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

  • Mar 27 2015

    Although the Federal Communications Commission’s network neutrality order is still the headliner-grabber, this week we review the Administration’s most recent announcements which include: 1) the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s latest -- and last -- update of the National Broadband Map; 2) reaching the President’s high-speed wireless goal; 3) creation of the Broadband Opportunity Council; 4) ongoing support of community broadband; 5) grants for rural telecommunications infrastructure; and 6) second phase FirstNet funding.

  • Mar 27 2015

    Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler returned to Ohio State University – this time focusing his remarks on the FCC’s recent network neutrality order. He said the order “rests on a basic choice -- whether those who build the networks should make the rules by themselves or whether there should be a basic set of rules and a referee on the field to throw the flag if they are violated.”

  • Mar 27 2015

    Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that he will not seek reelection next year, triggering a race among his lieutenants to replace him.

  • Mar 27 2015

    One of Silicon Valley’s most prominent venture capital firms prevailed over a former partner, Ellen Pao, in a suit alleging gender discrimination in the course of her employment and her ultimate dismissal. A jury of six men and six women rejected Pao’s claims against the firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, in a case that has captivated Silicon Valley and renewed questions about the lack of diversity in the technology industry.

  • Mar 27 2015

    When vandals sliced a fiber-optic cable in the Arizona desert in February, they did more than time-warp thousands of people back to an era before computers, credit cards or even phones. They exposed a glaring vulnerability in the nation's Internet infrastructure: no backup systems in many places.

  • Mar 27 2015

    US Secretary of State John Kerry has asked the department's inspector general to look into procedures for handling e-mails by State Department employees, the department said. ...

  • Mar 27 2015

    Five years ago, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration issued a report identifying possible spectrum bands for reallocation for commercial uses. In the report, it identified the 3550-3650 MHz band as a potential opportunity for future commercial use.

  • Mar 27 2015

    From my perspective, the recent AWS-3 auction has to be deemed an overall success. It is hard to say otherwise when it released 65 megahertz of spectrum for more efficient purposes, allocated 1611 licenses to current and prospective wireless providers to expand wireless broadband services, and grossed revenues totaling $44.9billion (net revenues are estimated at $41.3 billion). Nonetheless, this auction highlighted many important issues and raised quite a few concerns.

  • Mar 27 2015

    The following item will tentatively be on the agenda for April’s Open Commission Meeting scheduled for Friday, April 17, 2015:
    Citizens Broadband Radio Service: The Federal Communications Commission will consider a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would leverage innovative spectrum sharing technologies to make 150 megahertz of contiguous spectrum available in the 3550-3700 MHz band for wireless broadband and other uses.

  • Mar 27 2015

    An unknown party hijacked widely used tools developed by Baidu, the largest search engine in China, in an apparent attempt to target online software used to get around Chinese censorship.

Blog

  • Back in January we reported on a series of speeches by President Barack Obama in the run up to the State of the Union address. In those speeches, the President indicated that the Internet would play a central role in his 2015 policies. This week, the Administration offered an update on its progress since January and outlined the next steps in “promoting investment and rewarding competition.” Although the Federal Communications Commission’s network neutrality order is still the headliner-grabber, this week we review the Administration’s most recent announcements.

  • Three weeks after the Federal Communications Commission’s controversial vote on network neutrality, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and his fellow commissioners faced a series of oversight hearings organized by a number of Congressional committees. Discussions of the merits of the FCC’s decision – and the process by which the independent agency reached it -- are garnering much of the attention in the press. But for the leadership of two key Congressional panels, this week’s hearings seem to be kicking off a long-term plan to reshape the FCC and how it does its business.

  • Over the last five years, the Benton Foundation has been tracking the progress made on implementing the six core goals and over 200 recommendations in the National Broadband Plan. Our tracking is fueled by our daily Headlines service which is the most comprehensive, free chronicle of developments in telecommunications policy. Benton's National Broadband Plan Tracker captures the links between today's Headlines and events, bills moving through Congress, dockets at the FCC, and the week's key events.

  • Government actions fit into five buckets: responding to a crisis (9/11, Katrina), delivering on recent campaign promises (Reagan, Bush tax cuts), routine operations, generally responding to petitioning bureaucratic or judicial actions; long debated issues that reach a critical juncture and are, momentarily, resolved (Selma and the Voting Rights Act, the Affordable Care Act, last month’s FCC reclassification decision); and small group charged with evaluating strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats related to a mission, and successfully building a path and political capital for achieving the mission. The fourth is rare, and therefore historic. The fifth is seen only slightly more than unicorns. Yet, this week we will see examples of both playing out. Of course, most media attention will focus on the Congressional hearings on the FCC’s recent reclassification decision. But there will also be several events commemorating the fifth anniversary of the National Broadband Plan. The first, on Tuesday, will focus on the impact of the plan on Anchor Institutions. The second, sponsored by Georgetown, will consider the wide range of issues covered by the Plan, looking back but more importantly, looking forward to the agenda ahead.

  • Over the past five years, the Federal Communications Commission has taken action to reform each of its universal service distribution programs to refocus them on broadband. With the fifth anniversary of the release of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan approaching, we focus today on what could be the next major item on the FCC’s implementation agenda: reform and modernization of its Lifeline program.

  • On March 12, the Federal Communications Commission released its much-anticipated network neutrality report and order. Kevin Werbach, an Associate Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, quickly distilled the 400 page release to the 305 words that matter most. We thank him for allowing us to reprint it here.

  • On Friday, February 27, as many contemplated the Federal Communications Commission’s votes on network neutrality and municipal broadband, the White House released a discussion draft of the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2015. The bill, not yet introduced in Congress, aims to establish baseline protections for individual privacy in the commercial arena and to foster timely, flexible implementations of these protections through enforceable codes of conduct developed by diverse stakeholders. Back in January, in the lead up to his State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama promised this legislation as a follow up to the Administration’s 2012 Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. Although prospects for the draft bill seem minimal in a Republican-controlled Congress, the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights – coupled with the net neutrality decision – mark a new commitment to both discuss privacy protections and enforce them.

  • Chairman Tom Wheeler said it best at last week’s historic FCC meeting: “The Internet is simply too important to allow broadband providers to be the ones making the rules.” Amen. All the fog-it and smog-it rhetoric of the big Internet Service Providers since last Thursday’s vote cannot cloud the core issue. The question at the heart of this vote was simply whether the public agency charged since the 1920s with protecting consumers, competition, and innovation in telecommunications still retains these vital responsibilities in the advanced telecommunications world of the twenty-first century. Will there be some place to turn when a few too-powerful Internet gatekeepers try to short-circuit the most dynamic communications tool in all of history? When they block, throttle, or degrade online sites they might not like? Or limit our ability to get the news and information we need in order to maintain our democracy? Are we to stand helplessly by as Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T favor their friends with express lanes on the Internet autobahn while consigning the rest of us to the bumpy dirt roads of yesterday’s technology?

  • In an historic decision on February 26, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission voted to adopt rules to protect the Open Internet. The FCC’s order has not been released yet, so we can’t offer you a detailed summary of the new network neutrality rules. As Andrew Jay Schwartzman noted in Benton's Digital Beat this week, the vote marks the end of a long debate, but it is only the start of what will be a multi-pronged fight over whether the FCC could, or should, enact these new rules. Today we take a closer look at the opposition to the new rules as voiced by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly who both voted against the FCC order. Their dissents may offer a preview of the arguments opponents of the new rules will make to Congress and the courts.

  • Today, the Federal Communications Commission sided with community-based solutions. Today, the FCC sided with choice. Today, the FCC sided with bringing better broadband everywhere. The FCC today voted to approve the petitions of community broadband providers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Wilson, North Carolina, which asked that the FCC to pre-empt provisions of state laws preventing expansion of their very successful networks. The Benton Foundation thanks the FCC for this action.