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some good news on US activity

From: Novak, Kevin <KevinNovak@aia.org>
Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2009 14:55:41 -0500
Message-ID: <7D3AB086C3D86347AE8225DE8190296B02EB0672@AIA-NT1.aia.org>
To: "eGov IG" <public-egov-ig@w3.org>

Broadband stimulus passes its first hurdle 

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has approved $2.8 billion for
broadband infrastructure grants


By Ephraim Schwartz

January 23, 2009 

The House committee on Energy and Commerce , which has oversight on
broadband and energy matters, approved its portion of the Economic
Recovery Legislation
this week.

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The broadband components of the legislation which is over 200 pages give
the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA)
authorization to allocate $2.85 billion for wireless and wireline
broadband through a program of grants.

[ Last year, InfoWorld pondered if the U.S. needs a new broadband policy
licy_1.html?source=fssr>  | Barack Obama had been including support for
broadband rollout funding in his stimulus package since early this month
t_grid_in_stimulus_package_1.html?source=fssr>  ]

The entire legislation is expected to come to a floor vote in

Approximately $1 billion will be targeted for wireless service with a
goal that 25 percent of the $1 billion go to unserved areas and the
remaining 75 percent for the advancement of broadband in underserved
areas of the country.

The provision requires those that receive grants to lay out a broadband
infrastructure to do so in a way that is technologically neutral.

Grantees will be required to "provide access to the supported
infrastructure on a neutral, reasonable basis to maximize use."

The wording appears to support one aspect of what is called net

Net neutrality has come to mean everything from opposing additional fees
for better quality of service to network accessibility by competing
content deliver services.

President Obama has stated that he favors net neutrality
<http://www.savetheinternet.com/?gclid=CJH97oyfpZgCFQxKGgodF3-0nA> , but
net neutrality  is not supported by most of the carriers.

According to news reports, Steve Largent, president of the Cellular
Telecommunications Internet Association  (CTIA) also sent a letter to
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman  stating that
carriers would be hesitant to participate in the grant program unless
the FCC more clearly defines what it means by "open access," another
term that has many definitions.

According to the legislation, open access would ensure that private
entities cannot restrict any content deemed lawful "that flows through
taxpayer-funded broadband facilities."

The CTIA has also been lobbying on behalf of the carriers for what is
called a "shot-clock" approach to putting up towers and antennas to
improve wireless access.

Under shot-clock, a municipality would be required to approve a site
within 75 days of an application. Currently, tower and antenna approval
can take years as it works its way through various environment impact
studies and public hearings.

The current legislation also calls for the NTIA to set minimum speed
requirements for unserved and underserved areas, "reflecting what is
technologically and economically feasible."

The bill, in fact, sets specific benchmarks for "advanced broadband
service" as delivering data to an end-user at a speed of at least 45
Mbps downstream and 15 Mbps upstream.

The term "advanced wireless broadband service" is defined as data
transmitted at a speed of at least 3 Mbps downstream and at least 1 Mbps
upstream, "over an end-to-end internet protocol wireless network."

Basic broadband service is defined as delivering data to the end-user at
least 5 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream.

The legislation states that almost any entity is eligible to apply for a
grant, including satellite companies.

Although the entire stimulus package is on a fast track to a full vote
in the House and Senate, some provisions in the broadband component
appear to be less hurried.

For example, it requires states to create a broadband inventory map of
the United States that "identifies and depicts the geographic extent to
which broadband service capability is deployed and available from a
commercial provider or public provider throughout each state. However,
the NTIA is being given two years after the enactment of the Act to
create the inventory map according to the proposed legislation.

The bill does appear to go a long way toward keeping the public informed
of broadband progress. It requires the NTIA to create a Web site that
lists eligible entities that have applied for a grant, the areas the
entity proposes to serve, plus the status of each application.

States will have 75 days after the legislation is approved to indicate
what areas have the greatest priority for broadband.



Kevin Novak

Vice President, Integrated Web Strategy and Technology

The American Institute of Architects

1735 New York Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20006


Voice:   202-626-7303

Cell:       202-731-0037

Fax:        202-639-7606

Email:    kevinnovak@aia.org

Website: www.aia.org




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Received on Friday, 23 January 2009 19:57:54 UTC

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