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Internet for Everyone

National Broadband Strategy Week Begins Today, 10 a.m., in Dirksen Senate Building

in Broadband Stimulus by

WASHINGTON, December 2 – A total of 55 companies and non-profit organizations, including major corporate entities such as AT&T, Cisco Systems, Google, Intel and Verizon Communications, have signed on to a “call to action for a national broadband strategy.”

The document has been crafted by a wide range of parties over the past year under the stewardship of James Baller, senior principal of the Baller Herbst Law Group, and the final version was released late Monday.

Verizon was a last-minute addition to the group of signatories, having joined the list in between the first and the second public versions e-mailed by Baller.

Among the major trade groups that signed on to the “call to action” were the wireless association CTIA, the Telecommunications Industry Association, and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the Utilities Telecom Council, and the Wireless Communications Associations International

Among the major non-profit groups include American Library Association, Communications Workers of America, EDUCAUSE, Free Press, OneEconomy, Connected Nation, Internet2, Media Access Project, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, the New America Foundation and Public Knowledge.

BroadbandCensus.com is also a signatory to the “call to action.”

Baller released the final version in anticipation of a 10 a.m. press conference in room G-50 of the Dirkson Senate Office Building.

“What’s most remarkable about this initiative is that so large and diverse a group of organizations agreed not only on the terms of our call to action statement, but also to continue to work together to build consensus on the substance of a national broadband strategy,” Baller said in a statement.

He also said that the call to action commits its signatories “to continue to work together to address key issues and priorities and to hold an event to present more specific recommendations to President Obama, Congress and the American people.”

The “call to action” includes general principles about the need for advanced communications capabilities, highlights the fact that “too many Americans still do not have access to affordable broadband,” and sets five goals for a comprehensive government strategy that would promote broadband.

The five goals are that (a) every American home and institution should have access to broadband, (b) access to the Internet should be open to all users and content providers, (c) network operators “must have the right to manage their networks responsibly, pursuant to clear and workable guidelines and standards,” (d) the broadband marketplace “should be” competitive; and (e) U.S. broadband networks should have the performance and capacity necessary to allow this country to be competitive in the global marketplace.

The document then outlines policies to stimulate investment, policies to stimulate adoption and use, and measures for “a system for regular and timely collection and publication of data” on broadband deployment, adoption and use.

The meeting of the call to action for a national broadband strategy isn’t the only major broadband-related event being held in the coming week. On Thursday, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute is presenting a “Call for Solutions” in Northampton, Mass., on ways to enable broadband throughout western Massachusetts.  And on Saturday, the Internet for Everyone group, coordinated by Free Press and supported by Google, is hosting a “Town Hall Meeting” in Los Angeles designed to “kick-start the movement to make an internet connection a right of every American.”

And on Tuesday, December 9, BroadbandCensus.com is hosting the second of its five-part series, the Broadband Breakfast Club, on “How Broadband Applications and Mapping Harness Demand for High-Speed Internet” in Washington. The event will take place at the Old Ebbitt Grill from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., and will feature speakers from App-Rising, the Public Technology Institute and Walt Disney.

Broadband Breakfast Club:

Editor’s Note: Join the next Broadband Breakfast Club on Tuesday, December 9, on how broadband applications – including telemedicine – can harness demand for high-speed internet services. Register at http://broadbandbreakfast.eventbrite.com

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Broadband Census Articles and Documents of Interest:

CWA Wants Better Broadband Data, As Does Internet for Everyone

in Expert Opinion by

Blog Entries

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:

National Tech Policy: Which Way Forward?

in Expert Opinion by

Blog Entries

NEW YORK, June 24, Afternoon Panel -This afternoon, the Personal Democracy Forum features a panel with some of the leading minds in technologies policy and moderator Andrew Rasiej wants to know “what would you do as part of a new administration to impact tech policy on day 1 in 2009?”

One of the original Internet architects and current evangelizer for Google, Vint Cerf, would “get rid of the FCC and get Congress to work”; Erick Schonfeld of TechCrunch would start with an IP bill of rights; Alec Ross, who advises Senator Barack Obama, would appoint a Chief Technology Officer; Josh Silver, co-founder of Free Press, would use the Presidential bully-pulpit to explain issues of digital policy to Americans (oh, and Josh would also open up White Spaces, protect muni-broadband, institute net neutrality, and add broadband to the Universal Service policy…); Claudio Prado, who has served in the Ministry of Brazil, would work on explaining tech policy to the rest of his government and make sure every Ministry understands what “Peeracy” is (note: it’s a peer to peer movement and pirates are not allowed).

Alec’s recommendation induces some comments from Vint Cerf and some members of the audience regarding the potential conflict with having a top-down CTO administer bottom-up and distributive technologies. Alec concedes that a tech politcy, particularly not Barack Obama’s tech policy, does not start or end with a CTO and that the goal of universal broadband would be just as important.

There was a great deal of convergence among the panelists around the idea that governments must change their ways of thinking about technology and policy in order to transform technology policy. Claudio describes 20th century, industrial thinking as being a barrier to such a transformation and that people from outside of government are sometimes more fit to help in this regard. Erick seems to agree with this in his recommendation that “one of the five FCC comissioners needs to be an engineer and not a lawyer.” Alec follows-up these points by submitting that Vint Cerf’s initiative announced earlier today, Internet For Everyone, is an example of people outside of government having a better understanding of the public good when it comes to technology

Picking up on Mr. Cerf’s earlier statements regarding the ideals embodied by Internet For Everyone, an audience member asks the panel what the killer app will be of the Internet of the future, the “Internet of Many Things.” (Note: this is referring to the many different devices, from toasters to phones to heating and air that will be connected to the Internet in the near future).

Alec submits that the Internet needs “public purpose content” and that it will arrive in the future. He has started an NGO that is attempting to do just that (be the PBS/NPR for the Internet), but Vint disagrees a bit and says that “content comes from the users and we’re already at the tipping point” – there is plenty on the net for everyone. For Mr. Cerf, the coming killer apps are security, authenticity, and device management.

Audience member and Columbia Professor Tim Wu wants to know if the panel thinks tech policy will ever be more to a campaign or national policy than just a third-tier or “geek issue.” Mr. Cerf thinks it might be more than that one day, but wonders aloud if that will necessarily improve tech policy outcomes. Claudio suspects the question implies narrow thinking about how Internet policy issues can be addressed and submits that the Internet is a transnational issue and needs a transnational discussion.

Panelists and audience members alike call for a consideration of the goals of tech policy in order to determine the approach to it. Josh Silver sums it up in four words: fast, affordable, open Internet. For Alec Ross, tech policy should aim to create a citizen-centered government. Claudio Prado would simply like to see a tech policy that empowers people while Erick demands that technologies and policy contribute to better, more efficient governance.

Free Press, Google and Others Form Pro-Broadband Initiative

in Broadband's Impact by

NEW YORK, June 24 – A group of non-profits, businesses and other organizations seeking to guide the creation of a national broadband plan on Tuesday announced the formation of a new initiative, “Internet for Everyone,” seeking to highlight the crucial importance of broadband.

The initiative was officially launched at a breakout room in the Lincoln Center where the Personal Democracy Forum was being held, gathering internet luminaries including Stanford University professor Lawrence Lessig; Vint Cerf, chief technology evangelist at Google; Tim Wu, Columbia University law professor; and Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press.

Federal Communications Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein announced the organization’s formation in his address at the Personal Democracy Forum. Adelstein said that broadband policy was integral to all of the major issues of this election. Adelstein was also set to be on hand at the initiative’s press conference.

Among the organizations also listed as supporters on the organization’s Web page include the American Civil Liberties Union, BitTorrent, Common Cause, the Computers and Communications Industry Association, Consumers Union, eBay, Internet2 and the Sunlight Foundation.

Free Press, a non-profit group against media consolidation and for Net Neutrality, is taking the lead in convening the Internet for Everyone organization, said Timothy Karr, campaign director for Free Press. Free Press registered the domain name internetforeveryone.org.

“We are at a point in the U.S. where the country that is credited for having invented the Internet, has fallen perilously behind other nations that have managed to provide faster, cheaper and more open connections for a large portion of their populations,” Karr said in an interview.

On its Web site, the Internet for Everyone initiative articulates four broad principles: access, choice, openness and innovation. Although the terms are not defined, the principle on “openness” suggests a pro-Net Neutrality bent in its language: “every Internet user should have the right to freedom of speech and commerce online in an open market without gatekeepers or discrimination.”

The site proclaims the need to “unleash innovation, promote free speech and encourage learning.” It also declares that “we all must play a role in the future of the Internet: federal, state and local governments, businesses large and small, non-profits, consumer advocates, educators, civic groups, churches and individuals.”

In his speech, Adelstein affirmed that while private sector will drive future broadband deployment in the U.S., the government should have a greater role in incentivizing and expediting broadband deployment. He also said that broadband in the U.S. was “suffer[ing] from benign neglect and it’s time for that [to] change.”

Adelstein also said he wanted to see a better integration of internet technologies into government to improve governance and civic participation. “We’ve never seen the kind of political participation that at least one campaign has brought to this election through the technologies enabled by broadband,” the Commissioner observed, referring to the success of the campaign of Illinois Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. Adelstein expressed the hope of bringing “that same type of energy to the government itself.”

-Drew Clark, Editor, BroadbandCensus.com, contributed to the reporting of this article.

Related Article:

Baller: McCain and Obama Should Issue Joint Statement on Broadband, BroadbandCensus.com, June 23

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