BlueGreen Alliance

Good Jobs, Clean Environment, Green Economy

Posts About Broadband

The following blog post is by Susan Diegelman, Director of Public Affairs for AT&T. 

We recently marked the fourth anniversary of the National Broadband Plan, a roadmap created to bring broadband connectivity throughout the US. Connectivity is a necessary resource for everyone in this digital age, but many Americans continue to have difficulties obtaining access. Once we meet the plan’s stated goals, we will have increased the availability of affordable, high-speed broadband service in all areas of the country. Many of the Plan’s goals align with BlueGreen Alliance's Repair America objectives to modernize America’s infrastructure, and in so doing revitalize America’s economy and address pressing energy and climate challenges. We applaud the FCC, both on the Plan itself and on the progress made so far. 

In the plan, the FCC characterized broadband deployment as "the great infrastructure challenge of the 21st century." Any American with broadband connectivity can access a wide variety of opportunities, from higher education to Internet entrepreneurship to telecommuting jobs. Broadband also delivers increased opportunities for convenient health care, civic engagement, educational enrichment, and social and professional networking, as well as easy access to news, information, and entertainment. But in addition to these benefits to individuals and communities, many people don't realize that increased access to enhanced broadband service can also help our planet. Advanced broadband technologies enable vital benefits for public safety and national security, and especially for our environment. Expanding access to modern broadband connectivity across the country will help create a cleaner, greener America and a more efficient and competitive economy. 

Implementing policies that encourage the expansion of advanced high-speed broadband networks will promote safety and sustainability—enabling energy, water, and gas utilities to identify leaks, and monitor performance. In the transportation sector real time information is already helping individuals avoid and transportation systems reduce congestion and travel-related carbon emissions, while vehicle to vehicle communication will improve safety and efficiency of vehicle operations and design. Upgrading our old energy networks and transitioning to smart grid technologies – in energy generation, transmission, distribution, and in our homes—will help us will help us fight climate change by enabling new efficiency opportunities, and new ways to connect and use renewable energy, electric vehicles, and smart appliances. It will also help us make our energy systems and communities more resilient. Overall, advanced broadband and communication technologies can help jump-start a new era of healthier and greener economic development. 

Since the adoption of the National Broadband Plan, the United States is closer to reaching many of its objectives, including several important speed and availability goals. The FCC has accomplished substantial progress in a short period of time, and we're confident that they will achieve even more going forward as long as the focus now shifts to designing rules that create the right environment for broadband to thrive and expand. Working to protect consumers while also adopting smart rules that encourage innovation and incentivize additional private investment will be vital to achieving those nationwide broadband connectivity goals.   

On that front, exciting progress was recently made when the FCC approved the concept of broadband network beta trials, which would allow for real-world testing of these advanced all-broadband networks in limited geographic areas. These trials represent an opportunity for industry leaders, policymakers, and consumers to work together to identify the challenges of these new technologies and create solutions. So far, one major provider has stepped up with a proposal to do just that, and we hope that other carriers will soon get on board and help pave the way forward to a greener America. 

With so much at stake, we encourage the FCC to continue down its path toward the right policies for broadband deployment. Only when our entire nation and all consumers can access broadband can we really reap the full benefits and rewards of energy efficiency and clean economic prosperity.


Posted In: Broadband, Infrastructure

The following blog post is from Susan Diegelman, Director, Public Affairs, AT&T.

Machine-to-machine (M2M) technology and the broadband networks that deliver its value are revolutionizing how we are shaping a greener environment. Thanks to M2M solutions, cars have become more than just machines that help us get from point A to point B and our building systems have never run more efficiently. If deployed en mass, M2M technology could provide solutions to America’s infrastructure challenges.  

The proliferation of broadband technology and M2M solutions has enabled us to more efficiently carry out green building practice; creating safe, healthy, sustainable and intelligent buildings. During the "Smart Buildings Make Happy Workers" panel at the Good Jobs Green Jobs Conference, U.S. Green Building Alliance detailed how their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings, have helped make “green buildings” into a standard practice. Several practices that were considered revolutionary at the start of LEED are now common practice and some are even now standard building code—lessening the overall impact the commercial building sector has on the environment.

A panel discussion on connected cars and their environmental benefits recognized that new options have arrived for vehicles that increase fuel efficiency and lessen environmental impact. Many of these M2M advancements address reducing harmful emissions, a priority at both state and federal levels of government. This event also highlighted additional connected car benefits, like improved design, more options for safety and security, and other choices that enhance efficiency of transportation as a whole.

Broadband enabled vehicles and smart building technologies provide significant environmental benefits with real-time data gathering, processing and analysis through M2M connectivity. Put quite simply, M2M is fueling innovation. The road to a greener future will be powered by a next-generation broadband infrastructure that covers every corner of the country and delivers the internet-based services and functionalities we need for 21st century living. 

To build, improve, and expand that advanced broadband network, our country will need skilled workers, private sector investment, and modern regulations that encourage continued innovation and help us move forward. Better informed vehicles and smarter buildings can accelerate our path to a cleaner environment, but the right infrastructure must be in place to fully unlock that potential. 

Posted In: Broadband, Infrastructure, Energy Efficiency

The following blog—written by Susan Diegelman, Director of Public Affairs for AT&T—was originally posted on the Good Jobs, Green Jobs Meeting Point blog. 

What if your car could provide you with real-time information to help you make more eco-friendly choices—choices that lessen the environmental impact of your car while not changing your driving experience?  Connected cars—cars equipped with high-speed Internet access—have the capability to do that and more. Aptly described as "smartphones with wheels," connected cars include sophisticated telematics and infotainment systems that can enhance safety, security, and functionality, as well as reduce the impact that motor vehicles have on the environment.

At the upcoming Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference, now in its seventh year, attendees will have an opportunity to learn about these connected cars in a panel titled, "'Connected' Cars are Cleaner Cars," occurring on Monday, February 10 from 3:40-5:10 p.m. This year’s conference theme is "Repair America," with a focus on repairing the infrastructures and systems we all rely on to ensure the health and safety of our communities while addressing climate change. Connected cars offer opportunities for “greener” transportation through reducing fuel consumption and emissions and can be viewed as one near-term solution to our nation’s energy challenge.

In recent years, advances in broadband and wireless technologies, coupled with the expansion of our country's networks, have resulted in game-changing Internet capabilities to many mobile devices, starting with our mobile phones. Now, automakers are quite literally taking this show on the road, and the resulting innovations are making our cars both greener and cleaner. "Smart" vehicles offer seamless networking and communication between these cars and other vehicles on the road, drivers' and passengers' personal mobile devices, and the infrastructure itself. For example, connected cars can communicate with other cars, alert drivers to risks they can't see, send warnings about weather or road conditions, and send and receive information between traffic signals and special traffic zones—and all of these capabilities are now possible by a robust system of IP-enabled broadband networks.

The most impressive capability offered by these innovative vehicles is their role in reducing environmental impact. In 2011, Americans wasted 2.9 billion gallons of fuel due to congestion in urban areas. However, on-board diagnostic systems in connected cars can collect relevant data on acceleration and braking and help individual drivers optimize fuel efficiency, avoid congested roadways, and eliminate unnecessary stops. Specialized mobile apps can additionally monitor the condition of the car and check for needed maintenance, helping to ensure safety as well as prime engine efficiency. When people have access to information that helps them understand the impact of their decisions on the environment, most will choose the eco-friendly option. At the same time, an aggregate view of anonymous data may help manufacturers make broad-scale changes to reduce the environmental impact of cars in the future.

Our country's IP-enabled broadband networks make all of this possible. In the near future, this vital infrastructure will bring us more options for eco-friendly living and new jobs. And, soon enough, it may turn out that the ultimate mobile device is actually the car.

Posted In: Auto, Broadband

The following blog is cross-posted from the Good Jobs, Green Jobs website.

Even months after Super Storm Sandy, power hadn’t been restored to all residents on the East Coast. That was one of the many events that brought a serious problem to light: Our infrastructure systems — the energy, water and communications networks we rely on and use every day — have not changed, in many ways, since they were originally designed, and they are not able to keep up with the demands of 21st century living. This was the discussion of the second plenary panel during the 2013 Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference on Tuesday, April 16.

As Mike Langford, National President of the Utility Workers Union of America, explained, “Our infrastructure is at the end of its life. That is why our national infrastructure earned a grade of D+… Don’t we deserve an A+ water and energy system?”

Nancy Stoner, Acting Assistant Administrator for Water at the Environmental Protection Agency added, “The good news is that investing in our water infrastructure creates jobs. We owe it to future generations to ensure they have safe drinking water like we have had.”

Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, spoke about the importance of using pension funds to fund training programs to support training programs for workers. “We know that if we invest pension funds into infrastructure projects in a prudent, fiducially-sound way, retrofit and upgrade buildings to make them energy efficient, and create those type of jobs and training to allow current workers to upgrade their skills and create a new skill base for new workers, that is a win-win-win.”

Representative Stacey Abrams, Minority Leader of the Georgia House, shared the story of the Atlanta Green Beltway as an example of what can happen when infrastructure projects are done right. This project is re-using 22-miles of historic railroad corridors to connect 45 neighborhoods and provide a network of public parks, multi-use trails and transit.

Eric Rodriguez, Vice President of Public Policy for the National Council of La Raza, spoke about the importance of building relationships and non-traditional partnerships in order to get these types of investments done. “We spend a lot of time talking to ourselves. Building relationships and agenda setting collaboratively takes time and energy, so it is easier to talk to ourselves. Building deeper, collaborative and authentic relationships on the local and national level is what is needed to win.”

Langford pushed conference attendees to be talk about the importance of investing in our nation’s infrastructure to those in their home communities. “Every person needs to be an ambassador for how these types of projects need to happen in their own communities. We need community involvement and education so we can get the investments that are good for workers and good for communities.”

Posted In: Infrastructure, Transportation, Broadband, Utility Workers Union of America, American Federation of Teachers

The following post is from Stephanie Hernandez, communications intern for the BlueGreen Alliance.

The week of January 9, 2013, Cisco announced plans to offer a new home control and monitoring panel for AT&T’s Digital Life service.

AT&T’s Digital Life is an all-digital fully integrated home security and automation service. Their partnership with Cisco would enable them to equip customers with the ability to control their homes using a smartphone, tablet or pc.

Smart energy management practices and programs, which incorporate the demand response technology that AT&T and Cisco are now providing, can help drastically reduce waste, cut pollution, and lower energy bills. A 2011 report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission notes that the potential peak load reduction from demand response programs is more than 53 GW, and that potential has been increasing year by year.

Joe Chow, vice president and general manager of Connected Home Devices, Cisco, stated “As more and more data and devices become connected, the Internet of Everything makes it possible for consumers to check in on loved ones, pets, and energy consumption on the go”. Internet is easing the ability to check on various things with only your electronic device.

The Digital Life controller will allow users to wirelessly manage devices connecting AT&T software with Cisco Z-Wave radio. Devices include cameras and door locks to moisture-detection sensors and appliance and lighting. AT&T Digital Life has created a simple, easy to use, intuitive user experience with applications being developed for iOS, Android and Windows devices.

Cisco-AT&T partnership is one of many service providers to enter the home security and energy management space. Verizon Communications, Time Warner Cable and Comcast have offered similar bundled packages for energy monitoring and management. As more companies offer these kind of services that monitor and manage energy use, this is movement towards more efficient energy use as well as reducing costs of residential energy use. By expanding their services, the possibilities of jobs grow as well. A technology induced movement may lead to economic benefits that are green and revolutionary. 

Posted In: Broadband

The following blog is cross-posted from the Communications Workers of America Speed Matters blog.

In September, the UN Broadband Commission released its annual report, The State Of Broadband 2012: Achieving Digital Inclusion For All. The commission takes a global look at broadband in both the developing and developed worlds, and what it found this year is encouraging, but not entirely flattering for the United States.

The Broadband Commission for Digital Development was established in 2010 by UNESCO and he International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to help meet the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It measured broadband by several parameters and found:

The U.S. continues to lag behind in fixed (wired)-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. At number 18, the U.S. trails France, the U.K., South Korea and even Malta.

When it comes to mobile broadband penetration, the U.S. does better, coming in ninth, but still runs behind Japan, Korea, Finland and Singapore. The U.S. posts 65.5 active mobile subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, while Japan registers 93.7.

And worst, in percentage of individuals using the Internet, the U.S. ranks only 23rd at 78 percent, well behind the Scandinavian countries, Canada, Germany and the U.K., as well as Qatar, Andorra and Antigua and Barbados.

As the report says in its introduction, "High-speed affordable broadband connectivity to the Internet is essential to modern society, offering widely recognized economic and social benefits."

The report cites a 2012 study by the Boston Consulting Group which "estimated the size of the Internet economy in the G20 countries at around US$ 2.3 trillion or 4.1% of GDP in 2010; by 2016, this could nearly double to US$4.2 trillion."

Although the U.S. investment in the Internet is huge and broadband is an integral part of the economy and social life, we still fail to include broad swaths of the population in this growth. Speed Matters points out that the digital divide is not simply between the developed and developing world, but in this case also within a rich country. We can do better.

Links:
The State Of Broadband 2012: Achieving Digital Inclusion For All (UN Broadband Commission, Sep. 2012)
Broadband Commission for Digital Development (website)
UN Broadband Commission finds Internet usage lagging behind (telecoms.com, Oct. 2, 2012)


Posted In: Broadband, Communications Workers of America

From the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Speed Matters blog.

A report by the national nonprofit Connected Nation, a Speed Matters partner, released today details the key role broadband plays in business performance, and the role broadband will continue to play in the country's economic recovery.

The report notes that U.S. businesses generate $411.4 billion in online sales, but an estimated 1.8 million business remain unconnected to broadband.

Other top-sheet findings from the report include:

  • Nearly one in three businesses (32%) earn revenues from online sales. This translates into more than 2.4 million U.S. businesses
  • Broadband-connected businesses bring in approximately $300,000 more in annual median revenues than non-broadband adopting businesses

The report also touched on the role of high-speed Internet in the job market, with over 2.5 million businesses using the Internet to advertise jobs or accept applications.

The report is based on a survey of 7,004 business establishments in nine states.

Links:

The 2012 Jobs and Broadband Report (Connected Nation, May 2012)
http://www.connectednation.org/sites/default/files/connected-nation/files/cn_biz_whitepaper2012_final.pdf

Connected Nation Report Details Broadband's Impact on Economy (Connected Nation, May 2, 2012)
http://www.connectednation.org/node/2149

Video: The 2012 Jobs and Broadband Report (Youtube, May 2, 2012)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDjhaCHJiLA

Posted In: Broadband, Infrastructure, Communications Workers of America

This blog was originally posted on the CWA's Speed Matters blog.

The FCC announced the availability of $300 million to connect up to 400,000 previously unserved homes, businesses, and anchor institutions in rural America. This funding supplements current levels of universal service support.

As part of the FCC's Connect America Fund's first phase, carriers will have 90 days to accept the funding and then two to three years to complete the broadband build-out. The funds are available to carriers based on the number of high-cost rural wire centers they serve lacking broadband access. Allocated support amounts include: Windstream ($60.4 million), CenturyLink ($89.9 million), Frontier ($72 million), Fairpoint ($4.8 million), AT&T ($47.8 million), and Verizon ($19.7 million).

The FCC is also implementing additional reforms to make more effective use of existing universal service funding.

Links:

FCC opens $300M fund to boost rural broadband access (FierceTelecom, Apr.27, 2012)

FCC Launches 'Connect America Fund': Hundreds of Thousands of Americans in Rural Communities Will have Access to High-Speed Internet for the First Time (http://transition.fcc.gov/, Apr. 25, 2012)

Posted In: Broadband, Infrastructure, Communications Workers of America

This blog post is by Jeff Dygert, Executive Director of Public Policy, AT&T.

Cloud computing, smart cities, mobile-health technologies, distance education -- they’re all the wave of the future that’s here today. They’re all enabled by AT&T’s state-of-the-art communication network, and they’re poised to lead us toward the promise that Earth Day has long offered to us.

Information and communications technology (ICT) surrounds us, even as it improves our daily lives. It rides in the air over nationwide cellular networks and hundreds of thousands of Wi-Fi hotspots. It moves at the speed of light over AT&T’s worldwide optical fiber network. And it resides in data centers around the world that are revolutionizing how we interact with, and benefit from, mountains of data, the likes of which the world has never seen. 

At AT&T we have seen technology’s impact on the way we work and live, as well as in the rapidly changing world around us. For years, businesses have turned to tele-conferencing to speed decision-making and reduce the carbon footprint of business travel. That technology seems almost quaint today, as businesses routinely employ web-enabled, multi-media collaboration tools and increasingly turn to telepresence solutions that allow colleagues from around the world to interact as if they were all in the same conference room. Remote access services using Virtual Private Network technology allow employees to work from home or on the road with the same rich and secure technical environment of the office. 

Gone are the days we have to jump into the car when we need to make a connection. Students take online classes. Farmers monitor weather conditions in distant fields using wireless technologies. Doctors wirelessly monitor their patients’ biometric data and stratify risk criteria while the patients remain in the comfort of their own homes.

It may not be a “Jetsons” world of flying cars — yet — but we are already seeing the benefits of smart cities. We pay for parking over wireless networks, so cities and their citizens no longer need to handle all that spare change. Dumpsters signal when they’re ready to be emptied, avoiding unnecessary runs by garbage trucks. Whole fleets of municipal vehicles are monitored remotely to increase fuel efficiency, ensure safety, reduce the need for costly repairs and make routes more efficient, cutting congestion and carbon output. 

Businesses and consumers minimize their power needs through an ever-growing array of the web-based, smart services that smart meters enable. After decades of sprawling development, we are seeing, even in large cities, the popularity of people living and working within small communities. Soon motorists may receive messages alerting them to the closest parking spaces or the best routes, reducing pollution and easing the stress of traffic jams.

There are challenges ahead, including the spectrum crunch that both policymakers and the communications industry have long discussed. Many environmental solutions involve wireless communications — person-to-person and even machine-to-machine. Already our cars can report breakdowns, and soon our refrigerators will be ordering another gallon of milk for home delivery. This will require ample wireless spectrum to support our sustainable environment.

AT&T is engaged in ongoing research and analysis — in areas like cloud computing, telepresence solutions, network operations, even our real estate portfolio — to better quantify how we can reduce our impact on the environment while driving business value. And we’re positioning our network to help ensure the revolutionary benefits that will accompany the next great technological breakthrough, whether it’s in the field of mobile apps, cloud computing, telemedicine or elsewhere. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day.

Posted In: Broadband, Infrastructure