Stories from Abroad

Since 2010, the Benton Foundation and the New America Foundation have partnered to highlight telecommunications debates from countries outside the U.S.

Report: US Median Broadband Price is $80 Monthly

The US residential median broadband price was $80 per month during the second quarter of 2017, according to research from Point Topic. Globally, the average residential download speed was 135 Mbps and the average monthly charge was $105. The best value was provided by fiber (208 Mbps for $94) and the worst by copper (14 Mbps for $68).

The range between high and low prices for broadband service tend to be more extreme in some countries than in others, according to Point Topic’s data. India (a high/low range of about $120/$5), Brazil (about $115/$20) and Turkey (about $118/$20) have a higher range, while Germany (about $50/$22), Japan (about $35/$3), South Korea (about $55/$30) and Russia (about $30/$5) tend to have less of a gap between high and low broadband speeds. The midrange seems to be comprised of China (about $60/$5), the United States (about $85/$15), France (about $55/$10) and the UK (about $55/$5).

The End of Typing: The Next Billion Mobile Users Will Rely on Video and Voice

The internet’s global expansion is entering a new phase, and it looks decidedly unlike the last one. Instead of typing searches and e-mails, a wave of newcomers—“the next billion,” the tech industry calls them—is avoiding text, using voice activation and communicating with images. They are a swath of the world’s less-educated, online for the first time thanks to low-end smartphones, cheap data plans and intuitive apps that let them navigate despite poor literacy. Incumbent tech companies are finding they must rethink their products for these newcomers and face local competitors that have been quicker to figure them out.

Mr. Singh, 36, balances suitcases on his head in New Delhi, earning less than $8 a day as a porter in one of India’s biggest railway stations. He isn’t comfortable reading or using a keyboard. That doesn’t stop him from checking train schedules, messaging family and downloading movies. “We don’t know anything about e-mails or even how to send one,” said Mr. Singh, who went online only in the past year. “But we are enjoying the internet to the fullest.”

British Media Outlets Most Trusted US News Sources in New Poll

The Economist is the most trusted news source in America, while President Donald Trump, Yahoo and BuzzFeed rank near the bottom, according to a new survey from the University of Missouri’s Reynolds Journalism Institute. The weekly magazine published in the UK is more trusted than a variety of American mainstream news organizations, according to the Trusting News Project survey. Public television, Reuters, BBC and NPR round out the top five most-trusted sources. Another British news organization, The Guardian, ranks sixth, proving that many American’s don’t trust news from their own country. In fact, Donald Trump himself is among the least-trusted sources, with only Occupy Democrats, BuzzFeed, Breitbart and social media ranking lower than the president.

China’s Internet Censors Play a Tougher Game of Cat and Mouse

China has embarked on an internet campaign that signals a profound shift in the way it thinks of online censorship.

For years, the China government appeared content to use methods that kept the majority of people from reading or using material it did not like, such as foreign news outlets, Facebook and Google. For the tech savvy or truly determined, experts say, China often tolerated a bit of wiggle room, leading to online users’ playing a cat-and-mouse game with censors for more than a decade. Now the authorities are targeting the very tools many people use to vault the Great Firewall. In recent days, Apple has pulled apps that offer access to such tools — called virtual private networks, or VPNs — off its China app store, while Amazon’s Chinese partner warned customers on its cloud computing service against hosting those tools on their sites.

Over the past two months a number of the most popular Chinese VPNs have been shut down, while two popular sites hosting foreign television shows and movies were wiped clean. The shift — which could affect a swath of users from researchers to businesses — suggests that China is increasingly worried about the power of the internet, experts said.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller Impanels Washington Grand Jury in Russia Probe

Apparently, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in Washington to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, a sign that his inquiry is growing in intensity and entering a new phase. The grand jury, which began its work in recent weeks, signals that Mueller’s inquiry will likely continue for months. Mueller is investigating Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election and whether President Donald Trump’s campaign or associates colluded with the Kremlin as part of that effort. Grand juries are powerful investigative tools that allow prosecutors to subpoena documents, put witnesses under oath and seek indictments, if there is evidence of a crime. Legal experts said that the decision by Mueller to impanel a grand jury suggests he believes he will need to subpoena records and take testimony from witnesses.

President Trump urged Mexican president to end his public defiance on border wall, transcript reveals

President Donald Trump made building a wall along the southern US border and forcing Mexico to pay for it core pledges of his campaign. But in his first White House call with Mexico’s president, President Trump described his vow to charge Mexico as a growing political problem, pressuring the Mexican leader to stop saying publicly that his government would never pay. “You cannot say that to the press,” President Trump said repeatedly, according to a transcript of the Jan 27 call obtained by The Washington Post.

President Trump made clear that he realized the funding would have to come from other sources but threatened to cut off contact if Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto continued to make defiant statements. The funding “will work out in the formula somehow,” President Trump said, adding later that “it will come out in the wash, and that is okay.” But “if you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that.”

US officials mull taking harder line against China's demands for technology transfers

Apparently, President Donald Trump's administration is considering using rarely invoked US trade laws to fend off China's demands that foreign companies share their technology in return for access to the country's vast market.

The administration is discussing the use of Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which empowers Washington to launch an investigation into China's trade practices and, within months, raise tariffs on imports from China or impose other sanctions, apparently. The investigation would be focused on China's alleged "forced technology transfer policies and practices," the person said, adding that the Trump administration could move to launch such a probe this week.

Senate bill would ease law enforcement access to overseas data

Sens introduced bipartisan legislation that would create a legal framework allowing law enforcement to access Americans' electronic communications in servers located in other countries. The International Communications Privacy Act from Sens Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Chris Coons (D-DE) would also require law enforcement to notify other countries of such data collection on their citizens in accordance with their laws. The bill also allows law enforcement to get communications regarding foreign nationals in certain instances.

“The potential global reach of government warrant authority has significant implications for multinational businesses and their customers. Failing to address this issue in a reasonable, comprehensive way will only continue to cause problems between American businesses and the U.S. government,” Sen Hatch said. Tech companies offered quick praise for the bill after its release.

Companies brace for European privacy rules

US companies are largely unprepared for what's about to hit them when sweeping new European Union data laws take effect in 2018. The regulation — the General Data Protection Regulation (or GDPR) — is intended to give users more control of how their personal data is used and streamline data processes across the EU. Companies that fail to comply with the complex law will face steep fines of up to 4% of their global annual revenue.

Europe has by far taken the most aggressive regulatory stance on protecting consumer privacy and will in many ways be a litmus test for regulating the currency of the data economy. It impacts a huge number of businesses from advertisers to e-commerce platforms whose data flows through EU countries. That means everyone from Google to your neighbor who sells shoes on eBay could be affected.

BT offers to spend up to £600 million on rural broadband in UK

BT has offered to spend up to £600 million to connect the final 1 million homes and businesses in rural areas of Britain to a broadband connection suitable for most needs.

The company said every home and business in the UK would have a broadband speed of at least 10 megabits per second (Mbps), fast enough to stream movies, video conference and browse the web. Properties will either be connected via the Openreach network through fibre-optic cables, the network of copper lines, or through the fixed wireless system, where connections use radio and, in some cases, satellite signals. BT said the cost of its plan would be between £450m and £600m and that 99 per cent of homes and businesses will be connected by 2020. BT made the offer after the government committed to a 10Mbps target under a Universal Service Obligation (USO). The government said it would now consider BT’s plan, while also conducting a consultation into whether it should introduce the USO in regulation.