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

The Future of the Internet of Things (IoT)

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A dazzling future was on display in Washington, DC last week at a Congressional hearing on the "Internet of Things" (IoT). The IoT is a network in which objects - vehicles, healthcare services, consumer goods, to name a few - are connected to the Internet in order to provide more valuable and efficient services. These emerging technologies combine with traditional manufacturing to produce a surge in economic opportunity, benefits in healthcare, infrastructure and the environment.

There's just one thing that possibly stands in the way of expanding this innovative technology to virtually all Americans: the new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Internet regulation that could quite possibly inhibit innovation and investment in state-of-the-art Internet-based technologies both now and in the future.

The Committee heard testimony about developments taking place that would have seemed like science fiction 20 years ago: an automaker that wirelessly updates its cars' software to enable "self-driving," or a technology company that recently saw a $9 million return on a pilot program using connected machines to troubleshoot maintenance before problems arose.

As technology analyst Dan Castro testified that day, the IoT is a key to helping the U.S. upgrade its infrastructure. Investing in communications networks solves productivity and safety issues - in other words, helping to create jobs and improve our quality of life. Technology is clearly moving in a direction that plays to America's traditional economic strength: break-the-mold invention and innovation.

But there's a potential major problem confronting this progress: last month's FCC decision to place the innovative, fast-paced high-speed Internet - including the mobile web - under 80-year-old Title II utility style regulation. By its own admission, the FCC could not document a single violation since 2010 to justify regulating the Internet like a public utility. After decades of a bipartisan light touch that enabled the Internet to flourish to the Internet we enjoy today, this new federal micromanagement is unprecedented in Internet history.

That's why many are calling on Congress to intervene to both protect the Internet as we know it as well as to correct the FCC's overreach. Only an act of Congress would carry both the legal heft and certainty to protect the Internet and enable it's continue growth.  One of the driving catalysts of this call for legislative action is that the future build-out of America's high-speed Internet service will require tens of billions of private sector investment. Without this investment, consumers will not be able to experience the full benefits of the Internet of Things.

Facing the cold hard reality of many years of litigation as a result of the FCC's recent action, businesses will not have the certainty they need in order to invest this type of capital.

This new IoT revolution has the potential to touch and improve every part of the U.S. economy. At this critical time in our nation's technological advancement, our federal regulations should not be looking back just as the technology sector is working to move us forward.  If we are to see the full benefits these technological advances potentially promise, it's up to Congress to find a way to come together to move quickly and create a 21st century law for our 21st century Internet.

LJJ (@TechnicalJones)

Internet and Education

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mHealth and Vets

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Check out this interesting read on how the 
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
is expanding their services via mHealth:

mHealth & Title II

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Last week, the Federal Communications Commission took a both interesting and short sighted step in trying to get its hands around creating a new guidance  for this country's Internet users both now and in our future.
In a 3-2 vote, the FCC approved placing our modern, high-speed Internet systems under control of 1934 public utility regulations collectively known as "Title II." These rules, designed to manage the rotary telephone system, will now be used to regulate the way we Skype, chat, use social media, stream music, and everything else we do online.

Perhaps more importantly, the inherent problems of regulating the Internet as a utility will be felt on the most important medical advance in generations: development of Internet-based health systems. These emerging online products have the potential to dramatically expand our access to quality, affordable healthcare - but only if our Internet is up to the task.

Placing our high-speed wired and wireless Internet under federal utility regulations will place a huge burden on the growing mHealth technology market that is becoming more and more essential for patients all over the country.

And there is still much to accomplish in expanding high speed Internet access to rural and other underserved areas to ensure more people have quality access to mHealth apps. Do we really want the quality of our Internet service to resemble the quality of the nation's roadways?
The Internet is too important to have such a vital governance decision made by three unelected officials. America's ability to develop and deploy the best, fastest and most capable Internet systems have proliferated because innovators were allowed to innovate and start-ups had the freedom to bring us the Internet we love and enjoy today, without unnecessary government intrusion.
Federal officials seemed to have taken a short sighted view by now allowing our thriving Internet infrastructure to fall under slow moving bureaucratic management.  The Internet is too dynamic and changes too rapidly for federal micromanagement, particularly one that opens the door to $11 billion in new taxes on consumers

It's perfectly acceptable - in fact, desirable - for Congress to ensure that Internet users can access their choice of legal websites and apps without interference.

Title II has also proven in the past to bring a great amount of uncertainty to the marketplace. When there is uncertainty in the telecom sphere, many companies are will hesitate to invest and build out the infrastructure we need to bring high-speed Internet networks to all Americans.
The irony in all of this is that it now falls back on the Congress to take action and bring some much-needed consumer protection and legal clarity to this vital part of our economy.
I know many folks will not believe it but I think and want to believe that both smart and bipartisan solutions can help Congress to address this issue. Our Internet thrives because it has the freedom to create.

They have both the authority and the responsibility  to assert its authority under the Telecommunications Act to ensure all Americans, regardless of who they are where they live, have access to a 21st century Internet infrastructure.

mHealth: Value vs. Volume

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