There’s little more politically fraught on the Internet than politicians going anywhere near the Internet. Witness the whole kerfluffle about the FCC’s Net neutrality rules, which featured both sides of the argument freaking out over rules they couldn’t read. And now Obama’s going to barrel right into that mess with a plan to put speedy wireless within range of 98% of Americans. How he plans on doing it, and which wireless carrier experienced a miracle while another is experiencing a nightmare, here at Uproxx News.
Obama is visiting Marquette, Michigan, a town that has a powerful wireless network set up for the whole town to use. What’s interesting about Marquette is at a time when Michigan is largely in trouble, businesses have actually grown there, particularly in exporting goods, something a country with a trade deficit always is interested in.
Obama is using it as a jumping-off point to discuss his National Wireless Initiative, which you only just now heard about because he mentioned it during the State of the Union. Among the plans is doubling the space in the air for wireless access, developing a $10 billion national broadband network for use by public safety agencies, and a $5 billion plan to put fast wireless in heavily rural areas, so they can get Netflix Streaming too.
House Republicans are opposed to the idea, mostly because Obama came up with it, and they claim not to want to spend any more money. They should really reconsider: getting your constituents Netflix and access to, ah, what most of the Internet is made of strikes us as the best way to keep your job ever.
Speaking of wireless, a wireless provider has experienced a miracle. Amid all the hubbub about AT&T losing the iPhone, Verizon gaining it, and T-Mobile rather pathetically imitating the “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads with a woman who looks a lot like Anne Hathaway, everybody forgot about Sprint.
And with reason: Sprint had been losing subscribers like clockwork for three years. Despite rising customer satisfaction numbers, despite having the first 4G phone on the market, despite gambling heavily on Android, nothing seemed to work. Until yesterday, when they announced their fourth-quarter numbers, with 58,000 new subscribers in a key market, postpaid. Postpaid, for those not up on their marketing slang, means people in two-year contracts, who buy better phones for more money and spend more money on them.
In addition, its stock has been thumping Verizon, with Sprint going up 4% once those fourth quarter numbers hit. So, for Sprint at least, 2010 was a pretty good year. Now if they can just land the iPhone…or maybe they don’t need it, considering Verizon’s problems.
Apparently, for all the hype about the Verizon iPhone, it’s not being reflected in huge lines for the product. This doesn’t actually mean all that much: there weren’t huge lines for the iPad and it’s sold by the millions. Still, in the ever-escalating mobile phone wars, even a PR defeat stings.
- South Carolina has what it considers a serious problem: prisoners on Facebook. How serious do they find their inmates updating their status with “dropped soap LOL”? Enough to make it a crime with 30 days added onto their sentence. Apparently, cell phones are thrown to inmates over the prison fence. Maybe instead of passing a somewhat silly law, guys, you could just string up a net? (AllFacebook)
- In a far more cuddly story about prisoners, the inmates of a Missouri prison received a rescue dog, Sparky, that was completely deaf. So, they taught Sparky sign language so it would understand commands, and then donated him to the Missouri School For the Deaf, where he’ll continue his training and brighten the days of small children. Awwwww. (New York Daily News)
KNOW YOUR STATS
- A quarter of all Americans don’t even use the Internet. This same quarter thinks things were better before cable and that it’s a crime the grocery store wants some newfangled “debit card”. (Ars Technica)
- But they’re happy with their cell phones: 91% of Americans use those. (ArsTechnica. Whoa, deja vu)