Working Toward Universal Access: Educate, Engage, and Empower
17 December 2017 - A Other on in Geneve,Switzerland
>> MODERATOR: To preserve information from being lost from spreading the load of computation in the light. So we need to as technologists help the policymakers understand that limiting cross border data flow may actually be a mistake, and what we need to do is to assure that if data does cross borders, that the data is properly treated, which is why things like privacy shield and safe harbor is predecessor or more so important.
There is therefore a need to establish goals and international cooperation to limit harms that users can experience, and we hear about freedom of access to information, freedom of sharing information, freedom of expression. I'm in favor of freedom from harm to the extent that we can achieve that objective. We know that we won't be perfect at it, and therefore we need to respond to the harms that do occur, which means more international cooperation to track down people who are creating hazards and harms for everyone else on the net, and that's going to require cross border collaboration as well.
In the end, the most important facility that we can assure on the internet is freedom of access to it. Not only for the users and consumers but for people who produce consent and provide other services. We want businesses to have the ability to connect to the network at‑will. I often think of the student Surge Brandon and Larry Paige when they were at Stamford University. They didn't run around getting permission from every ISP in the world getting permission to bring up their service, which was eventually called Google. In fact, my understanding is that they actually borrowed some computers in order to realize their objective, which was to download the entire world wide web and index it. I don't know whether they actually had permission to borrow the computers. This is called permissionless invasion in case you wondered what the definition is.
But they brought the system up and attracted a lot of use, and eventually turned into a very big business.
I think it's very, very important therefore that users and businesses have freedom to get access to the internet. And by the way they should have choice who provides that access. Now another big issue has to do with competitive access, compressive provision or service to the net. I think our head lines, I hope, would not be ‑‑ would not have the characterization, there is one single global provider of internet. I think it's very important we retain this competitive opportunity for differential access. So competition is important.
And I think in the end what we all hope for is that the various institutions, IEEE, ACM, the internet society, the internet corporation for signings, to ravel off just a few, all recognize the value of working together to realize this objective. That would mean identifying incentives that lead to the outcome we want. So the insights coming from today's session may very well set us on a path to achieve that held on January 1, 2025. Thank you, madam chairman.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Van. With that, that was fabulous. I think it really sets a tone for today what we're looking to accomplish, but we want to have an opportunity for everyone around the table to dialogue with ven and each other about our headlines. This is an exercise that we wanted to sort of put people through, so a little bit of an icebreaker but also to get people thinking in a forward‑facing, positive mindset about this. We know there's many challenges at our feet right now, but I think over the last several years working in partnership and collaboration, we've made significant progress, and we never should lose sight of that. But also what sort of look maybe a few years forward to see when we actually accomplish this feat of connecting everybody, taking into consideration all the various aspects and what that really means. For now, I would like to see if anyone has questions for vent and let's start our dialogue.
SPEAKER: Madam chairman, the implication for questions that vent is that I have the answers to the questions. I hope there are other people sitting in the room that will chime in with their answers.
MODERATOR: Well stated, but let's just get the dialogue started. Thank you.
SPEAKER: One aspect ‑‑ in the future, people will not be consuming but also producing. So what other parts in terms of the architecture of internet in that respect or with terms of the band width. Now with people sharing more and more video information, again, perhaps it needs to be more symmetric. That's one thing.
Second thing is when you're looking into this whole shoe about you said no place on the earth is uncharacter, but if you could also add one more thing, that nobody uncharacter.
SPEAKER: Let me take the last point first. I have come to believe that not everyone want to be connected in the internet. In the U.S., we've seemed to have peaked to around 80 and 82 percent of the population online even though there's a substantial amount of conductivity. We do miss some conductivity in the rural parts of the country, and that's a thing that I care greatly about. But even if not everyone wants to be connected, we should not have a situation where they can't be connected because it isn't available. So my objective is to make sure that that is the choice that you make as opposed to a choice you're forced into.
With regard to the symmetry, this is a very interesting observation that you make. The original design of the network was very symmetric. That is to say, we didn't care whether it was a laptop or a work station on one end and a super computer in the other. The protocols of the internet were absolutely and completely insensitive to the scale of things. So this galitarian design was intended to induce the sense that anyone is free to engage, that it didn't matter whether you were a huge, you know, computing engine or a modest one. It didn't matter whether you had huge amounts of information to offer or a small amount. All information was welcome.
We did see an interesting movement from the early days when capacity was limited. People were using dial modems. They were lucky if they got 2.4 or 4.8 kill bits per second. I can remember using a 50 bod modem to use a teletype machine to do remote programming of a machine in 1968, and we were pretty excited about that. Then came 1200 bod modems and I couldn't read that fast so I thought we would never need anything faster. So much for that. Fast forward to today.
So there was a period of time and continues to be the case that band widths are going up. We saw as video showed up, just an enormous amount of distribution, great deal of content falling outward, which led to content distribution networks and localization of content and the like.
With Google and YouTube, the estimates are 400,000 video being uploaded into the system, and God knows the other way, being watched of video per day. I can't imagine who watches all that video. It's like a blog. There are lots and lots of blogs and we think the average number of readers is 1.4, whoever wrote the blog and his dog.
Nonetheless, the asymmetry of the network is giving rise to a more symmetric use as people begin to use video dialoguing for example. This meeting, perhaps in 2025, might actually be held in a very distributed way, although I will point out that it's very helpful to be in the same time zone, despite the fact that for some of us, it's five hours earlier than the clock says and our brains are not quite here.
So as the increased capacity in the network is introduced in applications that are now feasible that would not have been before. So I think we're starting to see movement back from the asymmetry to the symmetric use of network capacity and a great deal of production as well as consumption of content.
MODERATOR: Please turn your mic on and fire a question to all of us.
RICK SHANNON: In terms of restriction, things that are impediments to better conductivity, there's been kind of two limitations talked about. One is economic limitations in terms of infrastructure and appropriate business models and whether or not individuals actually do want to get on the internet to some. There are some that don't, like my cat. Are there other impediments in your mind? Are there vested interests that you see that maybe aren't necessarily economic that are restricting, you know, in some sense you can think of, the first half was easy because there were low various entries, not a lot of cases made sense and then other noneconomic issues in the other half. And I haven't really seen a discussion about whether or not those aren't there or they haven't been considered. Thank you.
MODERATOR: This by the way is a very good topic. I hope there will be others that pick it up as we proceed. The good news I think is that physics seems to be with us. The cost of equipment and the cost of mutation keeps coming down over time. As GDP per capita goes up, we hope people will be able to afford access to internet and tools that they need to do that. But at the same time, it strikes me that governments have an opportunity to improve the situation by providing for example in the U.S. there's something called e‑rate, which is an educational rate for access to internet conductivity and it's intended to help libraries and schools to be ‑‑ to have access to the internet in an affordable way.
So there are ways that we can ‑‑ steps that we can take to erode some of the cost barriers for getting online. We can also imagine communities deciding to build access to internet if they aren't able to get it from commercial carriers, for example. There are some places, including in the U.S., where some corporations have tried very hard to inhibit certain community networking because they consider it to be competition, I guess. My view is that community networking can make a lot of sense, but only if it's sustainable. This is one of the awkward things that sometimes happens. People will get together and say we really need to build a piece of internet. If we connect with the rest of the world and they build it, but they haven't taken into account what it takes to maintain this operation.
There's an organization called the network standard of proof resources center that's run by a man named Steven. And one of the things they've learned is that when you show up in a place that doesn't yet have internet access, the wrong thing is to parish it in, build something and leave. The right thing is to show up, teach people how to make this word, how to sustain it, you know, bring equipment in if necessary and leave it behind. Bring documentation. And leave people equipped in order to run the system on their own.
And I'm a huge fan of that philosophy. So here's another barrier, which is knowledge and education and capacity, something that we can contribute to as increasing global capacity to build and operate pieces of internet. My guess is that the other people sitting around the table have had similar experiences trying to induce either local or national governments to adopt policies and produce more internet access and more internet utility. I'd sure like to hear from those of you that have not yet had a chance to speak.
MODERATOR: Let me just ask a ‑‑ back to the 2025 theme, we're thinking about our report next year for annual falls. Every year, we do a report which we try to use as a new frame to frame an issue. The new theme I'm calling the 4th industrial revolution divide, talking about what we have now. Artificial intelligence, precision of medicine, all these applications.
The theme we're starting to want to look at is how can we just not avoid the digital divide, which we're all here talking about, put are we going to coming to very quickly, even faster than we thought, a 4th industrial revolution device, the haves and have not on the use of AI as an example. And 2025 is a great timeframe. I would be curious to hear from vent or others, is that a big risk? We haven't fully formed the thinking on this yet. We believe there is something that has to be discussed now because we can't just be focused on 3G connectivity. Is that going to then leave out a bigger gap
MODERATOR: It seems to me, Alex, that one of the most important things that we should take into account is that if we truly want everyone to be up online by 2025, we need to ask ourselves exactly what environment they'll be facing when they do get online. What should we do about the harmful experiences that some people have had. These are in many cases social problems that we don't get.
In some cases, you could argue they're illegal. The question is, what is it that we will have done by 2025 in order to mitigate some of those concerns? The last thing in the world any of us want I think is put everybody up online and expose them to a harmful experience. At the same time, there is some tensions here because frequently expression is a very important thing in the United Nations and most democracies. So we don't want to try to solve a problem by inhibiting freedom of access to information. That's the a challenge that need to be undertaken. I will make one observation about dealing with these types of problems. From the technological point of view, sometimes you can inhibit. Build software that's resistant to various sorts of ‑‑ it encrypts traffic to avoid exposure, uses strong authentication to keep someone from taking over the account. So there are technical things we can do to inhibit some of the harmful hazards of this online environment, but they don't always work. So what's the next thing we can do? Well, we can say to the general internet population, if we catch you doing these things, some value of these, that there will be consequences because those activities are rejected as anti‑social and in some cases even illegal.
So that's the a post hac kind of enforcement. We won't catch everybody, but if we can warn people that if we catch you, there will be consequences. We do this all the time on people's driver's license. They get drunk and drive on the road, we tell them, if we catch you drinking and driving, then there will be consequences. So that's post hac.
And there's one thing we can do, and it will sound very weak. And that's to tell people, don't do that, it's wrong. And it sounds wimpy, but let me remind you that the weakest force in the university is gravity, but when you get a large mass, gravity is powerful. So if enough of the world's population says we reject these behaviors as socially unacceptable, that's a very powerful statement. So telling people don't do that, it's wrong, is not just a bad thing to do. And those are the three examples of ways to cope, to make this a safer kind of environment, and therefore one we're thinking of getting everybody connected to..
SPEAKER: Nice to see you again. I just wanted to go back to the community‑based network. And I know ‑‑ and maybe this is a question for Christopher later, but I think there's a lot of work that we all do to kind of look at what are best practices when it comes to community based networks or business models. I'd love to hear specific examples beyond the organization that you mentioned where there's a best in class or a handful or 1 or 2 or whatever the number is of really interesting community based networks where we feel they've gotten it right and done all of the right things that you've talked about.
SPEAKER: Let me try to respond to that by saying first of all I don't think there's one simple prescription. It's going to depend a great deal on local topology, available connectivity, the current economics, the available training and skill that might be present in the community. I've looked at one group in southern California who are native American reservations around the U.S. that are largely disconnected, an embarrassment in nigh view.
It just turned out that in San Diego, conditions were such that a tribal community individual initiative has led to improvement in connectivity. But there were certain specifics that made it work. One of them is that there were mountains surrounding the area and you can put radio repeaters on the mountains and they can see down into the valley, and that helps with point to point radio connectivity.
It also just happens that the researcher of University of Southern California made a radio system which he put up in the forested areas. It wasn't intended for connectivity. It was intended for surveillance of the forest in case there were forest fires and things like that, but which you probably know, we have a few in Southern California. So it was really important for the department of interior to have access to that kind of information, capability, cameras, everything else
And also in California there's a group called scenic. These are backbone systems, and we just connected the radio system to the backbone system, and that extends now out to some of the tribal villages. On top of that, there's question about available power. How do I power the radio transceivers?
In this case, we're looking at solar power as a way of sustaining the operation. So what I'm trying to convince you of is that you have to take particulars into account in order to figure out what the solutions are that work best. So I don't think there's a simple prescription except to say go and understand what the conditions are and then figure out what's optimal for that target. But I'm trying to think of another ‑‑ oh, I know.
There's another organization called self, and has nothing to do with selfies. It's the solar electric light fund run by a man named Robert. He's been doing this for over a quarter of a century. He started out just supplying enough solar electric power to run a 100‑watt light bulb so you can do something after the sun went down. Now he's graduated over the last 25 years to building solar powered hospitals in places like Haiti.
The point to be made here is that new technologies have come along that will provide solutions like available power, which is pretty important to make internet work. So that's another thing to pay attention to is the movement of technology. IEEE is a great place to track that. This is a plug for IEEE's publications because it's made up of so many different disciplines that have an impact on solving these problems.
There's also questions of economics, whether or not the community has the capacity to pay for the cost of operating a system like this. In some communities, the citizens will decide to tax themselves in order to build a piece of internet. What typically happens is that after they've decided to do that, then they've put out to bid to the private sector the construction and operation of the resulting network. So it's not like the citizens are having to do all of the work themselves. It's a question of organizing around a business model that will work for them. So I would strongly encourage you to press ahead trying to find solutions, but they will not be a uniform set.
JANE KAUFMAN: Thank you. Jane Kaufman from the internet society. Hello, Vince. I'm not going to try and speak for community networks. We work with many of them in the field. We've helped deploy them, support them, develop them. And are working with community. At work, I see the guys across the way here, one of the biggest in the world. But as Melissa you asked that question, it is about certain local circumstances. I don't think there's a best in class in that sense, and I'd hate to try and create a box.
SPEAKER: Yeah, totally.
SPEAKER: But one thing I would ask Vent, and I've seen this but I want to hear your thoughts.
Some of the biggest concerns we're seeing are regulatory policy. What are your thoughts on trying to forge a coalition to have some really good ways we can all come back at this? Because we've heard some people say, oh, you want access to spectrum, you're trying to change spectrum management. No, no, no, no, no. With a nod to my clients in IT who I've worked with for many years as well, there's a way forward somehow. What are you thinking from that perspective? We've got to make a change. We've been doing this for so long, why isn't there more connectivity
SPEAKER: I would like to see a change in spectrum management to be quite honest with you. I'm a huge fan of being able to share spectrum among multiple uses. Historically, we have not done that. Most of the regulatory agencies handling spectrum tend to dedicate the spectrum to a particular use and a particular organization. This is historically a consequence of early days of radio technology, which is pretty limited. The radio receiver, crystal radio, uses huge spectrum, lots of interference and everything else.
For a long time, the regulatory posture was always to isolate the spectrum and its use. But today we have not only smart transmitters but smart receivers. And those smart receivers are fully capable of rejecting signals that are not intended for them. Technology such as red spectrum, as you now see in use in mobile telephony are very powerful tools for permitting multiple parties to be occupying the same spectrum. So I'm a huge fan of moving towards that kind of usage.
I must say there are incentives in place that inhibit some of that. For example, the idea of auctioning spectrum on the highest bidder is very attractive to a politician whose term in office is three years or 4 years or 2 years or something because they can point to a big chunk of money and say look what I did during my term in office.
This short‑term attitude, short‑term view, inhibits some of the tactics that would be preferable, which is to adopt as much open access as possible. For example, in the case of wi‑fi, if you do the math, I would think that you would discover that whatever money you would have gotten from auctioning off that spectrum to a buyer is vastly swamped by the tax revenues produced by all of the businesses producing equipment and services using the wi‑fi open spectrum. And so again, because technology has moved ahead and because the economics of business associated with open access is demonstrably pretty dramatic, we would be off moving towards the sharing machine as I see it. There is one other thing that's important to recognize. People will say, well, there's a limited amount of spectrum and we have to be very, very careful about that.
I'm sorry, but physics tells us there isn't a limited amount of spectrum. Whether it's usable for the kinds of communications and things we're talking about, we could argue, x‑rays probably not the first thing you want to use for communicating with your friends because it has side effects on the way our bodies work.
However, there's a lot of spectrum which is available and not currently in use, up in the higher frequency bands, especially, and I'm personally enthusiastic about this, when you get up into the 60 gig hurts band, it's in the oxygen absorption band in the atmosphere, and why is that interesting? It means the signal doesn't propagate more than half a mile before it dies out, not counting the effect to begin with.
The reason that's interesting, you get automatic use of the spectrum because you can't interior with each other if your transmitters are far apart. Oh, by the way, if you get up to much higher frequencies, you also can have more band width associated with that frequency. And so at the 60 to 85 Gigahertz range, you can have five gig hurts band width available and even if you've got a crappy signal, that's five big bits per second. What's wrong with that? The whole point is that moving into higher frequency should be increasingly attractive as the cost of the equipment comes down.
One other point to be made. When you are in very high frequencies, the an tepa sizes can be quite small which means that a multiple antenna system is quite feasible. That means that you can reject signals coming in one direction and accentuate receiving signals from others. You can steer beams around. You have a lot of flexibility in that space.
And even inside of urban settings where there's a lot of radio reflection going on, you can actually reintegrate that energy into the system. So as a technologies, I'm a big fan, in case you haven't noticed, of moving into higher frequencies in order to provide bigger capacity.
SPEAKR: Thanks. I wanted to go back to what you said earlier talking about the need and more collaboration for cooperation. And you mentioned net context and how we need to rely on those, really promote that. Some of the drivers we see are things like recognition of interdependence and the commonality of some of the systemic challenges and also the value of collective action to address these. I would love if you could elaborate from your side as what do you see as some of the incentives that could help support world collaboration and cooperation.
SPEAKER: There's an expression in English that many hands make light work. I think there is some truth to that. When we figure out that cooperating produces a bigger aggregate result than competing or isolating our efforts, then we learn a very important lesson. I think it's also very important to be able to demonstrate that this is true. That means that we should be promoting projects which we hope will be successful so we can point to them and say, see, they were successful because people worked together. The internet itself is a grand and global collaboration. Believe me, Bob, tan, and I did not do what you see today. We may have nothing out what the rules of the road had to be and then tried to sell those ideas to other people. But if there were no buyers for those ideas, you wouldn't have what you have today.
There are a variety of incentives that have led to internet's growth and new applications from it. And once again, to point out, the openness of the network is designed and architecture has invited invasion. It has invited people to build a piece of the network and to connect it. We honestly hope that by releasing the design of the system without any constraints, without any intellectual property limitations, that we would induce a kind of organic growth by saying, if you can build a system that works like this, and someone else has pistol one that works like that, you should be able to interconnect and they should work together.
So we don't care what your business model is, and we don't care, you know, which choice of hardware and software you use as long as they follow these technical rules. And if you can find somebody to connect to under whatever terms and conditions are acceptable, you should be able to grow the system at whose value we hope will be more than lineally improving over time as the system gets bigger.
One other point to be made related to this collaboration and cooperation is sharing of insight, which is what we're trying to do in this session today. It is so important to not only point at something and say this was successful, but it's to understand why it was successful. And if it wasn't successful, why was it not successful? It's understanding the reasons that things work or don't work is sometimes more important than the thing itself. The reason for that is is that if you want to reproduce results, you need to understand what is it that caused those results to work or not? Is this ‑‑ basically, this is science.
In science, we have theories. We build equipment in order to test those theories and make measurements. And then we discover that the measurements don't match the theories. There's a small cad ray of scientists that will run away and say my theory is correct and somebody did a bad measurement. The guy that gets the Nobel prize is the one that says, that's funny, why didn't that workout, and discovered that maybe the theory was wrong. So please please please look for insights to understand why things work so that we don't misapply those insights in a situation that won't benefit from them.
TIME LEE: Hi, I'm Tim Lee. I'm a volunteer. I am the share of the internet illusion tract and as well as involved in the 5G connectivity. My question to you is that by 2025, vouchee should have launched significantly after ING 2020. At this stage, currently we're prestanding. 5G is promising a lot of things to a lot of people. Many are not even done paying off four G. What do you think 5G would participate in reaching these goals for internet for all and what can we do today as we try to shape and create the strategies and build up this ecosystem for 5G? I see that's a major challenge and not only building up the entire system, but to finding ways where leveraging 5G in ways that we aren't thinking about today for this problem.
MODERATOR: So that's a very good, timely question. If there's another expression I can invoke here, don't put all of your eggs in the same basket. We shouldn't rely on 5G as the only means of advancing internet access. To remind you again, the architecture is such that we don't care how to packets are being carried. In fact, we've been seeing interesting results recently with point to point laser links as alternatives to optical fiber backbone. What's important from the internet point of view is we can run on top of almost anything. But the 5G has a lot of promise. I have to point out, there may be more promise right now than there is results. So we have to be thoughtful about that. I will give you an example though of an interesting piece of technology development that I hadn't fully appreciated until the last year or so.
LTE or long‑term evolution is an access method for database communication. And I didn't understand how sophisticated it was until I realized the difference between that and a typical wi‑fi system. In a wi‑fi system, there's sort of a competitive access method, which is not inmost efficient in the whole world. LTE, on the other hand, is a controlled system. It relies very heavily on GPS, or at least some high resolution timing signal. In the absence of that, things don't work very well. But the point behind the control is that by telling the source when to send, you avoid a lot of interference.
And so LTE, in my view, has a great deal of utility, because it avoids lot of interference. And my colleagues at Google who put the balloon system together shifted from a wi‑fi target to an LTE target for precisely that reason, because of the improved ability to use the spectrum. So that's an example of a beneficial side effect of developing an alternative access method. 5G may promise for other things to come in that regard. And in particular, I keep hoping we'll see more spectrum sharing capability out of the 5G designs.
But as you point out, this is still not a stable decided system. Maybe our inputs can stay here are some of the desirable properties of whatever 5G is, which would improve our ability to deliver the access to internet.
SPEAKER: Thank you. I'm an independent consultant. I kind of wanted to make three interrelated points to what you were talking about and finish with a question.
The first in regards to sustainability and energy. The fact is that energy for most ‑‑ energy for internet access is a prerequisite. Power is a prerequisite to internet. And the fact is we really can't legitimately discuss access without sustainability. Right now, if you look at the core of ICT, design does not necessarily include sustainability into its cord. To me, it's a serious problem and this is what I'm trying to focus more on in my personal work.
At the same time, there is a lot of invasion. And we're talking about access. One of them I've been reading a lot about for the past year or so is with space ex, one web and bowing want to do and individually, that is create a satellite constellation which would then in theory, basically as long as latency is fast enough or low enough would be that there would be universal access around the world.
Now, the thing about all of this and what my ‑‑ the core of my question really is is that I'm 29, and it seems to me, anyway, over the past ten years, over the past five years, there's a third point of uncertainty. There's a lot of uncertainty to me about where where we're going and how we're going to get there between now and 2025, to go back to the original point.
Would you say that technologically speaking, politically, socially, economically, is there more uncertainty now that will then color that road to 2025? Can we rely on invasion? What do we do.
SPEAKER: I'm 74, by the way, just to put another chip on the table here. No, I don't think that there is really more uncertainty there was when we started this project 40 years ago. You always feel when you're in the midst of it, you always feel like there's a lot of uncertainty. And you know, if you were ‑‑ if you had been born in 1900, you were sort of observing the world, think about what you would have encountered, you know, radio activity and radio and eventually jet plains and heavier than air aircraft and all this other stuff.
The world would have seen ‑‑ seemed to be just absolutely incredibly changing at an insane pace. So we all feel that because we're in the middle of it. I don't think that there is more uncertainty really, it just feels that way because we're in the middle of it all. We'll look back on it. This is sort of like walking up to a forest. And you can't imagine exactly how you're going to get through this forest.
And yet after you've gotten, you know, sort of into the middle of it somewhere, you can look back and see how you got there, but you couldn't have predicted how you were going to get from where you ended up until you could look back to see what the path was. So I resonate with your feeling that you're expressing. I think that we actually have more opportunity now than we ever had before.
When you think about the tools that we have for thinking and designing and inventing and trying things out, including simulations which allow us to do things faster than realtime that I'm feeling more optimistic technologically speaking than I ever have. At the same time, absolutely worried that we can also make more mistakes per second now than we ever could before. And so we should be careful.
These are power tools that we're talking about, and the slip of a power tool can have serious side effects. So perhaps at least in one sense our consciousness of the mistakes that we might make should be heightened because we can make more serious mistakes now than we ever could before.
JOAN: It's Joan for the record. I'm a storyteller communication kind of person. Firstly, the first time I murder your name, if there was a success story, here is one. I said never will I ever meet Vince Circ because he's never liked me because I'm not a techie. And here we are. So that was 30 years ago when I heard your name first. So I just wanted to share that.
And secondly, I did a project in 2004. I've always been an entrepreneur ‑‑ I really like entrepreneurial thinking. What I wanted to know was how does a woman function in the IT world in the '90s? And I was a business person. I was learning about the use of technology not to be a techie, if that makes sense. So a group of us did an old project called women's open world empowerment movement. It was supposed to be a little project. So we had I guess not strategized for it to be a big project.
We thought maybe 20 women would answer. But 60 countries answered. It was like, oh, okay, this is great, but we're not prepared. But we found out a lot of information about how women were functioning in the IT world, and it actually ended up winning an award the next year.
So when we heard about that, we're like, what's ‑‑ so it was for creativity and content. So we're proud of that. So this whole idea of engaging ‑‑ and that's what I do is engage people. And I'm listening to all the questions about policy, and I always think policy and technology and all of that are also intimidating to community. Because when they hear things like I'm a steak holder or I'm a partner because they kind of have some legal issues associated with them as opposed to if you're a community organization, you're a collaborator.
You want to have something to say. So I wanted to ask your opinion about wording. Because you know how wording can be prohibitive to collaboration. So that's one thing.
How does a small organization work with larger organizations here on the ground which is in looking at things like best practices and be like what will make your community successful? That's what we look at, local issues. And then the whole idea of local involvement, which is also an issue that ends up being sustainable. Because if a lot of times the word sustain is used in terms of money but not in terms of people, right? We if you can talk about those. Thanks.
MODERATOR: Wow. Let me start out by congratulating you on taking a small effort and having it sort of explode unexpectedly. That's what happens with good ideas sometimes. You start out small, you didn't have a huge ambition, and it just took off. We started pretty small with the internet too. We only had three networks that we were running, but we had the back of the American military. That helped a lot in terms of actually getting something done.
There is this notion of multistakeholder models, and I've a huge fan of that. We've lived through it in the internet corporation. We've lived through it here in the internet governance forum, as well. It seems to me that that's an important philosophical base on which to respond to your question because the stakeholders are large and small, and in my view, all of their opinions are important. They will be affected by choices by policies, selected and implemented.
And it's very important I think to be ‑‑ if we were going to be honest with ourselves that it's not the size of the stakeholder that counts but it is the impact that the decisions and policy choices have on each of the stakeholders. It should color our choices ask decisions. As I think about women in this space, I am reminded that there are 3‑and‑a‑half billion women in the planet.
And excuse me, but that's a pretty significant number. And they have every right to participate and in fact many of them are finally breaking through some of the glass ceilings that have been around. But as anyone is paying attention to the headlines knows we're a long ways from where we need to be. So I would encourage you to keep starting those innocent, small initiatives that take off because we need more of those to happen.
Madam chairman, I did notice that Matthew showed up. Matthew, I mentioned the tribal village earlier. I see you were tracking that. So much for anonymity. I wanted to suggest that somewhere along the line, we give Matthew an opportunity to say a bit more about what's happened and why it works, a point that I tried to make earlier.
MATTHEW: Thank you very much. So which specifically would you like me to start with.
SPEAKER: Well, I was thinking particularly of the conditions that allowed you to get things moving in the San Diego area. I mentioned the topological and topographical point about mountain tops and radio repeaters and brown's high performance network and the linkage to scenic. But I couldn't speak as well to ‑‑ we mentioned power and railing and the solar electric light fund. But I couldn't speak so well to the people side of things, which has come up more than once.
There was a point about sustainability just made which involves having people who are committed and capable. So perhaps you can speak to what has made your effort successful, particularly with regard to people you've been able to engage.
MATTHEW: Excellent. Thank you. I'm located in Southern California. I work with 19 federally recognized tribes on the ground on a daily basis. And the policy space, I work with 360 tribes at the national Congress of American Indians, and I'm on several other tribal boards, formerly the chair of the native public media and the native nations Providence task force at the FCC and a few other things, for background.
For 16 years, we've been building a wireless internet service provider business to the communities of Southern California tribes because the incumbent providers do not go out to the reservations. In many cases, they stop at the reservation border and don't want to navigate the terrain, the lack of return on investment, because there's smaller populations, and the fact that they have to work with a different indemnity to try to get rights of way and things like this every time they go to a different reservation, it's a new experience for them and they just don't want to take the step.
So all of our kids in San Diego bus off of the reservation into the county schools, and those county schools have access to internet. And then those kid are all required to go home and do homework on the internet. Well, these kids don't have access to the internet at home. So we have situations where families are taking the single family vehicle and loading it up with kids after school and driving down into town, which is about 45 minutes, to a Starbucks or a McDonald's or a local wi‑fi hot spot, and they are getting the homework downloaded so they know what they actually have to do.
And then sometimes they have to do the research and homework on the internet. They spend the time there when that one single vehicle could be for employment for one of the parents or getting groceries and things like that and it really occupies a lot of time and resources for the families.
So without that resource on the ground for the people that the digital divide, the gap, whatever you want to call it, however you want to phrase it, but that chasm is getting big signature bigger and bigger and as things move into the gig bit a applications and the higher speeds with more functionality and more like live experiences, if you will, we're having a tougher time even trying to keep up with the even and our people still aren't connected, but those that aren't connected are still trying to catch up to that next phase of what's happening.
So it's this big stretched out scenario of 0 connectivity to, you know, sort of fledgling connectivity to occasionally, a few of us are catching up to maybe 100 mega speed but not quite going much further than that.
So we have a lot of people that are very interested in this. It's generated from the youth. They're going home and teaching their parents and their grandparents what the internet is and how it works and what you can do with it. They're the educators. The kids kids all the way down to 6, 7 years old will drag ‑‑ literally, drag their grandmother into our office to pay the bill for her internet so that they can get back on the internet. It's pretty amazing stuff.
Thank you for your time. We have a huge project down there. We have 19 tribes connected. We're helping many other tribes do this. I'm working on a national effort that happened under the last administration. It's out in the public space now, and we're working on trying to get middle mile fiber to all of the 340 reservations bases in the United States, and I didn't tell a really interesting national project and getting a lot of traction with the carriers at the wholesale band width level and access to fiber and stuff so it's really cool. Thank you.
SPEAKER: I think it's inspirational. I think we'll take one more question and then get into the roll up our sleeves work part of our what we want to do today. So go ahead please.
SPEAKER: Hello. I'm a research developer. My question is in relation to sustaining networks. Have you be studying network initiatives that are trying to connect unconnected communities over the past year. My understanding from a lot of them, the challenges is not in terms of the initial start‑up costs or the initial training that's required, but it's in terms of long‑term maintenance and connectivity of the network. They are unable to sustain after the initial flux of grant funding and their business models becomes reliant on that funding and that seems to be the case of several stories here.
I'm wondering if there are thoughts that you have about sustainable business models that can be proliferated in communities that do not see internet in a very utility that they have to pay for but see as a thing that is given to them whenever there is a new grant or project that starts up there.
SPEAKER: I wish that I had, you know, a magic wand like Harry Potter or pixy dust or something to give you the perfect answer. Business models are not always easy to establish, and sometimes you have to feel your way forward. There are potential government steps that can be taken, especially when it isn't clear yet what business model will eventually work and be sustainable. Subsidies are sometimes a clever way of giving some runway to finding a business model. Let me give you a specific example of this.
I don't pretend to say that this example is directly applicable to the problem that you're describing. We're back to this other earlier observation that certain things will work in certain places because of global conditions.
So the specific condition that came up in the history of internet was when the national science foundation realized that after having funded for ten years the national science and backbone to link some 3,000 university in the U.S. together, they realized that by 1995, that they really didn't have to spend research dollars on a backbone network operation because service was available commercially. But that network, the NSF backbone, was the this morning that linked a whole bunch of smaller regional networks to each other. It was the connectivity.
So they said, okay, we're going to shut down the NSF net backbone, but we're going to supply things that we call network access points, some call them internet exchange points. They funded half a dozen of those points, and they said to the operators of the network access points, we will give you a 3‑year declining subsidy to pay for the cost of the network access points, but you have to figure out a business model to sustain yourself during that 3‑year period.
It actually turned out to be a 5‑year period, put they all eventually managed to survive, either because they got consolidated, they were acquired by commercial carriers, other business models arose. No one solution necessarily solved the situation for each of the network access points, but the runway that was supplied by the national science foundation gave them some time to go figure that out.
So this is not the most satisfactory answer you can get because I basically just said we'll give you some time, you figure it out, and I'm not handing you an answer. But sometimes that's how the government can play an important role in helping people find solutions to problems.
MODERATOR: Great. I think that was a really great dialogue and a series of questions and answers that are helping to inspire and lay the foundation for the next phase of what we want to do today. What we wanted to do today ‑‑ I know the room per se, the tables are kind of not movable, but our chairs are.
SPEAKER: The physical room facility doesn't map into the model you have when you put the program together, I think.
SPEAKER: No, it's always a challenge. But we can work around that because we're invasive and smart people and the chairs move. So with that, what we're planning to do ‑‑ and I don't know how many are familiar with sort of the world cafe kind of format for a session, but basically we'll have two of these.
We've aligned them with seven topics or working groups that have come out of a lot of the networks we've been doing in advancing solutions events that are parallel to what the world economic forum has been doing for internet in its initiative, but also reflecting for a lot of efforts done through many organization like ITU with the program addressing ‑‑ when it comes to women and young girls and other organizations.
We hope this gets us into smaller groups. I think we finally got to a good group of ‑‑ number of people here based on the registration process, that we can break out into smaller groups, really take a bit of a deeper dive in some questions.
What we did in creating this, we worked are‑our leads. We have seven work groups on topics and themes. We reached out to the leads at no time groups to provide one question so that when we have a break out group, what do you want that group to talk about, dialogue on, noting that the conversations can evolve and morph in and that's what we're really looking to. They say session about all of you and the expertise that you bring to the table from your experiences, from various organizations and parts of the world that you come into.
So hopefully we can get a little more deeper into some of these topics and take those responses back, the information that's been shared, and put that out, not only to the working groups to take back to the work that they're doing, but also you can take back to your large community and make that a contribution to the overall IGF as well as to the efforts that we're looking to address and the issues that we're looking to address through a forum like IGF and many others around the world.
With that, as I mentioned, we'll have two of these. So each session, the first session will have three questions and we'll break out into three different groups. The coincide idea is a people come together around the question. The lead of the question will stay with that group. You'll dialogue, and then we will tell people to rotate and go to another question so we can keep building that conversation.
So we'll hopefully orchestrate this in a way that makes sense to people. After that first round, we'll come together for a few minutes to share insights and we'll call that our harvest session. And then we'll go through the second round where we'll have four questions and rotate and come back to a harvest session where we share, and we'll wrap up for the day. But this is hopefully to get us out of our seats for a few minutes. I don't know about you, but this room is really cold. So hopefully we can get our blood flowing a little pit as well.
So with that ‑‑
SPEAKR: Just a question, madam chairman. It occurs to me that when groups start tackling some of these questions, you may feel like bull dogs on a particular question. I'd like to argue that if a group really really wants to concentrate on something and is determined to thresh this thing out, that we shouldn't object to that.
MODERATOR: Totally agree. Totally agree. This is meant to be organic and how the discussion flows and up to the people in the group on how they want to rotate. If you want to stay to vent's point, really take a deep dive and wrestle with an issue and try to get to some conclusion at the end of that time, that's fine as well. But ideally, we're trying to get sort of a good collection of ideas in having everyone an opportunity to share a little about and learn about these types of challenges and addressing the questions that we're posing here.
But if you want to stay with the group that you're in, that's fine as well. So for the first three, we have up here for session one.
The first one is based on evidence‑based research, and Christopher, he's a little jet lagged over there. This will wake you up. You will be our lead on this question, which is what are the biggest challenges we face in terms of getting the data we need to make key decision to advance goals?
Then we have digital literacy with Melissa over here. She will be addressing how can we bring about universal digital literacy in a fraction of the time? It is taking to deliver universal basic literacy
And then we have the digital gender divide with Ursula will be leading that question, basically saying study after study is showing that business case and economic case for gender inequality is strong, however, there's still issues standing in the way of these issues. We'll leave the questions up. The way we want to organize this, if we have sort of evidence‑based research, we'll make sure ‑‑ Christopher, you can stay where you are. We'll have people pool your chairs if you're interested in that group and we'll create a circle.
I'll follow up on the web's very flexible format of moving chairs. And digitals will be in the corner with Melissa. And Ursula, we'll put your group down there. Pick a group or topic that you want to have a discussion with. We'll give everyone about 15 minutes and then we'll rotate. Pull your chairs around. We'll help you do that. And we'll start now. .
SPEAKER: Okay. We're just going to remind people to grab a chair and get into your group circle and we'll get started for about 15 minutes and taking our notes and then reporting out.
SPEAKER: Pardon the interruption. We're going to give people an opportunity to rotate if they would like to rotate to a different group. I do encourage that if you want. It's just an opportunity, vent. It's an opportunity.
SPEAKER: Again, just another opportunity if you want to check out another group. Primarily, our gender group is a little light so if anyone's interested, please circulate there. Thank you.
SPEAKER: Hi, everyone. This is going to be a our two‑minute warning and then we'll have some report out from these groups, and then we'll go to our next four questions.
MODERATOR: Okay, everyone, I'm going to ask that you please wrap up your conversations. We're going to do a report out. We don't need to move our chairs back. We'll just have the leads of the sessions report out, so they may need to sit by a microphone. And then we'll go to the next four questions. Okay. So of our four groups, who wants to go first with the report out? Christopher, looks like you are ready to go.
CHRISTOPHER: I guess the best way to get them to stop talking is to start talking with the reporting out.
So our project, our responsibility was to discuss, analyze barriers to unlocking vestment into networks and to find out what data people need to up lock that. We had a lot of very interesting contributions. One of the first contributions was to actually ‑‑ an interesting problem is how do you boot strap all of this?
The problem you have is to demonstrate to investors to get investors to come in, you have to have a successful model and in fact until you have a successful model, you can't ‑‑ you need investment to get the model, but you need model to get the investment. What