Bills, legislation, and ordinances

SOPA and PIPA: Get ready for the Net Police

Major sites on the Internet are displaying either a black banner (e.g. Google) or are completely blacked out, meaning there is no access to site content today (e.g. Wikipedia). The two bills (SOPA is the House version, PIPA is the Senate version) are appallingly bad, as they toss due process out the window and give unelected bureaucrats the right to shut down any site in the U.S. without any actual proof of a copyright violation--all that is needed is an unfounded accusation. But wait! Like a Ginzu knife ad, there is more!

FCC proposes new universal service fund approach

Fred Pilot of Eldo Telecom writes about the proposed changes to the Universal Service Fund, which would now be called the "Connect America Fund." At first glance, this does not appear to make it easy for community-owned broadband projects to tap this money.

Is the telecom lobby killing municipal and community broadband?

The Atlantic Cities has a very well researched article on the recent vote for muni broadband in Longmont, Colorado and the broader push by some of the incumbents to lobby for state laws that effectively outlaw community broadband projects and indirectly grant the incumbents a monopoly on telecom. Read the whole thing.

Community news and projects:

Longmont, Colorado votes YES on community broadband

The citizens and the City of Longmont, Colorado have been engaged in a long running battle with the incumbent providers over the right of the City to build its own broadband infrastructure. In a referendum held on Tuesday, it appears that by a two to one margin, the referendum has passed. Chris Mitchell at Muni Networks has an excellent summary of the effort.

Community news and projects:

Daily Yonder: Will revised USF rules benefit rural communities?

The Daily Yonder has a great piece on the challenges rural communities face in getting adequate broadband services. It is a fairly long article, but worth a complete read because there are really two stories in it. The first is how a locally owned service provider was forced out of business by an incumbent, to the detriment of the community and local economic development. The second part of the story is the proposed new rules for the Universal Service Fund (USF).

USF reform may not have desired impact

Eldo Telecom has an excellent critique of the proposed USF reform. My concern with any USF reform is that it should allow community-owned broadband efforts access to USF funds. There is no reason why a community that builds its own open access infrastructure should be forced to channel their portion of USF funds to legacy networks.

End of the world: NC governor refuses to veto anti-broadband bill

Governor Perdue of North Carolina has indicated that she will not veto the anti-community, anti-economic development, anti-jobs, anti-rural anti-broadband bill recently passed by the North Carolina legislature. Instead, she will signal her "displeasure" by allowing it to become law without signing it.

Community news and projects:

"Broadband Buffoonery" in North Carolina

If it seems like I am writing a lot about the situation in North Carolina, it is because the broadband fight there has national implications. This short article from DSLReports does a good job a summarizing just how awful the situation is. Right now, only the Governor can stop it, as the legislature (both houses) has passed this monstrosity.

Community news and projects:

Lawrence Lessig jumps into NC broadband fight

The dire situation in North Carolina with H129 (effectively bans community investments in broadband infrastructure) continues to attract national attention. Well known legal expert Lawrence Lessig has issued a plea to petition the governor to veto the bill.

Community news and projects:

North Carolina Senate votes for broadband death spiral

I'm not even going to bother including a link, as the Web is full of commentary on this sad state of affairs, whereby the NC Senate has voted to hand future economic development and jobs growth in the state over to a handful of private sector telecom incumbents. If the bill passes, these incumbents will decide where businesses can locate in North Carolina and where people can work.

Entire telecom industry to NC legislators: Are you crazy?

Google, Intel, the Fiber to the Home Council, the Telecommunications Industry Association, the American Public Power Association, and the Utilities Telecom Council have all jointly signed a letter addressed to the North Carolina Speaker of the House and the North Carolina Senate President. The letter strongly protests the anti-community broadband bill currently being considered by the legislature. Like several other groups protesting this dog of a bill, the signatories indicate the jobs-killing nature of the legislation.

FCC to North Carolina: What the heck are you thinking?

When an FCC Commissioner takes the time to tell your state that what your legislators are doing is foolish, your state has a problem.

Community news and projects:

The politicization of broadband

It is unfortunate, but the issue of broadband in this country is becoming a political issue, when it should be focused more on economic prosperity, jobs, and business development. Witness this headline from the always excellent Stop the Cap! blog:

House Republicans Sell Out North Carolina’s Broadband Future to Big Telecom

Community news and projects:

Knowledge Democracy:

NC legislators to businesses: Don't come to our state!

Just when you thought you had heard it all, North Carolina legislators are about to pass a law declaring the state a broadband-free zone. An amendment to a very bad broadband bill will declare that "broadband" is any service that is "occasionally capable of achieving 768kbps downstream and 200kbps upstream." This is 1/5 of the feeble national goal of 4 megabits downstream and 1 megabit upstream.

Community news and projects:

Broadband Information:

It's 1970 all over again in the telecom industry

AT&T wants to buy T-Mobile, which would make AT&T the biggest cellular provider in the U.S. Meanwhile, CenturyTel wants to buy Qwest. The 1984 breakup of Ma Bell and the 1996 telecom deregulation is slowly being undone as telecom in the United States is re-aggregated into enormous monopolies with antiquated business models based on maintaining a monopoly by any means possible.

Some NC legislators determined to wreck towns and cities

I don't what is in the water in North Carolina, but some legislators seem determined to cripple the prosperity of towns and cities in the state.

Community news and projects:

North Carolina legislators determined to crush economic development and jobs

Via Stop the Cap!, some North Carolina legislators seemed determined to kill jobs and economic growth in North Carolina's communities by banning community-owned broadband. The cable companies hope to succeed in getting this legislation passed in North Carolina. If they are successful there, they will surely move the same tactics to other states.

Community news and projects:

Broadband Information:

North Carolina is still trying to outlaw community control of economic development

Via Stop the Cap!, a bill has been introduced in the North Carolina legislature to make it extremely difficult for communities to invest in broadband infrastructure. The article is excellent, with a detailed analysis of the issues, so I'm not going to try to summarize it here--just read the whole thing.

Community news and projects:

Broadband Information:

The FCC and net neutrality

There is plenty of sturm und drang elsewhere about yesterday's net neutrality decision by the FCC, so I am not even going to link to anything. I think that it is extremely likely that Congress or the courts, or both, will force the FCC to withdraw this new ruling, just as the FCC's ruling earlier this year was turned back. While opinions differ, it is not at all clear that the FCC has the statutory authority to do what it wants to do with net neutrality, and so nothing much is going to change until there is a ruling.

Knowledge Democracy:

Enzyte, Smilin' Bob, and warrantless searches

The Sixth Circuit Court decision on email being protected by the Fourth Amendment contains the fascinating story behind the, uh, "male enhancement" product called "Enzyte" and the infamous Smilin' Bob character who appeared in the annoying late night TV commercials. The entire document runs 98 pages, but pages 4 through 12 describe in detail how a $250 million a year complete scam is set up and run. And yes, if you don't bother to read the decision, the short story is that Enzyte was a scam from beginning to end.

Knowledge Democracy:


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