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Broadband's Impact

Press Release: Kirton McConkie Expands New Telecom Practice with Addition of Technology Industry Lawyer Drew Clark

SALT LAKE CITY (Oct. 28, 2014) – Kirton McConkie PC is pleased to announce that Drew Clark has joined as of counsel in the firm’s Telecommunications Practice Group. He joins shareholder David J. Shaw in this new practice area for the firm, which focuses on assisting state and local governments in deploying broadband infrastructure to support economic development. […]

Broadband Breakfast Staff

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kevin Aschenbrenner

250-294-8431
[email protected]

SALT LAKE CITY (Oct. 28, 2014) – Kirton McConkie PC is pleased to announce that Drew Clark has joined as of counsel in the firm’s Telecommunications Practice Group. He joins shareholder David J. Shaw in this new practice area for the firm, which focuses on assisting state and local governments in deploying broadband infrastructure to support economic development.

Mr. Clark has spent his career working in the technology industry as both a lawyer and journalist, and is known as a pioneer in the broadband sector. He founded the Broadband Breakfast Club, Washington DC’s premier monthly forum on broadband. An early advocate for better broadband data, he worked with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the U.S. Department of Commerce on a prototype model for the National Broadband Map. Mr. Clark served as assistant director of George Mason University School of Law’s Information Economy Project, which brought telecom policy into the realm of law and economics.

Under Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Mr. Clark led a combined federal and state effort of more than $350 million in fiber-optic and wireless infrastructure investments. The partnership bridged regional divisions within Illinois, enhanced the economic development efforts of the Broadband Deployment Council and connected communications providers and users of Internet services. This led to the launch of the Illinois Broadband Innovation Fund and the FCC awarding one of its first broadband lifeline grants to rural Western and Southern Illinois.

“We are pleased to welcome Drew to the firm and to our telecom group,” said Mr. Shaw. “Drew is known nationally for his work in telecom, particularly as an advocate for broadband on behalf of state and local governments, and we know his experience will be an asset for our clients.”

Kirton McConkie attorneys are active around the country on issues affecting government broadband projects at the state and local level. They recently served as speakers at the 2014 Broadband Communities Conference and worked in support of the Next Century Cities event held in Santa Monica on October 20.

Mr. Clark’s practice specializes in information technology, telecommunications, intellectual property, public utilities and contract drafting and negotiations. He also works with state, municipal and rural broadband leaders to capture broadband benefits of job creation, telemedicine, online learning, public safety, energy, transportation and eGovernment. Mr. Clark holds a J.D. from George Mason University School of Law, an M.S. from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and a B.A. (with honors) from Swarthmore College.

About the Kirton McConkie Telecommunications Practice Group

Kirton McConkie enhances state and local governments’ ability to deploy broadband infrastructure in their economic development activities. We represent municipalities, inter-local entities and cooperatives from an exploratory phase, through bid processes and beyond.

Additionally, we assist clients as they construct and operate their high-speed broadband networks by negotiating with public-private partnerships. We know the players in the broadband community, the financial options available to cities and local governments and the best practices for building Gigabit Networks.

Our experience is demonstrated by the amount of financing we have placed for telecommunications infrastructure projects—we are among the top in the nation.

For more information, please visit http://www.kmclaw.com/industries-Telecom-Broadband.html.

About Kirton McConkie PC

Kirton McConkie is a full service commercial law firm with 140 attorneys focusing on commercial litigation, business, real estate, employment, First Amendment, immigration, intellectual property, tax, estate planning and family law. For more information, please visit http://www.kmclaw.com.

Broadband Breakfast is a decade-old news organization based in Washington that is building a community of interest around broadband policy and internet technology, with a particular focus on better broadband infrastructure, the politics of privacy and the regulation of social media. Learn more about Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband's Impact

FCC to Vote On Emergency Connectivity Fund Policies By Mid-May: Rosenworcel

The agency is expected to vote on policies for the new connectivity fund by mid-May, chairwoman says.

Derek Shumway

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April 14, 2021 – Jessica Rosenworcel, the chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission, said Tuesday the agency will be voting by mid-May on policies to deliver the Emergency Connectivity Fund, which has received over 9,000 interested institutions through its portal.

The Emergency Connectivity Fund is part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9-trillion American Rescue Plan signed into law in March 2021.

It’s “the nation’s largest ever broadband affordability program,” Rosenworcel said Tuesday on a virtual panel hosted by Allvanza, an advocacy group for Latinxs and underserved communities within the technology, telecommunications and innovation industries; the Multicultural Media Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC); and the Asian Pacific American Advocate group (OCA).

It’s “designed to make sure we get every household in this country connected to high-speed Internet service because this pandemic has proven like nothing before,” she added.

The FCC made a sign-up portal on its website to determine interest in the program, and over 9,000 institutions have signed up to date, Rosenworcel said, adding she hopes the policies for the EBB can address the homework gap by extending internet subsidies normally reserved for schools and libraries to households.

Evelyn Remaley, acting assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information and acting National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Administrator, said minority-aimed broadband initiatives have done great work in bringing together providers and companies with minority-serving institutions.

Correction: A previous version of this story said the FCC will vote by mid-May on policies related to the Emergency Broadband Benefit program. In actuality, the agency is voting on policies for the new Emergency Connectivity Fund from Biden’s new American Rescue Plan. 

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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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