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FCC Wrestles With Depth, Breadth of Net Neutrality Comments

in FCC/National Broadband Plan/Net Neutrality/Net Neutrality Comments by

WASHINGTON, February 8, 2010 – The Federal Communications Commission has received thousands of comments both lauding and criticizing its proposed plan to address the controversial issue of network neutrality.

The media and communications communities spent hundreds if not thousands of hours carefully crafting their arguments as their members view net neutrality as a linchpin to the future of Internet innovation and economic growth.

Content distributors, consumers and parties concerned about limitations on free speech largely favor net neutrality in their filed comments.

Some content makers also support the concept, but the largest content makers appear to oppose it.

Net neutrality supporters argued that a free and open Internet is necessary for innovation and that a lack of competition among service providers removes market protection from infringement.

“The success of the open Internet as a tool for economic growth and expression belies the premise that service differentiation is necessary or desirable,” submitted the City of Philadelphia’s government.

Sony also believes an open, unfettered Internet is best for the nation’s future: “This investment has been predicated on consumers having unfettered access to the legal content, applications and services of their choice” the electronics giant wrote. “Future investment requires the preservation of this underlying principle to protect the common interests of consumers, network operators, content developers and application providers in the Internet ecosystem. Moreover, SEL believes that ultimately the commission’s proposed network neutrality rules, if implemented, would lead to more expansive broadband deployment and greater consumer uptake of broadband connectivity and services.”

Phone firm Vonage wants the FCC to go further: “It recommends that the commission modify each of the first three principles to clarify that a provider of broadband Internet access service ‘may not prevent or hinder’ users from obtaining lawful content or applications or attaching lawful devices to the network. This change will better capture the harm to consumers that the commission designed these principles to prevent: degradation of service as well as a complete loss of service.”

Skype chimed in with concerns about unfair Internet transmission blockage by carriers: “Evidence suggests that carriers have the incentive and ability to harm innovation in the communications application market either by outright blocking or more subtle forms of discrimination. Because these applications offer consumers additional choice and savings, they should not be delayed, obstructed or throttled by broadband access providers. The commission’s openness policies should apply in a competitively neutral way across all broadband platforms.”

Google also cautioned that lack of an open Internet could harm innovation: “The Internet has created unprecedented benefits and opportunity for every facet of our society.  For this reason, the FCC must take the broadest view when assessing how the assurance of open broadband networks affects risks, investment and innovations associated with broadband infrastructure, and the overlay services, content and applications that ride upon it. In brief, the open Internet drives overall investment and innovation in technology and in other sectors, maximizes free speech and civic participation, and engenders more sources to create the fastest and greatest innovations.”

The Internet search giant also touched on issues surrounding the use of deep packet inspection.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and other commenters brought up the Madison River case: “Already, we have seen some troubling examples of protocol-based discrimination by ISPs. In 2005, Madison River Communications selectively blocked voice-over-IP (VoIP) services that could compete with its wireline telephone services.”

Many of these groups also expressed concern about possible content discrimination. For example, “EFF is also concerned that content-based discrimination may be looming on the horizon. The entertainment industry, for example, has been pressing ISPs to implement network-based measures to address the problem of online copyright infringement.”

DISH Network was one of the few content distributors to support network neutrality. It wrote that: “Nondiscrimination rules are necessary, because vertically-integrated broadband providers have the incentive and ability to discriminate against competitors like DISH. By favoring their own video services or degrading services of competitors, telco and cable providers can drive customers away from competitive direct broadcast satellite services.  Permitting such anticompetitive behavior does not serve the public interest.”

The opposition to network neutrality comes not only from internet service providers but also from those who seek firmer copyright enforcement. The following is a summary of the most common and unusual claims they make.

The Motion Picture Association of America claims to support the principles but pushes further with concerns about content piracy. It says that “to make clear that ISPs are not only permitted, but encouraged, to work with content owners to employ the best available tools and technologies to combat online content theft. Service providers also should be encouraged to work with content owners to implement consumer education programs that can help law-abiding Internet users find legitimate sources for online creative works, while simultaneously warning repeat infringers that they risk consequences if they continue to violate the law.”

AT&T uses some of the strongest language slamming a net neutrality plan, asserting that robust competition already exists: “Unfortunately, the commission’s [notice of proposed rule making] charts an unwise, unwarranted and unprecedented reversal in course.” The telecommunications firms says that “far from being a ‘cozy duopoly’ as some pundits claim, wired broadband Internet access services are robustly competitive, as evidenced by increased speeds, rapidly growing usage, significantly declining prices on a per-bits-consumed basis, and very substantial customer ‘churn’ rates for both cable and telco broadband providers.”

Most of the commenters also say the FCC is trying to solve a problem that does not exist. For example, AT&T adds that “new regulation, moreover, without any credible data-driven evidence of any market failure amid this robust competition.  Instead, it bases its hyper-regulatory proposals solely on the basis of speculation that a market failure might arise someday in the future.”

Verizon Communications and other firms claimed that the inability to manage their network properly would result in overcrowding and potentially a limit on innovation.

Verizon also claimed that net neutrality violates the First and Fifth amendments. “Contrary to claims of net neutrality proponents who assert that government regulations would promote First Amendment interests, the First Amendment protects against governmental restrictions on speech. Here, by restricting providers’ ability to offer their own differentiated services, whether by using their own content or innovative content and services offered in collaboration with others, the proposed rules would impose direct restraints on speech in violation of the First Amendment.”

It said net neutrality would impinge upon the Fifth Amendment by “requiring the compulsory dedication of private property to the use of others with no express statutory authorization and without compensation.”

Comcast, which some in the broadband community believe is the impetus for the FCC’s net neutrality rulemaking, said: “In light of these real risks, rules should only be adopted if a record is built that includes concrete facts and data demonstrating (1) actual – not conjectural – harms that would be remedied by the proposed rules; (2) actual – not hypothetical – benefits that would be gained by adoption of the proposed rules; and (3) that the harms and benefits outweigh the real risks to continued innovation and investment.  To date there is no such record.”

Comcast also finds the rules to do more harm than good: “(1) The proposed rules apply only to a narrow class of Internet service providers, ignoring whether the Internet is “open” at all of its layers; (2) The proposed “nondiscrimination” rule would prohibit network operators from adopting a number of reasonable practices that potentially could have significant benefits for consumers and the public interest; and  (3) The proposed “transparency” rule would create a new and burdensome legal duty for network operators while failing to impose corresponding duties on other key participants in the Internet ecosystem.”

Wireless providers also oppose network neutrality under network management grounds. Their main belief is that wireless networks operate differently from wired networks and so should receive the same regulation. They feel that they must deal with a lower amount of spectrum and must manage their networks more heavily. Additionally, the section on the connectivity of devices is truly something they feel their networks cannot handle. They also believe that their market — unlike the wireline market — is truly competitive with constant price drops and a wide variety of choices along with competition from WiFi hot spots and WiMax.

Pros and Cons Have Merit, But Is FCC Authority at Stake?

While the comments in support and opposition have merit, one of the biggest issues covered by the comments was whether or not the FCC has the authority to take these actions.

The FCC is using authority given it under Title I and II, which say, respectively, that the agency has ancillary authority and can regulate broadcast services. However, Time Warner disagrees: “Having appropriately classified broadband Internet access service as a Title I service, the commission cannot now seek to apply core aspects of Title II by regulatory fiat.”

Verizon said: “In 2005, when the commission confirmed that wireline broadband Internet access service is an information service outside the scope of Title II regulation, it found that such services were “offered by two established platform providers, which continue to expand rapidly, and by several existing and emerging platforms and providers.”

Google and Public Knowledge oppose this view and claim that the FCC does have the authority to provide this regulation. Google says the commission actually has authority under more than just Title I and II – it also can claim authority under Title’s II and VI. Google states: “Communications using last-mile broadband facilities – whether copper, fiber, or wireless – constitute “interstate… communication by wire or radio.” In the Wireline Broadband Order and Cable Modem Declaratory Ruling,  the commission held that it had ancillary jurisdiction over wireline and cable  broadband Internet access service providers, explaining that their “services are unquestionably ‘wire communications’ as defined in [the Act].”

The FCC also has determined in the Wireless Broadband Classification Order that wireless broadband Internet access service, offered using mobile, portable or fixed technologies, is “interstate . . . communications by radio.” Internet-based video programming is now significantly impacting both television broadcasting and cable, altering the economics  of these marketplaces and affecting local programming, diversity of viewpoints, service delivery, and the FCC’s overall regulation in these areas. Broadband Internet access services also enable consumers to place Internet-based VoIP calls to “traditional land-line telephone[s] connected to the public switched telephone network.” The widespread use of VoIP and related services as cheaper and more feature-rich alternatives to Title II services has significant effects on traditional telephone providers’ practices and pricing, as well on network interconnection between Title II and IP networks that consumers use to reach each other, going to the heart of  the Commission’s Title II responsibilities.  In light of the impact of these Internet-based services on services regulated under Titles II, III and VI, as well as the effect upon the FCC’s regulatory framework under those Titles, precedent confirms the FCC may exercise its ancillary jurisdiction to fulfill its explicit mandates. “

The issues surround net neutrality have been discussed for years in both official and unofficial capacities, but with the FCC’s recent proposal of a rulemaking, the concerns have a forum for further discussion and may actually be addressed.

Commerce Department Awards 10 More Broadband Mapping Grants; Total Funding is $97 Million

in Broadband Data/Broadband Stimulus by

WASHINGTON, January 13, 2010 – The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration on Tuesday announced that it has awarded grants to fund broadband mapping and planning activities in Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Texas under NTIA’s State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program.

With the grants, the NTIA has awarded 51 of the 56 applications: one for every state, plus the district of Columbia and five territories. The NTIA has spent approximately $97 million on the applications, the agency said.

“Congress rightly recognized that increasing broadband access and adoption in communities being left behind in the 21st Century economy depends on better data collection and broadband planning,” said Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling. ”Our goal is to carry out this initiative on schedule and at the lowest cost necessary to do the job right.”

From the NTIA press release:

Connecticut: NTIA has awarded the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control approximately $1.3 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and nearly $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a two-year period in Connecticut, bringing the total grant award to approximately $1.8 million. The Department of Public Utility Control is the designated entity for the state of Connecticut.

Hawaii: NTIA has awarded Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs approximately $1.4 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in Hawaii, bringing the total grant award to approximately $1.9 million. The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs is the designated entity for the state of Hawaii.

Kentucky: NTIA has awarded the Commonwealth Office of Technology approximately $1.6 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in Kentucky, bringing the total grant award to nearly $2.1 million. The Office of Technology is the designated entity for the state of Kentucky.

Maine: NTIA has awarded the ConnectME Authority approximately $1.3 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and nearly $440,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in Maine, bringing the total grant award to nearly $1.8 million. The ConnectME Authority is the designated entity for the state of Maine.

Mississippi: NTIA has awarded the Mississippi Office of the Governor approximately $1.5 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in Mississippi, bringing the total grant award to approximately $2 million. The Office of the Governor is the designated entity for the state of Mississippi.

Nebraska: NTIA has awarded the Nebraska Public Service Commission approximately $1.6 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and nearly $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a two-year period in Nebraska, bringing the total grant award to approximately $2.1 million. The Public Service Commission is the designated entity for the state of Nebraska.

New Mexico: NTIA has awarded the New Mexico Department of Information Technology approximately $1.4 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in New Mexico, bringing the total grant award to approximately $1.9 million. The Department of Information Technology is the designated entity for the state of New Mexico.

Oklahoma: NTIA has awarded the Oklahoma Office of State Finance approximately $1.6 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and nearly $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in Oklahoma, bringing the total grant award to approximately $2.1 million. The Office of State Finance is the designated entity for the state of Oklahoma.

Pennsylvania: NTIA has awarded the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development approximately $1.7 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in Pennsylvania, bringing the total grant award to approximately $2.2 million. The Department of Community and Economic Development is the designated entity for the state of Pennsylvania.

Texas: NTIA has awarded Connected Nation approximately $2.5 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and nearly $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in Texas, bringing the total grant award to approximately $3 million. Connected Nation is the designated entity for the state of Texas.

Week in Review: Application Roundup

in Broadband Stimulus/NTIA/Premium Content/States by

From BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report

WASHINGTON, August 31, 2009 – Although the NTIA and RUS are expected to release the names of the applicants for broadband stimulus funding later this week, the names of many of the applicants are emerging through press releases and through reporting by a wide variety of organizations.

States playing active roles in the federal broadband stimulus are emerging as key aggregators of grant applications, including Illinois, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland and New Mexico. Each of these states is responsible for bundling more than $100 million in applicants by governmental, private or quasi-public entities within their jurisdictions.

Content available for Paid Subscribers of BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report. Click here to subscribe.

[private_Premium Content][private_Free Trial]Among the major private sector players eying federal stimulus funds include KeyOn, a wireless broadband providers in Omaha, Neb., going for more $150 mil¬lion in funding to expand its WiMax network http://gigaom.com/2009/08/19/wireless-cos-ask-for-169-6m-in-stimulus-bucks-wheres-wire¬line/; Leap Wireless, which operates the Cricket brand of cell phone service, which is seeking $8.6 million; Yonder Media, with a rural WiMax plan, and possibly also Level 3. http://telephonyonline.com/independent/news/level3-broad¬band-stimulus-funding-0817/ SkyTerra’s application for funds is under the Sustainable Adoption Program, and it includes a letter of support from Motorola. http://www.skyterra.com/me¬dia/press-releases-view.cfm?id=216&yr=2009

Illinois is shepherding one of the most substantial group of applicant packages through the process. As with other states, it is pledging large sums of money to meet the 20 percent matching funds requirement called for the regulations implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Last week, the administration of Gov. Pat Quinn announced funding commitments of $40 million, supporting federal applications more than 10 times that large, or for $415 million. The complete list is avail¬able at http://broadband.illinois.gov/page/State-Funding-Commitment-List.aspx .

The City of Chicago, for example, is seeking $100 million to create a “smart Chicago;” Illinois’s matching commit¬ment is $10 million, and the project boasts an additional match of $14.8 million. Among the other substantial applications within Illinois are the City of Rockford, for $63 million (matched by $5 million from the state); Clearwave Communications, a company in Southern Illinois, for $50 million (with a $5 million state match); Cook and Will Counties, which are seeking $51 million; and the University of Illinois Campus Information Technologies and Information Services, which is seeking $28 million (with a $3.5 million state match).

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson – President Obama’s first pick to be Secretary of Commerce, but who with¬drew his name – announced that his state’s Office of Recovery and Reinvestment coordinated an effort to obtain $180 million in broadband funds. “A faster, expanded broadband network that reaches across our state is vital to our future, which is why I made securing funds for broadband improvements in New Mexico a top priority for our stimulus team,” Richardson said. http://www.governor.state.nm.us/press/2009/august/082109_01.pdf Among the applicants are the New Mexico Department of Information Technology, Baca Valley Telephone, Eastern New Mexico Rural Telephone Cooperative, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority and Commnet, Sa¬cred Wind, US Cable and Western Telephone.

Pennsylvania’s $108 million bid includes $50 million toward a state Department of Education connectivity plan; $29 million by the state’s Office of Administra¬tion toward an underserved area in northern Pennsyl¬vania, $13 million for broadband trading the Education Department, and $8 million toward the Department of Community and Economic Development to “help com¬munities, businesses, first-responders and institutions effectively use broadband.” http:// www.recovery.pa.gov

Maryland state officials, working with several municipalities, seeks to finalize a $100 million joint application, One Maryland, to expand existing fiber to schools, libraries and other public buildings. The coalition includes the counties of Baltimore, Anne Arun¬del, Harford, Carroll, Prince George’s, Montgomery and Frederick – plus Baltimore City and Annapolis. http://www.govtech.com/gt/articles/712483

And in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute applied for $105 million in federal funding: $100 million to support an infrastructure development in western Massachusetts, coupled with $20 million in state money; plus $5 million to support its broadband mapping initiative. OpenCape on Cape Cod is seek¬ing $40 million in federal funds, and the City of Boston seeks $15 million. [/private_Premium Content][/private_Free Trial]

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Wattsburg Overjoyed With Biden Visit; May Already Be Ahead in School Broadband Access

in Broadband Stimulus/NTIA by

WATTSBURG, Penn., July 1, 2009 – Wattsburg citizens were overjoyed with Vice President Joe Biden and company’s Rural Broadband Tour. But the town may also serve as a benchmark for public broadband access.

During the “town hall” portion of the tour, Vice President Biden said that individuals told him that only roughly 50 percent of homes in the district had broadband access. But Robert LaPlaca, information technology director of the district’s system, says that Wattsburg school systems lead the way with the Internet 2 super-high-speed network connecting university and school systems.

Classrooms for the Future coach and technology integrator Mary Beth Bengelbrok agreed with LaPlaca that although only 50 percent of students may have internet access at home. They considered that a “great majority of student population are unable to access internet tools” and with broadband access they might have “more fruitful” educational opportunities at school and beyond.

Internet2 capabilities allow for some of the fastest fiber-optic broadband used for research at educational, healthcare, and governmental establishments, said LaPlaca. There are more than “55 school districts that already have Internet2 interconnections.”

According to LaPlaca, the district has had fiber-optic connection for six to seven years, from Sting Communication, who won the $5.4 million bid that had been granted to the school system. An additional $10 million was raised by the school district to furbish the resulting infrastructure network.

On the first day of her new job, Wattsburg schools Superintendent Nancy Salady was “honored and privileged” to have the tour with Biden and the nation’s other leaders come to her town. Salady said she saw it as an opportunity to “integrate more technology” to equip students with what Biden and other government representatives are calling “21st century skills.”

The audience responded well to Biden’s joviality. Local citizen Theol Isaacs was overjoyed as it was “the best thing that ever happened to me.”

“It shows that he is looking to make straight changes, but it’s going to take time,” Isaacs said. Asserting himself as an Internet user, Isaacs said that “we still got a ways to go” though Wattsburg seems to be doing “OK.”

With what seemed to be a tour creating broadband demand and education as much as anything, local citizens responded and involved themselves well to Biden’s “farmers are the smartest people I know” with an occasional “amen” from apparent farmers and rural citizens.

The Vice President’s anecdotal stories resounded well to a community that is seemingly on track to ubiquitous broadband. According to Hengelbrock, “last fall we did a program and community outreach” in line with Biden’s “public service center” requests as a part of the “National Broadband Plan.”

Hengelbrock says the program is in part something that the district must perform yearly in order to qualify for e-Rate benefits. Incentives of this sort that increase demand in rural areas might be what the new administration is looking for to expand broadband knowledge and need.

When asked if the district plans on issuing a grant application, LaPlasca said the school system already has what it needs.

Vice President Biden to Promote Broadband Stimulus in Erie, Penn.

in Broadband Stimulus/NTIA by

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2009 – As first reported in BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report, the White House announced on Monday that Vice President Biden will travel to Pennsylvania – in Erie – to highlight broadband stimulus funding.

Below is the Press Release from the White House:

Vice President Biden to Travel to Pennsylvania to Highlight Recovery Act Broadband Investments Recovery Act Broadband Investments

Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday, July 1, Vice President Biden will travel to Erie, Pennsylvania, to highlight Recovery Act broadband investments. The Vice President will be joined by Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper and other local officials.

Media Details are Below:

Vice President Biden to travel to Erie, Pennsylvania

  • Scheduled Speakers:     Vice President Joe Biden
  • Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke
  • Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
  • Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski
  • Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper

Date: Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Location: Seneca High School

10770 Wattsburg Rd.

Erie, PA 16509

**Wireless internet is available.

NTIA Does End-Run Around 'Buy American' Requirements

in Broadband Stimulus/NTIA/Premium Content by

From BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2009 – The broadband policy world took a number of significant steps forward last week with the confirmation on Thursday of Larry Strickling as the head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and of Julius Genachowski as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

Officials from telecommunications and equipment providers, including Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent and others, also scored a significant victory when the NTIA on Friday issued an order that exempts broadband switching and routing equipment from the “Buy America” provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Strickling is expected to begin work on Monday, and not a day too soon. The White House has long promised June 30 as the date by which the Commerce Department agency would release rules pertaining to the $7.2 bil¬lion broadband stimulus package, with $4.7 billion flowing through the NTIA. Sources at the NTIA said the rules will be released on either Tuesday, June 30, or by Wednesday, July 1, at the latest.

[more...]

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Virginia, Pennsylvania Discuss State Maps of Broadband Availability

in Broadband Data by

WASHINGTON, April 22, 2009 – With the fast-moving broadband stimulus package almost certain to stretch the capabilities of federal agencies such as the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, state governments and agencies say they can help expedite the process.

Sue A. Suleski, Technology Investment Specialist and Program Manager for the Pennsylvania Broadband Initiative, said the state had registered considerable progress in deploying broadband technology thus far.

She spoke at the April 14 meeting of the Broadband Breakfast Club, which is organized by BroadbandCensus.com.

The web site Broadbandinpa.com, she said, was an on-ongoing attempt to map and test broadband in the state on the basis of available data and ZIP codes, so as to determine both the availability and type of broadband being offered.

Karen Jackson, Office of Telework Promotion and Broadband Assistance in Virginia, said her state had thrived on a “statewide perspective and strategy.”

She said that Virginia had formulated recommendations toward careful mapping of broadband availability by identifying areas that were unserved. The state had started the process of broadband mapping at the county level, and was now working toward industrial park-by-industrial park identification.

Jackson said that Virginia’s map was expected to be released within two weeks.

Also speaking at the event was Graham Richard, the former mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Betty Ann Kane, Chairman of the D.C. Public Service Commission. Kane has been leading an effort of states to coordinate efforts at broadband data-collection and deployment.

Richard said that states have “highly skilled and trained workforces” to help implement ideas about implementing the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus.

“Their success at that level would lay a good ground for our competitive advantage in coming years,” said Richard, adding that it would limit offshore outsourcing and preserve domestically-available jobs.

As mayor, Richard was responsible for a broadband initiative that brought a $100 million fiber-optic investment in Fort Wayne.

Suleski and Kane agreed that states’ role in aggregating demand could be vital.

Members of the audience expressed interest in:

  • Disparities of access to broadband within similar ZIP codes.
  • The need to maintain up-to-date databases. Suleski said that legislation in Pennsylvania required updates after every six months.
  • Public utility commissions being duty-bound to satisfy public interest.
  • A strategic sense of emerging and future needs be maintained.
  • A determination being made on who would be responsible for ensuring universal broadband access.

The Broadband Breakfast Club on Tuesday, May 12, 2009, will focus on defining the role of unserved and underserved. Speakers include Randolph J. May, President of the Free State Foundation; Jean Plymale of the Virginia Tech eCorridors Program; James Bradford Ramsey, general counsel of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners; and S. Derek Turner, research director of Free Press.

Registration is available at http://broadbandbreakfast.eventbrite.com. The current series of the Broadband Breakfast Club, “Spending the Broadband Stimulus,” is sponsored by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, and the Benton Foundation.

Graham Richard, Former Mayor of Fort Wayne, at April Broadband Breakfast Club

in Broadband Calendar by

Richard Joins Panel Including Officials from the District of Columbia, Virginia and Pennsylvania to Consider States’ Experiences With Broadband Spending

Press Release

WASHINGTON, April 13, 2009 – Graham Richard, the former mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana, has agreed to join the panel discussion for the April meeting of the Broadband Breakfast Club, which takes place on Tuesday, April 14, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Old Ebbitt Grill.

Richard will join a panel that already includes top city and state officials, and which addresses the question, “Can States’ Front-line Experiences Expedite Broadband Deployment?” Other confirmed panelists include Karen Jackson, Office of Telework Promotion and Broadband Assistance, Commonwealth of Virginia; Betty Ann Kane, Chairman, D.C. Public Service Commission; and Sue A. Suleski, Technology Investment Specialist and Program Manager for the Pennsylvania Broadband Initiative.

With the fast-moving broadband stimulus package almost certain to stretch the capabilities of federal agencies such as the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, state governments and agencies say they can help expedite the process.

The event marks the kick-off of a new four-part series of the Broadband Breakfast Club: Spending the Broadband Stimulus, by BroadbandCensus.com. For six months now, the Broadband Breakfast Club has brought key stakeholders together to share breakfast and perspectives on broadband technology and internet policy.

Richard, mayor of Fort Wayne from 2000 through 2007, will be able to speak to the way city and state officials can use broadband technology to address their key concerns. As mayor, Richard was responsible for a broadband initiative that brought a $100 million fiber-optic investment in the city.

The event will be moderated by Drew Clark, Editor and Executive Director of BroadbandCensus.com. Clark is a veteran telecom and technology journalist, and he founded BroadbandCensus.com in January 2008 as a means of providing the public with a free and objective resource of the wired and wireless local broadband carriers, grouped by ZIP code, by speed, by competition and by consumer satisfaction.

Telecommunications policy advocates, attorneys, policy-makers and journalists seeking to obtain insights from top officials in Washington can attend the Broadband Breakfast Club, which includes a full American and Continental breakfast, for as little as $45.00, plus a modest registration fee. The events are on the record and open to the public. Register here for the next breakfast event.

For individuals outside of Washington, or whose schedule doesn’t permit attendance in person, archived webcasts of the Broadband Breakfast Club are now available on the BroadbandCensus.com channel on TV Mainstream. One full year of online access to each premium webcast is available for $40.00.

On March 23, BroadbandCensus.com launched BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report, a premium newsletter packed with only the most relevant and actionable news, analysis and insight into the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus. Subscriptions to BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report are available at the introductory offer of $95.00/month, or $950.00/year. Included within the purchase price is one year of complementary access to each monthly webcast of the Broadband Breakfast Club.

Individuals who register to attend the Broadband Breakfast Club in person will also receive a full year of complementary online access to the webcast, and a $20.00 discount off the subscription price of the BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report.

The registration page for the event is http://broadbandbreakfast.eventbrite.com.

Beginning at 8 a.m., an American plus Continental breakfast is available downstairs in the Cabinet Room. This is followed by a discussion, beginning shortly after 8:30 a.m. and ending before 10 a.m.

Because of the limited size of the venue, seated attendance will be reserved the first 45 individuals to register.

The Broadband Breakfast Club: Spending the Broadband Stimulus, is sponsored by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and the Benton Foundation.

April Broadband Breakfast Club on the Role of States in Stimulus Spending

in Broadband Calendar by

Officials from the District of Columbia, Virginia and Pennsylvania Will Consider States’ Experiences With Broadband Spending

Press Release

WASHINGTON, April 8, 2009 – With the fast-moving broadband stimulus package almost certain to stretch the capabilities of federal agencies such as the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, state governments and agencies say they can help expedite the process.

At the Broadband Breakfast Club on April 14, 2009, top officials from a variety of state and quasi-state agencies – including a public utility commission, an information technology agency, and a state-level broadband initiative – will discuss the role that states could play in implementing the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus.

The event marks the kick-off of a new four-part series of the Broadband Breakfast Club: Spending the Broadband Stimulus, by BroadbandCensus.com. For six months now, the Broadband Breakfast Club has brought key stakeholders together to share breakfast and perspectives on broadband technology and internet policy.

A wide range of industry players have discussed topics including: “Should Government Funding Be Part of a National Broadband Plan?”, “What Will Broadband Do to the Universal Service Fund?” and “The Role of Wireless Frequencies in Widespread Broadband Deployment.”

This new series builds on the table set by the previous discussions. The four-month series will drill in detail into the ramifications of the federal government’s leading broadband initiative.

The event will be moderated by Drew Clark, Editor and Executive Director of BroadbandCensus.com. Clark is a veteran telecom and technology journalist, and he founded BroadbandCensus.com in January 2008 as a means of providing the public with a free and objective resource of the wired and wireless local broadband carriers, grouped by ZIP code, by speed, by competition and by consumer satisfaction.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Karen Jackson, Office of Telework Promotion and Broadband Assistance, Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Betty Ann Kane, Chairman, D.C. Public Service Commission
  • Sue A. Suleski, Technology Investment Specialist and Program Manager for the Pennsylvania Broadband Initiative

(Ed. Note, 4/9/2009 – A variety of speakers from out of the Washington region had been invited, include Jane Patterson Smith of the e-NC Authority, but had conflicting appointments are are not able to attend.)

Telecommunications policy advocates, attorneys, policy-makers and journalists seeking to obtain insights from top officials in Washington can attend the Broadband Breakfast Club, which includes a full American and Continental breakfast, for as little as $45.00, plus a modest registration fee. The events are on the record and open to the public. Register here for the next breakfast event.

For individuals outside of Washington, or whose schedule doesn’t permit attendance in person, archived webcasts of the Broadband Breakfast Club are now available on the BroadbandCensus.com channel on TV Mainstream. One full year of online access to each premium webcast is available for $40.00.

Last week, BroadbandCensus.com launched BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report, a premium newsletter packed with only the most relevant and actionable news, analysis and insight into the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus. Subscriptions to BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report are available at the introductory offer of $95.00/month, or $950.00/year. Included within the purchase price is one year of complementary access to each monthly webcast of the Broadband Breakfast Club.

Individuals who register to attend the Broadband Breakfast Club in person will also receive a full year of complementary online access to the webcast, and a $20.00 discount off the subscription price of the BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report.

The registration page for the event is http://broadbandbreakfast.eventbrite.com.

Beginning at 8 a.m., an American plus Continental breakfast is available downstairs in the Cabinet Room. This is followed by a discussion, beginning shortly after 8:30 a.m. and ending before 10 a.m.

The November meeting, “Should Government Funding Be Part of a National Broadband Plan?” featured a discussion with Stan Fendley of Corning, Kyle McSlarrow of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and telecommunications consultant John Windhausen, Jr.

The December meeting, “How Applications and Broadband Mapping Harness Demand for High-Speed Internet,” featured Geoff Daily, a blogger for App-Rising.com; Susan Fox, a vice president at Walt Disney; Neal Neuberger, executive director of the Institute for e-Health Policy; and Alan Shark, executive director of the Public Technology Institute. Click here for access to this webcast.

The January meeting, “What Will Broadband Do to the Universal Service Fund,” included Jay Driscoll of CTIA – The Wireless Association; Gregory Rohde, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce under President Clinton and executive director of the the E-9-1-1 Institute; Jennifer Schneider, Office of Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Technology and the Internet; and Curt Stamp of the Independent Telephone and Telecommunications Alliance. Click here for access to this webcast.

The February meeting, “The Role of Wireless Frequencies in Widespread Broadband Deployment,” featured Donald C. Brittingham, Assistant Vice President, Wireless/Spectrum Policy, Verizon Communications; Tom DeRiggi, Rapid DSL & Wireless (a local wireless internet service provider); John Kneuer, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce, 2006-2007, John Kneuer Associates; John Muleta, CEO, M2Z Networks; and Steve B. Sharkey, Senior Director, Regulatory and Spectrum Policy, Motorola. Click here for access to this webcast.

The March meeting, “Broadband Competition: Do We Have It, and How Do We Get More of It?” featured Art Brodsky, Communication Director, Public Knowledge; Kathleen Ham, Vice President, Federal Regulatory, T-Mobile USA; Brent Olson, Assistant Vice President, Public Policy, AT&T; Emmett O’Keefe, Director, Federal Public Policy, Amazon.com; andScott Wallsten, Vice President for Research and Senior Fellow, Technology Policy Institute. Click here for access to this webcast.

Because of the limited size of the venue, seated attendance will be reserved the first 45 individuals to register.

The Broadband Breakfast Club: Spending the Broadband Stimulus, is sponsored by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and the Benton Foundation.

AT&T Lobbyist Says Telecom Company to Alter High-Speed Advertising

in Broadband Data by

By William G. Korver, Reporter, BroadbandCensus.com

July 22 – A senior AT&T lobbyist said that his company would alter the way that it advertises its high-speed internet tiers, and hinted that the telecommunication giant would soon move to usage-based billing.

Senior Vice President Robert Quinn made the comments on Monday at a Federal Communications Commission field hearing in Pittsburgh, Penn., during the second of two panels at a hearing on “The Broadband of Tomorrow.”

According to Quinn, beginning in October AT&T will no longer guarantee their Internet customers with speeds “up to” a subscribed amount. He said that AT&T cannot vouch for speeds over shared portions of the network beyond its control.

Quinn said AT&T “will take action either to bring the customer’s service within the ordered tier or give the customer an option to move to a different tier” if AT&T discovers it is “not providing service within the ordered speed tier.”

AT&T announced last month that the arrival of usage-based pricing is “inevitable.”

Quinn also said his company would “clearly identify” in customer contracts and disclosures “any limitations on the amount of usage that may apply to a customer’s service plan.”

After lamenting the cost of building internet pipes, Quinn stated that companies must be able to manage its network in order to lower the costs for end users.

Replying to a question from FCC Commissioner Michael Copps about network management, Quinn said that AT&T supports FCC policies, and that AT&T allows its customers to go anywhere and say anything on the Web.

Quinn ended his response to Copps by asking the FCC to give AT&T “all the tools in the toolbox” in order that the company may “stay ahead of the bandwidth curve.”

Scott Wallsten of Technology Policy Institute said that the figures of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on broadband incorrectly calculate the correct measure of broadband penetration because OECD ranks its connections on a per capita, rather than a per household basis.

Per capita rankings neglect the fact that households share a connection, said Wallsten. If the OECD were to alter its measurements to reflect connections per households, the U.S. would climb from 15th to somewhere between seventh and ninth, globally.

Wallsten also decried the OECD’s failure to count businesses using broadband in their rankings. According to Wallsten, the U.S. has the largest amount of uncounted businesses using broadband in the world.

Wallsten also cited a study by Nielsen to support his claim that the U.S. is not falling behind. That study found that U.S. citizens were the most “intense users of broadband,” out of 16 countries studied.

Wallsten did acknowledged that if Japan had been included in the study, the Japanese would likely have been ranked as more intense users than are Americans.

Wallsten urged U.S. broadband policy to focus on collecting more data, removing additional barriers of entry, focusing increased attention to the success and/or failure of state broadband programs, and extending broadband to low-income — rather than rural – areas.

After Commissioner Michael Copps reminded the audience that no one was “castigating” the methodology of the OECD in 2001 when the U.S. was ranked fourth, Wallsten replied that the FCC was “making policy on rankings and that’s it.”

Wallsten added that he believed more mapping and surveys would provide the FCC with data that could determine what policies are cost-efficient.

Warning of the potential dangers of the broadband “digital divide” were Rahul Tongia, senior systems scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, and Marge Krueger, administrative director for Communications Workers of America District 13.

Tongia said that while the cost of exclusion becomes increasingly higher, those that are among the “included,” or those that have broadband, attain an enormous competitive advantage.

The price of exclusion affects the individual as well as society as a whole, Tongia said. Just as insured Americans are adversely affected by the medical costs incurred by non-insured Americans, those with broadband will be harmed by those who continue to be without broadband.

Tongia said awareness, availability, accessibility, and affordability are the keys to expanding the deployment of broadband in America.

Krueger, meanwhile, appeared to back Wallsten’s statement that the FCC should focus on deployment of broadband to low-income citizens rather than rural areas when she noted that Americans with low-income are half as likely to be broadband subscribers.

Krueger also said average download speed in America is less than 2 megabytes, or 30 times slower than average speeds in Japan.

Rendall Harper, a board member of the organization Wireless Neighborhoods, also emphasized the need for low-income individuals to obtain broadband as a tool for better education. With better education and adequate training for post-secondary education, deaths, drug sales, addictions, and crimes shold fall in low-income areas, Harper said.

Rebecca Bagley, deputy secretary for technology investment of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, said the commonwealth hoped to deploy broadband in every part of the state by 2015. By the end of 2008, the majority of Pennsylvania should have broadband available, she said.

To other states and nations leery of investing money into broadband infrastructure because of the “who needs it” question, David Farber, an emeritus professor of Carnegie Mellon University, said that with broadband, if you build it people will come.

Farber also emphasized the importance of privacy protections, and said that peer-to-peer traffic is not inherently illegal. The amount of information that internet service providers can obtain about an individual through technologies known as “deep packet inspection” — and their sale to third parties – was “obscene,” he said.

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