Benton Foundation

The mission of the Benton Foundation is to articulate a public interest vision for the digital age and to demonstrate the value of communications for solving social problems.

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Headlines

  • Nov 26 2014

    Frantically all year Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has been trying to save the Internet from President Barack Obama for the benefit (he thought) of President Obama.

  • Nov 26 2014

    Thanksgiving Day is now home to four of fall's most-watched programs.

  • Nov 25 2014

    When a grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for shooting an unarmed teenager, Twitter predictably lit up -- a sudden, sweeping surge of 3.5 million tweets that spiked just before 9:30 p.m. Eastern and simmered for hours.

  • Nov 25 2014

    How did social media impinge the Ferguson investigation? What physical evidence released by the media prejudiced eyewitness accounts? What leaks thwarted St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch’s work?

  • Nov 25 2014

    With the CableCARD regime set to end following passage of the satellite reauthorization bill and the Federal Communications Commission now tasked with pursuing a successor platform, consider TiVo to be pleased as punch about all of it.

  • Nov 25 2014

    Mobile phones are now ubiquitous in developing countries, with 89 active subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. Though many types of population data are scarce in developing countries, the metadata generated by millions of mobile phones and recorded by mobile phone operators can enable unprecedented insights about individuals and societies. Used with appropriate restraint, this data has great potential for good, including immediate use in the fight against Ebola.

  • Nov 25 2014

    The circulation of unverified claims, particularly on social media but also from journalists, is arguably inevitable in a story like Ferguson (MO). The trick is in learning how to find and evaluate it.

  • Nov 25 2014

    Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced the appointment of John Schanz as the Chair of the Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council.

  • Nov 25 2014

    A United Nations committee has passed a resolution that explicitly condemns mass online surveillance and calls for its victims to have legal redress.

  • Nov 25 2014

    The US waded into a European debate over a possible breakup of Google, expressing concern about the politicization of antitrust investigations.

Blog

  • So 2014 will pass into history without the Federal Communications Commission stepping up to the plate to ensure an Open Internet. Think of the good history the Commission could have made for itself. Instead we got more delay and more uncertainty about whether Title II net neutrality will ever see the light of day.

  • Last week, Federal Communications Commissioner Mignon Clyburn outlined five principles to bring the Lifeline program, which subsidizes phone service for low-income Americans, into the broadband age. The principles focus on two things we all care about. First, they call for the FCC to improve how the program functions so that more funds go to those who need it, while lessening administrative burden on the companies that provide the benefit to eligible consumers. Second, the principles provide a vision of what consumers and taxpayers get in return. In Commissioner Clyburn’s words: “Broadband is the greatest equalizer of our time.”

  • One of the most important challenges of our generation is to ensure that every child in every classroom has a chance to succeed and win in the global economy. Poverty, discrimination, isolation and ignorance hold our country back. But investments in education, infrastructure and technology spur economic growth, creating more good jobs and wealth for all of us. It is in our national interest to ensure that every child — no matter who they are, no matter what they look like, no matter where they come from — has the opportunity to succeed. New research finds that just 34% of K-12 students in public schools attend schools where Internet speeds are 100 Mbps or more. One in five (20%) students attends schools with Internet speeds of only 10 Mbps or less.

  • Normally on Fridays, Kevin Taglang wraps up the top news of the week. But Kevin’s away so we thought we’d give you the you the big news straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. On Monday, President Barack Obama laid out his plan to ensure a free and open Internet through the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality. As Sen Ed Markey tweeted, “When the leader of the free world says the #Internet should remain free, that’s a game changer.”

  • A look at 2014 election results and what they mean for communications policy.

  • If the FCC reclassifies broadband it will be an important test of whether a law that is more than 20 years old has within it the flexibility to address changed technology that has become central to commerce, speech and everyday life.

  • We’re less than two weeks from Election Day 2014 and deciding which party will control Congress for the next two years. Nate Silver gives Republicans a 66% chance of winning a majority of seats in the Senate which would give the party control of both Houses. What would that mean for telecommunications and technology policy?

  • Putting aside all the sky-is-falling caterwauling, here is what the FCC needs to do now: Treat broadband as the telecommunications it so obviously is under Title II, and reassert that there is still a place in government responsible for protecting consumers, innovators, and citizens generally from what will otherwise surely be unbridled industry gate-keeper control over the communications ecosystem upon which our nation’s future rides.

  • On October 16, the US Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a report, Exploring the Digital Nation: Embracing the Mobile Internet, which finds that over the last five years, the total number of Americans 16 and older that accessed the Internet on any device grew by 18 percent from 151 million in 2007 to 187 million in 2012 after adjusting for population growth. Broadband adoption at home increased to 72 percent of households in 2012 from 69 percent in 2011. Despite the progress in home broadband adoption, the report also identifies persistent gaps in home Internet use. In 2012, a significant portion -- 28 percent -- of American households did not use broadband at home. A lack of interest or need (48 percent) and affordability (29 percent) are the top two reasons for non-adoption.

  • Three years ago, Blair Levin, a former Federal Communications Commission Chief of Staff and Executive Director of the National Broadband Plan, organized Gig.U, a coalition of three dozen research university communities working to accelerating the deployment of next generation networks to serve their communities. Over two-dozen communities have, or are now in the process of, deploying such networks. This week the Brookings Institute named Blair a non-resident Fellow in its Metropolitan Policy Program, causing FCC Chairman Wheeler to note, “No one's done more to advance broadband expansion and competition thru the vision of National Broadband Plan & Gig.U.” In light of Blair’s background, we asked him to reflect on the report released today by the Pew Research Center on “Killer Apps in the Gigabit Age.”