You are here


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.  

Spotlight on NTIA: Rafi Goldberg, Policy Analyst, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

March 10, 2016 by NTIA

This post is part of our “Spotlight on NTIA” blog series, which is highlighting the work that NTIA employees are doing to advance NTIA’s mission of promoting broadband adoption, finding spectrum to meet the growing demand for wireless technologies, and ensuring the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth.

Picture of Rafi GoldbergRafi Goldberg has been fascinated by technology since he was a child, when his father taught him how to program in BASIC on his family’s Apple II Plus.

Goldberg, who grew up on Long Island, kept up that interest as computers have advanced over the years. As an undergraduate at Tufts University near Boston, however, he pursued a different passion: public policy. Goldberg majored in political science and said he developed a strong connection with the Boston area, citing its strong sense of community and social activism. After working as an Issues Assistant on Deval Patrick’s 2005-2006 gubernatorial campaign and for the Governor's Office following Patrick’s victory, Goldberg moved to Washington in 2009 to pursue a Master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University.

While at Georgetown, he realized that an ideal career would marry his interests in public policy and technology. He knew this combination must exist, but didn’t know where.

“And so I Googled it -- and found NTIA,” he says.

NTIA Launches Community Connectivity Initiative with Backing from Major Community Groups

March 09, 2016 by NTIA

Access to broadband means economic growth, new employment opportunities, and improvements in education, health care, and public safety. NTIA's recognition of this central fact of the 21st century is why we have engaged in a range of efforts to increase Internet access, adoption, and digital literacy, from the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program funded by the Recovery Act to the creation of the first public, searchable nationwide map of broadband availability.

As a continuation of those efforts, NTIA's BroadbandUSA program is partnering with national organizations representing millions of Americans in more than a thousand localities across the country to develop the Community Connectivity Initiative (Initiative). The Initiative will empower communities across the country by giving them tools to support and accelerate local broadband planning efforts. NTIA, in close collaboration with its partners, will create a comprehensive online assessment tool to help community leaders identify critical broadband needs and connect them with expertise and resources. The tool will provide a framework of benchmarks and indicators on access, adoption, policy, and use for communities.

The Need for Fair Use Guidelines for Remixes

February 26, 2016 by NTIA

The U.S. copyright system strives to create a careful balance between rights and exceptions. Businesses, libraries, consumers, and especially the creative community rely on a range of exceptions and limitations, such as fair use, on a daily basis. Fair use, a fundamental element of the U.S. copyright system, is a legal doctrine that permits the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works under certain circumstances. Because it is technology-neutral, it can be applied in a flexible manner during times of dynamic technological change.

"Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week" presents an opportunity to explore various aspects of this vital part of U.S. copyright law. We would like to add to the conversation by highlighting some recommendations that the Commerce Department's Internet Policy Task Force (IPTF) recently made in the area of remix and fair use.

At Commerce, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and NTIA teamed up to release in January a major new report on copyright policy. The White Paper on Remixes, First Sale, and Statutory Damages (White Paper) considers, inter alia, the roles of fair use and licensing arrangements as they apply to remixes.

Fostering Investment and Innovation in Smart Cities and the Internet of Things (IoT)

February 25, 2016 by

This blog was cross posted on

Internet of Things (IOT) LogoThe Internet of Things (IoT) – which involves connecting physical objects to the Internet – has the potential to transform our lives and society. Cities around the world are harnessing the power of these new digital tools to build “Smart Cities.” Local governments are deploying low-cost sensors to improve access to public services and collect data to better understand the needs of the populations they serve. At the same time, manufacturers are using sensors to optimize equipment maintenance and protect the safety of workers, and consumers are upgrading their homes with smart appliances, such as connected thermostats and refrigerators that tweet.

The benefits of increased connectivity will be many: reduced congestion and fewer traffic accidents, remote patient monitoring and improved healthcare, and applications for emergency services, connected cars, and smart energy grids – to name just a few. Yet, we are hearing from innovators and the business community that a growing global patchwork of regulation threatens to increase costs and delay the launch of new products and services. That, in turn, could dampen investment.