down pirates is going to have to be left to the Russian Navy for the time being, as Chairman Genachowski let it be known Wednesday that the FCC will attempt to reclassify the Internet as a telecom service, essentially Gerry-rigging the 19th century telephone paradigm to fit the Internet.

Why the turnaround? Maybe the Commission was feeling lonely, since the financial services sector is getting all the attention. Perhaps the FCC thought that Congress wouldn’t understand how important it is to start regulating a perfectly healthy market, absurd as that might seem. Or maybe there was just too much unbridled investment going on in the telecom sector. No matter what they’re thinking at the FCC, one thing is certain: Manufacturers are going to suffer as new regulation will slow down deployment of the big fat broadband pipes they need to rebuild their businesses and create jobs in this economic “recovery.”

News coverage …

Broadening the Band

By | Innovation, Technology | No Comments

From a news release issued by the NAM, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Telecommunications Industry Association in conjunction with a “virtual press conference” on policies to promote the effective expansion of broadband access.

Organizations also noted that the policies that create government regulations should not be a part of national broadband plan.

 “Broadband helps small businesses expand, create jobs and fuel economic growth,” said Marc-Anthony Signorino, director of technology policy, National Association of Manufacturers. “Manufacturers believe the government’s role in a National Broadband Plan should be to simplify, deregulate and incentivize wherever possible.”

Having been out of the office for a few days, we have no idea what was virtual about the event — “virtual news conference” is apparently the coming thing — but the views expressed were virtuous, man.