Policy and regulation

Mitchell to FCC: Regulate in the public interest

Chris Mitchell of the Minnesota Institute for Local Self-Reliance testified before the FCC recently on behalf of community broadband projects. Mitchell argued eloquently that state legislators should not be able to preempt local governments from starting and managing community broadband networks. The short video is well worth watching.

The Internet routes around damage (wiretapping)

In a story that has been simmering for a while, the New York Times reports that the Feds want to be able to easily wiretap a wide variety of Internet services, including Skype, Facebook,and Blackberry (RIM) communications.

Knowledge Democracy:

Congress asks FCC to do more for rural areas

Twenty-two senators have sent a letter to the FCC asking the agency to set the bar higher for broadband in rural areas. The senators pointed out the target of 4 megabits/second bandwidth for rural areas but a much higher target of 100 megabits/second for urban areas of the country.

Given that rural projects like Utopia and The Wired Road are already delivering 100 megabit fiber connections, this seems like a reasonable request.

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The Internet and broadband are not the same thing

Jeff Daily of App-Rising makes an important point in this article that I have been writing about for some time: "broadband" and "the Internet" are not the same thing. Broadband is the network, the transport system, the road. The Internet is just one of many services that can be transported over that road. Unfortunately, legislators don't always understand the distinction, and many incumbents are happy to feed the confusion to get state and Federal rules designed to prop up their monopolies.

New Zealand goes all out for open access

Fiber everywhere is the simple goal the national government of New Zealand has set. In ten years, the government intends to have a minimum of 100 megabit fiber connections to 75% of homes and businesses in the entire country. They are doing this by going open access. It's a very simple model.

Community news and projects:

FCC says keep broadband services unregulated

Via the Washington Post, the FCC has indicated that broadband services will likely remain unregulated for the time being. The recent court ruling in favor of Comcast most likely brought the change in direction. An attempt by the FCC to regulate broadband service providers would likely bring many more lawsuits that could drag on for years.

FCC Commissioner says communities should be able to build broadband

Excerpt from Speech by FCC Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn

SEATOA’s 9th Annual Conference

Asheville, NC – April 27, 2010

"...The theme of this conference “Expanding Community Networks,” is exactly what the National Broadband Plan is about – to ensure that broadband is made available to all Americans, no matter where they live..."

Technology News:

NTIA opens up data for incumbent challenges

The NTIA has released the block grant and tract data for round two stimulus proposals, opening the door for incumbent challenges for those proposals.

Technology News:

Court says "No" to FCC on regulation

A D.C. court ruled against the FCC's attempt to regulate how Comcast manages its network. The ruling dates back to a 2008 order that FCC imposed on Comcast, which was slowing down high bandwidth file sharing for some of its customers.

Knowledge Democracy:

FCC endorses 100 megabit broadband

The FCC has rolled out the first look at its plan for broadband. The agency has set a goal of 100 megabit broadband to 100 million households in the next ten years, calling it "100 Squared." It's a good goal, and one that Design Nine has been promoting for many years.

Technology News:

Spain says broadband is a "right"

Spain has decided that broadband is a "right," and is going to beginning legislating price and speed for bandwidth services. In the short term, this may get more affordable broadband to some rural areas of Spain, but in the long term, this kind of legislation tends to discourage innovation and competition.

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Community news and projects:

Incumbents challenge broadband stimulus requests

Eldo Telecom reports that incumbent providers have filed thousands of challenges to broadband stimulus proposals. It is hard to tell from the USDA/NTIA rules just how the challenges will be handled. The ones I have looked at all pretty much take the line that the area covered in a proposal already has complete or nearly complete coverage.

Technology News:

Gates Foundation: Good idea, bad implementation

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has proposed to the FCC that $5 to $10 billion be spent getting fiber to anchor institutions like schools, libraries, and health care facilities in communities. It's a worthy idea, but as policy, the unintended negative impact will be to make it more difficult to get fiber to homes and businesses in those communities.

FTC to regulate blogs

In one of the strangest things to come out of government, the Federal Trade Commission has announced it intends to monitor and police.....blogs. That's right--there is apparently nothing more dangerous than a blogger who might be getting paid a few bucks to write a product review. So the FTC is setting rules for full disclosure on when a blogger might be getting paid directly or indirectly for writing a product review.

Technology News:

Knowledge Democracy:

Is Google blocking phone calls

The next couple of years could be interesting. Google has been an advocate for network neutrality, which the FCC has indicated it intends to promote. But AT&T has just accused Google of blocking phone calls to rural areas for users of Google's Voice service.

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Knowledge Democracy:

Wilson, NC fighting for right to offer broadband

Wilson, North Carolina decided a couple of years ago to build it's own municipal fiber network after it got tired of begging incumbent providers for better services and getting turned down. Now the fight is being taken to the state legislature, where the incumbent providers are trying to get laws passed to prevent local governments from getting involved in telecom efforts but to also prevent local governments for applying for broadband stimulus funds. This is also happening in Pennsylvania.

Community news and projects:

Copps named Acting FCC Chairman

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps has been named Acting Chairman of the FCC. This is good news for communities; Copps supports competition and is likely to help communities do more by shifting FCC attention away from favoring incumbent carriers and more towards creating a level playing field for all public and private networks.

Broadband stimulus package should be thoughtful

Wired has a thoughtful article about the potential (good and bad) for a broadband stimulus initiative. There is much speculation that the incoming adminstration will, among other spending initiatives, provide funds for broadband deployment.

FCC Chairman calls for free wireless Internet access

Outgoing FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has called for free Internet access nationwide, with adult content filters in place to prevent children from accessing porn. This would cost billions to implement, and it is not at all clear who would pay for it. "Free" to the user is not the same as "free" of all costs. Someone still has to fund the construction of the network and pay for the substantial ongoing support and maintenance.

Technology News:

Monticello, Minnesota telecom lawsuit dismissed

A lawsuit filed by the incumbent telephone company in Monticello, Minnesota sought to stop the city from building its own fiber to the home (FTTH) network. The project was designed as a public/private partnership, with Hiawatha Broadband Communications, another Minnesota telecom firm, signed up to operate the system and provide services.

Yesterday, the 10th District Court in Minnesota dismissed the case, finding that the city had the right to issue bonds for a telecom utility and that the city had the right to operate a telecom utility.

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