Yesterday’s Broadband Symposium —featuring such speakers as West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, NBA All-Star Chris Bosh, and rural broadband success story Becky Collins (aka “Granny B”)—was a big success. Many thanks to everyone involved, from planning to participating to Twittering during the event.
The broadband forum came as two U.S. agencies, the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), get ready to distribute US$7.2 billion for broadband deployment beginning later this year. The IIA pushes for broadband to continue to be a top priority in the U.S. government.
Several speakers at the broadband forum, including professional basketball player Chris Bosh and West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, made their cases for why universal broadband availability is important in the U.S.
As money from the federal economic stimulus package arrives in West Virginia, Gov. Joe Manchin is making high-speed Internet access a priority across the state.
“If you come to me for water and sewer money, you better be putting wire in that ditch,” Manchin said Wednesday in Washington after accepting an award from the Internet Innovation Alliance, a group that seeks to increase broadband Internet access in the U.S. “I’m not going to be digging that ditch up twice.”
The effort to increase broadband adoption has mainly focused on increasing broadband access and availability to drive demand, this may not be enough to increase broadband adoption.
That was the message that non-profit representatives and a consulting firm agreed upon in a panel discussion, titled “Making Broadband Affordable for All Americans,” and hosted by the Internet Innovation Alliance at the Washington Newseum on Wednesday.
Some 63% of adult Americans have broadband internet connections at home, according to the April 2009 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. This figure compares with 55% recorded a year earlier and the eight percentage point increase translates into a 15% growth rate from May 2008 to May 2009. The growth rate is comparable to those recorded in the past three years.
Good news, as is the report’s findings that broadband adoption increased among seniors and low-income households. Unfortunately, among African Americans, the report also finds that broadband adoption remained nearly stagnant for the second year in a row.
Two items to report. First up is an op-ed from IIA Co-Chairmen Bruce Mehlman and Larry Irving on Roll Call. It’s titled “Making Broadband Dollars Count: Maximizing Our Return on the Feds’ High-Speed Internet Investments,” and here’s a taste:
An effective national broadband strategy will enable the government to partner with the private sector to extend broadband service to every corner of the country, while at the same time raising awareness of its benefits. A national broadband strategy should also evolve as technologies improve and as we learn more from broadband mapping and from the return on initial stimulus investments. The best strategy will start by examining where we stand today and then identify policies to get us where we want to be.
“The stimulus money will be doled out in the form of competitive grants and loans. The overseeing agencies are expected to release application guidelines by the end of June.
“I think you’ll see applications by private competitors, by public interest nonprofits, and by government agencies at the state and local level,” said Bruce Mehlman, co-chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance.
The alliance, an organization that advocates the expansion of broadband connections, believes the majority of the money should go toward unserved areas rather than underserved.
“It’s more of a triage than a like of one and dislike of the other. If you have limited stimulus dollars, someone with no connection at all has a clear problem, and an understandable solution,” Mehlman said.
Fixing issues in unserved regions is simpler than defining and troubleshooting problems in underserved regions, the alliance asserts.
“What’s underserved is subject to a debate that hasn’t yet happened,” Mehlman said.
While traditional TV still rules when it comes to viewers, MLB’s major play in the mobile space further demonstrates that the future of video is online, be it through a cable to your computer or the air to your phone.
The Internet Innovation Alliance presents its Biannual Symposium:
Developing a National Broadband Strategy: Deployment, Adoption and the Stimulus
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
8:45 a.m. - 2 p.m. The Newseum, 8th Floor
Breakfast and lunch will be served
The Symposium will:
• Examine the steps necessary to bring broadband access to unserved and rural communities
• Address issues of broadband demand and how content can be a driver of broadband adoption
• Discuss the future of broadband Internet, deployment of stimulus funds and impacts on minority and underserved communities
West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III
Sylvia Aguilera, Director, Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership Becky Collins, Small Business Owner Howie Hodges, SVP of Government Affairs, One Economy Corporation John Horrigan, Associate Director, Research, Pew Internet and American Life Project Craig Settles, Industry Analyst, President of Successful.com Scott Wallsten, Senior Policy Fellow, Vice President for Research & Senior Fellow, Technology Policy Institute
For those who can’t attend, we’ll be live streaming the symposium right here. Check in tomorrow.
With Iran plunged into post-election turmoil, and the Iranian government cracking down on reporting from within the nation, Twitter has emerged as the go-to source for news from the streets. As the New York Times reports:
On Twitter, reports and links to photos from a peaceful mass march through Tehran on Monday, along with accounts of street fighting and casualties around the country, have become the most popular topic on the service worldwide, according to Twitter’s published statistics.
IIA has released its recommendation to the FCC on keys to an effective National Broadband Strategy. Among the recommendations:
• Focus on what we know while we learn what we need to know. We know roughly 10 million households lack any broadband options, and connecting them requires billions of dollars. By contrast, policy makers need greater qualitative information on why many Americans are choosing not to subscribe to broadband where it is available. The National Broadband Strategy should embrace new innovative programs, but not rush decisions that will benefit from the broadband mapping currently underway.
• Tap local knowledge. States and localities have much to offer to the broadband discussion. Federal officials should work closely with Mayors, Governors and community leaders, seeking every opportunity to empower those on the ground who are closest to the challenges and most creative in customizing answers.
• Enable Entrepreneurs and Plan for Major Innovations. Federal investments in broadband should never lock communities or the market into specific technologies or standards. While government planners should reflect previous experience, such as the benefits of connecting libraries and community technology centers, they should also enable game-changing technologies to transform the landscape.
• Implement sustainable solutions. We must take care to avoid new entitlement programs, connecting communities and individuals with broadband offerings that they can never afford to maintain. Government investments that lack sustainable funding are not sound investments in our future. Similarly, federal regulations to direct one-time grants should complement, not imperil, the $60-$80 billion annually invested by private actors in the telecommunications marketplace.
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