Legislation and Regulation

Inslee: Broadband plan moves US towards fast lane of the information superhighway

Reclaim the Media

This afternoon, Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA), member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, released the following statement on today's release of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) 2020 Broadband Vision document:

The FCC's broadband proposal outlines a comprehensive approach to advancing the technology and innovation that are integral to our economic future. No place is this more evident than in my home state of Washington, where 40% of the jobs are in technology based industries that rely on broadband, and that number continues to grow.

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Summary of National Broadband Strategy


Federal Communications Commission draft summary of its "National Broadband Plan," scheduled for delivery to Congress this week:


Broadband is the great infrastructure challenge of the early 21st century.

Like electricity a century ago, broadband is a foundation for economic growth, job creation, global competitiveness and a better way of life. It is enabling entire new industries and unlocking vast new possibilities for existing ones. It is changing how we educate children, deliver health care, manage energy, ensure public safety, engage government, and access, organize and disseminate knowledge.

Fueled primarily by private sector investment and innovation, the American broadband ecosystem has evolved rapidly. The number of Americans who subscribe to broadband has grown from eight million in 2000 to nearly 200 million last year. Increasingly capable fixed and mobile networks allow Americans to access a growing number of valuable applications through innovative devices.

But broadband in America is not all it needs to be. Approximately 100 million Americans do not have broadband at home. Broadband-enabled health information technology (IT) can improve care and lower costs by hundreds of billions of dollars in the coming decades, yet the United States is behind many advanced countries in the adoption of such technology. Broadband can provide teachers with tools that allow students to learn the same course material in half the time, but there is a dearth of easily accessible digital educational content required for such opportunities. A broadband-enabled Smart Grid could increase energy independence and efficiency, but much of the data required to capture these benefits are inaccessible to consumers, businesses and entrepreneurs. And nearly a decade after 9/11, our first responders still lack a nationwide public safety mobile broadband communications network, even though such a network could improve emergency response and homeland security.

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Connecting the telecom dots behind net neutrality (it's about the money)

Art Brodsky, Public Knowledge

The Pew and the American Life project came out with a pretty scary report last week. The words, “Pew” and “scary” aren’t often used together, but in this case the description is apt.

Pew’s latest study on the future of the Internet asked in technical terms whether the Internet over the next 10 year will be controlled by consumers. The specific question was: Will the Internet still be dominated by the end‐to‐end principle? The “end-to-end principle” that was built into the Internet at its early stages means that consumers at one end of an Internet connection had a direct, one-to-one relationship with the online destination – a chat site, music site, shopping site, news site, whatever you want and wherever you want to go without interference or influence from the company making that connection for you – the Internet Service Provider (ISP).

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NTIA Chief: Net Needs a Ref

John Eggerton, Multichannel News

The Obama Administration's chief communications-policy adviser last week said the government should definitely be involved in sorting out the policy tension between competing Internet interests -- such as the dust-up over network neutrality.

In a speech to the Media Institute here, Assistant Commerce Secretary for Communications and Information Lawrence Strickling, head of the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, said that a hands-off policy was the right approach in the Internet's infancy, but suggested such a regime was more suited to the last century.

He also took a shot at the "broadband ecosystem" metaphor that Federal Communications Commission officials, including chairman Julius Genachowski, have been using with increasing frequency.

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At FCC Workshop in Columbia, South Carolinians demand access to the airwaves

Prometheus Radio Project

Tuesday s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) workshop on broadcast ownership was transformed when South Carolinian supporters of low power radio flooded the public comment sessions calling for an expansion of the low power FM (LPFM) service.

Any discussion of broadcasting and media ownership in South Carolina should include the need to expand and strengthen low power radio, said Stephen Varholy, general manager of Columbia, South Carolina s low power WXRY-LP.

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Data shows bad economy couldn't stop broadband growth

Matthew Lasar, Ars Technica

The Federal Communications Commission's new status report for high-speed Internet services indicates that broadband adoption in the United States grew in 2008 by ten percent, to a total of 77 million fixed-location broadband connections. That's in contrast to 2007, when fixed broadband subscribership rose by 17 percent.

You can read 2008's slower pace as a sad commentary on the nation's oft-lamented rate of broadband penetration. Or you can interpret it as good news, considering that consumers kept buying relatively fast Internet connections through a year when the US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate, well, didn't grow, to put it politely. GDP began at a tepid 2.1 percent in January of '08 and dropped to 5.4 degrees below zero by January '09, then got even worse in the next fiscal quarter.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate began its unpleasant march from 4.8 percent in March to 7.4 percent in December of that year, then got even worse (as you doubtless noticed).

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FCC sets goal for 100 million to have at least 100-megabit broadband by 2020

Mark Hachmann, PC Magazine

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission set an aggressive goal of delivering 100-Mbit/s broadband service to 100 million Americans by the year 2020, the same day that a U.S. Department of Commerce study found that a significant portion of U.S. consumers were still not online.

Chairman Julius Genachowski, speaking to the NARUC conference in Washington D.C., said that the agency was finalizing a national broadband plan that the FCC began working on last year. He warned that the U.S. risked falling behind other countries, both in wired and wireless broadband availability and speed.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Commerce, working off U.S. Census data, found that "too many Americans still rely on slow, narrowband Internet access or do not use the Internet at all," according to Lawrence E. Strickling, assistant Secretary for Communciations and Information at the Commerce Department.

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Why public access TV is important and you should fight for the CAP Act

Tracy Rosenberg, Huffington Post

In May of 2009, I became a public access television producer. Couldn't have picked a worse time.

Not because I don't enjoy hosting and co-producing Media News. It's a great joy to interview guests and try to shed a little light on the issues closest to my heart including: net neutrality and the digital divide, coverage of turmoil abroad and at home, the loss of local public affairs coverage and the rise in citizen journalism. I feel privileged to bring voices that need to be heard onto my local TV dial.

The reason it was bad timing is that the nation's more than 3,000 public access centers are on the verge of extinction. Yours may go next week, next month or next year, but their days are numbered due to statewide cable franchising.

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Obama "a big believer in net neutrality"

Tim Karr, Save the Internet

The power of the open Internet was on full display Monday as President Obama responded to questions from the public in a followup to last week's State of the Union address. Appropriately, one questioner asked about the president's support for the open Internet itself. Watch the President's answer in this clip.

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Why are some civil rights groups and leaders on the wrong side of net neutrality?

James Rucker, The Seminal/FireDogLake

It’s said that politics creates strange bedfellows. I was reminded how true this can be when I traveled to D.C. in recent weeks to figure out why several advocacy groups and legislators with histories of advocating for minority interests are lining up with big telecom companies in opposition to the FCC’s efforts to pass “Net Neutrality” rules.

Net Neutrality is the principle that prevents Internet Service Providers from controlling what kind of content or applications you can access online. It sounds wonky, but for Black and other communities, an open Internet offers a transformative opportunity to truly control our own voice and image, while reaching the largest number of people possible. This dynamic is one major reason why Barack Obama was elected president and why organizations like ColorOfChange.org exist.

So I was troubled to learn that several Congressional Black Caucus members were among 72 Democrats to write the FCC last fall questioning the need for Net Neutrality rules. I was further troubled that a number of our nation’s leading civil rights groups had also taken positions questioning or against Net Neutrality, using arguments that were in step with those of the big phone and cable companies like AT&T and Comcast, which are determined to water down any new FCC rules.

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