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Empiris Joins Multitude of Industry Groups in Anti-Berkman Chorus

in National Broadband Plan/Net Neutrality by

WASHINGTON, November 17, 2009 – The consulting firm Empiris LLC joined a host of cable and phone broadband network related entities on Tuesday when it slammed a recent study from Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society on broadband policy.

In July the Federal Communications Commission commissioned the Berkman Center to review the existing literature and studies on broadband deployment and usage throughout the world to inform the FCC’s development of a National Broadband Plan. The FCC sought public comment on the study through November 16.

Empiris held a teleconference with bloggers Tuesday to discuss its problems with the report. Empiris argues the study failed to provide an accurate summary of broadband policies in other countries and advances “conclusions that conflict with the evidence found in existing research.”

“The central question for developing broadband services and the infrastructure required to deliver them is how to provide the requisite incentives for carrier investment in such infrastructure,” noted Robert Crandall, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute and a senior expert for Empiris, in a statement. “The Berkman Study ignores this issue, focusing instead on a policy of intra-platform competition that has been thoroughly discredited in the United States,” he said.

Crandall added in the teleconference that the study does not address what policies would induce the deployment of fiber. The economist Everett Erlich said the idea of unbundling presented in the study not only won’t encourage a universally available broadband network but it “takes us down a very slippery slope.”

The Berkman research found that “open access” policies—unbundling, bitstream access, collocation requirements, wholesaling, and/or functional separation—are almost universally understood as having played a core role in the first generation transition to broadband in most of the high performing countries; that they now play a core role in planning for the next generation transition; and that the positive impact of such policies is strongly supported by the evidence of the first generation broadband transition.”

The report said “open access policies in other countries have sought to increase levels of competition by lowering entry barriers; they aim to use regulation of telecommunications inputs to improve the efficiency of competition in the consumer market in broadband.”

Empiris joins a chorus of groups that are speaking out against the study. Last week, Technology President and Senior Fellow Thomas Lenard called the report “incomplete and not objective” in comments he filed (PDF) with the FCC.

These comments “demonstrate that the study is limited in the literature it reviews and that some of the best economic research in this area reaches conclusions at variance with Berkman’s claims,” said Lenard. He argued that “even if the open access policies recommended by the study were effective (and the evidence suggests they are not), by the time they were implemented we would have little need for them.” Lenard said the study fails to discuss any of the analysis undertaken of the U.S. experience with unbundling requirements under the 1996 Telecom Act.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association said in comments it filed with the FCC that the report “is an advocacy piece, not the work of dispassionate scholarship that the commission requested.” Other critics of the study include the U.S. Telecom Association, former Progress & Freedom Foundation senior fellow Bret Swanson, Digital Society Policy Director George Ou, PFF President Adam Thierer, and Link Hoewing of Verizon.

In support of the study, Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press, said, “This is the most comprehensive presentation of international broadband data available today, and it should put to rest any doubts that the United States is falling far behind the rest of the developed world in broadband performance.”

Scott also opted to tie the report’s findings in with the debate about whether the FCC should move forward with so-called Net neutrality rules to regulate Internet access.

“Furthermore, this study makes clear that Net Neutrality is a very moderate proposal compared to other policy prescriptions that have boosted competition in broadband markets abroad. The FCC should consider all of these policy options. In the short term, Net Neutrality is the minimum needed to protect competition in speech and commerce on the Internet and to help put our faltering policy back on track,” said Scott in a statement.

Reporter-Researcher Eli Evans contributed to this article.

The Week in Review: Whither Transparency?

in Broadband Data/Broadband Stimulus/FCC/National Broadband Plan/NTIA/Premium Content by

From BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report

WASHINGTON, August 3, 2009 – Less than two weeks remain before the first round of applications are due in the federal government’s broadband stimulus grants. The key issues facing the government can be summed up in three words: data, data and data.

Last week began a three-ring affair to sort out the mess that is the current state of our nation’s broadband data. In one circle is the Federal Communications Commission, which opened an inquiry concerning how it should release the key data that it has about broadband deployment – the Form 477. Specifically, the FCC was asking what it means to “aggregate” data, and whether and how confidentiality restrictions should condition its further release of this data. Initial responses were due last Thursday. Many major carrier and non-profit groups have replied.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration was also buzzing last week on the very same topic. In remarks at a Charlottesville, Va., workshop reported on by BroadbandCensus.com, NTIA chief Lawrence Strickling dusted off a lamp and let the data genie out of the bottle. “We need the data: I think it is a national imperative in which this data be collected,” Strickling said about the $350 million program to collect broadband data through the states.
[more...]

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New Updates to the BroadbandCensus.com List of NTIA Comments

in Broadband Stimulus/NTIA/NTIA Comments by

WASHINGTON, June 7, 2009 – The BroadbandCensus.com List of NTIA Comments has been updated to include summaries of additional comments filed with the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Check back to this page frequently to view additional summaries of the substantive comments filed before the NTIA. The comments are summarized by the staff of BroadbandCensus.com.

If you have a question about, or suggestion for, the BroadbandCensus.com List of NTIA Comments, please e-mail Cody Williams, Business Development Manager, BroadbandCensus.com, williams@broadbandcensus.com

Comments updated on the Broadband Census.com List of Comments

  • AT&T
  • Atkins Telephone
  • ATSI
  • Barling Bay
  • Benton Foundation
  • Big Think Strategies
  • Boston
  • Bresnan Communications
  • Broadband Development Corporation
  • Broadband Diversity Supporters
  • Broadpoint
  • Center for Democracy and Technology
  • Cheetah Wireless
  • Chicago
  • Cisco
  • Community Connect Network
  • Connected Nation
  • US Cellular
  • US Telecom Association
  • Utopian Wireless

BroadbandCensus.com Executive Director Drew Clark to Moderate Panel on 'New England and Broadband Recovery Act'

in Broadband Calendar by

Panel Will Consider the State of Play for NTIA and RUS Grant-Making Process

WASHINGTON, April 3, 2009 – BroadbandCensus.com Executive Director Drew Clark will participate in a webcast on “New England and the Broadband Recovery Act,” hosted in Boston and available online over the Internet, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET on Friday, April 3, 2009.

The event, which is sponsored by the National League of Cities TV in cooperation with Atlantic-ACM, MassNetComms and & TV Worldwide, will kick off with special remarks from Rhode Island Treasurer Frank Caprio and feature three panels: (1) the role of the 20 percent match in leveraging fiscal stimulus funding; (2) how to bring super-fast 100 Megabit per second connections to New England by 2012; and (3) what’s the state of play of broadband stimulus implementation?

New England the Broadband Recovery Act Conference

New England the Broadband Recovery Act Conference

Clark will be moderating the third panel, on the role of broadband stimulus, with panelists Fred Goldstein, of Ionary Consulting; Stuart N. Brotman, President, Stuart N. Brotman Communications; Jon Banks, Senior Vice President, Law and Policy, US Telecom; and David Broadwin, Partner, Emerging Enterprise Center, Foley Hoag LLP.

BroadbandCensus.com is a premium provider of news, information and events about broadband technology, and is at the forefront of understanding and explaining the implementation of the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus package on the federal, state and local level. It publishes free daily news reports and BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report, a subscription-based newsletter with exclusive news and analysis.

Since January 2008, BroadbandCensus.com has been building a public, transparent and freely accessible database about local broadband speeds, prices, availability, reliability and competition. You can help us fill the broadband data gap by Taking the Broadband Census.

BroadbandCensus.com is also host of the Broadband Breakfast Club, an on-the-record discussion forum that meets at the Old Ebbitt Grill on the second Tuesday of each month, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Registration is available at http://broadbandbreakfast.eventbrite.com. Webcasts of previous Broadband Breakfast Club events available for purchase at http://www.tvmainstream.com/series/bbclub.

Webcasts of the Broadband Breakfast Club are produced in partnership with TV Worldwide/TV Mainstream, a partner of BroadbandCensus.com.

Program of “New England and the Broadband Recovery Act”

What’s in it for New England

Watch live as our panelists discuss implementation of the Broadband stimulus provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, what’s in it for New England and how to access the funds. Panels will cover the availability of private funding to compliment broadband grants, New England broadband projects that are being discussed and what funds can be used for, and key implementation issues. Viewers are encouraged to submit questions during the webcast using the link provided under the video window.

With Special Remarks from Frank Caprio, Treasurer, Office of the General Treasurer State of Rhode Island

Panel 1: 20% and Beyond: How to leverage a $2 Million Grant into a $10 Million Project
The Broadband Stimulus requires that the Federal share of NTIA funds may not exceed 80%. How can companies and governments fund the remaining 20%? Are there opportunities to finance a bigger piece in order to further leverage stimulus dollars?

  • Martin L. Stern, K&L Gates, Moderator
  • Richard Lukaj, Bank Street Group, Senior Managing Director / Founder

Panel 2: 100Mbs by 2012: Delivering the Dollars
What New England broadband projects are models for the Recovery Act? What can funding be used for? Who do you work with in the states, and how important is their support? Can private companies go it alone, or will working through a consortia or public-private partnership be a key element to a successful proposal?

  • E. Barlow Keener, Keener Law Group, Moderator
  • Brough Turner, CTO/Founder Natural Micro Systems
  • John Reynolds, Partner, Stratum Broadband
    Fanny Mlinarsky, Principal, Octoscope
  • Tom Steel, Vice President Regulatory Affairs, RCN

Panel 3: Broadband Stimulus Implementation: What’s the State of Play?
NTIA and RUS have held a series of public meetings and are receiving comments on various implementation issues, such as private entity eligibility; the definitions of broadband, unserved, and underserved; selection criteria; and the role of the states. The FCC will be consulting with NTIA on the definition of non-discrimination and open access. What do we know so far about these issues, timing of grants, grant sizes, and other key implementation questions?

  • Drew Clark, Broadband Census, Executive Director, Moderator
  • Jon Banks, Senior Vice President, Law and Policy, US Telecom
  • David Broadwin, Partner, Emerging Enterprise Center, Foley Hoag LLP
  • Stuart N. Brotman, President, Stuart N. Brotman Communications
  • Fred Goldstein, Ionary Consulting

The webcast is availble for public sector employees, including members of the National League of Cities. For private sector employees seeking to participate, the registration charge is $75.00. Register for the event at http://www.nlctv.org/events/broadband_recovery/090403

On Broadband Issues, Lobbying Expenditures Jumped at Year's End

in Broadband Stimulus by

WASHINGTON, March 3, 2009 – The National Cable and Telecommunications Association spent $4.4 million lobbying Congress and executive branch agencies on the subject of “broadband” during the last quarter of 2008, more than twice as much as the U.S. Telecom Association spent lobbying during the same period.

Lobby disclosure reports for the months of October, November and December 2008 revealed that six entities spent a combined $8.2 million on seeking influence before both houses of Congress as well as executive branch agencies on broadband-related items, including lobbying contacts at the Federal Communications Commission, National Telecommunications Information Administration of the Commerce Department, and the Rural Utilities Service of the Agriculture Department.

The reports, which are available at the web site of the Senate Office of Public Records, don’t show how much an entity spent lobbying on individual bills or issues. But a search for “broadband” in the fourth quarter lobbying disclosure database, narrowed against the NTIA, revealed a rise in lobbying expenditures from $5.2 million in the third quarter to $8.2 million in the fourth quarter, or a $3 million jump.

That rise came even with one fewer entity lobbying on broadband-related bills and issues.

Lobbying disclosures report for the first quarter of 2009 are due on April 15.

NCTA led the broadband lobbying with expenditures of $4.4 million by internal lobbyists, or about $1 million more than they spent in the third quarter from June to August.

The U.S. Telecom Association, which represents AT&T, Verizon Communication, and hundreds of smaller phone companies, spent $2.19 million on lobbying expenditures – less than half the total of the cable industry.

The Senate Office of Public Records database, which allows searches by issue code, revealed that in lobbying contacts in which the NTIA was involved, NCTA weighed in on at least 15 bills with “broadband” in their titles By contrast, last quarter U.S. Telecom put its efforts in similar lobbying involving the NTIA to into just one: The Broadband Data Improvement Act, which was signed into law in October.

No funds were appropriated last year for broadband mapping. Last month’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act set aside $350 million for the NTIA to develop a comprehensive map of broadband availability within the country.

Among individual companies, the wireless carrier T-Mobile spent nearly $1.5 million on its lobbying efforts that included the NTIA. According to descriptions of lobbying activity within the database, T-Mobile was seeking to take possession of radio-frequency spectrum it won at auction but is still waiting for the government to vacate.

And T-Mobile’s team also had its eyes on the $7.2 billion in broadband stimulus funds ultimately included in the stimulus package. The company’s fourth quarter lobbying report claims credit for drafting the provision “to expand broadband internet access so businesses in rural and other underserved areas can link up to the global economy.”

Other players on the NTIA lobbying scene were the Utilities Telecom Council, at $20,000 to lobby for broadband over power lines, the National Grange of the Order of the Patrons of Husbandry, at $10,000 to push telemedicine-based proposals and rural broadband development initiatives. Open Range Communications paid lobbyist Jon Christiansen $20,000 to lobby the Agriculture department for “Broadband rural development and regulatory approval for USDA loan.”

Broadband Breakfast Club

March Meeting: Broadband Competition: Do We Have It, and How Do We Get More of It?

BroadbandCensus.com presents the March meeting of the Broadband Breakfast Club at Old Ebbitt Grill on Tuesday, March 10, 2009, at 8 a.m. Because of the Commerce Department/Agriculture Department/FCC Public Meeting on broadband stimulus from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., the Broadband Breakfast Club will adjourn at 9:30 a.m.

  • NEW! – James Baller, President of Baller Herbst Law Group, will provide a brief summary of the progress of the U.S. Broadband Coalition
  • 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
  • Scott Wallsten, Vice President for Research and Senior Fellow, Technology Policy Institute

Webcasts of the Broadband Breakfast Club Produced in Partnership with:

TV Mainstream

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