Yesterday I attended the regional meeting in Baxter, MN to discuss the Broadband Fund. Diane Wells from the Office of Broadband Development spoke to 20-25 people about the upcoming opportunity for funding.

The information shared was very similar to info from the <a href=”http://blandinonbroadband.org/2014/07/10/border-to-border-infrastructure-grant-program-webinar-notes-from-july-10-2014/”>webinar</a&gt; and other regional meeting – but I like to capture the questions and notes from each meeting

Timeline:
Late Sept 2014 – announce program details and open application process
Application process will be open for 30 days
Oct-Nov 2014 – 6 week application review process
Challenge window – first two weeks of review process
December – make awards

Attending the meeting in Baxter were economic developers, providers and elected officials. The economic developers said they need broadband and providers saying they want to learn more and/or they want to get their applications ready. The providers also had concerns about the need for solutions that were/are scalable to 100 Mpbs. People had very specific questions. Clearly this was not the first time folks had heard about the opportunity.

Cheryal Hills from Region Five Development Commission set the tone saying – We want to learning how to put together an application that gets funding and encourages the legislators to fund more in subsequent years.

Questions:

Is there a place to post comments?

Please call us or send us an email. If you question the data on your area – you can do that online.

What do eligible costs include?

We need to know that this is thought out and planned. We don’t need engineering plans in places.

How will scalable to 100 Mbp is measured and viewed?

Sign off by a professional engineer. And it’s building out. You need to indicate that the piece you are building can be used to provider 100 Mbps in the future.

Have you considered a letter of intent to prep for response?

No we’re trying to roll out the application

Are engineering drawings still required?

We need to be able to see that what you are planning to make sure that the cost is appropriate. We might not need to know where every dslam is – but we want to know how many.

We’re still working out scoring details but we plan to make that scoring information available.

Are there issues with prevailing wage?

DEED does have requirements – which vary my region. We’re still looking into it but our understanding is that it will be a requirement.

Have there been any discussions with balancing the state and federal funding?

We can’t make any commitments for an application due to FCC by Oct 14. They have a comment on rule making now – they are looking at their next iteration. We are tracking that and will likely file comments. But for this we just can’t get it to synch up.

Can federal funds be used to match?

Yes – but the problem is that you’ll need to bill it out. You need to demonstrate to them that your funding is in place by Oct 14.

Do you anticipate environmental review issues?

We are working to set up meetings with folks on that now. Right now

It’s the applicants responsibility to know if there are possible issues and we understand that means the project has be to some distance down the road.

Can you use debt as your match rather than cash or in-kind? (Can you borrow the money?) Maybe a reduced loan rather than a grant so that might help with prevailing wage issues.

Do you know the reporting requirements in regards to ownership?

Ownership should be stated in the application. We will only look at first 5 years (and commitment of service) for 5 years.

What is the process for drawing down funds?

At DEED the invoices are submitted and we pay 50% of costs for reimbursable costs.

Who will make the final decisions about the grants?

DEED makes recommendations to Commissioner Clark Sieben who signs the order. The understanding is that she generally defers to recommendations. There’s not a directive coming down saying where the money should go – in existing programs.

In the 50/50 match – do towers count at in-kind?

That would be difficult if it’s already paid for but maybe if there’s a lease paying for it. Match needs to be spent within time of grant program.

We asked Connect MN to prepare county maps by census blocks the areas that are serve and unserved – we have links on the website. Start by looking there and let us know ASAP if there are discrepancies.

October 1 the maps will be updated again. So the maps may change somewhat – so you’ll want to know what’s going on in your area.

Does shovel ready matter?

Only that we’re looking for timelines aspects – we need to know timeline and costs are realistic.

Will there be someone on the committee that will look to know make a judgment on scalability?

We may consult with someone on that. We are open to innovation.

The definition of terms will need to be fleshed out to include of scalability to 100 Mbps.

What does $5 million mean to a telecom company?

It’s a small project. We have 600 square miles. We have $46 million invested today. And the scalability means some people without access today – are not eligible for these funds. It would make sense to look at the recent rural experiments for some innovative ideas.

Posted by: Ann Treacy | July 27, 2014

The unintended consequences of technology on our brains

This is a strange post for a blog that promotes broadband and technology, but I ran into an article in the Huffington Post that did all of the research that I’d like to do on the impact of technology on our brains and skills and who we are – 8 Ways Technology Makes You Stupid. OK they did half the research I’d like to do because I know there are some positive impacts of technology as well.

Here’s their list in a nutshell:

  1. Tech is screwing up your sleep
  2. You’re easily distracted
  3. You can’t remember much
  4. So you’re relying on the Internet to remember things for you
  5. And you’re much more forgetful than you used to be
  6. You can’t concentrate on what you’re reading
  7. You can’t find your way around without GPS
  8. You have the brain of a drug addict

I hate to admit that I’ve seen these qualities in myself and/or in my kids in the last week. Just last night I took a phone away from a kid and I was a little afraid of a total withdrawal meltdown. To be fair my sense of direction while driving was never very good – but it’s not getting better with my reliance on GPS, although I do get places faster and more directly. I am heartened to hear that my poor memory is technology – not age – related!

The question for me becomes how can I curb impact of technology on myself and my kids. The article offers a suggestion…

Now that you’re properly terrified of the effects of technology on the old noggin, let us remind you that you do have the power to prevent brain drain and time-suck. Just log off every once in a while!

It seems simple enough – and there’s a reason I’m posting this on a Sunday. It’s a good day to practice logging off. But I think I’m also going to strive to be more diligent daily. I can start in simple ways – no phones, ipods, ipads, laptops after bedtime. No technology during meals. No texting to people in the house – and texting will not be replaced by shouting. We don’t live in a mansion – find the person (usually me) you need and talk to them (usually ask for money). No headphones on car trips less than 20 minutes. Long drives it’s all about distraction but short trips can be a great time to catch up with the people in front of you. And maybe instead of Tweeting all day – you could try to use those clever quips to engage the people in your presence.

I’m as guilty as the kids – really the first step is classic addiction management – recognizing there’s a problem and cultivating a desire to fix it. The added difficulty is that addiction to technology is more like an addiction to food than alcohol or drugs because for most of us going cold turkey isn’t a solution or even a goal – we just need to be healthier in our choices and use. I bet there’s an app for that!

Posted by: Ann Treacy | July 25, 2014

Minnesota Broadband Task Force Budget Discussions: July 23

Sadly I was not at the July Task Force meeting – but I have been able to learn the following:  

 

The Task Force met in the Cities and it sounds as if the main topic on the table was the opportunity to provide input to DEED’s budget planning for the next biennium relevant to state funding for broadband-related investments. Danna MacKenzie from the Office of Broadband Development (OBD) updated the Task Force on the office’s activities since the Task Force last met.  Danna and her team have been focused on the design and launch of the Border to Border Infrastructure Fund created by the legislature during its most recent session. Danna shared details about the process in a recent Blandin Foundation-sponsored webinar. She is also touring Minnesota communities to talk more about the opportunity.

 

The Task Force agreed on two budget recommendations for Commissioner Sieben’s consideration:

  1. $200 million over two years for Broadband Deployment Fund
  2. $2.9 million over two years for the Office of Broadband Development; that includes $1.4 million for continued mapping (but with no reference to a specific vendor) and the remaining for operating funds (including staff) and program delivery 

I suspect that the details of the broadband fund will be informed by the process distributing the $20 million this year. Also I assume the Task Force will be looking for some good stories from the 2014 fund recipients to help plea the case to legislators for more funding over the next two years. I think the matching component is also likely to be encouraged.

 

Finally the Task Force decided not to meet in August at Farm Fest as originally planned. Logistics were cited as the reason.

I would like this idea even more if youth from all over the state could participate. It sounds like a great opportunity for kids around Minneapolis and St Paul to learn more about technology by becoming tech tutors and supporters.

Here’s more info from the email I received…

Comcast Digital Connectors
What: A program that connects young adults to technology, leadership, and media and financial literacy with the use of fun interactive sessions, field trips, guest speakers, community partners, and Cisco IT Essentials.
Incentives: Build a strong team, leadership, CDC backpack, CDC lanyard and flash drive, CDC T-shirt, Free laptop, and Cisco IT Certificate in IT Essentials!
Who: High schoolers and young adults ages 13-21
When: Starting September 12th until May 2015 Tuesdays and Wednesdays 4-6:30pm
Where: Neighborhood House 179 East Robie street, Saint Paul, MN 55107
Contact: Shanna Woods 651-789-3623 Swoods@neighb.org

I’m going to reiterate – free laptop – since I know that would be the selling point with the youth in my house.

Here’s a link to the flier and the application.

 

OK the press release didn’t include a direct connection to broadband – but it’s not a big stretch to add it in. The scoop is that there’s a big Rural Opportunity Investment Conference (ROI) happening this week to encourage public and private investment in rural economic development. For investors it’s an opportunity for new markets; for economic developers and businesses, it’s a new investment pool…

In conjunction with this event, the White House Rural Council is announcing a $10 billion dollar investment fund to promote rural economic development. This fund will continue to grow the rural economy by increasing access to capital for rural infrastructure projects and speeding up the process of rural infrastructure improvements. The fund is immediately open for business and more investors can now add to the initial $10 billion in available capital.

The White House Fact Sheet includes more info on this fund as well as details on others that may be of interest.

Posted by: Ann Treacy | July 22, 2014

Gig Austin (in Minnesota) is gaining traction

According to the Austin Daily Herald, Austin is getting serious about Gig broadband access. They recently released a vision for the community and the results of a broadband feasibility study…

Vision 2020 released the results of a feasibility study Friday which showed Austin could support a fiber Internet service. According to the study, the high-speed broadband Internet service could be built for about $35 million and could be run by all kinds of organizations, from public utilities to a private co-op.

Under the Gig Austin plan, all of the Austin Public Schools district could access fiber Internet. Laura Helle, director of vision creation at Vision 2020, said the committee believed rural properties near the city that were still part of the district would need access as some providers don’t cover those areas.

More communities are looking at fiber networks as essential features. More than 830 communities and 9.7 million people in the U.S. already have fiber networks, according to the Fiber to the Home (FTTH) Council, a trade association. That includes a number of communities in Minnesota, from Monticello to a group of communities in southwest Minnesota, to entire counties like Cook and Lake.

“Generally, any area that’s served with a telephone cooperative is now served with fiber to the home,” said Bill Coleman, a telecommunications consultant out of Mahtomedi. “We’ve seen a tremendous investment by those companies in those rural networks.”

The feasibility study included a few tidbits that could be valuable for any community…

Vision 2020 found a number of pitfalls involved in a fiber network project. If a community takes on more than 50 percent of the project’s capital costs in debt, the project will likely fail and few people will sign up for the service, according to Helle. If a large portion of the community doesn’t sign up to receive fiber Internet, the project will fail. Fiber advocates have to pitch a project as a community boon and an individual benefit, or the project will falter.

That means far higher Internet prices for residents and businesses than competing Internet providers, even with better Internet speeds.

The initiative has momentum and great community involvement…

The Community Wide Technology committee hopes to use the feasibility study’s results to educate area residents on Gig Austin. Volunteers and experts point out fiber offers speeds far higher than the average 5 megabits per second in the U.S. Fiber is also more reliable, as the glass cables won’t corrode or be damaged by lightning. In addition, a fiber network is built to withstand even faster Internet in the future

But it seems like it still needs a home base…

Gig Austin doesn’t have an owner yet, nor does it have firm costs to build the network. The study may have put a $35 million price tag to build a network in Austin, but costs could grow depending on how Gig Austin is funded. It’s too early to determine how expensive data plans will be to use Austin’s fiber, but Helle and other Vision 2020 volunteers say they want to keep data plans comparable to what residents and businesses currently pay.

It does sounds like Austin is poised to take advantage (or at last apply) for the Minnesota Broadband Development Funds and FCC funds.

Posted by: Ann Treacy | July 21, 2014

Two-thirds of Americans can access 100 Mbps broadband

According to a recent blog post from the NTIA (National Telecommunications & Information Administration)…

Considering wireline and wireless technologies together, the slowest broadband speeds are nearly ubiquitously available, and access to very fast broadband (over 100 Mbps) has now reached two-thirds of Americans. The data, as of December 31, 2013, shows that 99 percent of Americans have access to wired and/or wireless broadband at advertised speeds of 6 Mbps downstream and 1.5 Mbps up, though this number drops to 89 percent when considering wireline broadband alone.

The NTIA credit upgrades in cable infrastructure.

I myself moved to cable fairly recently. I finally cancelled my other/old broadband service last week. As any good provider (of any services) would do, the customer rep on the phone tried to talk me out of cancelling until I told her I really needed better upload capacity. She allowed that upload wasn’t their long suit.

As much as it’s heartening to hear that so many Americans have access to good speeds, it makes me nervous to see that juxtaposed so many having access to 100 Mbps that 89 (or 99) percent have access to “6 Mbps downstream and 1.5 Mbps up” or better because that is quite a digital divide. It’s exactly what the National Broadband Plan was going for (100 Mbps to 100 million homes; 4/1 Mbps service to everyone else) but again it’s quite a digital divide.

My fear is just as I forget about the days it used to take hours to upload some of the video I post on the blog regularly now that I have cable; I’m afraid the rest of the world will forget about the 4/1 people and communities once “we all” (or at least 100 million households) get 100 Mbps.

Posted by: Ann Treacy | July 19, 2014

Lake County hosts Senior Health and Technology Conference

Fun to hear about the successful health-technology fair in Lake County. They got some nice local press on the event and it sounds like it was well attended. Thanks to the folks from Lake County for sharing it…

Lake County hosts Senior Health and Technology Conference

Jan O’Donnell, Vice Chair of the Community Partners Board of Directors, welcomed 70 participants to the 15th annual Community Partners conference focused on Senior Health and Technology on Tuesday May 13, 2014. “We know two things”, O’Donnell said, “First, technology is all around us whether we like it or not, and second, we are all getting older! We might as well become informed consumers in this changing world.”

 

Community Partners chose the topic of “senior health and technology” to help people learn about tools that will make life easier. Participants enjoyed a luncheon, workshops and an information fair.

 

During the luncheon, Jill Corbin from Home Instead Senior Care, presented Lu Cotton with the “Salute to Senior Service Award” for her many hours of service helping seniors through Community Partners and Socially Active Seniors (SAS). Kirsten Cruikshank, Director of Community Partners, introduced a video about how the organization and other partners are helping seniors learn about technology and using the internet. The video, produced by ProVideo of Duluth and funded by the Lloyd K Johnson Foundation, is available on the Community Partners website, www.communitypartnersth.org.

Patty Rowray of Lake Connections was the keynote speaker, sharing information about Lake Connections services. She also shared fun online ideas and opportunities to help people of all ages “get connected, stay connected and live connected”.

Workshops were presented by Cheryl Blue of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services; Randy Rusnak of Lighthouse Center for Vision Loss; Leah Davidson, Healthsense; Rachel Gischia and Katie Klessig, Lakeview Hospital; and Jan Ringer and Mary Aijala, Senior Surf Day Volunteers.

Twenty-four vendors shared information about senior services with participants. Ecumen, Lake View Hospital & Clinic, Lake Superior School District Community Education, and the Blandin Broadband Communities Program sponsored the event that was held at Superior Shores.

We are just beginning this journey of exploring how technology can help us as we age in the community – there is so much to learn!”, said Cruikshank.

For more information about resources shared at conference, contact Community Partners at 218-834-8024.

Posted by: Ann Treacy | July 18, 2014

MN Broadband Development Fund Meeting in Montevideo

Today I attended two meetings in Montevideo. My primary reason for being there was to attend the first regional meeting to discuss the Broadband Fund. Danna MacKenzie and Diane Wells from the Office of Broadband Development spoke to 20-25 people about the upcoming opportunity for funding.

The information shared was very similar to info from the webinar a couple weeks ago. I’ve included the PPT and questions below. The big take away – it’s not too early to get working on a proposal if you plan to apply.

Timeline:
Late Sept 2014 – announce program details and open application process
Application process will be open for 30 days
Oct-Nov 2014 – 6 week application review process
Challenge window – first two weeks of review process
December – make awards

Official RFP will be available once the application process is actually open. (Late

If you want funding – start the process now.
We know we can’t fund everything but this list will be used to make the case to legislature that more funding is needed.

If you are looking at forming a new entity to receive funds? Start that now.

We don’t’ need detailed engineering designs. We need high level and enough to make judgments.

The Broadband Rural Experiments are due October 14. They are looking for efficient applications. The timing doesn’t fit with the MN funding very well but it’s another route. It will be difficult to marry the programs but we’re trying to work to support

The FCC requires voice service. The state funding does not.

Questions:

Is this ongoing funding?
This is one time funding. BUT the idea is to continue the conversation.

Is in-kind funding allowed?
Yes. But you will get more points if it’s a cash match.

What if you use your own staff for construction? (Do we invoice ourselves?)
We can take that into consideration.

How will geographic dispersion be handled?
It will depend on the applications we receive. We need to consider geography.

Does it have to be a Minnesota entity to be eligible?
We are looking into it; there may be a SD option for this area.

What if the challenge (served vs unserved) lasts longer than 6 weeks?
The challenge process is totally separate; we will judge applications and do review process. If no resolution in 6 weeks we’ll get everyone in a room and figure it out.
** If you have questions about maps start working with Connect MN on it now!

We are expecting flood disaster relief would that help get disadvantaged points?
It’s not one of the specified areas, but please do include that information. It might help.

The anchor tenants are covered in many areas. How can we address that?
We are looking at the imprint of the anchor institute so maybe you increase the speeds or maybe providing wireless to anchor tenants clients.

Will applications be made available?
Name of applicant and boundaries served will be made available immediately for challenge purposed. .The grant application will be eventually made public. Maps and some financial info will not become public data. DEED already a process for that.

Are there state laws for wages for people hired?
There are state requirements for wages akin to David Bacon.

MVTV has ARRA funding (as did Farmers). We did 6 wireless networks across 10,000 square miles. Does the state funding cover over build networks?
The state follow the legislature. The law defines an un-served vs under-served area.

I also attended a meeting hosted by DEED, a conversation on economic development in Southwest Minnesota. The folks from DEED came to talk about talent, innovation and trade. The issue in Southwest Minnesota is having enough people (sometimes the right people) to fill the local jobs. The community needs housing, childcare and training programs that meet the needs of local employers. (Geothermal training would be welcome.)

It’s interesting juxtapose these very hands-on issues with a broadband solution. I remember when all discussions led to jobs; maybe broadband has helped shift the discussion.

Posted by: Ann Treacy | July 18, 2014

Why are there no Google Educator Groups in Minnesota?

Google Educator Groups are special interest groups focused on education and sponsored/hosted by Google. I think Google has done a good job supporting educators. They have a wide range of technology and training available to teachers. The groups are a hybrid of online and real world entities.

Google seems to offer their platforms and convening powers for Google Educator Groups (GEGs) but they don’t run the groups. So groups are welcome to use various Google tools – from Google+ to Google Hangouts to facilitate communication. Supporting educators doesn’t come without benefits. Getting teachers to use Google tools is a great way to get students to use Google tools, which is a great way to push Google into tomorrow’s workplace.

More importantly (I think) Google maintains a map of groups and events across the world. Currently there are no groups or events listed in or near Minnesota. It might be an opportunity for Minnesota educators to get something going. Or if there are similar groups formed outside of Google’s infrastructure, it might make sense to use the GEG infrastructure to at least promote those existing groups. It would be nice to see Minnesota on the GEG map – or make it easier for like-minded educators to find each other and so others could see the strong connection between technology and education in Minnesota

fdlFond du Lac is a Blandin Broadband Community. They have been working to expand broadband access on the reservation. They recently completed a big wireless upgrade creating 13 wireless hot spots for community use. The wireless service has 30 megabit bandwidth for those who are in range of the antennas.  (The speed was verified on an iPhone with a speed test website. )

 

People with access have been very happy. And the overall range was actually larger than predicted.  At the beginning of the project it was estimated that each antenna would have a range of a quarter- mile radius of the antenna.  After the installation several of the antenna’s had a range of a half-mile radius.  Unfortunately there are folks who live just outside that range and of course they now want access too. But overall the reaction has been very positive for a fairly small project.

Posted by: Ann Treacy | July 17, 2014

RFP for fiber partner in Annandale

Thanks to MTA for the heads up on this opportunity…

I received a request from the City of Annandale for us to distribute their Request for Proposal. Annandale is looking for a partner to help develop a fiber optic network in their City. They are willing to help with the increased cost between a self-sustaining network and an all fiber network. Please download the RFP for more details. Download a map of the city limits. If you have any questions, please contact Annandale City Administrator Kelly Hinnenkamp at khinnenkamp@annandale.mn.us or 320-274-3055.

Good luck to those applying. And for communities that may be looking at partnerships for a FTTH network, you might check out the RFP for ideas and inspiration.

 

This looks like an interesting conference. I will plan to attend and take notes. It will be nice to see Minnesota showcased!

Join us in Minnesota for the next stop on the gigabit highway!

Everyone who has participated agrees: the first two FTTH Council Regional Conferences: Following the Gigabit Highway have been a success! Our road trip is taking us north into the land of 10,000 lakes and within a day’s drive of close to 200 FTTH deployments. Register now and join us September 2-4 for the third stop on the gigabit highway: Minneapolis, Minnesota!

Minnesota has begun to ramp up its $20 million Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program, designed to bring ultra-high speed broadband to areas currently unserved and underserved. Hear from stakeholders who are currently bringing FTTH technology to communities across Minnesota, including network operators, state officials, and community leaders.

A Conversation with Danna MacKenzie

Join us for a lunchtime keynote presentation with Danna MacKenzie, Executive Director of the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development, and learn how the state of Minnesota is successfully bringing FTTH to communities across the state!

Meet us in the Land of 1,000 Lakes – and Fiber Deployment Register now and learn how you can implement your FTTH deployment faster and more efficiently. Join the ranks of local leaders who are bringing fiber to their communities, and experience everything the Gigabit Highway has to offer. Visit the FTTH Council Regional Conference homepage for more information, including the conference agenda and hotel information.

 

According to GovTrack, the Blackburn Amendment passed with 56 percent of the votes. What does that mean?

Here’s the view from Congressman Marsha Blackburn’s office

Congressman Marsha Blackburn today secured an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2015 Financial Services Appropriations Bill that would prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from trampling on the rights of states when it comes to municipal broadband. Blackburn’s amendment was approved with a vote of 223-200. Municipal broadband projects have had a mixed bag of results.

There have been some successes and there have also been some spectacular failures that have left taxpayers on the hook. Blackburn’s amendment prohibits any taxpayer funds from being used by the FCC to pre-empt state municipal broadband laws.

And here’s the view from Institute for Local Self Reliance (posted clearly before today’s vote)…

Last night, GOP Representative Marsha Blackburn, introduced an amendment intended to destroy local authority for telecommunications investment by severely limiting FCC funding. The amendment, introduced during debate on H.R. 5016, targets 20 states, many with state-erected barriers already in place and/or municipal networks already serving local communities.

The vote was postponed but is expected today (Wednesday) at approximately 2:30 p.m. ET. …

through publicly owned infrastructure or through the private market. Rep Blackburn and those that support this amendment do not trust local communities to make the best choices for themselves. The FCC wants to ensure state legislatures do not impose their will as influenced by the telecommunications lobby. Call your Rep!

This will have an impact on Minnesota. We do have legislation in place that is a potential barrier to municipal networks.

Yesterday Senator Franken sent comments to the FCC on his take on Open Internet. In a nutshell these are his thoughts…

I urge the FCC to adopt strong net neutrality rules that protect consumers and preserve the open nature of the Internet. In particular, I request that the FCC adopt rules that (1) clearly and comprehensively ban paid prioritization; (2) provide robust protections for mobile broadband; and (3) are based on reclassified Title II legal authority.

His letter expands on each suggestion. Banning paid prioritization is pretty clear; he says in the letter and has said in the past, “Open Internet is the free speech issue of our time.” And Franken would like to see steps taken to make sure that everyone has equal access to hearing and being heard online.

He would also like to see the FCC protect mobile broadband especially in light of the role wireless broadband is likely to have in serving rural areas. As he points out, wireless is cheaper and will play a critical role in reaching remote areas and he is concerned…

Recent incidents – such as Verizon’s refusal to allow tethering apps and AT&T’s blocking of the Apple FaceTime application – underscore the need for mobile ISP rules. This is the unfinished work of the 2010 Order, and nothing in the Verizon opinion suggested that the rules could not apply equally to mobile ISPs.

He would like to see the same rules for mobile and fixed ISPs.

Finally Franken suggests that the FCC reclassify broadband as a common carrier. This gets a little geeky. Telephone providers were common carriers – and so when the Internet first emerged ISP were common carriers. Common carrier is responsible for transport. After looking at many definitions, I found one I liked on Wikipedia. It doesn’t refer only to telecom, but I think helps…

A common carrier holds itself out to provide service to the general public without discrimination (to meet the needs of the regulator’s quasi judicial role of impartiality toward the public’s interest) for the “public convenience and necessity”. A common carrier must further demonstrate to the regulator that it is “fit, willing, and able” to provide those services for which it is granted authority. Common carriers typically transport persons or goods according to defined and published routes, time schedules, and rate tables upon the approval of regulators.

In 1996, the FCC classified broadband as an information service not telecom service, which meant providers were no longer common carriers. Providers seem to like to have broadband listed as an information service; net neutrality advocates want to go back to telecom service

Classification is one of those geeky, but important distinctions – and the root of it is “service to the general public without discrimination.” To some it means equal service; others feel it shuts the door on innovation and investment.

Franken was not alone in his comments. According to Washington Watch, the FCC has reportedly received over 670,000 comments. Here’s their summary of notes and links to various comments compiled by Washington Watch…

ITTA said any rules the Commission adopts in this proceeding should apply equally to all broadband providers, as there is no principled basis for treating fixed and mobile broadband providers differently. Verizon and Verizon Wireless  said the FCC should rely on a flexible approach that promotes experimentation and innovation throughout the Internet environment while protecting consumers and competition from actual harm, as for more than 20 years federal policy has reflected a bipartisan commitment to light-touch Internet regulation.  Verizon argued against a prescriptive one-size-fits-all rules approach. The Penn. PUC supported a modified form of common carriage regulation for the retail and wholesale broadband access network facilities and services that enable open and non-discriminatory use of Internet-based content and applications by end-user consumers. Comcast said it is essential that the Commission strike an appropriate balance between establishing effective oversight and promoting investment in broadband infrastructure, and said the Commission should follow the D.C. Circuit’s guidance and base its new rules on Section 706.  Replies on the NPRM and Public Notice are due September 10.

Comments also filed by:

If you have an opinion, you can chime in until July 18.

 

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