Will the Internet Be a New Public Utility?

This year, we may be kissing goodbye to internet as we know it. Up until now, the Internet has been enjoyed freely by many people by simply paying a flat rate for their usage (in most cases).

On February 26, 2015, the FCC will be voting on “net-neutrality” rules which is far less innocent than it sounds, right? What this really means is government control over the internet where the government would set the rates, regulations, and terms and conditions of internet usage.

No longer would consumers have a choice between slow internet and fast internet, at least not a choice that is determined by a price point.

Title II of the Communications Act is an outdated law written for the purpose of regulating rapidly-expanding technologies like telephone and radio service. It governs “common carriers,” which are public utilities subjected to hundreds of pages of federal regulations designed to ensure that they act “in the public interest” by providing the exact same service, at the same rate, to everyone.

Mr. Wheeler says the FCC will apply Title II of the 1934 Communications Act—a Depression-era law designed to regulate phone monopolies—to today’s dynamic and decentralized Internet. In November President Obama called for this embrace of Title II—a radical departure from Clinton-era light-touch policies and a clear loser for the Internet and consumers. Source

The path the FCC decides to take can drastically change the future of the internet. If they rush down the Title II lane, there will likely be a number of negative consequences including less people investing in the Internet, crippling the advancement of technology, not to mention even more taxes and fees on consumers.

Affordable Care Act in 2015

medical-563427_640One consequence of the Affordable Care Act is that small business employers are forced to drop health insurance for their employees, as well as limit the numbers of employees that they hire. One survey showed that as many as 25% of small businesses will no longer offer health insurance to their employees in the year 2015, and only half of them said that they plan to insure their employees in the year 2016.
 
Even though many small businesses plan to stop offering health insurance to their employees, the majority still plan on encouraging their employees to sign up for health insurance through the public exchange.
 
In 2015 (originally was supposed to happen in 2014), employers with 100 or more employees will be required to provide affordable heath care to 70% or more of their employees or face a hefty fine of $174 per employee.
 
What constitutes as “affordable” healthcare? The premium of the plan can’t cost more than 9.56% of the individual employee’s income. The plan must also pay for 60% or more of the staff’s collective medical expenses and cover a wide range of health benefits.
 
Needless to say, most employees will need to tweak their heath care plans for their employees in the year 2015 and beyond to keep from getting penalties, and to give their employees affordable options.
 
Even though it is strongly suggested that all individuals sign up for health insurance, not all are on board, so this year there will be a penalty fine of $325 or 2% of an individual’s income, whichever is larger.
 
What will health insurance coverage and issues look like later in 2015? I guess we will have to wait to find out! There are certainly more changes coming down the pipeline as Americans adjust to universal health care for all.

Renewable Energy: 3D Printed Wind Turbine

wind-farm-538576_640Finding a renewable energy source has been an issue of great concern within the past decade. As we have have more advances in technology, we have more and more opportunities for finding a renewable energy source that is friendly for the planet, and the latest is 3d printing.
 
We get a lot of our energy from the wind. When we think of wind energy, we often think of hundreds and thousands of acres of land such as in Tehachapi CA. However, a new technology is on the rise and it is that of a 3d printed wind turbine that is small enough for someone to carry around. Essentially, it would be a wind turbine that would fit into your back pack. It would theoretically allow us all to power our homes by ourselves.
 
One downside to this is that the upfront cost could be significant in order to get the return on investment that would be necessary to continue using this new technology. However, these wind turbines could generate up to 300 watts of electricity, be used directly, stored, or even plugged into a wall in your house. Regardless of the usage, it would lower the cost of energy.
 
Is 300 watts a lot of energy? Not really. However, we really could all use less energy if you stop to think about it. How often do you leave all of the lights in the house on? How often are you running the air conditioner or heater when you are actually quite content with the temperature, or when you could add or shed a layer to be comfortable?
 
Omni3D has a plan, but they are hoping they can use crowdfunding to raise the money for starting kit production. All it takes is a vision, an idea, passion, and a little bit of help to change the world.
 
3D Printing is not just capable of revolutionizing the energy industry, but many other industries as well including healthcare, automotive, engineering, manufacturing, and more. We can’t wait to see what 2015 and beyond brings!