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Archive for December, 2009

Live Blogging the “Speech & Democratic Engagement” Workshop

December 15th, 2009 by George Krebs

1:12 PM EDT
On your way to work, between flipping through pages of your book on an e-reader, you check your email on your phone. When you’re ready to leave in the evening you check the train schedule on that very same phone. Once home you surf the web to order your holiday presents and watch a video online. Just a few short years ago many of these tools on the Internet that we now consider essential to our everyday living did not exist.

The Internet is changing rapidly and all indications point to a pace that will not slow. Today’s workshop will explore the myriad possibilities that today’s dynamic Internet has allowed. From news, to entertainment, to social networking, to law, and every conceivable realm in between, the Internet is changing the landscape as we know it. Today’s panel represents bloggers, minority media owners, community and advocacy groups, and legal scholars (and we even have a legal scholar who moonlights as a blogger). We have quite a line-up here today which promises some great discussion on a fascinating topic.

1:35 PM EDT
The panel is being moderated by Stuart Benjamin, an impressive introduction given that this is his first day at the FCC as the Distinguished Scholar in Residence. Commissioners Copps, McDowell and Clyburn will give statements, and then the panel will begin.

1:46 PM EDT
Michele Combs, from the Christian Coalition of America, explains that the Coalition is connected in every way imaginable. They tweet their members, produce YouTube videos, and ensure that they make the most of web capabilities in reaching out to their constituents. With these tools they compiled and distributed to churches voter guides for the Presidential race last year. When an amendment they opposed came up in congress, they organized their base and facilitated the mailing of hundreds of thousands of emails to congressional members to defeat it. She emphasizes that the open Internet allows them to “reach members directly without a media filter.”  She is concerned about invasion from Internet service providers. “The open Internet levels the playing field” and allows them to get their message out to all of their members to coalesce around the issue of the moment. Ms. Combs stresses that the rules shouldn’t overstep their bounds; but more importantly her organization’s message should not be submerged for their ideological bent.

1:53 PM EDT
As Commissioner Mignon Clyburn made clear in her opening remarks, the Open Internet proceedings affect minority business owners as much as any other stakeholder.  One such company is Jonathan Moore’s Rowdy Orbit. The company gives an online platform for programming featuring African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans, and is primarily intended for those audiences. Mr. Moore created the media company “out of frustration over the lack of representation of people of color in traditional media… The only way I could create and deliver a solid platform was the Internet,” he says. He explains that these shows are examples of “Great storytelling that would have been shelved by a traditional process” and give “an unobstructed direct line to an under-served viewing audience. A launching pad for quality multicultural programming.” Another advantage of the Internet is that it’s incredibly inexpensive. “From the start of developing the business plan to today, my out-of-pocket investment has been only $526.” This is the quintessential business success story of the poor immigrant coming to America with a few dollars in his pocket and making it big. The Internet has given Rowdy Orbit that chance.

2:10 PM EDT
Professor Glenn Reynolds has an interesting perspective and speaks to the immeasurable opportunities that the Internet is creating. A few years ago, he says, he founded What began as a means for him to supplement his Constitutional Law classes with some relevant blogging on the side, has become a full fledged opinion site with between 400,000 and 500,000 views a day. He discusses how the Internet is entirely upending journalism, allowing independent journalists to report on the ground from Iraq and Afghanistan based solely on reader contributions. Also touching on the value of citizen reporting, he says that there is now typically someone there to capture news instantly as it happens. In moments it can be viewed by millions. Low barriers to entry on the Internet, he says, facilitate all of this.

2:18 PM EDT
Online video is in its nascent stages and Ruth Livier is a pioneer. She was the first person to join the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) for her work on the web.  She produces and stars in a show called Ylse, about a struggling, modern American Latina woman. The show has become enormously successful and now boasts half a million viewers in only its second season in production. She hasn’t spent a dollar on marketing. She says, “As an American and a Latina I got tired of seeing disproportionate amounts of negative stereotypes… I saw in the web an opportunity to partake in redefining those unfair and unbalanced perceptions.” The Internet allowed her that chance to grow her show with few obstacles. “There is no way I could have gotten my show produced through traditional media,” Ms. Livier says. Given the success of her show she now has employees. “As a small business owner, I hope to create jobs and open opportunities for others.” These possibilities depend on the Internet as an open and growing platform. She concludes, “A neutral Internet is our best opportunity for diverse voices to partake in the molding of the American perception and perspective.”

2:25 PM EDT
Yale Law professor Jack Balkin forcefully argues against allowing Internet Service Providers to play the roll of free speech arbiter. “The first amendment protects speech; it does not protect business models,” he concludes. He also emphasized the need for transparency on the part of providers who block content. Bob Corn-Revere, a partner at David, Wright, Tremaine law firm is opposed to net neutrality rules, citing Commissioner Robert McDowell’s opening statement in which he said that when a company makes a mistake it affects that company. When the government makes a mistake, it affects everyone. Garlin Gilchrist, a blogger with an engineering background who runs New Media for the Center for Community Change discussed the incredible journey that much of this technology has traveled. Andrew Schwartzman, President of the Media Access Project, provides anecdotes of Internet Service Providers blocking customers’ access to various web content. This is a destructive approach, he argues, and calls on the government to take action to ensure the Internet does not slip down a slippery slope of access restrictions.

2:43 PM EDT
The question and comment period has commenced.

3:02 PM EDT
This concludes today’s lively discussion on Speech and Democratic Engagement. Panelists came to the discussion with a number of different view points and offered terrific perspectives on how far, if at all, the FCC should go in taking steps toward preserving the open Internet. Even more intriguing was hearing the stories of the panelists. They noticed an absence in the market, created their obscure website with few resources, and eventually carved out a substantial space for themselves in the ever-growing Internet community. Two other workshops, on “Innovation and Investment” and “Consumers and Transparency,” will take place in the coming weeks.

What the Open Internet Means for Democracy

December 10th, 2009 by Steve Waldman Senior Advisor to the Chairman, Future of the Media

Steve WaldmanHow would the world have been different for the past decade if we hadn’t had an open Internet? For instance,  would the world know about Neda, the Iranian woman who was murdered during democracy protests?  That video was captured on the spot by a citizen, quickly loaded on the Internet and then spread (for free) as bloggers and news organizations posted YouTube embeds.  Over and over again, a journalist or citizen saw the video and, through the radical pro-democracy step of simply hitting Control C, Control V, spread Neda’s story.

It’s not just in foreign lands that an open Internet helps promote democracy. The same basic dynamic has been repeated over and over in the U.S. In the last national elections both sides made effective use of virally-spreading videos and information. On the local level, citizens use digital tools to find out information about their governments and communities. Concerned citizens, community activists, and political parties across the ideological spectrum increasingly use the open Internet to obtain pertinent information about government policies, hold their elected leaders accountable, and spread their message to others.

Putting aside the question for now of how to guarantee openness, it does seem clear that the ability of the Internet to encourage democracy, empower grass roots Americans and people around the world, requires a profoundly open system.

Today’s Workshop

December 8th, 2009 by Julius Knapp

Julius KnappWith today’s workshop we’re kicking off the Technical Advisory Process for the open Internet proceeding. The FCC’s Office of Engineering & Technology created the Technical Advisory Process to ensure that the FCC’s decisions regarding the open Internet reflect a thorough understanding of current technology and future technology trends.  The idea is to provide an inclusive, open, and transparent forum for obtaining the best technical data and insights from a broad range of stakeholders.

We’ve started by establishing a technical working group comprised of engineers and technologists from across the FCC’s bureaus and offices.  The working group will hold meetings with engineers and any other interested parties to understand the range of views in the technical community on the issues presented by the open Internet rulemaking, identify any areas of common ground between stakeholders, and clarify the scope of key differences.  In addition, FCC engineers from the working group will be integrated into other teams within the Commission considering the various issues raised in the open Internet proceeding.

We’re looking forward to rolling up our sleeves and engaging with the engineering community on the technical issues in the open Internet proceeding.

Open Internet Workshops

December 7th, 2009 by Haley Van Dyck FCC New Media

Haley Van DyckTomorrow will kick off a series of public workshops held by the FCC to explore issues raised in the open Internet Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). The initial round of workshops will discuss the impact of the Internet’s openness on important issues including speech, democratic engagement, consumers, innovation, and investment.

All workshops will be live streamed here on and open for online participation. You can share your thoughts and submit questions to panelists during the workshops on the FCC’s Facebook or Myspace pages, through the crowd sourcing platform Ideascale, via e-mail, or on twitter using #OiWkshp. To register and learn more about upcoming workshops please visit the open Internet workshops home page, and check back soon for announcements on additional workshops.

The first public workshop—part of the Technical Advisory Process—will take place tomorrow December 8th at 10 AM, and will address basic technical issues relevant to the proceeding. Please see the agenda below, or visit the technical advisory process workshop page for more information.

Technical Advisory Process Workshop on

Broadband Network Management


December 8th, 2009, 10:00 am

FCC Commission Meeting Room

10:00-10:05 am Introduction of Workshop-Moderator, Julius Knapp, Chief, Office of Engineering and Technology

10:05-10:50 am Scott Jordan (UC Irvine), Traffic Management and the Open Internet

10:50-11:35 am kc claffy (UC San Diego), Network Management in the Internet

11:35-12:20 pm Paul Sanchirico, Cisco, Routing and Network Operation

12:20-1:30 pm Lunch

1:30-2:15 pm Paul Liao (CableLabs), Cable Network Management

2:15-3:00 pm Bill Smith (AT&T), Wireline Network Management

3:00-3:45 pm Tom Sawanobori (Verizon), Wireless Network Management

3:45-4:30 pm Jonathan Rosenberg (Skype), Network Management for Applications and Services

FCC Participants:

Julius Knapp, Chief, Office of Engineering & Technology

Ruth Milkman, Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

Sharon Gillett, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau

Stagg Newman, Chief Technologist, National Broadband Taskforce

Jon Peha, Chief Technologist, FCC

Walter Johnston, Chief, Electromagnetic Compatibility Division/OET

The Technical Advisory Process Begins

December 7th, 2009 by Jon Peha - Chief Technologist, Federal Communications Commission

Jon PehaFCC engineers have been thinking about what an open Internet could and should look like for some time, and we’ve ramped up recently.  It often looks like a preschooler filled my white board with strange diagrams that I like to think represent the Internet.  But to really help the FCC make informed decisions, we need to learn more from people outside the FCC about where the technology is, where it’s going, and how it might be affected by the open Internet proceeding.

That important process begins now.  I am delighted with the announcement of a new technical advisory process.  A working group of FCC engineers will be talking to leading technologists from throughout the engineering community over the coming months, and reading those brilliant comments that are starting to pour in.  Continuing a great idea from the National Broadband Plan process, we’ll hold a public workshop on December 8 at the FCC, where technology experts describe current practices in broadband networks.

So join us live or online for the technology advisory process kickoff workshop on December 8.

For more information about the technology advisory process, see the workshop page.

And to file your own formal comments through the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System, see