Tag Archives: broadband

USI Wireless launches then unlaunches ad campaign that compares Wi-Fi to a prostitute

photo by @wentrogue

I first caught wind of this yesterday at the L’Etoile site which featured Vanessa Messersmith’s photo of the USI Wireless (USIW) billboard along with the comment “Thanks USI Wireless for being just like a prostitute.” In an email conversation, Vanessa elaborated a bit:

The woman is dressed in classic Hollywood street corner girl clothing. She is wearing a fur coat, has her head tilted, almost like chewing gum, and she appears like a sexy dumb girl. If not a prostitute, then perhaps a small town trashy girl. Either way you look at it, my friend and I were shocked and offended. How else am I suppose to interpret this ad?

Well Vanessa, according to a post over at the Minneapolis Issues Forum, this ad and the accompanying campaign “test-marketed to 100% approval” somewhere. But even with those great test market scores, USIW will be pulling the ads down this week. Councilmembers Elizabeth Glidden and Gary Schiff both contacted the company on the matter. So far, however, I haven’t seen an official USIW apology on this matter.

In the post at the Issues Forum, Stacey Burns does an excellent job explaining why this ad is particularly demeaning in our city. I will just add that beyond the prostitution issue, this ad is just plain offensive particularly to women. I hope USIW understands this.


bad news / good news when court says FCC can’t require net neutrality

Court Says F.C.C. Cannot Require ‘Net Neutrality’By EDWARD WYATTPublished: April 6, 2010WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court on Tuesday dealt a sharp blow to the efforts of the Federal Communications Commission to set the rules of the road for the Internet, ruling that the agency lacks the authority to require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all Internet traffic flowing over their networks.

via NY Times

The bad news is that according to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the FCC has little clout in regulating net neutrality.

The good news is:

  1. Congress may want to look even more closely at the Comcast acquisition of NBC Universal. If we don’t have a neutral net, Comcast can slow access to competitors’ content and favor NBC and…
  2. Our legislative branch may finally decide to put a Net Neutrality law on the books.

Minneapolis Digital Inclusion Fund Advisory Committee seeks new blood!

In the 2006 negotiations with US Internet (USI) to implement a mesh wireless (802.11) network over Minneapolis, the City was able to negotiate a Community Benefits Agreement that included $500,000 in payments to a Digital Inclusion Fund (along with 5% of pre-tax income after the network was up and running). (See page C-1 of the contract.) The money is granted to support non-profit digital inclusion projects in Minneapolis.

So far the Minneapolis Digital Inclusion Fund Advisory Committee (DIFAC) has disbursed $400,000 of that $500,000—$200,000 over 2007 and another $200,000 in 2008. We (I am a member of DIFAC) plan on requesting proposals this year and disbursing at least some of the remaining $100,000.

During 2009, DIFAC finally drafted its rules for governance which includes terms for advisors and a plan to rotate off the current advisors over the next few years. Two advisers will be finishing their terms this year. (I’m one of them.)

We are beginning the application process for new advisors.

If you are interested in forwarding the cause of digital inclusion in Minneapolis, consider applying and download the description and application and send them in by June 1. Details are in the documents.

DIF Advisors Description
DIF Advisor Application (PDF)
DIF Advisor Application (MS Word)

Update: The application doesn’t include contact information. You can send your completed application to Valerie Lee or contact her if you have questions:

Valerie C. Lee
Community Philanthropy Officer
The Minneapolis Foundation
800 IDS Center
80 South Eighth Street
Minneapolis, MN 55402
tel: (612) 672-3849
fax: (612) 672-3846

FCC Chairman Genachowski???s speech at NARUC today

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s speech at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) winter meetings today stressed our country’s need for a robust and inclusive broadband infrastructure and discussed the upcoming National Broadband Plan.

Genachowski’s Speech at NARUC
Broadband: Our Enduring Engine for Prosperity and Opportunity

I’ve pulled out some highlights below.

Genachowski really gets our need for broadband and how it will change the fundamental nature of business, education, communication, and social structure for the US. He brings up the comparison of the Internet to the interstate highway system and finds it lacking:

Some compare high-speed Internet to building the interstate highway system in the 1950s. It’s a tempting comparison, but imperfect.

In terms of transformative power, broadband is more akin to the advent of electricity. Both broadband and electricityare what some call “general purpose technologies”–technologies that are a means to a great many ends, enabling innovations in a wide arrayof human endeavors.

Electricity reshaped the world–extending dayinto night, kicking the Industrial Revolution into overdrive, and enabling the invention of a countless number of devices and equipment that today we can’t imagine being without.

Speaking of business connectivity, he says:

…many small businesses do not have access to a basic broadband connection. One estimate indicates that 26 percent of rural business sites do not have access to a standard cable modem and 9 percent don’t have DSL. More than 70 percent of small businesses have little or no mobile broadband.

He mentioned an exciting initiative from the Broadband Plan:

Our plan will set goals for the U.S. to have the world’s largest market of very high-speed broadband users. A “100 Squared” initiative–100 million households at 100 megabits per second–to unleash American ingenuity and ensure that businesses, large and small, are created here, move here, and stay here.

He follows that with a call to “stretch beyond 100 megabits” as Google is doing with its gigabit testbed initiative. Read that as a subtle message to incumbents that they should start looking at stretching their capabilities to get people connected at ultra-high-speeds.

He also mentions tweaking the Universal Service Fund as a “once-in-a-generation transformation… cutting waste, driving efficiencies, and converting it over time to broadband support so that all Americans can enjoy the benefits of 21st century communications networks.” In other words, he says, we treat broadband just like President Roosevelt treated telephone service when he signed the 1934 Communications Act.

Genachowski’s understanding that broadband should be equivalent to electricity and telephony is the key of these remarks. The benefits of ubiquitous broadband will far outweigh the costs in building out the infrastructure. Our political leaders, both Republicans and Democrats, need to get this and must fund wisely the projects that will achieve the task.