Beyond Broadband Access: Developing Data-Based Information Policy Strategies

Beyond Broadband Access: Developing Data-Based Information Policy Strategies

Richard D. Taylor
Amit M. Schejter
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Beyond Broadband Access: Developing Data-Based Information Policy Strategies
    Book Description:

    After broadband access, what next? What role do metrics play in understanding "information societies"? And, more importantly, in shaping their policies? Beyond counting people with broadband access, how can economic and social metrics inform broadband policies, help evaluate their outcomes, and create useful models for achieving national goals? This timely volume examines not only the traditional questions about broadband, like availability and access, but also explores and evaluates new metrics more applicable to the evolving technologies of information access. Beyond Broadband Access brings together a stellar array of media policy scholars from a wide range of disciplines--economics, law, policy studies, computer science, information science, and communications studies. Importantly, it provides a well-rounded, international perspective on theoretical approaches to data-based communications policymaking in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Showcasing a diversity of approaches, this invaluable collection helps to meet myriad challenges to improving the foundations for communications policy development.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-5185-8
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. 1-6)

    In recent years the information policy discourse has been inundated by numbers and metrics, which purportedly describe the “information society” and reflect national levels of such measures as e-readiness and the digital divide. In policy circles, just the ranking among some of these lists has been seen as an impetus for policy development. For example, President Barack Obama, shortly after being elected, stated that “it is unacceptable that the United States ranks fifteenth in the world in broadband adoption.”¹ Most approaches involving quantitative “indicators” produce results, which are primarily descriptive and comparative (e.g., which nation has more Internet access, are...

    • CHAPTER 1 Beyond Broadband Access: What Do We Need to Measure and How Do We Measure It?
      (pp. 9-22)

      Around the world, claims that broadband infrastructure is central to the development of the knowledge economy are becoming indisputable. Many governments are taking steps to ensure their regulatory environments encourage private sector investment in broadband,¹ consistent with Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recommendations to rely on competition to the maximum extent possible as a means of building broadband infrastructure.² In instances where the private sector cannot establish a business case for broadband deployment, governments are committing public funds to extend the reach of broadband networks, justified by the widely held belief that broadband access is essential infrastructure for...

    • CHAPTER 2 Understanding Digital Gaps: A Quartet of Empirical Methodologies
      (pp. 23-50)

      Since the 1960s, the field of information studies has had a tradition of trying to understand the role of information in society by measurement, typically by counting things: media, words, bits, and so on. This reflects an intuitive sense that something important is happening. Because of the intangible nature of the subject “information,” however, its role has been hard to grasp. This goal manifests itself in current times most often as the study of the so-calleddigital divide(ore-readiness). Approaches to this matter have grown more sophisticated over time, and now use complex statistical methodologies to parse huge databases...

    • CHAPTER 3 Broadband Microfoundations: The Need for Traffic Data
      (pp. 51-68)

      To date, most of the empirical effort to understand broadband service markets has focused on availability and adoption metrics and data. Data of this sort is indeed valuable when the dominant policy questions concern penetration and uptake. However, as broadband availability and penetration saturate, such data will become less informative. The next set of questions, both for service providers and regulators, will center on the continued health of the broadband access market: levels of investment, the competitive landscape, the evolving definition of broadband, the degree of neutrality in consumer access, and the nature of interconnection among providers. Our position is...

    • CHAPTER 4 Adoption Factors of Ubiquitous Broadband
      (pp. 69-87)

      Broadband networks are widely recognized as an indicator of the knowledge economy. Employing secondary data, this chapter examines adoption factors of “ubiquitous broadband” that includes both fixed and mobile technologies. Along with other industry, ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and demographic variables, the results of regression analysis suggest network competition between fixed and mobile broadband, platform competition in fixed broadband markets and multiple standardization policies in mobile markets are all significant factors in ubiquitous broadband deployment. However, some of these ubiquitous broadband deployment factors vary between developed and developing countries. Among other conclusions, the results of this study imply that...

    • CHAPTER 5 Data and Modeling Challenges in International Comparisons
      (pp. 88-102)

      A growing number of regulatory agencies, policy making institutions, and intergovernmental organizations rely on some form of benchmarking to periodically assess the effects of policy and regulation. The design and calculation of such metrics is facilitated by a more systematic and abundant information base. However, daunting conceptual and empirical issues have to be overcome before international comparisons can inform practical policy decisions. Furthermore, better and more reliable empirical data is only one precondition for utilizing internationally comparative information. A sometimes even bigger obstacle is the meaningful interpretation of findings. This chapter addresses two particularly testing problems affecting cross-national comparisons of...

    • CHAPTER 6 Data, Policy, and Democracy
      (pp. 103-112)

      Madison’s description of the infrastructure necessary to combine thirteen colonies into a unified state gave readers of Federalist Paper 14 an assurance that democratic and economic participation could become a reality under the new government. Madison also drew the necessary causality—the potential to participate in the discourses of the nation depended on access to the communications infrastructure. Madison’s assurance spoke to an entire nation then, and still rang true as individuals tried to find their way through the maze of an election year in the throes of the great recession. For in the twenty-first century, as in the eighteenth...

    • CHAPTER 7 “Rulers of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens”: Does Democracy Count?
      (pp. 113-128)

      During his presidential campaign in 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama stated his belief “that America should lead the world in broadband penetration and Internet access.”¹ Following up on his campaign agenda and upon becoming president, Obama promised in his inaugural address to “build … digital lines.” Neither the campaign promise nor the presidential commitment revealed anything new of note. Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, also called for “universal, affordable access for broadband technology by the year 2007,”² and both presidents’ political rivals made similar campaign promises in their respective campaigns. When it came to actual action, the Bush administration claimed to...

    • CHAPTER 8 PhD Heal Thyself: In Search of Evidence-based Research for Evidence-based Policy
      (pp. 131-142)
      ELI NOAM

      Researchers habitually complain about policy makers and bureaucrats not sticking to so-called facts and figures but being guided by ideology. The more recent terminology is the call for “evidence-based policy.” These objections come from the political left by media reformers and from the political right by free-market libertarians. In both cases they are directed against those in power who make or implement policies the critics disagree with.

      There are several problems with this critique. The first is the premise that policy should be decided by the numbers rather than by ideology. This is the perspective of technocrats who wish for...

    • CHAPTER 9 Case Studies in Results-Driven Decision Making at the FCC
      (pp. 143-157)

      Despite its legal obligation to serve the public interest¹ and generate a complete evidentiary record,² the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) frequently cannot resist the temptation to engage in results-driven decision making. Rather than rely on empirical evidence to support its decisions,³ which would pass peer review by independent third parties, it appears that FCC managers sometime identify the desired policy outcome even before the agency solicits and analyzes filings of interested parties.

      Too often the FCC’s decision-making process has become “a morass or partisanship, pseudo-science, fuzzy math, creative interpretation of economic principles and legal concepts, selective interpretation of the facts,...

    • CHAPTER 10 The Determinants of Disconnectedness: Understanding US Broadband Unavailability
      (pp. 158-188)

      This chapter reviews recent US broadband data, and briefly discusses why the broadband “connectedness” portrayed in the FCC postal code–level data is in some respects problematic, with the problem of “disconnectedness” addressed in this chapter a potentially more significant problem than the FCC postal code numbers may suggest. This chapter’s preliminary conclusions are that, overall, there was a steep decline in “disconnectedness” across the United States over the 2005–2008 period, but that significant pockets of disconnectedness persist.

      Given the increasing emphasis among analysts on the role, actual and potential, of information technology in productivity growth,¹ it is not...

    • CHAPTER 11 European Broadband Spending: Implications of Input-Output Analysis and Opportunity Costs
      (pp. 189-208)

      Currently, many advanced countries have proposed broadband as part of the government’s responsibility to combat the digital divide. The idea is that government should increase the accessibility of broadband to people who have not yet been able to access it, especially in rural areas. A prime example has been the so-called Obama Package, a $787 billion stimulus bill signed into law on February 17, 2009, as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This act included $7.2 billion to support a variety of broadband-related programs, including $4.7 billion for the build-out of broadband in unserved and underserved areas.


    • CHAPTER 12 Using Data for Policy Development: Designing a Universal Service Fund for Tanzania
      (pp. 209-228)

      Many developing countries have established universal service funds to subsidize the extension of a telecommunications infrastructure to areas that are unattractive to private investment because of high costs or low revenue potential. There are many challenges in implementing these funds, particularly where there is little experience in estimating demand for new services such as Internet and broadband, and limited time and resources to collect field data.

      This chapter examines how data, primarily from existing sources, is being used to implement a universal service fund for Tanzania. It is presented as an example of relying primarily on existing data from multiple...

  7. NOTES
    (pp. 229-268)
    (pp. 269-296)
  9. List of Contributors
    (pp. 297-304)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 305-311)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 312-312)