• United States

News briefs: FCC has two openings to fill

Nov 21, 20054 mins
Backup and RecoveryCellular NetworksGovernment

Also: Cogent suffers fiber cuts; tech, consulting firms tapped to design nationwide health net; BellSouth, Cingular offer wireless backup for business; Google gets OK to build city Wi-Fi net

  • Kathleen Abernathy will resign from the FCC effective Dec. 9, leaving the telecommunications regulatory body with two openings to fill and missing one of its consistent champions of deregulation. Abernathy, a Republican, announced her departure last week. Her resignation leaves the FCC with only three confirmed members on the five-person commission: Chairman Kevin Martin, a Republican, and Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, both Democrats. Republican Deborah Tate has been nominated to fill the position created by the departure of former Chairman Michael Powell in January, but her nomination has yet to be confirmed by the Senate.

  • ISP Cogent Communications last week had two fiber cuts in its network from construction mishaps, disrupting service in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. According to Cogent, a fiber line between Houston and Tampa, Fla., was cut Thursday around 9:35 a.m. EST. The second fiber break was between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. That fiber was spliced, and routing was restored at 3:45 p.m. EST Thursday. The cuts occurred in Washington and New Orleans. Latency on the Cogent network over the last four hours was at “warning” status, according to Internet performance monitor Keynote, and network availability was “critical.” The Internet Storm Center stated the outage was “major.”

  • Accenture, Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, Oracle and Sun are among a wide range of technology and consulting companies tapped recently to design an $18.6 million Nationwide Health Information Network for the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. The NHIN is the HHS plan for an Internet-based network that links disparate healthcare organizations, such as local clinics, city hospitals, universities and government health agencies, to share and have secure access to clinical data. The NHIN will be designed and rolled out through four consortia, each consisting of several IT, consulting, security and healthcare companies and organizations. This will be led by Accenture, Computer Science Corporation, IBM and Northrop Grumman. Each consortium is responsible for NHIN coverage in specific areas of the country. Each consortium will put together an IP-based network prototype during the coming year. When the prototypes are finished, the results will be given to the American Health Information Community, an advisory committee to the HHS focused on digitizing and network-enabling healthcare records.

  • A new wireless data back-up service is the first jointly developed offering for business customers from BellSouth and Cingular Wireless. The service was born out of the communications outages that plagued BellSouth, Cingular and other carriers during this year’s Gulf Coast hurricanes. In the wake of those events, businesses have a renewed interest in building as much network diversity into their operations as possible, BellSouth says. In the event of a wireline network outage, data will be routed through Cingular’s 70K to 135K bit/sec network, which is available in 13,000 cities and towns. Wireless data backup will also be enabled for Cingular’s new 400K to 700K bit/sec network, which is scheduled to be launched in 15 to 20 markets by year-end and in most major markets by the end of 2006, according to the company. Pricing for the service, called Wireless Data Backup from BellSouth and Cingular Wireless, ranges from about $9 to $50 per month, depending on features the customer selects.

  • Google last week said it has won approval from city officials it needs to begin building a Wi-Fi network in its home base of Mountain View, Calif. The Mountain View City Council unanimously approved a plan that gives Google access to city-owned streetlight poles for the placement of wireless access points for a citywide Wi-Fi network. The city of Mountain View will incur no expenses for the Wi-Fi network and stands to gain financially, according to a document on the City Council Web site. Google made a pitch in October to San Francisco leaders outlining the benefits of providing free wireless service. At the same time, Google threw its name into the hat as a potential service provider to enable San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s plan for free, citywide Wi-Fi access.