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BroadbandCensus.com People Column: Tech Lobby, Wireless Board Changes

WASHINGTON, October 30, 2009 – CTIA-The Wireless Association announced Friday that it has a newly elected board of director officers. AT&T Mobility President and CEO Ralph de la Vega will serve as CTIA’s chairman, Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse will act as vice chairman, Asurion CEO Bret Comolli as treasurer, Cellcom President and CEO Patrick Riordan as secretary and T-Mobile USA President and CEO Robert Dotson as chairman emeritus.

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WASHINGTON, October 30, 2009 – CTIA-The Wireless Association announced Friday that it has a newly elected board of director officers. AT&T Mobility President and CEO Ralph de la Vega will serve as CTIA’s chairman, Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse will act as vice chairman, Asurion CEO Bret Comolli as treasurer, Cellcom President and CEO Patrick Riordan as secretary and T-Mobile USA President and CEO Robert Dotson as chairman emeritus.

On The Lobby Front

Thomas Gann has been serving as the vice president of government relations at the antivirus and cyber security McAfee. And Intel has hired Republican Ryan Triplette and Democrat Peter Muller as directors of government relations. Triplette previously served as chief intellectual property counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee for Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., and Muller recently served as director of government relations for the biotechnology firm Genentech. He also was the chief of staff for eight years for then-Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., who’s now undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.

In the section of this article included as premium content, the People Column includes information about new lobbyists for Qualcomm, Google, plus tech jobs that have recently opened and are waiting to be filled.

Content available for Paid and Trial Subscribers of BroadbandCensus.com Premium Content. Click here to subscribe.

[private_Premium Content][private_Free Trial]Greg Farmer is now heading the Washington, D.C., office of Qualcomm, Roll Call reported this week. Farmer currently works in government affairs with Nortel Networks. He has served as chief of staff to then-Rep. Buddy MacKay, D-Fla., and as undersecretary of Commerce in the Clinton administration. Meanwhile, the software firm Blackboard has hired Republican Erin Tario, formerly of the National Association of Home Builders, as a manager of government relations, the publication reported.

Also on the people front, Frannie Wellings, a former staffer to Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., is joining Google as a federal policy outreach manager and the White House has nominated Philip Coyle, III, of California, to be an associate director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Tech Jobs Waiting To Be Filled

As of yet, Microsoft has not named its new big communications cheese in Washington, D.C. The person would be filling the shoes of Ginny Terzano who left to head the communications practice for the Dewey Square Group. Microsoft is also still listing a director of federal government affairs post with a focus on Senate Republicans. The person would be responsible for developing the company’s federal political, policy, and relationship goals related to intellectual property rights protection, electronic commerce, telecommunications, high-skilled immigration, trade, Internet safety, competition policy, education and workforce development.

Google has a number of Washington-based jobs it continues to advertise for including: Academic Relations Manager, Privacy Policy Counsel, Small Business Community Outreach Manager and a Policy Associate opening.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is still advertising a newly created position of vice president of government affairs that will be responsible for policy development and advocacy before the U.S., Latin America, and Canadian governments.

Meanwhile, DigitalSociety.org is looking to hire a tech policy analyst/expert to cover digital content and commerce issues.

Please send any people tips to [email protected].

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Digital Inclusion

Virt Seeks To Serve As The Hub To Find And Join Virtual Events

Launched last week, virt.com hopes to take advantage of the rise in virtual events by crowdsourcing them in one place.

Tim White

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Photo of GHS co-founder Victor Zonana, left, from Global Health New Zealand

April 13, 2021 – Global Health Strategies, the global advocacy group focused on health and policy, last week launched Virt.com, a new open-source media platform that crowdsources virtual events on various issues.

Those “issue channels” include health, Covid-19, climate and environment, gender, food and nutrition and human rights. It relies on users in different regions posting about upcoming events in those categories.

The launch last week coincided with a new ad campaign called Unmutetheworld, focused on digital equity around the world with the belief that internet access is a human right. It includes partnering with groups like National Digital Inclusion Alliance and grassroots organizations in many different countries.

“The pandemic has transformed our lives. The way we connect, the way we celebrate, the way we mourn, the way we work, access healthcare and learn, has changed,” GHS CEO David Gold said in an interview. “Broadband allows us to connect virtually even during the pandemic, but so many people don’t have access to the internet, they cannot connect, and we have to change that,” he said.

Gold described Virt as a way to connect people globally to meaningful conversations about health, science, policy, technology, among other topics. “We have a window of opportunity right now with the pandemic to really change. Despite all the terrible effects of COVID-19, we have this moment in time to make the case for big investments,” he said.

Gold highlighted the work of GHS and the Unmutetheworld campaign to connect people across different nations. “Broadband access comes to the heart of economic development, we have to take that momentum in the U.S. and expand it around the world,” he said.

Broadband is becoming increasingly more important, with more people working, schooling, or using health services virtually than ever before due to the pandemic.

Broadband central to digital activities

“Broadband used to be a ‘nice to have,’ now it is a ‘must have,’” Angela Siefer, executive director at NDIA, said in an interview. “Twenty years ago, we were worried about having enough computers in a classroom and lucky that one of them connected to the internet, but that has changed now, and we need to keep up with the technology. It permeates our whole lives,” she said.

President Joe Biden recently announced a new $2.3-trillion infrastructure proposal called the American Jobs Plan, which includes $100 billion for broadband programs over eight years. Congress has also recently introduced legislation on broadband initiatives, including $100 billion as part of the Leading Infrastructure for Tomorrow’s America Act, or LIFT America Act, sponsored by the Democratic delegation on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“We are excited about the potential of these government initiatives, not just for funding deployment, but also to address affordability, digital literacy skills and devices,” Siefer said. “We’ve never had this much awareness about broadband issues. We’re seeing real ideas being put into action.”

Siefer also mentioned state-level efforts to expand broadband, including recent legislation in New York and Maryland. Maryland plans to spend $300 million of federal funding from the American Rescue Plan on broadband programs, including infrastructure, subsidies for fees and devices, and grants for municipal broadband. New York state recently announced the 2022 fiscal year budget including a $300 billion infrastructure package that contains broadband subsidies for low-income residents and an emergency fund to provide economically-disadvantaged students with free internet access.

“We’re seeing a shift to address adoption and affordability at both the state and federal level, where previously we only saw discussion of availability,” Siefer said. “It’s not just about unserved and underserved areas when it comes to digital equity, because the infrastructure might be there, but people are not participating in broadband for a variety of reasons,” she said. “Affordability and digital literacy lock people out. New programs aim to solve that problem and get people connected.”

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Education

Libraries Must Be Vigilant To Ensure Adequate Broadband, Consultants Say

Derek Shumway

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Photo of Stephanie Stenberg via Internet2

April 7, 2021 – Libraries should monitor their broadband speeds and ensure they are getting quality connections, according to library consultants.

Carson Block from Carson Block Consulting and Stephanie Stenberg of the Internet2 Community Anchor program told a virtual conference hosted by the American Library Association on Tuesday that it’s time libraries take a closer look at how they are getting broadband and if they are getting the speeds they are paying for. If not, they said they should re-negotiate.

Block and Stenberg shared details about the “Towards Gigabit Libraries” (TGL) toolkit, a free, self-service guide for rural and tribal libraries to better understand and improve their broadband. The new toolkit helps libraries prepare for E-Rate internet subsidy requests to aid their budget cycles.

It also has tips about communicating effectively between library and tech people since there is a gap in knowledge between those two groups. The TGL is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Gigabit Libraries and Beyond (GLG) to improve the toolkit and expand throughout the United States. In addition to focusing on rural and tribal libraries, now urban libraries will be included for support.

During the event, a live poll showed all participating attendees said they “very infrequently” had technical IT support available in their home libraries. Stenberg said this confirmed TGL’s findings that libraries need more tech and IT support, as the majority of respondents in previous surveys gave similar concerning results.

To really emphasize the need for adequate broadband and support at libraries, another question was asked to live attendees about their current level of expertise around procuring and delivering access to broadband as a service in their library, assuming that the majority of attendees worked for libraries. All participants said they possess “no experience” trying to get broadband in the library.

Common issues that are to blame include libraries with insufficient bandwidth, data wiring or poorly set-up networks. Old and obsolete equipment also contributed to bad Wi-Fi coverage.

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Education

Schools And Libraries Look For Solutions With $7 Billion In Federal Help

Derek Shumway

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Screenshot from SHLB event

April 6, 2021 – In a webinar last week hosted by the Schools, Health, and Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB), panelists discussed opportunities schools and libraries have to better serve their communities with the recent $7 billion provided through the American Rescue Plan, a $1.98 trillion coronavirus relief package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden on last month.

Laura Cole, director at the BiblioTech public library, shared how a successful pilot program with Southwest Independent School District made a goal to provide digital access to 100 students. To date, 62 students had broadband installed with the remaining still being worked on. The project was done to act as a proof-of-concept for digital connection expansion in Bexar County, Texas, where broadband access rates are low. Though the program’s success has caused it to be extended through December 31, 2021, Cole said she recognizes that there needs to be a more permanent solution to close the digital divide in all areas where people lack internet.

At the Brooklyn Public Library in New York City, Selvon Smith, president of information technology and chief information officer at the library, said that collaborative programs with the New York Public Library, Queens Public Library, and the New York City Department of Education were able to provide thousands of free hotspot devices for the entire school year to under-connected people. The organizations created a “Bookmobile Wi-Fi” program that was comprised of three vans and one truck stocked with laptops and outfitted with Wi-Fi antennas.

And it’s not just libraries that benefitted from the $7 billion provided through the American Rescue Plan. Rajesh Adusumilli, assistant superintendent for information services at Arlington County public schools (APS), said his organization worked to address student connectivity needs throughout the pandemic. The rollout of the 1-2-3 Connect Me pilot program was a core part along with maintaining Comcast’s Internet Essentials Program sponsorship and continuing to provide devices and wireless access hotspots at Arlington’s public schools.

This pilot program was financed by the Virginia governor’s Fasttrack Broadband Funding program, and is an extension of broadband services off of the APS and county-owned fiber network.

It uses technology on the Citizens Broadband Radio Service spectrum band, which has allowed private networks solely meant for students. It allows for students to connect to the APS network from home so they can continue distance learning instruction and access APS resources. It also can save money as it does not require the county to build additional fiber to create the extension.

Now, all Arlington Public Schools are set up with wireless access, with 99.2 percent of all APS students having participated successfully in synchronous learning activities.

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