Federal Communications Commission

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A Look Ahead – and a Look Back – at our Staff Workshops

September 2nd, 2009 by Erik Garr

erik garr head shotI was happy to sit across from the FCC Commissioners last week and provide a progress update on the National Broadband Plan.  While I have given progress updates to senior executives countless times, there is something different when doing so in a public meeting.  It puts the broadband plan in context, and highlights how important this plan is to all Americans, not just the FCC.

As I mentioned last week, we have had over 1,100 direct participants attend our broadband workshops and nearly 5,000 on line attendees, with more in the works.  More importantly, we have reached out to small businesses, consumer groups, other government agencies, and talented academics, in addition to the traditional industry participants that have been part of the broadband debate for some time.

I'd like to highlight a few workshops this week that continue to broaden the debate, as well as announce a few more topics which will be added to ensure that the broadband record is complete.  In fact, in addition to the workshops already posted on, we've added six more workshops, which will take us into mid-October.

This week, we looked at state and local government efforts to deploy broadband on Tuesday, followed by a workshop on Wednesday on Benchmarks, or how to measure deployment in a way that helps policymakers who are trying to attain universal coverage.  We close the week out on Thursday with a panel on Big Ideas, featuring a diverse roster of panelists from the research, public interest and technology communities.

After Labor Day, on Sept. 9, we will focus in on the consumer, looking at the kinds of benefits broadband provides - along with the risks posed by sharing information online.  On Sept. 15, we'll take a look about the benefits broadband can provide to health care in a workshop coordinated by Tom Buckley, who oversees the FCC's Rural Health Care Pilot Project.

We'll conduct two workshops on Sept. 17, one of which will look at the issues surrounding online content, including the tradeoffs between content protection and innovation.  That same day, we'll take a look at the need for robust wireless broadband connections and the supply and demand for spectrum.

The next workshop will be on Sept. 30, when we'll look at cyber security.  Two days later, on Oct. 2, we'll focus on diversity and civil rights issues in broadband policy.  Topics include whether there is a digital divide, and if it is one based on race and ethnicity, or class, or geography.

On Oct. 9, we'll explore the economics of broadband competition.  And finally, on Oct. 20, we will return to the topic of broadband accessibility for people with disabilities, which is our second workshop on the topic.

I know that the coming workshops will continue to broaden our understanding, so that the next time I sit across from the Commissioners, I'll continue to be able to satisfy their questions, as well as the questions that all Americans will have about the plan.

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Datamatrix and QR FCC Phones