Digital Beat Blog

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Robbie's Round-Up (September 28-October 2, 2015)

Wi-Fi router lockdown? Prison phone rates. An update on the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) transition. And a new guide to Federal broadband funding.

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Finishing The Job On Prison Phone Calls

The Federal Communications Commission is about to finish its long-delayed proceeding to reform the rate structure for prisoner phone calls. The FCC has announced that it will take up the issue at its next meeting on October 22.

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How Is the FCC Protecting Consumers in the Digital Age?

Speeches by Federal Communications Commission chairmen and commissioners don’t often get big headlines, so you’ll be forgiven if you missed the news of two interesting speeches by key FCC staffers recently that address the commission’s role in protecting consumers. Both speeches highlight the need for the FCC’s expertise in overseeing telecommunications – and working with the other agencies with jurisdiction in this area.

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Presidential candidates: Local economies in the digital age deserve attention

The United States is a large and complex nation with many interests—from the Internet and innovation to immigration and Iran. But at the core, the nation’s strategic advantage is built on strong local communities and economies. That’s not a great revelation, but it’s not apparent thus far in the presidential campaign. Strength at the local level depends on strong community anchor institutions. These include libraries, boys and girls clubs, hospitals, schools, colleges and universities, religious organizations, and civic groups, all of which are even more important now as the nation undergoes foundational change resulting from the digital revolution.

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Robbie's Round-Up (September 21-25, 2015)

Broadband Opportunity Council Releases Report and Recommendations. Legal Briefs in Defense of Net Neutrality Were Filed. China’s President Xi Visits the US.

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Improving Data Collection, Analysis and Research on Broadband

President Barack Obama’s Broadband Opportunity Council found that research on broadband deployment, competition and adoption has not kept pace with the massive digital changes that permeate our economy and society. More research and development is needed: research into broadband economics; studies on deployment barriers; deeper study on how competitive telecommunication markets work in rural and remote regions; and updated studies on broadband adoption and digital literacy. There’s a need for more granular data about broadband connectivity as it impacts their stakeholders and missions, including data on: broadband speeds and quality points; wireless loads at community anchor institutions; digital literacy and confidence; metrics on effective use; or e-commerce-driven business growth.

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How Can Expanding Access to Federal Assets Improve Broadband’s Reach?

We’ve been sharing small bites of the new Broadband Opportunity Council report and recommendations all week. Today we look at the Council’s plan to promote increased broadband deployment and competition through expanded access to Federal assets. The Council’s aim is to reduce the barriers to entry into the broadband service marketplace, especially the costs of infrastructure deployment. The public told the Council that the Federal government needs to provide more information on the wide range of Federal assets that are or can be made available for broadband purposes. And the Federal government can also continue to do more to help service providers obtain the necessary permits and permissions to build out broadband networks on Federal lands, use Federal assets or cross Federal rights-of-way.

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Obama Administration Aims to Empower Communities to Attract Broadband Investment and Promote Meaningful Use

Earlier this week, the Broadband Opportunity Council issued a report and recommendations on expanding broadband deployment and adoption. We’re looking at sections of recommendations all week.

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How to Modernize Federal Programs to Expand Program Support for Broadband Investments

On September 21, 2015, the Broadband Opportunity Council (BOC) released a report and recommendations on how to increase broadband deployment, competition and adoption through executive actions within the scope of existing Agency programs, missions and budgets. In total, the report describes 36 immediate actions, with associated milestones, that 25 Federal Agencies have committed to undertake over the next 18 months.

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City Broadband Plans: One Vision, Four Markets, Four Issues

Every city needs its own broadband plan

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How Winning Becomes Losing

It’s time for the friends of an Open Internet and of a communications ecosystem that serves the needs of democracy to make sure our issues are part of the 2016 campaign dialogue. These issues won’t get the visibility they deserve unless we work to put them there, and if we fail in this, we will have ourselves to blame for the policy decisions that are made once the elections are over.

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Will Centralization, Regulation, and Globalization Kill the Internet?

Just this week, an early-August speech by Jennifer Granick, the Director of Civil Liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, came across my desk, the kind of thought-provoking piece that makes you ignore everthing else you need to get to in your In Box. The speech was delivered at Black Hat 2015, a network security meeting in Las Vegas. Granick’s dire warning: the dream of Internet freedom -- a free, open, reliable, interoperable Internet, a place where anyone can say anything, and anyone who wants to hear it can listen and respond, a place where everyone could be a publisher and a creator, a global medium that had everything on the shelves – that dream is dying. Gulp. And although there’s plenty of blame to go around for this loss, Granick puts the bulk of it on you, me, herself… all of us who use the Internet. Double gulp.

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How the FCC is Bringing Broadband to Rural America

Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission found that broadband deployment in the United States – especially in rural areas – is failing to keep pace with today’s advanced, high-quality voice, data, graphics and video offerings. Over half of all rural Americans lack access to broadband service with 25 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads. Moreover, rural America continues to be underserved at all speeds, the FCC found: 20 percent lack access even to service at 4 Mbps/1 Mbps, down only 1 percent from 2011, and 31 percent lack access to 10 Mbps/1 Mbps, down only 4 percent from 2011.

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What Is “Advanced Telecommunications Capability” And Why Does The FCC Examine It?

On August 6, the Federal Communications Commission voted on a seemingly routine notice initiating its statutorily mandated annual inquiry into the state of broadband deployment in the United States. (Actually, as explained below, it is measuring something somewhat different.) Collection and analysis of data is essential to effective policymaking, and Congress has directed that many agencies compile reports of one kind or another. Solicitation of public comment on data collection for a wonky report might not seem to be controversial, but the issuance of the notice generated vociferous reactions from the two Republican Commissioners.

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What Is ‘Unfair’ Competition?

Benton’s Headlines mainly track developments at the Federal Communications Commission, but major telecommunications and media policy news also comes from the Federal Trade Commission. That was true when the FTC released the Statement of Enforcement Principles Regarding “Unfair Methods of Competition” Under Section 5 of the FTC Act on August 13. This is just the kinda summer reading that DC wonks long for.

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Benton Foundation Accepts The Dirk Koning-George Stoney Award

Personally, as you can imagine, and for all of us at the Benton Foundation, 2015 has been a rough year. But the outpouring of love and support we’ve received from all corners has been amazing. Charles Benton would have been so thrilled to realize how many lives he touched and impacted. And I am so honored to be here with you all to accept The Dirk Koning – George Stoney Award.

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Helping Seniors Bridge the Digital Divide

Pew Research Center recently issued a report on who is online and who is not. As we’ve discussed in previous articles for the Digital Beat Blog, demographic factors such as age, income and educational attainment characterize the 15 percent of Americans who remain offline. Seniors are most likely to be offline, with 39% reporting they do not use the Internet. Yet, there has been significant progress in getting seniors online. In 2000, 86% of adults age 65+ were offline. This progress is due in part to baby boomers entering the age 65+ group, but also to the work of many organizations across the country working diligently to help seniors overcome the obstacles they face in broadband adoption. Here are just a few of them.

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The California Lifeline Reform Case Study - Overview

California is the only state that has a Lifeline program with greater support provided to low income households than the federal program. Why is California’s Lifeline program the most substantial state program? How did that happen? What has the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) learned? We’ll review the history and explore the issues in hopes that the FCC and other states can take some lessons from the California experience to help inform the “modernization” of Lifeline going forward.

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Questioning Federal Broadband Spending

Millions of Americans still are not online – many in rural areas. Did the broadband stimulus fail them?

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Celebrating 20 Years at the Benton Foundation

It was 20 years ago today...

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