Benton Foundation

Why is the FCC Talking about a USF Cap?

The Benton Foundation unequivocally opposes any proposals from the Federal Communications Commission that would allow the FCC to shirk its responsibilities to meet its Congressionally-mandated mission. The FCC is supposed to ensure:

An Office of Rural Broadband: We’ve Heard This Before

On Feb 12, 2019 Sen Kevin Cramer (R-ND) introduced The Office of Rural Broadband Act in the Senate (S 454), which would establish an Office of Rural Broadband in the Federal Communications Commission. Sen Cramer’s Office of Rural Broadband Act is the latest effort to coordinate rural broadband planning and policy. As I recently wrote for the New York Times, this Office of Rural Broadband is best placed inside the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the US Dept of Agriculture, rather than the Federal Communications Commission, as S.454 proposes.

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:

Benton Foundation, EducationSuperHighway Highlight E-rate Administration Flaws

The Benton Foundation and EducationSuperHighway met with Federal Communications Commission Wireline Competition Bureau staff and separately with legal advisors to Chairman Pai and Commissioners Rosenworcel and Starks on March 7, 2019, to discuss a white paper on E-rate.

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.

A Vortex of Problems with Big Tech

In the last Weekly Digest, I presented a retrospective of a major policy story from 2018: The democratic harms of “Big Tech.” This week, a polar vortex accompanied a vortex of more privacy abuses from Big Tech, and further concerns about the very bigness of Big Tech.

Our Day in Court

On February 1, 2019, the Benton Foundation joins a host of public interest organizations, states, and businesses that are arguing that the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit should overturn the December 2017 Federal Communications Commission order that eliminated strong, enforceable net neutrality rules. An internet without net neutrality is a threat to free speech and democratic participation online. Without net neutrality protections, broadband providers are free to interfere with lawful content and services.

Brandeis: An Emphasis on Facts

From Louis Brandeis’s perspective, application of antitrust laws required both the embrace of hard-headed inquiry, spanning economics and the social sciences, and the litigator’s skill of distilling crucial facts. Brandeis’s work as a lawyer in private practice, his stint as special counsel to the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), and his time on the bench demonstrate his commitment to solving social and economic problems, examining the practical reality of economic circumstances, and serving the purposes of the law with rigor and commitment.

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.