Press Release Archives

A Step Towards Protecting the Free and Open Internet

The following statement can be attributed to the Benton Foundation's Policy Counsel, Amina Fazlullah:

Today the Federal Communications Commission took a step towards protecting the free and open Internet. However, enforcement will be the true test of these rules' effectiveness: the FCC must continue to closely watch broadband industry practices and be prepared to swiftly and strictly enforce these important rules. We believe that there should be one set of Open Internet rules for both wireline and wireless Internet consumers. Today’s Internet consumers are already seamlessly moving between wired and wireless devices and the rules that protect consumers and the Internet should do the same. The Benton Foundation welcomes the FCC's action and urges it to quickly act to codify stronger protections for consumers in the mobile space.

Benton Supports FCC's 'Third Way'

The Benton Foundation strongly supports the Third Way as a solution to the challenges of the adverse decision in Comcast v. Federal Communications Commission and a changing marketplace for broadband. The proposal is consistent with pre-2002 classifications of Internet service, which have long held that the transmission component is separable from the information service. Benton urges the FCC to bring its broadband policy in line with current consumer views of broadband and reduces legal uncertainty regarding its authority to pursue the goals of the National Broadband Plan. The free and open Internet, the deployment of broadband Internet access to all Americans, and the enforcement of basic consumer protection rules all depend on classifying broadband Internet connectivity as a telecommunications service. If the FCC continues to rely on Title I ancillary authority, it will invite future litigation and uncertainty, as well as the erosion of consumer protection principles and the contraction of investment and innovation.

Statement on Broadband Talks

The following statement is attributable to Amina Fazlullah, Policy Counsel of the Benton Foundation

We are heartened to hear that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decided to return to a robust and open public process surrounding the future regulatory framework of broadband.

To protect consumers and ensure timely and efficient implementation of the National Broadband Plan the FCC must complete the Notice of Inquiry process and determine a path forward that will both protect consumers and encourage robust innovation and competition. Any thing short of a fair, open and public process will, at best, sully the final decision or, at worst, result in a decision that is not in the best interests of the public. Regulations protecting and enhancing our nation's broadband access will also enhance consumer welfare, civic participation, public safety and homeland security, community development, health care delivery, energy independence and efficiency, education, worker training, private sector investment, entrepreneurial activity, job creation and economic growth, and other national purposes.

The Federal Communications Commission has an obligation to encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet. We are pleased that the Commission appears to have appropriately re-centered their focus on the open, public proceedings that should define rules that guarantee that all consumers are entitled to: access the lawful Internet content of their choice, run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement, connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network, and competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.

The Benton Foundation's mission is to articulate a public interest vision for the digital age and to demonstrate the value of communications for solving social problems. Benton is a longtime supporter of research on universal service and the potential of high-speed Internet connections to improve American's lives.

FCC: Broadband Deployment Not Reaching All Americans

New research from the Federal Communications Commission finds that between 14 and 24 million Americans still lack access to broadband, and the immediate prospects for deployment to them are bleak. The FCC report concludes that the goal of universal availability -- deployment to all Americans -- is not being met in a timely way. The following statement can be attributed to Charles Benton, Benton Foundation CEO and Chairman.

"The Federal Communications Commission rightly finds today that all means all. If 14 to 24 million Americans can not make use of today's essential communications tool, then the U.S. has a problem. In an increasingly competitive global marketplace, we need all Americans connected to the tools that are essential to jobs and economic growth, democratic engagement and civic engagement, health and public safety, and education and lifelong learning.

Both the public and private sector should see the FCC's new report as another call to join forces and implement the National Broadband Plan. If not, we run the risk of a unconnected America, a second-class player on the global stage."

Benton Applauds Administration Efforts to Unleash Spectrum for Wireless Broadband Revolution

On June 28, President Barack Obama signed a presidential memorandum with the aim of freeing for auction some 500 megahertz of spectrum that is now controlled by the federal government and private companies. The directive supports key recommendations of the National Broadband Plan that the Federal Communications Commission sent to Congress in March. The following statement can be attributed to Benton Foundation Chairman and CEO Charles Benton:

"Spectrum is the lifeblood of our economy in an increasingly competitive, always-on, always-connected world. To reach our national goal of universal, affordable broadband access and use, we must transform the National Broadband Plan into new, effective policies. Today's action by President Barack Obama is important for many reasons, but none more so than it shows the National Broadband Plan has the attention of the President and the Administration at the highest levels. Now federal policymakers, including Congress, must do their part in implementing the Plan."

The Benton Foundation is a longtime advocate for a national broadband strategy and is tracking the implementation of the National Broadband Plan at http://www.benton.org/nbp

Benton Foundation Expanding Washington Office


Focus on Making Promise of the National Broadband Plan a Reality
Amina Fazlullah Named Policy Counsel; Joanne Hovis Joins Board of Directors

Washington, DC - June 1, 2010 - Benton Foundation Chairman and CEO Charles Benton today named Amina Fazlullah the organization's Policy Counsel, and is pleased to announce that Joanne Hovis has joined the foundation's board of directors.

Fazlullah will spearhead the foundation's advocacy efforts around implementation of the recently-released National Broadband Plan and additional efforts to promote policies that make universal, affordable high-speed Internet access and use a reality in the U.S.

Hovis, who is president of the public interest technology and energy consulting firm, CTC, is a longtime advocate of universal, high-bandwidth broadband for community and economic development. She has assisted local and state governments, as well as non-profits, throughout the country to develop broadband strategic plans and to design and deploy broadband networks. Hovis also serves as president-elect of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, the association that promotes community interests in communications matters.

"Now that the Federal Communications Commission has presented the National Broadband Plan to Congress and the nation," said Mr. Benton, "the Benton Foundation will focus on tracking and advocating for implementation."

Since January 2007 the Benton Foundation has advocated for federal policymakers to craft a national broadband strategy with set benchmarks, deployment timetables, a commitment to demand drivers, and measurable thresholds. The Foundation also wants to see the transformation of the Universal Service Fund from a safety net that provides telephone service to all, to a trampoline that spurs economic development in communities across the country.

Amina Fazlullah is well-positioned to assist Benton in these endeavors. During her tenure at U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), Ms. Fazlullah focused on telecommunications and digital privacy issues, advocating on behalf of consumers in both FCC and FTC agency proceedings and by providing testimony for hearings before Congress. She can be reached by e-mail: [email protected].

The Benton Foundation's mission is to articulate a public interest vision for the digital age and to demonstrate the value of communications for solving social problems. Benton is a longtime supporter of research on universal service and the potential of high-speed Internet connections to improve American's lives.

Contact:
Cecilia Garcia
202-638-5770

Benton Reaction to FCC Universal Service recommendations for the National Broadband Plan

At a press event earlier today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced plans to reform the Universal Service Fund (USF) as part of the National Broadband Plan. The following statement may be attributed to Benton Foundation Chairman and CEO Charles Benton:

The Benton Foundation commends the FCC's Herculean efforts to draft the National Broadband Plan and to ensure affordable broadband for all. Since 1934, the goal of our nation's communications law has been to "make available...to all people of the United States...a rapid and efficient, nation-wide, and world-wide wire and radio communications service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges." The Commission said today that it is updating this commitment for the digital age.

Benton is especially pleased to hear the FCC reiterate today its commitment to reform the USF and to help make broadband service available to and affordable for low-income households. For many years, the Commission has recognized that the universal service principles enshrined in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 cannot be realized if low-income support is provided for service inferior to that supported for other subscribers.

If the FCC pursues pilot programs to experiment with a transition of the Lifeline and LinkUp programs that today support traditional telephone service to the broadband adoption programs of tomorrow, it must do so with the help of rigorous academic support both in the shaping and evaluation of these programs. Data-driven policy demands it. A number of locales, like North Carolina, seem prepared to offer the FCC testing grounds.

But pilot programs should not be indefinite. Care must be taken in the digital age so the U.S. does not continue as a nation of digital haves and have-nots. Already, millions lack broadband access in the home. We should not ask them to continue waiting for the civic, economic, educational, health, and public safety benefits that broadband offers.