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Broadband Census for America Conference: About Our Experts

The Broadband Census for America Conference welcomes the nation’s foremost broadband policy-makers and experts on broadband data collection, distribution and mapping. Here are brief biographies on all the conference speakers and panelists as well as key resources to better inform those attending and participating in the Broadband Census for America Conference 2008.

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The Broadband Census for America Conference welcomes the nation’s foremost broadband policy-makers and experts on broadband data collection, distribution and mapping. Also see the official conference web page at http://broadbandcensus.com/conference.

Conference Bios and Key Resources:

  • Art Brodsky, Public Knowledge
    • Art Brodsky has been the communications director of Public Knowledge since February 2004. He is a veteran of Washington, D.C. telecommunications and Internet journalism and public relations.Art worked for 16 years with Communications Daily, a leading trade publication. He covered Congress through the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and other major pieces of legislation. He also covered telephone regulation at the the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and at state regulatory commissions. In addition, he has covered the online industry since before there was an Internet, coming in just after videotext died but before the World Wide Web. Art was later an editor with Congressional Quarterly, with responsibilities for the daily and Web coverage of telecom, tech and other issues. Art’s freelance work has appeared in publications as diverse as the Washington Post, Huffington Post, TomPaine.com, TPMcafe and the World Book encyclopedia. He was a commentator on the public radio program, Marketplace, and appeared on C-SPAN.On the PR front, Art worked as communications director for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and for the Washington, D.C. office of Qwest Communications International. He also does freelance PR work.Art graduated from the University of Maryland in December 1973 with High Honors and a degree in government and politics. He received a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in June 1975. He and his wife, Liz, live in Olney, MD. They have two daughters.
    • Resources:
      1. The Public Knowledge Policy Blog: Art and other PK analysts examine issues in telecom and media policy.
  • Jeffrey Campbell, Cisco Systems
    • Jeffrey A. Campbell is Senior Director, Technology and Trade Policy of Global Policy and Government Affairs for Cisco Systems, Inc., the global leader for networking for the Internet. Since 2001, he has been responsible for developing and implementing Cisco’s public policy agenda with respect to telecommunications, trade, security and technology issues. In addition to his expertise in telecommunications regulation, Mr. Campbell has been involved in public policy with respect to intellectual property law, Internet regulation, international trade and information technology regulation.Mr. Campbell is a member of the Board of Directors of the California Emerging Technologies Fund, the Family Online Safety Institute, and the Voice on the Net Coalition.Prior to this position at Cisco, Mr. Campbell headed the Washington government affairs office of Compaq Computer. Mr. Campbell began his career as a telecommunications regulatory attorney with the Washington, D.C. office of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey.Mr. Campbell received his B.A. in History from Yale University and his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.
  • Rachelle Chong, California Public Utilities Commission
    • Commissioner Rachelle Chong began her career as a communications attorney practicing before both the FCC and the California PUC with private law firms. In 1994, President Clinton appointed her to the Federal Communications Commission, where she served until 1997. During her tenure at the FCC, the FCC implemented the Telecommunications Act of 1996, finalized digital television rules, and worked on the early wireless auctions. Commissioner Chong served on the FCC-NARUC Joint Board on Universal Service, which implemented the first E Rate programs. After the FCC, the Commissioner returned to law firm practice and then became General Counsel/VP Government Affairs for a Silicon Valley Internet-telephony start up. She later became an entrepreneur, opening a retail jewelry store and an ecommerce site. In 2006, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed her to the California Public Utilities Commission. She has led communications reform there including significant work involving consumer affairs and broadband initiatives. She served on the California Broadband Task Force, and currently serves on the FCC-NARUC Joint Conference on Advanced Service. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley and UC Hastings College of the Law.
  • Eamonn Confrey, Embassy of Ireland, Washington, DC
    • Eamonn Confrey has been First Secretary, Information & Communications Policy at the Embassy of Ireland, Washington D.C. since October 2006. He is on secondment from the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in Ireland.Eamonn’s primary role is the provision of strategic analysis on ICT and Science & Technology policy developments in North America. He also chairs the Telecoms Attachés Group, an informal network of Washington telecoms diplomats.Prior to taking up his appointment in Washington, he worked in the Communications Division at the Department of Communications in Dublin. While there, his main role was to manage public investment in ICT infrastructure projects through the Regional Broadband Programme and to assist in the promotion of broadband connectivity and analysing regional connectivity issues in Ireland.He holds a B.A. (Hons) in History & Politics and a Masters degree in European Studies from University College Dublin. He also has a Higher Diploma in Information Technology from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.
    • Resources:
      1. Broadband Information from Ireland’s Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources: This site publishes comprehensive information on every broadband service provider in Ireland.
  • Kenneth Flamm, University of Texas at Austin
    • Dr. Kenneth Flamm is Professor and Dean Rusk Chair in International Affairs at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT-Austin. He is currently vice-chair of the National Research Council’s Panel on Comparative Innovation Policy, and is a member of its Science, Technology, and Economic Policy Board, its Committee on Assessing the Need for a Defense Stockpile, and its assessment panel on the Small Business Innovation Research Program. He also served recently on the NRC’s Committee on the Future of Supercomputing, and its Steering Group on Measuring and Sustaining the New Economy. He has served as member and Chair of the NATO Science Committee’s Panel for Science and Technology Policy and Organization, and as a member of the Federal Networking Council Advisory Committee, the OECD’s Expert Working Party on High Performance Computers and Communications, various advisory committees and study groups of the National Science Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Defense Science Board, and the U.S. Congress’ Office of Technology Assessment, and as a consultant to government agencies, international organizations, andd private corporations.Dr. Flamm is the author of numerous articles and books on the dynamics of international competition in high technology industries, and studies of the computer, semiconductor, and telecommunications industries, including his recent article written in conjunction with the Pew Internet and American Life Project, “Measuring Broadband: Improving Communications Policymaking through Better Data Collection.”He is a 1973 honors graduate of Stanford University and received a Ph.D. in economics from M.I.T. in 1979.
    • Resouces:
  • Debbie Goldman, Communications Workers of America
    • Debbie Goldman has worked for the past 16 years as a Research Economist with the Communications Workers of America where she is responsible for regulatory affairs and telecommunications policy. She currently coordinates the union’s Speed Matters campaign promoting affordable high-speed Internet for America.The Communications Workers of America is the union for the Information Age, representing 700,000 workers in communications, media, airlines, manufacturing, and public service.Ms. Goldman has advocated before the Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, state regulatory commissions, and the U.S. Congress on a broad range of telecom policy issues, including broadband policy, media ownership, universal service, and mergers and acquisitions.Ms. Goldman served as President of the Alliance for Public Technology, a coalition of individuals and organizations supporting universal affordable access to broadband technology.Ms. Goldman holds Masters degrees in History (University of Maryland), Public Policy (University of Maryland) and Education (Stanford University). She earned her B.A. Magna Cum Laude from Radcliffe College (Harvard University) in 1973, majoring in History.
    • Resources:
      1. Report on Internet Speeds in All 50 States [PDF]: Research conducted by Consumer Workers of America through SpeedMatters.org (2008)
      2. Speed Matters: Affordable High Speed Internet for All [PDF], a Communication Workers of America Policy Paper (2006).
      3. SpeedMatters.org State Broadband Initiatives: Communication Workers of America survey of state broadband initiatives.
  • Larry Landis, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission
    • Landis, a Republican, was appointed to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission by the late Governor Frank O’Bannon (D-IN) in December, 2002, joining the Commission in January 2003 to fill an unexpired term. In July of 2004, he was reappointed to a full four-year term by former Governor Joe Kernan (D-IN)., and to a second full four-year term by Governor Mitch Daniels (R-IN) in December, 2007.Landis has served the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) in a variety of telecommunications-related roles. He was named to the Telecommunications Committee in mid-2003, and was a member of NARUC’s Intercarrier Compensation Task Force from its inception, assuming the Vice Chair role three years ago. He was active in the Legislative Task Force of NARUC which developed a major position paper on telecommunications law reform entitled “Federalism and Telecom,” which advocates a realignment of federal and state regulatory roles by areas of core competency rather than traditional geographic/jurisdictional lines.In January of 2005, Landis was named to the Federal-State Joint Conference on Advanced Telecommunications Services, of which he is now State Chair, by former FCC Chairman Michael Powell. In November of 2005 he was nominated by NARUC and appointed to the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service by the current FCC Chairman, Kevin Martin. In May of 2008, Commissioner Landis was appointed to the NARUC Board of Directors.Landis is a cum laude graduate of Wabash College with a double major in political science and economics and has done graduate work at the University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill and at Indiana University.
  • Dr. William Lehr, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    • William Lehr is an economist and researcher in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he helps direct the Communications Futures Program (CFP). Dr. Lehr’s research focuses on the economic and policy implications of broadband Internet access, next generation Internet architecture, and radio spectrum management reform. In addition to his academic work, Dr. Lehr provides business strategy and litigation consulting services to public and private sector clients in the US and abroad. Dr. Lehr holds a PhD in Economics from Stanford and an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School, and MSE, BA, and BS degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.
    • Resources:
      1. Research on Broadband’s Economic Impact: Dr. Lehr has written extensively over the last decade on Broadband’s impact on GDP, employment, productivity, and other metrics.
  • Mark McElroy, Connected Nation
    • Mark McElroy is the Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President, Communications. Mark brings with him more than twenty years of experience in communications for both nonprofit and for profit organizations as well as a wide variety of professional roles and experiences. Mark has an earned PhD in organizational behavior, group learning, and philosophy. This, coupled with a bachelor’s degree in the sciences, has prepared him to contribute to a variety of settings. Mark has served as a vocational minister, managed a large cattle operation, produced and marketed grain, served as adjunct faculty for a graduate school, established a consulting practice, engineered curricular/educational materials, and authored a variety of articles in multiple fields for both general and professional audiences. He has written speeches, contributed to research, and edited books.
    • Resources:
  • James McConnaughey, NTIA
    • James McConnaughey serves as Chief Economist, National Telecommunications & Information Administration’s (NTIA) Office of Policy Analysis and Development, at the US Department of Commerce. Prior to NTIA (where he also was Senior Economist), he was Research Manager at Bethesda Research Institute and Senior Economist at the Federal Communications Commission. Mr. McConnaughey has worked on a variety of issues related to regulatory reform, competition, and universal service. In recent years, he has focused particularly on issues related to Internet access and usage, including broadband, and universal service. He led the teams that developed the six Commerce Department Internet and broadband studies, most recently A NATION ONLINE: ENTERING THE BROADBAND AGE (2004). McConnaughey earned a B.S. (with high honors) and an M.A. in economics from the University of Maryland and the George Washington University, respectively, and an M.P.A. (with high honors) as Robert Seamans Fellow for Technology & Public Policy and Lucius Littauer Scholar at Harvard University.
  • Jane Smith Patterson, e-NC Authority
    • Jane’s career has concentrated on the areas of information technology infrastructure and its impact on operations of government, industry and education. She has consulted with more than 20 countries worldwide and 38 states relating to the design and operation of information networks. She was the major visionary and leader in the development and implementation of the North Carolina Information Highway (NCIH), the first switched broadband ATM-Sonet deployment in the world. NCIH was a 1996 Global Information Infrastructure Awards Finalist. Jane chaired the Mega Project on Applications and served as a member of the U.S. National Information Infrastructure Advisory Council, appointed by both President Bill Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore.She was recognized in 1995 as one of the top women in computing in the United States. Jane was selected by the National Academy of Public Administration and the Alliance for Redesigning Government to receive its Public Innovator Award for 1997 for her work in advancing the use of information technology in redesigning the delivery of government services and the operations of government. In 1983, Jane was named a Distinguished Alumnus of UNC-Chapel Hill and became the first woman to deliver the main address at University Day in the history of the University. Jane is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. Jane has also focused on the issue of regional innovation and currently serves on the Advisory Council on Regional Innovation of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness and the board of Regional Technology Strategies. The e-NC Authority program she directs won an Innovator Award from the Southern Growth Policies Board in 2006 and a 2007 Techie Award from the national Nonprofit Technology Network.

      Jane Patterson has completed educational programs at UNC-Chapel Hill, Harvard University and N.C. State University. She is a strong subscriber to the practice of life-long learning and is always taking new courses of study. She has published articles and chapters of books on information infrastructure policy and applications in Japan, England, Europe and the United States.

    • Resources:
  • Jon Peha, Carnegie Mellon University
    • Jon M. Peha is incoming Chief Technologist at the Federal Communications Commission, and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. He consults for industry and government agencies around the world. Dr. Peha has addressed telecom and e-commerce issues on legislative staff in the US Congress, and helped launch a US Government interagency program to assist developing countries with information infrastructure. He has also served as Chief Technical Officer of three high-tech start-ups, and as a member of technical staff at SRI International, AT&T Bell Laboratories, and Microsoft. He holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford University.
    • Resources:
  • Jean Plymale, Virginia Tech eCorridors Program
    • Jean has 30 years of experience working in diverse areas of information technology. In her current position with Virginia Tech’s eCorridors program, Jean works closely with community, state and public sector entities to facilitate the understanding, acquisition and deployment of telecommunications infrastructure in underserved regions. Prior to joining the eCorridors program Jean worked at the Virginia Tech Computing Center as a Senior System Engineer where she managed UNIX and mainframe systems and applications. Ms. Plymale has a BA, MA and an advanced certificate in politics and policy of science and technology from Virginia Tech.
    • Resources:
      1. Virginia Tech’s eCorridors Hompage: A program designed to facilitate and promote the ability for every person, organization, and community in Virginia and beyond to have the capability, at a reasonable cost, to produce and access high volume information and services in the networked world.
  • Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times
    • Jim Puzzanghera covers tech and media policy from Washington, D.C.He joined the Times in 2006 from the San Jose Mercury News, where he spent eight years as the paper’s Washington bureau chief. Before that, he worked for the Mercury News in Silicon Valley during the dawn of the dot.com boom, when homes and lunches in Palo Alto were still somewhat affordable.He lives in Virginia with his wife and two boys, who, when he’s not forcing them to play outside, constantly teach him new things about the Web and video games.
    • Resources:
      1. “US in Slow Lane on Net,” Los Angeles Times, November 28, 2007: Jim’s article on broadband policy, data and mapping.
  • Brenda Van Gelder, Virginia Tech University
    • During her 20 years of employment with the University, Ms. van Gelder has participated as a member of a number of national working groups focused on broadband policy issues, and has directed a number of special research efforts focused on policy and regulatory issues associated with advanced telecommunications networks. Ms. van Gelder has made numerous presentations to key legislators, FCC officials, and community leaders regarding the policy issues associated with advanced network infrastructure leveraging various technologies. She has served on multi-university projects to assess resiliency and vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure for regions of Virginia in the context of disaster recovery or emergencies. Her most recent activities involve policy and implementation issues related to the convergence of physical security and logical security, as well as public safety initiatives involving information technologies at Virginia Tech. Ms. van Gelder has a Masters degree from Virginia Tech in Marketing/Business Administration.
    • Resources:
      1. eCorridors’ Community Broadband Map: An interactive national map of consumer-reported broadband service.
      2. eCorridors’ Maps and Research on Broadband Service in Virginia: Utilizing consumer-generated data, Virginia Tech’s eCorridors program has produced a number of maps analyzing broadband service in the state.
      3. eCorridors’ Summary Report: Includes an executive summary of the organization’s broadband data analysis and a link to the full report.
  • Carol Wilson, Telephony Online
    • Carol Wilson is Editor-in-Chief of Telephony magazine. She returned to Telephony in 2004 as editor-at-large. She has been covering the telecommunications industry for the past 20 years. Over that period of time, she has been a founding editor of two magazines–Inter@ctive Week and The Net Economy–as well as a news and information Web site, Broadband Edge. Carol began her telecom career as news editor at Telephony in 1985, becoming Editor three years later.

Broadband Data

TPRC Conference to Discuss Definition of Section 230, Broadband, Spectrum and China

Broadband Breakfast briefly breaks down the topics to be discussed at the TPRC conference.

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Photo collage of experts from TPRC

WASHINGTON, September 17, 2021 – The TPRC research conference on communication, information, and internet policy is right around the corner and it is set to address some of the most pressing issues facing Big Tech, the telecom industry, and society at large. We cover some topics you can expect to see covered during the conference on September 22 to 24.

If the recent election cycle and the Covid-19 pandemic have taught us anything, it is that the threat of misinformation and disinformation pose a greater threat than most people could have imagined. Many social media platforms have attempted to provide their own unique content moderation solutions to combat such efforts, but thus far, none of these attempts have satisfied consumers or legislators.

While the left criticizes these companies for not going far enough to curtail harmful speech, the right argues the opposite— that social media has gone too far and censored conservative voices.

All this dissent has landed Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996—once a staple in the digital landscape—in the crosshairs of both Democrats and Republicans, as companies still scramble to strike a compromise to placate both sides of the aisle.

Definition of broadband

The future of broadband classifications is another topic that will also be touched on during the conference. This topic quickly became relevant at the outset of the pandemic, as people around the country began to attend school and work virtually.

It became immediately clear that for many Americans, our infrastructure was simply insufficient to handle such stresses. Suddenly, legislators were rushing to reclassify broadband. Efforts in Washington, championed primarily by Democrats, called for broadband standards to be raised.

The Federal Communications Commission’s standing definition of 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload appeared to become unpopular overnight, as calls for symmetrical service, like 100 x 100 Mbps speeds, and even gigabit speeds became a part of the conversation.

Many experts were quick to strike back, particularly those operating in the wireless community, arguing that the average consumer does not need 100 Mbps symmetrical speeds, let alone one gigabit, and such efforts only amounted to fearmongering that would hurt the deployment of broadband infrastructure to unserved communities.

These experts contend that shifting the standards would diminish the utility and viability of any technology other than fiber, as well as delaying when unserved communities (as they are currently defined) can expect to be served. Broader topics surrounding rural broadband and tech-equity will also be prominently featured—addressing many of the questions raised by Covid-19 across the last year and a half.

Future of spectrum

Finally, the quest for spectrum will be discussed at the conference.

As ubiquitous 5G technology continues to be promised by many companies in the near future, the hunt is on to secure more bandwidth to allow their devices and services to function. Of course, spectrum is a finite resource, so finding room is not always easy.

Indeed, spectrum sharing efforts have been underway for years, where incumbent users either incentivized or are compelled to make room for others in their band—just like we saw the military in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service band, and more recently between the Department of Defense and Ligado in the L band.

Even though these efforts are ongoing, there is still disagreement in the community about how, if at all, sharing spectrum will impact users in the band. While some argue that spectrum can be shared with little, if any, interference to incumbent services, others firmly reject this stance, maintaining that sharing bandwidth would be catastrophic to the services they provide.

On China

China is also going to be a significant topic at the conference. Due to the competitive nature of the U.S.-China relationship, many regard the race to 5G as a zero-sum game, whereby China’s success is our failure.

Furthermore, security and competition concerns have led the U.S. government to institute a “rip and replace” policy across the country, through which Chinese components—particularly those from companies such as Huawei—are torn out of existing infrastructure and substituted with components from the U.S. or countries we have closer economic ties with. The conference will feature several sessions discussing these topics and more.

Register for TPRC 2021

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Broadband Breakfast on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 — A ‘Consumer Confidence’ Survey for Broadband

BroadbandNow launches a “consumer confidence” survey.

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Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place every Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. You can watch the September 15, 2021, event on this page. You can also PARTICIPATE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event. REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021, 12 Noon ET — BroadbandNow Presents a ‘Consumer Confidence’ Survey for Broadband

As part of its efforts to provide the latest research on the social, economic and political issues contributing to the digital impact and the impact of broadband on everyday life, BroadbandNow is launching a new survey among broadband leaders enthusiasts. Think of this as a “consumer confidence” survey for broadband.

Recently, there have been many changes regarding broadband at the federal, state, local and industry levels. BroadbandNow and Broadband Breakfast aim to launch the survey at a presentation during Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021, a mini-conference at the Broadband Community Summit in Houston, Texas, from September 27-30, 2021.

Join us on September 15, 2021, for this special Broadband Breakfast Live Online preview of the survey with John Busby, Managing Director of BroadbandNow, and Drew Clark, Editor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast.

Panelists for the event:

  • John Busby, Managing Director of BroadbandNow
  • John B. Horrigan, Senior Fellow, Benton Institute on Broadband & Society
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast

Panelist resources:

  • John Busby is the Managing Director of BroadbandNow.com, where millions of consumers find and compare local internet options and independent research is published about the digital divide. Prior to BroadbandNow, John held senior leadership positions at Amazon and Marchex. John holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Northwestern University.
  • John B. Horrigan, Ph.D., is Senior Fellow at the Benton Institute on Broadband & Society, with a focus on technology adoption and digital inclusion. Horrigan has served as an Associate Director for Research at the Pew Research Center and Senior Fellow at the Technology Policy Institute. During the Obama Administration, Horrigan was part the leadership team at the Federal Communications Commission for the development of the National Broadband Plan (NBP).
  • Drew Clark, Editor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast, also serves as Of Counsel to The CommLaw Group. He has helped fiber-based and fixed wireless providers negotiate telecom leases and fiber IRUs, litigate to operate in the public right of way, and argue regulatory classifications before federal and state authorities. He has also worked with cities on structuring Public-Private Partnerships for better broadband access for their communities. As a journalist, Drew brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband, and – building off his work with Broadband Census – was appointed Executive Director of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois under Gov. Pat Quinn. He is also the President of the Rural Telecommunications Congress.

BroadbandNow is a data aggregation company helping millions of consumers find and compare local internet options. BroadbandNow’s database of providers, the largest in the U.S., delivers the highest-value guides consisting of comprehensive plans, prices and ratings for thousands of internet service providers. BroadbandNow relentlessly collects and analyzes internet providers’ coverage and availability to provide the most accurate zip code search for consumers.

See also:

WATCH HERE, or on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.

SUBSCRIBE to the Broadband Breakfast YouTube channel. That way, you will be notified when events go live. Watch on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

See a complete list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.

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Broadband Data

New Broadband Mapping Fabric Will Help Unify Geocoding Across the Broadband Industry, Experts Say

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Photo of Lynn Follansbee from October 2019 by Drew Clark

March 11, 2021 – The Federal Communications Commission’s new “fabric” for mapping broadband service across America will not only help collect more accurate data, but also unify geocoding across the broadband industry, industry experts said during a Federal Communications Bar Association webinar Thursday.

Broadband service providers are not geocoding experts, said Lynn Follansbee of US Telecom, and they don’t know where all the people are.

The new fabric dataset is going to be very useful to get a granular look at what is and what is not served and to harmonize geocoding, she said.

AT&T’s Mary Henze agreed. “We’re a broadband provider, we’re not a GIS company,” she said. Unified geocode across the whole field will help a lot to find missing spots in our service area, she said.

The new Digital Opportunity Data Collection fabric is a major shift from the current Form 477 data that the FCC collects, which has been notoriously inaccurate for years. The effort to improve broadband mapping has been ongoing for years, and in 2019 US Telecom in partnership with CostQuest and other industry partners created the fabric pilot program.

That has been instrumental in lead to the new FCC system, panelists said. It is called a “fabric” dataset because it is made up of other datasets that interlace like fabric, Follansbee explained.

The fabric brings new challenges, especially for mobile providers, said Chris Wieczorek of T-Mobile. With a whole new set of reporting criteria to fill out the fabric, it will lead to confusion for consumers, and lots of work for the new task force, he said.

Henze said that without the fabric, closing the digital divide between those with broadband internet and those without has been impossible.

Digital Opportunity Data Collection expected to help better map rural areas

The new mapping can help in rural areas where the current geolocation for a resident may be a mailbox that is several hundred feet or farther away from the actual house that needs service, Follansbee said.

Rural areas aren’t the only places that will benefit, though. It can also help in dense urban areas where vertical location in a residential building is important to getting a good connection, said Wieczorek.

The fabric will also help from a financial perspective, because of the large amount of funding going around, said Charter Communications’ Christine Sanquist. The improved mapping can help identify where best to spend that funding for federal agencies, providers, and local governments, she said.

There is now more than $10 billion in new federal funding for broadband-related projects, with the recent $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit program as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act in December 2020 and the new $7.6 Emergency Connectivity Fund part of the American Rescue Plan that President Joe Biden signed into law Thursday.

The new FCC task force for implementing the new mapping system was created in February 2021, and is being led by , led by Jean Kiddoo at the FCC. No specific dates have been set yet for getting the system operational.

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