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Lack of Trust in Internet Privacy and Security May Deter Economic and Other Online Activities

May 13, 2016 by Rafi Goldberg, Policy Analyst, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

Every day, billions of people around the world use the Internet to share ideas, conduct financial transactions, and keep in touch with family, friends, and colleagues. Users send and store personal medical data, business communications, and even intimate conversations over this global network. But for the Internet to grow and thrive, users must continue to trust that their personal information will be secure and their privacy protected.

NTIA’s analysis of recent data shows that Americans are increasingly concerned about online security and privacy at a time when data breaches, cybersecurity incidents, and controversies over the privacy of online services have become more prominent. These concerns are prompting some Americans to limit their online activity, according to data collected for NTIA in July 2015 by the U.S. Census Bureau. This survey included several privacy and security questions, which were asked of more than 41,000 households that reported having at least one Internet user.

Commerce Brings Stakeholders Together to Improve Digital Economy Metrics

May 09, 2016 by Guest blog post by Dr. Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, Chief Economist and Alan Davidson, Director of Digital Economy

Improving Digital Economy MetricsToday, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) convened a roundtable to discuss what data is needed to better measure the economic importance of the cross-border information flows that connect people and businesses across the globe. Representatives from the government, private sector, academia, and public interest community spent the morning going through existing resources, identifying gaps, and evaluating what the Commerce Department could be doing to improve its digital economy metrics.

The Internet has connected people around the world in new ways through the free flow of information across borders. In 2014, approximately 56 percent of services exports and 50 percent of U.S. services imports were digitally deliverable. Modern day companies of all sizes are relying on cross-border data flows for their day to day operations. This includes the ability to access global markets, interact with customers across the globe, find new suppliers, and communicate with their overseas affiliates. For example, of 271 tech‐enabled startups surveyed by 1776 and the McKinsey Global Institute, 86 percent had at least one cross‐border activity. People are using cross-border data flows to access knowledge, communicate, and participate in electronic commerce.

Continuing the Broadband Dialogue with States

April 29, 2016 by NTIA

This week, broadband leaders from across the country convened at the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition’s annual conference to discuss key broadband policy issues important to communities and community anchor institutions such as schools, hospitals and libraries. NTIA had the opportunity to participate in several sessions at the conference to discuss our continued efforts to implement Obama Administration initiatives aimed at promoting broadband access, adoption and digital inclusion.

We also had the chance to meet with about two dozen officials from 15 states who work on broadband initiatives. The meeting was part of our efforts to keep an ongoing dialogue with state broadband leaders to sustain their peer network as a valuable vehicle for knowledge sharing.

Many of these state officials helped run programs that received funding through NTIA’s State Broadband Initiative (SBI). The SBI grants provided funding to each state, territory and the District of Columbia to collect the broadband availability data that helped power the National Broadband Map. In addition, SBI grantees used some of the funding to identify and address obstacles to broadband deployment and adoption in their states or territories.

BroadbandUSA Unveils the Six-Step Process to Building a Broadband Roadmap

April 28, 2016 by NTIA

From the thriving tech hub of Seattle to the small mountain town of Silverton, Colo., communities around the country understand that broadband access and adoption are essential to staying competitive in the 21st century. A high-speed Internet connection combined with relevant digital skills can unlock a range of opportunities for residents, including better job prospects, access to educational and health care resources, and discounts on goods and services.

As local leaders take on the challenge of expanding broadband in their communities, NTIA is here to help. Our BroadbandUSA program  is harnessing the expertise we gained overseeing the $4 billion in grants issued through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). Through technical assistance, regional workshops, guidance and resources, BroadbandUSA is building on the lessons learned from across our grant portfolio to support communities as they seek to build infrastructure, pursue public-private partnerships, or increase adoption.

Evolving Technologies Change the Nature of Internet Use

April 19, 2016 by Giulia McHenry, Chief Economist, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

Americans’ rapid move toward mobile Internet service appears to be coming at the expense of home broadband connections, according to the latest computer and Internet use data released by NTIA. At the same time, many Americans are using a wider range of computing devices in their daily lives. Both of these findings suggest that technological changes are driving a profound shift in how Americans use the Internet, which may be opening a new digital divide based on the use of particular types of devices and Internet services.  These results come from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS), which includes data collected for NTIA in July 2015 from nearly 53,000 households.

Mobile Internet service appears to be competing more directly with wired Internet connections. According to the data, three-quarters of American households using the Internet at home in 2015 still used wired technologies for high-speed Internet service, including cable, DSL, and fiber-optic connections. However, this represents a sizable drop in wired home broadband use, from 82 percent of online households in July 2013 to 75 percent two years later. Over this same period, the data also shows that the proportion of online households that relied exclusively on mobile service at home doubled between 2013 and 2015, from 10 percent to 20 percent (see Figure 1).

Administration Supports Efforts to Boost Competition in the Set-Top-Box Market

April 15, 2016 by NTIA

From televisions to tablets to smart phones, consumers can choose from a wide variety of devices made by a range of manufacturers to view the programming they purchase from cable, satellite, and telephone company multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs). But consumers have little choice in the "navigation" devices or set-top-boxes they use to search for, select, interact with, or record that programming.  That could change if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) finalizes a proposed rule aimed at giving consumers more choice when it comes to the devices they use to access programming provided by MVPDs.

As the FCC notes, MVPDs have expanded the applications their customers can use to access content through a variety of devices. The programming, however, is generally routed first through a set-top-box that is leased to them for a monthly fee by their pay television provider. Those monthly fees add up, resulting in consumer frustration about the lack of lower-cost alternatives. And increasingly, consumers do not differentiate between online video services, such as Netflix and Amazon; pay television channels received from a cable or satellite box; and broadcast channels received over the air.  Regardless of how it's delivered, they want easy ways to search and choose the content they watch, when, and where they want to watch it. Enabling consumer choice and competition in this area is important to the digital economy.

New Report Outlines Possible Roadmap to Further Sharing of the 3.5 GHz Band

April 01, 2016 by Keith Gremban, Director of the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences

As we work to meet the President’s goal of making 500 megahertz of additional spectrum available for commercial wireless broadband, it has become clear that spectrum sharing will need to be part of the solution to meeting spectrum demand. Accordingly, NTIA is examining ways to improve the technology that would enable greater spectrum sharing between federal and nonfederal users.

In a new report released today, engineers from NTIA’s Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) and Office of Spectrum Management (OSM) propose a simple and robust method to implement spectrum sharing between commercial communications systems and federal radar operations  in the 3550-3650 MHz (3.5 GHz) band.

Basic geometry of the reciprocal-propagation monitoring approach
Click to enlarge

Tackling the Digital Divide in the Pacific Northwest

March 25, 2016 by NTIA

As the headquarters for a number of technology industry pioneers, Seattle has a thriving digital economy. But even in this high-tech hub, 93,000 residents – or 15 percent of the city’s population – don’t subscribe to the Internet.

And across the state of Washington and the wider Pacific Northwest, there are still rural communities that lack access to adequate broadband. The problem is particularly acute for many Native American communities, including the Makah, Quinault and other tribes of the Olympic Peninsula and the Spokane and Colville Federated Tribes east of the Cascade Mountains.

From urban centers such as Seattle and Portland, Ore., to rural towns such as Toledo, Wash., civic leaders, industry officials and community activists are making progress in narrowing the digital divide. But the job is not done. That’s the picture that emerged from a daylong regional broadband workshop that NTIA hosted in partnership with the non-profit Next Century Cities in Seattle this week.

The event was the sixth in an ongoing series of regional workshops that NTIA is organizing as part of our BroadbandUSA program, which provides free hands-on technical assistance, toolkits, guides, webinars and other support to help communities expand local broadband deployment and adoption.

First Look: Internet Use in 2015

March 21, 2016 by John B. Morris, Jr., Associate Administrator, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

As the Obama Administration continues to focus on expanding broadband access and adoption, NTIA released new data today that shows that some of the demographic groups that have historically lagged behind in using the Internet—such as senior citizens, minorities, and Americans with lower levels of educational attainment—are making big strides.

Particularly promising, Internet use increased significantly among children and older Americans between 2013 and 2015. Children between the ages of 3 and 14 became substantially more likely to go online, as Internet use among this group increased from 56 percent in 2013 to 66 percent in 2015, and Internet use among those aged 65 or older increased from 51 percent to 56 percent during the same period. In contrast, usage remained largely unchanged among those who were previously most likely to go online, with 83 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 44 reporting Internet use in both 2013 and 2015.

The latest data comes from the Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS), which included nearly 53,000 households and was conducted for NTIA by the U.S. Census Bureau in July 2015. The large sample size provides a detailed picture of where, why and how Americans go online.

Reviewing the IANA Transition Proposal

March 11, 2016 by Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling

Over the past two decades, the Internet has touched the lives of billions of people around the globe in profound ways.  It has fueled economic growth, giving even the most remote villages the opportunity to sell their products in faraway lands.  It has fueled innovation, connecting mobile gadgets and household appliances.  And it has torn down barriers to speech, enabling diverse viewpoints to be heard across the political spectrum.

The Obama Administration is committed to doing everything within our power to preserve and protect the open, free-flowing global Internet, which has revolutionized the world.  That’s why two years ago, we announced our intention to transition the U.S. government’s stewardship role of the Internet Domain Name System to the global multistakeholder community.

Since our announcement, the Internet community – made up of businesses, technical experts, academics and civil society – has risen to the challenge by developing a transition plan that has achieved broad community support.  The community delivered that proposal to NTIA yesterday, marking the culmination of the largest multistakeholder process ever undertaken.  Stakeholders spent more than 26,000 working hours on the proposal, exchanged more than 33,000 messages on mailing lists, and held more than 600 meetings and calls.  

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