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National News


Google Fiber, net neutrality and the regulatory challenges in the age of gigabit broadband (GigaOm-Tech News and Analysis) July 31, 2013

An article in Wired argues that Google is violating network neutrality laws, but the bigger issue here is about how we adjust our rules and regulations when we have gigabit speeds, and are trying to encourage innovation.

Review of FirstNet’s activities churns on (Fierce Wireless) August 1, 2013

In May, the board of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) approved the creation of the review committee to investigate whether the board has complied with federal rules that apply to its hiring, sourcing and meeting practices in its efforts to set up the LTE-based National Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN). The review committee was proposed at an April 23 meeting by board member Paul Fitzgerald, sheriff of Story County, Iowa, who alleged a number of improprieties and questionable backroom dealings at FirstNet. That review is ongoing, but it’s unclear how much progress has been made.

Also see related stories from Fierce Telecom and Fierce Broadband Wireless.

Astroturf reviews of Crawford book and the muni-broadband debate (Marketplace) July 31, 2013

The debate about high speed Internet access and service grows more heated all the time. Susan Crawford, fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, argues big companies are over-charging and under-serving us, and that it’s up to the government to step in and regulate a better way. She’s even got a book on the topic, Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age. The reviews of that book on offered a new and strange chapter in the debate this week.

The national broadband goal: A technology upgrade that leaves no one behind (The Hill’s Congress Blog) July 31, 2013

If the regulators can keep their focus on protecting consumers, as opposed to competitors, and allow the market to do its part to fund the upgrades and innovate around obstacles, we would all be well served with a dynamically competitive broadband sector and the basis for a thriving digital economy.

Google Fiber server ‘neutrality violation’ being overblown (DSL Broadband Reports) July 31, 2013

The other day I noted that an individual by the name of Douglas McClendon had filed a complaint with the FCC, claiming that the company’s TOS language blocking the use of servers is a network neutrality violation. The story is primarily being driven by Wired’s Ryan Singel, who first noted McClendon’s complaint over at his blog, and now has a follow up piece over at Wired lamenting the fact that Google is “flip flopping on net neutrality.”

Now that it’s in the broadband game, Google flip-flops on network neutrality (Wired) July 30, 2013

In a dramatic about-face on a key internet issue yesterday, Google told the FCC that the network neutrality rules Google once championed don’t give citizens the right to run servers on their home broadband connections, and that the Google Fiber network is perfectly within its rights to prohibit customers from attaching the legal devices of their choice to its network.

NTIA awards $13.1 million in state planning grants for FirstNet initiative (Urgent Communications) July 26, 2013

Five states-Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, New York and Ohio-were awarded a total of $13.1 million in the first phase of planning grants that can be used to support consultation and outreach activities in preparation for a nationwide broadband network for first responders, theNational Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced yesterday.

FirstNet approves extension of talks with public safety LTE entities (Urgent Communications) July 26, 2013

FirstNet board members this week approved extensions for entities to negotiate a spectrum-lease agreement with FirstNet, which will be a major step in their efforts to pursue plans to deploy Band 14 700 MHz LTE networks for first responders.

Broadband speed is increasing, but U.S. is falling behind (PC World) July 23, 2013
A fast, reliable Internet connection is imperative for most small and medium businesses. A new study from Akamai suggests that the Internet is getting faster overall, but just how fast varies from one country to the next-or even between different regions within a country.

FTTH Council wants FCC to launch gigabit challenge (Fierce Telecom) July 24, 2013

The Fiber to the Home Council Americas wants the Federal Communications Commission to launch a “Gigabit Communities Race to the Top” program and jumpstart the development of ultra-high speed applications for gigabit connections. The FTTH Council modeled the program after the Obama Administration’s Race to the Top education initiative and calls for matching grants of up to $10 million for projects in Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets.

U.S. broadband #1! In everything! Forever! (DSL Broadband Reports) July 23, 2013

“There has been a concerted push recently by the broadband industry to try and insist that the United States broadband market is secretly flawless, awesome and highly competitive, despite the fact that absolutely every independent source of broadband data (from Akamai and the FCC to the OECD and OOkla’s Net Index) suggests we’re absolutely and utterly mediocre at every metric that counts.

New report outlines progressive agenda for broadband policy (Sacramento Bee) July 18, 2013

The administration and Congress need to adopt a progressive broadband policy agenda that balances respect for the private investment that has built the nation’s broadband infrastructure with the need to realize the Internet’s full promise as a form of social infrastructure, says a new report released today by the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI).

FirstNet offers a look into the makings of nationwide public safety network (GCN) July 16, 2013

The independent authority overseeing development of a nationwide broadband network for first responders has begun defining its strategy with a suite of Requests for Information that offers a look at the technologies needed to provide advanced public safety-grade networking services and infrastructure.

Don’t blame big cable. It’s local governments that choke broadband competition (Wired-Opinion) July 16, 2013

Despite public, political, and business interest in greater broadband deployment, not every American has high-speed internet access yet (let alone a choice of provider for really fast, high-capacity service). So who’s really to blame for strangling broadband competition?

FCC decides not to collect key data for no good reason (Community Broadband Networks) July 12, 2013

The FCC does not have a good sense of what is happening outside DC in terms of broadband availability and data. This has been a conscious choice – it has refused calls (even those made by the FCC itself) to collect useful data that would lead to data-driven policies to encourage the investment we need.

Gigabit internet service options springing up (Fierce Enterprise Communications) July 15, 2013

Infrastructure keeps getting faster. According to investment site The Motley Fool, gigabit internet service providers are sprouting like mushrooms.

FirstNet puts out 10 RFIs (RCR Wireless) July 11, 2013

The First Responder Network Authority, or FirstNet, has put out 10 formal requests for information from stakeholders and vendors to gather input on technical aspects of the national LTE network for public safety that the board must plan, build and operate.

Comcast’s Cohen still hallucinating U.S. broadband supremacy – perhaps he should spend a year in rural America (DSL Broadband Reports) July 11, 2013

Comcast’s top lobbying man David Cohen (who the Washington Post earlier this year declared to be a policy “wonk rock star”) has been on a bit of a tear lately, telling anyone who’ll listen that historically uncompetitive and over-priced United States broadband is secretly incredibly awesome, and that those who claim otherwise suffer from delusion. In a recent editorial Cohen proclaimed the United States was the world leader in broadband, even every objective analysis shows that we’re thoroughly mediocre in everything from connection price to availability.

FirstNet releases 10 RFIs, prepares for state meetings (Fierce Broadband Wireless) July 10, 2013

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) released 10 requests for information (RFIs) to the planned nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN).

Webinar panel outlines the financial challenges facing FirstNet (Urgent Communications) July 2, 2013The challenges are considerable, as FirstNet ultimately may have no more than 5 million subscribers over which to spread the capital costs of building a nationwide broadband network for first responders; in contrast, Verizon and AT&T each have more than 100 million subscribers over which they can spread such costs.

Grants for public safety broadband network coming soon – counties encouraged to plan now (National Association of Counties) July 1, 2013

If you want to have an impact on how your state builds out its interoperable public safety communications network, you need to be aware that states will soon be receiving grants to plan their networks.More importantly, each state will need to designate a grants coordinator, who must, by law involve local governments in the build-out of the network.

Commerce Department updates its map of projects funded by broadband stimulus measure (Broadband Breakfast) July 2, 2013

In a blog post on June 18, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration highlighted its interactive map of broadband projects funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Free wi-fi? Beware of security risks (USA Today) July 1, 2013

Do you want to buy those shoes you are looking at online while sipping coffee and enjoying free Wi-Fi at the local bistro? Better stop before you shop.

An American infrastructure success story (Townhall) June 24, 2013

Stories about the declining state of American infrastructure are everywhere — road and bridges, airports, railways, water and sewer systems. There’s never enough money, and we’re always being forced as taxpayers to pay more. But there is one type of infrastructure that has had a remarkable boom: broadband Internet. It’s been driven by hands-off government policies that have allowed intense competition between cable, phone, and wireless providers to drive innovation and investment. We need to appreciate this success and resist calls for government intrusion that could disrupt it.

Is America a leader in broadband or a straggler (New York Times-Letter) June 29, 2013
I largely agree with Lowell C. McAdam, chairman of Verizon, that a light regulatory regime is “How the U.S. Got Broadband Right” (Op-Ed, June 21). But there is a glaring failure amid the success: lack of broadband availability in rural areas, where Verizon and its cable counterparts have chosen not to invest in the infrastructure necessary to deliver the 100 megabits per second speed Mr. McAdam cites as available to over 80 percent of American households.

FirstNet approves spectrum deal with LA-RICS (Urgent Communications) June 28, 2013

FirstNet board members yesterday voted to approve a spectrum-lease agreement with the with Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System Authority (LA-RICS), which becomes the first public-safety entity to get permission from FirstNet to use the 20 MHz of 700 MHz for the buildout of a first-responder LTE network.

Google rather quietly funding more wi-fi network builds — OK and GA get some Google help (DSL Broadband Reports) June 28, 2013

It has been many years since Google built their Wi-Fi network in their hometown of Mountain View California, at the time using 380 Tropos Wi-Fi nodes placed on utility poles around the city. While initially getting a lot of attention, their Wi-Fi efforts have since been over shadowed by the deployment of Google Fiber. However, Esme Vos directs my attention to the fact that Google keeps pushing free Wi-Fi into several new neighborhoods. In addition to offering Google Wi-Fi in Google Fiber locations like Kansas City, the company also this year gave a $200,000 grant to Pryor, Oklahoma to build a citywide Wi-Fi network. More recently, Google is providing 60 acres worth of free Wi-Fi access in Douglasville, Georgia, near where Google runs a 500,000 square foot data center.

The U.S. needs a federal-aid highway act for affordable broadband — Now (Forbes) June 27, 2013

The U.S. economy remains in the doldrums. But we have a once-in-a-generation chance to invest in our country’s future and put people to work on a vital project.

Should utilities provide broadband? (Smart Grid News) June 27, 2013

After years of lying dormant, the debate about utilities’ role in providing broadband is heating up again. Here’s my fear – that utilities will stay on the sidelines and the issue will be decided for them. I urge utilities to be intentional – to determine whether and how they want to participate in the rollout of municipal WiFi and/or fiber to the home. Then, whatever your decision, make your case in public.

FCC to take over national broadband map (Multichannel) June 27, 2013

The FCC Thursday effectively took over the job of maintaining the National Broadband Map, but for now will not add broadband pricing information to the info it collects from broadband providers as part of that effort.

FCC finalizes effort to make available $485M for rural broadband in USF reform effort (Bloomberg BNA) June 26, 2013

The Federal Communications Commission will publish in the June 26 Federal Register an order approving the outlay of potentially $485 million for rural broadband expansion in the United States (Connect America Fund, FCC, No. WC Docket No. 10-90, 05/22/13).

Should government be in internet biz? YES (Institute for Local Self-Reliance) June 20, 2013

If you think you’re being ripped off by the cable and telephone companies, you aren’t alone. These companies rank at the top of the most hated corporations in America, year after year. Given a recent report from the Federal Communications Commission, North Carolinians have more reasons to be angry than most Americans.

Fiber Nation (Broadband Communities Magazine) May-June 2013

Broadband Communities’ count of public and public private fiber-to-the-premises networks now stands at 135, a 15 percent increase from 2012. The additions to the list include several new projects and a few older projects missed in earlier counts.

National broadband map now more user friendly, shows expansion (WRAL Tech Wire) June 24, 2013

To illustrate the impact of the federal Recovery Act investment in the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and State Broadband Initiative (SBI), the NTIA has developed an online tool to better visualize the high-speed broadband networks, public computer centers, and Internet training programs funded across the country.

How the U.S. got broadband right (New York Times) June 21, 2013

As senators consider President Obama’s nomination of Tom Wheeler to lead the Federal Communications Commission, some observers have painted a dire picture of the state of Internet availability in America. One legal scholar, Susan Crawford, has argued that “prices are too high and speeds are too slow,” though she supports Mr. Wheeler, a venture capitalist and former telecommunications lobbyist. Other critics have called for new government policies to “fix” the telecommunications industry.

The municipal broadband debate: Should towns build fiber networks? (GWI Blog) June 20, 2013

“Municipal broadband” is rapidly taking a leading role in legislative debates around the country, but just what exactly is it, and why is there such a heated debate? In short, municipal broadband is a broadband internet service provided partially or fully by a local government. There are many states debating legislation which limit the ability of local communities to provide this sort of municipal access; and even more towns trying to implement it.

CenturyLink adds yet more obnoxious fees – $1.55 ‘non telecom surcharge’ pops up on bills (DSL Broadband Reports) June 19, 2013

Last week I noted that CenturyLink had tacked on a new and absurd $1 “Internet Cost Recovery Fee” to user bills starting in July. The fee, like all fees of this kind, allows carriers to jack up prices using below the line fees while keeping the advertised price the same. According to CenturyLink, the fee was to “help cover the costs associated with building and maintaining the internet network,” which is, of course, what your full bill should already be contributing to.

Five things I know about US(F) (Blair Levin remarks to Georgia Telecom Assn) June 18, 2013

… I actually have no idea what to say except one overriding point: the business model you built your business on is dying. You can try to get the government to delay the change as much as possible, but the better course, in my view, is to adapt, as others have done, to build a business model on the technologies that will deliver the information age economy.

Fours years of broadband growth (National Economic Council) June 2013

Broadband access is an essential part of our economy. Given the reliance of so many American businesses and families on this basic technology, it’s easy to overlook that just 15 years ago broadband barely existed for consumers…

…This report highlights (1) the status of broadband development in the United States in 2013, including both progress made in achieving greater availability to broadband as well as the significant remaining challenges of timely and affordable deployment of broadband to all Americans; (2) several important contributions of the Obama Administration over the last four years that have accelerated the growth of broadband technology; and (3) two key opportunities for further action.

Obama administration touts its contributions to broadband deployment (Politic365) June 17, 2013

Proclaiming the last four years as a period of tremendous growth in broadband deployment, President Obama released last Friday a report that showcases the Administration’s contribution to broadband deployment and discusses opportunities for further growth in digital connectedness.

Our schools, cut off from the web (New York Times) June 17, 2013

On June 6, at a middle school in Mooresville, N.C., President Obama set a goal of high-speed Internet in nearly every public school in America in five years. It was a bold and needed pronouncement – except that in 1996 President Clinton said virtually the same thing, calling for libraries and classrooms to be “hooked up to the Information Superhighway by the year 2000.”

Gigabit Squared and Zayo partner for Chicago gigabit neighborhood gateway project (Business Wire) June 11, 2013
Zayo Group today announced a partnership with Gigabit Squared, the architects of next-generation networks across the U.S., to deploy gigabit fiber and wireless in Chicago’s Mid-South Side. Zayo’s fiber deployment will serve as the backbone for the Gigabit Chicago project, which is creating a gigabit community within Chicago, bringing with it the social and economic opportunities that ultra-fast broadband provides citizens and businesses.

Austin Tx’s high speed internet boom (Coalition for the New Economy) June 6, 2013

Google’s announcement that it will begin offering one gigabit service next year in Austin, Tex. has – rightfully – garnered quite a bit of media attention and accolades. But the tech giant is not the only company (that is be) in town. AT&T and Time Warner Cable have both announced they will be adding higher-speed options for Austin residents. (These two companies already serve Austin.)

FirstNet grants extension for BTOP recipients (Public Safety Broadband) June 12, 2013

FirstNet today granted an extension through July 12 for entities receiving stimulus grants through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) program to negotiate spectrum-lease arrangements, so that they can proceed with public-safety LTE projects that will become part of the nationwide broadband network for first responders.

Rural broadband access still lags cities (Daily Yonder) June 6, 2013

The nation’s most rural communities have broadband availability rates that are a third lower than the rates of big cities and suburbs, a federal report shows.

Comcast expands wi-fi network with new ‘neighborhood’ initiative (C Net) June 10, 2013

Comcast users will soon be contributing to the company’s Wi-Fi network coverage through a gateway that transmits a public Wi-Fi signal that can be accessed by any Xfinity subscriber.

AT&T responds to Obama ConnectED plan, high speed internet to 99% of students (The Slanted) June 6, 2013

Earlier today President Obama talked about the internet, students and download speeds. The President felt that faster Internet connections are too important to education and must be supplied to all that need it.

Obama launches high speed internet program for all schools (C Net) June 6, 2013

In 2011, Loris Elementary School in Loris, S.C., was ranked 41st in the state among grammar schools with similar demographics. By 2012, it had risen to 19th.

There are rural/urban broadband subdivides (National Telecommunications and Information Administration) June 5, 2013

While the country is making progress expanding access to broadband, there continues to be a rural/urban, but one that does not break down easily into that two-sided view. That is according to a new government report. (One group of rural Americans has even less broadband access than previously understood and two groups of urban Americans have more broadband than is typically identified.)

The future of municipal broadband (GovLoop) June 5, 2013

Is broadband connectivity a public utility? Getting an education, finding a job, accessing high quality healthcare: increasingly, high speed internet access is a prerequisite to full participation in many aspects of modern life. And yet, a confluence of telecommunications policy decisions and industry dynamics have left the United States with slower, scarcer, and more expensive connectivity than most of the rest of the developed world. One third of Americans don’t have home access to a high speed connection.

National League of Cities webinar on local broadband solutions (Community Broadband Networks) June 1, 2013

The National League of Cities will be presenting a free webinar on June 13 on local broadband solutions. The event, titled Local Broadband Initiatives: Finding a Model That Works for You, is scheduled at 2 p.m. EDT.

Google Fiber looks to turn a profit, surprises even Google (Desktop Review) May 31, 2013

Ever since Google first announced that they would be building a fully fiberoptic, gigabit Internet service, Internet junkies across the United States (and even Canada, though expansion up north is unlikely) have been begging the company to bring high-high-high-speed Internet to their city or town.

Google Fiber expansion; executive hints at new markets (BGR) May 31, 2013

Google Fiber is seen by many as a regional experiment that will push current Internet service providers to offer faster speeds at more affordable speeds. Google Fiber head Milo Medin countered that perception at an event on Wednesday, however. Speaking at a Fiber-to-the-Home Council meeting, the executive explained that the company’s fiber-optic broadband network isn’t just an expensive research project but a great and profitable business for Google, CNET reported.

FCC’s Rosenworcel sees clear path to delivering high speed internet services to U.S. consumers (Huffington Post) May 31, 2013

Next year will see one of the most important spectrum auctions to date: the auction of some voluntarily relinquished broadcast television spectrum, repurposed for consumer wireless use, in what is called an “incentive auction.”

Google again swears Google Fiber not an experiment (DSL Broadband Reports) May 31, 2013

Google Fiber has by and large been seen as an experiment designed to help nudge connectivity forward by shaming under-performing ISPs, while also acting as a next-generation ad and video technology testbed. Google has tried hard to fight this impression, repeatedly insisting this is a serious business they’re engaged in, even if every indication is they’ll never take Google Fiber nationwide — much less beyond a handful of key target cities.

Utilities want a piece of the FCC’s $4.58 rural broadband push (Greentech Media) May 29, 2013

How do you get the smart grid deployed to the most remote, rural parts of the country? One answer could be rural broadband, which has billions of dollars in federal funding support meant to push connectivity to 15 million U.S. residents who live in areas that are too distant and expensive for commercial telecommunications providers to reach.

Broadband expansion driven by private investments (Coalition for the New Economy) May 28, 2013

According to a March 2013 report by Charles Davidson and Michael Santorelli at New York University Law School, private broadband providers invested more than $1 trillion in broadband between 1996 and 2010 and $66 billion in 2011. Despite the proliferation in government-owned broadband networks, the private sector is still the primary driving force behind the advancement of broadband. Here are just a few recent investments we’ve noticed:

Why your city should complete with Google’s super-speed internet (Wired Enterprise) May 28, 2013

When it comes to broadband internet access, the U.S. still lags behind other developed nations. We don’t have the broadband connections that other countries have, and fewer people are using them

FCC aims to offer high-speed internet to rural America (Ag Professional) May 24, 2013

FCC Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn announced the effort was a result of the second release of Phase I funds of the Connect America Fund. The fund will offer up to $485 million to expand fixed broadband in rural America. The additional investment will leverage millions in additional private investment to quickly serve rural areas currently lacking access to high-speed broadband.

More money flowing to rural broadband efforts (Consumer Affairs) May 24, 2013

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced the second release of federal funds to subsidize broadband infrastructure to serve rural areas of the U.S. Acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn announced another $485 million is going to the Connect America Fund.

Faster broadband speeds – the view from the FCC (New York Times-Genachowski) May 16, 2013

It’s vital that we keep pushing for faster broadband speeds. Google Fiber is an important positive development and has been followed by a growing number of other high-speed broadband deployments, including expansions by AT&T, CenturyLink, and other companies and municipalities.

18% of rural residents can’t get 6 Mbps, 59% can’t get 25 Mbps (DSL Broadband Reports) May 23, 2013

According to a new report by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, gaps related to faster broadband availability continue to persist, especially in rural regions.

CenturyLink is eligible for another $90M in FCC CAF-I funds (Fierce Telecom) May 23, 2013

CenturyLink is now eligible to receive about $90 million from the FCC’s Connect America Fund (CAF), enabling it to extend broadband services to more rural homes that are located in areas where it was too expensive to build the necessary facilities to serve them.

Google Fiber won’t help Netflix banwidth issues (LA Biz) May 22, 2013

It doesn’t look like Google is going to solve bandwidth issues for Netflix. Many had been pinning hopes on Google’s fiber optic network speeding up the subscription video-on-demand service, but due to cost it doesn’t seem like it will be a solution for the near future, according to IHS Screen Digest.

Telecom’s big players hold back the future (New York Times) May 20, 2013

If you were going to look for ground zero in the fight against a rapidly consolidating telecom and cable industry, you might end up on the fifth floor of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York.

Susan Crawford, a law professor, contends that the telecommunications and cable industries have been taken over by monopolists.
Susan Crawford, a professor at the school, has written a book, “Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age,” that offers a calm but chilling state-of-play on the information age in the United States.

Local Taxpayers: Look before leaping into government-owned broadband ventures (CenturyLink Policy Connection) May 17, 2013

The list is long. Dozens, if not more, municipal and government-sponsored broadband networks that were funded with well-intentioned tax dollars from citizens and businesses are now struggling under the weight of ballooning costs and highly speculative business plans. Interestingly, consultants and cash-strapped city planners in small to medium-sized towns across the country still seem receptive to using taxpayer dollars for venture capital to fund and build government-owned networks on top of existing communications networks.

Google Fiber not going nationwide (Home Media Magazine) May 21, 2013

Deployment costs should keep Netflix’s fastest broadband provider on the sidelines as a regional player.

Former Cisco exec lands at Firetide (Wall Street Journal) May 20, 2013

Firetide has been around since 2003, one of a number of startups formed when the notion of municipal Wi-Fi networks was beginning to spread. But providing wireless Internet access to local residents failed to turn into a goldmine.

Confronting the reality of US broadband performance (Tech Crunch) May 18, 2013

We’ve all heard the story: America’s broadband networks are second-rate. We pay exorbitant prices for shoddy service because broadband providers print money and hold innovation in a death grip. While America languishes, our competitors in Europe and Asia are racing ahead to a user-generated content utopia. The only way forward is a government takeover, or, failing that, a massive dose of regulation.

Business Plans for municipal fiber (Community Broadband Networks) May 17, 2013

Whether you are a community leader investigating the possibility of a publicly owned network or an engaged citizen looking for pros and cons, this piece explains practical benefits succinctly. In [Joanne Hovis’] article, The Business Case For Government Fiber Networks [PDF], Hovis looks at life beyond stimulus funding. She points out how we should evaluate municipal networks in an environment where shareholder profit is not the first consideration.

Faster broadband speeds – the view from FCC (New York Times) May 16, 2013
It’s vital that we keep pushing for faster broadband speeds. Google Fiber is an important positive development and has been followed by a growing number of other high-speed broadband deployments, including expansions by AT&T, CenturyLink, and other companies and municipalities.

Public safety reconsiders who should use its broadband network (Urgent Communications) May 15, 2013

Throughout the U.S., states and territories are preparing to begin a planning process with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) to determine what roles they will play in the much-anticipated nationwide broadband network for first responders that will feature LTE operations on 700 MHz public-safety spectrum.

AT&T CEO: We’ll piggyback on Google’s fiber rollout plans (CNet) May 15, 2013

AT&T seems perfectly willing to let Google blaze the trail when it comes to fiber-optic deployment…

…AT&T has had a tougher time with its own fiber deployment because cities have required it to build its network out to the entire community — a costly project. But Google has been able to approach it differently, building only to homes and neighborhoods where it makes economic sense. It’s a change that AT&T hopes to mimic.

AT&T Chief sees real demand for ultra high-speed internet (Wall Street Journal) May 15, 2013

Growing demand for Internet bandwidth will push more telecommunications companies to offer ultra high-speed fiber-optic service to subscribers’ doorsteps, AT&T Inc. (T) Chairman and Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said Wednesday, though service will focus on neighborhoods with many potential customers.

You didn’t need that DSL line, right? (DSL Broadband Reports) May 14, 2013

As I’ve been discussing a lot lately (because it’s the most important issue facing the broadband sector right now), both AT&T and Verizon are in the process of gutting regulations that require they continue offering copper landlines — and by proxy DSL — to tens of millions of Americans. Both companies insist this they’re simply interested in “modernizing regulations” and ushering us into an “all IP age.” In reality, both companies simply want to exit the fixed-line market in areas they’re unwilling to upgrade.

U.S. broadband policy and competitiveness (Council on Foreign Relations) May 13, 2013

Some experts fear the United States is falling behind other developed nations in broadband adoption and performance, but others say such concerns are often exaggerated and unsupported by analysis. In addition, researchers are divided on the competitive benefit of ever faster access and debate the role of government in supporting broadband development.

Libraries closing digital divide thanks to BTOP investments (Broadband Communities) May 13, 2013

In a time of flat and decreased budgets, BTOP funding has been a gateway to improved technology access at thousands of libraries nationwide, according to the American Library Association (ALA) in its “2012 Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study.” While libraries continue to report challenges meeting the technology demands of their communities, a marked improvement in access is providing some measure of relief.

FirstNet’s future depends on state and local support, says Harris exec (Fierce Broadband Wireless) May 13, 2013

For the First Responders Network Authority (FirstNet) to achieve success in building the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN), it must meet the mission-critical needs of public safety, remain financially viable and ensure state and local buy-in for the network, according to Dennis Martinez, CTO of Harris’ RF communications division, who helped craft the NPSBN’s interoperability requirements.

Why won’t conservatives let communities decide for themselves (Institute for Local Self-Reliance) May 11, 2013

In his 1996 State of the Union Address Democratic President Bill Clinton famously declared, “the era of big government is over.” And during his tenure he did everything he could to make that true-deregulating the telecommunications and the financial industry, enacting a free trade agreement severely restricting the authority of the federal government to protect domestic jobs and businesses and abandoning the 75 year old federal commitment to the poor.

Making RUS Work (Cable Tech Talk) May 7, 2013

When Congress created the USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Broadband Loan Program in the Farm Bill, the goal was to connect to the Internet those Americans living in small towns and hard-to-reach rural areas with insufficient access. By delivering federal funds, networks to communities that weren’t served by broadband providers could be built.

Blair Levin’s remarks to the Broadband Communities Summit 2013 (Gig.U) May 7, 2013

…Rather, today I’m going to talk about … achieving bandwidth abundance.

Smart grid networks exploiting infrastructure to provide wireless broadband (Circle ID) May 1, 2013

The USDA Rural Development’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) has now spent the $250 million committed for smart grid technologies. To this has been added an additional $201 million in funding approved by the Agriculture Secretary to electricity utilities in eight states to install smart grid technologies and improve their generation and transmission facilities. The beneficiaries are spread among a large number of states.

Common mistakes in community networks (Community Broadband Networks) May 7, 2013

This is a show I have been wanting to do for years – discussing some of the common mistakes that have been make by community owned networks. Offering broadband and other telecommunications services is a difficult business for any entity, public or private and all network owners make mistakes. The vast majority of these errors can be and are fixed so the network may carry on.

New USDA rules target broadband service in unserved rural areas (Broadband Communities) May 6, 2013

…USDA Rural Development’s Community Connect Grant program serves rural communities where broadband service is least likely to be available, but where it can make a tremendous difference in the quality of life for citizens.

The changes:

  • Simplify the application process by requiring a single project summary and map.
  • Allow grant applicants to use a USDA web-based mapping tool to define their proposed service area. The old rules did not accommodate some of the most rural communities, which often are not Census-designated places or were not recognized by a commercial atlas.
  • Give grant applicants more flexibility on the types of resources, in-kind services and monetary contributions that can be used to meet the 15 percent matching fund requirement.
  • Allow USDA to consider giving funding priority to projects in: persistent poverty counties; communities experiencing population declines; the most rural areas.

USDA announces new rules to fund broadband service in unserved rural communities (USDA) May 3, 2013

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced new rules to better target Community Connect broadband grants to areas where they are needed the most. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today’s announcement is one part of the Department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.

Tiny public cell towers for your home (MIT Technology Review) May 2, 2013

Mobile chipmaker Qualcomm and some U.S. wireless carriers are investigating an idea that would see small cellular base stations installed in homes to serve passing smartphone users. That approach is believed to be a more efficient way of meeting the rising demand for data and fixing patchy coverage than building more traditional cell-phone towers.

Sorry liberals, there’s no ‘broadband monopoly’ in America (Real Clear Technology) May 2, 2013

Progressives like Susan Crawford love to play fast and loose with the term monopoly, especially as it pertains to the provision of broadband service here in America. As she and others of similar mind see it, America is a nation of Internet service monopolies, dominated by cable companies.

NTIA broadband adoption toolkit shares best practices across US (National Telecommunications and Information Admin) May 2, 2013

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) today released its Broadband Adoption Toolkit, a document aimed at sharing best practices developed from broadband adoption and digital literacy projects funded by the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). Leveraging the experience of about 100 communities served by BTOP to benefit the entire nation, the Toolkit gives practical ideas and tools for overcoming barriers to getting more Americans online access.

Broadband industry giants just love new Wheeler FCC pick… (DSL Broadband Reports) May 2, 2013

As noted yesterday, the FCC has selected former cable and wireless industry lobbyist Tom Wheeler to replace Julius Genachowski as the head of the FCC. Wheeler has been a top fundraiser for the Obama campaign during the last two election cycles, and it appears he’s now getting his political reward for being a loyal foot soldier. Current Commissioner Mignon Clyburn will be the interim head of the FCC while Wheeler awaits his Congressional confirmation.

Overcoming obstacles to municipal fiber networks (Social Science Research Network) May 1, 2013

Nineteen million Americans cannot access the Internet from home, and tens of millions more only have slow unreliable access. Meanwhile, nations who once looked at the U.S. as a leader in technological innovation are connecting greater portions of their people to the fastest communications technology on the planet fiber optics. Unfortunately, less than 20% of Americans currently have home access to fiber optic communications. And the private sector has stopped building new fiber networks because investors don’t want to wait for them to pay off. Fortunately, local governments have started to fill the gaps by building fiber networks and providing their communities with world-class broadband Internet access. But cable and telecom industry lobbyists have pushed nineteen states to enact restrictions against municipal broadband provision in order to protect their broadband market dominance.

Despite glossy reports, muni broadband is still a net money loser (Reason Foundation) April 2013

After several years outside the spotlight, legislative battles over municipal broadband are re-emerging. Goosed by federal stimulus funds, a number of municipal broadband networks around the country were able to meet short-term construction and service goals, even as they face long-term financial questions. In addition, the shift in policy attitudes toward more interventionist government programs, typified in books like Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age by former Obama White House Telecommunications Advisor Susan Crawford, has a number of municipalities considering the launch of competitive phone, cable TV and high-speed broadband ventures.

Smart grid networks exploiting infrastructure to provide wireless broadband (Circle ID) May 1, 2013

The USDA Rural Development’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) has now spent the $250 million committed for smart grid technologies. To this has been added an additional $201 million in funding approved by the Agriculture Secretary to electricity utilities in eight states to install smart grid technologies and improve their generation and transmission facilities. The beneficiaries are spread among a large number of states.

US: Co-ops urged to meet broadband needs (Electric Co-op Today) May 1, 2013

That was the message a Federal Communications Commissioner had for co-op leaders at the 2013 NRECA Legislative Conference.

Obama to nominate telecom executive Tom Wheeler to chair FCC (Washington Post) April 30, 2013

President Obama is expected to nominate Tom Wheeler, a friend and telecom industry executive, as head of the Federal Communications Commission as early as Wednesday, three people familiar with the administration’s decision said.

Want to be the next gigabit city? Here’s how (Smart Planet) April 30, 2013

From the FCC’s first-ever gigabit workshop, here are five recommendations from experts about how to build a gigabit network anywhere….

…5. Work with incumbents (if possible)
Incumbent Internet providers would rather not compete against municipal upstarts, but sometimes the two can work together. Kevin Leddy, executive vice president at Time Warner Cable, points to the Connect NYC public/private partnership as a good example. “Our challenge is to continue to have a viable business model for Internet expansion,” Leddy says. In the case of New York, Time Warner is working with the city to determine where faster networks could bring in new revenue while also contributing to overall community betterment.

The FCC will hold at least one more gigabit workshop this year.

FCC seeks comments on national public safety broadband network (iHealth Beat) April 30, 2013

The Federal Communications Commission is seeking public comment on its plans to deploy a national public safety broadband network, according to a notice published in the Federal Register…

Nationwide public safety broadband network faces tough challenges (FierceMobileHealthcare) April 30, 2013

By all accounts, first responder emergency communications at the Boston Marathon performed well in response to the terrorist attack. However, the lack of interoperable public safety communications that hampered rescue efforts on September 11, 2001 and during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 are also a part of our country’s recent history. It’s the reason Congress has set aside a special section of airwaves to accommodate a new nationwide public safety broadband network.

Public safety broadband market: Who’s on FirstNet? (SB Wire) April 26, 2013

This report is an overview of telecom veteran Frank Ohrtman’s impressions gained while attending FirstNet’s first public board of directors meeting accompanied by a tour of the Public Safety Communications Research labs where evaluated platforms were on full display.

FCC tackling public safety interference (Courthouse News) April 26, 2013

The Federal Communications Commission seeks comments on preventing frequency interference in the upcoming public safety broadband system.

The FCC’s proposal addressing frequency interference is part of the implementation of the 2012 Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act (Public Safety Spectrum Act) that would deploy a public safety broadband network.

Five rationales for municipal broadband deconstructed, discredited – Part V (Fair Competition Alliance) April 26, 2013

…Local self-reliance advocates both abhor and ignore their own arguments for local control. On the one hand they argue against what they perceive to be a monopoly hold on their communities by private providers (let’s overlook for a moment that few communities go unserved by multiple private providers – in Washington State Comcast, Wave, Charter, CenturyLink, Frontier, Dish, ATT Wireless, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, Clearwire, for example) over an often redundant array of technology platforms (coaxial cable, fiber, DSL/wireline, wireless, cellular, satellite).

At the same time advocates – harking back almost a century to the height of the New Deal – hold out their nearly sacred symbol of rural electrification, presumably believing that listeners will suspend judgment and forget that rural electrification required monopoly provision in order to succeed.

Mutiny at FirstNet as board member alleges improprieties (Fierce Broadband Wireless) April 23, 2013

Verizon Wireless executive Bill D’Agostino Jr. is now the general manager of the First Responder Network Authority, but his introduction was overshadowed by salvos launched by one of FirstNet’s own board members regarding the authority’s lack of transparency.

Finding Google Fiber in your own back yard (Tech News and Analysis) April 20, 2013

Instead of being jealous of towns getting Google Fiber, municipalities should look not to Google, but to local businesses that might want broadband badly enough to help play the same role.

Five rationales for municipal broadband, deconstructed, discredited – Part IV (Fair Competition Alliance) April 22, 2013

In this post we look at their “smart community-economic development rationale.” This argument for more government says that communities need broadband networks in order to be “smart” communities and therefore attractive to investment and job creating economic development. Their “fundamental flaw”, say the authors:

It’s time for cities to deploy emergency wi-fi strategies (PC Magazine) April 19, 2013

The nightmarish events of this week remind us how vital communications are during a disaster. People need information in an emergency, and with the prevalence of mobile devices, Wi-Fi is often the best way to get that information during a crisis.

Five rationales for municipal broadband deconstructed, discredited – Part III (Fair Competition Alliance) April 19, 2013

In this post we look at their “overbuild rationale.”
This argument is used by governments that build broadband networks for their own internal uses, and then extend these networks, making them available to residents as a way “to generate a better return on the investments,” say the authors.

Google paid $1 for $39 million iProvo network – deal also allows Google to walk away on a whim (DSL Broadband Reports) April 19, 2013

As noted earlier this week, Google has announced they’re expanding Google Fiber into Provo, Utah on the back of the existing iProvo fiber to the home network built by the city. The Associated Press has obtained more detail on the city’s agreement with Google, noting quite amazingly that the city agreed to sell the network, which cost $39 million to build, for just $1.

Go-aheads omit the major telcos (Circle ID) April 19, 2013

…A number of states have legislated against community broadband networks, often resulting from the lobbying efforts of the main telcos affected. State Legislatures commonly pass bills revoking local decision-making authorities from communities, effectively making them dependent on the dominant cableco and DSL provider. The National Institute on State Politics has made a clear connection between industry contributions to politicians and hamstrung bills restricting competition to these telcos.

Public safety needs data and application interoperability (Urgent Communications) April 18, 2013

The public-safety community welcomed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 with open arms, because it made possible the first nationwide wireless broadband data network for first responders. However, this network is much more than a wireless data pipe.

Five rationales for municipal broadband deconstructed, discredited-Part II (Fair Competition Alliance) April 18, 2013

The second rationale [the authors] discuss, “the competition rationale,” is directed to those communities where broadband is already available from private providers. It goes something like this:

A failing grade for broadband (Slate) April 17, 2013

Entrepreneurs often suggest that innovation can happen only when government stays out of the way. But in order for innovative education technology to have widespread adoption, the government will need to play a role in supporting the development of next-generation networks and ensuring that they are accessible to everyone, everywhere.

Five rationales for municipal broadband deconstructed, discredited-Part I (Fair Competition Alliance) April 17, 2013

The first and leading rationale they discuss is “the availability rationale,” where, but for municipal action, a particular region would be passed by, left behind in the new fast-paced digital world. Saying this rationale has ‘intuitive appeal’ the authors cite examples of all the communities across the country, which have tried and failed to provide broadband service.

Government-owned networks neither compelling nor wise, says new research (Fair Competition Alliance) April 16, 2013

Recent research work from New York Law School’s Advanced Communications Law and Policy Institute deconstructs five current arguments for government-owned broadband networks.

As FCC chairman leaves post, challenges persist in broadband expansion (Bloomberg News) April 16, 2013

One of the biggest challenges the next Federal Communications Commission chairman will face is how to encourage the expansion of ultrahigh-speed broadband networks capable of connecting users to the internet at speeds as fast as 1 gigabit per second–whether those networks are built by private companies, public-private partnerships, or local municipalities…

…Blair Levin, the chief architect of the FCC’s 2010 National Broadband Plan, told BNA in an interview, “Local officials have become increasingly aware of the importance of big bandwidth for economic development, job creation, and education in their communities.”…

Municipal broadband Contenders (Lafayette Pro Fiber Blog) April 12, 2013

Fierce Telecom is running a story on municipal broadband. Its positive coverage is not exhaustive or in-depth but it is a sign that the trade press is beginning to notice the significant impact that municipal providers have on their market and realize that the munis are not going to somehow shrivel up and go away as their incumbent informants had implied.

Is municipal broadband worth the cost? (Fierce Telecom) April 11, 2013

This week, FierceTelecom takes a look at five contenders in the municipal broadband space. It wasn’t easy to pick just five–a growing number of communities are taking on the broadband challenge, building out or planning fiber networks to serve residents and attract more businesses. But the cost of this buildout can be crippling for cities, some critics say. Is it worth the cost?

The Contenders: Municipal fiber providers meeting or beating the incumbent competition (Fierce Telecom) April 10, 2013

In this installment of The Contenders, we take a look at five standout municipal broadband providers.

Just a few years ago, municipal broadband looked like a long shot to many communities. State or local regulations, legal challenges by established broadband providers, and a shaky economy were among the hurdles that communities had to surmount to bring affordable, high-speed service to businesses and residents.

FirstNet is far off, but public safety comm does have interoperable options (GCN) April 10, 2013

The Holy Grail of public safety communications is a single nationwide broadband network that will allow seamless roaming and communication between agencies. While first responders are waiting for this, commercial technologies are emerging to provide interoperable communications on a local, regional or national scale.

Myths and misinformation about government-owned broadband (Geoff Feiss, MT Telecommunications Assn for Fair Competition Alliance) April 10, 2013

There’s a myth spreading around in government circles that the private sector can’t be trusted to deliver vital telecommunications services to our nation’s communities. Therefore, the solution is-you guessed it-taxpayer-funded, government-owned telecom networks.

Rural carriers complain about broadband obstacles (Computer World) April 9, 2013

Rural telecom and broadband providers in the U.S. face big challenges in connecting their most remote customers, as the U.S. Federal Communications Commission transitions away from old telephone subsidies, a group of providers told lawmakers.

Access to broadband is the central issue in rural communications today (PR Newswire) April 10, 2013

Consumer access to broadband in high-cost markets is the central issue in rural communications today, CenturyLink, Inc. Executive Vice President for Public Policy and Government Relations Steve Davis told a U.S. Senate subcommittee today at a hearing on the state of rural communications.

Cable angry about higher 6 Mbps FCC broadband definition (DSL Broadband Networks) April 4, 2013

The FCC still has around $185 million out of the $300 million broadband funds available from phase one of their Connect America Fund, dedicated to shoring up broadband coverage gaps. While companies like Frontier took $71.9 million to wire some 92,000 homes, other companies like Windstream balked at taking full funding, saying that getting $775 per install wasn’t enough for their liking. In the hopes of getting more takers, the FCC wants to change the threshold for what constitutes an “unserved” region from 3 Mbps / 768 kbps to 6 Mbps / 1.5 Mbps.

Top 10 signs that wireless market is competitive (Digital Policy Institute) April 5, 2013

The Digital Policy Institute believes that advancing the interests of consumers should be a major, driving force in government policymaking processes aimed at broadband expansion and enhanced connectivity, including wireless. … Consistent with the FCC’s newest report providing evidence that American consumers are being well served by the wireless sector, we’d like to highlight some signs that show us the marketplace is dynamic, highly competitive and consumer-centric.

Springtime for broadband? (Wall Street Journal-Holman Jenkins) April 2, 2013

Every American in his own way will mark the occasion of Julius Genachowski’s stepping down from the Federal Communications Commission. Some will light candles. Some will adjust themselves slightly in their seats and say “Who?” …

…Google touts its Kansas City fiber project as somehow transforming the economics of broadband. But Google had hundreds of towns vying for its attention and naturally chose a city that waived the usual regulatory burdens, hassles and taxes that befall companies trying to wire a neighborhood…

Google wi-fi hysteria has negative unintended consequences – forces Google to target valuable open wi-fi hotspots (DSL Broadband Reports) April 2, 2013

In 2010, Google was busted using their Google Street View cars to collect Wi-Fi data from areas they passed through. The company claimed that the effort was a rogue action of one employee running a test project, and the data collected was largely useless (confirmed by subsequent studies) given the collection vehicles flipped channels roughly five times each second. Google admitted the mistake, put new employee measures in place, and that probably should have been the end of it.

“Level playing field” padded with public dollars to private providers (Community broadband Networks) April 2, 2013

Municipal broadband networks have been gaining traction across the country. It’s easy to see why: In many rural and low-income communities, privately offered broadband services are nonexistent. In its 2012 Broadband Progress Report the Federal Communications Commission counted nearly 20 million Americans (the vast majority living in rural areas) beyond the reach of broadband.

FirstNet making progress as national public safety network (WRAL Tech Wire) April 1, 2013

FirstNet Board Member Sue Swenson has been the lead negotiator between FirstNet and seven Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) public safety projects on 700 MHz spectrum leases. She provided an update on Thursday on the process and status of those negotiations.

Complementary roles for municipal wi-fi? (IP Carrier) April 1, 2013

Municipal Wi-Fi networks perhaps are carving out a distinct niche that commercial providers might have little interest in serving. “No incremental cost” public Wi-Fi networks running at very low speeds, such as 1 Mbps downstream, and serving outdoor areas, provide one example.

Should the public or private sector control broadband? (Governing Magazine) April 2013

The question of who will install fiber-optic networks and who will control them is key because it could impact decades of economic growth. Telecom giants like AT&T think they should be the only player.

New Hampshire broadband speeds beat Japan (Tech News Daily) March 28, 2013

Overall, U.S. broadband speeds place a dismal 14th among the country’s international peers, but broken down by state and district, a rosier picture emerges. In fact, Washington, D.C., has the third-highest speed in the world, behind only one other city, Hong Kong, and one country, South Korea.

Domestic electricity meters also delivering municipal wi-fi coverage (Cellular News) March 28, 2013

A US electricity supplier has started installing replacement electricity usage meters that also come with a built-in municipal Wi-Fi capacity.

Senate approves amendment approving investment in broadband to rural areas (Nebraska Broadband Initiative) March 25, 2013

U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced that, early this morning, the United States Senate approved a bipartisan amendment they introduced to promote investment in broadband infrastructure for rural areas

FCC Chief leaves broadband legacy (Variety) March 22, 2013

If there was any doubt about the issue that has been the top priority of FCC chairman Julius Genachowski during his tenure atop the regulatory org, he made it perfectly clear in his remarks to staffers on Friday in announcing his departure in the coming weeks.

Pushing the country further into the digital future, with more ubiquitous broadband accessibility and adoption, will likely be his legacy, but throughout his term his ambitious agenda was at times met with contention, compromise and, in certain cases, disappointment.

Working anywhere with wicked fast wi-fi (Mobile Enterprise) March 26, 2013

One in five professionals will take a business trip in the next six months, says the U.S. Travel Association, and nearly half of the American workforce works remote part of the time. Leading cities that are hubs for business and higher education are becoming more user-friendly to attract and support the mobile workforce, not to mention high-tech companies.

Which should we have: public utilities or regulated private monopolies? (Tom Worstall for Forbes) March 24, 2013

Matt Yglesias ponders this point. Which is it better for us to have public utilities or regulated private monopolies? He’s right on many levels, the differences tend to be about who gets to collect the rents available from monopolistic positions. Further, that who does get to have what tends to be subject to political fashion and style. However, there’s one thing very wrong with the analysis:

Municipally-owned utilities: about as good or bad as the other options (Matthew Yglesias for Slate) March 22, 2013

Several decades ago, jurisdictions across America got fed up with the waste and mismanagement of publicly owned utilities and there was a big fad for turning them into regulated private monopolies. More recently, jurisdictions across America have gotten fed up with the waste and mismanagement of private utility monopolies and there’s a bit of momentum around returning to the public ownership model with Boulder, Co. perhaps leading the way.

I want my m-wi-fi (Wireless Networking) March 19, 2013

WiFi blanketing entire communities was a turn-of-the-century dream that failed to materialize, with a few exceptions, but it’s now being resurrected. “Simply put, carriers need WiFi,” said Steve Hratko, Ruckus’ director of carrier marketing. LTE alone won’t be able to handle the insatiable appetite for more capacity, as the proliferation of mobile devices worldwide, like smartphones and tablets, continues to grow at a rapid pace.”

It doesn’t matter who builds and operates the public safety broadband network (Fierce Government IT) March 17, 2013

Who will build and own the public safety broadband network is less important than adherence to federal First Responder Network Authority standards, said Sam Ginn, FirstNet chairman during a March 14 hearing.

We must bridge rural digital divide in America (The Hill’s Congress Blog) March 15, 2013

The policy question is not, “Is broadband working in America?” It clearly is. The real challenge is to make sure that the remaining Americans who are not on the fast lane of the Internet get on it as quickly as possible.

U.S. shouldn’t copy EU’s failed model for wireless (Steve Forbes for Investor’s Business Daily) March 13, 2013

America’s wireless industry is a major success story.

In 2011 alone, it laid out nearly $27 billion in capital expenditures – primarily to build out 4G networks, which offer consumers far faster speeds than previous generations.

These huge investments are paying off. The U.S. marketplace has nearly half of the world’s 4G subscribers.

Wasteful spending found in federal broadband programs (Coalition for the New Economy) March 11, 2013

Late last month, Computer Worldposted a good summary of waste in federal broadband programs. Here is what the magazine found:

Blair Levin discusses Gig.U and more (Community Broadband Networks) March 12, 2013

I asked Blair to join us for the show so I could ask him some hard questions about the Gig.U initiative, including the difficulty of achieving universal service and the tradeoffs around allowing entities not rooted in the community to own (and set the rules for) essential infrastructure. I also challenge Blair’s preference for “private sector” investment, asking him what exactly that means.

New “Broadband 101” fact sheet (Institute for Local Self-Reliance) March 11, 2013

ILSR’s new fact sheet is a reliable quick reference guide for policymakers and citizens.

Big cities shy away from municipal broadband networks (Coalition for the New Economy) March 8, 2013

The Atlanticthis week asks the question: “Why Are There No Big Cities with Municipal Broadband Networks?”

The article seems to lament the fact that Chattanooga, Tenn. and Lafayette, La. are the two largest cities in the country that have government-owned broadband networks. It quotes Christopher Mitchell from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance who has one idea why big cities don’t want to own big broadband networks. Mitchell told The Atlantic, “I feel like big cities have this arrogance … They thought, ‘We’re so great, we are so cosmopolitan.’ They never thought they’d have to worry about competing with Chattanooga over jobs.”

New America Foundation misinterprets international data (again) (Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal and Economic Public Policy Studies) March 7, 2013

In a recent report entitled The Cost of Connectivity, the New America Foundation (“New America”) attempts to compare the prices of “triple play” offerings of video, phone, and Internet services across 22 cities worldwide to show that “that U.S. consumers in major cities tend to pay higher prices for slower speeds compared to consumers abroad.” Unfortunately, when it comes to measuring and comparing prices, New America has a demonstrated penchant for careless work.

Telecom firms seek to curb publicly funded web services (Wall Street Journal) March 6, 2013

Sensing a threat to their business model, telecom companies are pushing more states to curb the spread of publicly funded high-speed Internet access, arguing the networks could squash competition.

Will American telecoms kill the online ed revolution (Via Meadia) March 6, 2013

Here at Via Meadia, we’ve been extremely optimistic about the potential for online courses and MOOCs to shake up the stagnant world of higher education. Our optimism assumes, of course, that enough students have, or soon will, have video-quality broadband internet connections. As the Chronicle of Higher Education warns, this may not always be a safe assumption.

America’s broadband service is not falling behind (The American Magazine) March 6, 2013

It’s easy to think that the grass is greener abroad, but when it comes to broadband being delivered efficiently, there’s no place like home.

As an American who has worked and studied in Japan, Holland, Sweden, and now Denmark, I have experienced these countries’ broadband, which critics say is better, faster, and cheaper than in the United States. However, there is no application that people in these countries get from broadband that Americans don’t. Furthermore, a hard look at the global broadband data shows there is a serious gap between the picture critics such as Susan Crawford paint and what actually exists in the real world.

Caution urged on broadband plan (Electric Co-op Today) March 6, 2013

NRECA is urging the Federal Communications Commission to proceed with caution and flexibility as it develops a $100 million program to bring high-speed Internet to the most remote parts of the United States.

Municipal broadband networks bridge the digital divide as telecom industry tried to block them (Democracy Now!) March 5, 2013

As many as one in 10 Americans cannot get internet connections fast enough for common online activities, such as watching video. Many communities have responded to this “digital divide” by creating their own municipal broadband networks as an alternative to the slow services offered by cable and telephone companies – in order to gain equal access to education, healthcare, and even jobs.

The Broadband Engine of Economic Growth (Julius Genachowski for the Wall Street Journal) March 6, 2013

The U.S. has as many 4G subscribers as the rest of the world combined.

Public safety broadband starts to make strides (Urgent Communications) March 5, 2013

On Feb. 22, 2012, President Barack Obama signed into law comprehensive legislation that included language designed to make the vision of a nationwide broadband network for first responders a reality. The new law reallocated the 700 MHz D Block spectrum to public safety, dedicated $7 billion to deploy the network, and established a new entity called FirstNet to oversee the massive project.

Why Are There No Big Cities with Municipal Broadband Networks? (Atlantic Cities) March 4, 2013

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance recently compiled this map of all the communities in the country that control their own access to the Internet. At best count, there are about 340 of them with publicly owned fiber-optic or cable networks, serving either all or parts of town. In these places, those residents and businesses served don’t have to spar with telecom giants like AT&T and Comcast. They get their Internet instead – like many communities do their electric utility – straight from the city.

Testifying before Congress: Defending national, MCNC broadband plan (WRAL Tech Wire) March 4, 2013

“Joe, I’m with the subcommittee on communications and technology from United States House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce. We have a Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program (BTOP) oversight hearing next Wednesday and we would like you to testify.”
That’s the way it began less than a week before the seventh oversight hearing about BTOP; a request to give testimony about MCNC’s Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative (GLRBI).

New Report on US Fixed and Wireless Broadband Market (AzoSensors) March 4, 2013

Research and Markets has announced the addition of the “USA – Fixed and Wireless Broadband Market – Insights Statistics and Forecasts” report to their offering

White House Punts on Cell Phone Unlocking Leaves it to Bickering Congress and Timid FCC to Figure Out (DSL Broadband Reports) March 4, 2013

In late January, unlocking your cellphone technically became illegal after the Librarian of Congress removed it from the DMCA exception list last year. It remains legal for you to jailbreak your phone, but you can’t unlock it unless you get your carrier’s permission. If you think that sounds idiotic you’re not alone; a petition was formed on the White House website aimed at making unlocking cell phones legal again, and after getting the necessary 100,000 signatures has now received a White House response.

White House throws support behind unlocking phones (Fierce Wireless) March 4, 2013

The Obama administration said it supports consumers who want to unlock their mobile phones without fear of breaking the law, and it urged legislative fixes to remedy a recent government ruling on the topic that removed protections for people who do unlock their phones.

Freedom to Connect Starts Monday, March 4 (Community Broadband Networks) March 3, 2013

This conference has some incredible presenters … and also me – Christopher Mitchell – giving a keynote in the opening session. I’ll also be joining the Democracy Now show at 8 AM EST to talk about community owned networks.

10 reasons to be more optimistic about broadband than Susan Crawford is (Forbes) March 2, 2013

Susan Crawford thinks she sees the future of the Internet-and it isn’t pretty: Cable companies monopolizing broadband, charging too much, withholding content and keeping speeds low, all in order to suppress disruptive innovation.

Activists fear return of AT&T monopoly (Raw Story) March 1, 2013

A plan telecom giant AT&T pitched to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in November to shift from old landline networks to Internet-only communications could dramatically change federal regulations of telecom services, leading activists warned Raw Story this week.

FCC’s pole attachment rules upheld by DC court (Fierce Telecom) March 1, 2013

Telecom service providers overcame a major network cost on Wednesday as the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the FCC’s 2011 order that regulates how much utility companies can charge telcos to attach wires to their poles.

AT&T’s about to make broadband market much worse – severing DSL, POTS lines creates major issues (DSL Broadband Reports) March 1, 2013

As I’ve been noting, both AT&T and Verizon have been busy trying to gut absolutely all regulatory oversight of those companies, in the process severing the DSL and landlines of tens of millions of users, who’ll have to flee to an even less-competitive cable monopoly, more-expensive and capped LTE service, or even pricier and more-heavily capped satellite broadband.

The University of the Future (Broadband Communities Magazine) January/February 2013

High-speed broadband lets NC State University reinvent education.

Casting a wider ‘net: how and why state laws restricting municipal broadband networks must be modified (George Washington Law Review) February 2013

One of Congress’s purposes in passing the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was to encourage the widespread deployment of broadband Internet. As municipalities began constructing their own broadband networks, private sector Internet service providers, alarmed at the prospect of competing with these public networks, pushed back with lobbying campaigns encouraging states to enact laws prohibiting these municipal networks. This, in turn, slowed broad- band deployment, particularly in areas that private providers believed to be unprofitable (and thus left unserved). Municipalities challenged these laws under the Telecommunications Act, arguing that the Act preempted the state laws, but the Supreme Court in Nixon v. Missouri Municipal League, 541 U.S. 125 (2004), upheld the state prohibitions, clearing the way for even more states to adopt such prohibitions. Today, twenty-one states have statutes restricting municipal networks, leaving many Americans without affordable broadband Internet access.

FCC Chair criticizes muni-broadband restrictions (Media Post) February 29, 2013

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski on Friday came out against proposed legislation that would prohibit cities from building their own broadband networks.

How AT&T is planning to rob Americans of an open public telco network (Wired-Opinion) February 28, 2013

AT&T has a sneaky plan.

It wants to exploit a loophole in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s rules to kill what remains of the public telecommunications network – and all of the consumer protections that go with it. It’s the final step in AT&T’s decade-long effort to end all telecommunications regulation, and the simplicity of the plan highlights a dysfunction unique to the American regulatory system.

America’s broadband service is not falling behind (The American Magazine) February 28, 2013

It’s easy to think that the grass is greener abroad, but when it comes to broadband being delivered efficiently, there’s no place like home.

As an American who has worked and studied in Japan, Holland, Sweden, and now Denmark, I have experienced these countries’ broadband, which critics say is better, faster, and cheaper than in the United States. However, there is no application that people in these countries get from broadband that Americans don’t. Furthermore, a hard look at the global broadband data shows there is a serious gap between the picture critics such as Susan Crawford paint and what actually exists in the real world.

10 reasons why US broadband isn’t as bad as you think (American Enterprise Institute) February 28, 2013

In an essay over at The American , Roslyn Layton, a PhD fellow in internet economics at Aalborg University in Denmark, argues that a “hard look at the global broadband data shows there is a serious gap between the picture critics … paint and what actually exists in the real world.”

Yes, South Korea, has the world’s fastest speed of 45 Mbps. But there is more to the story, Layton argues, pointing to a new report from the Washington-based Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. The key findings:

You don’t want 1 Gbps broadband — you want what we give you at the price we give it (DSL Broadband Report) February 28, 2013

Last December Time Warner Cable Rob Marcus insisted that there was no demand for 1 Gbps service, though if there was the company would surely provide it. His evidence? Not many users are signing up for the company’s fastest tiers, intentionally ignoring that it’s likely the very steep price tag that keeps those users away. The comments generally weren’t received well by users, and now the company’s back for round two.

Low-cost basic internet program: good for public policy or good for business? (Digital Policy Institute) February 27, 2013

The Internet, through networks and infrastructure, allow people to communicate and connect all across the world. The problem is that many people across the globe do not have access to these electronic networks.

Broadband subsidies hammered on Hill (Broadcasting and Cable) February 27, 2013

It was a gloves-off hearing on government broadband subsidies on Wednesday as Republicans hammered National Telecommunications and Information Administration chief Larry Strickling over its oversight and charges of overbuilding, while Strickling vigorously defended the program.

Funds available to states for public safety broadband (National Association of Counties) February 25, 2013

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) recently announced Feb. 6 the availability of $121.5 million in grants to assist states as they prepare for a nationwide public safety broadband network dubbed FirstNet (First Responder Network Authority).

New community owned network map (Community Broadband Networks) February 26, 2013

We have updated and expanded our interactive Community Owned Network Map [Non-interactive screen shot above]. The map continues to track the FTTH, cable networks, and partial fiber networks owned by local governments in the U.S. Now it also tracks dark fiber networks, publicly owned stimulus funded networks, and which networks are already advertising and/or delivering gigabit services.

Millions said to be waster on U.S. broadband expansion (Bloomberg) February 25, 2013

Programs dedicating $7 billion from the 2009 U.S. stimulus plan to spread high-speed Internet service have wasted millions of dollars and unfairly competed with private companies, a lawmaker with oversight of the program said.

House republicans take new aim at broadband subsidies (Broadcasting and Cable) February 25, 2013

House Republicans were not big fans of the Obama Administration’s broadband stimulus grants and loans, and a new Congress has not changed anything. That includes an ongoing investigation into overbuilding claims levied by Mediacom, according to committee staffers.

Stargazing FCC chief sees broadband future with his own unclear (News Journal) February 25, 2013

The chairman’s push for more broadband continues tomorrow, when a proposal aimed at expanding Wi-Fi service is set for a commission vote.

Digital divide persists despite stimulus effort (Wall Street Journal) February 25, 2013

Federal stimulus programs that devoted $7.2 billion to bringing high-speed Internet access to rural communities have left some areas without access and others complaining they have too much.

Genachowski sort of addresses awful Georgia broadband bill – urges states to get out of the way of community broadband (DSL Broadband Reports) February 21, 2013

Last week I noted that while it was nice for FCC boss Julius Genachowski to applaud new, highly limited 1 Gbps broadband efforts in North Carolina, it was unfortunate that he was remaining mute on the state’s efforts to ban community broadband. Like the currently debated, awful bill in Georgia (that would ban towns and cities from wiring themselves if anyone has a connection of just 1.5 Mbps) North Carolina has allowed several uncompetitive regional duopolies to write their broadband laws, leaving the state with significant broadband speed, price and coverage issues.

ACA asks FCC to keep broadband subsidies in check (Light Reading) February 22, 2013

The American Cable Association called on the Federal Communications Commission to establish a process to ensure that billions of dollars in broadband subsides that are provided to large incumbent phone companies through the agency’s Connect America Fund (CAF) are not utilized where broadband service is already being provided by an unsupported provider.

Top Genachowski replacement candidate former cable lobbyist (DSL Broadband Reports) February 22, 2013

Though the FCC boss hasn’t announced plans to go anywhere, there’s continued speculation and gossip in DC that Julius Genachowski is on his way out after a contentious five-year stretch at the agency. Genachowski’s broadband failures have been well illustrated here, from his decision to completely ignore competition issues entirely to his refusal to crack down on the predatory pricing, caps and sneaky fees that have sprung up thanks to limited competition and napping regulators.

Net neutrality activists need to man-up (Real Clear Technology) February 22, 2013

Remember a couple years back when the FCC grabbed control of the Internet with its Net Neutrality rules? Do you know who helped bring those harmful rules to life? It was the Soros-backed, special interest group called Free Press – a radical clan bent on getting capitalism out of the Internet so that top-down officials and elites can “better serve” Americans instead.

Anti-municipal broadband laws are like bubonic plague (Muni Wireless) February 21, 2013

The bubonic plague (or Black Death) kept popping up in various European cities for hundreds of years. As soon as one city’s population would be decimated, the plague would die out only to reappear after a long hiatus. In the case of anti-municipal broadband bills, as soon as one would get defeated in state legislature, it would pop up in another state and after a short hiatus, blossom in exactly the same form. Read about the latest outbreak of the Plague (State of Georgia anti-muni broadband bill).

FCC votes to ease wi-fi congestion (The Hill) February 20, 2013

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously on Wednesday to move forward with a plan to set aside additional frequencies for Wi-Fi devices.
The commission said the proposal would increase the capacity of Wi-Fi networks and would help to relieve congestion on hotspots at hotels, airports and other crowded areas.

Co-ops can get broadband to members (Electric Co-op Today) February 20, 2013

Look around the house. What do you see? A Kindle? An iPhone? A couple of laptops? A Wii being used both for gaming and to stream movies? Each is driving the need for broadband Internet. “It’s a proliferation of devices. It’s no longer an Ethernet cable to a computer that the family fought over to use,” said Skip Hirvela, vice president of regional sales at Calix, which markets fiber broadband access equipment.

Gig.U mid-year report (Fiber to the Home Council) February 19, 2013

Gig.U: The University Community Next Generation Innovation Project began a year and a half ago as a collaboration of research university communities to accelerate the deployment of next-generation networks. The problem we anticipated — of market forces focusing on harvesting last generation investments instead of driving new investments into world-leading fixed networks — has proven accurate. The idea of a consortium of communities working to change the math to catalyze new investment was untested and, in ways, at odds with the more traditional pattern of provider-driven federally-supported efforts to upgrade or build new networks.

Susan Crawford and Bill Moyers discuss internet access in America (Community Broadband Networks) February 17, 2013

Susan Crawford sat down with Bill Moyers to talk about Internet access in America. The two touch on net neutrality, the digital divide, and how access is now a critical component to our economic development.

In the words of Bill Moyers, “This is pretty strong stuff.” Bill and Susan also talk about how we have come to this point through lack of competition advanced by telecommunications companies’ lobbying and legislative ennui.

Government shouldn’t be in the wi-fi business (Real Clear Technology) February 15, 2013

Last week the Washington Post featured a most fantastical story that the federal government is beginning the process of building nationwide Wi-Fi networks and will provide free Internet access to everyone. Within hours the story was thoroughly debunked as fantasy and exaggeration, nothing more to the substance than the years old white spaces proposal.

U.S. broadband program aiding public libraries (Speed Matters) February 15, 2013

In a new report, the American Library Association credits the U.S. broadband stimulus program with strengthening the online capabilities of public libraries around the country. In the U.S. Public Libraries and the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), the ALA credits BTOP with funding needed improvement in many areas. As the report said:

DC think tank tells Americans that their broadband is really great (Ars Technica) February 13, 2013

Despite the fact that Americans are paying more per megabit than their counterparts in many European and Asian cities-a new report published by a Washington DC-based think tank says that broadband policy in America is totally acceptable.

Crashing the broadband party (Forbes) February 12, 2013

Last month, Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, issued a challenge. By 2015, he urged, each state should boast at least one “Gigabit City,” where residents enjoy broadband links transmitting data at a gigabit per second – “100 times faster than today’s average connection” of 10 megabits per second…

…The economic factor is crucial. Many cities who thought building their own broadband networks would yield “economic development” were surprised by broadband’s technical and financial challenges. The list of municipal broadband failures is long. The federal government’s efforts to boost rural broadband are, likewise, yielding few results but lots of waste. Of the Commerce Department’s latest $4 billion program, the New York Timesreported this week, “$594 million in spending has been temporarily or permanently halted, 14 percent of the overall program, and the Commerce Department’s inspector general has raised questions about the program’s ability to adequately monitor spending of the more than 230 grants.”…

Harold Feld tasks fundamentals of telecom policy on Community Broadband Bits podcast (Institute for Local Self-Reliance) February 12, 2013

The Community Broadband Bits Podcast recently published episode #32, a talk with Harold Feld of Public Knowledge. Harold is Senior Vice President of the organization which focuses on advocating for digital rights. Harold also authors Tales of the Sausage Factory, a blog dedicated to telecom policy, software, science, technology and writing.

Broadband access in libraries: ALA releases first BTOP Report (Draft) February 12, 2013

Today, the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy released the first national report (19 pages; PDF) detailing U.S. library engagement with theBroadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). The preliminary report highlights statewide library BTOP projects and improvements they have made to public access technology resources, digital literacy and workforce development.

Why the internet costs so much (Business Insider) February 11, 2013

In an interview with Bill Moyers, Susan Crawford, a former special assistant to President Barack Obama for science, technology, and innovation, discussed how the U.S. government has let a few giant conglomerates to rig the rules, raise prices, and throttle competition.

Time is of the essence: US must implement the broadband communications infrastructure necessary to remain globally connected, competitive and relevant (Huffington Post) February 11, 2013

17 years ago, there was a digital transformation that made the world smaller. New technologies have since intertwined and interconnected the global community where information is now instantly and readily available to more people than ever before. You can now have face-to-face conversations with people all over the world from your personal computer, tablet or even your smartphone.

Cecilia Kang is right: there really could be a free national wifi network (Public Knowledge) February 12, 2013

…Although the article initially faced a great deal of skepticism, Kang’s claims are not as far fetched as they appeared. In fact, if the FCC makes the right spectrum choices, it is reasonable to assume (although not inevitable) that we will eventually get to the kind of ubiquitous and easy to use publicly accessible WiFi access Kang describes in her article.

FirstNet: Pennywise and trust foolish? (FierceBroadbandWireless) February 14, 2013

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) has money issues and trust issues. While it’s watching dollars and cents, the agency would be wise to also focus on how its actions impact public confidence as it carries out its mission.

FCC’s wireless plan isn’t what the Washington Post said, but it should be (Slate Magazine) February 8, 2013

The FCC isn’t really creating a free nationwide wireless network. But it might happen anyway.

US: Rural areas still getting federal help linking up (Courthouse News Service) February 8, 2013

The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) has finalized a regulation for the Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program, the agency has announced.

The new regulation, which finalizes a 2011 interim rule, expands access to broadband service in rural areas.

No free super wi-fi, but the US still needs improved wi-fi coverage (Circle ID) February 8, 2013

The FCC has long battled for a more efficient deployment of unused spectrum, endeavouring to adapt rules governing ‘white space’ TV spectrum (largely gifted to broadcasters years ago, and generally in the 700MHz band) to newly released spectrum (in the 600MHz band). This will considerably improve wireless broadband coverage where it is needed most – predominantly in rural areas of the country which can benefit from the propagation characteristics of lower-band spectrum, but also in municipalities which struggle against the commercial interests of a small number of telcos and broadcasters.

Free Wi-fi for the masses? Not so fast (Mercatus Expert Commentary) February 8, 2013

A front-page story in the Washington Post on Monday reported that the “[t]he federal government wants to create super Wi-Fi networks across the nation, so powerful and broad in reach that consumers could use them to make calls or surf the Internet without paying a cellphone bill every month.”

There is infrastructure, then there is broadband infrastructure (Law and Politics of Broadband) February 7, 2013

…Broadband facilities tend to be mentioned in the same breath as the infrastructure components mentioned above. Broadband facilities, the “information superhighway”, carry digitized voice and data between our cell phones, lap tops, and tablets. Broadband facilities are described as the on ramp to electronic commerce, much like the on ramp to Interstate 20 at Joseph E. Lowery and Oak Street in the West End of Atlanta.

That’s about where the similarities end.

FCC plans powerful nationwide wi-fi; also, rainbows and ice cream for everyone (VentureBeat) February 4, 2013

File this under brilliant ideas that will never happen: The chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski, has a plan to create a powerful, nationwide Wi-Fi network that will give millions of people access to the Internet.

Is the FCC resuscitating public wi-fi (Telecom Ramblings) February 4, 2013

The Washington Post this morning has an interesting piece about the FCC’s new plans for public super WiFi networks across the country. It has me a bit puzzled, because it looks like a reincarnation of the municipal WiFi movement of a few years ago. The prospect of free broadband connectivity around town, enabling cell phone users to offload virtually everything and avoid paying for minutes and such was always a big draw.

‘Digital divide’ expert to FCC: Broadband cheaper (Newswise) February 4, 2013

Low-income city residents learn to use broadband through public programs, but they will not get home broadband until it costs less — and government must help make that happen, says a University of Illinois at Chicago professor who will speak at a Federal Communications Commission summit in Washington, DC on Feb. 7.

FirstNet shroud of secrecy raising public-safety vendors’ ire (FierceBroadbandWireless) February 3, 2013

The board of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) will hold its next meeting on Feb. 12, giving it a chance to respond publicly to a barrage of complaints regarding the board’s perceived lack of transparency and responsiveness.

Tech, telecom giants take sides as FCC proposed free, widespread public wi-fi (Governing) February 4, 2013

The proposal has rattled the wireless industry, which has launched a fierce lobbying effort against the idea, while Google, Microsoft and other tech giants say a free-for-all WiFi service would spark an explosion of innovations and devices.

New FCC ‘super wi-fi’ initiative not really new – white space broadband still running political gauntlet (DSL Broadband Reports) February 4, 2013

The Washington Post’s Cecilia Kang is exciting numerous people this morning by noting the FCC is pushing for a new, free “Super Wi-Fi” initiative that would deploy wireless service “so powerful and broad in reach that consumers could use them to make calls or surf the Internet without paying a cellphone bill every month.” I’ve had about a dozen people write in excited about this “new” FCC effort, but what Kang’s talking about is White Space broadband, which the industry has been battling over for the majority of the last decade.

Tech, telecom giants take sides as FCC proposes large public wi-fi networks (Washington Post) February 3, 2013

The federal government wants to create super WiFi networks across the nation, so powerful and broad in reach that consumers could use them to make calls or surf the Internet without paying a cellphone bill every month.

Can greater government involvement solve America’s internet access problem? (Governing) February 2013

Many foreign countries provide faster, cheaper and more widespread Internet access than the United States. In most of them, governments are much more involved with telecom policies and funding.

A breakdown of mesh networks and municipal wi-fi (State Tech Magazine) February 1, 2013

Mesh networks are the foundation of municipal Wi-Fi, allowing cities to offer Internet access across a large area in an efficient manner. In addition to offering citizens access, mesh networks can be used to provide city employees, law enforcement officers and emergency personnel quick, secure access on the go.

Google’s net neutrality principles slowly disappearing – paying telco “troll toll” for African market share (DSL Broadband Reports) February 1, 2013

You might recall that while generally seen as a champion of network neutrality, Google and BFF Verizon played starring roles in ensuring that the FCC’s network neutrality rules recently passed were essentially watered down nonsense that don’t apply to wireless. Now Google’s purported network neutrality principles on several other fronts appear to be getting watered down even further.

Two years and five updates for the National Broadband Map ( National Telecommunications and Informational Administration) January 31, 2013

Nearly two years ago, NTIA launched the  National Broadband Map, and today we are updating it, as we have every six months since its inception.  The map provides the first-ever detailed datasets of broadband availability across the country, and it would not be possible without a unique partnership between the federal government, states, and the voluntary participation of many broadband providers.

FirstNet and the public-private model (FierceBroadbandWireless) January 31, 2013

Since the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina and, most recently, Super Storm Sandy, the need for an interoperable national public safety communications system has been well-known. Last February, Congress took the important step of committing funds and spectrum and resources to this goal. Yet the political capital expended will be wasted, and public safety potentially compromised, unless there is greater cooperation among state officials, federal agencies and commercial telecommunications firms.

Is broadband a social justice issue? (Huffington Post) January 31, 2013

…Access to broadband is, therefore, a social justice issue. And it is past time for both the FCC and the telecommunications industry to approach broadband deployment with this in mind. The government and private sector must make every effort to ensure broadband Internet, wireless, and other vital telecom technologies are available at affordable prices to those most in need of their benefits.

Discussing the FCC’s gigabit challenge (Community Broadband Networks) January 30, 2013

Last week, I joined Craig Settles on his Gigabit Nation show to discuss Chairman Genachowski’s Gigabit Challenge along with …I take a more moderated stance in this discussion than I have previously, in part because we do need to take advantage of this opportunity and because we cannot expect the FCC to suddenly act in our interests when a Congress dominated by big corporations can so quickly punish them for such actions. I think the discussion is worth a listen, though it is 90 minutes.

Lake of competition creates capped connections (Community Broadband Networks) January 28, 2013

Last month my colleagues and I at the the Open Technology Institute released a paper titled “Capping the Nation’s Broadband Future?” The paper examines data caps, an increasingly common practice where internet service providers charge individuals a fee if they exceed a monthly threshold on the data they use.

Keys to success for nationwide broadband (Radio Resource Media Group) January 23, 2013

Currently deployed public-safety technology establishes an environment that promotes stovepipes within each agency and barriers between agencies. Unique proprietary communications systems in various spectra make interoperability difficult and patch work at best. A common interoperable series of communications systems is not practical given the wide range of frequencies in use and various protocols implemented.

Mobile accountability v: pondering the goals of US broadband mapping (Business 2 Community) January 23, 2013

…As a mobile analytics service, we like this. This is a good thing. We certainly like that the NTIA is including mobile broadband networks in their mapping project.

Genachowski’s new “Gigabit City Challenge”: high-speed internet service in every state by 2015 (Broadcast Engineering) January 23, 2013

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has set a new national goal of at least one-high speed Internet service in each U.S. state by 2015

O’Brien offers intriguing 700 MHz broadband perspective (Urgent Matters) January 22, 2013

It’s hard to believe that it has been less than seven years since Nextel founder Morgan O’Brien unveiled his vision for a nationwide broadband network for public safety at IWCE2006, amid considerable skepticism. Today, the pieces are in place to make such a network a reality – a transformation that O’Brien applauded during a recent phone conversation.

High-speed internet access in rural America (Before Its News) January 22, 2013

Slow internet has plagued parts of rural America for years.  In some areas – dial up internet is still the only option available.  As farmers become more reliant on internet based technologies – slow access can be prohibitive.

Internet report 98.7 percent of Washington residents have access to broadband (Geekwire) January 22, 2013

The Washington State Broadband Office released its third annual Broadband Report today and more than 500 of the state’s 629 communities saw better access and/or higher speeds to broadband internet this past year.

Giving politics a hack (Wall St. Journal) January 21, 2013

New York’s burgeoning technology sector wants to flex its newfound political muscle in this year’s mayoral race, the first since digital companies coalesced in the city.

Leaders of the New York Tech Meetup, a 30,000-member group that draws professionals from start-ups and established tech companies in the city, are expected to approve a slate of policy proposals on Tuesday that will be reviewed by its rank-and-file before being presented to candidates running for citywide office, including those looking to succeed tech-friendly Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Among the potential policies: expanding low-cost broadband access, adding math and science classes in public schools and making government data more accessible.

Comcast brags about lack of broadband competition in America (Community Broadband Networks) January 21, 2013

The next time you hear someone claiming that the broadband market in the U.S. has plenty of competition, remember this statement from Comcast CEO Brian Roberts.

FCC’s Genachowski urges mayors to build out high-speed Internet (Adweek) January 18, 2013

Julius Genachowski, the Federal Communications Commission chairman who recently picked up the nickname “the spectrum chairman” must also want to be known as “the gigabit chairman.” In his speech today before the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington, D.C., Genachowski launched what he’s calling the “Gigabit City Challenge,” urging states and cities to accelerate the creation of ultra-fast Internet networks.
FCC’s Julius Genachowski challenges service providers and local communities to build such networks, saying communities would turn themselves into innovation hubs that would create valuable jobs.

 Sloppy research sinks Susan Crawford’s book (Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal and Economic Public Policy) January 18, 2013

After reading Susan’s book I am left with this impression:  her proposal remains a radical idea in need of a thoughtful, careful, and well-researched argument to be taken seriously in modern times.  Put simply, her book fails to move her ideas from the radical to the plausible.  Quite possibly, the book does more harm than good, not only to her ideas, but to Professor Crawford’s credibility. I present three examples below to demonstrate the shortcomings of her analysis, although I could easily point out many more.

Is broadband Internet access a public utility? (Fiber to the Home Council) January 10, 2013

Should broadband Internet service be treated as a basic utility in the United States, like electricity, water, and traditional telephone service? That’s the question at the heart of an important and provocative new book by Susan Crawford, a tech policy expert and professor at Cardozo Law School.

The broadband economy: A square deal all around (The Hill’s Congress Blog) January 10, 2013

A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt launched an era of activist government, checking the excesses of the Industrial Age with new antitrust, labor and social safety net rules. Yet the “Trust-buster” was no anti-capitalist; he also inveighed against the political left who argued that private enterprise was irredeemably corrupt.

Professor Crawford’s obsolete public utility thinking for broadband (Daily Caller) January 11, 2013

Obsolete thinking and rear-view-mirror analysis comprise Professor Susan Crawford’s new book “Captive Audience – the Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age.” Unfortunately, the only “gilded” thing in this book is the analysis with fool’s gold.

Is broadband Internet access a public utility (Time) January 9, 2013

Should broadband Internet service be treated as a basic utility in the United States, like electricity, water, and traditional telephone service? That’s the question at the heart of an important and provocative new book by Susan Crawford, a tech policy expert and professor at Cardozo Law School. In Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly in the New Guilded Age, released Tuesday by Yale University Press, Crawford argues that the Internet has replaced traditional phone service as the most essential communications utility in the country, and is now as important as electricity was 100 years ago.

FCC puts $400 million toward telemedicine capability (Governing) January 8, 2013

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is putting $400 million toward improving the nation’s telemedicine infrastructure, the commission announced Monday.

The money will primarily pay for broadband services, equipment, connections to research and education networks, and the construction and maintenance of modern health-care facilities, according to the FCC.

Data centers, 7 dying technologies and a broadband partnership  (Governing) January 8, 2013

Are government data centers becoming passé? Not yet, but a good number of chief information officers would like to get rid of the expensive centers and move their data, systems and applications into the information technology cloud. Throughout 2012, a growing number of states and localities began to do just that. Consider:

US paid for fiber to every home, we just haven’t received it (Community Broadband Networks-Bruce Kushnick) January 8, 2013

If you think the United States cannot afford to take a fiber optic cable to just about every home in the country, you might be surprised to find out that we have already paid for it. We just haven’t received it. Our first podcast guest in 2013, Bruce Kushnick of the New Networks Institute, explains the $300 billion ripoff.

Speedier internet rivals push past cable (Wall Street Journal) January 2, 2013

Steady growth in broadband revenue has helped cable operators offset a stagnant pay-TV market in recent years. But now, the industry is resisting pressure from local governments, businesses and universities to offer ultrafast Internet service, opening the door to new competitors.


When government tries to help, it often make a mess (Michael Barone, Washington Examiner) December 28, 2012

There’s a natural human impulse to help people who need a hand. In the political world, that often translates to an impulse to have government help people who need a hand. Who wants to argue with that?

Kansas City, Google and the leveraging of public value (Governing) December 19, 2012

Increasingly we see that valuations of public initiatives to do things in better, faster and cheaper ways must calculate not only benefits or costs inside a narrow city budget but also look at how the initiatives produce benefits or costs in other areas of a city. These valuations look to the total public value created for a community.

Google announces another five google ‘fiberhoods’ – insists they’ll ‘pick up the pace’ on deployments in 2013 (DSL Broadband Reports) December 18, 2012

Google has announced that they’ll start “picking up the pace” with their Google Fiber deployments in the Kansas City area next year, while announcing their next target “fiberhoods” to be built out. Communities were selected depending on which area saw the most enthusiastic responses during a rally held last summer.

FCC asks for correction to the National Broadband Map database to ensure areas are correctly labeled as served or unserved (Lexology) December 11, 2012

The FCC has issued a Public Notice seeking comments on and corrections to the National Broadband Map. The map is used to determine how Connect America Fund subsidies are allocated to geographic areas deemed unserved by existing broadband providers. The Public Notice links to a list of potentially unserved census blocks, and asks providers to review blocks in its territories for accuracy to determine whether and where the map either overstates or understates coverage.

Rational broadband investment: Why the FCC’s new task force is a good step forward(FierceTelecom) December 11, 2012

In an era of scarce capital, the U.S. communications industry is making a remarkable investment in our country’s infrastructure.  In 2011, wireline, wireless and cable companies spent a total of $66 billion on their networks.  But while all of that is encouraging, there is still room for improvement.  That is why Chairman Genachowski’s announcement that the Federal Communications Commission has formed a task force to study the technology transition to broadband and IP is great news.  And given that this transition impacts state as well as federal regulation, it is helpful that state regulators via NARUC will have input.

Broadband Internet access in NOT like rural electrification (Fair Competition Alliance) December 10, 2012

In belated response to specious arguments like those from the Roosevelt Institute on behalf of public broadband schemes, remember that fiber and broadband Internet access is not like rural electrification in the 1930s … in several important ways.

Broadband key driver of state economic, social growth (FierceCable) December 5, 2012

Washington state tops ranking of U.S. states benefiting from broadband. See Tech Net State by State Broadband Report.

USDA says rural broadband funding will be given priority (CivSource) November 28, 2012

Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsage has announced that the United States Department of Agriculture is launching a plan to spur the development of rural broadband networks by prioritizing broadband funding to rural areas in greatest need. The proposed plan would make some changes to how the agency issues its broadband funding and would apply to projects funded through the Community Connect grant program, which is administered by the Rural Utilities Service, part of the Rural Development mission area.

Bad Connections (New York Times – Opinion Editorial) November 27, 2012

SINCE 1974, when the Justice Department sued to break up the Ma Bell phone monopoly, Americans have been told that competition in telecommunications would produce innovation, better service and lower prices.

US Broadband’s new reality: slowing growth (Tech News and Analysis) November 14, 2012

There are more than 80 million broadband subscribers in the US, a sign that the market is getting saturated. It is not a surprise that the growth of new broadband subscribers has started to slow. So far this year, we have seen 200,000 fewer new additions.

Rural broadband programs are not ‘rational’ economically, just ‘politically’ (Tech Zone 360) November 12, 2012

There is a difference between “economic rationality” and “political rationality.” In other words, it sometimes is entirely politically rational to do something that might be deemed economically irrational.

Community broadband networks create jobs ( November 2012

All businesses increasingly depend on fast, affordable, and reliable access to telecommunications. But existing cable and DSL companies are not meeting local needs — they charge too much for networks that can be too slow or unreliable. In response, hundreds of communities have built their own networks to spur economic development.

On The Media devotes segment to municipal broadband networks (Community Broadband Networks)  November 6, 2012

You may recall that we reported on Johnston’s last book, The Fine Print: How big companies use plain english to rob you blind. In this short interview fromOn the Media called “America’s Lagging Internet,” Johnston and Gladstone touch on how gigantic corporate interests and their political affiliates try to put a stop to municipal networks.

Our broadband election and the next chapter of high-speed Internet in America (Broadband Breakfast) November 5, 2012

In the lead-up to the 2008 presidential election four years ago, then-candidate Barack Obama repeatedly raised the importance of “expanding broadband lines across America” as part of the economic stimulus plan that become the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

AT&T’s IP investment could reshape telecom regulation (National Journal) November 8, 2012

AT&T’s plan to invest $14 billion in expanding its wireline broadband offering and its wireless 4G network–announced on Wednesday–will accelerate the policy discussion about how to regulate the nation’s fiber optic communications infrastructure.

“This totally reshapes the discussion,” said Harold Feld, senior vice president of the advocacy group Public Knowledge.

AT&T is glad to expand service, but wants pesky FCC regulations dropped (Ars Technica) November 7, 2012

On Wednesday, AT&T announced a plan to invest $14 billion in expanding its wireless and U-Verse service around the country. At the same time, the company submitted a petition to the Federal Communications Commission asking for an end to the “conventional public-utility-style regulation.”

Community broadband and economic development fact sheet (Community Broadband Networks) November 7, 2012

Community Broadband Networks have a very good track record in creating jobs, and we have just released a fact sheet [pdf] that collects some exciting success stories — where a publicly owned network attracted new businesses or helped existing businesses to thrive.

Crawford identifies historic parallel between electricity and fiber (Community Broadband Networks) October 31, 2012

Susan Crawford recently wrote for the Blog of the Roosevelt Institute, where she spent the last year as a Fellow. She draws on the history of electrification to remind us that the impasse we have in expanding great access to the Internet to everyone is not a novel problem.

Top consumer benefits of broadband (Fierce Telecom) October 29, 2012

The Digital Policy Institute believes that advancing the interests of consumers should be a major, driving force in government policymaking processes aimed at broadband expansion and enhanced connectivity

Why communities should decide what telecom networks they have (Forbes) October 23, 2012

Not long ago, the United States led the world in broadband connectivity. Now we are in 16th place, trailing most developed nations. We need broadband policies that connect our homes, schools, and business to the 21st century economy, but we’re pursuing public policies that are putting us in a hole, helping private telecommunications providers and harming the public interest. As the old adage goes, when in a hole, stop digging.

Getting broadband to all (John Stephensen in The Daily Caller) October 18, 2012

Our economy and future prosperity depend on broadband, and recent developments show us how to get there.

Universal access to broadband is the goal, but not at the expense of millions in wasted taxpayer dollars, critical government services, and government’s credit rating. To connect more Americans to the booming global digital economy, we must look to solutions that reduce the regulatory burdens to deploying broadband.

Broadband competition in the internet ecosystem: A conflict of visions (American Enterprise Institute) October 2012

Are broadband networks part of the Internet ecosystem? If it seems like a silly question, you haven’t been paying attention to what passes for liberal thinking about the Internet these days. According to some-including Cardozo Law School professor and former Obama Administration official Susan Crawford-the Internet is comprised of companies like Facebook and Google. The broadband infrastructure, she explained at a Brookings Institution event last week, is something else again.

$360 billion in customer overcharging from broadband…and counting (Huffington Post) October 11, 2012

Telecom Riot Act of 2012: Investigate the Broadband Scandal.

Literally 20 years ago, during the 1992 presidential campaign, vice president Al Gore laid out a wondrous new fiber optic broadband future for America. Called theInformation Superhighway, the plan was simple — everyone with a copper wire in their home or office would have it replaced with a new shiny fiber optic one, capable of at least 45 Mbps in both directions, then the standard speed for broadband — and almost 100% of the US would be done around the year 2010.

Fixed broadband expansion presents a challenge for carriers (FierceTelecom) October 8, 2012

Carriers are still making good money on their fixed broadband networks and services, but they’re in a financial bind when it comes time to spend money to upgrade and/or improve those networks.

Rural Options for speedy Internet still tough (USA Today) October 7, 2012

Question: I live in a very rural area without cable, DSL or the other usual broadband options. How in the world can I improve my Internet connection beyond the weak Verizon 3G connection I use?

A Clash of Regulatory Paradigms (Christopher S. Yoo, Cato Institute) Fall 2012

When should policymakers promote competition, and when should they accept and regulate monopoly?

NTIA seeks comment on public safety network (Multi-Channel) October 1, 2012

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has issued a notice of inquiry seeking comment on how it should set up FirstNet, a nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network.

That comes just one business day after the FCC sought comment on how it should structure the spectrum incentive auctions that will pay for setting up and operating FirstNet.

FCC kicks off $300M mobility fund auction for rural mobile broadband (FierceWireless) September 27, 2012

The FCC’s $300 million Mobility Fund Phase I auction got underway this morning and is expected to be concluded by this afternoon. The auction, which has 54 qualified bidders, is part of a program to expand mobile broadband coverage to rural and unserved areas of the country.

US Broadband: Too expensive, too slow, too monopolized (Motley Fool) September 27, 2012

The Internet is as essential to the modern economy as roads, railroads, and shipping ports are. Since you’re reading this, you probably don’t doubt that.

More evidence for looming broadband monopoly (Community Broadband Networks) September 25, 2012

DSLReports has accurately noted the continued decline of competition between DSL and cable providers. Heck, it seems like no large company wants to invest in the future of broadband in this country. Verizon and AT&T have chosen to focus on wireless technology, resulting in less true competition. Cable (or FTTH if you are lucky to have that option) tends to offer faster, more expensive connections and DSL is the slower, less expensive option for many.

Is broadband for all even possible (The Atlantic Cities) September 24, 2012

More than 20 wireless routers sit on rooftops in Washington, D.C.’s Bloomingdale neighborhood. About a mile away in Mt. Pleasant, eight such routers have already been installed, with plans for an expansion into neighboring Columbia Heights. In each neighborhood, the routers form the basis of a community mesh network-wireless networks openly accessible to residents and supervised by the Broadband Bridge, a D.C.-based organization of which Rhea is a member.

Internet regulations: Executive order undermines democratic principles and harms consumers (American Consumer Institute) September 24, 2012

This past summer, lawmakers in Washington were attempting to pass a wide-ranging cybersecurity bill with the intention of strengthening the nation’s infrastructure from cyber attacks.  Democratic lawmakers were pushing a bill that would have given regulatory agencies the power to mandate security measures on private industries, such as power companies and other utilities.  Republican lawmakers were leery of the regulatory burdens that this could cause, so they proposed their own bill-one that would have made it possible for companies to turn over sensitive customer information to government agencies.  With both parties butting heads, neither bill was passed.

Are Regulations Good? (Coalition for the New Economy) September 20, 2012

According to Communications Technology, earlier this week Henning Schulzrinne, the chief technology officer at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), argued regulations are good for the technology sector. Schulzrinne said, “Regulatory actions have been crucial in establishing certain technologies.” He pointed to global positioning system applications, which he argues grew out of the FCC requirement that cellphones support E911.

Rural broadband demand continues to grow in the US (CivSource) September 20, 2012

Rural broadband use and demand continues to grow throughout the US according to a new report from Calix. Calix is a global technology company that provides services to support broadband providers. The report shows that rural Internet traffic grew by 53% in the second quarter of this year. As CivSource has reported, the big three broadband providers – AT&T, Verizon and Comcast have all said consistently that there is no business case for rural broadband. Frontier Communications, a rural broadband provider which recently acquired many of Verizon’s rural markets, also announced an expansion into West Virginia as a response to increased demand.

How a municipal network can help your city (Community Broadband Networks) September 19, 2012

Last week, Christopher Mitchell of ILSR joined other broadband and municipal network experts to present the webinar “How a Municipal Network Can Help Your City” from the National League of Cities.

U.S. GAO-Recovery Act: Broadband Programs are ongoing and agencies’ efforts would benefit from improved data quality (U.S. Governmental Accounting Office Press Release) September 19, 2012

What GAO Found: Go here for copy of report

The progress of the broadband projects is difficult to measure because of data limitations. As projects progress, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) disburse awarded funds to projects on, for example, a reimbursement basis. As of July 2012, NTIA has disbursed approximately $1.9 billion of the $3.8 billion it awarded for projects under the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), and as of June 2012, RUS has disbursed approximately $1 billion of the $3.3 billion it awarded for projects under the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP). These disbursements are one measure of progress, and the disbursements indicate that the projects in aggregate are less than half complete. However, disbursements sometimes lag behind actual progress for a number of reasons, such as contracts that provide for payment after work is completed. In addition, the agencies have been inconsistent in collecting non-financial data on project progress.

Calix US Broadband Report (Calix Access Innovation) Q2 2012

Welcome to the third quarterly calix u.S. rural Broadband report. Each quarter, Calix shares a snapshot of the previous quarter’s Internet traffic and applications utilization based upon data aggregated from a broad range of different sized wireline communications service providers serving rural America. For this Q2 2012 snapshot, over 65 service providers from every corner of the U.S. provided data, drawing data from over 250,000 subscriber endpoints. Networks monitored consisted of both copper and fiber access infrastructures, and access technologies deployed in these networks included ADSL2+, VDSL2, GPON, and point-to-point gigabit Ethernet.

How a municipal network can help your city (Community Broadband Networks) September 12, 2012

We want to remind our readers that tomorrow, September 13, is the day for “How a Municipal Network Can Help Your City.” The webinar runs from 2-3 Eastern time. Registration is free and Christopher Mitchell will be joined by Kyle Hollified, VP Sales/Marketing, Bristol Virginia Utilities and Colman Keane, Director of Fiber Technology, EPB, in Chattanooga. The Public Technology Institute and the National League of Cities are sponsoring the event.

The impact of NTIA’s decision to put LTE on hold (Urgent Communications) September 7, 2012)

One year ago, the future of public-safety broadband communications in the 700 MHz band was murky. First-responder organizations in the United States had rallied around LTE as the technology to deliver wireless broadband applications nationwide, and Congress had convinced the FCC to abandon plans to auction the 700 MHz D Block spectrum to commercial operators¡ªbut significant questions remained

Top 10 barriers to private investment in broadband infrastructure(FierceTelecom) September 5, 2012

…Private investment is crucial to our country’s ability to have a 21st Century digital infrastructure. The team at DPI began thinking about possible impediments to private industry’s interest and ability to continue investing in building America’s broadband infrastructure, and developed the following “Top-10” list.  DPI believes that tearing down these “innovation stifling” and “growth inhibiting” barriers should be top of mind when federal and state officials formulate their policies impacting broadband networks, creating jobs and boosting economic growth.
Utilities, public safety could be ideal broadband partners (Urgent Communications) September 4, 2012

One of the many interesting sessions at the recent Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) conference in Minneapolis explored the potential for public safety to share its spectrum and much-anticipated 700 MHz LTE network with utilities.

Broadband sub losses getting ugly for telcos – incumbents focus on wireless, smaller telcos just not very good (Broadband DSL Reports) September 5, 2012

The Associated Press broke down last quarter’s broadband numbers and the results aren’t pretty — at least for the telcos. Incumbents are giving up on DSL and the smaller telcos lack the funds or competitive impetus to upgrade their networks, and the results are obvious. Windstream lost broadband subscribers last quarter for the first time ever losing 2,200 subscribers for a 1.36 million total. Verizon added just 2,000 net broadband users last quarter, the worst quarterly result in four years. The AP quotes Verizon as saying that the hit was due to Verizon’s decision to stop selling standalone DSL:

Private or public sector: Who should deploy broadband? (Howard Baldwin for Cisco Blog) September 6, 2012

Google’s experiment in laying broadband fiber in Kansas City, Missouri revives the old question of who should deploy broadband technology: the public sector, the private sector, or an entity based on a public utility model?

Chasing the elusive dream of rural wireless broadband (FierceBroadbandWireless) September 6, 2012

What does it take to make rural wireless broadband service succeed? Are the words rural and broadband doomed to be an oxymoron? If a company’s market doesn’t have significant population density, and the company doesn’t have sufficient funding–private or public–to tide it over for the long term, how is it supposed to survive?

Republicans attack Obama on broadband expansion efforts (Mashable) August 29, 2012

The Republican Party’s official 2012 platform, which many are getting familiar with at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, devotes nearly an entire section to knocking President Obama and the Federal Communications Commission for supporting net neutrality and being slow to expand broadband access for all Americans.

Rural telecom group cheers GOP plank on broadband (Tech Dail Dose) August 31, 2012

The Republican Party Platform, released on Tuesday, criticized the execution of the National Broadband Plan’s goal of universal connectivity under President Obama and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowksi, and took a veiled shot at the agency’s efforts to reform the Universal Service Fund.

Feds rethink public safety network while locals stew (Emergency Management) August 30, 2012

Projects to build advanced public safety networks in more than 20 state and local jurisdictions are on hold indefinitely while the federal government sorts out the details for creating a nationwide interoperable communications network for first responders.

Wireless Internet successes due to entrepreneurs, not government (Harold Furchtgott-Roth of Hudson Institute in FierceWireless) August 31, 2012

Over the past several weeks, the American public has seen a stark contrast between the two major political parties in their views about the role of government in business, particularly small business. In a campaign speech in Roanoke, Virginia, President Obama emphasized the importance of government support for business in a wide range of activities from infrastructure such as roads to Internet research and development. The president said:

The FCC released its 8th progress report and map on broadband deployment across the country. In it announcement the Commission notes:

FCC broadband progress report, the rest of the story (Fair Competition Alliance-Broadband) August 28, 2012

19 Million Americans still don’t have broadband access, FCC says (Government Technology) August 21, 2012

US: The FCC released its annual report on U.S. broadband availability and adoption on Tuesday, Aug. 21. The headlining statistic is that 19 million people in the U.S. don’t have access to broadband – even if they wanted to subscribe to service.

Broadband still not being deployed in ‘reasonable and timely fashion (Media Post Publications) August 21, 2012

US: Broadband in the U.S. still isn’t being deployed in a “reasonable and timely” fashion, the Federal Communications Commission said on Tuesday in an annual report about high-speed Web service. This report marks the third time in a row the FCC has found  broadband deployment lacking.

FCC report finds broadband deployments still too slow (Politics and Law CNET News) August 21, 2012

US: The FCC’s annual broadband report, released Tuesday, says that 19 million Americans are still without broadband. And even though things are improving, the agency says, the pace of deployment is still too slow. Also see FCC revised fixed broadband deployment map.

Why US broadband is stuck in the slow lane (Internet Evolution) August 23, 2012

…Still, the FCC report raises serious questions of why US broadband is stalled. I would argue one key factor is high broadband prices. And a major culprit in my view is the battle to kill municipal broadband…

Significant questions remain after FirstNet board appointments (Urgent Communications) August 22, 2012

US: With the much-anticipated announcement of the 15 First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) board members complete, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has met a key statutory deadline associated with the nationwide public-safety broadband network that will utilize 700 MHz spectrum. However, any public-safety agencies or vendors expecting a great deal of additional clarity regarding the LTE buildout in the short term may be disappointed.

US broadband deployment: The glass is 98% full (Fierce Telecom) August 27, 2012

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued its Eighth Broadband Progress Report to Congress, as required under section 706 of the Telecommunications Act. The report shows that the communications-infrastructure industry is one part of the U.S. economy that is investing to great effect.

FCC has $185 million in unclaimed broadband funding after AT&T, Verizon turn back on DSL users (Broadband DSL) Report August 17, 2012

Telecompetitor directs our attention to the fact that the FCC still has around $185 million in unclaimed broadband funds available from phase one of their Connect America Fund. As we’ve been noting, Frontier signed up quickly for the funds, agreeing to take $71.9 million to wire some 92,000 homes. However, some companies (like Windstream) have balked at taking full funding, saying that getting $775 per installwasn’t enough for their liking. AT&T and Verizon have refused funding entirely, as both companies have made every indication they have no interest in retaining millions of their DSL users, or expanding fixed line broadband in any meaningful fashion. The balking by smaller telcos suggests that unlike previous government telecom subsidies, the FCC’s program for once actually has guidelines ensuring the money gets used correctly.

Promoting broadband infrastructure locally and nationally: Legal and policy developments (Metropolitan Corporate Counsel) August 16, 2012

According to USA Today, on Christmas Day 2011, over seven million smartphones were activated around the world, along with 240 million app downloads.[1] As one analyst put it, “bazillions of angry birds were launched that day.”

Municipal broadband: The need for speed (The Economist) August 11, 2012

Nothing drives an elected official to indignity faster than the promise of something for nothing. When Google announced that it would build a fibre-optic broadband network capable of delivering one gigabit-per-second internet-roughly 150 times the average American internet speed-to residential users in an American city, mayors lined up to debase themselves. Duluth’s jumped into a frozen lake, Sarasota’s into a shark tank. The mayor of Topeka changed his city’s name (for a day) to Google. Ultimately Google decided on Kansas City, and next month it will start providing its blazing-speed internet for $70 a month.

Dept of Homeland Security wants new public safety network by combining commercial, public infrastructure(Government Computer News) August 10, 2012

Faced with a need to upgrade the department’s aging, stovepiped tactical communications networks while reducing costs, the Homeland Security Department is considering a “game changing approach” by using emerging commercial and public safety networks on a subscription basis.

Municipal broadband: Triumph of the little guys (The Economist) August 10, 2012

THIS week in the paper I wrote about Chattanooga’s fibre-optic network, which is capable of delivering one-gigabit internet connections to every resident in its electric utility’s service area.

In the Olympics of web access US consumers are left behind (Sacramento Bee) August 7, 2012

The opening ceremony of the London Olympics showed us the Internet’s history by honoring Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, and featuring a display of his live Twitter post: “This is for everyone.” Unfortunately, the games as a whole are providing a less inspiring vision of the Internet’s future, at least in the United States.

Rural broadband: big telcos opt out & continue to lobby against, others see opportunity (CivSource) August 6, 2012

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is working to connect rural households to broadband through the Connect America Fund. The Fund provides capital to private sector companies in order to help shoulder the cost of building out broadband networks to those homes. However, two of the largest service providers have opted out of the the free money saying that they would prefer to focus their attention elsewhere. One provider, Frontier Communications is stepping up to the plate citing significant business value in bringing these households online, a view which raises more questions about whether AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast are creating artificial network scarcity in order to provide a better picture for shareholders at the expense of American competitiveness.

State lawmakers get warning about muni bond bind (Franklin Center) August 7, 2012

National Conference of State Legislaturesmembers meeting here ended their first day with even more bad news about municipal bonds, debt interest that takes more than 20 cents of every dollar they spend each year and that pays for essential public works, among other things.

Google fiber and the community broadband ripple (Tech News and Analysis) August 2, 2012

Community-owned broadband gets a significant boost with the Google fiber announcement, even though Kansas City doesn’t own the network. The trick is understanding which Google tactics can be replicated by community projects and how to use gigabit envy to get municipal networks built.

Who gets the gold for waste? (Coalition for the New Economy) August 1, 2012

Twenty year ago, the International Olympic Committee finally abandoned rules mandating participants in the games be “amateurs.”

…Taxpayers have been similarly disappointed when their leaders have allowed government to enter in the broadband market. Whether it’s failed service or mountains of debt, the results of amateur foray into this market have been, generally, very bad for Americans…

Municipal broadband vs the private offerings (The Verge) July 31, 2012

I came across a VERY interesting video comparing what several municipal broadband cities offer in terms of speeds and uploads vs companies private companies like time warner and at&t.

Bring on the broadband with private/public partnerships (Forbes) July 31, 2012   

The demand for broadband services, both wired and wireless, continue to outstrip the capacity of the networks. Those who get it right, the telcos, cable providers, and Internet Service Providers, will end up with a larger percentage of the potential customers and improve their bottom line.

Do we need a new national broadband plan (Ars Technica) July 27, 2012

Google may be rolling out 1Gbps Internet access to Kansas City, but there are about 19 million American households and businesses that still lack any access to broadband, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Most of them are in rural areas, and some will soon benefit from broadband projects financed by one of the last pillars of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan: the Connect America Fund.

FCC doles out $115 million in broadband subsidies to bring broadband to 400,000 new homes and businesses (Broadband DSL Reports) July 27, 2012

The FCC’s Connect America Fund is intended to subsidize broadband operators so they’ll fill in the spotty broadband coverage areas within their footprint. This week was the due date for applications, and while AT&T and Verizon say they won’t be participating (largely because they no longer have any interest in rural landline services), companies like Frontier and CenturyLink quickly jumped at the government funds. All told, the FCC this week announced they’ll be shelling out about $115 million in broadband subsidies in the first phase of their program, money the FCC says will bring broadband to 400,000 residents and small business owners in 37 states over the next three years.

Udall applauds FCC push to expand broadband access for Colorado rural communities (Equities Spotlight) July 25, 2012

Mark Udall welcomed the news today that the Federal Communications Commission’s Connect America Fund and CenturyLink – the third-largest telecommunications company in the United States – have entered into a public-private partnership to provide rural Coloradans with better access to broadband Internet.

US program to boost rural VA broadband access (CBS News)  July 26, 2012

The Federal Communications Commission is targeting $2.1 million toward boosting access to high-speed Internet to rural Virginians.

The FCC’s Connect America Fund will help CenturyLink Inc. connect more than 2,000 locations statewide to broadband service. Under the deal, CenturyLink must complete two-thirds of its new broadband installations within two years, and the rest by the third year.

FCC’s Connect America Funding initiative leaves 13 states in the cold(FierceTelecom) July 27, 2012

The Federal Communications Commission released a map Thursday illustrating what states will benefit from the first phase of its Connect America Fund (CAF) and the glaring reality that the agency plan won’t address 13 states.

States not getting funding include: Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

FCC to spend $115 million on rural broadband subsidies (Technology Live) July 25, 2012

The Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday it’ll spend $115 million to subsidize broadband Internet providers in an effort to encourage extension of their services to rural parts of the U.S.

Broadband access remains scarce in rural US despite FCC efforts( July 25, 2012

NEWS ANALYSIS: A trip through the Southeast reveals that the long-promised answer to the need for rural broadband and broadband wireless access really wasn’t an answer at all. Vast expanses of the rural South, as in other underpopulated sections of the nation, are bereft of any kind of broadband access despite an investment effort by the Federal Communications Commission.

The assault on municipal broadband (Free Press) July 25, 2012

Millions of people live in parts of rural America that lack affordable high-speed Internet access. Internet service providers (ISPs) like AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon have largely confined their broadband deployment to urban and suburban regions. Some communities that these companies fail to serve have opted to create their own broadband networks.

But several state legislatures, acting at the behest of cable and phone companies, have passed laws that limit or outright ban municipal broadband networks. This practice must be stopped.

Complacent telcos deliver Americans third rate broadband service at high prices (Forbes) July 21, 2012

If you want cheap, fast Internet, move to Lafayette, La., or better yet, Paris. The New America Foundation released on Thursday “The Cost Of Connectivity,” a global study comparing triple-play bundles (broadband, video, voice) in a few dozen cities worldwide.

Rural broadband alliance: USF reform will do more harm than good (FierceTelecom) July 9, 2012

The FCC may have good intentions with refocusing the Universal Service Fund (USF) toward funding new broadband rollouts, but the Rural Broadband Alliance thinks that the reforms will drive up prices for their rural telco members’ customers.

Preparing for Public Safely Broadband (National Governor’s Association) July 2012

Title VI of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 allocated spectrum for the cre- ation of a nationwide broadband network dedicated to public safety communications-a major success for states’ efforts to achieve interoperable communi- cations among first responders and the public safety community. The law dramatically changes the future of public safety communications by creating a public safety broadband network (PSBN) that will allow first responders and other public safety officials to share mission-critical data and eventually mission-critical voice communications.

Igniting US broadband through Obama administration executive order(Broadband Breakfast) June 19, 2012

Last Thursday President Obama announced the launch of a new initiative, “US Ignite” and signed an Executive Order reducing the cost and barriers to broadband build out and construction along federal roadways and properties.  The Order aims to make construction 90 percent cheaper and more efficient.

Broadband initiative broadens affordable access ( June 21, 2012

The Syracuse Community Broadband Initiative (SCBI) has received a $15,000 grant to explore the economic viability of building a state-of-the-art, fiber-optic broadband network for Syracuse.

National broadband initiative draws cheers and jeers (Governing) June 20, 2012

Last week President Barack Obama announced two initiatives designed to assist deployment of broadband infrastructure…

…Another broadband initiative, a public-private partnership called US Ignite, was launched. According to the Obama administration it “will foster the creation of novel applications and digital experiences that will transform health care, education and job skills training, public safety, energy and advanced manufacturing.” These new applications will be designed to take advantage of ultra-fast, experimental networks.

But do thought leaders think the push will work? Like almost anything, opinion is varied.

FCC: Should Connect America Fund invest in fiber or DSL to wire homes (FierceCable) June 11, 2012

The Federal Communications Commission said it is seeking feedback on proposals it has received to use its $4.5 billion Connect America Fund to deliver broadband Internet access to parts of the country lacking broadband Internet access.

Tester takes concerns over rural broadband internet access straight to President (Political News) June 10, 2012

U.S. Senator Jon Tester told the President that the FCC should “rethink” its plan, saying that encouraging broadband internet investment in rural communities is proven to create jobs.

Can wireless backhaul facilitate transition to fiber backfaul (FierceBroadbandWireless) June 6, 2012

One of the big debates in mobile backhaul is whether an operator should use wireless or fiber. The choice is not only or primarily about technology or fiber availability, but it involves deep-seated preferences. European operators use fiber where cost-effective, but they are equally comfortable with wireless backhaul, which accounts for 65% of links according to Deutsche Bank.

The FCC noses under the broadband internet tent (Forbes) June 7, 2012

A seemingly technical order circulating at the FCC this week is raising alarms among those who support a vibrant broadband Internet marketplace.

Government broadband and spending wisely (Coalition for the New Economy) May 18, 2012

Most Americans believe the federal government is not good stewards of their tax dollars. According to the most recent Gallup survey on the topic, Americans believe more than half of their tax revenues are wasted.

Cities build their own faster broadband networks (National League of Cities) May 7, 2012

Some of the fastest broadband networks are being built by local governments, according to a recent report titled “Broadband at the Speed of Light” from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and the Benton Foundation.

Failures and triumphs on the road to broadband ubiquity (Fierce Telecom) May 3, 2012

It’s been an interesting year for broadband in the United States. While new networks are being built out or have already been completed and services turned up, some builds haven’t even gotten off the ground. In the midst of the drive to provide high speed services to every corner of the nation, both public and private entities are struggling with disruptive elements like competition, ongoing innovation, and ever-increasing consumer demand for services that are far from ubiquitous.

Heartland Ideas Municipal Wi-Fi (Heartland Institute)

1. Advocates of municipally owned broadband networks claim they would produce a long list of benefits.

Critics say telephone and cable companies are moving too slowly to offer affordable high-speed broadband services to many parts of the country, particularly rural areas and small towns. Public construction and operation of broadband systems, they say, can fill the gap. Among the alleged benefits of municipally owned broadband networks are ubiquitous service, greater efficiency, a boost to economic development efforts, lower prices, and access to enhanced broadband services.

USTelecom: Service providers invested $66 Billion in broadband in 2011 (FierceTelecom) April 23, 2012

U.S.-based wireline service providers are making good on their broadband promise, investing almost $66 billion in new network infrastructure last year, reports USTelecom in a new research brief.

Wired to Waste (National Taxpayers Union-Audio) April 13, 2012

This week NTU Vice President of Government Affairs Andrew Moylan joins Pete & Doug to discuss a new policy paper on Wireless Broadband projects funded by taxpayers.

Where we’re at with broadband stimulus and rural Internet access (FierceTelecom) February 15, 2012

How far along is the national broadband stimulus program? Since 2009, over $3,525,706,687 in stimulus grants have been disbursed to 258 applicants in two rounds of BTOP funding, according to the NTIA. More than 18,000 miles of new broadband networks have been built out as of November 2011, the Commerce Dept. reported. The money has been used for more than 229 projects so far–beyond building infrastructure, stimulus has funded the creation and improvement of public computer centers, state government development, and sustainable broadband adoption initiatives.


Six large telcos put broadband, USF reform proposals on the table (Fierce Telecom) June 29, 2011

A coalition of the six largest U.S.-based wireline telcos submitted a proposal to the FCC today to provide a migration path to reform the current Universal Service Fund (USF) to focus on building and maintaining broadband networks and reforming the Intercarrier Compensation (ICC) process.


2010 Year in Review: CLECs bulk up on fiber and services (FierceTelecom) December 23, 2010

Looking to scale their respective business, there are two clear drivers that are bringing CLECs to the table: fiber network expansion and scaling their service sets.

Year in Review 2010: Broadband stimulus awards didn’t fall in favor of wireless broadband (FierceBroadbandWireless) December 17, 2010

In January, it was the talk of the industry. The U.S. government was poised to issue the bulk of the $7.2 billion in grants and loans to push affordable broadband services into the rural areas of the country. And wireless broadband was expected to be a shoo-in for the bulk of the awards.

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