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David Honig

Court Overturns FCC Auction Rules

in FCC/Spectrum by

WASHINGTON, August 26, 2010 – The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has concluded that the Federal Communications Commission auction rules have violated the Administrative Procedures Act. The rules mandated that small businesses hold their spectrum for 10 years prior to selling it and prevented them from leasing more than 50 percent of the spectrum to third parties.

The court found that the imposition of these rules happened without sufficient notice.

This ruling will allow the winners of the AWS auction and the 700 megahertz auction to resell their spectrum.

“We are gratified that the court recognized the merits of this case in vacating the two new rules,” said Minority Media & Telecommunications Council President David Honig. “This pro-small business, pro-new entrant and pro-diversity ruling will advance wireless industry competition and ultimately benefit consumers and business alike.”

FCC not Helping Minorities Claims Minority Media & Telecom Council

in FCC by

WASHINGTON, July 19, 2010. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is not making adequate achievements in including minorities and women, according to David Honig, president and executive director of the Minority Media & Telecom Council (MMTC). As a matter of fact, he says market barriers and lack of opportunity are decreasing minority involvement in the broadband, telecom, and media industries.

David Honig

At the Eighth Annual Access to Capital and Telecommunications Policy Conference, Honig presented a “report card” for the state of social justice in broadband. He said that America’s most important industries, which certainly include broadband, should reflect the social landscape of the country itself. The key indicators of minority broadband involvement – diversity of ownership, diversity in industry, and closing the digital divide – all show a net loss in the last few years.

Honig said the MMTC had been involved and active in increasing minority participation in broadband, but said “We prevented a disaster from turning into a catastrophe.” He said entrepreneurs have one of the hardest occupations, and that the MMTC should focus on finding and calling out market barriers that make it even more difficult for minorities to enter the broadband industry.

For the first year in quite some time, the FCC has made no decisions concerning equal employment opportunities. Honig said the FCC has bright and well-meaning personnel, but they are too passive. In 2007, the FCC passed a ruling that made advertisement discrimination illegal. However, he said the FCC has yet to appoint someone to oversee this rule, and said “In almost three years the FCC has not had compliance to the first civil rights ruling since the ‘70s, and the first one passed without opposition.”

He also said that the FCC has a ruling that should require cable companies to reach out to minorities and women, which has not happened.

Honig said the goals of MMTC are to build institutions, support the enforcement of the National Broadband Plan, and to organize and become more active in bringing about change through blogging and lobbying.

Overall, he said they want to avoid the struggles minorities faced when the country transitioned from agricultural to industrial systems as the transition from industrial to digital industry happens. In 2042, when the majority of the nation is expected to be made up of current minorities, he does not want people to look back on this time and wonder why they were not more active in increasing diversity in broadband.

Clear Correlation Between Education and Adoption, Says FCC Consumer Research Director

in FCC Workshops/National Broadband Plan by

WASHINGTON, October 2, 2009 – The Federal Communications Commission says that it wants to ensure that the pending national broadband plan addresses the needs of minorities, and the October 2, 2009, workshop heard multiple perspectives on the subject, with a focus on “Diversity and Civil Rights.”

FCC Consumer Research Director John Horrigan said that there is a clear correlation between education level and adoption: those with less than a high school degree only have a broadband penetration rate of about 30 percent.

Minorities are much more likely to access the Internet via mobile devices, he said, although the national average for all Americans is around 32 percent, while it is 47 percent for Hispanics. Although more Hispanics may access the Internet via mobile phones, such phones are generally prepaid and have limited internet capabilities.

The biggest barrier to adoption is the issue of relevance, with 50 percent of those using dial-up to access the Internet saying that they saw no reason to upgrade to a high-speed connection. The lack of available cited by a mere 17 percent.

Another major barrier to access is simply not having a computer, or knowing how to properly use a computer.

While users are able to access a computer at a library or public computing center, these facilities have limited resources and limited hours during which users can gain access. Additionally, many feel unsafe using public computers to do online shopping or banking – which are major drivers for adoption.

Language was another barrier. The 2008 Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 82 percent of English-speaking Hispanics had internet access, while only 32 percent of Hispanics who predominantly spoke Spanish had access.

One of the solutions to getting more adoption among minorities was to increase the computer literacy of minority children in schools in order to motivate them to teach their parents and try to get a computer at home, panelists said.

Among the participants in the panel were: David Honig, Executive Director, Minority Media and Telecommunications Council; Allen S. Hammond IV, the Phil and Bobbie Sanfilippo Law Professor, Director of the Broadband Institute of California, Santa Clara University; Geoffrey Blackwell, Director, Strategic Relations and Minority Business Development, Chickasaw Nation Industries, Inc.; Mark Pruner, President and co-founder of the Native American Broadband Association and a number of others.

Workshop presentations and video.

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BroadbandCensus.com was launched in January 2008, and uses “crowdsourcing” to collect the Broadband SPARC: Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition. The news on BroadbandCensus.com is produced by Broadband Census News LLC, a subsidiary of Broadband Census LLC that was created in July 2009.

A recent split of operations helps to clarify the mission of BroadbandCensus.com. Broadband Census Data LLC offers commercial broadband verification services to cities, states, carriers and broadband users. Created in July 2009, Broadband Census Data LLC produced a joint application in the NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program with Virginia Tech’s eCorridors Program. In August 2009, BroadbandCensus.com released a beta map of Columbia, South Carolina, in partnership with Benedict-Allen Community Development Corporation.

Broadband Census News LLC offers daily and weekly reporting, as well as the Broadband Breakfast Club. The Broadband Breakfast Club has been inviting top experts and policy-makers to share breakfast and perspectives on broadband technology and internet policy since October 2008. Both Broadband Census News LLC and Broadband Census Data LLC are subsidiaries of Broadband Census LLC, and are organized in the Commonwealth of Virginia. About BroadbandCensus.com.

He compared the service to that of mobile phones versus landlines telephones. While at first there were limitations on mobile phones which made them appear to simply be a complement, as the market matured they eventually became a viable substitute.

Mobile broadband network providers such as Verizon and Sprint have already been delving into the “home” market with their MiFi products. He warned that regulators must look to the future and imagine a market where individuals have three different broadband connection options: cable, mobile and digital subscriber line or fiber-optic.

Number 2 NTIA Official: Changes Coming to Broadband Stimulus Program

in Broadband Stimulus/NTIA/Premium Content by

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected; see below.

NEW ORLEANS, September 30, 2009 – The number two official chief of staff at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration said Wednesday that there will be changes in the rules governing the broadband stimulus program, and that the government would begin seeking comments on changes in mid-October.

Speaking at the annual conference of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors here, Tom Power, chief of staff at the Commerce Department’s NTIA, also said that there were many advantages of consolidating the final two rounds of the broadband stimulus program into a single, final application period.

“We are considering eliminating the third round, and going to a second round” for all applications, said Tom Power, speaking at the annual conference of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors here. “We haven’t decided that yet,” he added.

“The advantage [of eliminating the final round] is that we might be able to give people a little more time after the NoFA [Notice of Funds Availability] comes out,” he said. “We would love to give more time for folks to prepare applications.”

Besides giving individual applicants more time to prepare their packages for submission to the NTIA and the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service, Power said that eliminating the third round would mean that “we can get the money out the door” sooner.

That, he said, “ties into one of the fundamental points [about the broadband stimulus program]: while this a broadband program, it is also a stimulus program.”

Discussing the current process whereby incumbent telecommunications operators are able to challenge broadband stimulus applicants’ proposals for submission on the grounds that broadband is already available in that area, Power said, “this has been mischaracterized in some areas as a veto by the incumbents.”

“It is not a veto,” he said. Such challenges by incumbents mean only that the NTIA and RUS will consider such information in making grant decisions. “At the end of the day, it is our determination” as to whether “the areas are in fact served.”

Also speaking on the panel at NATOA were David Honig, executive director of Minority Media and Telecommunications Council; Casey Lide, an attorney at the Baller Herbst Law Group; and moderator Gerry Lederer, an attorney at Miller & Van Eaton.

Honig defended the broadband stimulus program, even as he urged that Congress devote greater funds to it. “This is a very well-designed program, no matter what anyone else may say.”

At the same time, there will be many applications that are not funded because so many more applications were made than are funds available.

“To arm those of us who are public advocates, when we go back in 2010 to ask for [more stimulus funds], we will be able to say, ‘here is an applicant that should have gotten funded’,” but wasn’t, said Honig.

For further coverage of Power’s comments, check back on Monday for BroadbandCensus.com’s premium content, including the BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report.

Editor’s Note: Although Power is the chief of staff at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the NTIA Organizational Chart lists Anna Gomez, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications, as the second-ranked official. We apologize for the error.

About BroadbandCensus.com

BroadbandCensus.com was launched in January 2008, and uses “crowdsourcing” to collect the Broadband SPARC: Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition. The news on BroadbandCensus.com is produced by Broadband Census News LLC, a subsidiary of Broadband Census LLC that was created in July 2009.

A recent split of operations helps to clarify the mission of BroadbandCensus.com. Broadband Census Data LLC offers commercial broadband verification services to cities, states, carriers and broadband users. Created in July 2009, Broadband Census Data LLC produced a joint application in the NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program with Virginia Tech’s eCorridors Program. In August 2009, BroadbandCensus.com released a beta map of Columbia, South Carolina, in partnership with Benedict-Allen Community Development Corporation.

Broadband Census News LLC offers daily and weekly reporting, as well as the Broadband Breakfast Club. The Broadband Breakfast Club has been inviting top experts and policy-makers to share breakfast and perspectives on broadband technology and internet policy since October 2008. Both Broadband Census News LLC and Broadband Census Data LLC are subsidiaries of Broadband Census LLC, and are organized in the Commonwealth of Virginia. About BroadbandCensus.com.

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