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Broadband's Impact

Applications for Municipalities and States to Join Key FCC Intergovernmental Advisory Committee Due Monday

Drew Clark

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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:

CANDIDATE EXPERTISE

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 [email protected]  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.)

Drew Clark is the Editor and Publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and a nationally-respected telecommunications attorney at The CommLaw Group. He has closely tracked the trends in and mechanics of digital infrastructure for 20 years, and has helped fiber-based and fixed wireless providers navigate coverage, identify markets, broker infrastructure, and operate in the public right of way. The articles and posts on Broadband Breakfast and affiliated social media, including the BroadbandCensus Twitter feed, are not legal advice or legal services, do not constitute the creation of an attorney-client privilege, and represent the views of their respective authors.

Digital Inclusion

Popularity Of Telework And Telehealth Presents Unique Opportunities For A Post-Pandemic World

A survey released earlier this month illustrates opportunities for remote work and care.

Benjamin Kahn

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Screenshot of Hernan Galperin via YouTube

April 20, 2021—A survey conducted by the University of Southern California in conjunction with the California Emerging Technology Fund explored the popularity and availability of opportunities for telework and telehealth in California.

At an event hosted by USC and CETF Monday, experts dissected the survey released earlier this month to explain the implications it may have for the future. Hernán Galerpin is an Associate Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California. He served as the lead investigator for the survey, which analyzed Californians’ attitudes towards their new schedules during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

The first statistic Galerpin noted was the extent of broadband growth in California between 2008 and 2021. According to the survey, in 2008, only 55 percent of Californians had broadband coverage. By 2021, the number had risen steeply to 91 percent, with 85 percent of Californian’s utilizing broadband through either a desktop, laptop, or tablet (with the rest connected exclusively through a smartphone).

This is significant because it helps to explain the next statistic Galerpin showed; according to his data, Galerpin stated that approximately 38 percent of employed adults worked remotely five days a week over the course of the pandemic, while 45 percent did not work remotely (17 percent worked between 1-4 days remotely).

When asked how many times they would like to telecommute to work, respondents were most likely to indicate a preference for what they had become accustomed to; those who worked from home five days a week had a 42 percent chance of preferring working from home 5 days a week; those who worked from home three to four days a week had a 35 percent chance of preferring a three to four day telecommute schedule; those who worked remotely one to two days per week had a 56 percent chance of favoring a one to two day telecommuting schedule.

The data collected also indicated that low-income and Hispanic workers were disproportionately unable to telecommute.

Overall, telecommuting five days a week was the most popular option, with 31 percent of total respondents favoring that arrangement. By comparison, only 18 percent of respondents favored a schedule without any telecommuting.

President and CEO of CETF Sunne Wright McPeak called this data “unprecedented,” and stated that broadband had the potential to serve as a “green strategy” that could limit the number of miles driven by employees, and ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as other harmful pollutants. According to the data, as many as 55 percent of work commutes could be offset by a reconfigured telecommuting schedule.

The benefits of broadband did not stop there, however. Data also indicated that nearly 70 percent of Californians 65 years and older were able to utilize telehealth services, whether that was over the phone/smartphone or computer. Unsurprisingly, wealthier Californians were also more likely to benefit from telehealth services, with nearly 56 percent of low-income Californians going without telehealth, compared to 43 percent of “not low income” Californians.

An additional positive sign was that the overwhelming majority of disabled individuals were able to utilize telehealth services, with 70 percent of disabled respondents indicating that they were able to do so over the course of the pandemic.

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Education

Multilingual Digital Navigators Crucial For Inclusion

Digital liaisons who speak multiple languages can help guide multilingual communities for the digital future.

Derek Shumway

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Screenshot taken from the Net Inclusion webinar

April 19, 2021 – Encouraging multilingualism among digital navigators will help facilitate better inclusion in digital adoption, experts said last week.

Speaking Spanish is a huge plus for digital navigators in Salt Lake City, Utah, for example, as many of its focused neighborhoods needing to be connected to broadband speak the language,  said Shauna McNiven Edson, digital inclusion coordinator at Salt Lake City Public Library.

Edson and other panelists spoke last Wednesday at the 2021 Net Inclusion Webinar Series hosted by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, a digital inclusion advocacy group on what skills are needed to become a digital navigator.

At the Salt Lake City Public Library, progress is there but challenges persist for digital inclusion and navigation. Edson said there were about 450 participants in its library program’s group for digital inclusion. However, only about 5 percent of participants, or 22 people, have adequate broadband at home. Seventy-five percent of members said they needed help finding a computer or internet-enabled deice, and 10 percent of its 450 members have contacted the library’s support staff for It issues.

Digital navigators are crucial because they connect community members with the skills and resources they need to become digitally literate and help them get adequate broadband. Navigators can be volunteers or cross-trained staff who already work in social service agencies, libraries, health, and more who offer remote and socially distant in-person guidance. 

Compared to the rest of the country, Salt Lake City is highly connected, said Edson. Every community has a unique demographic make-up, and if the communities who need access to broadband mostly speak Spanish or English or even Mandarin, there should be community anchors with highly trained digital navigators to help the underconnected.

Andrew Au, director of operations at Digital Charlotte, said digital inclusion should include adult education. Every library and public institution that offers internet services should have digital navigators available and onsite to guide individuals in their communities and offer continuing education resources to keep digital skills literacy up, he said.

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Broadband's Impact

Mentorship Instrumental To Women Involvement in Telecom Industry

Experts advise mentorship and encouragement to get more women in the industry.

Derek Shumway

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Photo of Mitsuko Herrera, center, via Montgomery County, Maryland

April 19, 2021 – A group of women were asked to rate gender equality in their workplace on a scale of 1-10. Their average score? About a four. The solution? More mentorship early in their lives.

The women, experts in network companies, spoke at the event, “Women in Broadband: Achieving zero barriers,” hosted by fiber network company Render Networks last Wednesday.

Kari Kump, director of network services at Mammoth Networks, said that in the broadband industry, she rates it a four, and in government jobs, a bit higher at five. Kump said she sees lots of women in marketing positions and non-technical managerial positions that “may oversee tech.” She said the worst gender equality in her view is at the construction site, where women “pay the bills” in the office rather than being out on site.

What’s causing gender inequality? The problem starts long before the job interview. Mitsuko Herrera, from planning and special projects for Montgomery County, said in her current work, only 2 out of 25 colleagues are women.

“The opportunity may be there, but we don’t see a lot of qualified women in the industry,” she said. Even before they reach college, women and girls need to have opportunities for engagement across various industries. Having mentors at an early age would greatly increase women participation and influence at work. In the workspace, praising women privately is just as important as praising them publicly, said Herrera. Women need to know they are supported at all times with all people.

Having better representation at the table is crucial because diverse perspectives affect industry and society for the better, said Laura Smith, vice president of people and culture at Biarri Networks. “The groups making decisions should reflect society,” she said.

And even if there is diversity, it’s not enough to have women at work for diversity’s sake—you also need to listen to that diversity and not ignore it.

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