The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will begin holding meetings beginning on 2 March 2009 with interested parties to discuss the implementation of the Broadband Grant Programs under the Broadband Data Services Improvement Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).
The first big public meeting involving the NTIA, USDA, and the FCC, will be held on March 10, 2009, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Eastern Standard Time at the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, 1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Auditorium, Washington, D.C. (Please enter at 14th Street.) The disability accessible entrance is located at the 14th Street Aquarium Entrance. The meeting location is subject to change. Any change in the location will be posted on NTIA’s website (www.ntia.doc.gov) prior to the meeting.
Note: you can schedule a meeting as well by contacting Barbara Brown (NTIA), phone number (202) 482-4374; email: at firstname.lastname@example.org. The NTIA will start holding meetings on 2 March 2009.
It is very important for public and private entities to attend these meetings, which will be in the public record. And if you cannot attend the meetings, please review the public record so you can see exactly who’s showing up in DC and influencing the people who will be doling out money. As we all know, the incumbents and large communications companies have an army of lobbyists in DC who regularly show up at these meetings and influence how the grant money will be spent. If we want the money to be spent wisely, it’s critical that we keep ourselves informed of what’s going on and raise our voices if we think it’s going to be wasted on the usual suspects.
I have posted the NTIA’s announcement (which appeared in the Federal Register):
Free Press recommendations for broadband success
Free Press has released its own recommendations to the three federal agencies that will be disbursing the broadband stimulus funds. Free Press recommends:
- NTIA and FCC should require recipients to offer interconnection at reasonable rates on a nondiscriminatory basis.
- NTIA must establish speed guidelines that are not misleading (i.e. recipients must publicize the actual speeds of their networks). NTIA should give funding priority to networks that provide high-speed access (not the usual pathetic under-1-Mbps service that is called “high-speed” in the US).
- NTIA and FCC should adopt definitions of “underserved” areas based on US Census Bureau geographic boundaries and FCC broadband data, and not depend upon the incumbent carriers’ own ideas of “underserved” which often do not comport with reality.
- RUS should remove existing rules that restrict broadband upgrades and undermine competition.
- NTIA and RUS should create a single, publicly accessible online database that contains information on broadband projects funded by the Stimulus Act so that we know where the money is going.
I will add my own recommendation: in publishing the speeds of broadband access, both the UPLINK and downlink actual speeds should be included.
Free Press’s recommendations are described in Putting the Angels in the Details: A Roadmap for Broadband Stimulus Success (PDF).