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Minority Media and Telecommuniations Council

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.”

Genachowski Calls for Removal of Barriers to Minority Business Owners

in Broadband's Impact/Minority/National Broadband Plan/Spectrum by

WASHINGTON, July 21, 2010- Market barriers to minority and small business owners must be removed so that they can compete in the global marketplace says Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski.

Speaking at the Minority Media & Telecom Council’s Access to Capital and Telecommunications Conference, Genachowski assured his audience that the FCC is focused on equal employment opportunity and private sector investment, which fosters a good environment for emerging businesses.

He said that since broadband is undoubtedly the main infrastructure of the 21st century; every entrepreneur should have access to and be comfortable with the technology.

The cost of digital exclusion affects minorities in a world where classifieds are moving online and job applications must be completed and submitted through the internet, to the point where “if you don’t have broadband, you can’t get a job,” said Genachowski. He cited low penetration rates among African-Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans, and said the digital divide seriously troubles him.

These problems were the main drivers in creating the National Broadband Plan to ensure that no Americans were left behind in the digital age. Plans for infrastructure deployment will drive private investment in broadband. It also calls for government resources and the removal of market barriers to make these private investments viable and successful.

Another barrier to entrepreneurs is the availability of spectrum, especially for mobile applications. Genachowski said “Without more spectrum, the first choice of internet access for millions of minority Americans will deliver second-rate service.” This is a particular problem for minorities, many of whom access the internet primarily through mobile devices.

In addition to driving broadband deployment, he said the National Broadband Plan calls for increases in broadband adoption as well. The main barriers to adoption are cost and digital literacy. He said in addition to the Lifeline, Linkup, and Digital Literacy Corps programs, he also wants to help small businesses improve their digital skills.

The FCC is currently working with the Small Business Administration to create public/private partnerships that will provide broadband education for small and diverse businesses.

The FCC is revitalizing its Office of Communications Business Opportunities by bringing in a new office head and focusing on making the best capitalization strategies available online for emerging businesses. They are also working on networking systems that could connect small businesses with larger companies in the communications field.

Genachowski said keeping an open internet is essential, and “entrepreneurs shouldn’t have to ask permission to innovate online.” The ability to “connect, create, and communicate” online should be available to everyone, he said.

FCC Inundated With Network Neutrality Filings From Wide Range of Groups

in Net Neutrality Comments by

WASHINGTON, January 15, 2010 – The Federal Communications Commission was inundated this week with a new slew of comments on its proposed plan to ensure an open internet through network neutrality regulation.

Players like the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council weighed in on the Internet’s importance to minority communities, while heavy hitters from Hollywood and big communications firms also added their more than two cents.

Here’s just a sampling of comments from the broadband industry community and look for more in-depth stories on BroadbandBreakfast.com in the next couple of days.

The Open Internet Coalition argued for “immediate action to enact common sense rules to ensure that the Internet remains the key engine of economic growth, innovation and deliberation for all Americans.”

Meanwhile, the Independent Telephone and Telecommunications Alliance, an alliance of mid-sized local exchange carriers, stressed that “the market for broadband Internet access is thriving, and unnecessary and intrusive network management regulations will depress incentives for broadband investment in rural America.”

The Media Access Project submitted two sets of public comments to the FCC in support of network neutrality protections. The comments were filed on behalf of more than 40 civil rights and public interest organizations nationwide. “Network neutrality principles must be enacted to ensure open and nondiscriminatory online communication,” said project Vice President Parul Desai.

In a 198-page filing with the agency, Free Press offered its position that network neutrality rules “will promote investment, encourage innovation, create jobs and spur competition.”

Free Press also took a jab at the phone and cable firms by saying its filing rebuts their “misguided claims about the harms of openness policy.”

Editor’s Note: Don’t miss the Intellectual Property Breakfast Club event, “Net Neutrality, Copyright Protection and the National Broadband Plan,” on Tuesday, January 19, 2010, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Register 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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