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

  • Jul 31 2014

    It’s easy to get caught up in the simplistic debate that often dominates the surveillance conversation: that this is about balancing national security and individual privacy. But the binary argument over security vs. privacy ignores the other negative impacts of National Security Agency surveillance on our national interests.

  • Jul 31 2014

    There is a new frontier in cybersecurity: The computers masquerading as phones in consumers' pockets. Smartphones are constantly connected to the Internet, infrequently updated and are challenging to secure. They're rich targets, recording pictures, names of associates and conversations.

  • Jul 31 2014

    T-Mobile US said it added 1.47 million total net new subscribers in the second quarter, including 908,000 branded postpaid net adds.

  • Jul 31 2014

    You don't need a gig. That's the case Frontier Communications chief executive Maggie Wilderotter is making as Google Fiber readies a charge into the Portland (OR) area, perhaps as soon as 2015.

  • Jul 31 2014

    A little more than 10 years ago, Comcast stuffed mailboxes in Batavia, Illinois, in the weeks leading up to a vote on a referendum measure attempting to establish a municipal broadband network, warning of failed projects and other horror stories that would come to life if they voted in favor of it.

  • Jul 31 2014

    Unveiling London’s first long term infrastructure investment plan, Mayor Boris Johnson said the world’s first major ‘5G’ mobile network will be deployed in the city by 2020, working in collaboration with the University of Surrey.

  • Jul 31 2014

    The Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause and the Sunlight Foundation called on the Federal Communications Commission to extend to cable and satellite systems the requirement that their political files be posted on the FCC’s online database.

  • Jul 31 2014

    Central Intelligence Agency employees improperly accessed computers used by the Senate Intelligence Committee to compile a report on the agency’s now defunct detention and interrogation program, an internal CIA investigation has determined.

  • Jul 31 2014

    Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) called on the Senate to pass a short-term extension of a ban on Internet access taxes.

  • Jul 31 2014

    Comcast has begun to roll out speed upgrades in Houston and parts of California, according to customers. Comcast is jacking up speeds without a price increase.

Blog

  • The third major goal adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in the latest E-rate reform proceeding is to make the E-rate application process (and other E-rate processes) fast, simple and efficient.

  • Maximizing the benefit of each dollar spent on telecommunications services for schools and libraries and minimizing the contribution burden on consumers and businesses is a major goal adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in its July 23 E-rate order. The FCC is aiming to drive down costs for the services and equipment needed to deliver high-speed broadband connectivity to and within schools and libraries. And, the FCC concludes, E-rate applicants need more information about purchasing decisions. The FCC changed E-rate rules to increase pricing transparency, encourage consortium purchasing and amend its lowest corresponding price (LCP) rule to clarify that potential service providers must offer eligible schools, libraries and consortia the LCP.

  • It is easy to conflate peering and paid prioritization. Recently, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CT) introduced bills in both chambers of Congress to ban so-called paid prioritization. Coverage by the New York Times pointed out that the bills ban “deals similar to the recent agreement that allows Netflix to connect directly to Comcast’s system to avoid network congestion.” However, that is not strictly true. The proposed Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act of 2014 (S. 2476 and H.R. 4880) prohibits “paid prioritization” as understood in the Federal Communications Commission’s conventional discourse on net neutrality. The bills do not explicitly deal with interconnection, or peering arrangements such as the Netflix-Comcast deal. Similarly, in its Open Internet rules, the FCC has so far focused on regulating the potential harms of last-mile paid prioritization rather than that of paid peering/ interconnection. As the FCC reviews the recent flood of net neutrality comments, regulators should be mindful of rhetoric-masked, bad arguments that overlook the nuances between the two.

  • On July 23, the Federal Communications Commission released its report and order on “Modernizing the E-rate Program for Schools and Libraries,” an effort to reorient the E-rate program to focus on high-speed broadband for U.S. schools and libraries. Tomorrow we’ll look at how the FCC aims to maximize the cost-effectiveness of spending for E-rate supported purchases. We’ll also explore soon making the E-rate application process and other E-rate processes fast, simple and efficient. And then we’ll look at the FCC’s new proceeding on meeting the future funding needs of the E-rate program in light of the program's new goals.

  • FCC Chairman Wheeler said the FCC will “look for opportunities to enhance Internet access competition” and highlighted a recommendation to lift legal restrictions on the ability of cities and towns to offer broadband services to consumers in their communities. This week saw a major development on this front. Chattanooga (TN) and Wilson (NC) simultaneously petitioned the FCC to pre-empt laws in their states that ban the cities from expanding their high-speed Internet networks.

  • Over the past few months, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has received over a million net neutrality comments—a reflection of the broad and vocal interest around the country in the debate over the best path forward for strong open Internet protections. Yesterday, New America’s Open Technology Institute added our voice to the conversation, filing joint comments with the Benton Foundation in the Open Internet docket. We urge the FCC to craft strong new rules that protect users against the full scope of harms on all platforms, arguing that reclassifying broadband as a Title II telecommunications service is the clearest and most legally sound way to achieve this important goal.

  • Public Knowledge, along with our allies Access Sonoma Broadband and Benton Foundation, submitted comments in the FCC’s Open Internet proceeding (that’s the net neutrality proceeding). Although our comments were long, their message was simple: it is time to do this right. It has been almost a decade since the FCC put out its “internet policy statement,” recognizing its critical role in protecting an open internet. Since then, we have seen many things happen in the world of net neutrality. But we have not seen robust net neutrality rules capable of withstanding a court challenge.

  • You may well have read about the Federal Communications Commission’s vote last August to cap rates for interstate phone calls placed by prison inmates. Understandably, most of the coverage of this controversy has focused upon what the FCC did, rather than the legal underpinnings of its actions. This post will address some of those legal questions.

  • Next week public comments are due regarding the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) proposed rules for net neutrality. Much of the focus will be on arcane legalisms, the particulars of various court decisions, and the confounding twists and turns of FCC regulatory oversight (or lack thereof). This is all well and good, and based on more than a decade tracking such minutiae as a member of the FCC, I am confident that those of us favoring a real Open Internet will have much the better detailed arguments to put forward. But it’s more -- much more -- than that.