Monday, March 15
Over the weekend, the Washington Post published an editorial by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in advance of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan:
Our nation is at a high-tech crossroads: Either we commit to creating world-leading broadband networks to make sure that the next waves of innovation and business growth occur here, or we stand pat and watch inventions and jobs migrate to those parts of the world with better, faster and cheaper communications infrastructures.
This, of course, is not a choice—which is why, this week, at the behest of Congress and the president, the Federal Communications Commission is delivering the first National Broadband Plan: a comprehensive strategy for dramatically improving our broadband networks and extending their benefits to all Americans.
On a related note, today the FCC has released the Executive Summary for the National Broadband Plan, available here in a PDF.
An editorial in the Wall Street Journal examines the FCC’s National Broadband Plan — scheduled to be previewed tomorrow — and worries that it may lead to a power grab by the government agency:
In 2009 alone, broadband providers spent nearly $60 billion on their networks. Absent any evidence of market failure, the best course for the FCC is to report back to Congress that a broadband industrial policy is unnecessary. Instead, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is moving to increase the reach of his agency and expand government control of the Web.
Among other things, he wants broadband services reclassified so the FCC can more heavily regulate them. The national broadband plan, to be unveiled tomorrow, will call for using the federal Universal Service Fund to subsidize broadband deployment. The USF currently subsidizes phone service in rural areas, and Mr. Genachowski knows that current law prevents it from being used to subsidize broadband unless broadband is reclassified as a telecom service. Congress ought to be wary of letting the FCC expand its jurisdiction through back doors like this.
Via Computer World UK, a new report on security finds that when it comes to data breaches, simple human error trumps encryption solutions every time.
In an apparent attempt to silence dissent, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is calling for regulation of the Internet.
Communities with new access to broadband experienced 6.4 percent higher employment growth, on average, than they did before getting broadband.
“Where Jobs Come From, The Role of Innovation, Investment, and Infrastructure in Economic and Job Growth.” By Jessica Milano, February 2010.
More facts about broadband.
Thursday, March 11
Immediately following the unveiling of the FCC’s national broadband plan next Tuesday, Chairman Julius Genachowski will be fielding questions on YouTube about the plan and the FCC’s steps moving forward. Questions can be submitted via CitizenTube.
Geoff Daily of App-Rising has concerns about how projects are being chosen for broadband stimulus funds:
Last night CNN aired a story during the Situation Room highlighting two participants in the first round of the broadband stimulus.
The first was Hiawatha Broadband, a terrific rural broadband deployer in southeastern Minnesota. They interviewed a host of people about how the hardscrabble rural towns Hiawatha was aiming to serve don’t have broadband at all, and as a result their public safety is in jeopardy as they have no efficient way to communicate during an emergency. Unfortunately, despite the fact that they’re a poster child for the types of communities the broadband stimulus is intended to help, their application was denied.
Then CNN went up to Bretton Woods, NH, where RUS did find a project it deemed worthy of funding, namely building fiber to 400 skiing chalets. I’d been suspicious about this program already, but CNN put an even finer point on it: only 40 of those homes actually have full-time residents.
In a move to free up more of the nation’s spectrum for wireless use, the House Energy & Commerce Committee passed a spectrum inventory bill yesterday. Via Broadcasting & Cable:
H.R. 3125, the Radio Spectrum Inventory Act, requires the FCC and the National Telecommunications & Information Administration to conduct an inventory of how spectrum is being used, by whom and how efficiently.
House Communications & Internet Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Rick Boucher, who co-sponsored the bill, said the new four-year time frame was “in recognition that the agencies simply need time in order to perform the complex evaluations that will undermine these evaluations.”
Wednesday, March 10
As part of its upcoming national broadband plan, the FCC has announced it wants to create a “digital literacy corps” to help educate people in low broadband adoption areas about the benefits of broadband. Reports Broadcasting & Cable:
[FCC Chairman Julius] Genachowski said that rural, minority, low-income, seniors, the disabled and tribal communities have fallen behind in broadband, and the cost of digital exclusion is “high and growing higher every day.”
Other inclusion proposals include creating an “online skills” portal with free lessons and digital education, though of course that will require broadband availability.
The FCC will also recommend public funding for the National Telecommunications & Information Administration to support public-private partnerships for outreach and education and targeted support for senior citizens.
Via Salon comes the heartwarming tale of comedian Conan O’Brien, an anonymous Twitter user, and the contest O’Brien held to “change someone’s life forever.”