Yesterday, we released our “2013 Broadband Guide for the 113th Congress,” an easy-to-understand guide to all things broadband and the Internet. Here’s some highlights of the coverage the Guide has received so far. First up, John Eggerton of Broadcasting & Cable, who writes:
Among that guidance is that the transition to IP delivery is the future of communications, a future that will require reforming regulations meant for a copper wire, analog world. “Requiring incumbent telephone providers to maintain costly antiquated networks siphons investment away from deployment of advanced, high-speed next-generation IP-based networks that consumers prefer,” the guide says.
The IIA guide highlights the usage of broadband connectivity in the advancement of distance learning in schools, as well as how an internet protocol-based network can impact the consumer’s availability and access to healthcare. One healthcare application is a “technology- enabled electronic stethoscope, which amplifies heart sounds while canceling out ambient noise.”
The alliance wants policymakers to be well-informed, so they start small (the FAQ section has questions like “What is broadband?” and “Who owns the Internet?”) and work their way up to bigger policy issues like, “How do we migrate America’s communications to all-IP networks?” You, too, can get taken to school, by perusing the guide.
Earlier this week, we announced former Congressman Rick Boucher (D-Va.) had joined IIA as honorary co-chairman. As former leader of the House telecom subcommittee, Rep. Boucher is widely regarded as an expert on telecom policy.
The Hill’s Sara Jerome sat down with Rep. Boucher to talk about joining IIA and why he is an advocate for the joining of AT&T and T-Mobile. From the article:
“The primary issue is access to broadband. I think the secondary issue is the effect on competition,” he said. “The effect on competition is minimal enough that we should not sacrifice the chance to bring broadband to virtually everyone who wants it.”
Boucher would not predict whether the deal would decrease competition “since new carriers are cropping up all the time.” He noted that most major cities have five or more wireless carriers.
A former rural lawmaker, Boucher emphasized the benefits for the countryside if AT&T were to expand broadband to hard-to-reach areas, as its pledge says it will.
“Broadband is the bridge that links our rural communities to the economic mainstream,” Boucher said.
Online magazine The Root has published its annual “Root 100” list, a selection of people who “represent the ideals of The Root.” Among those named this year: NBA star LeBron James, musician Wyclef Jean, actor and Tony Award winner Viola Davis… and our very own Co-Chairman David Sutphen.
From The Root’s write-up about the list:
Sutphen exploits his rich background in politics, media and law to help shape the national policy debate on regulating the Internet. An attorney with the Brunswick Group, he also serves as co-chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance, a coalition of media businesses, nonprofits and other stakeholders committed to establishing America’s rules of the road regarding the Web. Before his current roles, Sutphen served as a senior executive at Viacom, chief of staff for former Rep. Harold Ford, as Sen. Edward Kennedy’s general counsel and an attorney for the Recording Industry Association of America.
IIA Co-Chairman David Sutphen has an article on RollingOut on the high cost the African American community — and other communities currently languishing across the digital divide — are paying:
Unfortunately, too many African Americans are at a competitive disadvantage because they don’t have an important asset in today’s digitally driven society — a broadband Internet connection. At a time when the Internet has become our society’s economic, political and cultural glue, the lack of high-speed broadband access means you’re not competing on a level playing field.
IIA Co-Chairman David Sutphen has an op-ed for theGrio examining two recent reports from Pew that show suggest when it comes to closing the digital divide America is making progress:
A closer look at the Pew studies reveals that real progress is being made, through home broadband and wireless internet-connected devices, toward closing the digital divide for African-Americans. For example, from 2009 to 2010, the home broadband year-over-year usage rate of African-Americans increased by 22 percent from 46 percent to 56 percent, while the rate for white Americans and Hispanics remained largely steady. As a result, what was a 19 percent gap (whites 65 percent/African-Americans 46 percent) between white and African American home broadband rates in 2009, has dropped to an 11 percent gap (whites 67 percent/ African-Americans 56 percent) in one year. Moreover, Pew found that African Americans “lead the way” over whites and Hispanics in connecting to the internet through mobile handheld devices, and rank #1 when it comes to wireless data application usage.
Last week, IIA Co-Chairman Bruce Mehlman participated in luncheon in Wichita, Kansas to discuss Internet regulation and its effect on investment and innovation. Both the Wichita Eagle and Wichita Liberty have coverage of the event.
IIA Co-chairman David Sutphen has penned an op-ed for Fierce Telecom on net neutrality and its effect on the digital divide. Here’s a snippet:
Those who have been slow to adopt are also those for whom broadband can make the most difference. Too many minorities, non-English speaking populations, and members of low income and rural communities remain disconnected. Policies proposed in the National Broadband Plan such as digital literacy programs and making technology more affordable address the challenges facing these demographics and could have a powerful and positive impact, provided it is not accompanied by new regulations that would depress investment. Net neutrality did not cause—nor will it close—the Digital Divide.
Broadband access can offer job opportunities, economic development and improved quality of life.
One group helping to lead efforts for universal broadband is the U.S. Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA).
Based in Washington, D.C., IIA is a non-profit organization guided by the principle that any family or business without broadband access is at a disadvantage to those who do have broadband.
“There is going to be a lot of talk about broadband in the next one or two years. An integral part of that discussion is what’s happening in rural America - how do we get up to the speed they need to lead a broadband life?” said Larry Irving, co-chair of the U.S. Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA).
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.
The Dominion Post (via TMC.net) has a great read on how broadband access can change lives. Quoted in the article is IIA Co-Chairman Larry Irving, along with Brian Mefford, CEO of Connected Nation and IIA Broadband Ambassador.
[E]xperts acknowledge there’s a real possibility key players could sit the program out, or not participate as heavily as expected.
“If regulation is onerous, then yes, it will slow down investment,” warned Bruce Melhman, who ran the NTIA during President George W. Bush’s first term. He now wears several hats, including co-chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance, which represents companies and public-interest groups that support wider broadband deployment.
But co-chairman Larry Irving, who ran NTIA during the Clinton administration, noted that the agency’s previous grants have usually gone to municipalities, nonprofits and states that often partnered with companies. “There’s no real reason for me to believe that this would be markedly different,” said Irving, adding that the RUS historically has favored the private sector with its federal assistance.
Larry Irving, a former assistant Commerce Secretary under the Clinton administration and co-chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance, said the agencies are unlikely to take the stimulus process as an opportunity to rewrite the existing regulatory regime for the Internet.
“My sense is what’s likely to happen is something along the lines that there are existing regulatory models that can be bootstrapped for the purposes of these grants,” Irving said.
Irving, recently returned from a stint with the Obama transition team, joined fellow IIA co-chair Bruce Mehlman, himself a former assistant Commerce Secretary under the George W. Bush administration, on a conference call with reporters discussing the decision-making process the agencies
The grants, Mehlman said, “offer a nice chance to jumpstart progress toward national broadband.” Nevertheless, he cautioned that the federal money is only a small fraction of what ISPs invest each year toward expanding and maintaining their networks, suggesting that the ultimate goal of delivering broadband to more people would be best-served by a relaxed regulatory approach.
“After the 7 billion is spent, we’re going to need ongoing private investment,” Mehlman said. “If regulations are onerous, then yes, it will slow down investment.”
The Washington Business Journal has an article today on IIA, a national broadband plan, and deploying broadband to “under-served” and “unserved” areas. IIA co-chairman Bruce Mehlman was interviewed for the piece:
The Internet Innovation Alliance’s co-chairman Bruce Mehlman, who served as assistant secretary of commerce for technology policy from 2001 to 2003, says his group is hoping that as many worthy groups and projects are submitted for funding as possible to get the best results.
“At the end of the day this is about economic recovery and job creation,” he said. But when it comes to the forthcoming national broadband plan, finding sustainable solutions also will be key. To do so, Mehlman said the agencies need to “tap local knowledge and expertise… [and] avoid connecting today those who will need subsidies to stay connected.” Broadband stimulus funds should be spent in the best interest of tax payers, Mehlman added. “These funds aren’t intended to keep [private companies’] balance sheets healthy, but their knowledge ought to be considered… don’t discourage investment by those who will maintain these networks.”
With the FCC calling for input on a national broadband plan, and the federal broadband stimulus still waiting to be distributed, Telephony Online asked IIA co-chairman Larry Irving for his thoughts on both. From the resulting article:
“There are two different things going on here, that are all of a piece,” Irving said in an interview this morning. “The stimulus is a timely, targeted and temporary effort to stimulate the American economy, and this administration has always realized that broadband is a part of that.”
At the same time, every agency of the federal government is exploring ways to “use technology to make the lives of the American people better, and part of that is the national broadband policy,” Irving said. “The FCC has a big job ahead of it.”
Today’s Washington Post has a report on the agency’s project, and how the process may be a bit pokey for the flurry of broadband action spurred by stimulus funds:
[B]y the time the FCC creates its plan for broadband, it is likely that Internet service providers will have claimed much of the $7.2 billion in stimulus funds set aside to build high-speed networks without major input from the agency. And that has some worried that the Obama administration’s call to wire the nation risks having taxpayer money going toward projects that are not needed and have been created without clear guidelines.
Ideally, the FCC’s plan would have been in place before stimulus funds were granted, say tech advisers who helped craft President Obama’s broadband strategy. But the urgency of the economic crisis called for quick ways to create jobs, including through broadband deployment, they said.
“We need the stimulus to create jobs that are timely, targeted and temporary,” said Larry Irving, a former head of the NTIA and an adviser to Obama’s transition team. “That was the first stage of a multistage effort to get our arms around national broadband strategy.”
IIA co-founder Larry Irving has penned an op-ed for Roll Call on the broadband portion of the federal economic stimulus. Here’s an excerpt:
Virtually every analyst agrees that rural Americans are the least likely to have available access to broadband. Geography and economics conspire against investment in broadband in America. It is simply not easy to recoup broadband investment in states where cattle outnumber people and homes are dispersed widely. Fiber optic and other broadband technologies are expensive to deploy in these areas, and broadband wireless technologies are just now becoming fully viable for deployment.
Just as this nation brought electricity, telephones and Internet service to rural America, we must make broadband networks ubiquitously available, as well. Appropriately, the lion’s share of this funding will address broadband in unserved areas through programs at the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture. In addition, funding will be available for improving broadband networks at libraries, community colleges, community technology centers and other locations where low-income families and the working poor are most likely to go for broadband access. According to Morgan Stanley, the national residential broadband penetration rate is currently about 56 percent of all households. For those 40 million plus households who don’t have broadband at home, and for those tens of millions of Americans without basic Internet access who disproportionately are poor, recent immigrants, senior citizens or other minorities, these community investments will make broadband more available and more accessible.
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