Senators Urge USDA to Upgrade Community Connect Speed

Carl Weinschenk

A group of senators – from both parties, which is a bit of an oddity these days – have sent a letter to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) asking it to upgrade the broadband speed requirement in its Community Connect grant program to 10 Megabits per second (Mbps). Community Connect provides subsidies to rural areas.

The USDA, according to Multichannel News, this month upgraded the Broadband Access Loan Program to 10 Mbps, but left the Community Connect program at 4 Mbps. The slow nature of that connectivity level is illustrated by the speed at which the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) aims for another vital service:

The FCC has said that to qualify as providing high-speed broadband, its Lifeline USF subsidy, which is being migrated to broadband, must be at least 10 mbps, though it has said 25 Mbps should be the new table stakes. Four Mbps was the FCC's previous benchmark for high-speed downloads.

The letter was signed by Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

IoT Can Be a Bit Less Incredibly Expensive

Any way you cut it, implementing the Internet of Things (IoT) will be expensive. Indeed, Machina Research estimates that smart city efforts will cost $1.12 trillion by 2025 if existing technology is used.

However, that amount can be cut 30 percent -- to a bargain basement $781 billion -- if open standards are used. Candidate standards cited in the report and at Computerworld are Bluetooth Low Energy and OneM2M. The report also says that using the standards-based approach will increase the number of connected devices by 27 percent and lead to an increase in the adoption of apps.

Easier Distribution of Apps for Windows 10

The Windows Store for Business is broadening the way in which it can be used by businesses, according to Engadget. This week, Microsoft said that developers will be able to sell apps in volume to business and educational users running Windows 10. A big element of the announcement is that the store can be used to distribute the apps across enterprises. Windows 10 Enterprise users will be able to get volume discounts, the story said.

It seems that Microsoft is generally upgrading the store:

Companies can easily snap up multiple copies of an app using a credit card, so long as the developer has enabled Organizational licensing for their creation. Bulk selling is available for all developers in the 35 countries where Windows Store for Business is available. It's also only the first in the list of new features Microsoft plans to launch for the store.

Linux Badge Program Announces First Winners

The Linux Foundation Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII) last August announced a badging program that would recognize projects that followed best security efforts. This week, the first winners were announced. According to eWeek, the honorees include Curl, GitLab, OpenBlox, OpenSSL, Node.js, Zephyr and the Linux kernel.

The goal of the badging program seems to be a long-term and systematic upgrading of Linux security. Dan Kohn, the senior adviser to the CII and the Linux Foundation, suggested the program will get more sophisticated:

At this point there is only one type of badge in the CII program, but Kohn said that will evolve in the future. He expects in the future the program will have not just a pass/fail, but also have silver, gold and platinum badges.

Quantum Computing Arrives, According to IBM

Quantum computing has amazing possibilities, and IBM Research says that it is here. Computerworld reports that the service is available via its cloud to any desktop or mobile device.

The platform, the IBM Quantum Experience, relies on quantum bits (qubits). IBM is offering quantum processors with five qubit, one more than the minimum it takes to “support quantum algorithms and simple applications.”

The qualifier, according to the story, is that IBM is offering quantum processors, not a full quantum computer. However, it seems that the day when true quantum computers are available is nearing: D-Wave Systems and Google and NASA are testing quantum hardware.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

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