Because every American
should have access
to broadband Internet.

The Internet Innovation Alliance is a broad-based coalition of business and non-profit organizations that aim to ensure every American, regardless of race, income or geography, has access to the critical tool that is broadband Internet. The IIA seeks to promote public policies that support equal opportunity for universal broadband availability and adoption so that everyone, everywhere can seize the benefits of the Internet - from education to health care, employment to community building, civic engagement and beyond.

The Podium

Blog posts tagged with 'National Broadband Plan'

Tuesday, February 22

Making the Fastest, Faster

By Brad

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.

A Cut For Broadband

By Brad

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

A Worthy Effort

By Brad

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

Mapping Broadband

By Brad

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, 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

The Fight Continues

By Brad

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.

Tuesday, February 15

Return to Sender

By Brad

While the $7 billion tapped by Congress in 2008 for broadband stimulus has been quietly put to work, there continue to be hiccups for some of the projects. From the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel:

State officials are returning $23 million to the federal government, saying there were too many strings attached to stimulus money that was supposed to be for expanding high-speed Internet service in schools, libraries and government agencies.

The money was to have boosted broadband connections in 380 Wisconsin communities, including 385 libraries and 82 schools. It also could have been used to improve police, fire department and hospital communications in rural areas.

But state taxpayers would have been on the hook for the entire $23 million if the state could not meet the grant’s precise requirements, Mike Huebsch, secretary of the state Department of Administration, said in a memo to school and library associations.

Hopefully these sort of wrinkles can be smoothed out, because broadband expansion is far too important to be held up by process.


Broadband in the Budget

By Brad

The National Journal’s David Hatch reports that included in President Obama’s proposed budget is $5 billion for wireless broadband expansion to underserved and unserved areas. Also included: A $18 million increase for the FCC.

Friday, February 11

A Plan For Wireless Broadband

By Brad

At an event in Michigan yesterday, President Obama announced a plan to greatly expand the reach of wireless broadband. The Washington Post’s Cecilia Kang has the details:

Obama unveiled an ambitious blueprint to use $18 billion in federal funds to get 98 percent of the nation connected to the Internet on smartphones and tablet computers in five years.

To get there, the federal government will try to bring more radiowaves into the hands of wireless carriers to bolster the nation’s networks and prevent a jam of Internet traffic. He said he hoped to auction airwaves currently in the hands of television stations and government agencies to raise about $27.8 billion.

And with the money raised, the government would fund new rural 4G wireless networks and a mobile communications system for fire, policy and emergency responders. The remaining funds raised — about $10 billion — would go toward lowering the federal deficit over the next decade.

Monday, January 31

Behind the Eight Ball

By David

From a sharp Associated Press article by John Curran on the desperate need to bring the power of broadband to rural America:

In the Depression, it was power to the people—for farm equipment and living-room lamps, cow-milking machines and kitchen appliances. Now, it’s online access—to YouTube and digital downloads, to videoconferencing and Facebook, to eBay and Twitter.

“Rural areas all across the country are wrestling with this, somewhat desperately,” said Paul Costello, executive director of the Vermont Council on Rural Development. “Young people who grow up with the media will not live where they can’t be connected to digital culture. So most rural communities have been behind the eight ball.”

The entire piece is worth checking out.

Thursday, January 27

Back to the Plan

By Brad

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Obama called for dramatically increasing wireless broadband access in America. And as Sara Jerome in The Hill reports, Rep. Edward Markey followed up the President’s call by promoting the FCC’s National Broadband Plan.

Released last March, the FCC’s ambitious plan had been somewhat neglected during the net neutrality argument. Now, hopefully, the effort to bring broadband to 100% of America can get back on track.

Wednesday, January 19

Reforming USF

By Brad

Via the National Journal’s Juliana Gruenwald, Universal Service Fund reform — a big component in achieving the goals of the National Broadband Plan — will be on the FCC’s agenda in February.

Tuesday, December 21

Free From Distraction

By David

Governing requires compromise and the Chairman deserves credit for seeking a way forward that appears like it will preserve both private sector investment and Open Internet principles.

Finally bringing the net neutrality chapter to a close would be a welcome relief from a debate that for too long has distracted the Commission from focusing on the National Broadband Plan and achieving the critical goal of 100 percent access and adoption. We welcome the opportunity to work with the FCC and other stakeholders in future efforts to promote broadband, which has become a critical life tool.

Friday, December 03

Still Pushing for Title II

By Brad

Looks like FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, who has long been one of the loudest advocates for strict regulations on broadband providers, will be a hard vote for Chairman Julius Genachowski to wrangle for his latest net neutrality proposal. As Fierce Wireless reports:

“These rules must be put on the most solid possible legal foundation and be quickly and effectively enforceable,” Copps said during a speech at Columbia University’s School of Journalism. “If this requires reclassifying advanced telecommunications as Title II telecommunications—and I continue to believe this is the best way to go—we should just do it and get it over with.”

With fellow Commissioners Robert McDowell and Meredith Baker already coming out against net neutrality, and Mignon Clyburn likely — if more quietly — in Copps’ camp, it’s possible that on December 21 the only yea vote for net neutrality may be Genachowski himself.

Translation: the net neutrality gridlock could be perpetuated — and the National Broadband Plan would continue to lack the attention it deserves.

Wednesday, December 01

Statements From Our Co-Chairs

By Brad

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski deserves a lot of credit for proceeding so thoughtfully and choosing a commonsense compromise in the face of hyper-partisan brinksmanship. By finally turning the page on this issue, the FCC can now focus its attention on the National Broadband Plan and achieving universal access and adoption, as well as fostering broadband innovation and investment.

David Sutphen

We continue to see new regulations largely as a solution in search of a problem. However, today’s proposal seems to be the most effective option for reducing regulatory uncertainty in the broadband marketplace, enabling more widespread investment and deployment that will ultimately benefit consumers and our economy.

Bruce Mehlman

Thursday, November 04

Replying to the FCC


Our response to the FCC’s call for reply comments in its Open Internet Public Notice on “Two Under-Developed Issues in the Open Internet Proceeding” has now been posted at the FCC website.

Statements from our Co-Chairs Bruce Mehlman and David Sutphen:

With Election Day behind us, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) stands at a pivotal crossroads. If it provides certainty to network operators and predictability to investors, it can meaningfully advance availability and adoption of high-speed Internet across the nation. If it rejects the counsel of bipartisan majorities in Congress and unilaterally pursues a more aggressive regulatory agenda, it can expect years of diminished investment, delayed re-employment in the telecom sector, battles in court and partisan squabbling that disserves our nation.

To realize 100 percent broadband availability at speeds that enable the next-generation of innovative applications, the FCC estimates the need for $350 billion in additional investment. Given the huge federal budget deficit and national debt, those investments are not going to come from the government. We need private investors to see the business case for continually upgrading existing networks and deploying competing infrastructure platforms.

— Bruce Mehlman

At a time when the nation is looking for common ground and common sense solutions for creating new jobs and fostering an economic recovery, the last thing we need is new regulations that threaten one of the few bright spots for growth: the broadband economy. Now is the time to turn the page on net neutrality and focus attention on the issues like universal service fund reform, digital literacy programs, and innovation policy, all of which will help to ensure that every American is benefiting from the broadband economy.

— David Sutphen

Tuesday, October 12

On “Specialized” Services and Wireless Services


Statements from our Co-Chairs David Sutphen and Bruce Mehlman regarding the FCC’s “Open Internet” inquiry on mobile wireless services and “specialized” services:

Unlike burdensome and unnecessary Title II regulations, allowing specialized services can benefit consumers, investors and innovators. Enhancing quality of service (QoS) or enabling the connection of devices like wireless smart meters and health monitors will complement the open Internet, enhancing its speed and quality by channeling traffic with special needs.

— David Sutphen

We must take care that the near theological debate over ‘net neutrality’ not detract from a collective focus on expanding the Internet’s reach and utility. The Commission should abandon its ambitions to regulate wireless services, as new rules on mobile platforms are unnecessary at this time and could undermine investment, innovation and adoption in the most thriving and successful corner of the broadband ecosystem.

If achieving universal broadband access and adoption is the primary objective, the FCC should carefully consider the impact new regulations would have on the future expansion of network infrastructure. Allowing business model flexibility – both by allowing ‘managed’ services and keeping the wireless space unfettered – is key to encouraging the investment needed to connect every American with the benefits of high-speed Internet.

— Bruce Mehlman

IIA’s full reply comment is available at the FCC’s website (PDF).

Friday, October 08

Progress Report

By Brad

Yesterday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski delivered a speech during an awards dinner hosted by IIA member One Economy, which advocates for improving access to technology for low-income communities. The Washington Post’s Cecilia Kang reports:

Genachowski mentioned four items worth noting:

- Reforming the Universal Service Fund to make it efficient and targeted to where it’s most needed.

- Putting in place incentive auctions and recovering underused spectrum, a vital step for global competitiveness, and extending broadband in underserved communities.

- Empowering consumers of wired and wireless broadband, and promoting competition.

- Promoting broadband adoption, including by working with One Economy on the ideas and initiatives it has pursued with such vigor and success.

The next FCC Open Meeting, which will chart their coming initiatives, is scheduled for November 30.

Thursday, October 07

Education is Key

By Brad

From Broadband Breakfast, reporting on the final day of the Telecommunications Policy Research Conference in George Mason University Law School in Virginia:

The lack of a social network that finds the internet useful may be key in why the final non-adopters do not use the internet. If these individuals do not have any adopters in their social network then they are not exposed to the benefits of broadband.

Janice Hauge from the University of North Texas discussed her paper on demand side policies that reinforced Horrigan’s findings by showing that when individuals find technology relevant they are more likely to adopt it. “A program should motivate non-users to adopt, make broadband affordable, employ content in the training that relates to everyday life or the use of public services, and focus on the accessibility and usability of broadband and online services.”

In other words, when it comes to the worthy goals laid out in the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, simply providing access isn’t enough.

Friday, September 24

Stay Focused on the National Broadband Plan

By David

The FCC has announced the agenda for its October open meeting, and missing from the list of topics are net neutrality regulations.

While the Commission’s slow movement on the issue may annoy those pushing the hardest for new regulations, moving cautiously on such a potentially damaging issue is absolutely the right thing to do. Imposing net neutrality — or reclassifying broadband providers under Title II — would be an over-reach by the FCC, and could potentially trap America’s broadband industry in a legal quagmire for years to come. Meanwhile, the FCC’s own National Broadband Plan would continue to languish without the private investment necessary to make it happen.

That’s why we and other organizations have been urging Congress to step in and finally end the net neutrality distraction once and for all. And thankfully, House leaders led by Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman are attempting to do just that. But while their efforts to draft a net neutrality bill are encouraging, it’s absolutely critical that any legislation that eventually moves forward is targeted, sensible, and promotes private investment.

After five years, we are hopefully inching closer to the end of the net neutrality debate. All it will take to pass the final hurdle will be Congressional legislation that both protects users and encourages private investment in America’s digital infrastructure. While the current work being done in the House may not get us there, the fact that there is movement from Congress can only be counted as positive. As long as we proceed smartly and cautiously, we can put the regulation arguments behind us and focus on what is really important: connecting everyone in America to the power of broadband.

Tuesday, September 21

Access in the Keystone State


This week leaders across the Keystone State are coming together at the 2010 Pennsylvania Broadband Summit to discuss high-speed Internet’s role in getting the state’s economy back on track and the importance of closing the digiital divide. Our Co-Chair David Sutphen has penned an op-ed for The Patriot-News highlighting the discussion.:

Thanks to stimulus grants attained by the commonwealth focused on unserved areas and other grants focused on demand aggregation and the promotion of public computing centers, Pennsylvania will be able to expand broadband access to unserved areas and build demand.

In fact, the president has allocated $7.2 billion of stimulus funds to help bring broadband to rural areas nationwide. While this is a healthy down payment, it’s important that we continue also to focus on private investment to attain the $350 billion the Federal Communications Commission has estimated is needed to get everyone online.

The Internet has enjoyed a decade of unparalleled success, inarguably because of significant private industry investment in a business-friendly environment with minimal regulation.

But there has been concern that actions in Washington could impose an environment of stifling heavy-handed regulation that deters, not facilitates, investment in broadband technology.

Read David’s full op-ed at the Patriot-News.

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