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Archive for March 2010

Addressing the Digital Divide in Indian Country

March 13th, 2010 by Michael Connelly

Last week marked a significant chapter in FCC-Tribal relations, which included Chairman Genachowski’s remarks to the Executive Council of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) on March 2, 2010, followed by the 7th Annual FCC-NCAI Dialogue on Improving Telecommunications Access in Indian Country at the FCC on March 4.  The Dialogue included Tribal leaders, Commissioners Copps, Clyburn, Baker and McDowell, Chairman Genachowski’s Chief of Staff, the Chiefs of the Consumer & Governmental Affairs and Wireless Telecommunications Bureaus, Public Safety Bureau, and other Commission staff.  Quotes from the FCC representatives set the stage for FCC-Tribal relations going forward:

“The goal of bringing broadband to Indian Country is important and urgent.  It will require the Federal government to recognize the importance of Tribal autonomy and work hand-in-hand with Tribal governments as partners.  I look forward to building on the strong relationship between the Commission and NCAI.  Working together, I believe we can turn Indian Country into a model for digital transformation and success.”  - Chairman Genachowski

“Change has begun. We have begun to reorient our institutions for consultation and dialogue with Indian Country and we are opening up a new era that is the most pro-active on behalf of Native Americans in history. There is real commitment – sincere and far reaching, with good faith by everyone and a commitment to build a new bridge between the FCC and Indian Country.”  -  Commissioner Michael Copps

“We are committed to the government-to-government relationship and attuned to the importance of having a historical perspective.  I am pleased with the Tribal Priority order and look forward to future discussions.  We need creative thinking and for Tribes to propose ideas and get feedback.  The problem is easily stated but the answer is complex.”  - Commissioner Robert M. McDowell

Commissioner McDowell also made this statement on a Commission order providing Tribes with assistance in obtaining new radio stations designed to serve their tribal communities.

“I affirm the government to government relationship and my desire to work in partnership with Tribal leaders. My goal is to view everything from its impact on consumers, making sure to do no harm.  Broadband plays a critical role especially in rural and Tribal areas.  The core principal is affordable, high speed open Internet access to all.”  - Commissioner Mignon Clyburn

“I have an open door.  Spectrum reform is needed.  In the short term, there is a need to allocate and deploy as fast as possible, make power level adjustments, issue waivers, deal with tower siting on Federal lands.  In the medium term, we need to look at secondary markets, partnering with Tribal interests to share systems, work on the auction process, improve the Tribal Lands Bidding Credit program and make sure that small carriers may afford to compete in the auction process.  In the long term, there is a need for more spectrum, including in Indian Country.  The FCC is providing leadership and I want to help.”  - Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker

In speaking to NCAI, the Chairman highlighted the special relationship between the Federal government and Tribal governments, the FCC’s commitment to work with Tribes on a government-to-government basis, and respect for Tribal sovereignty and self-determination.  He reaffirmed the FCC’s commitment to meaningful consultation with Tribes to ensure that Tribal communities enjoy the benefits of a modern communications infrastructure, including broadband.  

He said it was unacceptable that, while 65 percent of Americans have broadband in the home, only 65 percent of Indian Country has basic telephone service, with broadband access on Tribal lands estimated to be less than 10 percent. 

Chairman Genachowski spoke about broadband as a platform for job creation and economic growth and a platform for solutions to many challenges including education, health care, energy, public safety, and democratic engagement.  With broadband, entrepreneurs can continue to reside on Tribal lands and still collaborate, innovate, and create new small businesses and high-value jobs because of access to robust and open information networks. 

The National Broadband Plan includes a number of Tribal-specific recommendations to benefit Indian Country.  To enhance communications and consultation with Tribal governments, the Plan proposes three new mechanisms, including a government-wide Federal-Tribal Broadband Strategic Initiative; an FCC Office of Tribal Affairs; and an FCC-Tribal Task Force consisting of senior FCC Staff and Tribal leaders that will focus specifically on broadband deployment and adoption on Tribal lands.  Other recommendations include:

  • A “once-in-a-generation” transformation of the $8 billion Universal Service Fund to build 21st century communications networks, including on Tribal lands;  
  • Allowing more members of the Tribal community to share connectivity funded by the E-rate and Rural Health Care programs, helping more Tribal libraries qualify for E-rate funding, and creating a Tribal seat on both the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service and the USAC Board of Directors;
  • Creating a Tribal Broadband Fund to support sustainable deployment and adoption programs in Tribal lands; 
  • Providing funding to upgrade connectivity for federal facilities on Tribal lands;
  • Expanding the FCC’s Indian Telecommunications Initiative and allowing Tribal representatives to participate in our FCC University training programs at no cost.
  • Improving data collection on Tribal lands;
  • Exploring ways of improving Tribal access to and use of spectrum, including extending the new Tribal priority in broadcast radio services to the process for licensing fixed and mobile wireless licenses covering Tribal lands.

Watch Chairman Genachowski's full remarks or read them here. Commission McDowell’s remarks are available here

The Broadband Plan’s Blueprint for Accessibility

March 12th, 2010 by Elizabeth Lyle - Special Counsel for Innovation, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

The Silicon Flatirons conference on The National Broadband Plan and Accessibility for People with Disabilities at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library in Washington, D.C. was a momentous occasion.  It was a day filled with aspirations and hope -- and a belief that we could and would come together and fulfill Congress’ vision of broadband access for all Americans, including those with disabilities.

The day started with a welcome to an overflowing crowd by Nancy Davenport, the Director of Library Services at the D.C. Public Library and Dale Hatfield, the Executive Director of Silicon Flatirons.  That was followed by powerful remarks by FCC Chairman Genachowski and the President’s Assistant for Disability Policy Kareem Dale. 

FCC Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau Chief Joel Gurin and I discussed the plan’s recommendations and implementation as well as the accessibility working paper which will be released soon.  We spoke of the plan’s recommendation that the Executive Branch should convene a Broadband Accessibility Working Group, which, among, other things, would work to ensure that the government itself is a model of accessibility.  We also announced that the FCC would establish an Accessibility and Innovation Forum at the FCC which would allow stakeholders to collaborate on accessibility solutions.  We also discussed several specific actions to address accessibility and affordability concerns that the FCC, Department of Justice, and Congress should take.

Then Robert Atkinson of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and Jenifer Simpson of the American Association of People with Disabilities (both co-sponsors of the event) moderated a lively roundtable discussion among Eric Bridges, Vint Cerf, Rosaline Crawford, Larry Goldberg, Jason Goldman, Link Hoewing, Leah Katz-Fernandez, Fernando Laguarda, Axel Leblois, Susan Mazrui, Ari Ne’eman, Laura Ruby, Ken Salaets, Kate Seelman, and Gregg Vanderheiden.

We discussed many of the plan’s details, but it was the big picture ideas and fundamental principles – on which there was much agreement -- that carried the day:
 

  1. Broadband is a big deal. (sandraleesmith46).
  2. Accessibility equals independence. (Kareem Dale)
  3. Knowledge is power. (Eric Bridges)
  4. Knowledge is power, but so is community. (Ari Ne’eman)
  5. Information sharing is power. (Vint Cerf)
  6. Innovation often happens in unexpected ways. (Link Hoewing)
  7. There is a key role for innovation in solving accessibility challenges, especially when inclusion is part of the planning from the beginning. (Fernando Laguarda)
  8. [F]or the first time in history . . . the rights to access is a fundamental right for persons with disabilities in international law. (Axel Leblois)
  9. With broadband Internet access, I do not feel disabled. (Leah Katz-Hernandez)
  10. Now is the time to engage in this endeavor in earnest and show that we do indeed believe that this is a big deal. (Chairman Genachowski)

You can see video of the conference at http://www.FCC.gov/live.

The blueprint in the National Broadband Plan is ambitious, and we are heartened by all those who have expressed commitment to work with us to implement the vision.  More soon on how we plan to keep the momentum going, but in the meantime, thank you to all those who have helped shape the plan and make it a vehicle to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to broadband communications.

Broadband and the Future for Educational Technology

March 12th, 2010 by Janice Morrison - Expert Advisor

Educators got a preview of the enhanced role educational technology is expected to play in the future of K-12 education during a webcast aired March 10, 2010. The webcast, titled The Future for Educational Technology in K-12 Education Policy and Practice, was hosted by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA).

The webcast combined an overview the U.S. Department of Education’s National Educational Technology Plan (NETP), released March 5, with a preview of the educational portion of the Federal Communication Commission’s National Broadband Plan (NBP), scheduled to be released March 17. Similar themes ran through the two presentations, and it was clear that the two plans are well coordinated to achieve the goal of using the power of technology to transform teaching and learning to enable anywhere, anytime learning.

Karen Cator, Director of Education Technology at the U.S. Department of Education shared highlights of the NETP, titled Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology.  She emphasized that the Department of Education considers the plan a beta release and looks forward to comments, ideas and stories to improve it.  The Department is collecting comments for at least 60 days here.

Steve Midgley, Education Director for the Omnibus Broadband Initiative at the FCC presented a summary of the proposed recommendations for Kindergarten through graduate education from the NBP. He emphasized that the FCC plan addresses issues of infrastructure and policy needed to address the goals and grand challenges of the NETP.

The NBP will recommend upgrading the E-rate program, which provides discounted telecommunications and Internet services to schools and libraries. The plan will also make recommendations to improve and expand online learning as well as help unlock the power of data to personalize learning and improve decision-making.

The recommended upgrades to E-rate will include streamlining the application process, giving school districts more flexibility in using the lowest cost option when developing infrastructure, indexing the E-rate funding cap to inflation, and allowing schools the option of permitting after-hours use of school connectivity for adult education, job training and other community uses. The plan will also recommend support for pilot programs of wireless connectivity on and off-campus, and will include a competitive funding program to encourage the development of networks that will serve as models for the future of the nation’s schools.

The speakers from both agencies emphasized the need for effective online learning to improve equitable access to advanced coursework and high quality teachers in all subject areas in rural and other areas where access is now limited. And both plans will address the need to improve digital literacy for teachers and students.

An archive of Wednesday’s entire webcast can be accessed here.

On Personal Data, Innovation and Privacy…

March 11th, 2010 by Blair Levin - Executive Director, Omnibus Broadband Initiative

When I gave my first public speech about broadband planning process last July, I criticized the quality of analysis in the public comments we had received. Many comments were either uninformative or business-as-usual responses, and few offered concrete or creative ideas as to how to address the issues that caused Congress to ask for a plan.

As I reflect on the last six months, with the plan deadline less than a week away, I have to change my tune. The public record since July is voluminous, with nearly 25,000 filings. They included many documents that shaped our thinking and lead to core recommendations in the plan.  For example, Dr. Gerry Faulhaber, a professor at the Wharton School of Business, filed comments noting the importance of transparency for consumers in broadband speeds and service which provide the underpinning for our recommendations on that topic.

There are other filings I could note but perhaps the most interesting set of filings—or at least the most unexpected from my point of view—were those focused on the importance of personal data in regards to innovation and privacy.  The role of personal data in the online world is not a “new” idea, but its importance to broadband became increasingly apparent through public comments and events beyond the Commission. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held a series of roundtables, the last of which concludes March 17, focused on the balance between innovative use of personal data and privacy. Congress has spearheaded similar efforts at legislation, led by Rep. Boucher, with several pieces of legislation in the works. Just last week The Economist ran a front page article on the accumulation of information and data online, while over the last twelve months major online companies such as Google and Facebook have focused on enhancing privacy initiatives for consumers.

Many of the most innovative applications on the Internet are based on consumers sharing personal data. The data that businesses collect have allowed them to provide increasingly valuable services to end-users, as they are a source of significant value. Web searching, location-based services and many of the “apps” that consumers use on their smartphones make use of personal data in return for services and goods, which are often free. Targeted advertising uses better data to deliver more focused and relevant information to consumers, who in turn are up to six times as likely to click or act on the proffered offer.

There is a great potential for innovation but it is critical to get the privacy issue right.  At a basic level, privacy online and offline are similar – consumers want a right to the privacy of their data and the proper use of their information if voluntarily shared. They expect that companies and organizations will collect, analyze, share and safeguard their data properly. However, the online world brings additional complexity. For one, data are collected in manners that consumers often fail to understand. Browsing, searching and interacting online can result in the surreptitious collection of data -- for instance with the “cookies” that remember a user (and her information) -- in ways that are not fully transparent or known to consumers. The information being shared and the terms of its use are complex, and while better disclosure standards that are easy to read and simple to understand can help, additional actions are needed. 20th century notions of privacy protection break down once information is put into digital format. Unlike the offline world of paper and photocopiers, sharing of digital information is as easy as a click.

In addition, digital personal data are not just limited to traditional commercial information – health records, energy consumption, educational figures and governmental data are all critical pieces of an individual’s digital profile. As more applications utilize the Internet and more devices connect to the Internet, this information is exploding. Safeguarding this information and giving consumers control and choice are critical outcomes to ensure that any personal information shared benefits consumers and drives innovation.

The plan itself contains several recommendations for personal data in regards to innovation and privacy. It encourages Congress, the FTC and the FCC to work together to clarify the relationship between users and their online personal data profiles. It highlights the potential for Congress to help spur the development of private-sector companies that could aid consumers in better managing their own personal data. In addition, we think one of the most important agenda items for the country is to consider how the Privacy Act should be reformed. While the Act has done a tremendous job for consumer welfare since its enactment in 1974, the 21st century realities of personal data require an update.

These recommendations, taken together, can assure that consumers have control over their personal data and confidence in the security of that data, helping to increase innovation and promote a robust and healthy broadband ecosystem.

Transparency in Broadband Performance - iPhone Apps, Broadband Tests, and other cool new tools...

March 11th, 2010 by Jordan Usdan - Acting Director, Public-Private Initiatives

As Joel Gurin previewed in his March 5th post, today the FCC launched a set of digital tools -- the Consumer Broadband Test and the Broadband Dead Zone Report -- enabling consumers to test their broadband service and report areas where broadband is not available for purchase at their household.

The FCC Consumer Broadband Test, currently in beta, allows users to measure the quality of their broadband connections in real-time for both fixed and mobile broadband.   The broadband test measures broadband quality indicators such as speed and latency, and reports that information to consumers and the FCC.  Test your broadband quality now at www.broadband.gov, or download the new FCC Broadband Test app in the Apple and Android App stores now for free.

Here is a screenshot of the FCC Mobile Broadband Test on the iPhone:

In addition to reporting broadband performance to users, these tools enable the FCC to gather data to help the agency analyze broadband performance and availability on a geographic basis across the United States.  (Read more information on privacy considerations here.)  In the future, the FCC anticipates making additional broadband testing applications available for consumer use and across different mobile platforms. The FCC does not endorse any specific testing application.

The National Broadband Plan, which will be unveiled next week, also contains a series of recommendations aimed at helping consumers understand the gap between actual broadband speeds delivered and the maximum speed tiers advertised. Working recommendations include a scientific third-party study on actual broadband performance, a working group to help inform standards for broadband speeds, and further proposals on disclosure needs for fixed broadband services, such as a “digital label.” These proposals will further the goals of disclosure and transparency and empower consumers to drive competition in a technology-neutral manner.
 
I hope consumers take advantage of the tools made available today.  As these tests are currently launched in Beta version, we seek the public’s input on additional features, testing metrics and testing platforms that can be added in the future.

Broadband Infrastructure Policy for the 21st Century

March 10th, 2010 by Thomas Koutsky - Senior Advisor, Omnibus Broadband Initiative

The broadband networks of the 21st century frequently depend upon the policies that government has for infrastructure that is decidedly 20th century—wooden utility poles, conduits underneath bridges, and easements alongside America’s roads and highways.  Because government controls and regulates many of these infrastructure inputs, there is a tremendous opportunity for enlightened public policy to spur and accelerate broadband deployment.  The draft Plan makes several recommendations that build upon successful efforts undertaken by state and local governments with regard to these important assets.

First, the Plan recommends a comprehensive approach for resetting government policy toward new network construction, which often depends upon access to government rights-of-way, buildings and facilities.

The Plan recommends that the federal government improve the process for locating broadband facilities on federal buildings and property.  The Plan also recommends that all federally-funded infrastructure projects, like bridges and roads, consider broadband build-out opportunities, such as laying conduit or joint trenching, as part of the project.

State and local governments have led the way on many of these infrastructure policies.  For example, in Western Massachusetts, 55 miles of fiber optic cable, with 34 local interconnection points, are now being laid because the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute, and the U.S. Department of Transportation made it a point to plan for general broadband deployment when upgrading the traffic management system on that stretch of highway.

The Plan recognizes that there are a myriad of ways in which state and local governments set the fee rights-of-way access, and the Plan will not recommend any specific method or change as to how state and local governments set those fees today.  The Plan instead recommends that the FCC convene an intergovernmental task force of federal, state and local rights-of-way experts that will have the charge of cataloging these different fee structures, identifying rights-of-way policies and fees that are consistent and inconsistent with the goal of broadband deployment, and recommending guidelines and construction and maintenance practices that reduce cost and avoid unnecessary delays and inefficiencies.  We believe that there are tremendous opportunities for costs savings in the industry and hope that by discussing these issues in an open, collaborative forum will expedite deployment of broadband infrastructure.

Second, the Plan makes a number of recommendations designed to maximize utilization of existing infrastructure assets, such as poles and conduits that are controlled by private utilities.  Today, the FCC has the responsibility to ensure that utilities that control access to these infrastructure facilities offer them up to telecommunications and cable providers on just and reasonable rates, terms and conditions.  But the process can be slow and costly, and get bogged down in disputes that linger for months if not years.  These disputes go both ways—in addition to the needs of communication companies for timely and efficient access, electric utilities have legitimate concerns about safety that need to be addressed and enforced.  The Plan recommends several changes to the FCC’s pole attachment regulations that are designed to speed the process, facilitate the exchange of information between pole owners and attachers, lower costs, and resolve disputes efficiently.

It’s often easy to forget that the broadband—both fixed and wireless—and indeed the entire Information Economy ultimately rides over physical wires that need to be tacked onto poles, buried alongside roads, and carried over rivers and across mountains.  Broadband infrastructure is as real as bridges, tunnels and highways, and there are tremendous opportunities for affirmative changes in government policy that can really make a difference in the deployment of broadband deeper into America’s communities

Support for Broadband Plan Adoption Recommendations

March 10th, 2010 by George Krebs

Over 30 organizations, ranging from the Benton Foundation to the National Urban League, signed on to support our broadband adoption recommendations in a letter sent to Chairman Genachowski yesterday:
 
We are pleased to express our support for the working recommendations for broadband adoption and utilization announced today by the FCC as it prepares to deliver its National Broadband Plan to Congress next week.
We appreciate the intensive fact gathering and numerous public workshops conducted by the Commission as it sought to better understand the issues facing non-adopters of broadband. The Commission's field hearings and the extensive opportunity for comment through public notices and blogs have provided the American people with many opportunities to contribute to the Plan.
 
You have said that while broadband alone is not the solution to any of the major challenges facing our country, it is part of the solution to almost all of them. We agree. We also agree that in order to maximize the country's benefit from broadband, we must work to increase the level of broadband adoption, particularly among low-income populations, minority communities, older Americans, people with disabilities and other groups which have low rates of broadband adoption. The Commission's research, which helped frame the Plan's recommendations, has proven invaluable as it identified critical barriers to adoption that must be addressed: cost, digital literacy, and lack of awareness of relevant content.
 
The plan's adoption and utilization recommendations are targeted, collaborative, and local: a focus that is required to produce meaningful results. We are heartened that the FCC clearly understands that government alone cannot solve the nation's adoption gaps. The non-profit and foundation communities, state and local governments, and the private sector all have an interest in increased adoption, and all must play a constructive role.
 
Leaving one-third of America without broadband at home is not acceptable in an era when high-speed access is a pathway to education, self-improvement, civic participation, and economic growth. We look forward to working with the FCC and other stakeholders in bringing life to these recommendations.

Broadband and Small Business (Or, how my two-year-old’s love of cupcakes matters in the broadband world)

March 10th, 2010 by Lyle Ishida

This is a photo of my two-year-old daughter, Sydney, enjoying a cupcake from CakeLove in Tysons Corner, VA.  It was a snowy January day and, having a bad case of cabin fever, my wife and I took our daughter to the mall to run around and have a treat.  Because cupcakes are Sydney’s greatest culinary joy, we made sure that there was a cupcake place in Tysons Corner to help her enjoy her day.

That’s all well and good, but what exactly does a toddler’s love of cupcakes have to do with broadband? 

The answer was found last week at the Broadband and Small Business Forum held in Washington, DC.  The forum featured remarks by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski; SBA Administrator Karen Mills; Todd Sharp, President of Engage, Inc, and Warren Brown, owner of CakeLove.

Brown talked extensively about his experience with broadband and how technology assists him in business.  Brown and CakeLove leverage broadband for:

  • Streamline ordering and administrative functions, freeing up store employees to better serve customers.
  • Marketing CakeLove, accepting orders on-line, building support for the baking community.
  • Promote on-line couponing and building sales, interacting with the social media universe, and “go where people are” (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc). 

CakeLove is just one example of how small businesses are using broadband and the new economy to grow and prosper.  As Chairman Genachowski said, “When small businesses use broadband, it’s a double win.  Affordable high speed broadband enables small business to increase revenue by reaching a larger market and reduce costs by cloud-based efficiency tools.  More profit, more jobs created.”

In a time when America is looking for drivers of economic development, broadband’s promise looms large as a tool to help entrepreneurs and small business owners to maximize efficiency and reduce costs, build awareness and revenue and take their enterprises to the next level.   Warren Brown noted, “We’re not just baking cakes, we’re making digital ideas.”
 
Ultimately, the success of the National Broadband Plan will not only mean that every small business and entrepreneur across America can have access to this vital business tool, it will also mean that every father,  in every corner of this country, will be faced with the same dilemma that I faced in January –  when your darling child looks up to you with big, pleading eyes and asks:  Daddy, can I have a cupcake??  Pleeeaasseee????
 

“The Internet in America”—Your YouTube Interview with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski

March 10th, 2010 by Haley Van Dÿck - FCC New Media

This Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission will unveil the National Broadband Plan—a roadmap to connect all Americans to affordable, high-speed internet.

The development of the National Broadband Plan has been one of the most open and participatory processes in the history of the FCC, with citizens from all over the country participating in our online workshops, sharing their ideas on our crowd sourcing platforms, and joining the discussion on our blog.
 
We’ve reached out over the past few months and asked questions about what broadband means to you and your community. Now it’s your turn to ask FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski questions about his plan for the future of the broadband in America. No topic is off-limits: from civic engagement to economic opportunity, education to health care – we want to know what Americans have in mind for Internet innovation in the 21st century.
 
Following the announcement of the National Broadband Plan next Tuesday, YouTube will interview Chairman Genachowski as part of a series of in-person interviews with government leaders answering your questions. Check out the latest You Tube Interview with President Obama here.
 
Join the discussion at Citizen Tube and submit your question for Chairman Genachowski via Google Moderator today.  You can also vote on the best questions in any of seven topic areas:
 
The deadline for questions is Sunday evening at midnight on the west coast. 
 
On Tuesday, March 16th following the FCC’s Open Commission Meeting, Steve Grove of YouTube will ask Chairman Genachowski your questions.  We look forward to hearing from you.

 

The Cost of Digital Exclusion

March 9th, 2010 by Brian David - Adoption and Usage Director, Omnibus Broadband Initiative

By Brian David, Adoption and Usage Director , John Horrigan, Consumer Research Director, and Scott Wallsten, Economics Director (Adoption and Usage Team)

For those following how the Broadband Task Force has characterized the problem of non-adoption, the term “cost of digital exclusion” is familiar. The idea has roots in the academic literature, where Rahul Tongia and Ernest Wilson have argued in “Turning Metcalfe on His Head: The Multiple Costs of Network Exclusion” that the costs of not being online rise faster than the growth of the network. Blair Levin’s “Wired for Social Justice” speech touched on this idea in noting the societal benefits that come about from getting more people online.

A new report prepared by the Digital Impact Group and Econsult Corporation (DIG/EC) adds to the discussion by attempting to quantify the economic impacts associated with digital exclusion. The DIG/EC report, The Economic Impact of Digital Exclusion, finds that the aggregate costs of having one-third of the nation without broadband access comes to $55 billion per year when looking across 11 areas of impact (e.g., health, education, economic opportunity). 

We note that the estimated cost should be approached cautiously.  In addition to the inherent data-related challenges in this kind of undertaking, the report explicitly does not attempt to estimate the net benefits - it does not include the cost of programs that may be necessary to bring about the growth in broadband access that create the estimated benefits.

Nonetheless, we hope that the DIG/EC study will spur an ongoing discussion of the costs of digital exclusion.  Such a discussion among policy-makers, practitioners and economists is crucial to building an inclusive broadband future.  As Mark Cooper of the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) observed in The Challenge of Digital Exclusion in America: A Review of the Social Science Literature and Its Implications for the U.S. National Broadband Plan, “digital exclusion can be seen as exacerbating the underlying problems of social exclusion and inequality.” The DIG/EC study helps us think of the potential opportunities that may come about if more people have broadband access, while challenging analysts to do more to understand the costs of getting there. 

As we approached today's Digital Inclusion Summit, DIG/EDC and CFA remind us of the stakes involved with closing gaps in home broadband access. Broadband is a pathway to benefits that the already-wired among us take for granted: news about our communities and government, better understanding of health care challenges, more information for purchase decisions and job search, and staying in touch with family and friends. The DIG/EC study helps us think in dollar terms about the potential scope of benefits, and CFA focuses on how digital exclusion can harden established patterns of inequality – possibly making it even more costly over time to address access gaps. Stayed tuned for how the Broadband Plan proposes to address these gaps.
 



Capture The Phone Numbers Using Your Camera Phone

If you have a camera and a 2D matrix code reader on your mobile phone, you can capture the FCC Phone numbers right to your phone by following these three easy steps:
Step 1: Take a photograph of one of the codes below using the camera on your mobile phone.
Step 2: Use your phone's Datamatrix or QR Code reader to decode the information on the photograph. Please note, these code readers are device specific and are available to download on the internet.
Step 3: Store the decoded address information to your phone's address book and use it with your Maps or GPS application.

Datamatrix and QR FCC Phones