WASHINGTON, March 7, 2018 – Local government officials seeking to offer a corrective tonic on broadband deployment to the Federal Communications Commission may consider applying for the expanded Intergovernmental Advisory Committee.
Nominations for the more-than-10-year-old group are due on Monday, March 12, at 6 p.m. ET, according to a public notice published by the FCC on January 11.
The group’s mission is to provide elected municipal officers, county officers, a governor, state legislators, and other local officials with the opportunity to influence communications policy.
The group has historically been composed of 15 members, and recently suffered the additional loss when member Ed Lee, the Mayor San Francisco, passed away in December 2017.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has pushed to expand the group from its prior composition of 15 member to 30 members. Of those 30, a minimum of 4 shall be city mayors or city council members, 3 shall be state legislators, 3 shall be Native American Tribal representatives, 2 shall be county officials, with at least one governor, public utility commissioner, and local government attorney, respectively.
The remaining 15 slots are to be composed of similar elected or appointed local government officials.
Criticisms of the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee
Some on the long-standing Intergovernmental Advisory Committee have been critical of last year’s active push through a rival advisory body, the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee.
The BDAC was announced on January 31, 2017, and has assembled an array of telecommunications industry observers centered around streamlining siting communications facilities on federal lands, competitive access to broadband infrastructure, and proposed model codes for states and cities.
However, only one local government representative, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, was included on the initial BDAC, although two other local officials — Lenexa, Kansas, Mayor Andy Huckaba and Georgia Municipal Association Executive Director Larry Hanson — were subsequently added.
In January 2018, Liccardo resigned from the BDAC in protest after their January 23-24 meting.
Liccardo said BDAC will ‘further the interests of the telecommunications industry over the public’
“When I joined this committee, I hoped that I could contribute to developing balanced, common-sense recommendations that will advance our goal of expanding broadband access for all Americans, which FCC Chairman Ajit Pai identified as his ‘top priority’ at yesterday’s meeting,” Liccardo said in a statement.
“It has become abundantly clear, however, that Chairman Pai and the FCC merely pay lip service to the goal of digital equity, and this body will simply serve to further the interests of the telecommunications industry over the public interest,” said the first-term Democratic mayor, who is up for reelection this November.
At its January meeting, the group received reports from each of the major working groups, and also considered progress on the proposed model codes for states and municipalities.
The next BDAC meeting will be held on April 25, 2018, and is scheduled to receive reports from working groups, including the proposed model codes.
A corrective to BDAC from the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee?
Local government critics of the BDAC — including several members of the IAC– say that they have diminishing hopes that local government opinions will be reflected in the final BDAC product.
IAC is a standing advisory committee, and its members serve for a two-year term that begins with its first meeting. Members need to re-apply after two years, and the IAC does change frequently.
Additionally, IGA has a more comprehensive history and legacy than the one-year-old BDAC. Prior members of the group include New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Lenexa Mayor Huckaba (now on the BDAC), Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Virginia Gov. Terence McAuliffe, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, and others.
Pai had pressed the FCC to expand the IGA size over the objection of others at the agency, including Mignon Clyburn. The FCC voted to expand the body in December, and the public notice was published on January 11 of this year.
Application process for the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee
Although the deadline is on Monday, agency official Carmen Scanlon said the elements that must be received by that date include a letter of interest, a resume showcasing the public official’s expertise and activities in the field of communication, and contact information.
Also unlike the BDAC, the IAC is exempt from the Federal Advisory Committee Act. That is so because IAC officials are all “elected or appointed local government” officials, and must be on the staff of the municipal or county government represented and be part of the governmental process.
This is done, Scanlon said, “to ensure that the Committee can continue to operate with the informality and flexibility that have proven so effective in the past and that inhere in its FACA-exempt status.”
From the FCC’s Public Notice on the IAC:
The Commission is especially interested in candidates with expertise in communications and information technology, and candidates representing rural and Tribal areas, especially candidates with expertise in the challenges of rural broadband adoption.
APPLICATIONS AND SELECTION
Interested candidates should submit their applications to the Commission. Please note that applicants will be serving on the IAC as representatives of their jurisdictions and not as representatives of any organizations that may recommend them. Applications may be submitted as follows: (1) online via email; and/or (2) hardcopy via mail. Applications must be received by no later than 6 pm 60 days from the release of this PN.
Applications submitted via email must be sent to IGA@fcc.gov. Hard copy applications submitted via mail must be addressed to:
Attn: Carmen Scanlon, Attorney Advisor
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554
The application does not require a particular format but must include the following information:
- Resume (including applicant’s current position);
- Contact information (both email and mailing addresses, as well as telephone numbers);
- A brief description of the applicant’s area of expertise and qualifications to serve on the IAC, including the applicant’s experience with telecommunications issues affecting local, state, or Tribal governments. Candidates are encouraged to provide links to any articles they have authored on relevant topics and/or public appearances available on the web for viewing; and,
- The position(s) that the applicant is applying for, i.e., elected municipal officials (city mayors and city council members); county officials (county commissioners or council members); elected or appointed local government attorney; elected state executive (Governor or Lieutenant Governor); elected state legislators; elected or appointed public utilities or public service commissioner; or elected or appointed Native American Tribal representatives. If an applicant potentially qualifies for more than one position on the IAC, he or she should specify which position(s) they seek.
Once the Chairman of the Commission selects the new IAC members, the Commission will release a Public Notice announcing the appointments.
(Photo of the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee at their last meeting in October 2017 from the FCC.)
Technology Policy Institute Introduces Data Index to Help Identify Connectivity-Deprived Areas
The Broadband Connectivity Index uses multiple datasets to try to get a better understanding of well- and under-connected areas in the U.S.
WASHINGTON, September 16, 2021 – The Technology Policy Institute introduced Thursday a broadband data index that it said could help policymakers study areas across the country with inadequate connectivity.
The TPI said the Broadband Connectivity Index uses multiple broadband datasets to compare overall connectivity “objectively and consistently across any geographic areas.” It said it will be adding it soon into its TPI Broadband Map.
The BCI uses a “machine learning principal components analysis” to take into account the share of households that can access fixed speeds the federal standard of 25 Megabits per second download and 3 Mbps upload and 100/25 – which is calculated based on the Federal Communications Commission’s Form 477 data with the American Community Survey – while also using download speed data from Ookla, Microsoft data for share of households with 25/3, and the share of households with a broadband subscription, which comes from the American Community Survey.
The BCI has a range of zero to 10, where zero is the worst connected and 10 is the best. It found that Falls Church, Virginia was the county with the highest score with the following characteristic: 99 percent of households have access to at least 100/25, 100 percent of households connect to Microsoft services at 25/3, the average fixed download speed is 243 Mbps in Ookla in the second quarter of this year, and 94 percent of households have a fixed internet connection.
Meanwhile, the worst-connected county is Echols County in Georgia. None of the population has access to a fixed connection of 25/3, which doesn’t include satellite connectivity, three percent connect to Microsoft’s servers at 25/3, the average download speed is 7 Mbps, and only 47 percent of households have an internet connection. It notes that service providers won $3.6 million out of the $9.2-billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund to provide service in this county.
“Policymakers could use this index to identify areas that require a closer look. Perhaps any county below, say, the fifth percentile, for example, would be places to spend effort trying to understand,” the TPI said.
“We don’t claim that this index is the perfect indicator of connectivity, or even the best one we can create,” TPI added. “In some cases, it might magnify errors, particularly if multiple datasets include errors in the same area.
“We’re still fine-tuning it to reduce error to the extent possible and ensure the index truly captures useful information. Still, this preliminary exercise shows that it is possible to obtain new information on connectivity with existing datasets rather than relying only on future, extremely expensive data.”
New Report Recommends Broadening Universal Service Fund to Include Broadband Revenues
A Mattey Consulting report finds broadband revenues can help sustain the fund used to connect rural and low-income Americans.
WASHINGTON, September 14, 2021— Former deputy chief of the Federal Communications Commission Carol Mattey released a study on Tuesday recommending the agency reform the Universal Service Fund to incorporate a broad range of revenue sources, including from broadband.
According to the report by Mattey’s consulting firm Mattey Consulting LLC, revenues from “broadband internet access services that are increasingly used by Americans today should contribute to the USF programs that support the expansion of such services to all,” it said. “This will better reflect the value of broadband internet access service in today’s marketplace for both consumers and businesses.”
Mattey notes that sources of funding for the USF, which are primarily from voice revenues and supports expanding broadband to low-income Americans and remote regions, has been shrinking, thus putting the fund in jeopardy. The contribution percent reached a historic high at 33.4 percent in the second quarter this year, and decreased slightly after that, though Mattey suggested it could soar as high as 40 percent in the coming years.
“This situation is unsustainable and jeopardizes the universal broadband connectivity mission for our nation without immediate FCC reform,” Mattey states in her report, “To ensure the enduring value of the USF program and America’s connectivity goals, we must have a smart and substantive conversation about the program’s future.”
According to Mattey’s data, the assessed sources (primarily voice) of income will only continue to shrink over the coming years, while unassessed sources will continue to grow. Mattey’s report was conducted in conjunction with INCOMPAS, NTCA: The Rural Broadband Association, and the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition.
“It is time for the FCC to take action, and to move away from the worst option of all – the status quo – that is jeopardizing the USF which is critical to connecting our nation,” the report said.
John Windhausen, executive director of SHLB, echoed the sentiments expressed by Mattey in her report, “We simply must put the USF funding mechanism on a more stable and sustainable path,” he said, “[in order to] strengthen our national commitment to broadband equity for all.”
Mattey report uniform with current recommendations
Mattey’s research is generally in line with proponents of change to the USF. Some have recommended that the fund draw from general broadband revenues, while others have said general taxation would provide a longer lasting solution. Even FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr suggested that Big Tech be forced to contribute to the system it benefits from, which the acting chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said is an “intriguing” idea.
The FCC instituted the USF in 1997 as a part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The fund was designed to encourage the development of telecom infrastructure across the U.S.—dispensing billions of dollars every year to advance the goal of universal connectivity. It does so through four programs: the Connect America Fund, Lifeline, the rural health care program, and E-Rate.
These constituent programs address specific areas related for broadband. For example, the E-Rate program is primarily concerned with ensuring that schools and libraries are sufficiently equipped with internet and technology assistance to serve their students and communities. All of these programs derive their funding from the USF.
Outreach ‘Most Valuable Thing’ for Emergency Broadband Benefit Program: Rosenworcel
FCC Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel said EBB will benefit tremendously from local outreach efforts.
WASHINGTON, September 13, 2021 – The head of the Federal Communications Commission said Monday that a drawback of the legislation that ushered in the $3.2-billion Emergency Broadband Benefit program is that it did not include specific funding for outreach.
“There was no funding to help a lot of these non-profit and local organizations around the country get the word out [about the program],” Jessica Rosenworcel said during an event hosted by the Internet Innovation Alliance about the broadband affordability divide. “And I know that it would get the word out faster if we had that opportunity.”
The program, which launched in May and provides broadband subsidies of $50 and $75 to qualifying low-income households, has so-far seen an uptake of roughly 5.5 million households. The program was a product of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.
“We gotta get those trusted local actors speaking about it because me preaching has its limitations and reaching out to people who are trusted in their communities to get the word out – that is the single most valuable thing we can do,” Rosenworcel said.
She said the FCC has 32,000 partners and has held more than 300 events with members of Congress, tribal leaders, national and local organizations, and educational institutions to that end.
“Anyone who’s interested, we’ll work with you,” she said.
EBB successes found in its mobile friendliness, language inclusion
Rosenworcel also preached the benefits of a mobile application-first approach with the program’s application that is making it accessible to large swaths of the population. “I think, frankly, every application for every program with the government should be mobile-first because we have populations, like the LatinX population, that over index on smartphone use for internet access.
“We gotta make is as easy as possible for people to do this,” she said.
She also noted that the program is has been translated into 13 languages, furthering its accessibility.
“We have work to do,” Rosenworcel added. “We’re not at 100 percent for anyone, and I don’t think we can stop until we get there.”
- Microsoft Executive Calls For Improved Information Sharing Between Governments and Companies
- More RDOF Money Approved, Blue Ridge Replacing Coax with Fiber, YouTube Premium Growing Slowly
- TPRC Conference to Discuss Definition of Section 230, Broadband, Spectrum and China
- Repealing Section 230 Would be Harmful to the Internet As We Know It, Experts Agree
- Amy Klobuchar Reiterates Need for Funding Agencies to Handle Big Tech
- Technology Policy Institute Introduces Data Index to Help Identify Connectivity-Deprived Areas
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