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Posts Tagged ‘FCC’

Welcoming Wheeler – Help libraries remain beacons of 21st century learning

In Uncategorized on January 10, 2014 at 11:08 am

My prepared comments from the Voices for Internet Freedom Town Hall with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. I will post edited video here when it’s ready. In the meantime, you can watch the livestream here. I learned so much from all of the amazing speakers. Thanks to Center for Media Justice and Free Press for organizing this important conversation. Hopefully it’s the first of many with the commissioners.

Voices for Internet Freedom LogoJanuary 9, 2014 (Oakland, CA) Greetings Commissioner Wheeler. I’m here tonight as a public librarian, and I’m proud to say Oakland Public Library — like most libraries — is a beloved hub for digital learning, e-government, media participation and creation.

I’m also here because – despite great strides – more than 60% of libraries in California lack the bandwidth to meet public demand each day.[1] Including Oakland, where we’re years away from achieving ConnectED’s minimum goal of 100Mbps and light-years from seeing 1Gbps. (As of 2012, only 17% of California libraries had connections above 10-30Mbps).

Libraries and schools are the heartbeat of truly connected communities, but technologically too many rely on a virtual defibrillator to reboot each day and keep going.

Just today — Governor Brown released his budget proposing millions for high-speed Internet. It’s a step in the right direction but we need your support.

If I had more time, I’d tell you in-depth stories about the day I arrived to 50 people waiting outside for computers. Section 8 applications had opened. Entirely online.

Or the day I helped a mother, recently laid off, look for trucking jobs. She had 20 years of experience but every job listing posed a new challenge in technical know-how.

Or… I’d talk about the students who wait patiently for computers afterschool only to have the connection lag. How many hours have they spent watching the page load?

We all know what happens at rush hour. When you cram hundreds of drivers onto a single lane highway. You get a traffic jam. The FCC can help us widen the lanes.

As Chair, you can help libraries remain beacons of 21st century learning by:

  • Raising the e-Rate funding cap.
  • Streamlining the process while ensuring that funds go where they are needed most (based on community poverty levels and cost of service).
  • Reducing barriers to deployment.
  • And protecting an open Internet through Net Neutrality — so youth like Obasi Davis (who opened tonight’s event with a poem) can remain media creators, not just media consumers.

Libraries still provide the only reliable Internet access for more than half our patrons. Don’t let us flatline.

We look forward to working with you, Commissioner Wheeler. Thank you for your time.

D.C. Court Delivers Bad News for Net Neutrality

In law, net neutrality, open access on April 7, 2010 at 8:49 am

According to the DC Circuit Court, it’s OK for Comcast to block, slow down or otherwise obstruct access to content like YouTube and music sites. This is very bad news for users. Given that telecom corporations have already restricted user access to certain sites, it is not hard to imagine the cascade of censorship corps will now feel emboldened to pursue — for profit and/or political reasons.

Urge the FCC to Continue Fighting for Users’ Rights.
Act Now at SavetheInternet.org.

Read more:

U.S. Court Curbs FCC Authority on Web Traffic
New York Times, by Edward Wyatt

“The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dealt a sharp blow to the efforts of the Federal Communications Commission to set the rules of the road for the Internet, ruling that the agency lacks the authority to require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all Internet traffic flowing over their networks. The decision specifically concerned the efforts of Comcast, the nation’s largest cable provider, to slow down customers’ access to a service called BitTorrent, which is used to exchange large video files, most often pirated copies of movies. But Tuesday’s court ruling has far larger implications than just the Comcast case. The ruling would allow Comcast and other Internet service providers to restrict consumers’ ability to access certain kinds of Internet content, such as video sites like Hulu.com or Google’s YouTube service, or charge certain heavy users of their networks more money for access. Google, Microsoft and other big producers of Web content have argued that such controls or pricing policies would thwart innovation and customer choice. Consumer advocates said the ruling, one of several that have challenged the FCC’s regulatory reach, could also undermine all of the FCC’s efforts to regulate Internet service providers and establish its authority over the Internet, including its recently released national broadband plan.” >FULL ARTICLE

Read the decision (US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit)

Additional Coverage (gathered by Benton Foundation):

Court Backs Comcast Over FCC on ‘Net Neutrality’ (WSJ)

FCC’s Net neutrality plans in turmoil (USAToday)

US internet reform plan hit by court ruling (Financial Times)

Google, Skype Set Back as Ruling Puts Web in ‘No-Man’s Land’ (Bloomberg)

Key Takeaways for Libraries from FCC National Broadband Plan

In broadband, community partnerships, information policy, library funding, open access, telecommunications reform on March 18, 2010 at 7:56 am

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts (here and here), the FCC’s National Broadband Plan came out this week. The 360-page document is a worthwhile read. Below are some key takeaways related to libraries and our constituents.

The FCC writes, “If this plan succeeds, every American community will have affordable access to far better broadband performance than they enjoy today. To do so, the plan makes recommendations about reforming the E-rate and the Rural Health Care support programs. Second, non-profit and public institutions should be able to find efficient alternatives for greater connectivity through aggregated efforts. … Schools, libraries and health care facilities must all have the connectivity they need to achieve their purposes” (See Chapter 2, Goal 4).

Of particular note is the reminder that, “Over half (51%) of African Americans and 43% of Hispanics who use the Internet do so at a public library.”[1] The three primary issues inhibiting equitable Internet access are affordability, digital literacy and relevance. All three of these issues impact library services. And as more and more basic social services move online, libraries must continue to address the literacy gaps and whittle away at the perception (by 19% of people surveyed) that the Internet’s merely a “waste of time.”

To this end, the plan calls for capacity-building among community partners stating, “…public computing centers provide more than just free access to the Internet. They provide supportive environments for reluctant and new users to begin to explore the Internet, become comfortable using it and develop the skills needed to find, utilize and create content.[2] Patrons of these centers overwhelmingly express the value of the personnel who staff them and can offer one-on-one help, training or guidance”[3] New LSTA grants and training programs for library personnel are key components of the plan.

The plan also calls for the creation of a “Digital Literacy Corps” to support programs that close the digital knowledge divide. Chicago Public Library’s CyberNavigators program is one successful example. Libraries across the country should harness this opportunity to shape new local programs and promote existing models. The plan asks Congress to increase funding for IMLS, which, if accomplished, will open incredible avenues for community partnerships, literacy programs and equipment upgrades.

Other highlights include recommendations to ensure greater affordability and speed, increase competition and consumer protections, restructure the E-Rate program, expand rural broadband access, and improve public safety and communications access for people with disabilities. The FCC found that, “An important and cross-cutting issue is accessibility for people with disabilities. Some 39% of all non-adopters have a disability, much higher than the 24% of overall survey respondents who have a disability.”[4] Major barriers include the lack of accessible websites, software, equipment and the connection speed needed to use crucial adaptive tools like VoIP. As any librarian will tell you, many people with disabilities only have access to basic adaptive equipment at their libraries. The plan concludes, “The federal government must promote innovative and affordable solutions to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to communications services and that they do not bear disproportionate costs to obtain that access.”

The Broadband Plan was shaped by input from all corners of the U.S.; yet, it was a broad grassroots effort that assured rural and Indigenous communities, people of color, low-income residents and small businesses were heard. These groups collected stories from digital “haves and have-nots,” met with FCC Commissioners, hosted teach-ins, and garnered media attention to educate the public.

There are a number of outstanding issues and next steps to ensure this plan is implemented. Libraries should not miss the opportunity to partner with these community-based groups and localize our policy advocacy work. Our local communities will be better served for it. One step in this direction: yesterday the California Library Association’s (CLA) Intellectual Freedom Committee signed the grassroots Digital Inclusion Pledge. Representing 3,000 members in California, CLA joined dozens of other state and local groups. I encourage other local libraries and associations to do so as well.
NOTES:

[1] See National Broadband Plan, Chapter 9: FN 77, Jon P. Gant et al., National Minority Broadband Adoption: Comparative Trends in Adoption, Acceptance and Use, Jt. Ctr. for Pol. & Econ. Stud. 3 (2010) (Gant et al., National Minority Broadband Adoption).

[2] See National Broadband Plan, Chapter 9: FN 89, American Library Association Comments in re NBP PN #16, filed Dec. 2, 2009, at 3.

[3] See National Broadband Plan, Chapter 9: FN 90, Dharma Dailey et al., Broadband Adoption at 27–28.

[4] See National Broadband Plan, Chapter 9: FN 10, Horrigan, Broadband Adoption and Use in America at 24, 7.

Community and Advocacy Groups Respond to Broadband Plan

In broadband, information policy, media justice, telecommunications reform on March 17, 2010 at 6:51 am

Following up my post yesterday summarizing National Broadband news, here are two more excellent commentaries on the FCC’s new plan:

Community Groups Applaud Broadband Plan…But Say There’s Still a Ways to Go
Center for Media Justice

A Man. A Plan. A Problem. The Internet
Free Press

Information Round-up: FCC’s Broadband Plan Released Today

In broadband, information access, information policy, telecommunications reform, Uncategorized on March 16, 2010 at 9:13 am

Today, the Federal Communications Commission released its plan for national broadband expansion. The plan, titled Connecting America, was mandated by the 2009 Recovery Act.

But, what does it all mean? Consumer rights groups have pressed for more regulation to assure accessible and affordable Internet for all, while large broadcasters oppose FCC interference in opening the market to more competition and regulation. There’s been a lot of David vs. Goliath metaphors out there, but one thing everyone agrees on is that the national plan is one thing and its implementation is another. (And, yes, digital and information literacy is yet another, as the Washington Post reminded us today).

Since many of us only know a cursory amount about broadband, below are links to background, news and analysis about the plan.

BACKGROUND

What is Broadband?
Federal Communications Commission

Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan
Federal Communications Commission

NEWS

FCC Plan Urges Faster, Wider Broadband Internet Access (video)
Consumers cite “cost and digital literacy” as main obstacles; FCC: “this plan is a win-win”
PBS News Hour

FCC National Broadband Plan: What It Means for You
Chloe Albanesius, PC Magazine

Broadband Plan Faces Hurdles
Amy Schatz, Wall Street Journal

FCC Broadband Plan Wins General Praise
Grant Gross, Computer World

ANALYSIS

Standing Ovation for National Broadband Plan
Center for Creative Voices in Media

Statement of the Media Access Project in Reaction to FCC National Broadband Plan
Media Access Project

NAB Statement on National Broadband Plan
National Association of Broadcasters

Open Internet is Crucial for Equity, Opportunity, Innovation

In information access, media justice, net neutrality, open access, racial justice on January 15, 2010 at 7:13 am

I definitely recommend reading this important brief filed by a broad coalition of racial justice and information freedom groups, including my organizational alma mater. Background:

January 15, 2010 – In an historic day for the Federal Communications Commission and the Internet, the Media Action Grassroots Network, ColorofChange.org, Presente.org, Applied Research Center, Afro-Netizen, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Native Public Media and Rural Broadband Policy Group submitted a range of grassroots stories and comments from urban, rural and struggling sub-urban communities in response to the Commission’s notice of proposed rule making “In the Matter of Preserving the Open Internet and Broadband Industry Practices.”

The groups’ comments speak to the urgent need for an open and free Internet for low to no income, rural, Native American, African American and Latino communities.

“Like telephones, the Internet is increasingly an essential part of everyone’s daily lives,” says Malkia Cyril, Executive Director of Center for Media Justice, which coordinates the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAGNet). “Ensuring strong rules to keep the Internet free and open for communities in the midst of a widening digital divide is fundamental to a vibrant and representative democracy, and cultural and human rights.”

The groups say without strong “Net Neutrality” rules to keep content on the Internet accessible to all, communities most in need may end up “virtually redlined” from of the innovation and opportunity that springs from a free and open Internet.

“In a democratic society, every idea must have a chance to flourish and all people should be able to access legal content equally and without fear of foul play,” says Amalia Deloney, MAGNet coordinator. “People use [the Internet] to find jobs, access health services, obtain education resources, advocate for representation, increase connection, and its an important tool to build strong and healthy communities in low-income neighborhoods of color.”

The groups’ comments can be found online here.

Weigh In on Open Internet Access

In information policy, net neutrality, open access, telecommunications reform on April 16, 2009 at 9:10 am

ife-latest1The Internet for Everyone Coalition is asking for public input on the importance of universal Internet access. The brief survey asks for public recommendations to the Federal Communications Commission and the Obama Administration.

Free Press explains: “President Obama and Congress have tasked the FCC with developing a national broadband plan by the end of 2009. We want to be sure Washington is committed to finding people-powered solutions to bridge America’s digital divide… By taking the survey, you’re ensuring that people outside of the beltway have a say in America’s national broadband plan. Your top recommendations from the survey will help determine our next steps as Free Press and the InternetforEveryone.org coalition work to shape better Internet policy.”

Take the survey here.

I took it in under 5 minutes.