Benton Foundation

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A Victory for Everyone Who Uses the Internet

Location:
Benton Foundation, 1560 Sherman Ave, Evanston, IL, 60201, United States
Recommendation:
2

February 26, 2015 marks the greatest commitment ever made to preserve and protect an open and free Internet. On this day, the Federal Communications Commission has acted decisively to protect the rights of Internet users to employ any legal applications, content, devices, and services of their choosing on the broadband networks they rely on. Today, the FCC has made sure that the Internet remains a platform for all consumers, content creators, and innovators, regardless of their ability to pay infrastructure owners special fees for special access. Ten years after the FCC first adopted a policy statement on the Open Internet, we now have strong, enforceable network neutrality rules, consistent with the nation’s core values. The FCC’s action today demonstrates that there is a public interest at stake across all communications media – be they telephone networks, broadcast stations, wireless, or today’s networks of computer networks. At the Benton Foundation, we have always focused on closing the digital divide and supporting digital inclusion, so the most vulnerable populations can participate fully in a diverse media system and in our democracy. Today, the FCC took action to make this a reality.

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Benton Salutes FCC’s Move to Bring More Fiber to More Communities, Sooner

Location:
Benton Foundation, 1560 Sherman Ave, Evanston, IL, 60201, United States
Recommendation:
2

Today, the Federal Communications Commission sided with community-based solutions. Today, the FCC sided with choice. Today, the FCC sided with bringing better broadband everywhere. The FCC today voted to approve the petitions of community broadband providers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Wilson, North Carolina, which asked that the FCC to pre-empt provisions of state laws preventing expansion of their very successful networks. The Benton Foundation thanks the FCC for this action. In too many communities around the U.S. – and especially in rural communities – no commercial Internet service providers are offering broadband – and do not plan to. State restrictions on community broadband mean that rural communities have no options at all to build the networks needed to participate in the digital economy. These laws stop localities from finding creative ways to work with private investors and chill the kinds of partnerships and experimentation that should be happening to close the digital divide. Today’s FCC action could bring broadband service to communities where there is none and competition in areas where it does not exist. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recognizes that meaningful competition for high-speed wired broadband is lacking. To take advantage of today’s new services, and to incentivize the development of tomorrow’s innovations, Americans need more competitive choices for faster and better Internet connections. Today’s FCC action means that the broadband marketplace will have to be more responsive to competitive forces.

FCC should create a 40 MHz reserve for 600 MHz auction, public interest groups urge

Location:
Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC, 20554, United States
Recommendation:
2

A coalition of public interest groups urged the Federal Communications Commission to adopt a spectrum reserve of at least 40 MHz for the 600 MHz incentive auction, one of several rule changes they are suggesting aimed at helping smaller carriers acquire spectrum.

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A Deeper Dive into the Data: Seniors and the Internet

Location:
Senior Service America, Inc. (SSAI), 8403 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD, 20910, United States
Recommendation:
2

At a time when communications technology is evolving at a frantic pace and the Internet is fast becoming the primary conveyor of information and services, a significant segment of our population remains offline. National survey data for 2014 show that 41-43% of persons age 65+ do not use the Internet, compared to only 13-14% of all adults age 18+ (Pew Research Center, 2000-2014). The reasons for this continuing digital divide involve seniors’ concerns about affordability, a belief that the Internet holds no relevance for them, and a fear that computers are too difficult to learn. This “senior digital divide” is greatest among the oldest and least advantaged older adults. Of the estimated 18.9 million offline elders in 2014, 61% (11.5 million) are age 75+. But older age is not the whole story. Seniors with the lowest incomes and least education are much more likely to be offline – double and triple jeopardy.
[Garcia, former Executive Director of the Benton Foundation, is a communications advisor with an extensive background in public affairs, television production and advocacy. Bob Harootyan is the research manager at Senior Service America, Inc. (SSAI), where he directs internal and external projects related to low-income older workers and the aging workforce.]

Public Knowledge Asks FCC to Protect Consumers During Tech Transitions

Location:
Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC, 20554, United States
Recommendation:
1

Public Knowledge and twelve other consumer advocacy groups filed comments before the Federal Communications Commission in response to the Commission’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on network transitions. Public Knowledge urges the Commission to adopt clear and robust rules to ensure no one is left behind in the phone network transition to IP, fiber, or wireless.

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DC Reacts to FCC Chairman Open Internet Rules

Location:
Washington, DC, United States
Recommendation:
2

DC reacted to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler's framework for network neutrality ...

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Benton Supports President Obama's Call for More Internet Options for Consumers

Location:
Benton Foundation, 1560 Sherman Ave, Evanston, IL, 60201, United States
Recommendation:
2

I am gladdened to hear President Barack Obama's recognition of broadband’s crucial role in our recovering economy. I am especially excited to hear a commitment to encouraging, creating and protecting competition in the broadband marketplace. And, in areas where we cannot expect competition to exist, the President is right to embrace a role for government for promoting broadband deployment. Like the President, the Benton Foundation stands on the side of competition, on the side of small business owners, on the side of students and schools, and on the side of choice for communities. If community leaders believe they must act to improve local broadband networks, they should be allowed to craft local solutions -- even if that means a community providing its own broadband if it decides that is its best option.

The Killer App for Local Fiber Networks

Location:
USA, United States
Recommendation:
2

In short, economic development and job creation can fairly be called the “killer app” for local fiber networks. Many projects across the country use advanced communications capabilities to support economic development and at the same time use the benefits of economic development to fund their network and make them sustainable. Over time, the path from broadband investments to economic development should be faster, more efficient and less costly to navigate.

Public Knowledge, 16 Privacy Advocates Urge FCC to Protect Consumers

Location:
Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC, 20554, United States
Recommendation:
2

Public Knowledge filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission highlighting privacy concerns raised by the “Roadmap for Improving E911 Location Accuracy” proposed by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials, the National Emergency Number Association, AT&T Mobility, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, and Verizon.

Public Knowledge to FCC: A Million Comments Later, the Need for Reclassification is Clear

Location:
Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC, 20554, United States
Recommendation:
2

Public Knowledge filed reply comments in the network neutrality proceeding on behalf of ourselves and Benton Foundation.

Public Knowledge, Privacy Groups Urge Obama Administration To Preserve Existing Telecommunications

Location:
National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), 1401 Constitution Ave, Washington, DC, 20230, United States
Recommendation:
3

Public Knowledge filed comments with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration urging the Obama Administration not to support any privacy legislation that would eliminate important legal protections for telecommunications metadata.

FCC Sec. 706 NOI Draws Advocacy Group Praise

Location:
Washington, DC, United States
Recommendation:
3

The Federal Communications Commission's signal in a Notice of Inquiry that its latest Sec. 706 report could start factoring in usage limits and latency and other network management issues as it considers what is reasonable and timely deployment of advanced communications and just what speed and level of access qualifies as "advanced" drew applause from public interest groups.

OTI and Benton Foundation Argue for Strong Open Internet Protections Under Title II Authority

Location:
Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC, 20554, United States
Recommendation:
2

Over the past few months, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has received over a million net neutrality comments—a reflection of the broad and vocal interest around the country in the debate over the best path forward for strong open Internet protections. Yesterday, New America’s Open Technology Institute added our voice to the conversation, filing joint comments with the Benton Foundation in the Open Internet docket. We urge the FCC to craft strong new rules that protect users against the full scope of harms on all platforms, arguing that reclassifying broadband as a Title II telecommunications service is the clearest and most legally sound way to achieve this important goal.

Officially Explaining the Importance of an Open Internet

Location:
Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC, 20554, United States
Recommendation:
2

Public Knowledge, along with our allies Access Sonoma Broadband and Benton Foundation, submitted comments in the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet proceeding (that’s the network neutrality proceeding).

Charles Benton Nominated for National Museum and Library Services Board

Location:
The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC, 20500, United States
Recommendation:
2

President Barack Obama signaled his intent to nominate Charles Benton for another term as member of the National Museum and Library Services Board.

Public Interest Spectrum Coalition Sends Letter to Support Competition in Incentive Auction

Location:
Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC, 20554, United States
Recommendation:
2

The Public interest Spectrum Coalition (PISC) submitted a letter supporting the Federal Communications Commission's plan to ensure that competitive carriers can bid on spectrum in the upcoming Incentive Auction.

Consumer Advocates Ask the FCC to Protect the Network Compact

Location:
Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC, 20554, United States
Recommendation:
2

Public Knowledge, The Utility Reform Network (TURN), and ten other public interest groups (including the Benton Foundation) and state consumer advocates asked the Federal Communications Commission to investigate reports indicating carriers are forcing customers off of traditional copper-based phone service. In their letter, the groups list examples of complaints from California, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and DC, where customers say they have been told their copper lines will not be repaired and have been pressured to move onto fiber-based or wireless service without notice of the differences between those products and the traditional copper-based service they have relied on.

Schools Could Be on Internet 'Slow Track' Under Proposed FCC Rules

Location:
Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC, 20554, United States
Recommendation:
3

Questions arose about whether schools will have to stand in line for acceptable speeds of Internet access under proposed new rules floated by the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

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The Public Interest Communications Law Project and the Benton Senior Counselor

Location:
Georgetown University Law Center, 600 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, United States
Recommendation:
4

The Benton Foundation and Georgetown Law are establishing the Public Interest Communications Law Project, under which Andrew Jay Schwartzman will serve as the Benton Senior Counselor at Georgetown Law’s Institute for Public Representation (IPR).

FCC Adopts Order on Reconsideration Regarding The Tribune Company

Location:
Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC, 20554, United States
Recommendation:
2

The United Church of Christ, the Media Alliance, and Charles Benton (yes, that Charles Benton) asked the Federal Communications Commission to reconsider its decision granting the applications to transfer control of Tribune Company and its licensee subsidiaries from its former shareholders to Sam Zell, The Tribune Employee Stock Ownership Plan as implemented through the Tribune Employee Stock Ownership Trust, and EGI-TRB, LLC. In that decision, the FCC also granted the broadcast license renewal applications filed by Tribune for four of its stations. The FCC has denied the petition for reconsideration.

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Principles for a Successful IP Transition: Innovation

Location:
Benton Foundation, 1250 Connecticut Ave, NW, Washington, DC, 20036, United States
Recommendation:
2

High-quality networks across the country will ensure that people in all communities have the ability to create, invent, and use products and services that can enhance our world. Broad access to high speed IP networks is essential to making sure technology continues to evolve. Just as important, however, is ensuring that a regulatory regime is in place that allows development of the next big thing to continue unabated.

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Principles for a Successful IP Transition: Speed

Location:
Benton Foundation, 1250 Connecticut Ave, NW, Washington, DC, 20036, United States
Recommendation:
2

In replacing the public switched telephone network (PSTN), consumers need truly high speed networks with low-latency and jitter so that these networks are capable of fully supporting legacy PSTN services like faxing, modems, and text telephone (TTY) services that are sensitive to network quality. All stakeholders we spoke with agreed that people want fast networks. That said, the issue of equity when it comes to Internet speed is a strongly held value among many advocates. Their stance relies on language going all the way back to the 1934 Communications Act that addresses access to similar services no matter where subscribers reside. The issue is complicated, however, and technically challenging. Although progress is being made in increasing the speed of transporting data over wireless-based networks, most areas are still a work in progress. More and more people, led by communities of color, are relying on smartphones as their main connection to the Internet – most often because of cost. On top of that, rural areas will become increasingly dependent on the technology as people in remote areas see their old wired networks retired and replaced by wireless. Given that reality, how should the FCC proceed?

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Principles for a Successful IP Transition: Robustness and Resiliency

Location:
Benton Foundation, 1250 Connecticut Ave, NW, Washington, DC, 20036, United States
Recommendation:
2

The universal service concept has, perhaps, most frequently been promoted as a way to ensure that all Americans have a way to contact the authorities in the event of an emergency to preserve life and limb. And, so, when it comes to using the telephone or any telecommunications service, a basic question is whether it will work. The public switched telephone network (PSTN), renowned for its reliability for both making and receiving calls, is powered internally so that it can continue operating even when power is lost for days. Moreover, it steers first responders to the address from which a call is made. The same can’t always be said for wireless or fiber-based networks that have battery backup, which often only lasts for hours before failing. To ensure public safety, consumers need to be able to rely on networks in emergencies.

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Benton Foundation Statement on Open Internet Ruling

Location:
Benton Foundation, 1250 Connecticut Ave, NW, Washington, DC, 20036, United States
Recommendation:
2

We are disappointed in today’s Court of Appeals ruling. The decision puts at risk the Internet we have come to know and rely upon. While we continue to digest the opinion, we look forward to policymakers taking the appropriate steps to continue to maintain the open and neutral Internet which has made the rapid innovations in Internet-enabled products and services possible – and revolutionized the way we communicate, participate, create, and do business. Americans deserve a continued level playing field where consumers can make their own choices about what applications and services to use, and where consumers are free to decide what content they want to access, create, or share with others.

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Principles for a Successful IP Transition: Trustworthiness

Location:
Benton Foundation, 1250 Connecticut Ave, NW, Washington, DC, 20036, United States
Recommendation:
2

At its January 30 open meeting, the Federal Communications Commission will propose a series of experiments utilizing all-IP networks. Those experiments will allow the networks, their users, the FCC and the public to assess the impact and potential of all-IP networks on consumers, customers and businesses in all parts of our country. In a recent blog post about the FCC's agenda, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wrote, "The best way to speed technology transitions is to incent network investment and innovation by preserving the enduring values that consumers and businesses have come to expect." He identified consumer protection as one of those key values. Consumer protections are largely seen as being built into traditional telephone networks. Will they continue as we transition to broadband networks? As technology moves forward, consumers must retain key protections that ensure a fair and safe experience. This includes, but is not limited to, consumer protections like privacy, truth-in-billing, blocking unwanted solicitation and preventing cramming and slamming.

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Chairman’s Year End Message 2013

Location:
Benton Foundation, 1250 Connecticut Ave, NW, Washington, DC, 20036, United States
Recommendation:
2

The New Year is both a time to reflect on the challenges and accomplishments of the past 12 months and a time to be excited about the future. As the Benton Foundation closes 2013, here’s what I’m most proud of – and what has me reenergized for 2014. The Benton Foundation believes that everyone in this nation should be able to fully participate in the digital age. The work we choose to do directly impacts vulnerable populations – the millions of our fellow Americans who still have no access to home broadband and the millions more still not connected to high-speed broadband – services many of us take for granted. These gaps have to be closed. For that reason we have devoted staff resources to four areas that we feel can help address broadband access and adoption challenges: 1) Lifeline Modernization and Reform, 2) E-rate and ConnectED, 3) The Telephone to Broadband (IP) Transition, and 4) Broadband Adoption by Low-Income, Elderly Consumers.

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Principles for a Successful IP Transition: Interconnection

Location:
Benton Foundation, 1250 Connecticut Ave, NW, Washington, DC, 20036, United States
Recommendation:
2

In US telecommunications law, interconnection is defined as “the linking of two networks for the mutual exchange of traffic.” Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler recently described Internet interconnection this way: "The Internet . . . it is a collection, not a thing. It is the 'Inter' net, short for its original description, 'Internetworking,' because multiple open, disparate networks exchange information seamlessly. Absent the interconnection of the parts of the collective we call the Internet there is no Internet.” Chairman Wheeler went on to insist that ensuring “the Internet exists as a collection of open, interconnected facilities is a highly appropriate subject” for federal regulators. An IP transition from traditional telephone to broadband networks that enables competition simply won’t be able to occur if competitors are unable to interconnect in areas where there is legacy market power. Regulators must ensure that competing network providers are able to interconnect in areas where there is legacy market power. Subscribers must be able to reach subscribers on any other network.

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Principles for a Successful IP Transition: Competition

Location:
Benton Foundation, 1250 Connecticut Ave, NW, Washington, DC, 20036, United States
Recommendation:
2

One of the core tenants of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 has been that competition enables consumers to benefit from lower prices, new services, new investment, and more innovation. In the National Broadband Plan, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said, “Competition is crucial for promoting consumer welfare and spurring innovation and investment in broadband access networks. Competition provides consumers the benefits of choice, better service and lower prices.” In our ongoing series highlighting our 10 interrelated principles to help policymakers guide the transition from traditional telephone service to emerging broadband networks, we turn today to Competition. Competition means deploying high-speed IP networks throughout the country and enabling many innovative, community-based broadband options. Policymakers should be wary of arguments that seek to advance IP networks and the IP transition merely by deregulating services at the expense of competition.

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Principles for a Successful IP Transition: Openness

Location:
Benton Foundation, 1250 Connecticut Ave, NW, Washington, DC, 20036, United States
Recommendation:
2

If our broadband networks are going to replace our analog voice networks, then they must be able to support robust voice and video competition -- even if those services compete directly with services offered by the incumbent broadband network provider.

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Principles for a Successful IP Transition: Diversity

Location:
Benton Foundation, 1250 Connecticut Ave, NW, Washington, DC, 20036, United States
Recommendation:
2

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has for many years adopted policies to promote diversity; it should continue to embrace this goal as it helps guide the transition from traditional telephone service to emerging broadband networks.