Blog posts tagged with 'National Broadband Plan'
Thursday, April 07
On March 20, AT&T proposed to combine resources with T-Mobile USA. As an organization that has for years promoted efforts to bring broadband to all Americans, including the underserved, communities of color, and citizens in rural areas, we see benefits for both consumers and the economy with this joining of forces.
The agreement appears likely to significantly boost efforts to achieve universal broadband access with AT&T’s pledge to make next generation wireless Internet available to 95% of all Americans. While the majority of consumers can already choose between five or more wireless telephony providers, consumers in small, rural communities often have fewer options for broadband Internet connectivity. The combined companies would be able to elevate competition in a way that is particularly beneficial for underserved and rural areas.
Speaking of AT&T, the company could be kicking off the regulatory process for its merger with T-Mobile as early as this month, reports Josh Smith of The National Journal:
A source familiar with the process told Tech Daily Dose that AT&T’s Federal Communications Commission filing is expected later this month, possibly as early as April 21.
The merger-approval process is expected to take at least 12-18 months to finish. As part of the proposal, AT&T has stated its commitment to expand LTE mobile broadband coverage to cover 95% of Americans, which would go a long way toward meeting President Obama’s goal of bringing next generation mobile broadband to 97% of America.
Monday, April 04
With regulatory scrutiny of the proposed AT&T-T-Mobile merger just getting underway, USA Today‘s David Lieberman sat down with AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson to talk about the deal, the regulatory process, and why the merger will be good for both AT&T and T-Mobile consumers. A sample exchange:
Q: What exactly can you do with T-Mobile that you can’t do alone?
A: In the last four years, the volume of (traffic on) these (wireless broadband) networks is up 8,000%. We believe that we’re going to go up, in five years, eight to 10 times from where we are today. We don’t have the spectrum position to accomplish that.
T-Mobile’s spectrum is very compatible with ours. In cities like New York, we put the two companies together, and we get a very quick lift in capacity of about 30%. That means fewer dropped calls, better service quality, and it gives us a path to do something that neither one of us could do independently, and that is deploy fourth-generation mobile broadband to 95% of the U.S.
The full interview is worth checking out.
Last Friday, the House Communications and Technology subcommittee passed a bill aimed at keeping a watchful eye on how broadband stimulus dollars are spent. Reports Hayley Tsukayama of the Washington Post:
Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the Communications and Technology subcommittee, said the legislation clarifies language that requires the programs to give back money awarded to projects that have been canceled. And it institutes a new requirement that would keep Congress in the loop regarding the awards.
The bill refers to stimulus funds granted to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which administers the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program launched two years ago to support the expansion of broadband access to all communities. The legislation also applies to stimulus-funded grants made by the Rural Utility Service’s Broadband Intiatives Program.
Meanwhile, as Broadband Breakfast’s Jonathan Charnitski reports, the GOP’s move isn’t sitting particularly well with House members from across the aisle:
Democrats on the panel did not dispute that the intent of the legislation was sound. Several did, however, slam the bill as redundant and a waste of the subcommittee’s time.
“We passed a bill which is already law and current Agency practice,” said Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), ranking member of the subcommittee after the hearing. “There are real issues the Subcommittee should be addressing to improve the economy, spur competition, and enhance public safety.”
Monday, March 21
Originally posted yesterday.
IIA Encouraged by the Potential for the Announced Merger of AT&T & T-Mobile USA to Advance Broadband Deployment and Adoption
Partnership proposes to bring mobile broadband services to 95% of Americans including rural and underserved communities
WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 20, 2011 – In response to the announcement of AT&T Inc. and Deutsche Telekom AG entering a merger agreement today, the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA) – a broad-based coalition supporting broadband availability and access for all Americans and including AT&T as a Member – today released the following statement on the decision:
“For seven years the Internet Innovation Alliance has advocated for government policies and market actions that expand broadband availability and encourage adoption. As regulators review the proposed transaction we encourage them to first do no harm, and to focus on how such a deal will impact broadband deployment, reduce address wireless congestion and enable more robust and innovative applications.
Clearly many questions will be asked and answered over the next months. We are encouraged by what we see, and heartened by the companies’ already-stated commitment to deploy their combined network to more neighborhoods and more citizens, especially communities of color and rural areas. Given government restrictions on spectrum allocations and transferability, market combinations such as this may prove the most sensible and efficient means to handle the exponential explosion of wireless data and best serve Internet entrepreneurs and consumers.”
Friday, March 18
With the FCC’s National Broadband Plan now a year old, The Hill’s Sara Jerome sat down with the Plan’s architect Blair Levin. Here’s a taste:
Q: What’s the most grating misunderstanding you’ve confronted about the NBP?
A: That the only thing that counts is the speed of the wireline network to rural homes. It is a very counterproductive way to think about the problem. The right way is to ask: how do we have a ubiquitous, diverse and constantly improving ecosystem of networks, devices, applications, and most of all, people who know how to use them.
The full Q&A is available at The Hill.
Thursday, March 17
One year after FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski revealed the commission’s bold National Broadband Plan, Josh Smith from the National Journal has written up a status report:
Of the plan’s 200-plus recommendations, about 34 percent remain untouched, according to the Benton Foundation, a telecommunications public interest group. But almost 10 percent of the proposals are complete, and about 56 percent are in progress or have at least been started. And with a 10-year schedule for implementing the proposals, that puts the FCC roughly on track.
According to the agency’s own count, it has completed about 80 percent of its first-year goals, which leaves some observers unimpressed.
Later in the article, Smith quotes Chairman Genachowski:
“[W]hen this endeavor began, too many Americans didn’t know what broadband was… Too many Americans, young and old, too many companies small and even large, didn’t understand the benefits of being connected… So, in just one year, broadband has now become part of the vernacular. Not just a topic for us geeks at the FCC, but in the national bloodstream.”
Monday, March 14
At the Metro West Daily News, a musician by the name of Erin McKeown has penned a great op-ed on the need to ensure America connects everyone to the Internet:
Before wireless, those in rural communities like mine faced tremendous cost and infrastructure obstacles to getting connected. Today, access may be in reach of so many more Americans. As long as this access remains open and allows for direct participation, it could transform local economies and creative culture. In the same way that it makes my tiny rural cabin a concert venue of infinite size.
The time is now for this historic investment. We must urge Congress to support the President’s call to ensure that every American has access to the economic, educational and artistic opportunities that universal access to high-speed wireless can create.
The whole piece is worth checking out.
Thursday, March 10
At an event in New York City yesterday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski revealed a new program as part of the effort to bring broadband to every corner of America. From the official FCC press release (PDF) announcing the program:
The 2011 “Learning On-The-Go” wireless pilot program will help K-12 students’ connect to the Internet at home and increase their access to digital textbooks, cutting-edge interactive learning tools and other innovative wireless technologies.
The program has a budget of $9 million, with 20 schools participating.
Monday, March 07
Last week, the FCC took the first big step in reforming a major part of the Universal Service Fund as part of the larger National Broadband Plan effort. At Connected Planet, Joan Engebretson offers the details:
In a unanimous vote, FCC commissioners adopted a notice of proposed rulemaking that proposes reforms in three key areas:
- Enhancing measures to prevent fraud and abuse, such as eliminating funding for services that are unused for 60 days and eliminating the initiation fee for unusually high turn-up charges assessed only on lines subsidized through the program
- Making the system more accountable by, for example, requiring more rigorous eligibility checks
- Taking measures to contain growth in the size of the fund, including evaluating a cap on the program
The full NPRM is available at the FCC website in handy PDF form.
Friday, March 04
Yesterday, the FCC took steps to ensure the National Broadband Plan will indeed be truly national by adopting measures aimed at making sure America’s Tribal lands weren’t left behind.
Thursday, March 03
In a surprise development, former FCC official Blair Levin — credited with being a major architect of the Commission’s National Broadband Plan — has come out against some keys components of the plan. As The Hill’s Sara Jerome reports:
Levin said the agency should phase out two programs that help people pay for phone service rather than expanding them to include broadband, as he had previously recommended.
He said connecting broadband to low-income groups is a different kind of problem than spreading access to phone lines.
“Cost is an issue. But it is just one issue,” he said. The spread of broadband comes with challenges around device literacy, search literacy, and even basic word literacy.
“No one needs these [skills] to use a phone,” he said during a speech at the Joint Center on Political and Economic Studies.
Mr. Levin pointed to two specific programs — Lifeline and Link-up — that he believes should be cut from the plan. In their places he suggested a new effort centered around education and computer training.
The FCC is gearing up to make major headway on the National Broadband Plan beginning today. There’s been no response so far from the Commission on Levin’s statements.
Tuesday, March 01
Via Sara Jerome of The Hill, the House Energy and Commerce Communications subcommittee is scheduled to have a hearing on spectrum allocation next Thursday.
Friday, February 25
The proposal from the Federal Communications Commission to stop subsidizing rural phone lines and start subsidizing rural broadband connections is long overdue. Right now an estimated 14 million to 28 million Americans have no way of getting access to the Internet.
So begins a strong editorial in the New York Times calling for reforming the Universal Service Fund.
Thursday, February 24
With use of mobile broadband expected to grow at an astonishing clip in the coming years, freeing up spectrum is a pressing concern for both Congress and the Obama administration. But as the National Journal’s Juliana Gruenwald reports, some believe the plan for broadcasters — who own a sizable chunk of valuable spectrum — to voluntary give up spectrum for auction won’t get many takers:
During a forum sponsored by the Wireless Innovation Alliance on ways to expand the availability of spectrum, Phil Weiser, the National Economic Council’s senior adviser for technology and innovation, said broadcasters’ top concern with the incentive auction proposal is not how much money they would get from the proposal but the process that will be used for relocating broadcasters who choose to give up some spectrum.
“Most are not going to participate,” Weiser said. “Most don’t need to participate for it to be a win.”
Given that mobile broadband is a major component of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan — a plan soundly endorsed by President Obama — the differences over spectrum allocation could easily turn into a major fight. Stay tuned…
Tuesday, February 22
From the New York Times:
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea already claims the world’s fastest Internet connections — the fastest globally by far — but that is hardly good enough for the government here.
By the end of 2012, South Korea intends to connect every home in the country to the Internet at one gigabit per second. That would be a tenfold increase from the already blazing national standard and more than 200 times as fast as the average household setup in the United States.
A pilot gigabit project initiated by the government is under way, with 5,000 households in five South Korean cities wired. Each customer pays about 30,000 won a month, or less than $27.
In his recent State of the Union Address, President Obama called for the rapid expansion of broadband in order to keep America competitive globally. As South Korea’s ongoing success shows, we still have a long way to go.
Sara Jerome of The Hill reports on a cut from the spending bill passed by the House of Representatives this weekend:
Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) introduced an amendment to defund the Community Connect broadband grant program, which pays for broadband infrastructure projects and community computer centers in rural areas. The program had a budget of around $13 million last year.
Matheson, who ultimately opposed the GOP spending bill, said he offered the amendment because Community Connect is an “ineffective program.”
The Community Connect project had been up and running since before broadband funding was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Friday, February 18
Yesterday, the Commerce Department released its National Broadband Map. In response, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration said the results of the survey showed broadband stimulus has been effective. Via Sara Jerome of The Hill:
The head of NTIA’s telecom arm, Lawrence Strickling, said in a briefing that the map lends credence to the broadband grants the Commerce Department doled out across the country.
That’s because the map reveals major connectivity gaps at anchor institutions. Less than 4 percent of libraries have broadband speeds of faster than 20 mbps, he said. These institutions, including schools, received some of the broadband grants.
He added that the impact of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) wouldn’t register on the map because the grant program often pays for middle mile buildout, while the map should availability to end users.
On a related note, over at Network World, Brad Reed has dug through the map and penned a piece on “6 cool things learned from the National Broadband Map.” It’s worth checking out.
Thursday, February 17
Today, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, in collaboration with the FCC, is releasing a National Broadband Map, detailing where and how fast broadband is available in the U.S. The map will be available later today on the site broadbandmap.gov, but Stacey Higginbotham of GigaOm already has a preview, including:
• In 2010 68 percent of households had broadband access, as compared to 63.5 percent in 2009. (Broadband was defined as Internet access service that uses DSL, cable modem, fiber optics, mobile broadband, and other high-speed Internet access services.)
• The digital divide between urban and rural areas is still significant. In 2010, 70 percent of urban households and only 60 percent of rural households accessed broadband Internet service.
Wednesday, February 16
Juliana Gruenwald of the National Journal reports that House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden has is taking the FCC’s recent net neutrality rules head on:
During a speech at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners winter meeting, the Oregon Republican said he filed the amendment to the continuing resolution that would provide continuing funds for government operations, which the House is set to start considering Tuesday.
Walden said his effort to block FCC funding for the net neutrality rules is an attempt to “lay down a marker and try to put this on hold.”
Via Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post, here’s Walden’s amendment:
“None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to implement the Report and Order of the Federal Communications Commission relating to the matter of preserving the open Internet and broadband industry practices (FCC 10-201, adopted by the Commission on December 21, 2010).”
Meanwhile, as Broadcasting & Cable’s John Eggerton reports, FCC Commisioner Meredith A. Baker — who joined fellow Republican Robert McDowell in voting against the rules — will warn the House Communications Subcommittee at today’s hearing that net neutrality will hinder efforts for broadband expansion:
“How do we craft the regulatory environment that will incent broadband deployment to extend networks deeper into communities; to upgrade networks for next-generation services; and to foster broadband competition?,” [Baker] plans to ask, rhetorically.