Communications Rights

FCC developing plan to deliver broadband

The Federal Communications Commission yesterday began mapping out a plan to bring high-speed Internet service to the entire nation, starting with questions on how to increase its availability, improve its quality of service and make it more affordable.

In a meeting yesterday, acting FCC Chairman Michael J. Copps invited comments from the public on the national broadband plan the agency has been ordered by Congress to complete by February 2010. He said the process for creating the plan will be "open, inclusive, out-reaching and data-hungry."

The meeting was largely intended to set the stage for greater debate on contested policies that could be included in the FCC's broadband plan and would likely be spearheaded by President Obama's nominee to lead the agency, Julius Genachowski. The public will be able to submit comments to the agency for the next 60 days and then reply comments will be open for another 30 days.

Read more. Cecilia Kang, Washington Post (Cecilia Kang/Washington Post)

FCC developing plan to deliver broadband

Cecilia Kang, Washington Post, Washington Post

The Federal Communications Commission yesterday began mapping out a plan to bring high-speed Internet service to the entire nation, starting with questions on how to increase its availability, improve its quality of service and make it more affordable.

In a meeting yesterday, acting FCC Chairman Michael J. Copps invited comments from the public on the national broadband plan the agency has been ordered by Congress to complete by February 2010. He said the process for creating the plan will be "open, inclusive, out-reaching and data-hungry."

The meeting was largely intended to set the stage for greater debate on contested policies that could be included in the FCC's broadband plan and would likely be spearheaded by President Obama's nominee to lead the agency, Julius Genachowski. The public will be able to submit comments to the agency for the next 60 days and then reply comments will be open for another 30 days.

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Public interest groups take a critical look at broadband mapping

As the Washington State Legislature considers measures designed to make use of federal broadband stimulus funds for broadband mapping and deployment, a new report urges caution in how such funds are spent. The $350 million broadband mapping program required by the recent federal stimulus bill would be set back if there is widespread participation in it by a group called Connected Nation, according to the report issued jointly by a number of public interest groups including Public Knolwedge and Reclaim the Media.

According to the report, "It would be a setback for our broadband policy if Connected Nation were to take a prominent role in broadband mapping and data collection if it continues on its present policy course because the organization does not represent wise public policy and because it distorts its results."

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Seattle inches toward fiber broadband service

Brier Dudley, Seattle Times

The city of Seattle's ambitious effort to develop a citywide fiber-optic broadband service is moving ahead, but slowly. That was the gist of an update presented Wednesday at the City Council's energy and technology committee.

After years of committees and task forces, the city hired a consultant last fall to analyze its options. They range from building and operating a municipal system, like Tacoma's, to subsidizing a privately built network with city assets such as right of way and existing fiber lines.

The city now favors a particular approach: It would build the heart of the system, extending fiber to neighborhoods, at which point a private company would connect homes and businesses and sell the broadband services.

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Afghan student journalist facing 20 years in prison

Jerome Starkey, The Independent (UK)

Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, the student journalist sentenced to death for blasphemy in Afghanistan, has been told he will spend the next 20 years in jail after the country's highest court ruled against him – without even hearing his defence.

The 23-year-old, brought to worldwide attention after an Independent campaign, was praying that Afghanistan's top judges would quash his conviction for lack of evidence, or because he was tried in secret and convicted without a defence lawyer. Instead, almost 18 months after he was arrested for allegedly circulating an article about women's rights, any hope of justice and due process evaporated amid gross irregularities, allegations of corruption and coercion at the Supreme Court. Justices issued their decision in secret, without letting Mr Kambaksh's lawyer submit so much as a word in his defence.

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Lightpath proposal would unite public media, education for faster broadband

Steve Behrens, Current

‘Let’s drive that thing,” Joaquín Alvarado urged the webmasters and pubcasters at the Integrated Media Association’s Public Media Conference Feb. 19 in Atlanta. “How many of you folks are right now planning your NTIA grant?”

Alvarado, a filmmaker and media advocate who founded the National Public Lightpath project that CPB, PBS and NPR endorsed in their January letter to President-elect Obama, was talking about a $7.2 billion public-service opportunity in federal economic-stimulus spending.

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Thai police target websites critical of royals

Marwaan Macan-Markar, Inter Press Service

BANGKOK - As if the country’s draconian lese-majeste laws are not harsh enough, Thailand’s thought police have another weapon, the computer crimes law, to curtail the space for free expression.

Friday saw a new low in this South-east Asian country when the police raided the Bangkok office of ‘Prachatai’, a popular alternative news website, to arrest its editor, Chiranuch Premchaiporn.

She was charged with violating article 15 of this law, which came into force in 2007, when the country was under the grip of a junta that had come to power after the September 2006 army coup.

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Pirate Bay: a guilty verdict is an attack on the Internet

Nate Anderson, Ars Technica

The Pirate Bay trial wrapped up today in Sweden as the defendants gave their closing statements; the verdict is currently scheduled for April 17th. In the meantime, "I think we're going to go party," said defendant Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi in a brief press conference after the trial.

The Pirate Bay website was down yesterday after power failures at one of its data centers, but defendant Fredrik Neij brought it back online today from within the court, even as the four lawyers stood one by one to defend the legality of the site.

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Digital TV for All? Not so Fast

Elizabeth Ann Peer, Inter Press Service

Imagine turning on your television and all you see is black and white fuzz.

This might be the scenario for the estimated 6 million U.S. citizens who have been left in the dark when it has come to the nation's required digital television transition.

While U.S. households will now have until Jun. 12 instead of Feb. 17 to prepare their television sets for the transition from analog to digital broadcast, there are still many roadblocks that stand in the way for those who rely on analog television.

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Broadband as stimulus

Rebecca Cole, The Swamp/Chicago Tribune

In Martin County, Ky., a remote corner of Appalachia, it can take hours to reach a distant doctor's office, a simple cholesterol check costing a miner a day's work.

"It's a long way from an office building to the mine," says Dr. Raymond Wells.

So amid the secluded mountains and hollers where President Lyndon Johnson announced his war on poverty, Wells, who has practiced medicine in the coal fields for 40 years, has brought medical care to the mine, serving 1,115 people where they work with a nurse practitioner on-site and the physician holding high-speed Internet videoconferences with patients.

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