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FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn Speaks in Favor of Municipal Broadband Projects at SEATOA Conference

I had the pleasure of attending the SouthEast Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (SEATOA) conference this past weekend in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina.  I was surrounded by some of the leading visionaries in the fields of next-generation broadband deployment, broadband policy and important Public, Educational, and Government (PEG) access networks.

Among those in attendance:

  • Kyle Hollifield, representing Bristol Virginia Utilities/BVU OptiNet, a municipally-owned fiber optic broadband provider in Bristol, Virginia;
  • Colman Keane, from municipal utility EPB Telecom in Chattanooga, Tennessee;
  • Tommy Jacobson from MCNC;
  • Ken Fellman from the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA);
  • Hunter Goosman from ERC Broadband, which operates a regional fiber optic network in the western Carolinas;
  • Brian Bowman, Public Affairs & Marketing Manager of Wilson, North Carolina, home of municipal fiber network Greenlight, and
  • Michael Crowell, Broadband Services Director of Salisbury, North Carolina’s forthcoming fiber to the home network Fibrant.

The conference included several informational sessions for those working on broadband projects.

Tom Power, chief of staff for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and Jessica Zufolo from the Rural Utilities Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture discussed rounds one and two of the broadband stimulus grant program and lessons learned along the way.

Thomas Koutsky, representing the FCC Broadband Opportunities Initiative, the legendary Jim Baller and FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn also spoke about the importance of developing better broadband networks across the country.

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn delivered the keynote address at the SEATOA conference held in Asheville, N.C.

Thomas Koutsky, speaking about the National Broadband Plan said, “The National Broadband Plan is just a plan.  It doesn’t do anything by itself, it requires action.”  I couldn’t agree more.  The National Broadband Plan could culminate in a giant missed opportunity if we do not reach out and demand that our representatives in Washington get on board with a definitive plan to deliver better broadband across the country.  Washington is full of studies and recommendations that are little more than words on paper, sitting on a shelf because Americans didn’t demand action to implement them.

I could go on all day about Jim Baller and his inspiration that drives us all to fight for better broadband in America, but I will highlight this quote: “It is a disgrace that every American does not have affordable access.”  Baller rallied the crowd with a video clip from Al Pacino’s speech in Any Given Sunday.  It’s not difficult to carry Pacino’s message about football to our fight in the broadband arena, and the enthusiasm Baller brings can only be a positive.

Perhaps the most newsworthy event from the conference was a speech from the newest FCC Commissioner, Mignon Clyburn.  She gets it.  In an amazing 20-minute speech, Clyburn succinctly delivered a message we wish some of our state lawmakers would understand and support:

“Thus, the Plan recommends that Congress clarify that state and local governments should not be restricted from building their own broadband networks. I firmly believe that we need to leverage every resource at our disposal to deploy broadband to all Americans. If local officials have decided that a publicly-owned broadband network is the best way to meet their citizens’ needs, then my view is to help make that happen.

When cities and local governments are prohibited from investing directly in their own broadband networks, citizens may be denied the opportunity to connect with their nation and improve their lives. As a result, local economies likely will suffer. But broadband is not simply about dollars and cents, it is about the educational, health, and social welfare of our communities. Preventing governments from investing in broadband, is counterproductive, and may impede the nation from accomplishing the Plan’s goal of providing broadband access to every American and every community anchor institution.”

Clyburn’s speech clearly illustrates she’s an advocate for consumers and is interested in knocking down barriers that block Americans from enjoying world class broadband service.  Clyburn considers the National Broadband Plan a group effort developed by and for the American people, not just a policy document from the FCC.  It was truly an uplifting speech that gave me hope positive change in broadband and broadband policies are possible with her presence on the Commission.

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn delivers the keynote speech at the SEATOA conference.  Clyburn goes on record advocating municipally-run broadband projects where communities deem them appropriate.  This clip comes courtesy of Communities United For Broadband and you saw it first here on Stop the Cap! (April 27, 2010 — 20 minutes)

(This video is large in size.  If playback stops, please pause the video to allow more of the clip to load into the player’s buffer to reduce the chance of stalled playback.  If you still experience problems, please Contact Us.)

Audio from Toronto Internet Town Hall Now Available

Phillip Dampier June 12, 2009 Audio, Canada, Data Caps, Events, Net Neutrality, Public Policy & Gov't Comments Off on Audio from Toronto Internet Town Hall Now Available

For those who tried to watch the live stream from this past Monday’s Internet Town Hall from Toronto, it was a process that demonstrated the limitations of broadband service in Canada.  Evidently the hotel broadband connection was inadequate for the task, and the stream suffered ongoing video and audio problems for the duration.

An audio podcast version has now become available and is included below.  Because the event runs nearly two hours, you may wish to download the audio and listen on the go.  If you want to listen here, remember that the audio player will only work as long as you remain on this page.

Internet Town Hall On Canadian Broadband/Net Neutrality Issues – Toronto, June 8, 2009 (1 Hour 50 minutes)
You must remain on this page to hear the clip, or you can download the clip and listen later.

Live Coverage of Canada’s Open Internet Town Hall – Toronto

Live Coverage of SaveOurNet.ca‘s National Open Internet Town Hall, netcasting from Toronto has now concluded.  Unfortunately, connectivity issues at the hotel plagued the live streaming event, and a good deal of it was not available on the live stream.  A recording of the presentation should be forthcoming shortly, and will be embedded in this space, when available.

Rep. Ty Harrell Responds to Stop the Cap Reports About HB 1252

[Editor’s Note: Our current software does not require users to confirm their e-mail address before submitting comments on this site, although the individual purporting to be Rep. Ty Harrell did use a correct e-mail address for the representative.  On the chance that the comments expressed on this site are from the representative, our reply should be taken with that understanding.]

Someone signing their name Rep. Ty Harrell and using his e-mail address left the following general comment on two articles on our site regarding the North Carolina legislation HB 1252, which is essentially a custom written bill by and for the cable and telephone industry in an effort to impede municipal broadband network development inside the state.  Today, the legislation will be taken up by the Public Utilities Committee for review.  StoptheCap! is calling on all North Carolina citizens to do their best to attend this meeting and be prepared to protest this legislation in the strongest possible terms, and demand that representatives vote “no” on it.  At this time, only telephone calls should be made to your elected representatives.  It’s too late for e-mail.  This is the link for information about the group assembling for today’s Committee meeting in Raleigh.  Here is information about the earlier Call to Action.

… Continue Reading

Call to Action – Act Now North Carolina Or Be Stuck With the Same Slow Choices You Have Now

This Wednesday morning, May 6th at 10:00am, the Public Utilities Committee is meeting in Room 1228 of the Legislative building on Jones St. in Raleigh to vote on HB 1252.  HB 1252 is the “Level Playing Field” bill, sponsored by Rep. Ty Harrell (D-Wake County), that would forever tie the hands of municipalities from ever offering better, faster and cheaper broadband Internet for their residents.  The city of Wilson already offers such a service called Greenlight.  After looking at what they offer for speeds and pricing, it will be understandable if you need a few moments for the anger over what you pay the “other guys” to dissipate and for your composure to return.

I am assembling a small army of outraged consumers across North Carolina to attend this critically important meeting and make our views known about HB 1252, which at its core screams anti-competition.  Everyone in North Carolina who cares about the cap issue, metered pricing, or municipal broadband needs to attend this meeting and show our feelings.  Municipal broadband is the safety valve we need to combat usage caps, price gouging, and rationed Internet.

Don’t be the hamster on the wheel spinning around and around in the cage current providers have constructed for our broadband service.  We deserve better, and we can make a difference!  Cable and telephone providers refuse to make the upgrades we demand and deserve.  Without competition, why spend the money to upgrade?  Let them get away with this, and you can be assured of slow speeds and bad service indefinitely.

Make an investment in yourself and your community and come to Raleigh this Wednesday morning.  Let’s demonstrate once again that organized consumers do not have to sit back and simply take what they give us.

When: Wednesday, May 6 10:00AM

Where: North Carolina Legislature Building, 16 West Jones Street, Raleigh (Here is a Google map of the area.)  Room 1228

Additional Information:  Be sure to follow any comments left on this article for last minute updates/information.  There is also a Facebook Group to oppose this bill and get late-breaking news and developments.

Jay Ovittore lives in North Carolina and is coordinating a pushback against corporate sponsored protection bills like HB 1252 and SB 1004 in the state legislature.

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