Digital Beat Blog

benton logo

The Facebook Election Machine

As the 2016 Presidential primaries were starting in February, we looked at the digital tools offered by Facebook and Google to help voters gain information -- and be reached by candidates. Then, we were worried about people who don’t have Internet access or, God forbid, don’t use Facebook. A few articles we read this week now makes us more concerned for Facebook users.

benton logo

Back Azimuth: Revisiting the Network Compact

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler was in Aspen (CO) this week addressing the 30th Annual Conference on Communications Policy. He returned to a familiar subject: the Network Compact. His aim was to offer a perspective on what lies ahead for the FCC by first looking back. Chairman Wheeler is known for his love of history. In his eyes, we are living through a network revolution driven by ever-evolving technology which is changing the patterns of commerce and culture. The lessons of how people dealt with past network revolutions are a “’back azimuth’,” Wheeler said, “a concept familiar to navigators in which a landmark in the rear is used to inform the path forward.”

benton logo

The Most Important Part of the Telecommunications Business You Probably Don't Know About

A hallmark of Tom Wheeler’s tenure as Federal Communications Commission Chairman has been his willingness to take on difficult challenges and push them to completion. Surely one of the most difficult of these undertakings has been to reform “special access,” which the Wheeler FCC has wisely, and more appropriately, renamed “Business Data Services." Reform advocates argue that BDS prices are grossly excessive and unjustly enrich the former AT&T local phone companies. They maintain that this has stifled competition and dissuaded new entrants into the market. Since these overcharges are passed through to all consumers, the overcharges have arguably increased the prices that we pay for all manner of services seemingly unrelated to telecommunications. If they are right, the changes under consideration should generate more competition and lower prices.

benton logo

States Again Can Restrict Community Broadband's Growth

On August 11, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled in favor of two states that opposed the Federal Communications Commission’s attempt to preempt state laws that restrict the growth of municipal broadband networks. The decision is a victory to cable and telephone companies that oppose community broadband.

benton logo

Can We Get Better Wi-Fi Without Jeopardizing Traffic Safety?

It might not be surprising that major industries would mount a big fight over how to deploy a swathe of currently unused spectrum. However, a dispute over a chunk of spectrum located in the 5.9 gigahertz (GHz) band also pits different parts of the federal government against each other and, even in Washington’s ever-more partisan environment, has Republicans and Democrats on both sides. As such, the dispute offers some important insights into the political gamesmanship surrounding spectrum allocation.

benton logo

A Tour of Kansas City’s Digital Divide

a guest article by Casey De La Torre, a student at Florida International University. In May, Casey attended the 2016 Net Inclusion Summit at the Kansas City Public Library. In the post below, she discusses key insights from a tour of Kansas City organizations addressing the digital divide, and how it connects to her digital literacy work in Miami-Dade County, Florida. In June, the Benton Foundation published “Net Inclusion 2016: Addressing the Digital Divide From Miami to Kansas City” by Casey’s classmate, Romina Angelelli.

benton logo

Progress for Prison Phone Rates and Accessibility

The Federal Communications Commission held its monthly meeting on August 4, covering prison phone rates, the FCC’s program for providing affordable communications equipment for people with hearing and vision loss, and new rules to create a pathway for 100% compatibility with wireless hearing aid devices.

benton logo

Benton and Rhinesmith Continue Digital Inclusion Research Partnership

Dr. Colin Rhinesmith joined the Benton Foundation as our Faculty Research Fellow. We want to aid both policymakers and practitioners in the design, implementation, and evaluation of digital inclusion and broadband adoption strategies. The goal is open, affordable, high-capacity broadband access, adoption and use for all Americans. Our partnership has produced important research and, we’re happy to announce, will continue for the next year.

benton logo

DNC 2016: Broadband Platform and Leaked E-mails

This week, Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party swept into Philadelphia (PA) for the 2016 Democratic National Convention. The party unveiled its platform, which contains a plan for universal broadband, a commitment to an open Internet both here and abroad, and -- ironically, it turns out -- cybersecurity promises. Just prior to the convention, Wikileaks released e-mails from top Democratic National Committee staffers, resulting in the resignation of party Chairwoman Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). The shadow cast by the leaks was the backdrop to a convention that featured Clinton making history as the first woman nominated by a major political party in the U.S. to be President. Let’s unpack some of the most important parts of DNC 2016.

benton logo

RNC 2016: GOP Platform, Media Coverage, and Notable Moments

This week, Donald Trump and the Republican Party rolled into Cleveland, Ohio for the 2016 Republican National Convention. In a spectacle of full of cheers, jeers, and fears, Donald Trump officially accepted the Republican nomination. Importantly, the GOP unveiled the party platform, which addresses universal broadband, Internet governance, and EdTech. The convention itself was a high-tech affair, with social media and live-streaming used as popular tools. The press, some of which had been previously blacklisted by the Trump campaign, was in full force, as reporters streamed and tweeted their way through the four-day convention. Let’s unpack some of the most important parts of RNC 2016.

benton logo

An Action Plan to Connect Community Anchor Institutions and Close the Digital Divide

On July 13, 2016, the Benton Foundation published the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition's Connecting Anchor Institutions: A Broadband Action Plan.

benton logo

Benton Partners With SHLB to Nourish Communities With Broadband

The Benton Foundation is publishing the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition’s Connecting Anchor Institutions: A Broadband Action Plan because our top priority for 2016 and beyond is affordable broadband access and adoption for all Americans.

benton logo

Platforms Without Media?

Party platforms can be sleepy affairs. In recent years, platform writing too often became an exercise of box-checking to “reach out and touch” as many interest groups as possible so everyone felt involved, with an anodyne sentence or two thrown in so these interests felt included. Long on generalities and short on specifics, platforms in recent years were routinely adopted at the party’s convention—and then promptly forgotten. So far 2016 has defied conventional wisdom and political history on many fronts. There are signs that even platform drafting might be affected. Just last week, Mrs. Clinton came forward with a technology agenda strongly promoting universal, affordable broadband and an open internet. We in the public interest community have been fighting for support on both these issues for years, so it is gratifying to see one of the major parties responding. But so far we haven’t heard much on media policy. We ignore media policy at our own peril. An informed electorate is the essential foundation for successful self-government, and media are responsible for providing us with the news and information we need to make intelligent decisions for the country’s future. Media are a public good, as necessary to democracy’s life as oxygen is to an individual’s life.

benton logo

Clinton Puts Forth a Tech Plan. Trump Doesn’t.

In what some have described as a “love letter to Silicon Valley”, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton unveiled her Technology & Innovation Agenda. Published on her website June 28, Clinton’s 14-page tech plan provides a detailed and ambitious policy agenda that covers a wide swath of critical telecom policy issues. The plan is organized around five major categories: the Economy, Digital Infrastructure, Advancing US Global Leadership, Privacy, and Smart Government. Below we examine the plan through our lens: broadband access, adoption, and use.

benton logo

Livestreaming Shines Bright When House Cameras Go Dark

On June 22, Democrats staged a sit-in in the House of Representatives, demanding a full vote on gun measures. After House Republicans shut-down C-SPAN cameras, several lawmakers began livestreaming the protest via Periscope and Facebook Live. Whatever your thoughts about gun control, the live-streamed sit-in highlights the importance of open government, an open Internet, and access in this digital age.

benton logo

Network Neutrality: Now What?

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s network neutrality rules. So what does that mean, and what will happen now?

benton logo

Let Me Hear Your Yawp

I was at my desk when I received news that the US Court of Appeals in Washington had upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s network neutrality rules. Before issuing my “barbaric yawp” of joy, I closed my eyes for a moment of thanks. When I opened my eyes, my gaze was on a painting displayed in the Benton Foundation’s office, Jack Levine’s “Witches’ Sabbath.” Levine is best known his satires on modern life and “Witches’ Sabbath” was his commentary on one of America’s scariest moments, the age of McCarthyism.

benton logo

Net Neutrality: A Historic Decision

June 14, 2016: a historic day for network neutrality. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia released its decision to uphold the Federal Communications Commission’s network neutrality rules. The FCC’s rules, adopted February 2015, reclassified Internet service under Title II of the Communications Act, essentially ruling that Internet service providers are common carriers. The Benton Foundation has described those rules as the “greatest commitment ever made to preserve and protect and open and free Internet.” The Appeals Court has spoken: net neutrality is here to stay.

benton logo

Net Inclusion 2016: Addressing the Digital Divide From Miami to Kansas City

The following is a Guest Blog by Romina Angelelli, a student at Florida International University. In May, Romina attended the 2016 Net Inclusion Summit at the Kansas City Public Library. In the post below, she discusses key insights from the summit and how it connects to her work addressing the digital divide in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

benton logo

As Clinton Wins Nomination, Her Tech Circle Gets In Formation

On June 6, the Associated Press declared that Hillary Clinton would be the presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee. She is now the first women to lead a major political party in the U.S. With the 2016 field now essentially down to Clinton and Donald Trump, both major parties are drafting their platforms for the November election. Which tech policy issues will get attention as we move to the general election? Who are the key players?

Syndicate content