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Next Broadband Breakfast Club Virtual Event – on FirstNet – to Take Place on Tuesday, October 15, at 11 a.m. ET

in Press Releases/Public Safety/Wireless by

WASHINGTON, September 25, 2013 – Following the successful launch of its first Broadband Breakfast Club virtual event, the company announced its second FREE webinar, to take place on Tuesday, October 15, at 11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CT. The event will feature a discussion on the topic of “How Will FirstNet Improve Public Safety Communications?”

REGISTER NOW for the Broadband Breakfast Club Virtual Event

FirstNet is an initiative designed to create, a nationwide interoperable public-safety wireless network. Under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, the FirstNet entity was created to shepherd this new public-private network into existence. One aspect of creating the network are the State and Local Grant Implementation Program, or the awards currently being announced by the NTIA. This webinar will consider the progress toward the development of this public safety network. BroadbandBreakfast.com Chairman and Publisher Drew Clark will moderate the discussion. Guests will announced prior to October 8.

REGISTER NOW for the Broadband Breakfast Club Virtual Event on Tuesday, October 15, 2013, at 11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CT.

Larry Strickling Cites Public Safety FirstNet As New, Post-Stimulus Broadband Opportunity

in Broadband Data/Broadband Stimulus/Broadband's Impact/NTIA/Wireless by

ARLINGTON, Va., May 25, 2012 – The new national wireless communications network to serve police, firefighters and other “first responders” may provide a new opportunity to extend broadband stimulus-related activity, a top Commerce Department official said Wednesday.

Dubbed FirstNet, this new public safety wireless network was mandated in February by Congress. Lawmakers allocated up to $7 billion that will be dispensed to state entities under the coordination of a new, independent organization at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

States should act fast to develop plans to utilize funding, said Assistant Secretary of Commerce Larry Strickling, who administers the NTIA. “One of the issues [in FirstNet] is how does coverage from this network get into rural areas?”

Strickling said that the new network provided the opportunity for public safety officials, particularly in rural areas that are unserved or underserved by broadband, to help bring high-speed internet connectivity to more remote parts of the country.

“In addition to reform of the Universal Service Fund of the Federal Communications Commission, and [additional funding from] the Rural Utilities Service, [FirstNet] is another tool in our toolkit” to ensure the continued viability of broadband stimulus-funded projects, said Strickling.

Strickling was the keynote speaker at a conference here co-hosted by the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition and his agency. The conference brought together broadband experts together with awardees from stimulus projects, including telecommunications infrastructure projects, mapping projects and projects designed to promote widespread computer adoption and digital literacy.

One focus of the conference was the issue of sustainability: NTIA-funded broadband infrastructure and adoption projects will come to an end by next year. Some stimulus awardees – including projects of interest to schools, hospitals and libraries – are concerned about their future viability.

Under the legislation passed by Congress, FirstNet funding will be dispensed by the NTIA. A governing board for the new entity is still in formation, and rules for the dispensing of the $7 billion by NTIA are currently under consideration, but must be in place by late August 2012.

Because of the landmark nature of the FirstNet legislation in February 2012, Strickling said that NTIA took the unusual act of suspending seven previously-awarded public safety-related grants under its Broadband Technologies Opportunity Program. Those programs totaled $382 million.

“The new legislation in February [changed] the assumption on which we are going to move forward,” he said, referring to a more decentralized series of public safety networks that had been the working assumption prior to February 2012.

“We really need to take the time and pause now” to consider how public safety broadband dollars should be spent, he said. “It is not my money, or your money, it is the taxpayer’s money, and we want it to be used in a way that the project, as it is built, will get incorporated into the FirstNet network.”

Those seven public safety projects will be granted extension on the time to finish their projects – although he insisted that no other awardees would be granted extensions. “Keep pushing on your projects,” he said.

Strickling’s agency was responsible for dispensing the lion’s share of the $7 billion broadband stimulus funds mandated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Additional funding under the Recovery Act was dispensed by Rural Utilities Service of the Department of Agriculture.

Keynoting the conference on Thursday was RUS Administrator Jonathan Adelstein, who praised broadband stimulus awardees as “the best and the brightest” in building broadband in rural areas.

“We know you can complete it to the end. We are counting on you, and your communities are counting on your success,” said Adelstein.

Referring to role of broadband programs within the USDA, Adelstein said, “We are betting the farm on broadband – and it is a safe bet.”

Spectrum Bill Recap: Now on to the Auction

in Spectrum/Wireless by

WASHINGTON March 8th, 2012 – Last month Congress passed one of the more important pieces of legislation regarding the future of wireless access and innovation in our country. The bi partisan legislation has already garnered support from many of the stakeholders and parties involved. Given that we have not covered this legislation up to date, we are now providing a summary of it.

On February 17th Congress passed the “Payroll Tax Bill”, formerly titled the Middle Class Tax Relief & Job Creation Act of 2012. While the primary focus of this bill is the payroll tax, there are three key provisions in it that are revolutionary for wireless networks in the United States. These provisions were inserted into the bill after the bi partisan wrangling over the payroll tax portion was over, as it became clear that it would pass.

In the first provision, the legislation authorizes an unprecedented release of spectrum through granting the Federal Communications Commission the authority to establish voluntary spectrum auctions for currently licensed, unassigned and government-owned spectrum. The second provision gives the FCC explicit authority to preserve unlicensed TV white spaces and to consolidate white space bands for unlicensed devices. The third provision creates a national interoperable public safety broadband network.

As a consequence of these provisions, there will be significant rectification of the national shortage of spectrum for broadband services. In order to achieve these goals, the legislation creates significant monetary incentives for spectrum rights holders and projects net profit of approximately $15 billion for the U.S. treasury.

Auctions

In the first part of the auction process the FCC has three years to auction off up to 65MHz of spectrum from a series unassigned or government- owned bands.

The second phase of the auction seeks to auction off portions of spectrum bands currently licensed by the TV broadcasters. The legislation gives the FCC the authority to hold incentive auctions where broadcasters would receive payment in return for voluntarily giving up portions of their spectrum allocation. Through a process called a reverse auction, the FCC will receive bids from broadcasters stating the amount that they would accept for giving up the rights to their spectrum. The reverse auction is designed to keep the broadcaster’s asking price low. The FCC will then take the relinquished spectrum and auction it off in regular auction proceeding.

The law asks the FCC to use all reasonable measures to preserve existing coverage for different stations and prevents them from moving stations from UHF to VHF bands and vice versa. Additionally, the legislation has set aside a one-time $1.75 billion dollar fund to cover reallocation costs for stations that have given up spectrum.

Congress did not restrict the FCC’s ability to enforce conditions of net neutrality on new wireless spectrum licenses, a provision that was part of an earlier version of the legislation. They did, however, prohibit the FCC from setting pre-conditions, aside from the basic qualifications for participating, in the auction process. The law does, nevertheless, give the FCC broad authority to craft auction rules in the public interest. The FCC can make “rules of general applicability, including rules concerning spectrum aggregation that promote competition.” Essentially, this will enable them to place caps on the amount of spectrum any one entity could win.

Preserving Unlicensed Spectrum Uses

Unlike prior versions of the bill, the final version gives the FCC explicit authority to preserve unlicensed TV white spaces. Additionally, the FCC can consolidate white space bands for unlicensed devices to promote the most optimal use and create nationwide guard bands between licenses in order to promote innovation and investment in new wireless services.

Public Safety

The Legislation lays out the plan to construct the nation’s first ever public safety broadband network. The bill creates the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) which will receive $7 billion in auction revenue and licenses to use the “D Block” as well as adjacent spectrum to build a national interoperable broadband network for public safety personnel.

Congress inserted an opt out clause in the public safety portion of the bill for states that demonstrate their own ability to build a public safety network and connect it to the national network. To ensure interoperability of these networks, the bill creates an FCC technical advisory board to come up with interoperability standards. States that choose to build their own public safety networks can apply for grants if they can show that the networks meet the FCC’s interoperability standards.

AT&T Announces LTE Launch

in Mobile Broadband/Public Safety/Spectrum/Wireless by

By: Jonathan Charnitski & Rahul Gaitonde

WASHINGTON May 25, 2011 – AT&T announced Wednesday that it will upgrade its HPSA+ network to Long Term Evolution (LTE) in five major markets starting this summer, representing the company’s first steps into adopting the standard on its nationwide network.

LTE networks represent upgraded technology from HSPA+ networks, allowing increases in speed capabilities.

The announcement came from AT&T’s chief technology officer, John Donovan, on the company’s blog, Innovation Space. Donovan noted that LTE will come to Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta and San Antonio as well as an additional 10 markets by the end of 2011. AT&T anticipates the entire LTE network will cover 70 million people.

AT&T has rushed to keep up with competitor, Verizon, after the latter announced its launch of LTE networks in 38 U.S. metropolitan areas last December. Currently, the service is available in 55 metropolitan areas on Verizon’s network. Regional mobile provider MetroPCS launched its LTE network last September and has already expanded its network to include 14 metropolitan areas.

Additionally, with the adoption of LTE as the standard for U.S. public safety networks and many foreign nations, LTE technology is quickly becoming a preferred choice globally for fourth-generation mobile deployment.

“We’ve invested $75 billion in our wireless and wired networks over the last four years,” wrote Donovan in the blog post. “And we plan to invest $19 billion in our wireless and wireline networks and other capital projects this year.”

Sprint Releases 35Mhz of Spectrum

in Public Safety/Spectrum by

WASHINGTON, July 22, 2010 –Sprint has announced that it has successfully completed a technological overhaul that frees up 35 MHz of spectrum for general usage. The overhaul was undertaken pursuant to the Federal Government’s goal of freeing up additional spectrum, given the general scarcity of the resource, a fact which Sprint spokespeople acknowledged.

“Sprint’s completion of the BAS spectrum transition marks an important step toward President Obama’s goal of freeing 500 MHz of additional wireless broadband spectrum,” said Michael B. Degitz, vice president, Spectrum Management for Sprint. “This newly cleared spectrum has the potential to be used to create jobs, to enhance the nation’s and the telecommunications industry’s economic competiveness and to increase productivity. Sprint is pleased that it has been able to support this essential element of the President’s technology agenda and the National Broadband Plan.”

The spectrum was dislodged via a massive process of technological renovation in microwaves and electronic newsgathering equipment, with over 100,000 parts replaced by over 1,000 engineers. According to a spokesman for the Society of Broadcast Engineers, the success of the program was largely due to extensive cooperation between Spring and their organization.

The Society of Broadcast Engineers’ national network of volunteer frequency coordinators, with unique and valuable BAS information, was a key factor in Sprint’s facilitation of an effective transition to a new, efficient digital platform for stations to provide vital news and information to the public,” said Vinny Lopez, national president of the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE). “The Society’s partnership with Sprint in this effort is a great example of how all broadcast engineers serve and support our industry and make technology work for business, government and broadcasting.”

Sprint began the BAS spectrum transition project following a 2004 FCC decision to resolve ongoing interference between public safety and commercial operations in the 800 MHz band, a previously in-demand area of spectrum.

Sprint’s financial and spectrum contributions to the FCC’s 800 MHz Reconfiguration Plan included retuning BAS incumbents to a new, more efficient band plan, thus clearing the 1990-1995 MHz spectrum block for Sprint and the 1995 -2025 MHz block for mobile satellite and future broadband services.

An Organized Broadband System at the State Level

in Broadband Stimulus/Expert Opinion/National Broadband Plan/Wireless by

WASHINGTON, April 8, 2010 – The elements of an organized broadband system at the state level will vary depending upon geographic and economic characteristics. Urban and more populous areas will require middle-mile infrastructure to serve larger institutions, while existing last mile coverage may be adequate. Secondary and rural markets may require less extensive institutional capacity, while last mile coverage remains unacceptable.

The Federal BTOP and BIP funding programs, the FCC’s National Broadband Plan and numerous state programs confirm that demand exists for enhanced broadband in the overall areas of government, public safety, education, health care and business. This organic process is truly evolving, and much is being learned in the process of achieving the ongoing objective of adequate broadband capacity. Part of the challenge is to ultimately establish an “Organized System” which will address the disparate factions involved in this process. If the NBP’s goal of reaching a first-generation network is to be realized, much is to be accomplished.

Statewide Institutions for Implementing Broadband Plans

Round Two of the BTOP and BIP programs has made a clear distinction between middle-mile and last-mile. Irrespective of the motivation behind this distinction, it illustrates the fact that many institutional users consistently require large amounts of bandwidth, which are often delivered via proprietary networks.

In virtually every state the largest single user is the state itself. Most have an existing Department of Internet Technology, or other agency responsible for overseeing and administering the state’s IT requirements. Issues in terms of broadband include:

  • A network adequate to connect required state facilities, including government buildings, police, fire, and other essential governmental services.
  • Whether the network is owned or leased, long-term agreements to purchase bandwidth must be negotiated and entered into.
  • A facility adequate to accommodate required data storage, continuity of services and disaster recovery.

The challenge facing many states is to extend the state network to reach essential facilities in rural areas. Such areas are less cost effective to serve by fiber, particularly in the near term. Other technologies, including microwave and satellite may be required to provide adequate bandwidth within a reasonable timeframe.

The demand for bandwidth in education is expanding exponentially. There clearly exists a correlation between schools with adequate broadband capability and those without, in terms of academic performance. Universities, colleges, community colleges, high schools and elementary schools all have broadband requirements.

As with the states, educational institutions have network, purchasing and data storage needs. Also with respect to education, libraries have their own unique requirements. Libraries will continue to be the source of important educational and other vital information. These institutions clearly a require increased broadband capacity as well as improved Internet access facilities for end users.

Health care facilities also have extensive broadband requirements. “Telehealth” involves the use of medical information exchanged from one community to another via electronic communications to improve patients’ health status.

A statewide proprietary network is required, which interconnects hospitals and other health care facilities. The bandwidth requirements are significant, particularly with the condition that all health care records be digital by 2015. Unique data center services are also required to manage such a network.

Naturally, the business community will continue to have broadband requirements. Although funded privately, the state must ensure that adequate bandwidth is accessible, and that a broadband-friendly environment exists.

Last-Mile Requirements

Unfortunately, the last-mile or end user component has been somewhat overlooked thus far in the broadband stimulus process. Relegated to the BIP program, there is currently less federal money available to extend access in rural and underserved areas. In spite of the real potential for wireless broadband, such as WiMAX, the vast majority of last-mile funding went to telephone companies. This situation is ironic in that the original primary purpose behind the stimulus programs was to increase the percentage of homes with adequate access to broadband capacity.

As with institutional users, the state clearly has a responsibility to address unacceptable last-mile levels, particularly in rural areas. The dynamics of providing service to these areas is dependent upon there being a middle-mile component in place to supply last-mile providers.

While middle-mile fiber is being deployed by some successful Round One telephone companies, the challenge is often providing middle-mile to more remote locations. If fiber cannot supply this connection, other technologies such as microwave and satellite may be required. With over 2,000 wireless broadband providers nationwide, WISPs should provide an integral link in providing adequate last-mile connectivity.

The Parties at the Broadband Table

Achieving an organized broadband system requires the consideration of a number of parties. Among these are State government, state-created entities, non-profit advocacy groups, trade associations, institutions, bandwidth suppliers and contractors. Existing initiatives and alliances have been created, which should comprise the foundation for an organized system. Notwithstanding, disparate agendas often exist, which may impede this overall process.

The state is at the forefront, with its demand, oversight and funding resources. States have differing structures in place, with responsibilities and control often spread over various agencies. Direction must ultimately come from governors to ensure that an organized system is in place internally. The state will have existing contracts with bandwidth providers and contractors as required. Naturally, the these parties will want to protect such arrangements.

Most states have created and funded one or more entities to foster broadband capacity. Some of these groups are virtually ineffectual, yet others literally oversee all broadband activity in the state, while reporting to the Governor. Their responsibilities may include preparation of state RFPs as well as applications for state and Federal funding. Such entities are usually non-profit, and ostensibly independent in nature.

The aforementioned institutions will also have existing vendors, which want to be protected. An institution’s overall objective should be to meet its individual requirements, while participating in an overall organized broadband system that is advantageous to the institution, the system and the state.

Broadband Challenges Ahead

It is becoming clear that enhanced broadband capacity will reap numerous economic and educational advantages at the state level. Naturally, a major hurdle involves adequate funding. Federal broadband stimulus money allocated to date will stimulate the overall process, however, additional financial resources will be required.

The national broadband plan has initially requested $25 billion in new funding. While procedures for requesting this money have yet to be established, it is important for states to prepare for this process. In order to obtain funding at the state level it is essential that lawmakers become more aware of the benefits of enhanced broadband. States that have existing funding programs will no doubt stand a greater chance of being awarded funding under the plan.

Leadership, organization and cooperation are the keywords in establishing an organized statewide broadband system. A focused structure with clear objectives, lines of responsibility and accountability will be required. Regular communication among the agencies and other parties involved is paramount.

While successful vendors should be rewarded, others should be included to promote competition within the state. States that aggressively pursue enhanced broadband capabilities at this juncture will achieve near-term objectives, while laying the foundation for important future technological developments.

Jeff Eden has 23 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, and is available for consultation with regard to the broadband stimulus process at: jeff@edenbroadband.com

FCC Readies Plan to Bring Affordable Broadband to 100 Million Homes, Dubs Plan ‘Connecting America’

in Broadband Stimulus/FCC/National Broadband Plan/Universal Service/Wireless by

WASHINGTON, March 15, 2010 – The Federal Communications Commission will present its congressionally mandated plan to bring high-speed internet access throughout the United States to lawmakers tomorrow, outlining six long-term goals and detailing its views on better ways to encourage broadband competition, free up available spectrum and modernize health care, among other things.

The agency hopes that its 360-page document will help bring affordable broadband to at least 100 million U.S. homes, which would enjoy download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and uploads speeds of at least 50 mbps.

It also strives to make the United States a leader in mobile innovation “with the fastest and most extensive wireless networks of any nation,” according to the “Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan” document.

Under the plan, every American community would have access to at least 1 gigabit per second broadband service at institutions like schools and hospitals. Additionally, first responders would be able to access a national, wireless public safety network if the plan’s recommendations were implemented.

It also pushes for each American to be able to use broadband to track and manage their energy consumption.

FCC officials reiterated in a Monday press briefing for reporters that the plan’s goals are a directional compass that will constantly be evaluated.

The officials said they expect that within the next few years most people will access broadband services via mobile devices, and their plan reflects that.

The plan calls for making 500 megahertz of spectrum newly available for broadband within 10 years, of which 300 megahertz should be made available for mobile use within five years. In some cases spectrum could be reallocated or the FCC could change technical rules that would free it up, FCC officials said Monday.

The vast majority of the plan does not require government funding, but its ideas “seek to drive improvements in government efficiency, streamline processes and encourage private activity to promote consumer welfare and national priorities,” the plan reads.

The funds that are requested relate to public safety, deployment to unserved areas and broadband adoption efforts.

The plan argues that if the spectrum auction recommendations are implemented, the plan is likely to offset the potential costs.

The plan also calls for shifting up to $15.5 billion over the next decade from the existing Universal Service Fund to support broadband, and says that if Congress wants to accelerate broadband deployment to unserved areas, “it could make available public funds of a few billion dollars per year over two to three years.”

Officials declined to put a price tag on how much an implemented plan might cost.

The agency also seeks to expand the Lifeline and Link-up programs for bringing telephone service to low-income Americans to include broadband, and to launch a Digital Literacy Corps to organize and train youth and adults to teach digital literacy skills.

Officials also said the don’t see the plan as a major call for reform of telecommunications law, but lawmakers could consider a privacy act to encourage consumers that their privacy when using broadband would be protected.

The plan also reaches out to many other agencies and departments. For example, it recommends that Congress and the secretary of Health and Human Services consider developing a strategy that documents the proven value of electronic care, or e-care, technologies.

An executive summary of the plan is available on the FCC’s web site, http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-296858A1.pdf

FCC Releases First Draft of National Broadband Plan After Weighing Record

in National Broadband Plan/Premium Content/Universal Service/Wireless by

WASHINGTON, December 17, 2009 – The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday laid out a rough draft of its national broadband plan after weighing through 66,000 pages of written comments, 27 public notices, 100 items posted on its “blogband” web site, and 700 blog comment posted to the record.

But the agency says it is still difficult to answer key questions that must be addressed within two months time, or by February 17, 2010.

In November, the Commission identified gaps in broadband infrastructure deployment and adoption, and identified shortfalls in adoption and spectrum. This month the FCC laid out the policy framework to help us address the key broadband gaps.

Omnibus Broadband Initiative Executive Director Blair Levin kicked off the meeting by acknowledging the objectives of (1) understanding the principles on how to develop policy and (2) reviewing the policy framework by going through the principles that the policies should be based on.

Levin followed up by stating that the national purposes of the plan will be laid out in the January meeting.

Levin said he wanted to focus on the plan and the situation in America. Other countries have created their own plans but their infrastructures and needs differ in many ways.

He outlined what he called “Principles for Policy Choices”:

  • Private sector investment
  • Competition drives innovation and better choices for consumers
  • Better utilization of existing assets is required (Universal Service Fund, Spectrum, Rights of Way)
  • Policy changes must consider unintended consequences
  • New laws necessary in certain cases, but should be limited

Erik Garr, general manager of broadband initiative, told the audience that there will be no recommendations made, and that the meeting will simply be a discussion on the merits to determine if the ideas are good or not.

Garr introduced the broadband ecosystem as a function of networks , devices, application and content as well as adoption and utility. He then let his fellow bureau chiefs and panelists explain the guideline principle details and frameworks surrounding all of the issues.

In the following sections included as Premium Content, BroadbandBreakfast.com details the Universal Service Fund framework, infrastructure issues, spectrum policy, broadband adoption and utilization, and public safety issues for consideration in the national broadband plan. Premium Content below = 1,386 words.

[Private_Free Trial][Private_Premium Content]

Universal Service Fund Framework

Short and medium term action to improve the performance of the current system include cutting inefficient spending in the high cost fund, removing barriers to E-Rate funded connections in schools and libraries, enabling school and libraries with dial-up to migrate towards broadband, and extending the deadline for the Rural Health Care Pilot Program and providing more administrative support to help the participants through the process. Long term transformations focused on shifting the support for broadband services; transforming the High Cost Fund to support specific broadband goals; integrating lifeline with other programs to promote adoption and digital literacy; permitting low income households to use Lifeline support for broadband; and design a new health program to expand affordable broadband connectivity

Infrastructure Principles and Framework

In order to promote additional infrastructure development the plan must include, required partnerships between state federal and local entities to create uniform rental rates for pole attachments and easier access to poles ducts, conduits and rights of way. Additionally, they must include timely and predictable dispute resolution strategies, creative opportunities to coordinate with other agencies and “dig once” for installing infrastructure.

Spectrum Policy Principles and Long Term Planning

To address the spectrum gap, there are three potential paths, said agency officials: find more productive uses of existing bands; make more bandwidth available for broadband services; and develop and deploy technologies to support such uses.

The FCC believes they should pursue all three simultaneously. In order to create more productive uses of existing bands the Commission can provide better transparency and incentives to encourage incumbents to use existing allocations more effectively by:

  • using assessment tools to document and expose current license usage information;
  • performing a periodic spectrum review based on a list of factors created by the FCC and the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration with respect to specific bands;
  • utilizing spectrum fees and band clearing auctions to drive more effective market allocation; and
  • creating incentives for more efficient use of government owned spectrum.

In making more bandwidth available, the agency would like to consider: identifying new spectrum for licensed and unlicensed use including white spaces, resolve pending spectrum allocation use issues and exploring various proposals that have been submitted, including access to broadcast spectrum while maintaining over-the-air television, access to federal spectrum in conjunction with the NTIA and use of terrestrial operations in mobile satellite spectrum.

Historically, unlicensed spectrum has been home for many innovators. The agency listed a number of ways to require space and development of unlicensed spectrum to promote new devices and applications

The FCC’s Bill Lake introduced the section on TV settop boxes. He began by stating that the “TV is growing up and becoming an internet access device, as well as a place to watch broadcasters and content delivered by other video providers. If we can encourage that trend, the TV which is found in 99 percent of those homes can help to pull broadband into more homes as more applications evolve that take advantage of the converged capabilities.”

This process however would move faster if there was a competitive market for set-top boxes. CableCards have not been working, and cannot produce devices that can be ported if a consumer switches to another video provider. An alternative solution would be to mandate a home gateway device that will be required for all video programmers.

The FCC’s Brian David, addressed the issue of transparency through the consumer information gap and the need to encourage consumer choice. There is a 50 percent gap between advertised and actual speed. Service providers only attribute to part this problem while other issues develop in other parts of the network. In order to provide consumers with better information about actual performance of different services to incent competition and improved performance.

The commission should consider: measurement systems which allow consumers to see differences between average and advertised speeds, ratings systems so consumers or property owners can see relative performance of broadband in their facility, and a clearinghouse of broadband data that is searchable and open to direct consumer feedback.

Commissioner Michael Copps particularly applauded the work that the FCC has done in working with tribal lands. Deployment and adoption lags the U.S. average. First options to consider is how to improve data collection for the tribes, second, whether the plan can cost effectively solve more than one problem by finding ways to deploy fiber to anchor institutions in tribal lands, and finally the plan should consider creation of tribal federal broadband working group to address the tribal specific issues.

Adoption and Utilization

David continued by stating that policies should further local existing efforts for adoption and utilization but bring federal support efforts to the table. He also noted that the private sector also has a stake in increasing adoption. On a similar note accessibility is also a major issue.

There are over 54 million disabled Americans have some accessibility issue. Of these, 42 percent of them have adopted broadband but those with disabilities have unique barriers in terms of cost an usability. Brian continued that the plan should therefore: focus on built in accessibility and interoperability in devices, promote accessible web content and captioning, and promote best practices in training and customer support for dealing with consumers with disabilities.

Public Safety National Purpose

The one national purpose that the Commission addressed in more detail was Public Safety. The FCC’s Jennifer Manner stated that, in developing the plan surrounding public safety, the agency has been driven by three main goals.

First, it wants to improve first responder access to broadband communications; second, it wants to leverage broadband communications to improve pub safety communications; and third, it wants to ensure broadband networks are sound and secure. These goals will be used to create interoperable broadband public safety networks, next generation emergency 911 dialing, next generation alerting, protecting critical infrastructure and address other emergency preparedness issues.

Questions From the Commissioners

Once the broadband team finished their presentation most of the Commissioners withheld their questions. But not Commissioner Copps. He started off by asking the panel to elaborate on the mechanisms for monitoring the plan and implementing the plan.

Levin answered that other countries that have implements broadband plans have developed an ongoing process and there should be institutional policies in place to follow up and analyze the development of the plan. The process should not end when present the plan is presented.

Copps followed up with a question about an independent foundation to focus on adoption. Brian David noted that the idea behind such a foundation would be to create a non-profit foundation tasked with focusing on a minimum of broadband adoption. Whichever way it is created, its mandate would support local efforts with best practice toolkits, intelligence gathering and being a conduit for resources through public private partnership to be most effectively managed.

Chairman Julius Genachowski warned the attendees that while at some point the process feels like Blair Levin might be channeling Bill Murry in “Groundhog Day”: there is a point where all the information comes together and the team can then process all of the information they have been hearing over and over again and place it to good use.

Genachowski followed with Erik Garr’s comment that in crafting a plan we must be aspirational and practical in how we achieve them – aspirational because opportunities for the country could be immense, and practical because there are a number of hard truths that come with implementing such a plan.

Genachowski ended his remarks by focusing on the need to redirect USF to bring broadband services to all; and that to fully achieve a transformation of the USF, the agency must tackle contribution to the fund in a smart way.

Second, he commended the planning team on their work in the mobile broadband area and reminded the audience about the powerful evidence that the demand for mobile broadband spectrum will overcome supply if we do not come up with “more bandwidth for broadband.”

Finally, he lauded the cable industry for their introduction of their adoption plus program that would provide digital literacy discounted services and devices for children without access. Genachowski then also mentioned the bill, by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., to extend broadband on a pilot basis. He asked that all broadband providers take the initiative to “design affordable new offerings for low income households.”[/Private_Free Trial][/Private_Premium Content]

Baller: McCain and Obama Should Issue Joint Statement on Broadband

in FCC/National Broadband Plan by

William G. Korver, Reporter, BroadbandCensus.com

WASHINGTON, June 23 – Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama should issue a statement underscoring the consensus between Republicans and Democrats on the importance of broadband in the United States, said the organizer of capitol hill forum on Monday afternoon entitled “Broadband Revolution.”

Speaking at the event, which was sponsored by the New America Foundation, attorney Jim Baller said that a joint statement from the presumptive presidential nominees of the two major political parties would illustrate that the federal government is seriously reevaluating its current broadband policy – no matter who assumes the White House on January 21, 2009.

Both McCain, the Republican Senator from Arizona, and Obama, the Democratic senator from Illinois, have solid solutions to improve the current broadband situation in the U.S., said Baller, of the Baller Herbst Law Group. Baller represents municipalities that seek to offer broadband as an alternative to incumbent telecommunications and cable companies. He has also promoted the notion of a national broadband strategy.

Also speaking at the event were Federal Communications Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, both Democrats. About 75 people attended the event in the 9th floor of the Hart Senate Office Building. The event had originally been scheduled for another, smaller location, but moved because of high demand.

Copps, who served in the Clinton adminstration and was a long-time aide to Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings, D-S.C., said that a new administration and a more active Congress should rejuvenate what he described as a “stagnant” atmosphere around a national broadband policy and universal broadband service.

Copps said that the U.S. must cease to debate whether broadband topics are liberal or conservative; regulatory or deregulatory. Such questions are “foolishness” in the extreme, Copps said. He said that the U.S. should not settle for being 12th or 15th in global broadband penetration.

Only with more federal assistance to states can broadband become universal and the U.S. become the “unquestioned leader of broadband,” said Adelstein, a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.

He said that there have been stacks of reports involving a national broadband policy, yet he decried the lack of leadership to implement the strategies.

Both Copps and Adelstein criticized the state of American broadband: broadband costs that are four times those of Japan at only one-tenth of the speeds available in the country.

Both also said that the FCC should “guarantee the openness of the Internet,” a reference to their support for Net Neutrality policies, or those that would require Bell and cable companies not to differentiate in the prices that they charge businesses for similar services.

Adelstein also called for more public education on broadband, targeted subsidies for remote areas, and an increase in spectrum devoted to bolstering competitie wireless entrants. He was particularly interested in promoting a third entrant in competition with cable and Bell companies.

Jane Smith Patterson, executive director for North Carolina’s e-NC Authority, agreed that efforts to make broadband universally availability will require federal, and not just state action.

Patterson said that, through the work of e-NC and its volunteers, 82 percent of North Carolina households are now capable of receiving a high-speed Internet connections.

Patterson said that e-NC is now calling on the state of North Carolina to participate in a “second revolution” of high-speed internet, with the goal of increasing the speed of connection.

Baller said that the average “high-speed” service in the U.S. ranged between one and nine megabits per second (8 Mbps), versus countries in Europe and Asia that now average 100 Mbps, and that aim to reach one gigabit (1 Gbps) within the next few years.

The U.S. cannot afford to continue to build schools complete with inadequate broadband services, Baller said. Yet he said that 98 percent of North Carolina schools have “the wrong kind” of broadband: one that is already obsolete.

If the cause of universal broadband is not taken up by political leaders and everyday individuals, the speakers said that the economy, education, health care, the environment and public safety will be adversely effected.

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