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Broadband: Sneak Peak at the National Plan and a Google Announcement

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The cogs of Washington policy making started a slow, creaky, post-snowpocalypse return to work this week. Congress was in recess but federal agencies were back in action. This week, in a speech to state utility regulators, FCC Chair Julius Genachowski offered a preview of some of what we can expect to see in the National Broadband Plan that he will present to Congress next month.

The plan was mandated by Congress in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Chairman Genachowski laid out some of the plan’s broad parameters with goals to be met by 2010 including:

  • Creating broadband access for 100 million households at 100 megabits per second
  • Increasing the U.S. broadband adoption rate from 65% to 90%
  • Ensuring that every child will be digitally literate by the time he or she leaves high school.
  • Transforming the Universal Service Fund- a fund established in 1934 with the goal to provide every American with traditional telephone service–and converting it over time to support broadband adoption.

The Chairman also identified a number of recommendations that the plan will contain including:

  • Improving the E-rate program–which makes Internet connections available in schools and libraries.
  • Modernizing the rural telemedicine program to connect rural medical clinics to the Internet
  • Deploying broadband to accelerate the development of a smart grid for delivering electricity
  • Developing public/private partnerships to increase Internet adoption and to ensure digital literacy for school aged children
  • Freeing up of wireless spectrum to increase access for licensed and unlicensed use
  • Using government rights of way and conduits to lower the cost of broandband build out

Also this week Google announced that it would partner with local communities to bring 1 gigabit per second broadband (a speed 100 times faster than what most American’s currently enjoy) to a small number of test locations. Along with the super-fast connection, Google promises to deliver the service with open internet principles intact.

So AG readers….do you think a national broaband plan is necessary? If so, what would you like to see it contain? What do you think about Google’s move? Will it help to bring innovation to internet services? Finally, the most important question, how long does it take four feet of snow to melt?

Photo credit: CharmcityGavin onFlickr

Melanie is the Senior Technology Policy Representative at the National Association of Realtors. That means she lobbies Congress and Federal Agencies on technology policy issues of importance to the real estate industry. In her pre-NAR life Melanie has been a practicing attorney and a software start-up executive. Like any native Californian, Melanie loves good wine and bountiful farmers markets.

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21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Ken Montville

    February 21, 2010 at 10:24 am

    1 gigabit per second! Be still, my heart. I’m not quite sure how speedier speeds becomes a game of diminishing returns but as the Web becomes more and more graphically intense and hi-def, the bandwidth will be welcome.

    As far as the National Plan. Smacks of Socialism (just kidding). 🙂

    • Melanie Wyne

      February 21, 2010 at 7:51 pm

      Ken,

      Its precisely the diminishing returns that Google is trying to address. Obviously, this is not a wholly benevolent move on their part–google benefits from faster speeds, more downloads, higher usage but IMHO its a good move for all internet users.

  2. Ralph Bell

    February 21, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Is that upstream or downstream speeds?

    • Melanie Wyne

      February 21, 2010 at 7:52 pm

      Ralph,

      Google’s announcement didn’t specify. I guess we’ll learn more as it is rolled out.

  3. Lani Rosales

    February 21, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    I’m highly interested in the change of the Universal Service Fund as VOIP is less expensive than land lines these days anyhow, and frankly, the program needs to be updated.

    I like that the private sector (Google) is doing their part, but anything via Google feels just as Big Brothery as the U.S. Government stepping in, so I have mixed feelings.

    Regarding school children and their use, anything Internet related is an elective for our children and they have to fight to get into these classes, so funding toward that effort would be amazing (and the children need it as colleges now expect web proficiency).

    I support a national broadband plan but I fear how it will be executed, who will oversee it and which politicians will get their fingers in the mix that have no business doing so.

    Melanie, how does net neutrality play into this overall plan?

    • Melanie Wyne

      February 21, 2010 at 7:58 pm

      Lani–

      Technically the broadband plan and the net neutrality rules are moving on separate tracks but they are indeed related in many people’s minds (including, in my opinion, the FCC’s.) Notice that Google’s test project includes open internet (i.e. network neutrality) principles. I think Google intends to show the incumbent ISPs that faster internet can indeed be provided profitably with net neutrality principles in place. If they succeed, it should improve competition in the ISP market and be a good thing for consumers.

  4. MIssy Caulk

    February 21, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Well let’s hope they test it in Ann Arbor where they have their Ad-Words offices.

    But, have you been following the news this week on the school that gave out computers and were spying via web cams on the students. Now that is wrong.

  5. Melanie Wyne

    February 21, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    Missy,

    The tests are determined by and RFP so, any interested community should apply. As for the school situation–I read headlines but am fuzzy on details so….no comment for the moment.

  6. Benn Rosales

    February 22, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    I think Google is doing a good thing, the problem is, from a political perspective, they’re stepping on toes that have the financial backbone (pun intended) to really push back.

    • Melanie Wyne

      February 22, 2010 at 12:36 pm

      Benn,

      That’s the part I think is so interesting. From what I’ve been reading, folks don’t think that Google is interested in playing for the long term but instead merely wants to demonstrate that high speed broadband can be delivered cost effectively and with open internet principles intact. Perhaps to shame the incumbents or perhaps to encourage more competitors to enter the marketplace. It will certainly be interesting to watch.

  7. Ralph Bell

    February 22, 2010 at 12:55 pm

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Austin

Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home

When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?

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Looking at the bigger picture

(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).

That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).

They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.

“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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Housing News

Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?

With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.

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The average home age is higher than ever

(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.

With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.

Prices of new homes on the rise

Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.

Click here to continue reading this story…

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Housing News

Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?

The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.

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Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes

(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.

Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.

So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.

1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues

It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.

Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.

2. Two major media brands emerge

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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