Blog posts tagged with 'Unserved'
Monday, September 19
The Kokomo Tribune’s Daniel Human (via TMC Net) has a report on “Empowering America: Broadband’s Role in Growing the Economy,” a recent panel discussion at Ball State University:
[S]peakers explained how high-speed Internet and WiFi help companies grow, students learn more and doctors keep their patients healthier.
However, obstacles remain, like monthly costs and changes to small communities that are often unwilling to change.
As Human reports, own Bruce Mehlman participated in the discussion:
Panelists Bruce Mehlman, chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance, and Michael Hicks, an economist at Ball State, said the economy had more to gain by the federal government relaxing restrictions on the companies that provide the Internet, allowing the industry to evolve on its own.
Wednesday, August 10
Last week, IIA Strategic Counsel Henry M. Rivera spoke at the 2011 Educational Conference of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Below are his remarks. — IIA
It’s a pleasure and an honor to be here with you at LCLAA’s educational conference.
I did a little research on LCLAA and found that since its inception, LCLAA has worked tirelessly to advance the social, economic, political, human and civil rights of all Latinos and has provided a strong voice for Latino working families nationally. So I’m honored that i’ve been asked to address this distinguished organization.
I feel some kinship with LCLAA because throughout my career, beginning with my appointment to the FCC as the agency’s first Hispanic commissioner, I have had the privilege of advocating for policies designed to both promote and preserve equal opportunity and civil rights in the communications industries, and to close the digital divide. So I have long appreciated the magnitude of the challenges that LCLAA faces.
Following my brief remarks, you will hear from a distinguished panel on the role of broadband in creating jobs and closing the digital divide, an issue that is critical to all of us. So in the few minutes I have with you, I would like to give you an overview of what’s at stake in this debate, why we need to care, and why now is the right time to act.
Monday, February 07
As noted last week, tomorrow the FCC will be taking the first steps toward updating the Universal Service Fund for the broadband age. Reports Edward Wyatt of the New York Times:
Most of the money under discussion involves a longstanding subsidy known as the Universal Service Fund, which is paid for through fees tacked onto most consumers’ phone bills and distributed among telephone companies to subsidize the high costs of providing service to rural areas.
Mr. Genachowski will propose phasing out the payments between phone companies, which he says create “inefficiencies and perverse incentives” that result in waste in the fund. The F.C.C. will also propose consolidating existing methods of paying for rural phone service into a new pool to be called the Connect America Fund, to be used for helping pay for making broadband available to underserved areas.
Wyatt goes on to report that Tuesday will just be the beginning of what is sure to be a long process, with the question of financing the program still looming.
Monday, August 24
Last week, IIA Broadband Ambassador Craig Settles participated in one of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan workshops, where he spoke about low adoption and the benefits of increased broadband use. All in all, Settles found the workshop to be a positive experience. But as he notes on his blog, simply talking about a plan isn’t enough. Writes Settles:
Our national broadband policy could put us on track to transform millions of lives and businesses in hundreds of communities. Or it could be great mental gymnastics that many look back on one day and wistfully ponder what could have been. I lean toward the former with a couple of cautions.
One suggestion Settles has is for the workshops to not be limited to the traditional players, but rather, be open for the people a national broadband plan is meant to help—and the FCC may have to go to them:
The value of the workshops to date will be doubled or tripled if the FCC brings the people with the pain into the needs analysis process. But you have to go to them. As I said last week in my FierceBroadband column, go into formerly un- and underserved rural and urban areas that now have effective community-driven broadband networks. See firsthand what technologies they’re using, how these technologies were selected, what were the challenges to implementing the technology, what are the challenges to keeping everything operational and current.
Settles is right. As the FCC continues its workshop program — and especially with regional workshops having been planned for the coming months — hearing from those without broadband access is going to be very important if a national broadband plan is going to work.
Monday, August 17
Ever since the federal broadband grant rules were released, a controversy has brewed over the definitions of “unserved” and “underserved” communities, with officials in a number of urban areas worrying that the definitions, as currently worded, would leave their communities out in the cold.
Now, Business Week reports, the city of San Francisco—which despite being known as a technology hotbed still has areas in need of broadband access—is sitting out the initial round of grants:
To qualify for funding, applicants need to prove they’re catering to an “underserved” area. Yet the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA), which is overseeing the program, defines underserved as one where at least half of all households lack broadband, or where fewer than 40% of households subscribe to broadband, or a place where no service provider advertises broadband speeds of at least 3 megabits per second. In a densely populated city like San Francisco, where telecom providers like AT&T (T) and Comcast (CMCSA) widely advertise residential broadband all over the city, it’s hard to point to a place that technically meets the “underserved” definition.
Business Week contacted a spokeswoman for FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and was told that the commission won’t comment on the broadband grants process. The NTIA was a bit more forthcoming:
Mark Seifert, senior adviser to NTIA director Strickling, says potential applicants should nevertheless file an application and make the best case possible. He says a good way to make the case is for applicants to take surveys among the local population to see what kind of service is available. But the priority, he says, is for bringing broadband to places where it’s either not available at all or only marginally available. “We know that this program alone will not achieve the President’s goal of broadband for everyone,” Seifert says. “We have limited dollars to invest, and we have a directive from Congress and the public record telling us to invest it in areas that are unserved or underserved.”
Wednesday, July 29
Emily Sheketoff, Executive Director of the ALA, has sent a letter to NTIA asking that the definitions of “unserved” and “underserved” not be applied to the country’s libraries:
Congress’s commitment of $7.2 billion in funding for broadband connectivity via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was viewed as an opportunity to connect all of our communities in a cost-effective, inclusive way. However, the ALA believes the release of the first-round NOFA raises significant concerns and hurdles for libraries considering applying for broadband funding. These concerns stem from what was perceived as the ARRA’s giving libraries, as anchor institutions, priority with regard to the five statutory purposes. However, the NOFA in effect de-prioritizes libraries and discourages them from applying for funding in a number of ways.
For many people, libraries provide the only opportunity to access the Internet. For a national broadband plan to be truly effective, libraries can’t be left out.
Monday, May 11
Speaking of the recent Benton Foundation broadband event, App-Rising has an extensive recap of the discussion. The full thing is worth reading, but this observation from Seattle CTO Bill Schrier stands out:
The most powerful statement Bill made was the observation that virtually the entire US is unserved. He says this because if a community were fully served it’d have fiber, yet the vast majority of Americans do not have access to this level of world-class broadband. He then took it a step further, arguing that the reason telework doesn’t work is that we don’t have universal access to high-speed, symmetrical broadband, the kind of connectivity that fiber delivers. Then he drove the point home with a series of rhetorical questions: With the stimulus are we going to build roads? Are we going to build copper? Or are we going to build fiber?
As they say, read the whole thing.
Monday, April 27
Before the $7.2 billion earmarked for broadband expansion in the federal stimulus gets put to use, some basic steps need to be taken. Telephony reports:
One of the principal tasks now undertaken by the agencies that will distribute roughly $7.2 billion in federal broadband stimulus funds is defining what exactly they mean by “broadband.”
In addition to other key terms such as “unserved” and “underserved areas,” “broadband” is one of the terms that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration is currently asking the public to help define for the purposes of distributing that funding. Public input so far has been voluminous.
Friday, April 24
Wonder how much broadband access would mean to many unserved rural areas? Look no further than this article from The Tennessean:
The high-speed computer connections most urban residents and businesses take for granted are nowhere to be found in many rural, and not-so-rural, areas in Middle Tennessee.
The federal government is hoping to change that with an infusion of $7.2 billion in broadband stimulus money to the states.
“We’re desperate for broadband access,” said James T. Marshall, supervisor of technology for Robertson County schools, who spends his days setting up online educational programs that many of his students can’t access at home. Many parts of Robertson County are unserved by any high-speed Internet provider — including Marshall’s neighborhood, just south of Springfield.
“I am four miles from a major city. Four miles. And I cannot get DSL at my house,” he said, referring to the high-speed lines he has tried, without success, to convince AT&T to extend his neighborhood. “How much sense does it make that people are begging for a service and companies still won’t provide it?”
Monday, April 20
Monday, April 13
Two interesting (and fairly wonky) articles covering broadband stimulus, underserved vs. unserved, and national broadband plans worth checking out. First up, Ars Technica:
As the National Telecommunications Information Agency allocates a big share of the stimulus dinero through its Broadband Technological Opportunities Program, it must consult with the FCC on how to define three terms and two concepts key to the Recovery Act. The terms are “broadband,” which is supposed to flow to “unserved” and “underserved” areas. The concepts are “the non-discrimination obligations that will be contractual conditions of BTOP grants” and “the network interconnection obligations that will be contractual conditions of BTOP grants.”
The Commission is also charged with advising the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service about these same questions. That’s the agency to which the FCC’s Jonathan Adelstein will soon relocate.
The feedback has been flowing in since the FCC released this proceeding in late March, but perhaps the most interesting and unexpected input has been the counsel offered by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and some of the big telcos. NCTA’s attorney told the Commission that it should define “non-discrimination” as “adherence to the principles contained in the FCC’s August 2005 Broadband Policy Statement” (more often called the agency’s Internet Policy Statement).
The second article comes from the video game site Gamasutra, kicking off a planned series of articles on a national broadband strategy:
For the games industry, the national debate on broadband is an opportunity. The industry drives a lot of broadband adoption today and can do so in the future as well. When the FCC asks how to define “broadband” for purposes of its plan, the industry should have a lot to say.
I am encouraged by the fact that the FCC, for the first time I’ve seen, is seriously asking whether it should be more nuanced in its definition of “broadband.” It asks, for example, whether latency should be included along with bandwidth as the measurement of broadband. This could go a long way toward solving one of the persistent problems facing online games – inequality of play due to differences in broadband capabilities.
Alternatively, the FCC asks whether to define broadband in terms of the ability to perform certain acts within a certain amount of time. Traditionally, this has been stated as the ability to download a movie within x minutes, but what implications would follow if broadband were defined as the ability to conduct real-time voice and video collaboration among large groups of simultaneous users? That would offer a boon to MMOGs, but also to online poker, video conferencing, distance learning and a whole host of other applications.
Monday, March 30
With $7 billion waiting to be deployed in bringing high-speed Internet to unserved and underserved areas, everyone has an opinion on the best course of action. Enter a little software company from the Pacific Northwest. Ars Technica reports:
The Microsoft corporation has weighed in on how the government should spend its billions in broadband stimulus money. The software giant says that the stimulus cash should be used to extend fiber networks to critical public institutions.
“With less than $7 billion in recovery funds available, we believe it is impossible to blanket the nation with the broadband capacity that our local governments, anchor institutions, businesses and residents ultimately require,” Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s Chief Research and Strategy Officer wrote to the Federal Communications Commission on March 25. “The question therefore becomes one of how to maximize the near- and long-term return on taxpayers’ investment in broadband.”
The answer: “Connecting schools, libraries and hospitals will generate the quickest, most impactful and most equitable distribution of social benefits.”