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Leroy Jones, Jr. is the creator of Talking Technology with Leroy Jones, Jr.

The Internet Game

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Everyone knows that Washington, D.C. is a city that lives and dies with every move that their NFL professional football team makes 365/24/7. The mood of the entire city is set by how well the team playing. So it's interesting watching the political football game being played out on federal Internet policy issues. For nearly 20 years this issue has been one of the few issues that brought members of congress together.
 
Right now, the stakes are too high, particularly given next year's Federal auction of wireless spectrum to fuel mobile Internet growth. And now that the courts have been called upon to referee our Internet regulations (the third time in five years), Congress has a responsibility to weigh in and take action in a bipartisan way to ensure our policies can strengthen this amazing platform for telehealth and other applications that help improve the lives of Americans across the country.
 
This problem began in February when the FCC voted 3-2 along party lines to use Title II rules, written in 1934, to regulate the Internet as a public utility. The economic implications of that vote are huge.  Among industries that generate capital investment, only the energy industry surpasses broadband Internet deployment.  In fact, even when you include all industries, the top two investors in our nation's economy were broadband providers.  In 2013, broadband investment was $75 billion, up nearly 10 percent from 2012.
 
The FCC's action also shattered the previous bipartisan unity around a policy started during the Clinton Administration.  The short-term harm from the Commission's Title II vote is already apparent. The FCC has received multiple documented examples of compliance costs interfering with rural broadband improvement, and with these new rules potentially strangling innovation and investment, our diverse communities stand to suffer as broadband providers are now forced to rethink how much they should invest under this new bureaucratic scrutiny.
 
The brakes on the Internet's development seem inevitable. "We decline to adopt fixed, short deadlines for resolving formal complaints," the FCC's order says.  According to The Wall Street Journal, the FCC actually rejected a 90-day deadline for resolving complaints.
 
Other problems relate to the difficulties of applying rules from 1934 to modern technology.  Take Internet exchange, the complicated system that enables data consumers want to access on the Internet to cross multiple networks from various servers and Internet systems.  The FCC says that agreements must be "just and reasonable." But what is the definition of 'just and reasonable'?  Nobody knows.
 
If that sounds vague, here's how the Commission explains it: "While we have more than a decade's worth of experience with last-mile practices, we lack a similar depth of background in the Internet traffic exchange context."
 
Amid this bad news, a silver lining is emerging.  Leaders from both parties in Congress increasingly seem to recognize this threat to the Internet. A compromise involving "light touch" rules for tomorrow's technology cannot come too soon. As I've written (here and here), the growth of telehealth and mHealth could help millions gain affordable health care access, especially among our various diverse communities who need broadband access the most.  But telehealth and mHealth will only reach their potential if the Internet itself continues to grow and flourish.
 
The need for Congressional action is particularly important given the urgency of resolving legal uncertainties before next year's Federal wireless spectrum auction. The FCC, which is handling the auction, has now placed the mobile Internet - which had never been heavily regulated - under its wide thumb with the exact same rules enacted during the Great Depression. 
 
The response from Congress and consumers should be clear: No.  The same framework that brought us the wonders of the Internet and its empowering opportunities of free speech, civic engagement and educational pursuits should be the same rules that allow the Internet to thrive in the 21st century.  Rather than a forward-looking approach, the FCC decided to look backwards 100 years. 
 
Our system for overseeing the Internet, which worked so well for so long, has seemingly come apart.  It's time for Congress to come together and step up to protect the Internet and the opportunity for companies to invest and create new opportunities.


The Business of Global Healthcare IT

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mHealth: Speed Up EHR Providers

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mHealth: Does it or will it work?

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The question I always ask mHealth folks. 
Does it or will it work?

Check out this interesting article on that issue:


"But, as an article published at the Journal of the American Medical Association points out, the number of viable, safe and beneficial mHealth apps is a big unknown; many apps could potentially be problematic for users and caregivers."



Image result for mHealth


Protecting Tomorrow's Internet

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The revolution in mobile healthcare continues to accelerate: More than 40 million smartphone owners now actively use at least one wellness or fitness app and by an overwhelming margin, they report that their health is improving because of it.


So why is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) undercutting advances vital to this industry's progress?  And how quickly will Congress fix the problem?

 

Those two questions came to mind as I was reading a interesting new analysis of the FCC's recent vote to place the Internet under Title II utility regulations. With almost surgical precision, Internet analyst Larry Downes dissects the Commission's action, showing how the rules could violate multiple areas of federal law.

 

To give one example, the FCC redefined the entire Internet to make it part of the old, antiquated 1930s era telephone system and therefore subject the modern, dynamic Internet to these 1934 regulations.


As a result, Downes notes, every component on the Internet has been transformed into a telephone service and is therefore subject to utility regulation. The FCC, he warns, "can't rewrite the law by giving a key term an absurd new 'definition' [that contradicts] a consistent string of the agency's own precedents, and even basic rules of grammar."

 

The FCC's vote for Title II regulations will harm the Internet and, by extension, our access to new healthcare apps and services.

 

My hope is that Congress will work together to resolve these issues quickly so that needed improvements for both the Internet and telehealth technologies aren't delayed by the resultant legal uncertainties or by what is certain to be federal intrusion as, for the first time, layers of federal bureaucracy are added that impair innovators and their new ideas.


A Congressional action - narrowly focused to ensure Internet openness but without the overreach of Title II - would keep innovation moving.

 

Over the years, mobile and Internet-based healthcare services have emerged as an effective and affordable healthcare solution. As Commissioner Mignon Clyburn stated last fall, "Broadband-enabled solutions, can help communities better manage chronic disease, address language barriers, improve health literacy... and help improve overall population health and wellness."

 

While Commissioner Clyburn is right about the benefits of Internet healthcare, the FCC's decision to regulate the Internet under Title II authority will simply negate the progress made with these innovative services. That is why Congress must find a legislative solution that will combat the FCC's harmful policy and help mHealth programs become more effective.

 

The FCC's decision to regulate the Internet is a recipe for stale and uninspired innvovation. With the wireless Internet in particular, America is among the world's leaders and this has enabled our success in creating services to help seniors, people with chronic & debilitating diseases, and millions more who lack easy access to a doctor.

 

Congress has to both confirm and maintain America's leadership with online healthcare by working together to create and pass a law before the end of this year that extricates the Internet from Title II's overregulation but that permanently ensures an open Internet.


Congress must accept their responsibility to discourage and avoid the unnecessary years of legal wrangling with lawsuits after lawsuits that can be avoided. In the long run it is the consumers that will be the real winnner as innovators can return to what they do best - creating state of the art opportunities for consumers.

 

LJJ

(@TechnicalJones)



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