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BroadbandCensus.com Sees Hope in NTIA’s Request for Form 477 Database

in Broadband Data/Expert Opinion by

WASHINGTON, November 30, 2009 – The news that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration aims to seek access to the Form 477 database is positive news — providing that the public obtains access to the database, too.

Even before the founding of BroadbandCensus.com more than two years ago, the individuals associated with the data side of BroadbandCensus.com have been urging the public disclosure of basic broadband data. We call this the Broadband SPARC: for Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition.

In comments in July 2008, BroadbandCensus.com urged greater disclosure of this data.

We repeated these comments, adding a new twist – that a National Broadband Plan must be accompanied by a National Broadband Mashup – in June 2009.

As readers of BroadbandBreakfast.com are aware, Broadband Census LLC has recently split our operations between our news and events, which we publish on BroadbandBreakfast.com, and our data operations, which continues on BroadbandCensus.com.

BroadbandBreakfast.com continues our tradition of reliable news reporting, as BroadbandCensus.com continues to urge disclosure and – through our mapping from publicly-available sources – create the best possible database of broadband speeds, prices, availability, reliability and competition.

The news of the NTIA’s interest in the Form 477 is indeed heartening. Much remains to be seen about how the data in the Form 477 eventually makes its way into the public domain.

But one key point must be borne in mind: the Form 477 data is only available at the ZIP Code or Census Tract Level.

Data about broadband is necessary at the Census Block level, a much more granular degree of disclosure. It is at this level that the NTIA is seeking to build its collection of broadband data.

As BroadbandCensus.com has demonstrated in Columbia, South Carolina, with our Richland County beta project, we aim to continue our efforts to disclose the information about the Broadband SPARC at this key Census Block level.

If you’d like to get more involved in our data-collection efforts at BroadbandCensus.com, feel free to e-mail us at data@broadbandcensus.com, or call us at 202-580-8196.

For those interested in further background reading, this recent series of blog posts I’ve written recounts some of the history of BroadbandCensus.com’s involvement in these questions, bringing us up to the current date.

Part 1: The debate begins with the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in 2006.
Part 2: The founding of BroadbandCensus.com in the fall of 2007.
Part 3: The Broadband Census for America Conference in September 2008, and our work with the academic community to foster public and transparent broadband data-collection efforts.
Part 4: BroadbandCensus.com’s involvement with the National Broadband Plan in 2009.
The Final Part: The creation of the BroadbandBreakfast.com web site for news about broadband stimulus, wireless, and the national broadband plan, and the continuing use of the Creative Commons license for the content and datasets on BroadbandCensus.com.

Drew Clark is the Chairman of the Broadband Breakfast Club. He tracks the development of Gigabit Networks, broadband's impact, and the universal service fund @BroadbandCensus. He is also Of Counsel with the firm of Best Best & Krieger LLP. The articles and posts on BroadbandBreakfast.com and affiliated social media, including LinkedIN, are not legal advice or legal services, do not constitute the creation of an attorney-client privilege, and represent the views of their respective authors.

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