This little $2.1 million piggie yet is more proof that the billions appropriated to provide broadband stimulus will provide neither broadband or stimulus. Instead, new bureaucracy is being created to decide how much money and more is needed to actually build something (maybe) and it will take years. Unfortunately the tax payers who funded this cookout will be smelling lots of bacon and get nothing they can sink their teeth into.
The Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet’s Commonwealth Office of Technology will use about $1.6 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period. It will use $500,00 for broadband planning of improvements and expansion activities over a five-year period, according to a news release.
The state’s assessment will include an examination of broadband speed, location and technology type, the release said.
Information will be collected from public and private broadband providers by Moon Township, Pa.-based infrastructure engineering and consulting firm Michael Baker Corp. (NYSE: BKR).
The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, in cooperation with state universities and community colleges, will verify and field audit the information, the release said. The effort will be led by the University of Louisville and Murray State University. (Business First)
At the the risk of playing my same old drumbeat, competition is absent from the hope and change national broadband plan. Without competition, we will have neither hope or change. With the federally protected broadband duopoly controlling nearly all fixed line access in the United States, there will never be a competitive market. The FCC only made that situation worse by allowing the same duopoly players to control most of the radio spectrum devoted to two way communication. It also appears that this duopoly has assumed complete control of the FCC based on a broadband plan that has no goals for improving much of anything:
Blair Levin, the FCC’s chief designer of the broadband plan, this week seemed to reinforce the notion that the agency’s plan may be many things when it’s finished — but ambitious won’t be among them. Levin tells Amy Shatz of the Wall Street Journal that any return to line sharing is likely out, despite rumors to the contrary. Levin also shoots down Senator Rick Boucher’s suggestion from last week, requesting the FCC aim high (like around 50 MBps) when crafting broadband goals (Levin prefers 2-4 Mbps). Oddly, Levin also takes a moment to, of all things, complain about consumer group criticism of the broadband plan:Mr. Levin also dismissed criticisms last week from public interest groups unhappy the plan may not propose some ideas for encouraging competition, such as rules that would require Internet providers to share their lines with competitors. “I find their criticism not very productive,” Levin said Monday. (DSL Reports)
One prediction I’ve made that I hoped would be wrong is that of expecting broadband “stimulus” money to end up in the hands of the telcos who wouldn’t build much at all with it. That prediction is based purely on how broadband funding has been spent in the past. The problem is two fold. Congress writes all sorts of gimmes into funding to begin with. Then, the allocated funds move to the FCC and USDA. The management of those agencies is largely composed of former and future revolving door insiders and lobbyists. The emphasis at Congress and these agencies is on distributing money, not on measuring results.
The FCC’s own deadline for acceptance of applications for broadband stimulus applications has arrived. While a ton of money is being spent on studies, none will be complete before the balance of the money is spent. The FCC will continue to rely on Telco data to decide how stimulus money will be allocated.
…..the government has decided to back off from its demands for quality data about current broadband access and speeds from a third party and instead rely on the telecommunications industry’s information. On Friday, the Department of Commerce, which is running the National Telecommunications Information Agency, declared that the broadband maps only needs to contain block-level data, not the address-level data for which consumers groups had hoped. And it said the maps don’t need to contain information about the actual speeds offered because the large telcos view such information as competitive and wouldn’t give it up. I told you so.
So all the broadband maps will contain is general data about who has broadband (remember, that’s 768 kbps downlink speeds) on any given block — specifically what speeds are advertised, not what’s actually delivered. That difference could be significant for the telcos, whose DSL lines provide service to 25 percent of the U.S. (according to Leichtman Research Group) and whose speeds vary depending on how far a resident lives from the remote terminal. It’s less significant for the cable companies, which provide a shared network where speeds can vary depending on what a neighbor is doing on his or her connection, mostly because the cable company would be unlikely to see its network speeds dip below 768 kbps. For a nice analysis of why carriers can’t guarantee speeds, check out this post.
The dirty little secret about broadband for underprivileged and rural areas is that they have both been continuously funded and subsidized for more than a decade. The money has gone to incumbent providers with little or no accountability. The only thing that has changed with our new president is that amount on money we’re throwing down the telco rabbit hole.
Here’s another prediction: When the studies underway are completed, a crisis will be declared and we’ll hear an outcry for more big spending with new taxes to support it. So much for change to believe in.
The FCC is , surprise, commissioning academia to do studies to prove what anyone who follows American broadband already knows. That is costs of providing service are falling while providers are trying to ration and increase prices. At the same time providers are not investing in new capacity.
The FCC’s National Broadband Plan is due to Congress next February, and the agency just launched the first of its 20 different staff-led workshops into all aspects of US broadband. The FCC is looking beyond its walls, too, already commissioning studies about worldwide broadband deployment and usage from Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society (of which Charles Nesson, the Harvard Law professor who recently represented file-swapper Joel Tenenbaum, was a cofounder).
Now, the FCC is asking Columbia’s Institute for Tele-Information (CITI) to do an outside review of “projected deployment of new and upgraded networks to help inform the FCC’s efforts in developing the National Broadband Plan.”
This analysis won’t be a mere economic examination of work that might be paid for by the government, either; CITI “will provide an analysis of the public statements of companies as to their future plans to deploy and upgrade broadband networks” but will also do a “historical evaluation of the relationship between previous such announcements and actual deployment.” (Ars Technica)
Here’s a prediction for what the much ballyhooed broadband stimulus will accomplish: Many studies will be made and will confirm what we already know, only with statistics that will justify more funding studies. Incumbents will be awarded the lions share of funds to deploy infrastructure with very little actually being deployed. A few high visibility projects will be completed so the Prez can have a photo opp or two in time for the reelection campaign.
The revolving door for political appointments is well oiled and moving smoothly in spite of campaign promisies for change. At the FCC it’s meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
Our favorite federal bureau of duopoly stooges will be hosting a set of meetings to allegedly seek input from Americans everywhere………. in Washington DC.
The FCC on Thursday announced the topics for the 18 workshops, to be hosted at the FCC’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., between Aug. 6 and Sept. 3. The FCC continues to ask the public to suggest topics and submit questions that can be asked at the workshops.
The workshops will be open to the public and will be webcast online, the FCC said. Key stakeholders attending the workshops will include broadband service providers, equipment providers, applications providers and community groups, the FCC said.
Among the topics the FCC will explore in the workshops: e-government, opportunities for disadvantaged businesses, deployment challenges, broadband for health care, and communities that have low broadband adoption rates.
So were’ having PUBLIC meetings? If you want to participate, you need to find your way to lala land inside the Washington beltway. Who’ll be there? The K street lobby lead by the duopoly. You can watch online, but can you participate? Very doubtful. Even the tone of the agenda is troubling. We seem to have a mind set stuck firmly with the cast of clowns that currently deliver increasing overpriced uncompetitive broadband. Potential new competitors be seated at the table? Very doubtful. Access costs money, and start ups have little of it.
Most troubling. While a national standard must be set for what level of access should be considered as a lifeline service, the FCC seems to be more focused on equality of outcome for all. With that kind of goal setting, we’ll end up with equally pathetic overpriced service with a few of us getting it for free. There is absolutely no mention of changes to create a competitive system that provides the best access in the world.
Welcome to the home of fascist broadband. Now that’s change you can’t beleive in! The longer we allow the feds to manage our broadband, the nearer we get to becoming a nation resembling Fidel’s paradise.