Category Archives: Internet Access

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Who Are the FCC Commissioners and Where Do They Side on Net Neutrality?

The war over how to regulate the internet has a key problem: the process for creating regulation is so complex that even vehement supporters and opponents of Net Neutrality and other key issues often have little knowledge of where this regulation actually comes from, or how it’s created. Interestingly, the group that’s responsible for managing these regulations, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is quite small. Just five commissioners cast votes on everything from Next Gen TV standards to wireless spectrum allocation. These five commissioners have a huge impact on the lives of every American who uses the Internet — which is to say, virtually all of us, with the exception of a few hermits. In this breakdown, we’re going to… Continue reading →

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Why Is the American Internet Empire Crumbling?

The colossal labyrinth of pulses and wires we refer to as “the Internet” is sort of like the jumble of wires and plugs behind your uncle’s VCR. Sure, it works — but it’s largely improvised, and for the love of God don’t touch anything. Much like that old VCR, America’s network infrastructure is often a bit dated in terms of infrastructure. This has become increasingly clear in the past year as policy changes around Net Neutrality and regulatory standards have been riling up consumers, Internet providers, and Internet access advocacy groups alike. Overall, one thing is clear; the US has some issues when it comes to the modern innovation it helped give birth to. The heart of the trouble goes… Continue reading →

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Obscure Telecoms Make Millions Signing up Dead People for Phone Plans

There’s a house in southern California with 10,000 residents. The people that live in this house have a lot of similarities — in fact, most of them share the same name, age, and birthday. But the most important thing they have in common is that every single one of them has a free subsidized phone plan from a telecom company called “Total Call Mobile.” Every month, that company collects $9.25 per registered customer in government handouts through the “Lifeline” program. Lifeline is designed to help low-income Americans get phone and Internet access — but in practice, much of that money seems to mysteriously find its way back to telecom pockets. [1] Following the Money Trail …But wait. 10,000 roommates in… Continue reading →

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Where the 2016 Candidates Stand on Broadband, Net Neutrality, and Internet Issues

Politicians have a well-earned reputation for misunderstanding the Internet. …So it’s no surprise that candidate stances on tech issues are all over the map as we approach the 2016 presidential election. From Clinton’s email server scandal[1] to Trump’s proposal of “closing that Internet up” to fight ISIS[2], Internet users have plenty of reason to be concerned about how either candidate might alter the landscape of “InternetLand” if they take office. There’s a lot more than our YouTube addiction at stake for the American public: Net Neutrality, municipal broadband, and data privacy are all on the chopping block. Let’s take a close look at where the candidates stand on Internet and broadband issues. I’ll start with a brief overview of each… Continue reading →

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Apartment landlords are holding your Internet hostage.

Steep Internet bill and no choice? If you live in an apartment building, the landlord might be profiting from your plight. Exclusive broadband agreements between apartment building owners and broadband providers are common, leaving renters with no choice but to pay inflated costs for sub-par service — and rewarding landlords for keeping it that way. The existence of these exclusive arrangements is surprising for a simple reason: they were outlawed eight years ago[1]. So how are they getting away with it? Why are landlords getting such a big cut? And most importantly, what can renters do about it? How landlords get their cut of your broadband bill Before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) outlawed them in 2008, revenue shares and… Continue reading →

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How to Negotiate Your Internet Bill to Get the Best Deals

Found another fee increase when you opened your broadband bill this month? You’re not alone. The notoriously uncompetitive US broadband market has been driving prices up for years, while Internet costs elsewhere in the developed world have steadily fallen. A 25mb/s connection in New York currently costs nearly twice what they’re paying across the pond in London. [1] So. what can you do about it? Well, you can either shrug it off and keep mailing away your hard-earned dollars… …or you can get on the phone and start negotiating. Even in an uncompetitive marketplace, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) place a lot of value on you as a customer. And even if your provider can’t bundle or cut any services to… Continue reading →

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These 25 Cities Are the Most Impacted By the Digital Divide

If you think the digital divide is shrinking, don’t mention it to residents of Miami, Kansas City, or Buffalo — all cities listed on a recent NDIA report identifying the worst-connected cities nationwide. While politicians and ISPs have been tussling over how to close the digital divide for years, few cities have seen any improvement. The lack of affordable internet access remains a stark reality for millions of Americans. It’s not low connection rates that are troubling so much as the disparity between the haves and the have-nots in these cities. In the worst-connected city of Brownsville, TX, a little under half of households don’t have internet access; that’s for all income levels. For those households with incomes below $35,000… Continue reading →

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10 Small Towns with Blazing Fast Internet

For small towns, having high-speed Internet can be a critical factor in growth and prosperity. Studies have shown that increased Internet access has a positive effect on employment and economic growth in rural townships. [1] While major metro areas like Dallas and Providence languish at the bottom of the nationwide connectivity scale, surprisingly podunk towns make it to the top of the list. All of these best-connected small towns have one thing in common: the cutting-edge connection speeds and reasonable prices are delivered by small-to-medium sized ISPs. Clearly, small business and healthy competition alongside municipal broadband initiatives can create big rewards for both businesses and consumers. If you daydream of escaping the city smog to set up shop in a… Continue reading →

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Where the 2016 Presidential Candidates Stand on Broadband Issues

Consumers on both sides of the party line are eager to see reform when it comes to broadband policy. Internet issues like Net Neutrality and NSA surveillance have been hot topics throughout Barack Obama’s presidency, and whoever takes the White House next will have a huge effect on how those issues play out in the next four years. Unfortunately, public statements from the candidates on Internet issues have been opaque at best. Commentary on Net Neutrality hasn’t revealed much more about either party than a surprising lack of knowledge about the history of broadband regulation on both sides of the party line. This has scary implications for consumers, with American broadband connectivity falling behind that of other developed nations [1]… Continue reading →

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5 Futuristic Ways You Could Get Internet Access… Anywhere

Imagine if your internet was ten times faster, ten times cheaper, and accessible anywhere — even Mars, if an interplanetary journey strikes your fancy. Current internet infrastructures fail to connect 4.4 billion people worldwide, and frustrated consumers want to know: “when will the future finally get here?” [1] The answer, according to a few rogue entrepreneurs and scientists, is “sooner than you think.” From grassroots wireless mesh systems on the ground to high-tech satellites in low-earth orbit, we’ve rounded up the strongest contenders promising to bring internet out of the phone lines and into the future. No harm in dreaming… 1. Wireless mesh When it comes to internet connection Cuba has long been like the dark side of the moon… Continue reading →