Actualizing the National Broadband Plan

The Advisory Committee to the Congressional Internet Caucus recently asked me to moderate a panel about the FCC’s National Broadband Plan. I did just that on March 29 at the Capitol Visitor’s Center.

If you missed it, you can listen to an audio recording here.

Here’s a quick summary of the panel:

The briefing, “Actualizing The National Broadband Plan: What Will Congress and the FCC Have To Do?”, featured panelists representing different perspectives on what next steps are required to realize the goals of the Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Plan released on March 17.

The panel looked ahead to the schedule of FCC Rulemakings and Inquiries that will need to be made in order to realize the stated goals of the National Broadband Plan. Further, the panel forecasted what Congressional legislation will be required to actualize the National Broadband Plan.

Panelists:

  • Adam Bender, Warren News (moderator)
  • Michael Calabrese, New America Foundation [bio]
  • Rick Cimerman, National Cable & Telecommunications Association [bio]
  • Barbara Esbin, Progress & Freedom Foundation [bio]
  • Derek Turner, Free Press [bio]

Snowed In

So we’ve got something of a blizzard in Washington, DC. It snowed about two feet over the weekend, and now on Wednesday the clouds are furious once more. For those of you not from DC, it’s very strange for us to get this much snow. Generally, we get about two inches, and everyone freaks out.  This winter storm has caused smart, perfectly reasonable people to dispense terms like “Snowpocalypse,” “Snowmageddon,” and “Holy S***!”

The National Zoo
The National Zoo during the Feb. 2010 snow storm

The whole situation makes me miss school, when we’d get the day (or week) off for this kind of thing.  Sadly, today’s American work world is such that if you can’t make it into the office, you work from home.

Speaking of work, I’ve shifted into a new beat at Communications Daily. I am now the paper’s lead reporter on Capitol Hill. It’s both an exciting and challenging switch. The best part has been getting out of the office to cover Congressional hearings and meet congressmen.  So far, I have interviewed Rep. Rick Boucher and cornered Sen. John Kerry on the Comcast/NBC deal. Not too shabby.

Of course, getting out to cover things can be difficult when you’re stuck inside and your city is completely inept when it comes to clearing snow and ice.

Can You Hear Me Now?

I wrote an article last week in Communications Daily about the prospects of a new technology called HD voice.  As the name implies, HD voice doubles the clarity of audio on phone calls. What’s not clear, however, is if people actually want it. Cellphones and VoIP actually provide a tinnier-sounding call then your mom’s old landline, but a lot of people don’t seem to mind.

Check out my article, which is featured here on Jeff Pulver’s blog (he co-founded Vonage, for those unfamiliar).

Do you want a clearer phone call? Sound off in the comments section!

Time Flies

Whoa, is it March already? That happened fast!

Reporting on telecom has kept me moderately busy lately. I’m getting more involved now in the broadband aspects of the economic stimulus, aka the American Recovery Act. In case you didn’t know, the U.S. government dedicated $7.2 billion to spur broadband deployment across the country. The U.S. is a pretty wired country in urban areas, but we’ve got a ways to go in the rural areas, where there’s less population and trickier geography. It will be interesting to see how successful this new grants and loans program will be.

Meanwhile, I’ve been making some solid progress on my latest creative endeavor. Yes, it’s a novel. If you liked We, The Watched,  or at least liked the story concept, you’ll probably dig this. Not even a quarter way through writing, but I’m already proud of it. More details to come.

By the way, if you’re looking for some new music, check out Glasvegas. They’re from Scotland, and put out a fantastic debut CD earlier this year. I’d describe their sound as somewhere in between The Raveonettes and U2 (“Sunday Bloody Sunday” era). I’m planning to see them live in DC at the Black Cat later this month.

Inauguration in Washington

My view of the inauguration.
My view of the inauguration.

I made it to the inauguration of President Barack Obama earlier this week.  I’m a Washington, DC resident, so this wasn’t an expensive decision on my part, though I ended up doing a fair amount of walking.

I think "throngs" would be the right word.
I think "throngs" would be the right word.

My girlfriend and I got silver-section tickets, but that didn’t mean it was easy getting into the mall. We walked miles to find the silver line, and then another mile or two to find the end of that line.  The queue, as they call it in England, stretched and snaked around block after block, eventually looping back to a spot quite close to the entrance of the silver section.  But then — in an inauguration miracle — an official told us a new gate had been opened, and we entered a mob near the entrance.  To make a long story short, we made it, and though we couldn’t see Obama per se, we had a nice view of the Capitol.

George W. Bush leaves the capital
George W. Bush leaves the capital.

Leaving turned out to be nearly as difficult a proposition as getting in. No one bothered to take down any barricades after the event was over, so things ended up looking a lot like an ant farm. Throngs of people pushed their way into dead ends, climbed over fences where possible, and cried out to soldiers for freedom. Good thing we all had hope. Yes we can!