Civil rights groups must support Net Neutrality

Garlin Gilchrist, SuperSpade

Civil rights are fundamentally about protecting fairness, equality, and freedom for all people. Net neutrality is about protecting fairness, equality and freedom for all online data. From a values perspective, these two concepts are functionally equivalent.

Unfortunately, these shared values are not convincing enough for some civil rights organizations. The Broadband Opportunity Coalition (which, ironically, has no website) consists of the National Urban League, the Asian American Justice Center, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the National Council of La Raza, and other groups that argue for fairness and equality every day.

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Baldwin introduces legislation to protect Community Access TV

Alliance for Community Media

The Alliance for Community Media applauds Wisconsin Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin for introducing the Community Access Preservation (CAP) Act of 2009 (PDF) to address the challenges faced by public, education, and government (PEG) TV channels and community access television stations.

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NTIA awards four states grants for national broadband map

Matthew Lasar, Ars Technica

Broadband stimulus money watchers and recovery plan tea leaf readers are cheering news of the first winners of the Department of Commerce's grants program for broadband mapping projects. They're pleased that the recipients are independent state agencies rather than groups affiliated with the telco/cable-backed non-profit Connected Nation. "We hope that trend continues," Connected's outspoken critic Art Brodsky at Public Knowledge told us. Other observers think that it will.

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Very hot and cold on net neutrality

Craig Settles, Daily Yonder

Net neutrality has become a contentious issue within the media, among pundits and in Congress, generating an edginess on par with healthcare reform discussions. But what does this debate mean to Smalltown, USA, and rural America?

On the face of it, net neutrality is a fairly simple issue, but beneath the surface complex potential benefits and competing interests are churning up a lot of turbulence. In particular, incumbents – the large telecom and cable companies such as AT&T and Comcast, with existing Internet access services – are not happy.

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US continues to lag far behind others in broadband speed

Agence France-Presse

Sweden ranks third in the world in average Internet connection speed, way ahead of the US.

The report by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) said the average download speed in South Korea is 20.4 megabits per second (mbps) -- four times faster than the US average of 5.1 mbps, ranked 28th.

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House GOP leadership complains to Obama about net neutrailty

Cecilia Kang, Washington Post

House Republican leaders complained Friday to President Obama that net neutrality rules proposed by the Federal Communications Commission could deter investment in broadband networks and hurt the economy.

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the House Republican whip, wrote in a letter to the president that the FCC, led by chairman Julius Genachowski, should focus on its congressional mandate to come up with a plan to bring high-speed Internet access to all U.S. homes instead of net neutrality rules. The net neutrality rules would be a separate proceeding from the national broadband plan that is due to Congress in Feb. 2010.

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Speakeasy VOIP blocks calls to freeconference and other "traffic stimulators"

Harold Feld, Tales From the Sausage Factory

In the wake of reports that Google Voice is blocking calls to “traffic stimulator” sites (like free conference calling and free porn sites), Speakeasy has now changed its terms of service to explicitly block calls to these sites with its VOIP product. To its credit, Speakeasy directly informed its users (a friend forwarded me the email reproduced below). But this now elevates the question of VOIP providers and calls to a new level.

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FCC still looking for broadband ideas

Grant Gross, IDG News Service

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is still looking for ideas on how to bring broadband to all corners of the U.S. and to increase subscriber numbers, said the director of the agency's broadband project.

The FCC is about midway through a year-long effort to create a national broadband plan, and Blair Levin, executive director of the FCC's omnibus broadband initiative, said Tuesday he hopes he hasn't heard all the good ideas yet. "There's a lot of capacity for us to hear your good ideas," Levin said during a broadband policy discussion hosted by the Media and Democracy Coalition and OneWebDay.

The U.S. Congress, in legislation passed early this year, required the FCC to create a national broadband plan, with a goal of providing universal broadband. Getting to universal broadband in the U.S. will take a coordinated effort by many groups, Levin said.

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McGinn on public broadband

Glenn Fleishman, PubliCola

It’s odd that the Seattle mayoral candidate who has taken a sabbatical from a telecommunications job, Joe Mallahan, isn’t the one pushing a city-wide broadband plan. Instead, the ostensibly green office seeker, Mike McGinn, pumps the idea that everyone in the city deserves fiber to the door.

In an interview with TechNerd, McGinn leaned on the city’s 2005 recommendations for a city-wide buildout, and a 2007 feasibility study conducted by an outside firm. That study determined that just about $450 million raised in a revenue bond issue, where only proceeds from the service would go to bondholders, and a relatively low subscription rate by residents would allow successful reployment. A good hunk of costs were relative to each subscriber who wanted service, and not incurred until that subscriber was signed up.

Read the full interview.

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Governor’s committee to review broadband project proposals

Office of Governor Chris Gregoire

With $7.2 billion on the table nationally, the state will review proposals to improve broadband connectivity and adoption for Washington communities. Funding is awarded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as competitive grants.

“Broadband connectivity lets public safety agencies share information, grows Washington businesses, improves the effectiveness and quality of health care, makes it possible for students to build job skills through remote education and allows all of us communicate with the world,” Gov. Chris Gregoire said. “These are vital elements of a robust economy and a key to our future prosperity.”

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey