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Thursday, May 20, 2010

USDA - RUS Extends Incumbent Filing Deadline by 1 Day

StimulatingBroadband.com 05/20/2010 San Francisco - The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has extended the filing deadline for broadband service providers to register their present service territories by 1 day.


The filing deadline is now: Monday, May 24, 11:59 PM (CDT).


Within the past hour, RUS posted the following notice on the BroadbandUSA.gov portal:


Thursday, May 20, 2010
Due to the emergency maintenance which was conducted this past weekend, RUS is extending the 30-day Public Notice Filing period by one day. The new deadline for existing service providers to file a response to any Public Notice Filing will be Monday, May 24th at 11:59pm CDT.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Today's Webinar: Protecting Your Network Investment from a Stimulus Overbuild

StimulatingBroadband.com 05/17/2010 San Francisco - The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) and StimulatingBroadband.com are hosting a free online Webinar today of critical importance to service providers in the cable, telephone, and wireless industries across the nation.

Called "The RUS Response Filing Webinar," the free event will launch today, Monday, May 17th, at 2:00 PM (EDT).
Registration is free, and open now online at: GoToMeeting.com

The Webinar answers the question: "How do I protect my existing broadband network from a broadband stimulus overbuild?" 

That is a question increasingly being asked by rural operators as the Public Notice Filing response deadline of this Sunday, May 23rd approaches.  The filing process is the only way in which incumbent operators can declare their current service areas to the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

RUS is now processing $11.2 billion in Round 2 broadband stimulus grant and loan requests.

“If the RUS does not know that your business exists, the chances of grant money being allocated to new competition are much higher,” said Rick Harnish, President of WISPA.  He is referring to the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), one of two federal agencies running the broadband stimulus program.
Visit us at MappingBrodband.net, or place your inquiry at info@mappingbroadband.net”  



How to Protect Your Network From a Stimulus Overbuild - WISPA Webinar of 05-17-2010 - PDF


Friday, May 14, 2010

Federal Broadband Stimulus Site Scheduled for Emergency Maintenance: Filing Extension Possible

USDA May Extend Public Notice Filing Response Deadline, Will Announce by 05/17 If Extended


StimulatingBroadband.com 05/14/2010 San Francisco - The online portal used to mange public filings made to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's broadband stimulus program will undergo emergency maintenance this weekend, disrupting ongoing activities.  If necessary, the Department's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) will announce by close of business on Monday, May 17, if an extension will be given to the 30-day window for Public Filing Notice (PNF) responses, now deadlined for May 23.


The PNF response cycle now in process allows incumbent broadband service providers to register their service areas with RUS, for those territories in which applicants have applied to the agency for funding in Round 2 of the federal program.  


RUS spokesman Bart Kendrick told us earleir today, "the probelm is a Rural Development-wide system issue, and is not related to the application process."  We had asked Mr. Kendrick if the need for emergency maintenance this weekend was tied to the continued lack of posting into the Applications Database of the main BroadbandUSA.gov portal of Round 2 applications filed with RUS.  


In response to our question when the agency will determine if an extension of the PNF may be warranted, the RUS spokesman told us, "This will depend on the length of time the system is out of service.  We anticipate posting information regarding any extension no later than COB Monday."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

NTIA Opens Broadband Stimulus Grant Window for Public Safety Communications

New Grant Filing Window Is June 1 - July 1 for State - Local Governments


NTIA Press Release via StimulatingBroadband.com 05/13/2010 Washington -The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) today announced that it will provide an opportunity for certain state and local governments to apply for broadband stimulus funding to support public safety projects.


The potential applicants are the state and local governmental entities that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently permitted to deploy public safety broadband systems using the 700 MHz public safety broadband spectrum. NTIA’s decision supports the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s goal of improving public safety communications and provides that community with the opportunity to obtain funding for an initial set of networks that will help lay the groundwork for a nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network.


“The FCC has just cleared the way for a number of state and local governments to deploy new public safety broadband systems,” Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling said.


“Given the administration’s commitment to improving the communications networks of our fire, police and rescue personnel, NTIA is offering these governments the opportunity to apply for broadband stimulus funding to help build their networks. We hope to receive strong proposals that merit investment in order to advance the deployment of a nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network that makes America safer.”

Applications in the second round of NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), funded by the Recovery Act, were due in late March 2010. On May 11, 2010, the FCC adopted an Order granting conditional waiver authority to various state and local governments to use 700 MHz spectrum to deploy public safety broadband systems on a local or regional basis. These governments may have previously been discouraged from filing BTOP applications because they did not have the legal authority to use the spectrum.


As a result of this significant development, and given the national priority of improving public safety communications, NTIA will accept applications for infrastructure projects from the affected parties from June 1, 2010 to July 1, 2010. The agency will publish an official notice and further details in the Federal Register.


The Recovery Act provided a total of $7.2 billion to NTIA and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) to fund projects that will expand access to and adoption of broadband services.  Of that funding, NTIA will utilize $4.7 billion for grants to deploy broadband infrastructure in the United States, expand public computer center capacity, and encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service.  NTIA will announce all grant awards by September 30, 2010. StimulatingBroadband.com

Wireless Operators Protect Broadband Service Areas with New Online Tools

SAM Helps Cable Operators, Telephone Operating Companies, and Wireless Providers Speed Up Federal Filing for Existing Broadband Areas


StimulatingBroadband.com 05/13/2010 San Francisco - Members of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) are using a set of new online tools to help protect their broadband service territories from the threat of improper overbuilding under the federal broadband stimulus program.

“If the RUS does not know that your business exists, the chances of grant money being allocated to new competition are much higher,” said Rick Harnish, president of WISPA.  Rural Utilities Service (RUS), which operates under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is one of two federal agencies running the broadband stimulus program.

Monday, May 17th, at 2:00 PM (EDT), WISPA will host an online Webinar titled WISPA/Stimulating Broadband RUS Response Filing Webinar (free registration) on the critical subject of how rural operators can protect their territories with good data and timely filings with the government.

Operators have until May 23 to register their service areas with the RUS. 

This deadline stands in addition to Monday, May 10, when many incumbent cable operators, telephone operating companies, and wireless providers filed Service Provider Responses marking their service areas with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“If you don’t file, you don’t count,” said Peter Pratt, owner of PrattNetworks LLC, the Boston based telecom sector advisory firm that provides support programs for WISPA members and other incumbent operators.

“You need powerful database tools just to figure out who is filing for funds in your service area -- and where they are doing so.  Operators have to be able to prove where their footprints are.”

PrattNetworks LLC, in partnership with leading telecom data analysts, GIS specialists, and rural telecom funding consultants, has launched the Service Area Matrix (SAM) via the site MappingBroadband.net.  For a fee of $425 an operator can quickly and accurately see firms that are seeking federal funds to build in a particular area. The $425 fee covers a maximum of five counties; additional counties can be requested for an additional cost.

WISPA members and other incumbent providers can use this information to select where and how to register their Public Notice Filings with RUS by the May 23 deadline.  Pratt’s team can also conduct the filing work on an operator’s behalf.

Each county across the nation is matched in the SAM database product to the service areas for which federal funds have been filed. The number of service area filings ranges from a high of 28 in Yavapi County, Arizona, through 15 in Orangeburg, South Carolina, down to 1 filing in Weston, Wyoming. For all of these regions SAM will eliminate the countless frustrating hours of searching on the federal site, which many industry managers have been complaining about.

“The point is to grab the data from us, see who wants funds in your area, and file,” said Pratt, a 30-year telecom industry veteran and publisher of the news service StimulatingBroadband.com.

“SAM cuts down by scores if not hundreds of hours the time it takes to navigate the federal data.  We are proud to have supported a great group of WISPA members in the NTIA filing process.   We welcome calls from operators in the field today.”

For more information about SAM, please visit: www.MappingBrodband.net


WISPA/Stimulating Broadband RUS Response Filing Webinar (free registration)

Monday, May 10, 2010

$45.4 Million Western Mass. Broadband Project Advances to Due Diligence

StimulatingBroadband.com 05/10/2010 San Francisco - The $45.4 middle mile broadband stimulus project proposed by the Administration of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA) has been advanced to the due diligence review phase of the federal program. The project is planned around multiple optical fiber rings transiting the rural counties of Western Massachusetts, and the economically struggling Route 2 corridor.


President Obama appears with Gov. Patrick (l), on 04/01/2010, at
Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency headquarters in
Framingham, MA, during the agency's response operations to severe
floods in the Northeast.   Photo: AP
We believe today's news out of Westborough, MA, headquarters of the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI), is significant for 2 reasons: 

This is the first such large state supported middle mile project to be announced as entering the critical second step of the federal program's current Round 2 funding cycle.  Secondly, the announced move by the feds signals that Round 2 is moving ahead faster than the delay and error plagued Round 1.  


Responding to our question of this afternoon, spokespeople at MBI informed us that Massachusetts was told on May 3 that their project had entered due diligence.  The Massachusetts proposal was thus in first level evaluation for a period of just 5 weeks, following its submittal for the March 26 application deadline for Round 2.


MBI this afternoon announced, "The MBI's federal stimulus application, MassBroadband 123, is currently in due diligence review by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). This is a critical part of the process that will determine if MassBroadband 123 receives funding by the Broadband Technologies Opportunity Program (BTOP) created in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act."  MBI is the state brodband program of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, housed in the quasi pulbic economic developmental authority called the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC).  Patrick's first director of MBI, Sharon E. Gillett, became the Chief of the FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau in August of 2009. 


As we have reported for over a year, Patrick has made the delivery of broadband services to Western Massachusetts a cornerstone of his economic developmental agenda for the region.  Perhaps more importantly, he has made state subsidized networks in the region a policy and political commitment since his first run for chief executive in 2006.  Patrick is this year seeking reelection to his second term in the gubernatorial Corner Office of the State House on Boston's Beacon Hill.    


Surprising many state and national observers of the broadband stimulus program of the Obama Administration, MBI's first round middle mile application for $100 million was rejected in January without entering due diligence review in Round 1.  The surprise came in light of both the close personal and political relationship between President Obama himself and Patrick, and the role of so many Massachusetts based Democratic officials in supporting the proposal.  Other than Patrick, most prominent in this latter category has been Massachusetts senior U.S. Senator John F. Kerry (D-MA).  Kerry, who serves as Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet.


Beginning in the late 1990s, Kerry was the first statewide official to endorse, and then strongly lobby for its interests in Washington, the efforts of Berkshire Connect, Inc.  The non-profit is a national model for regional demand side aggregation of telecom end users organized to collectively purchase, and spur capital investment in, high capacity network services in underserved areas.  In 2009 Berkshire connect merged with its more recently created sister organization, Pioneer Valley Connect to form the larger regional Western Mass Connect, Inc.


Here, Kerry uses the April 27th Senate Small Business Committee oversight hearing on the FCC's National Broadband Plan to call the MassBroadband 123 proposal "the best in its class":    

Our Take
Within hours of announcing the rejection by NTIA, Governor Patrick publicly stated his staff and agencies "will work overtime" to file a new application by the filing deadline of March 26 for Round 2.


We think that Patrick will most probably get his broadband stimulus fondest wish this time around. StimulatingBroadband.com 

Friday, May 7, 2010

USDA - RUS Releases Satellite Broadband RFP

StimulatingBroadband.com 05/07/2010 San Francisco - The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has released its Request for Proposals (RFP) for $100 million in subsidies for broadband satellite services.  Published with today's date in the Federal Register, the document gives a 30 day response cycle for satellite service providers filing for funding from the $100 million special allocation.


Entitled Request for Proposals for Satellite, Rural Library Broadband and Technical Assistance, the RFP was first mentioned in the RUS rules, published on January 22, 2010, for funding Round 2 of the broadband stimulus program.  Satellite service providers have until June 7, 2010 to file their funding applications.  The RFP spells out specific details for applicants to follow, as RUS seeks to fill-in the lowest density and fully unserved areas of the rural America with satellite delivered broadband services.


According to one telecom consultant familiar with the broadband stimulus program, and who has studied the RFP already, one of the key requirements of applicants to fulfill by the June 7 deadline will be the identification of those unserved areas not otherwise in receipt of federal funds.


"I think one of the more complex analysis required for this application will be ensuring compliance with the requirement of only serving ‘unserved’ households, and avoiding all Round 1 and Round 2 RUS award winners, regardless of their build status," said Eric Fogle, President of Broadband Consulting Group of Ashland, Missouri.  "All of these factors must be accounted for by the applicant, as they seek to both determine the size of the opportunity, and forecast the number of expected subscribers in the financial analysis."


We have republished the federal document via StimulatingBroadband on Scribd:


RUS BIP Satellite RFP of 05-07-2010 Fed Reg

StimulatingBroadband.com

XO Communications Defends $206 Million Broadband Stimulus Bid Against Overbuild Claim

StimulatingBroadband.com 05/07/2010 San Francisco - XO Communications, the competitive telecom provider with a national service footprint, has issued its first response to the claim of 360networks that XO is attempting to overbuild a 360 long haul fiber route with a pending grant application for $206 million in federal broadband stimulus funds.  

Nowhere in the XO statement however, does the company directly acknowledge, nor rebut, the specific overbuild criticisms of 360networks.  Heather B. Gold, the senior regulatory official at XO, earlier this week authorized the release to us, following our inquiries, of the company's first counter claim to a statement released by 360networks last week. 



The privately held 360networks is the second incumbent service provider to publicly and vehemently criticize a Round 2 broadband stimulus application based on documented charges of redundant and unnecessary proposed federal spending.  Famously, in a local dust up which has involved this publication, the privatized former state owned telco on the U.S. Territory of Guam, GTA Teleguam has leveled overbuild charges at competitor IT&E.

Owned by the Canadian construction management firm Ledcor Group of Companies, 360networks posted on its corporate site an "Open Letter to Congress" in which it attacks the funding Round 2 application of XO as intent on overbuilding 360 "along a 2,200 mile path already served by three of the country's leading providers."

XO Holdings, Inc (OTC.BB: XOHO.OB) is controlled by corporate raider / equity investor Carl Ichan.  The company has branded its proposed optical fiber build out across the northern tier of states from Seattle to Chicago, via mostly rail right-of-way as "Northern Lights."  The firm applied under the Comprehensive Community Infrastructure (CCI) category of Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) program being administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce.  

We suspect that XO will have a more pointed response following the publication by 360networks of its open letter - congressional petition on Monday, May 10 in 2 leading Capitol Hill news services.


Statement of XO Communications
To those of us in the competitive telecom sector, Ms. Gold is a pioneering figure who served as President of the Association for Local Telecommunications Services (ALTS) in the 1990s.  She helped frame much of the legislative and regulatory fabric which resulted in the Telecom Act of 1996.  

We reprint the statement of XO Holdings, Inc. in full, below, in its first public appearance.  The statement is attributed to Heather B. Gold, Senior Vice President, External Affairs:

"XO Statement Regarding its “Northern Lights” BTOP Application

America is at an economic turning point.  Fifty years ago, the nation took steps to establish critical nationwide infrastructure, building the national highway system, harbors, and power plants.  Now is the time to focus on making investments in today’s critical infrastructure – such as ultra high-speed broadband communications networks – that will drive future growth and job creation for the coming decades.  XO Communications’ Northern Lights project is just that, an investment in critical infrastructure for America's future. 

With the Northern Lights project, XO Communications would use its own funding together with that from the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) program to deploy virtually “future-proof” broadband infrastructure throughout vast areas of America, serving seven states, 37 Congressional Districts, 8.7 million households and more than 582,000 businesses along the northern tier of our nation.

Specifically, Northern Lights would:

Reduce the cost of Internet transmission in some cases by a staggering 95 percent or more; 

Supply broadband at speeds more than 1,000 times faster than has been available in the targeted regions; 

Enable the connection at high-speed of  more than 10,000 schools, libraries, health care facilities, fire departments, and law enforcement agencies to the Internet – connectivity that has rarely been available to them at any price; 

Generate approximately 3,200 jobs and $537 million in new economic activity; 

Make widely available new broadband applications such as telecommuting, secure data storage, rapid emergency response, and telemedicine all of which can dramatically spur economic expansion; and 

Create “on/off” ramps approximately every 45 miles, enabling virtually all local service providers and community anchor institutions along the route to have broadband access at high-speed and low-cost.  

America can no longer afford to lag behind its international competitors in developing critically needed broadband services.  The time to build this is now.  Equally important, every American should have access to this broadband future and the technological innovations that will ensue.  

XO Communications is confident that government and industry will rise to the challenge of deploying high speed broadband to every corner of the United States.  By giving millions of Americans and thousands of businesses access to next-generation broadband infrastructure, Northern Lights is a critical step forward toward a more connected and productive twenty-first century American economy.  

Now that’s the promise for our economic future." 



Correction: We previously and erroneously stated that 360 Networks was still a subsidiary of Ledcor Industries Limited, of British Columbia. Ledcor had founded 360 Networks during the telecom boom era. 360 Networks is today privately held, and not affiliated with Ledcor.

CrunchBase Information



StimulatingBroadband.com

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Chairman Obey, Chief Architect of Stimulus Package to Retire

What Will Departure of Senior Democratic Appropriator Mean for Ongoing Telecom Capital Subsidies?
StimulatingBroadband.com 05/05/05 San Francisco - Congressman David R. Obey (D-WI-07), Chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee and lead sponsor of the $787 billion Stimulus Bill of 2009 is retiring. First elected in 1969, Obey will not seek election this year in what most analysts see as an increasingly difficult election cycle for congressional Democrats.  As the U.S. telecom sector seeks continued federal capital subsidies for broadband in unserved areas, the departure of Obey makes that goal difficult.


Dave Obey campaigning in his WI 7th district during the
2008 election cycle. Photo: Superior Broadcast Network
Politico's Breaking News
News of a pending statement from Obey announcing his retirement will most likely "come as early as" today, according Senior Congressional Reporter David Rogers who broke the story on Politico.com within the past 30 minutes.


As of this first posting, both the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, paper of record for Wisconsin, and the Wausau Daily Herald, largest paper in Obey's rural northwestern Wisconsin district, are both citing the Politico story with no confirmation from local sources.


Obey Press Conference
As Rogers predicted, Chairman Obey announced his retirement in a Washington press conference today.  Feisty as always, CNN reports that the Chair of "Approps" responded to a question about his electoral viability saying, "Let me put it this way -- I have won 25 elections." "Does anybody really think I don't know how to win another one? Or, for that matter, has anyone ever seen me walk away from a fight in my life?"


"The fact is there isn't a chance of a snowball in Hades of that progressive congressional district electing someone who is a poor imitation of George Bush's policies on a bad day." Obey was referring to the leading Republican challenger in the current cycle, Ashland County District Attorney Sean Duffy.   


Obey is a proud and unreconstructed liberal, with deep roots in the progressive political tradition of his home state.  His native Wisconsin 7th congressional district, historically one of the state's most liberal outside of the Democratic strongholds of Madison and Milwaukee, today looks increasingly like a challenge for the 20 term incumbent.


A strong supporter of President Obama, Obey has nonetheless been a vocal critic of the the Administration's military buildup in Afghanistan.  Similarly, he pointedly stated at multiple times that the President should have pushed for a higher level of stimulus appropriations.  In the video clip below, Obey says as much will introducing the House - Senate compromise that would become the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).    


Why Does It Matter to the U.S. Telecom Sector?
Why should the U.S. telecom industry and those tracking the impacts of federal subsidies on the sector care about the retirement of a Member of Congress from rural Wisconsin?
Chairman David R. 'Dave' Obey was instrumental in hammering out the provisions of the stimulus package, including the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus provisions of the bill.  Obey largely deferred to fellow senior Democrat Ed Markey (D-MA-07) on the nuts and bolts of the broadband stimulus funding line items, and the form of the National Broadband Plan which was also authorized by the legislation.


To the extent that further federal capital subsidies for rural broadband may be inserted by congressional leaders into the 2012 Farm Bill, or elsewhere, the senior players on House Appropriations matter.  With all 150 awards of Round 1 of the broadband stimulus portion of the Recovery Act now announced, and funding Round 2 now underway, the program's $7.2 billion will be expended over the next 36 months.


With the retirement of Obey, continued funding streams greater than those of the legacy USDA programs for the rural broadband agenda are now far more of an open question.  Equally at stake is the fate of potential new capital subsidy funds for urban underserved areas of the nation which are today seen in the BTOP program of NTIA within ARRA.  Even if Democrats maintain control of both houses of Congress, the rural - urban political compromise reflected in the 2 separate agency programs (Agriculture and Commerce), and negotiated by Obey, is less likely to be held together in his absence. 
          
Obey Brings Final ARRA Bill to the Floor
Here, in a speech taped by C-SPAN from the House floor of February 13, 2009, Obey argues for the House - Senate compromise of H.R. 1.  Four days later ARRA was signed by the President, with Dave Obey's name on it.  




StimulatingBroadband.com 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

360 Networks Petitions Congress on Stimulus Overbuilds, Challenges XO Communications

360networks to Launch Congressional PR As Overbuild Challenges Grow

StimulatingBroadband.com 05/04/2010 San Francisco - 360networks is joining the growing list of telecom carriers loudly expressing serious concern about the use of federal broadband stimulus dollars to fund overbuilds of existing investor-owned networks.

Next week the firm will mount a public relations offensive on Capitol Hill against what it sees as the wrong tact being taken by the Obama Administration.  Late last week the firm posted an "Open Letter to Congress" which accuses competitor XO Communications of seeking a Round 2 broadband stimulus grant to overbuild the existing 360networks optical fiber route from Seattle to Chicago.

XO Communications is an active applicant for $206.464 million in broadband stimulus funds from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce.  XO Holdings, Inc. (OTC BB: XOHO.OB), controlled by corporate raider / equity investor Carl Ichan, proposes with its project titled Northern Lights: Building Broadband Communities, to build 2,227 fiber route miles through 8 states as a NTIA sanctioned Comprehensive Community Infrastructure (CCI) project. 


360networks is today privately held, operating one of the largest regional wholesale long haul fiber th network in the Western U.S.  The firm, which like XO has been substantially recapitalized following bankruptcy in the telecom bust era of 2001 - 2004. 360 Networks began as a subsidiary of the Ledcor Group of Companies of Vancouver, BC.  It has waged a quiet campaign to date on the overbuild issue.  It has not issued any press statements, and has only posted its Open Letter on its corporate site. We have learned from a company spokesman however that the carrier will bring its case to Congress on Monday, May 10, with the publication of its statement in CQ Today and RollCall.  Both are influential  Capitol Hill news services read daily by Members of Congress, their staffs, and lobbyists. 


Network overlay map produced and published by 360Networks.
(click to enlarge)
As first reported on April 30th by Rob Powell of Telecom Ramblings, 360networks published its 1 page statement entitled "Broadband Stimulus Has Missed the Mark" late last week.  The company writes that while it initially "lauded" the Recovery Act's goals "of bringing broadband service to unserved and underserved markets," it now sees the effort as having gone awry.  "Unfortunately, many approved projects have strayed from these goals and will use taxpayer dollars to replicate existing broadband infrastructure."


Focusing its concern on the XO Round 2 initiative, 360networks says "Current applications continue to seek funds to overbuild existing infrastructure.  In one such application, Northern Lights, seeks in excess of $200 million to build fiber optic lines along a 2,200 path already served by three of the country's leading providers, each with abundant capacity."  The statement is signed by Chris Mueller, Vice Chairman.


Company spokesperson Scott Fincher had agreed to make Mr. Mueller available to us for an interview on the issue yesterday.  He later stated that the firm would have no further comment until the statement runs in the 2 Washington based journals next week.


The statement carries a graphic overly map (above) of 360networks fiber route now in operation along railroad right-of-way across the northern tier of states, overlaid with XO's network route proposed for stimulus funding.  It appears to us that 360networks accurately rendered XO's proposed route,based on XO's map published on its corporate site (below).  


XO Communications map of its proposed 2,227 mile fiber route project.
(click to enlarge)


As of this posting,  XO Communications, has made no public statement in reponse to the allegations of 360networks, nor have company spokespeople answered any of our repeated requests for a statement.


Correction: We previously and erroneously stated that 360 Networks was still a subsidiary of Ledcor Industries Limited, of British Columbia. Ledcor had founded 360 Networks during the telecom boom era. 360 Networks is today privately held, and not affiliated with Ledcor. We apologize to the firms for our error.





StimulatingBroadband.com

Monday, May 3, 2010

Net Neutrality Advocates Go to the Mattresses Following WaPo Genachowski Report

StimulatingBroadband.com 05/03/2010 San Francisco - The "network neutrality" national policy debate just got a lot more more interesting. 
Photo: HBO Films
With Free Press in the lead, net neutrality advocates have today reacted strongly to this morning's report in the Washington Post that FCC Chair Julius Genachowski is backing away from the the idea of "reclassifiying" the regulatory schema for broadband services.

As  Free Press and its public interest allies go to the proverbial mattresses for an internecine policy fight, Obama Administration officials will no doubt recall the challenges and triumphs in keeping its own coalition together during the healthcare reform battle.  Free Press and its associated interest groups are first and foremost part of the Democratic political coalition of which the President is himself the leader.

WaPo Story 'Energizes' Free Press
"If the report is true," said Free Press spokesperson Liz Rose in a telephone interview "it is certainly a watershed moment."  Rose also confirmed for us that Free Press today, in the wake of the WaPo article, immediately stepped-up its online campaign to publicly lobby the FCC to move toward broadband regulatory reclassification.  "Some of this is perhaps energized by the rumors" attributed to anonymous sources at FCC, said Rose.

In a release of this morning Free Press Executive Director Josh Silver minced no words in saying, "We simply cannot believe that Julius Genachowski would consider going down this path."

"Failing to reclassify broadband means the FCC is abandoning the signature communications and technology issues of the Obama administration. Such a decision would destroy Net Neutrality. It would deeply undermine the FCC’s ability to ensure universal Internet access for rural, low-income and disabled Americans. It will undermine the FCC’s ability to protect consumers from price-gouging and invasions of privacy, said Silver."

The organization's rapid reaction to the story by Post tech writer Cecilia Kang is particularly significant, given that Free Press has been in the forefront of Washington based public interest groups advocating for policies, especially "net neutrality," at the center of the Obama Administration's agenda for tech and telecom.  

Kang' story, titled FCC chairman Genachowski expected to leave broadband service deregulated, reports, "Three sources at the agency said Genachowski has not made a final decision but has indicated in recent discussions that he is leaning toward keeping in place the current regulatory framework for broadband services but making some changes that would still bolster the FCC's chances of overseeing some broadband policies." 

Public Knowledge Joins the Fray
Free Press, Public Knowledge, and the The New America Foundation together form the forward phalanx of liberal public interest advocates pushing an associated group of issues with an administration that has moved more rapidly to reshape related federal policies than at anytime since the passage of the Telecom Act in 1996.  

By early afternoon, Art Brodsky of Public Knowledge posted a blog update entitled Hamlet on 12th street (SW), making reference to FCC's Washington headquarters, in which he cast President Obama's FCC head as the tragic Dane.  Brodsky wrote, "The Melancholy Prince asked:  'To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer he slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?"

"That was the question then, and it’s the question now.  A new version:  Do you betray the bold concepts of the Obama campaign platform that you wrote for the chimera of political expediency?," concluded Brodsky.  

Group to Watch: Open Internet Coalition
The 3 groups both favor the interests of, and operate programs in large measure financed by, application developers, content producers, and competitive service providers as opposed to the interests of incumbent carriers and operators.

Working together these organizations are the policy Sherpas coordinating the Open Internet Coalition (OIC), an association of scores of corporations, research organizations, and public interest groups arguing in favor of new regulatory mandates favoring content neutral and open access treatment of service provider networks.

Corporate sponsors of OIC read like a Who's Who of leading web enabled U.S. tech companies, including Amazon, Google, Earthlink, eBay, Facebook,  Barry Diller's HSN.com, Match.com, Netflix, Shoebuy.com, Andreesson Horowitz's Skype, SlingMedia, Ticketmaster, Tivo, Twitter, and Google's YouTube subsidiary.   

That's What Friends Are For: Another Challenge to Obama Administration
Kang's story will indeed be "watershed moment" if OIC and its member organizations are serious about engaging the Obama Administration anew on the issue of "net neutrality."  It is an issue that drives the fear of excessive network regulation at most investor-owned carriers, providers, and their trade associations.  Conversely, it is an issue on which the leading web players in the nation, as seen above, have placed their bets.  

It is not at all a coincidence that both Josh Silver and Art Brodsky pointedly talked of the "Obama Administration" in their statements of today, rather than merely calling on Chairman Genachowski to act as they would like.  Today's statements from, and immediate mobilization of, important parts of the coalition of that helped elect the 44th President signals that leaders of that coalition now calling directly on Obama and his key policy advisers.  They are demanding, with increasingly pointed rhetoric, that the President and his appointees deliver on past commitments made to them on the net neutrality issue.

This afternoon Free Press began sending out links in its Twitter feed to this 2007 speech by then Senator Obama to employees of Google in Mountain View, CA:



Going to the Mattresses for A Policy Fight
For some of the most well known names in the American technology sector, this one is important.  It is no less so for many, if not all, of the equally recognizable names in the telecom sub-sector.

For many leading players in technology, this issue means they and their Washington advocates will be going to the mattresses.  They will do so even at risk to the Democratic coalition in power.  Today's superlative reporting by Cecilia Kang amounts to the opening shot.  StimulatingBroadband.com     
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