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2019

According to a report, the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) a new toolkitto support the development of High Speed Internet service in rural communities. The toolkit defines 27 USDA programmes that aims to ‘facilitate the expansion of broadband, including grants, loans and technical assistance from multiple mission areas of the USDA’.

Anne Hazlett, Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development, stressed the importance of the user-friendly tool by saying that “high-speed broadband e-connectivity is becoming more and more essential to doing business, delivering health care, and, for school children, doing homework in rural communities.”

Google has launched two new apps that will cater to the needs of people who are deaf or have hearing impairment. Google in a recent blog post mentioned the apps as Live Transcribe and Sound Amplifier designed to mainly run on the Android OS. The apps which come pre-installed on Pixel 3 phones in Accessibility Settings will also be available in the Google Play Store for other phones as well.

According to the post by Google, Live Transcript is an app that automatically transcribes speech in near-real time allowing people to communicate in peculiar situations where communications would be difficult. Sound Amplifier on the other hand is an app designed for people with hearing loss, allowing such users to tweak sound settings to improve the quality of their hearing ability.

A recent blog post by the Knight Center, University of Texas has explored the key findings of a recent UNESCO report dubbed “World trends in freedom of expression and media development: regional overview of Latin America and the Caribbean 2017/2018”.

According to the report the most ‘significant and persuasive trend’ is the increase in Internet access in Latin America and the Caribbean. The study that analysed 33 countries that make up the region found an increase in Internet users by 17% between the years 2013 to 2017. Again the report projected that the increase in Internet access through mobile devices will hit 50% by 2020.

According to a report, Facebook on 6 February 2019 announced the GOAL (Going Online As Leaders) programme, which seeks to empower, guide and inspire tribal girls across selected communities in India to become young digital leaders in their communities.

According to the report, the programme which will run in West Bengal, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh states, will nurture and train young girls from India’s tribal villages on core competency areas such as digital literacy, life skills, leadership and entrepreneurship.

According to a report, a federal appeals court on 1 February overturned the decisionby the Ajit Pai –led Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to take broadband subsidies away from tribal residents. The broadband subsidies allow residents to obtain a $25-per-month lifeline subsidy that reduces the cost of Internet or phone service.

The FCC’s decision reached by a vote of 3-2 in November 2017, could not be implemented due to a stay orderissued by the US court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in August 2018. The follow-up ruling by the same court last Friday has therefore effectively halted the FCC’s plans. 

According to a publicationwhich sought to analyse a recent reporttilted ‘The Net Neutrality Situation in the EU’, the conclusion has been drawn that zero rating business practices by wireless carriers have led to an increase in the cost of wireless data compared to countries without zero rating practices.

The report published by the non-profit Epicenter.Works compared the 30 member countries of the European Union (EU) on the enforcement of net neutrality. It was found that EU countries without zero rating practices enjoyed a double digit drop in the price of wireless data after a year. The countries with zero rating practises from their wireless carriers on the other hand saw data prices increase.

Source: Epicenter.works study analyzing price changes between countries with and without zero rating practices.

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