Once again, net neutrality has taken up most of the space in the telecom policy debate this year. FCC Republican Ajit Pai rose to chairman and quickly introduced a proposal to roll back the hard-fought net neutrality protections that the agency put in place in 2015.
A federal judge in Hawaii issued a freeze on President Trump’s new immigration ban on Wednesday, just hours before it was scheduled to take effect. Two weeks ago, President Trump signed the revised immigration ban, which narrowed the scope of the original ban to six countries and removed some of the most contentious aspects in an attempt to satisfy the courts. However, U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson was not convinced, arguing that “a reasonable, objective observer...would conclude that the Executive Order was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion.” Almost 60 technology companies signed an amicus brief supporting the state of Hawaii in its suit against the federal government. The decision by Watson is probably not the final word, as the Justice Department will likely appeal the ruling and continue to fight for the ban over the coming months.
On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed unanimously an ordinance sponsored by Supervisor Mark Farrell that will give San Francisco residents more freedom to choose their broadband provider. Engine helped galvanize support around the issue by circulating a petition signed by more than 200 San Franciscans. The following statement can be attributed to Engine Executive Director Evan Engstrom:
Engine made its home in the Bay Area for a number of reasons, the top being its proximity to some of the most creative and innovative companies in the United States. Home to tens of thousands of startups, it’s a tech haven with a rich talent pool, access to capital and seemingly endless disruptive ideas.
Engine chose to make its home in the Bay Area to be close to some of the most creative and disruptive companies in the country. A place where an innovative internet service provider like Monkeybrains could crowdfund the deployment of gigabit wireless service. Or where a provider like Webpass could build an entirely wireless infrastructure, using super high spectrum frequencies to deliver the fastest internet in the city.
The incredible growth in mobile internet use over the past few years is nothing short of staggering. There are now around 6.4 billion internet connected devices worldwide, and that number is increasing by 5.5 million every single day. Some predictions suggest that we could reach over 20 billion connected devices by 2020, prompting a boom in the startups that will build the gadgets and services powering the coming Internet of Things (IoT). But such optimistic estimates assume that we’ll have the infrastructure to support billions of these connected devices.
Meaningful broadband access and affordability are essential to a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem. Startups rely on broadband to connect with users, develop innovative products and services, and run their daily operations. Access to quality broadband can also save startups an average of $16,000 per year, which is a significant amount for a company trying to get off the ground.
Google Fiber announced this week that it is adding both San Francisco, CA and Huntsville, AL to the growing list of cities where it provides gigabit service. This is great news for startups and aspiring entrepreneurs in the two cities, who will have improved access to ultra high-speed service (100x faster than most current broadband providers) and increased competition among providers. But this week’s announcements are especially noteworthy because Google Fiber will be deviating from its typical build out approach with these two new expansions.