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Randoph May

At Monday's Deadline, Industry, Advocacy Groups Weigh In on FCC Broadband Plan

in Broadband Stimulus/FCC/National Broadband Plan/NTIA by

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2009 – Industry representatives and advocacy groups of all stripes flooded the Federal Communications Commission’s inbox Monday with a wide-ranging array of comments on the scope and direction of the agency’s role in crafting a national broadband plan.

The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act passed in February charges the commission with providing a report to Congress on a national strategy by February 17, 2009. The deadline for interested parties to file comments with the commission was midnight on Monday.

Facilities-based competition, rather than regulation should factor heavily into the commission’s plans, Progress and Freedom Foundation President Ken Ferree and Senior Fellow Barbara Esbin wrote. Market forces and not regulation, should determine the level of openness and “network intermediary functionality” available on any network, they added.

“There is no evidence of broad market failure justifying regulatory intervention in the majority of broadband markets,” Ferree and Esbin said in a related statement. “Providers should have maximum flexibility to experiment with service offerings, rates, terms, and conditions to encourage competition.” The primary regulatory goal of the FCC should be to ensure Americans can access at least one broadband provider with “broadband capability,” they said –  especially in currently unserved areas.

Free State Foundation president Randolph May made a similar call for a light regulatory touch in a statement accompanying the organization’s comments. May cited Census Bureau statistics estimating private industry investment of $80 billion over the last year as evidence that the commission should not overreach and risk hurting the market. Broadband services are becoming both more affordable and more useful to consumers, May said: “Prices…have been declining, while speed has been steadily increasing.”

May dismissed outright the idea that municipalities should be able to operate their own broadband networks in the absence of private-sector investment. “These government entities do not have the expertise and experience required to build and operate modern broadband communications networks as efficiently and effectively as private sector companies,” he said.

Acting Chairman Michael Copps’ suggestion of adding a “fifth principle” to the commission’s Internet Policy Statement drew particular scorn from May, who called it “a return to old-fashioned common carrier regulation.”

But in a statement released Monday along with his organization’s comments, Free Press research director S. Derek Turner called for the commission to “chart a new direction for technology policy in this country.”

Commission policies should “promote robust broadband competition, guarantee strong net neutrality protections, and produce concrete data about the broadband market, he said.”

Turner stressed the need for a forward-looking policy: ‘”The [commission] must set a high bar for broadband,” he said. “Our digital future cannot rest on today’s slow, expensive standards.”  And any national plan must look beyond mere availability of service and focus on the value of broadband to consumers in the form of increased speed, Turner said.

Open Internet Coalition president Markham Erikson dismissed statements that the current broadband market is open or innovative as based in myth, not fact. “Most households,” said Erikson, “still do not have access to more than one truly high-speed solution.”

Assumptions that deregulation would result in more consumer choice “have not proven to be accurate, he said.” The commission should therefore promote policies to “affirmatively promote competition and innovation,” he said.

Industry groups and providers also made their views known in comments and statements. Comcast executive vice president David Cohen used a posting on the company’s blog to call for a massive consumer education campaign to encourage the 92 percent of Americans that Cohen says currently have access to services to make use of them. Efforts to build a government-subsidized network would be a “”counterproductive waste of money,” he wrote.

The commission’s “first priority” should be to increase deployment of broadband in underserved areas “so that every American has the opportunity to purchase services and equipment capable of providing high-speed Internet access”, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association said in its comments.

While NCTA called the $7.25 billion in funding provided by the Recovery Act a good start, it stressed the need for the commission to focus the national plan on improving the “business case” for investing in those unserved areas. To that end, the group suggested the commission take up the task of reforming the Universal Service Fund’s high-cost program.

Reaching underserved populations and areas through education and outreach should be the next priority in any national strategy, the NCTA comments said. Among the ways the commission can increase adoption is with policies promoting innovative and advanced technologies, including telehealth and distance learning. The association suggested such “demand-side” programs should be a “key part” of the national strategy going forward.

NEW VENUE Announced for Broadband Breakfast Club with Rep. Rick Boucher

in Broadband Calendar by

Sold-Out Crowd at May 12 Broadband Breakfast Club Prompted Move to New Venue, at Clyde’s of Gallery Place, for Discussion on ‘How Should ‘Unserved’ and ‘Underserved’ Areas Best Be Defined?’

Press Release

WASHINGTON, May 6, 2009 – Unprecedented demand to attend the Broadband Breakfast Club has caused BroadbandCensus.com to relocate the event, beginning at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, May 12, to Clyde’s of Gallery Place. Rep. Rick Boucher, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Communications Subcommittee, will speak at the event.

Boucher, who leads Congressional efforts to define and supervise the nation’s broadband policy – and its communication strategy for rural America – will lead off the discussion at the Broadband Breakfast Club with a speech at the Old Ebbitt Grill. The topic of the May 12 meeting is “How Should ‘Unserved’ and ‘Underserved’ Areas Best Be Defined?”

Registration for the breakfast event is available here. Breakfast is available beginning at 8 a.m.; the program will begin shortly after 8:30 a.m. Clyde’s of Gallery Place is located at 707 7th Street NW, Washington, DC. The event will take place in the Piedmont Room upstairs.

Other speakers at the May Broadband Breakfast Club, the second in a series on “Spending the Broadband Stimulus,” will consider one of the leading definition questions that remains to be defined by the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service: who is served by broadband, and who isn’t.

Other confirmed speakers include:

  • Randolph J. May, President, Free State Foundation
  • Jean Plymale, Virginia Tech eCorridors Program
  • James Bradford Ramsey, General Counsel, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners
  • S. Derek Turner, Research Director, Free Press

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, 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.

Individuals may elect to attend the Broadband Breakfast Club and subscribe to the BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report, a premium newsletter packed with the most relevant and actionable news, analysis and insight into the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus, for $100.00.

Introductory subscriptions to BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report are available at $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. Get Four Free Issues of the Weekly Report.

Individuals who register to attend the Broadband Breakfast Club in person will also receive a full year of complementary online access to the webcast.

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

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

Two additional sponsored tables are available. Contact Drew Clark, Executive Director, BroadbandCensus.com at 202-580-8196.

Rep. Rick Boucher, Chairman of the House Commerce Communications Subcommittee, at Broadband Breakfast Club

in Broadband Calendar by

Chairman Boucher Will Speak at May 12 Broadband Breakfast Club, on ‘How Should ‘Unserved’ and ‘Underserved’ Areas Best Be Defined?’

Press Release

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2009 – BroadbandCensus.com announced that Rep. Rick Boucher, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Communications Subcommittee, will speak at the Broadband Breakfast Club on Tuesday, May 12, 2009.

Boucher, who leads Congressional efforts to define and supervise the nation’s broadband policy – and its communication strategy for rural America – will lead off the discussion at the Broadband Breakfast Club with a speech at the Old Ebbitt Grill. The topic of the May 12 meeting is “How Should ‘Unserved’ and ‘Underserved’ Areas Best Be Defined?”

Registration for the breakfast event is available here. A full American + Continental Breakfast is available beginning at 8 a.m.; the program will begin shortly after 8:30 a.m.

Other speakers at the May Broadband Breakfast Club, the second in a series on “Spending the Broadband Stimulus,” will consider one of the leading definition questions that remains to be defined by the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service: who is served by broadband, and who isn’t.

Other confirmed speakers include:

  • Randolph J. May, President, Free State Foundation
  • Jean Plymale, Virginia Tech eCorridors Program
  • James Bradford Ramsey, General Counsel, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners
  • S. Derek Turner, Research Director, Free Press

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, 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.

Individuals may elect to attend the Broadband Breakfast Club and subscribe to the BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report, a premium newsletter packed with the most relevant and actionable news, analysis and insight into the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus, for $100.00.

Introductory subscriptions to BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report are available at $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. Get Four Free Issues of the Weekly Report.

Individuals who register to attend the Broadband Breakfast Club in person will also receive a full year of complementary online access to the webcast.

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

Previous meetings of the Broadband Breakfast Club have included:

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.

The April Meeting, “Spending the Stimulus: Can States’ Front-line Experiences Expedite Broadband Deployment?” included Karen Jackson, Office of Telework Promotion and Broadband Assistance, Commonwealth of Virginia; Betty Ann Kane, Chairman, D.C. Public Service Commission; Graham Richard, former Mayor, City of Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Sue A. Suleski, Technology Investment Specialist and Program Manager for the Pennsylvania Broadband Initiative.

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

Because of the limited size of the venue, seated attendance will be reserved the first 45 individuals to register. Two additional sponsored tables are available. Contact Drew Clark, Executive Director, BroadbandCensus.com at 202-580-8196.

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