Here's the completed homework assignment for our meeting next week. Many thanks to all who helped, and special Super Friday Kudos to Dennis Fazio for his stupendous contribution. As you can see, I stole most of it. Special thanks to Cor Wilson for her punchline.
Here's what I submitted;
Assignment 1 -- Most Controversial Issue
By Mike OConnor (with credit to all who contributed and special acknowledgement to Dennis Fazio)
For the sake of simplicity let us reduce the assignment to just one most controversial issue since there really is only one.
Short form: Broadband is essential infrastructure.
Long form: High-speed data communication is an essential human need critical to the basic functioning of our society and indispensable to our advancement as a civilization. The fact that it is not yet treated as such is inconsistent with the way we treat all other forms of electronic communications.
This is the one critical policy shift that this task force must address. All else flows from this. Here is how and why:
During the 1950s, a new force in psychology, humanistic psychology, arose that was in contrast to the other forces of psychology at the time, behaviorism and psychoanalysis. This new force focused on uniquely human issues of the majority of people. Abraham Maslow’s conceptualization of a hierarchy of human needs and development is considered a founding basis of this area of study. Many expanded on Maslow’s basic tenets so that applications in organizational psychology, management training and work team dynamics followed.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is:
1. Physiological: air, food, water, sleep, body temperature
2. Safety and security
3. Love, affection and belongingness
4. Esteem: self-respect and respect from others
5. Self-actualization: to create, to accomplish.
First, of course, there are the physical survival needs. Safety and security from harm or illness frees our mind from anxiety, enabling rational thought. Love, affection and belongingness are the mental survival needs. We are social beings and social interaction is not possible without the ability to move around (transportation systems) and speak to each other (communications systems).
The individual must achieve and fulfill the needs of one level before being able to move up to the next. A hungry person isn't concentrating on safety or social interaction and a fearful person isn’t ready to engage with others.
You can easily observe through 200,000 years of human history how we have advanced, moving through the levels of need from basic survival, to small social units, to larger communities and to cultural and scientific achievements. We move through these levels still today though it is more applicable to individual growth rather than whole societies.
So where is this going and what does it have to do with high-speed data communications?
Well, as we’ve increased our numbers and living density, you’ll notice that items on the lower levels (1, 2, 3) are now achieved or enabled by common action. We organize ourselves and set governing institutions in place to support and assure our basic lower-level needs so that we are individually free to concentrate on the higher-levels (4,5) of social intercourse, individual or group achievement and self-actualization. The lower-level needs are accomplished by direct government provision or by varying levels of regulation of private-sector players. The level of regulation is proportional to the scarcity of or limit on certain facilities or resources that may require rationing. The regulation can range from sanctioned private monopolies or sets of rules and guidelines.
Where there is wide availability and choice in place, we have our government set rules to assure fairness, stability and quality (FDA oversight of food and medicine, registration of deeds, building codes). Where there is a limited facility or resource, we either have our government provide the service directly (water, waste disposal, roads), regulate a private monopoly (gas, electric, airports, railroad rights of way, analog voice telephony) or license limited numbers of players (TV, radio and cellular spectrum).
Focusing on communications, where it requires a restricted resource (public rights of way, lines into buildings, radio spectrum), regulated monopolies or limited licensing is the norm. Where there are no limited facilities (newspapers, periodicals) only limited interventions are used to assure fairness, accuracy and consumer protection.
That brings us to data communications and the Internet; the whole reason for this broadband debate. Communication systems have been a critical linchpin in the advancement of civilization from the first cuneiform tablets around 6000 BCE that birthed the first widespread trade and commerce, to Gutenberg’s moveable type press that birthed the renaissance, and finally to modern electronic communications that spread information and knowledge everywhere, allowing us to see and hear all corners of the world. It is eroding the existing centers of power and influence and shifting the balance of power back to the citizens.
Previous generations of mass electronic communication evolved at a pace that was slow enough to allow us to properly regulate them. (Radio, TV, Telephones). They were developed mostly by larger businesses and it was easy to track progress. Packet data network technology was different. It advanced rapidly (about 15 years of laboratory prototype and only 6 years from initial deployment to full commercialization) and came from out of nowhere (obscure government labs and university research projects). It blasted into existence and spread far and wide before we knew what was happening. It was everywhere at once, highly diverse and fully decentralized, just the opposite of what is necessary to get it under control and to determine the appropriate levels of regulation.
IP packet-switch data networks are now becoming the only electronic communications system necessary, carrying voice, video and data over multi-operator networks of wires, optical fiber and airwaves. Vint Cerf has described it as “IP over everything and everything over IP.” This is a critical and important communications system that is transforming our world civilization even more so than cuneiform writing and moveable type printing.
In spite of this, high-performance packet data network connectivity to homes and businesses is the only electronic communications technology that is not controlled and regulated for public benefit in the United States today. This is inconsistent with all previous electronic communications systems. We did not decide on a policy level that it should be this way; we just never got the chance to deal with it. Until now.
It is possible to view all the other controversial issues that will be submitted in this assignment as simply implementation details of one sort or another. Those details are certainly important and necessary, but they may just be small pieces dancing around the real main issue: treating broadband packet networks as essential infrastructure. It is like sending a random gang of all-stars out on the field. Without the surrounding and supporting container of management, coaches, playbooks and signals, they may not accomplish much.
It is imperative that we rapidly correct our lack of public investment in and oversight of this essential utility if we are to reap its benefits sometime within the next decade. If we hesitate under some excessively purist principle of laissez-faire in free markets, we will waste time and opportunity, continuing in our mediocrity of the status quo while falling farther behind those nations that recognize their stewardship role.
Assignment 2 Paragraphs With Which I Agree
Page 25 -- Rick King - Ubiquity
All users in Minnesota, including both business and residential, should have access to tiered broadband services with the agreed upon Task Force minimum delivered through wireless, satellite, copper or fiber.
Page 25 Tom Garrison Affordability moved to e3
This task force finds that United States citizens pay, on average, more per megabit of service than citizens in most other industrialized nations of the world. The U.S. currently ranks no higher than 15th on most international measures of price per megabit of service. It is recommended Minnesota establish a data-driven Affordability Index and annually publish the results of which providers have the most affordable broadband services. Further the state should consider broadband access vouchers to defray the cost of broadband services for those who cannot afford it. These vouchers could be paid for either by legislative appropriation or based on a nominal per-subscriber fee assessed to all providers in the state.
Page 32 Jack Ries/Gopal - By 2015, ultra high-speed broadband capabilities will be required not only to connect public sector locations and communities, but also the citizens and businesses, to have adequate access for e.learning, e.mergency, e.government, and e.conomic development. The drivers for ubiquitous high-speed broadband connection throughout the state of Minnesota for these four areas are many: e.learning: Minnesotas learning institutions planning e.learning applications need security, capacity, availability and world-wide connectivity, which will be a cornerstone requirement for broadband-enabled next generation state information infrastructure. This advanced capability is necessary for the following applications:
- Student web based learning systems
- Data driven decision making systems with a Minnesota orientation
- Instructional management systems for tracking and accountability
- Electronic video streamed and web based curriculum resources
- Student access to educators, counselors, and student services
- Shared interactive television, hybrid online/video, and online courses and instructional resources.
- High-stakes testing and assessment with various data collection devices
- Secure student information storage, transfer, and reporting with common protocols
- Reference, research, and access to information
- Network bandwidth traffic analysis and management
- Library web based resource & information systems
- Cost effective VoIP applications to expand constituent communication
- Internet 2 access and utilization
- Seamless data and video connectivity to higher education, state agencies, cities and counties to allow for exchange, use, and delivery of resources and services.
Page 34 Vijay Sethi - Redundancy to insure broadband service reliability: As high speed broadband fiber becomes the medium for the communication of vital functions such as police, dispatch and ambulance services, phone service, telemedicine services etc. a backup system needs to be available in the event of the failure of the primary fiber. This is probably not a major issue in the metro area and other population centers. However, in rural Minnesota a single fiber carrying the vital services to the remote and sparsely populated area of the state without a back-up option creates a major public safety concern.
Assignment 3 Paragraphs With Which I Disagree
Page 22 -- John Gibbs - With a relatively light regulatory touch, some of Minnesota's broadband achievements over the past ten (10) years include the Connected Nation preliminary report that concludes 92% of Minnesota households have access to broadband. Connected Nation expects their final report to show that 94% of Minnesota households have access to broadband services. Applying this data to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) broadband report, which ranks countries' broadband penetration each year, Minnesota not only leads the country with respect to broadband penetration, it leads the world [and the rest of the paragraph]
Page 30 John Gibbs - Any establishment of a singular level of broadband service as a goal for the State must be based on evidence of demand for that level of service on a statewide basis. The Task Force has only an assortment of anecdotal information about demand for broadband, some positive and some negative. There is no evidence that the private sector has over-invested in broadband infrastructure. There is no evidence the private sector has underinvested. Establishing a goal for broadband service that is too high runs the risk of significant stranded investment - in other words, facilities that no one uses. If the goal is set too low, the State runs the risk of significantly underserving populations within the State of Minnesota who cannot obtain access to a basic level of broadband service. Given the lack of any evidence of the levels of broadband service demanded throughout the State, the Task Force recommends that any goal for a base level standard of broadband service in Minnesota be based on a basic level of functionality that the State desires be available to every person in the State. The task force believes this functionality should include the ability to e-mail and surf the web at download speeds of at least 1.544 Mbps.