Monday, November 30, 2009

Deja Vu All Over Again: Federal Broadband Stimulus Public Comment Site Generates Delays & Faulty Postings 11/30/09 Boston - The federal online site supporting the filing of public comments for a potential revamp of the rules for the Recovery Act's broadband stimulus program has generated delays and garbled filings throughout today, the deadline for comment period opened on November 16.

Earlier this evening, inquired of the lead media relations personnel at the two agencies managing the program as to the apparent faults being generated by the electronic filing system. As of this posting, the federal employees are still working to answer our questions. We will issue updates as we receive public and attributable information from our agency contacts.

As the public comment deadline of 5:00 PM (ET) today drew closer this afternoon the site hosting the filing of comments became delayed it its posting of ingoing comments for periods ranging from 20 to 45 minutes. Following approximately 4:15 PM, delays ranged from 1 hour to 5 hours, growing longer into the late afternoon and evening.

Given that under the published rules for the comment cycle today at 5:00 PM was a 'hard deadline' after which late filed comments may be rejected, the delay becomes an important consideration in terms of how it is regarded by the agency managing the comment receipt and posting processes.

Additionally, and significantly for the hundreds of individuals, firms, service providers, civic organizations, and state and local governmental agencies attempting to issue comments, as many as half of the comments posted in any given group of filings appear to be garbled and illegible.

For observers of, and participants in, the broadband stimulus program, today's systemic faults are more than a bit of
déjà vu all over again. The public comment system which accepted the first round of comments, with a deadline of April 13, similarly caused delays, and generated some allegations that comments were labeled 'late filed' by NTIA as a result of the system's inability to process comments in a timely manner.

More infamously, the online system operated by a private contractor which hosted the filings of funding Round I applications broke down several times during August. The filing deadline was extended multiple times, to the angst of both applicants and agency chiefs testifying to congressional oversight committees, as a result.

The site in use currently is maintained by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) jointly on behalf of its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and its sister agency, the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The two agencies are charged by Congress, in the Recovery Act, with managing the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus program.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

William J. Bresnan, Cable Industry Pioneer, Dies at 75 11/28/09 Boston - Cable television industry pioneer William J. Bresnan died Friday, November 27th, at his home in Greenwich, CT from complications of cancer.

Mr. Bresnan's death was announced today by Bresnan Communications, the privately held cable multiple system operator (MSO) headquartered in Purchase, NY which he founded in 1984 and served as Chairman of until his death. His 50-year career in the industry began as an engineer in the earliest days of the business and led first to leadership posts in some of the industry’s largest cable companies and ultimately to the founding of his own company.

Mr. Bresnan was predeceased by his wife of 43 years, Barbara Boettcher Bresnan, with whom he had six children. He is survived by his current wife Ann Lessing Bresnan, her five children, his six children, 11 grandchildren and a brother and sister.

Born in Mankato, MN, Mr. Bresnan designed and built his first cable system in nearby Rochester, MN at the age of 25. When that system was acquired by West Coast entrepreneur Jack Kent Cooke in 1965, he joined the Cooke executive team. Cooke’s holdings ultimately were merged with TelePrompTer Corporation, at that time the nation’s largest cable operating company. Mr. Bresnan served as President of TelePrompTer’s Cable Television Division from 1974 to 1981, at which time Westinghouse Electric purchased TelePrompTer and Mr. Bresnan became Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the new company, Group W Cable.

He left that post in 1984 to found Bresnan Communications, which first operated cable systems in Michigan's Upper Peninsular, and then expanded with systems in Georgia, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Wisconsin. Bresnan International Partners, launched in 1994, operated systems in Chile and Poland. Mr. Bresnan’s operational signature was to be a provider of advanced telecom services to small and mid-sized communities.

In commenting on Mr. Bresnan’s passing, Jeffrey S. DeMond, Chief Executive Officer of Bresnan Communications, said, “Bill Bresnan hired good, smart people and led by example. He gave us the mission to succeed not just by doing things right but by doing the right thing as well, and each of our lives is richer for having learned from him. His final lesson to all of us was his valiant battle against cancer, fought fiercely and with never a complaint.”

Kyle McSlarrow, President & CEO, of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) said upon hearing of Mr. Bresnan’s passing “This is an irreplaceable and heartbreaking loss. Bill Bresnan was one of our industry’s titans – an industry pioneer, visionary entrepreneur, and technology leader who built companies that always put employees and customers first.”

Throughout his career Mr. Bresnan was deeply involved with all of the major industry associations, serving on numerous Boards of Directors. He often testified on the industry’s behalf before the FCC and U.S. Congressional committees on a wide range of legislative and regulatory issues. Long cited as one of the industry’s leading champions of technological advancement, Mr. Bresnan played a key role in the development of the first domestic satellite transmission for cable as well as the implementation of the country’s first commercial fiber optic communications system.

He was the recipient of virtually every award and recognition within the cable industry,
and was inducted into both the Cable Television Hall of Fame and the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame.

A memorial service will be held at St. Mary’s Church at 178 Greenwich Ave. in Greenwich, CT on Wednesday, December 2nd at 11 am. The wake will be held Monday, November 30th and Tuesday, December 1st between 4 pm and 8 pm at the Leo P. Gallagher & Sons funeral home at 31 Arch Street also in Greenwich.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Breaking News: FCC Responds to Proprietary Data Request from NTIA for Broadband Stimulus Program

Incumbents Have Until December 7 to Tell FCC Why Data Should Not Be Released to Federal Agency

(Editor's Note: This story was first published at 11:32 AM, today. It was updated with 3 items in the Updates section, and with greater detail on the FCC Form 477, at 10:00 PM.) 11/27/09 Boston
- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has opened a public proceeding which responds to a request for proprietary broadband commercial information made by one of the two federal agencies managing the Obama Administration's $7.2 billion broadband stimulus program mandated by the Recovery Act.

The proceeding, and the information request which triggered it, both go to the heart of the intense debate within the U.S. telecommunications industry over the definitions of areas of the nation which are "unserved" and "underserved" by broadband networks.

The proceeding was engendered by the issuance of a letter, dated November 23, to Ms. Sharon E. Gillett, Chief of the FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB), from Mr. Anthony G. Wilhelm, Director of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce. NTIA, together with the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are the two agencies which jointly administer the broadband stimulus program.

FCC Form 477: Key to Unserved & Underserved Data Smackdown?
In specific, Mr. Wilhelm requested access to the FCC's entire current national database of so-called Form 477 data. As the FCC's Public Notice states, "The Commission collects information about broadband connections to end user locations, wired and wireless local telephone services, and interconnected Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) services in individual states on FCC Form 477."

Service providers are required to disclose on the Form 477 where they operate broadband facilities. The aggregate of such data, retained by the WCB, could thus become a key element in validating the claims of broadband stimulus fund applicants as to "unserved" and "underserved" areas of the U.S. Under the provisions of the federal Recovery Act, and of the rules established for the current Round I of the program, broadband stimulus funds are targeted at "unserved" and "underserved" areas.

Given the long and successful effort by incumbent carriers to keep information about where their broadband facilities are deployed, and what subscriber "take rates" are for specific services at very localized levels, defining what areas are "served, unserved, and underserved" is especially difficult to determine.

The Wilhelm letter (cited as the NTIA Request Letter in the Public Notice), as directly quoted in the FCC Public Notice, states that NTIA "intends to use this data to help validate the served or underserved classifications of the BTOP applicants' proposed funded service areas."

Significantly, we think the reason for the issuance of the letter at this juncture, well into funding Round I of the broadband stimulus program, is referenced (emphasis ours) in the opening line of the Commission's Public Notice. As the document states, "The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is evaluating applications and comments to the applications that it has received from broadband service providers in its administration of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP)."

Incumbent service providers were allowed to issue Public Notice Filings stating that they operate broadband networks in "proposed service areas" in which funding applicants seek to build new networks with broadband stimulus funds. Thus, NTIA is now in the position of having to judge the claims and counter claims of applicants vs. incumbents in literally thousands of individual communities around the nation. Of threshold importance to the validity of those claims and counter claims is the underlying veracity of the "served, unserved, or undeserved" status of given locations.

In the NTIA Request Letter in the Public Notice, Director Wilhelm further stated the obligation of his agency to keep confidential data, derived from the the carriers and other service providers reporting information via their Form 477 filings, at NTIA on a continuing confidential nondisclosure basis.

Public Comment Deadline of December 7
In the Public Notice, below, issued on Wednesday, November 25, the WCB opened a public comment period with a deadline of December 7. During the comment period, incumbent communications service providers have the right to argue that all or some of their submitted "confidential and proprietary information" should not be subject to disclosure to NTIA, under either continuing nondisclosure or otherwise.

1. has requested a copy of the NTIA Request Letter of 11/23/09 from the 2 relevant agencies (FCC and NTIA). We will post same as soon as we receive it from either of the agencies. As of 9:30 PM we have not received the document, and now project we will go through the weekend without receiving the document for publication here, or seeing same posted on a federal site.

2. Mr. Mark Wigfield, of the media relations section of FCC-WCB informed us by email this afternoon that the Wilhelm request letter is not in the FCC "docket yet, but should be by next week."

3. To better facilitate tracking of the docket, via the FCC's electronic filing system, Mr. Wigfield kindly notes the "docket number in the footnote (footnote 1 of the Public Notice) is in error", the
NTIA Request Letter and all other docket items "should be searched under docket number 09-214." The WCB spokesperson stated that the error will be corrected.

Our deep content resources at on Scribd are being updated with background documents from agencies and the industry to assist our readers in understanding this developing issue.
FCC Public Notice in DA-09-2502A1 - Notice of Request for FCC Form 477 Data by NTIA Released: 11-25-2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Stimulating Global Broadband: ARRIS Rolls Out DOCSIS® 3.0 Broadband Access Across the Czech Republic

ARRIS Enables Czech Republic To Beat U.S. Wideband Penetration With National DOCSIS 3.0 Launch 11/23/09 Boston
- Proving the ongoing strength of the innovation-enabled American telecom equipment sector, ARRIS Group Inc. (NASDAQ: ARRS) today announced that it has deployed its DOCSIS 3.0 C4® CMTS via 4 multiple system cable operators (MSOs) across the Czech Republic.

Given the footprint of its in-country cable operator customers, the firm estimates that a full "..93% of the Czech Republic’s 1.2 million homes passed by cable are served" by the firm's wideband technology, according to a company press release of earlier today.

This national wideband penetration figure is particularly significant as most current analysis of the U.S. broadband market sees American operators reaching 100% of cable homes passed with DOCSIS 3.0 no sooner than 4 to 5 years from now. For example, a March 2009 report issued by Pike & Fischer covering only the U.S. domestic market projects "...
that the top cable operators will have DOCSIS 3.0 covering 100% of homes passed by the end of 2013."

Working with its Czech value added reseller (VAR), LICA s.r.o., the Suwanee, GA based broadband gear maker is rolling-out the DOCSIS 3.0 wideband service through operators Elsat s.r.o., BKS Capital Partners, Self Servis, and Kabelova Televize Koprivnice.

The ARRIS DOCSIS 3.0 CMTS solution consists of the C4 CMTS and WBM760B wideband modems, capable of delivering very high speed data service. The technology is based on the DOCSIS 3.0 standard that supports both Upstream and Downstream channel bonding capabilities.
“We are most pleased to be able to provide our Czech Republic customers with the most reliable CMTS solution for their growing subscriber needs,” said ARRIS SVP EMEA Sales Claudio Cerioli. “European cable subscribers have come to expect the highest quality Internet experience and the ARRIS C4 CMTS has the availability, density and reliability that delivers.” 

Made In America: Infinera ATN Gains RUS Listing for Deployment Under Federal Rural Telecom Program

The Ongoing Value of RUS 'Made In America' Certification 11/23/09 Boston -
Infinera Corporation (NASDAQ: INFN), the digital optical network equipment maker based in Sunnyvale, CA, announced last week that its ATN metro edge platform has been certified by the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture as suitable for deployment under the telecom programs of RUS.

The RUS listing will enable telecom service providers building rural networks under the RUS program to take advantage of the simplicity, flexibility, and ease of operations of Infinera’s new ATN metro edge platform, according to the company's press release of November 20. The USDA’s Rural Development Telecommunications program provides loans and grants to support the extension of broadband networks into rural areas and to support distance learning and telemedicine initiatives.

“RUS listing is an important milestone for the ATN, as it will make it easier for small, rural telecom companies and other broadband consortia to deploy the ATN and take advantage of its powerful advantages in speed, simplicity, and flexibility,” stated Paul Morkel, Infinera Director of Product Applications in the release.

RUS Made in America Advantage: Value to Gear Makers
As readers of well know, the ability of RUS to promote broadband networks was expanded greatly this year by President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which appropriated $2.5 billion to the RUS, out of a total broadband stimulus budget of $7.2 billion.

As we have previously reported, because of the congressional mandate given to the RUS legacy rural telecom programs first inaugurated in 1949, RUS has used this baseline appropriation in ARRA to leverage what agency managers believe will be a total program spend of $7 billion - $9 billion. The first effort by RUS to certificate U.S. manufactured equipment for use in its rural telephony program was launched in 1953, and branded Made in America at the time.

Currently, under the rules of the broadband stimulus program, issued officially on July 9, for the Round I funding cycle, neither RUS nor its sister agency, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the Department of Commerce, grant any competitive points or other incentives to service providers using equipment from manufacturers that are certificated under the RUS Made in America program.

Although USDA officials have continued to state they welcome the use of such RUS-accepted gear by applicants for funding, and despite the strong calls by organized labor to strictly enforce the Buy America provisions of ARRA, those provisions were waived for most categories of telecom equipment in Round I.

American network equipment makers that have appreciable levels of foreign content in their global supply chains exerted intense lobbying pressure on the Obama Administration against strict domestic content rules for the broadband programs under ARRA. Leading gear maker Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) was in the forefront of the successful effort which resulted in the issuance of Buy America waivers by the Secretaries of Agriculture and Commerce in July of this year.

No allowance has been made to proactively favor certificated manufacturers that have their equipment included in bills of materials within provider's applications submitted for ARRA funding.

Even if the rules now being worked on by NTIA and RUS for the second and final funding round of
the "broadband stim" program are not amended to give such incentives, the Telecommunications Programs of the Rural Development section of USDA will continue in the years ahead with funding under the various Farm Bills voted Congress.

Thus, wireline and wireless and wireline equipment makers that are RUS certified will continue to
gain competitive advantage in the rural provider market sector.

Gear makers that have announced RUS certification in recent months for specific products and product lines include: ADC Telecommunications, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADCT),
Alloptic, Alvarion, Ltd. (NASDAQ: ALVR), Aurora Networks, Axxcelera Broadband Wireless, Harris Stratex (NASDAQ: HSTX), Meraki Inc., Telco Systems, and Zhone Technologies (NASDAQ: ZHNE).

ATN Metro Edge Platform
The Infinera ATN metro edge platform is a compact, scalable metro edge platform offering flexible configurations to simplify and accelerate network deployment. The ATN has been designed to offer best-in-class density and power consumption, and to support all metro transport services, including Ethernet, SAN, SONET/SDH, OTN and video services.

Seamless integration with the Infinera DTN platform enables an end-to-end Infinera network to deliver ease of operation, capital expenditure savings, integrated bandwidth management, and the power of a single network management system.
Infinera is supporting customers nationwide who have applied for grants to build broadband networks to unserved and underserved communities, including anchor institutions such as schools, higher education, and health care facilities.

Infinera networks provide a scalable, cost-effective middle-mile solution with low-cost, simple operations ideal for the new wave of broadband networks. The new Infinera ATN has been purchased by large and small service providers in the US and overseas. Last month, Deltacom announced it had deployed the ATN in several metro markets in the southeastern U.S.

The Infinera DTN, the company's optical system for long-haul and metro core networks, was approved for RUS listing in February 2009.

The Infinera family of optical solutions includes the Infinera DTN, the first optical system based on large-scale photonic integrated circuits, and the Infinera ATN, a compact metro edge platform that extends Infinera’s Digital Optical Networks to the metro edge.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rural Utilities Service of USDA Issues Third Broadband Stimulus Report to Congress

Why It Matters that RUS Issues Separate Reports to Congress, Distinct from NTIA Reporting 11/18/09 Boston
- As required by provisions of the federal Recovery Act, the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) yesterday issued to Congress its third quarterly report on its conduct of the Act's broadband stimulus program. obtained a copy of the report this afternoon from an authorized representative of RUS, published below.

NTIA and RUS: Separate Reports
Each quarter, the two separate agencies which administer the broadband stimulus program, funded with $7.2 billion in appropriations under the Recovery Act, file separate reports to Congress about the program.

Two days ago, on November 16, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) issued its own quarterly report to Congress on its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). Yesterday, RUS issued its report on the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) which it administers.

Although their respective administrators, Jonathan Adelstein at RUS and Larry Strickling at NTIA, have appeared jointly at each congressional oversight hearing (following appointment delays for each) held on the program, they are running separate and legally distinct elements of the effort. Congress funded the NTIA and RUS portions of the program with separate appropriations, and charged each with distinct missions.

In the flurry of activity around broadband funding and telecom regulatory issues in Washington, it is often difficult to keep all of the moving pieces straight. At least one national trade publication today referred to the the BTOP report as a "joint report" authored by both agencies. That is incorrect information. It is an easy mistake to make. Such a mistake nonetheless obscures a true understanding of the often strained relationship between NTIA and RUS, and makes more difficult a strategic understanding of the possible future of the program in funding Round II.

Separate Agencies, Separate Reports: Why Does It Matter?
Why does this issue of separate agencies and separate reports to Congress matter?

It is is important to understand the separate programmatic elements of the broadband stimulus initiative because there are financial, regulatory, and going forward strategies that are distinct to two programs. Those distinct programs are managed by organizations that have very different histories and skill sets.

As we documented throughout the spring of this year, it was not at all a foregone conclusion that there would be one jointly issued set of rules (called a Notice of Funds Availability, or NOFA) for funding Round I. We were the first online service to talk about a "consolidated NOFA" during that time. We followed the twists and turns of the inter-agency decision making, and identified the entrance into the process of policy makers from the Administration who directed the unified NOFA.

It was that effort by personnel from the Executive Office of the President (EOP) that generated the single document of funding rules on July 1 (with the official Federal Register version following on July 9). We call that single set of issued rules NOFA-1, a document still in force as funding Round I moves ahead.

Why Does It Really Matter?
Neither administrator, Adelstein nor Strickling, have mentioned it in any of their seemingly continuous testimony in congressional oversight hearings, but there remains considerable tension between the line managers at the two agencies. That tension is both indicative of the two fully distinct organizations at the agencies, and of the different approaches to the program ahead under funding Round II.

RUS has a national staff of full time employees in Washington, and in regional and state field offices nationwide who administer legacy grant and loan programs. Those programs have their origin in the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt. NTIA has no such widely decentralized staff, nor programmatic capacity. It has not run a national grant program approaching the scale and scope of BTOP since the defunding of the much smaller Technology Opportunities Program (TOP) during the administration of George W. Bush.

Significantly, what RUS has -- and has had for rural telecom projects since 1949 - is congressional authority to issue loans. As seen in the recovery Act, NTIA is authorized to issue only grants under BTOP. RUS, via BIP, has authority to issue grants, loans, and grant - loan combinations. Congress assigned the loan responsibilities of broadband stimulus solely to RUS given its decades of experience in writing and administering literally billions of dollars in infrastructure loans.

For these reasons of differing program capacity, institutional experience, and project financing, there is today the strong chance that the two programs may be administered with a much greater degree of separation under the Round II funding round.

Yes, we understand that the 2 agencies are now managing a joint public comment cycle intended to frame the rules for Round II. We get that. Both administrators have explicitly and repeatedly talked of continued close cooperation. They are being honest and straight forward, but there are differences between the agencies that even the best managers can not fully overcome.

From our discussions with line and policy mangers in the agencies, we now believe it is a sure bet the BIP and BTOP programs will be managed in Round II with greater independence of each other. We believe this will be the case, even if the the concept of a second joint agency NOFA remains in force.

Stay tuned.

NTIA Document Release
NTIA's separate Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) Quarterly Program Status Report, issued on November 16, is available here. The document has been widely reported on and circulated on a variety of sites.

RUS Document Release
As we have before, we thank the hard working folks at RUS who, like their colleagues at NTIA, continue to do yeoman's duty under very difficult circumstances as the broadband stimulus program is rolled-out across the nation. We appreciate the effort to release the document to us, and expect the report will be posted soon on a federal site.

We have published the document at our deep content site StimulatingBroadband on Scribd, and make it available, here:

Broadband Stimulus Program Quarterly Report to Congress 3 - BIP Quarterly Report 3 Issued 11-17-2009

One Economy CEO Rey Ramsey Named Next TechNet President and CEO

Ramsey Remains Chairman of One Economy and Moustafa Mourad Becomes Acting President

BusinessWire via 11/18/09 - Rey Ramsey, CEO and Co-Founder of One Economy, a global nonprofit that leverages the power of technology to improve the lives of low-income people, has been named the next President and CEO of TechNet, a national, bipartisan network of CEOs.

During the beginning of 2010 Ramsey will remain Chairman of One Economy and assume leadership at TechNet. Moustafa Mourad will serve as Acting President of One Economy until the installation of One Economy’s new CEO.

As one of its founders in 2000, Ramsey has driven One Economy to expand the use of technology in improving the lives of those in underserved and unserved communities. Through the last decade One Economy has built a robust proof-of-concept. To date, One Economy has brought affordable broadband into the homes of more than 350,000 Americans, more than 17 million people have used One Economy’s online tools and resources, and over 3,000 Digital Connectors have contributed over 56,000 hours of service to infuse digital literacy into their communities. Under the leadership of Moustafa Mourad, One Economy has expanded into 12 countries spanning four continents.

Ramsey’s ability to speak the language of the corporate, NGO, and governmental sectors allows him to bridge diverse interests to work toward maximizing the potential of technology to improve the lives of people around the globe. With a presence in both organizations, Ramsey will be able to advance the power of innovation and technology as tools of economic empowerment.

Ramsey will also serve in a newly created Office of the Chair at One Economy where he will continue provide strategic direction One Economy programs and initiatives.

“Rey Ramsey will continue to assert the use of innovation and technology in addressing the most pressing issues that face the country and the globe,” said Moustafa Mourad, newly named Acting President of One Economy. “And with the current domestic and international hunger for implementing technology and pushing innovation, One Economy is poised to bring its programs to an unprecedented scale. It is my honor to support the momentum of this important global work with our One Economy team.”

“Moustafa Mourad has deep expertise in programmatic and on-the ground expansion of One Economy programs,” said Rey Ramsey, Chairman of One Economy. “Moustafa and I have worked shoulder-to-shoulder for the past 20 years. His leadership will be instrumental in fulfilling One Economy’s vision to bring programs and initiatives to scale both internationally and domestically.”

Moving forward, One Economy will continue its focus on three main areas: the Digital Connectors program, public purpose media, and international efforts. Mourad has worked on the senior leadership team at One Economy for nearly 5 years and is well positioned to help One Economy achieve full scale with its programs worldwide.

“Moustafa is a natural to serve as the Acting President as he provides the perfect blend of continuity, institutional leadership, and close proximity to One Economy programs throughout the globe,” said Zika Abzuk, Manager of Public Benefit Investment for Europe & Emerging Markets at Cisco Systems. “We anticipate One Economy programs will gain great strength within communities locally and worldwide.”

About One Economy

One Economy is a global non-profit organization that uses innovative approaches to deliver the power of technology and information to low-income people. More than 17 million people have used One Economy's online tools and resources to build better lives. To date, One Economy has launched on-the-ground programs in 42 U.S. states, Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. Learn more at

About Digital Connectors
The Digital Connectors program is One Economy’s flagship initiative that delivers 21st century technology training to young people from low-income backgrounds, who then share what they learn within their own communities. To date, more than 3,000 Digital Connectors have delivered more than 56,000 hours of technology focused community service. Learn more.

About Public Purpose Media
Public-purpose media is online content that engages, informs and inspires action. The Public Internet Channel,, is One Economy’s online network for public purpose media. Launched in 2006 by honorary co-chairs now-President Barack Obama and Senator John McCain, the Public Internet Channel features fiction and non-fiction programming that addresses topics such as health, money, and sustainable living. For more information visit:

About One Global Economy
One Global Economy is the international arm of One Economy Corporation. Currently in 12 countries spanning four continents, One Global Economy equips communities through local online content, distribution channels, and place-based initiatives to leverage innovation and technology to improve the lives of low-income people and those in the developing world. Visit One Economy’s Beehives for Rwanda and Ethiopia or One Global Economy to learn more.

McIntyre Releases Witness List for Broadband Stimulus Oversight Hearing by House Agriculture Subcommittee of 11/19 11/18/09 Boston - Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC-7), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Rural Development of the full Committee on Agriculture of the U.S. House, today released the witness list for tomorrow's oversight hearing on the broadband stimulus program of the federal Recovery Act.

The oversight hearing will be gavelled open tomorrow morning, November 19, at 11:00 AM (ET).

As they have at each congressional oversight hearing on the 'broadband stim' program since their respective appointments, the hearing will hear Administrator Jonathan Adelstein of the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Larry Strickling of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce. has this afternoon confirmed with Ms. April Demert Slayton, Communications Director of the Agriculture Committee, that the witness list is comprised on only the 2 listed administrators, Adelstein and Strickling, and that there will not be additional panels.

From the updated hearing Notice posted earlier today:

Thursday, November 19th - 11:00 a.m.
1300 Longworth House Office Building

Subcommittee on Rural Development, Biotechnology, Specialty Crops, and Foreign Agriculture - Public Hearing

RE: To review rural broadband programs funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Panel I
The Honorable Jonathan S. Adelstein, Administrator, Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

The Honorable Lawrence E. Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Chairman Velazquez & 20 Bipartisan Members of Congress: Fix Broadband Stimulus for Small Business

Chairman of House Small Business Committee and Hispanic Caucus Will Be Listened To by Administration 11/17/09 Boston
- Congresswoman Nydia M. Velazquez (D-NY-12), Chairwoman of the U.S. House Committee on Small Business, together with 20 bipartisan members of her Committee, today issued a letter to the 2 agency heads managing the Obama Administration's broadband stimulus program which calls for
specific reforms to the program on behalf of small business interests.

Echoing many of the bipartisan sentiments expressed during the Committee's oversight hearing of October 28, the letter introduced member's complaints stating, "despite the interest expressed in these programs, many concerns have been raised by small business with respect to their implementation."

We see today's letter as being significant on several fronts, not the least of which is the role of Chairwoman Velazquez (above, addressing the 2008 Democratic National Convention) herself as a wheel horse in the Democratic coalition responsible for both the election of President Obama, and control of both Houses on the Hill.

Priority on Unserved Tracts
Most significant in policy terms is the fact that the letter first and foremost calls for priority program spending in areas of the nation unserved by existing broadband networks. "To ensure that new infrastructure projects reach communities with the greatest need, prio
ritization should be given to areas without access to broadband," stated the missive. "It is the Committee's recommendation that funds should be targeted to areas which are first "unserved" and only then to 'udnerserved' areas, if funding remains."

Cable Operators as Small Business
A piece by John Eggerton in today's online Multichannel News credits the cable industry with such a strong enunciation, by a Committee Chair and Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, of the "underserved first" policy priority lobbied for by the cable sector.

We agree, with the not insignificant caveat (as also highlighted by Eggerton) that the real gain achieved by cable operators in expressing their broadband stimulus needs on Capitol Hill, especially to the Small Business Committee of the House, results from the work of small and medium sized operators and their trade association. While the ability of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) to deliver a message on the Hill can never be discounted, today's letter and the policy it represents is a reflection of the membership requirements and legislative focus of the American Cable Association (ACA).

Zhone Technologies Selected by Hardy Telecommunications to Bring High-Speed Broadband Services to Rural West Virginia

Hardy Leverages Zhone Platforms and Integrated Access Operating System to Deliver Advanced IP Services to Rural Homes and Businesses

Zhone Technologies via 11/17/09 Boston -Zhone Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: ZHNE), a global leader in network access solutions, announced today that Hardy Telecommunications has selected Zhone platforms and SLMS Access Operating System to expand tiered broadband offerings to business and residential customers throughout its rural West Virginia serving area.

Hardy will offer Voice over IP (VoIP) and high-speed data services using a combination of Zhone’s ADSL2+ and DSL Reach technologies integrated via the SLMS Access Operating System.

Known as the Mountain State, West Virginia’s topography is characterized by forested mountain ranges and deep valleys, making Zhone’s extended reach DSLAM technology critical to Hardy’s success in delivering broadband coverage to 99 percent of its serving area. Hardy offers service plans with data rates up to and beyond 6 Mbps, well above the national average. As of September 2009, the average broadband speed in the US was 4.2 Mbps, ranking only 18th internationally.

“Our experience with Zhone DSLAMs and modems, and the entire Zhone team is consistently outstanding, which made it an easy decision to choose Zhone for our ADSL2+ expansion,” said Bobby Armistead, Project and Internet Operations Manager for Hardy Telecommunications. “The products are high value and low-to-no maintenance and that level of reliability is very important to us given the vast geographical challenges and the number of locations we serve.” Hardy currently has over 100 Zhone platforms in 35 locations throughout its serving area, Mr. Armistead added.

“By delivering reliable high-speed data and VoIP with sophisticated call features, Hardy has contributed in a vital way to the quality of life for both businesses and families throughout the area,” said Michael Fischer, VP of US sales for Zhone.

“Zhone’s integrated approach to access networking provides clear visibility and greater network control which has proved invaluable given the considerable provisioning challenges presented by the rural topography.”

In addition to tiered broadband over copper and wireless services, Hardy plans to offer tiered bandwidth over fiber, VoIP over copper, VoIP over wireless and VoIP over fiber, further leveraging Zhone’s any service/any media technology portfolio.

About Hardy Telecommunications
Hardy Telecommunications, Inc. is a community owned telecommunications cooperative founded in 1953. Hardy is committed to providing exceptional customer service, innovation and technology at the best value to its members, all while enhancing the quality of life in the communities served. In the future, Hardy Telecommunications will continue to expand its serving area and add new services and technology to meet customer needs.

View Locations in a larger map

About Zhone Technologies — Access for a Converging World
Zhone Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: ZHNE) is a global leader in multi-service access solutions, serving more than 700 of the world's most innovative network operators. The company offers the industry's only fully-integrated portfolio of MSAP, FTTx, EFM and Wi-Fi access technologies, improving network agility and reducing the costs of delivering the full spectrum of access services, including residential and business broadband, VoIP, and High-Definition IPTV — over copper, fiber, and wireless.

Zhone is headquartered in California, and its MSAP products are all manufactured in the USA, in a facility that is emission, waste-water, and CFC free.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Big Telco Hates Harvard: US Telecom Assoc. Bashes Berkman Center's Broadband Report to FCC 11/16/09 Boston - Somewhere Al Vellucci is smiling.

The late long-term City Councilor from Cambridge, Massachusetts made a highly successful local political career out of bashing Harvard University, also of Cambridge, Massachusetts. For years Councilor Vellucci attempted to actually tax Harvard, which of course was as unconstitutional as taxing, say, The Church.

No Massachusetts elected would be crazy enough to try to tax The Church, but Al figured Harvard (which has existed in Massachusetts longer than The Church) was fair game. When Al wasn't calling for the legal power to tax Harvard, he was calling for its students to be locked-up for all kinds of misdemeanors, real and imagined.

Most legendary among the latter, is the the habitual destruction, allegedly by Harvard students, of Al's favorite City tree, allegedly planted to block the view of the Harvard Lampoon building. Mostly the Lampoon staff is content to give stupid prizes annually to celebrities they like to insult (above left), but Al just had to go and get them honked off years ago.

Al Vellucci was in a small minority among Massachusetts electeds, most of whom are smart enough not to attack The World's Greatest University, so named by a hopelessly sardonic "journalist" for The Boston Globe, one Alex Beam. Except for Al, most of us try not to bash an institution responsible for creating tens of thousands of jobs, gathering in billions in research dollars, and having more U.S. presidents and global potentates as alumni than, say, Yale.

U.S. Telecom Association Piles On Poor Harvard

Today we see that the U.S. Telecom Association (USTA), the powerful lobbying arm of the largest telephone operating companies in the nation, is just as smart as, say, the late Al Vellucci.

Today USTA filed comments as part of the National Broadband Plan proceeding of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which bashed the work, previously submitted to the Commission, of the Berkman Center at Harvard. Something must have gotten under the skin of the USTA attorneys as they drafted-up the surprisingly harsh 15-page critique of Berkman's report submitted on 10/15/09 to the Commission. Perhaps they didn't get into The World's Greatest University.

The Berkman Center on The Internet and Society, is a specialized research adjunct to the Harvard Law School (safely on the other side of Harvard Square from the Lampoon building), focused on the legal and political role of digital media and telecom policy in countries around the world.

USTA Focus: The Role of Network Unbundling

Central to USTA's criticism of the Berkman Report, a centerpiece document commissioned on 07/14/09 by the FCC itself as part of the Broadband Plan mandated by Congress in the Recovery Act, is the Association's idea that Berkman ascribes positive value to the network unbundling policies of telecoms regulators in other nations.

The Association's filing opens with the Summary statement, "The Berkman Center for Internet and Society's draft study of broadband development and strategies in other countries is, unfortunately, seriously flawed." USTA's opinion of the Berkman study pretty much goes down hill from there.

Unbundling policies were central to the Federal Telecom Act of 1996, which is credited with ushering in billions of dollars of investment in the telecom infrastructure serving the U.S. Those policies were litigated against by the large telephone operating companies represented by USTA, to the point that they were effectively eviscerated.

Policies of network element unbundling, writ large, are further central to the regulatory concept of open access networks which are best seen in
the national telecoms regulatory schema of some Asian and many European nations. Arguably, open access network policy is also closely aligned with a strict rendition of network neutrality principals, in which multiple content and program providers may easily transit carrier facilities via mandated interconnection terms.

In all of this, one assumes USTA is smarter than the rest of us who never beat up on Harvard. 'look where it got Al Vellucci.

Topic Resources at StimulatingBroadband on Scribd:

1. USTA - Berkman Comments in FCC GN 09 47 09

2. Berkman Center Broadband Study of 10-13-09

Boucher Releases Witness List for Universal Service Fund (USF) Reform Hearing of 11/17

Full Text of Universal Service Reform Act of 2009 Discussion Draft Available 11/16/09 Boston - Chairman Rick Boucher (D-VA-9) of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet has released the witness list for his Subcommittee hearing of tomorrow called to review his discussion draft of the Universal Service Reform Act of 2009.

Boucher, after serving on the Subcommittee since the 1980s, became Chairman at the reorganization of the House in January of this year. The Subcommittee, part of the powerful House Committee on Energy and Commerce, has initial jurisdiction over all telecom matters before the House.

The hearing has been called for: 9:30 AM (ET), Tuesday, November 17 in
2123 Rayburn House Office Building

As we reported on November 10th, Boucher and Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE-2) filed the discussion draft in an effort to launch what is probably the most serious attempt at congressional reform of the Universal Service Fund (USF) in at least the last 2 sessions of Congress.

The 10 witnesses on the released list are:

* The Honorable Ray Baum, Chairman, NARUC Committee on Communications, State Chair, Federal State Joint Board on Universal Service, Commissioner, Oregon Public Utility Commission

* Peter B. Davidson, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs, Policy, and Communications, Verizon

* Eric B. Graham, Vice President of Government Relations, Cellular South, Inc.

* Leslie Greer, Chief Executive Officer, DTC Communications

* Joel Lubin, Vice President of Public Policy, AT&T Services, Inc.

* Kyle E. McSlarrow, President and CEO, National Cable & Telecommunications Association

* Catherine Moyer, Director Legal and Regulatory Affairs, Pioneer Communications

* Karen S. Rheuban, M.D., Senior Associate Dean for CME and External Affairs Medical Director, Office of Telemedicine, University of Virginia

* Michael Rhoda, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs, Windstream Communications, Inc

* Gregory Rosston, Deputy Director, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research

Topic Resources at StimulatingBroadband on Scribd:

1. Universal Service Reform Act of 2009 Discussion Draft of 11-06-09

2. USF Reform Folder at StimulatingBroadband on Scribd

Public Comment Window Opened for Broadband Stimulus Rules, With November 30 Deadline 11/16/09 Boston - The Federal Register this morning published the official schedule and rules for public comments, to be submitted over the next 2 weeks, which will frame the second and final funding round of the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus program under the federal Recovery Act.

Interested members of the public have until November 30, at 5:00 PM (ET), to respond with comments filed with the 2 federal agencies managing the program.

The document published this morning in the Federal Register is called a Request for Information (RFI), which in turn solicits public input for the Round II funding document called a Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA).

Broadband stimulus program stakeholders had an advance notice period of 6 days to prepare their comments, given the announcement of last Tuesday, November 10, that the public comment phase for the new Round II funding rules would soon be opened.

The formal RFI published this morning in the Federal Register is here:

RFI for Round II NOFA for Broadband Stimulus Program of NTIA-RUS Federal Register Release of 11-16-2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

USDA Secretary Vilsack Announces $13.4 Million in Community Connect Broadband Grants 11/15/09 Boston - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Friday, November 13, the selection of 22 projects in 10 states to receive $13.4 million in broadband community connect grant funds.

The Broadband Community Connect fund, administered by the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been funded by congressional appropriations in recent incarnations of the Farm Bill. The Broadband Community Connect program is not funded by the Recovery Act (ARRA), which also directs RUS to administer the USDA's portion of the total $7.2 billion broadband stimulus program.

"The Obama Administration recognizes that modern technology is critical to the expansion of business, education, and health care services in rural areas and the competitiveness of the nation's small towns and rural communities," Vilsack said in a USDA press release.

"The President and USDA are committed to bringing broadband services to communities, including isolated ones, so rural residents have access to quality economic, social and educational opportunities."

USDA Rural Development's Community Connect program provides financial assistance to furnish broadband service in unserved, often isolated, rural communities. The grants are used to establish broadband service for critical facilities such as fire or police stations, while also providing service to residents and businesses.

The project must also include a community center that provides community residents with free broadband service for the first two years.
For example, the Yurok Tribe, located on a reservation along the northwest coast of California has been selected to receive a $564,000 grant to provide wireless broadband services to the Yurok Reservation.

A community center will be refurbished to provide free Internet access to tribal residents, enabling them to participate in online education and training programs. Free Internet access will also be provided to the tribal police and volunteer fire departments.

Nexus Systems, Inc. was selected to receive a $924,308 grant to provide wireless broadband services to Enterprise, La. The volunteer fire department and the community center will receive free broadband service for two years. Nexus Systems will also provide the community with web-based services such as web hosting and video conferencing services for public meetings.

In 2006, Alaska Power & Telephone Company received a $1,031,133 grant to establish a wireless broadband system in the Native community of Kasaan, funded by the Community Connect Program. Providing service to the remote, Southeast Alaska community required the construction of an antenna system on a mountaintop. The grant provided laptop computers and video conferencing services to the community center. A server was installed so local residents could store personal files.

Prior to USDA's funding, state's the Department's press release, the community was served by a satellite link that severely limited telecommunications service. The new wireless service has improved connectivity and attracted cellular telephone companies who are putting in infrastructure for more dependable mobile telephone service.

An August 2009 USDA Economic Research Service report supports the idea that "investment in broadband Internet access leads to a more competitive economy."

The report, notes that rural communities with broadband Internet access had greater economic growth than communities without it. The study also finds that broadband use fosters community involvement, enhances the provision of services such as health and education and expands household income opportunities.

The following is a complete list of 2009 Community Connect broadband grant recipients. Funding of each recipient is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant agreement. (Recipient communities in parentheses)

Arkansas: Buford Communications I, LP dba Alliance Communications Network - $681,070 (Rondo) Buford Communications I, LP dba Alliance Communications Network - $735,020 (Aubrey) Buford Communications I, LP dba Alliance Communications Network - $667,120 (LaGrange)

ORCA Broadband Inc. - $550,950 (Hornbrook) Yurok Tribe - $564,000 (Klamath) Round Valley Indian Tribes of the Round Valley Indian Reservation - $474,886 (Covelo) Colorado: PC Telcorp, Inc. - $402,666 (Sedgwick)

Pend Oreille Valley Network, Inc. - $834,164 (Clark Fork)

Louisiana: Nexus Systems, Inc. - $924,308 (Enterprise) Missouri: Turkeyfoot Construction, LLC, dba Lake Communications - $471,905 (Brownington) New Mexico: Agavue, LLC - $550,950 (Manzano) Agavue, LLC - $550,950 (Los Cerrillos)

Oklahoma: @Link Services, LLC - $535,998 (Shamrock) @Link Services, LLC - $577,618 (Kildare) 3 Brothers Networks LLC - $223,417 (Marble City) Wichita Online, Inc. - $597,000 (Cooperton) Wichita Online, Inc. - $498,500 (Yeager) Wichita Online, Inc. - $498,500 (Clearview)

281 Communications Corporation, Inc. - $601,736 (Lometa)

Virginia: Inter Mountain Cable, Inc. - $997,015 (Hurley) The Wired Road Authority - $837,453 (Grant) Techcore Consultants II, dba Almega Cable - $610,300 (Carbo)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NTIA: November 30 Is Probable Deadline for Round II Broadband Funding Comments

Public Comment Deadline Set, Direct Policy Management Role of Obama Administration in Program Seen 11/10/09 Boston
- The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the U.S Department of Commerce today clarified with this publication the probable public comment window for the second and final phase of the $7.2 billion federal broadband stimulus program. The comment cycle and the subject areas for which comments are sought have been established by the inter-agency coordination work of Obama Administration policy officials.

November 30 Comment Deadline Slated
November 30th is the projected comment filing deadline, as NTIA estimates the official rules, in the form of a Request for Information (RFI), will be formally released next Monday, November 16th, via publication in the Federal Register on that date.

NTIA press secretary, Ms. Jessica Schafer, today answered our questions about these timing issues with a written reply stating, "...per the Joint Notice, the period for comments will be 14 days after the notice is published in the federal Register. (Following standard practice, the editors at the FR will fill in the appropriate date to the Date line on the first page of the RFI.) We expect the notice to be published on Monday, 11/16."

The 2 agencies managing the broadband stimulus program this morning released an informational copy of the 10-page RFI document. Under federal practice, agency draft and final rules are not officially promulgated -- and public comment periods are not tolling -- until publication in the Federal Register. The informational RFI released this morning states, as Ms. Schafer iterated for us, that "Comments must be received...14 days after publication in the Federal Register..."

New NOFA Release Targeted for Early 2010
The informational RFI outlines the key subject matter areas in which the two agencies, the NTIA and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are requesting public comment on the final the set of funding rules expected to issue "early next year" according to today's joint statement from the agencies.

RUS and NTIA will thus be crafting the final rules for funding Round II during December of this year, and perhaps into the early weeks of 2010. As stated in today's RFI, the rules will again take the form of a Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA). The agencies will simultaneously be issuing the actual Round I funding awards, estimated to start in December and complete in February.

Deadlines, Time Frames and Policy
Our sources within the 2 line agencies, and within the Obama Administration, tell us what should be obvious to any observer of the 'broadband stim' program: Administration officials have taken a closer role in directly managing the program since September in the wake of press reports about faults in the funding application system, and especially given the often severe criticism from Members of Congress expressed in the 3 most recent and separate oversight hearings.

The policy and political needs to get the program "right" are in clear dynamic tension with the need to get the program "done." The impetus now is to get the projected programmatic total spend of $13 billion (the amount over the $7.2 billion in appropriations is attributable to the congressional loan leverage authority given to RUS) into shovel ready projects around the nation targeted at job creation and overall economic recovery.

Our sources tell us that it is the continuing need to simultaneously address these potentially conflicting requirements of program speed and quality that explains why Administration policy officials have called the play seen in the RFI document released today. Senior people have directed both the relatively short public comment window, and the solicitation of input across a wide variety of often controversial policy and procedural points.

Congressmen Boucher & Terry Release Universal Service Fund (USF) Reform Bill Proposal

Press Release for Office of Rep. Rick Boucher via 11/10/09 Boston - U.S. Representatives Rick Boucher (D-VA-09), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, and Lee Terry (R-NE-02) on November 6 released a discussion draft of the Universal Service Reform Act of 2009. 
Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA-09)

The measure will improve the Universal Service Fund (USF) and ensure its continued viability by broadening the base of contributions into the Fund and controlling distributions from the Fund, allowing use of the Fund for broadband deployment.

"The Universal Service Fund is broken. Consumers currently pay more than twelve percent of long distance revenues into the fund, and that number will jump to more than fourteen percent next year. Our discussion draft is a comprehensive and forward-looking measure, which will control the spiraling growth of the Universal Service Fund while ensuring that universal service support is available to the carriers which rely on it to provide service. The measure will expand who pays into the Fund, cap the growth of the Fund and modernize the Fund by allowing its use for the deployment of high speed broadband service," said Boucher and Terry.

"The Universal Service Fund helps provide essential communications services to millions of customers in rural areas, and the draft released today will assist with the deployment of broadband, especially in rural areas, by declaring broadband to be a universal service and requiring universal service fund recipients to offer high speed broadband services within five years of the date of enactment," Boucher noted.

"This bill brings the fund into the 21st century by modernizing it and allowing it to play a roll in our country's plan for eventual ubiquitous broadband," Terry said.

Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE-02)
The draft will also control costs by directing the FCC to adopt a competitive bidding process to determine which wireless carriers will receive universal service support. Additionally, the measure caps the total amount of universal service support and changes the calculation methodology for the non-rural, high-cost portion of the fund from geographic to wire center averaging. The discussion draft also directs the FCC to establish and implement performance goals for each universal service fund program and to determine the appropriate methodology for audits of universal service fund recipients.

"After a lengthy process of consultation with industry representatives and others with an interest in the Universal Service Fund, this measure reflects broad areas of consensus. We look forward to working with our colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee to get the Universal Service Fund under control by enacting this reform," Boucher and Terry concluded.

A legislative hearing on the Boucher-Terry discussion draft is scheduled on Tuesday, November 17, 2009.
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