Op-Ed

Five Steps to Advance Rural Broadband

On March 12, 2019, I was honored to appear before the Senate Communications Subcommittee to testify on “The Impact of Broadband Investments in Rural America.” I provided my personal views, bringing the perspective of a former government official with 22 years of experience at the Federal Communications Commission and National Telecommunications and Information Administration, with the last decade focused on the FCC’s Connect America Fund. My five-minute opening statement follows:

News Blues

I have a bad case of news blues. Journalism is fast becoming a vast wasteland. Newsrooms across the land are hollowed out, or in many cases shuttered.

Let’s Give Schools a Tool to Solve the Homework Gap

One of the most disturbing aspects of the digital divide is the “homework gap.” The term – first coined by FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel – describes the situation faced by the estimated 12 million students that cannot complete their school assignments because they have no broadband access at home. As she notes, roughly 7 in 10 teachers assign homework that requires a broadband connection, which means that many students, especially in low-income communities, are missing out on the educational opportunities afforded to their connected peers.

Providing Broadband to Rural America: How Educators with EBS Can Make the Difference

In 2008, Northern Michigan University (NMU) elected to tackle the lack of adequate broadband access in its community head-on. With over 8,000 notebook computers assigned to its students, NMU launched an aggressive plan to construct the nation’s first Educational Broadband Service (EBS) WiMAX network.

The FCC's Classification of Mobile Broadband Ignores Technology, History, and Common Sense

The Federal Communications Commission’s 2018 Restoring Internet Freedom (RIF) Order reclassified mobile broadband Internet access service from a commercial mobile service to a private mobile service, largely by ignoring the integration of the Internet with the telephone network.  This reclassification gave the FCC the license to repeal the 2015 net neutrality rules for mobile broadband service. How did this FCC get to the conclusion that the most important public mobile service of our time is a private mobile service?

A Stellar Public Servant

A legend is leaving the Federal Communications Commission as the new year begins. Her name is Karen Peltz Strauss. Some of you may not have heard of her, but to the nation’s disabilities communities, she is a hero. She achieved this status the old-fashioned way. She earned it. In over 40 years in Washington, I have been privileged to work with many brilliant public servants. Karen Peltz Strauss is in the top-most tier of these incredibly able people.  Her star shines brightly in the public service firmament. She came to the agency with a goal, she never wavered from that goal, and she achie

Bending the Arc Towards Media and Social Justice

I’ve spent just over 30 years working to ensure that all Americans benefit from accessible, affordable, and open communications networks that promote democratic values. But none of that would have been possible without Everett Parker’s accomplishments. As this audience knows well, Everett worked hand-in-hand with the Rev. Martin Luther King and the civil rights community to challenge the broadcast license of WLBT-TV, a Jackson, Mississippi, station that broadcast racist propaganda and refused to cover the civil rights movement.

Touch, Trust, and Tech

Addressing community challenges – education, a strong economy, race, and social equity – means that every community institution needs to be part of the solution. And mayors and elected county officials are wise to understand one institution – the public library – brings a unique mix of assets to the table:

Touch:  Pew Research data shows that 80 percent of Americans have been to a public library at some point in a given year – either in-person or online.

You must be the change you want to see in the world

Among the hundreds of people waiting to visit Mahatma Gandhi one day was a mother who sought help in battling her son’s obsession with eating sugar. When it was their turn in line, instead of immediately counseling the boy, Gandhi asked the pair to come back in two weeks. Following a two-hour wait on the day of their return, the anxious mother repeated her request. Gandhi promptly spoke with her son and the boy agreed to work on breaking his sugar fixation.

Bringing the FCC to the People and the People to the FCC

"Our media is precious. It’s how, outside of our strictly personal spheres, we speak to each other, inform each other, learn from each other, entertain each other, increasingly how we govern ourselves." With these words, Michael Copps opened a public hearing on media ownership rules. The hearing was not in Washington, DC, but Chicago, Illinois. Copps was not a local official, but a commissioner at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC).