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Profiles of Prospective Candidates to be FCC Chairman: Larry Strickling and Jessica Rosenworcel

in Broadband's Impact/Congress/FCC/People/Wireless by

WASHINGTON, April 4, 2013 - This week BroadbandBreakfast.com continues its series of profiles of many of the top prospective candidates that might be selected to serve as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Julius Genachowski, the 29th chairman, on Friday announced on March 22, that he would step down within a few weeks.

Larry Strickling, currently the Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, could see the chairmanship of the Federal Communications Commission in his future owing to his current standing advising President Obama on telecom policy.

The NTIA is deeply involved in crafting economic and telecom policy. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed just one month after Obama took office, the NTIA was charged with implementing a major broadband stimulus measure, including compiling the National Broadband Map. Released in February 2011, the map’s development was facilitating by NTIA’s State Broadband Initiative, and it helps outline the current broadband availability around the United States.

Previously, Strickling served at the FCC as chief of the Common Carrier Bureau from 1998 to 2000. There, he was instrumental in promote competition in the telecommunications sector and implementing many of the key provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Strickling also previously served as associate general counsel in the FCC’s competition division.

Additionally, from 2000 to 2007, Strickling served in a variety of administrative roles around the country. Like outgoing Chairman Julius Genachowski, Strickling received his J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Current FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel is also frequently mentioned as a possible candidate for promotion to the chairmanship. Although Rosenworcel has less than a year’s experience at the FCC, she has a long telecommunications background. Commissioner Rosenworcel served as senior communications counsel for the Senate Commerce Committee under the Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V. She previously served in the same role under the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii.

While at the Committee, Rosenworcel oversaw a telecommunications transactions, including spectrum auctions. Previously, she served as a legal advisor to previous Chairman Michael Copps.

Should Incumbents or Independents Participate in Broadband Mapping Treasure?

in Broadband Data/Expert Opinion by

WASHINGTON, October 12, 2009 – Carl Weinschenck, writing in IT Business Edge, speaks about “Broadband Mapping: Treasure for a New Age.” Carl discusses the rash of interest in broadband data and mapping since the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, in February 2009, and highlights the work of several data companies. Among the companies highlighted are Ridgeview Telecom, Connected Nation, and BroadbandCensus.com.

Here’s an excerpt of what he writes:

Critics are not shy about saying that something untoward is going on. Vince Jordan, the president and CEO of broadband engineering, construction and management firm RidgeviewTel, says that Connected Nation isn’t doing a thorough job. “These guys basically are taking whatever the telco and cable guys feed them and regurgitate it, and say that’s where the coverage is,” he says.

Data that is given by carriers to the broadband mapping companies is protected under non-disclosure agreements. Thus, actual cases in which speeds are overstated are impossible to identify. But appearances are vital. Drew Clark, the editor and executive director of BroadbandCensus, a news and commercial data services organization, says he believes that the telecommunications carriers shouldn’t be in the broadband mapping business, even indirectly.

“I personally believe that broadband data needs to be collected independently of the carriers and incumbent interests,” he says. “You need to have an alternative to a group that is focused on the incumbents to get independent measures of broadband data.”

On another note, the BroadbandBestPractices.org website, recently launched by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, offers a handy reference guide to broadband data and mapping companies. Their list includes:

  • Apex CoVantage
  • BroadbandCensus.com
  • Connected Nation
  • CostQuest Associates
  • e-NC Authority
  • Rolka Loube Saltzer Associates
  • Sanborn Map Company, Inc.
  • Solix Inc.
  • Summit Technologies
  • Telcordia Technologies
  • Telogical Systems
  • Vermont Center for Geographic Information

The complete contact information for the various companies is available here.

NTIA Details Contacts With Legislators, States, Mapping Companies and Others

in Broadband Data/Broadband Stimulus/NTIA by

WASHINGTON, April 27, 2009 – Officials at the agency responsible for crafting the federal government’s broadband stimulus policies held 36 meetings meeting over the past two months – 17 with federal legislators, 11 with private companies and non-profit groups, and eight with state and city officials.

In the two months since the National Telecommunications and Information Administration opened  its doors to these private meetings, the focus of the 36 meetings appears to have been three-fold: explaining and discussing the program with legislators; NTIA-solicited input from geographic companies; and obtaining advice from states with programs for broadband incentives.

The record of the meetings was released by the NTIA, an agency of the Commerce Department, on their web site over the past two weeks. It was updated late last week to include the meetings with federal legislators. http://www.ntia.doc.gov/broadbandgrants/exparte.html

The degree of detail about the content of the meetings varied widely. In some cases, elaborate Power Point presentations were included in the record. In other cases, only brief and cryptic summaries of the points made by the various parties were posted.

In general, the earlier meetings in March included much more detailed information. The descriptions of the meetings in April tended to be more general and lacking in specificity.

The first meeting by NTIA broadband officials was with the Republican staff to the Senate Commerce Committee, on February 24. It was closely followed by the staff for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and the Republican staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

According to the brief summary, aides to all three members of legislative officers were interested in the general contours of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program at NTIA, as well as coordination between the NTIA and the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service.

The first non-governmental entity to obtain a meeting with the NTIA staff, according to these ex parte summaries, was Connected Nation, on March 4.

According to the summary on the NTIA web site, NTIA officials “initiated” the meeting with Connected Nation CEO Brian Mefford, and Phillip Brown.

In the meeting, Connected Nation said that mapping “availability and adoption of broadband services” was crucial to meeting the goals of the BTOP program. Mefford and Brown also said that “non-disclosure agreements are important to legally protect confidential and proprietary information.”

Companies in the geographic analysis and spatial mapping field holding meetings with NTIA over the past two months include Apex CoVantage (on March 12 and April 8), CostQuest (on March 11), and Space Data Corp. (on March 20).

Like Connected Nation, CostQuest said that “Non-disclosure agreements would be needed to encourage provider participation” in a system of mapping broadband data a fine level of granularity.

Apex CoVantage, by contrast, highlighted the role of transparency in broadband mapping. According to the summary of its meeting, FCC broadband data “masks unserved areas and is too aggregated to provide the needed level of accuracy.”

Apex CoVantage used maps of Charlotte County, Va., to demonstrate that the finer the level of granularity, the more inadequate FCC data becomes.

Officials with the ConnectArkansas, which is affiliated to the non-profit organization Connected Nation, also met with the NTIA, on April 7, together with five officials from the Federal Communications Commission.

Those same five FCC officials also joined a meeting, one hour later, with Karen Jackson of the Center for Innovative Technology in Virginia. The description of both meetings was generic.

Among state agencies and representatives meeting with the NTIA staff, the first in line was the California Public Utilities Commission, which discussed their early effort at state-wide broadband mapping, on March 18.

Massachusetts Department of Telecom and Cable Commissioner Sharon Gillett met briefly with the NTIA’s Ed Smith on March 23, 2009, immediately prior to the beginning of a public workshop at the Commerce Department at 10 a.m. that day.

In the supplemental material posted on the NTIA website, Gillett released a detailed map with the names of the carriers, and their technology type, offering broadband services within each of the Massachusetts’ townships.

Other companies obtaining meetings with NTIA officials included Alcatel-Lucent and Cisco, both of whom argued against including requirements that only American products be included in projects funded by broad grants.

“Cisco [does] not believe that broadband grants under BTOP constitute a ‘public work’ which would subject them to the ‘Buy America’ requirement,” said Jeffrey Campbell, senior director of global policy for the router manufacturer.

Alcatel-Lucent agreed. “BTOP projects do not fit within ‘public work’ or should be exempt,” said the company’s Michael McMenamin. “In any event the vast majority of stimulus dollars for broadband projects will be devoted to the labor costs of deployment, not ICT equipment.”

Other non-profit groups that had meetings with NTIA include the Pew Internet & American Life Project, and the Minority Media Telecommunications Council.

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