CWA Wants Better Broadband Data, As Does Internet for Everyone

Expert Opinion July 17th, 2008

, Publisher, BroadbandBreakfast.com

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WASHINGTON, July 17 – Communications Workers of America this past week teamed up with a group of telecommunications companies, cable operators and non-profit groups to push for Congress to pass broadband data legislation.

In a Friday letter and a Monday press release, the groups wrote “to express [their] strong support for Congressional action to promote greater availability and adoption of broadband high-speed Internet services.”

They want “a national policy” to encourage more broadband deployment, and they cite economic statistics about broadband’s potential.

And, as a first step, these companies and CWA want Congress to pass the Broadband Census of America Act, H.R. 3919, or the Broadband Data Improvement Act, S. 1492.

Curiously, last month another large coalition announced a similar campaign. They call themselves Internet for Everyone.

Led by Google and the non-profit group Free Press, the organization boasts some the Internet’s leading luminaries, including Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig and internet “co-father” Vint Cerf, now at Google.

“Broadband’s potential to unleash innovation, promote free speech and encourage learning makes this technology the key to the future success of the U.S. economy and American democracy,” read the group’s first position paper. “But to unlock broadband’s limitless potential, it must be universally available and affordable.”

The message is the same — but the messengers are different.

Signing on to the CWA missive were Connected Nation, a Bell-, cable-, and state-funded organization that maps the availability of broadband, as well as the big Bells (AT&T, Verizon, Qwest), smaller telcos (Winstream, OPASTCO), cable titans (Charter, Comcast, Cox, Time Warner Cable), and non-profit groups that frequently align themselves with telco priorities, including the Alliance for Public Technology and the Internet Innovation Alliance.

The Internet for Everyone collection is heavy on the Free Press crowd, including media reform reform groups now zealous about broadband, established non-profits (ACLU, Consumers Union, Common Cause, One Economy, Public Citizen, Public Knowledge, Sunlight Foundation), and tech companies with an internet focus (BitTorrent, eBay, Computer and Communications Industry Association and Google).

Of the 30 groups that signed on to the CWA missive, and of the 100 that are listed on Internet for Everyone’s web site, only two groups are on both lists: EDUCAUSE, and the American Library Association.

Welcome to the world of telecom politics.

Both coalitions say want a better internet, or even some kind of a national policy with some sort of a national broadband strategy. Indeed, both groups seem to agree that some kind of concerted action is necessary on broadband.

“There is a growing consensus on the need for broadband, and the need for government involvement to make the next generation of broadband happen,” says Wendy Wigen, government relations officer for EDUCAUSE.

“The industry, together with the CWA, have really come to that conclusion themselves,” said Wigen. But when the two divergent groups look towards developing broadband strategies, “there is still a lot of dissention between the two groups.”

BroadbandCensus.com certainly agrees — with both groups — on the need for better data about broadband.

We see a need for information about where broadband is available, just as does Connected Nation. Consumers also need to know the names of the companies that are that are offering broadband. You can find that on BroadbandCensus.com.

We also see the need for more accurate data about internet speeds, as does the speedmatters.org web site of the Communications Workers of America. Consumers also need to know which carriers offer the fastest and the slowest speeds, and whether they are living up to the speeds that they promise to offer. You can find that on BroadbandCensus.com.

Whether you’re part of the CWA crowd, or the Free Press-Google group, we hope you’ll turn to BroadbandCensus.com as your free, consumer-friendly resource about broadband data.

Blog Entries and Position Papers Referenced in this Article:

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3 Responses to “CWA Wants Better Broadband Data, As Does Internet for Everyone”

  1. Drew Clark Says:

    DSL Reports weighs in on the CWA-Connected Nation-carrier letter, with this assessment of Connected Nation: “The group takes state and federal funds to map broadband penetration, and returns with a rosy progress report suggesting things are generally ok, with only a few quick fixes necessary. Of course nobody can independently confirm whether they’re telling the truth because the FCC’s own broadband statistics are (some would argue quite intentionally) complete garbage.”

    One might add that one can’t tell whether their telling the truth because the FCC’s broadband statistics (whether garbage or not) are not released to the public!

  2. Drew Clark Says:

    GigaOm weighs in on the broadband policy flap, and Paul Kapustka over at Sidecut Reports gives a nice shout-out to BroadbandCensus.com.

  3. Drew Clark Says:

    TechDirt weighs in on the Connected Nation approach, and I offer my own two-cents worth, too.

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