Airwaves, Web Power at Auction
by Stephen Labaton
New York Times
WASHINGTON — The auction for rights to a highly valuable swath of the nation’s airwaves will begin Thursday and is expected to include multibillion-dollar bids from the nation’s two biggest wireless phone companies, Verizon and AT&T, as well as Google. Although industry executives and analysts agree that Google is unlikely to win any licenses, the company already has an invaluable victory: in setting the auction rules, the Federal Communications Commission has forced the major telephone companies to open their wireless networks to a broader array of telephone equipment and Internet applications.
The radio spectrum licenses, which are to be returned from television broadcasters as they complete their conversion from analog to digital signals in February 2009, are as coveted as oil reserves are to energy companies. They will provide the winners with access to some of the best remaining spectrum — enabling them to send signals farther from a cell tower with far less power, through dense walls in cities, and over wider territories in rural areas that are now underserved.
And the licenses are on the auction block just as it is becoming obvious to industry players and investors that wireless broadband is rapidly becoming the next big thing, the mobile Internet. —>
New Report Concludes: To Be Competitive, Cities Must Own High Speed Information Networks
by Christopher Mitchell
The United States, creator of the Internet, increasingly lags in access to it. In the absence of a national broadband strategy, many communities have invested in broadband infrastructure, especially wireless broadband, to offer broadband choices to their residents.
Newspaper headlines trumpeting the death of municipal wireless networks ignore the increasing investments by cities in Wi-Fi systems. At the same time, the wireless focus by others diverts resources and action away from building the necessary long term foundation for high speed information: fiber optic networks.
DSL and cable networks cannot offer the speeds required by a city wishing to compete in the digital economy. Business, government, and citizens all need affordable and fast access to information networks.
Today’s decisions will lay the foundation of telecommunications infrastructure for decades. Fortunately, we already know the solution: wireless solves the mobility problem; fiber solves the speed and capacity problems; and public ownership offers a network built to benefit the community.
Download the full report – http://www.newrules.org/info/munibb.pdf
HiperBarrio’s Citizen Journalists Bring Their Local Community Together (Columbia, SA)
by David Sasaki
The impetus for Rising Voices, a citizen media outreach project funded by a Knight Foundation News Challenge award, surged from the observation that the great majority of self-published bloggers, podcasters, and photographers featured everyday on Global Voices were highly educated, urban, and upper-middle class. While the growth of citizen media has allowed for an unprecedented level of global connectedness, that network of new voices has yet to expand beyond the wealthy neighborhoods of urban centers across the globe.
Until now. Thanks to the hard work of Rising Voices’ project coordinators, an international readership is discovering the local stories of previously unheard voices including young women in Dhaka, Bangladesh, motivated interns in Sierra Leone, and residents of the largely indigenous city of El Alto, Bolivia.
Rising Voices, however, is much more than an initiative to bring local voices to a global audience. We are also interested in the potential of citizen media to create more unity in already established local communities. With this in mind, the facilitators and participants of HiperBarrio recently organized a town hall meeting which brought together over 100 residents and community leaders from San Javier La Loma, a hillside community which endured the brunt of the violence during Medellín’s Esobar era and the subsequent chaos that followed until as recently as 2002.
The event, which was to take place in La Loma’s cancha acustica (the barrio’s only public space), was moved to an auditorium in the local church when the afternoon’s drizzling rain refused to let up. The Colombian digital magazine, equinoXio, published a four-part series about the unusual citizen media event with contributions from two of HiperBarrio’s talented participants, Catalina and Julio Restrepo, as well as one of the facilitators, Alvaro Ramirez. Their articles, two of which have been translated from Spanish below, reveal how HiperBarrio has brought a sense of unified community to what was once one of Medellín’s most violent and most divided neighborhoods. —>
Colorado’s Legislative TV Debut Impresses
by Jim Spencer (1 comment)
It is too soon to pronounce Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff a TV star. But it is not too soon to pronounce his leadership in televising his body’s legislative sessions visionary. Colorado Open House, the state’s legislature’s new television show, debuted Monday with moving speeches about the civil rights movement on Martin Luther King Day. Romanoff later said the timing was coincidental. But it could not have been more compelling. —>
Pegging the Right Audit
by line of flight
Maui Talk (HI)
Got an e-mail today regarding Senator Ihara’s Senate Bill 2618. Apparently, the distinguished gentleman from Waikiki has decided that there is incestuous back-scratching between all of the public, education, government (PEG) access non-profit organizations, the cable companies and the state.
In paragraph 3 of section 1, the bill reads, ” Allegations of wrongdoing have arisen in regard to the department of commerce and consumers affairs, which regulates the access organizations. These allegations include possible partisan preferential treatment of candidates for recent state and federal elections, allegations of malfeasance by department of commerce and consumer affairs personnel, and forcing the access corporations to change their bylaws to give majority board appointment power to the director of commerce and consumer affairs. There was also an allegation of wrongdoing in the governor’s refusal to appoint members to the cable advisory committee during crucial times.”
Ironically, these allegations all point to wrongdoing on the part of the state’s Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, not the PEG access organizations.
In paragraph 4 of the same section goes on to state “allegations have also arisen against the access organizations themselves[.] Furthermore, now that there is only one statewide cable monopoly, there is concern that self-dealing can and will arise between the department of commerce and consumer affairs, the access organizations boards, the majority of which are appointed by the department of commerce and consumer affairs and the minority of which are appointed by the cable company, and the cable company.”
Now, I can’t speak for O’ahu and ‘Olelo which has historically had a very cozy relationship with the state, but Maui’s situation cannot be understated. The state hates Akaku. Akaku has sued the state regarding governance issues and state interference in no less than 5 lawsuits some of them active. —>
Has AT&T Lost Its Mind? A baffling proposal to filter the Internet.
by Tim Wu (24 comments)
Chances are that as you read this article, it is passing over part of AT&T’s network. That matters, because last week AT&T announced that it is seriously considering plans to examine all the traffic it carries for potential violations of U.S. intellectual property laws. The prospect of AT&T, already accused of spying on our telephone calls, now scanning every e-mail and download for outlawed content is way too totalitarian for my tastes. But the bizarre twist is that the proposal is such a bad idea that it would be not just a disservice to the public but probably a disaster for AT&T itself. If I were a shareholder, I’d want to know one thing: Has AT&T, after 122 years in business, simply lost its mind? —>
SCTE ET: TV expert says AT&T’s video play has 12-18 months left
by Mike Robuck
AT&T will be out of the video business within the course of the next 12 to 18 months, according to TVPredictions.com president Phillip “Swanni” Swann. Swann was speaking at the luncheon keynote address during Wednesday’s SCTE Conference on Emerging Technologies (ET) when he made his prediction about AT&T’s future in video. Swan, who claims an 89 percent success rate with his prognostications, made nine other video-related predictions for the year. In the case of AT&T, Swann said the company has spent too much time and money for its 250,000 video customers while Verizon has racked up one million subs for its service. —>
The Future of Public TV – PBS & YouTube
by Robert Paterson
Robert Paterson’s Blog
PBS have announced that they will expand their offering on YouTube.
“PBS announced this week that it will add video, including previews from its award-winning series and specials, as well as exclusive online features and program excerpts to its YouTube channel. The broadcaster currently offers more than 700 videos to its 3,000 YouTube channel subscribers and said that consumer demand led to the decision to add more content.
“PBS said that Bill Moyers Journal featuring interviews with two candidates seeking party nominations for the presidential election (Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich) drew more than 11,000 views since they were posted on the PBS YouTube channel two weeks ago.—>
Public Broadcasters Opt for CC
by Michelle Thorne
Public broadcasters often ask themselves: how to better enable tax payers to access the works that they have paid for? This was the question that the BBC, the public broadcaster for the United Kingdom, addressed in 2004 during the debate over its charter renewal. The result of their deliberations was a yearlong pilot, the Creative Archive Licensing Group project, launched in September 2005.
The objective of the Creative Archive was to make BBC material available online to UK citizens. The content was released under a Creative Archive Licence, a license similar in some respects to the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commerical ShareAlike License, but more restrictive in that it allowed only non-profit educational & personal use, forbade promotional or campaign use, and limited these rights to within the UK.
During the pilot period, the Creative Archive received much praise. At its conclusion in September 2006, the BBC had released nearly 500 clips, full programs, audio tracks, and images. As the recent director of the Creative Archive Paul Gerhardt noted in an interview, viewers respected the licenses, and during the trial period, only two minor licensing breaches had been reported. However, a hurdle for the initiative was the fact that the Creative Archive could only license simple rights material from the BBC, which meant that no third-party programming could be included in the Archive.
Still, as Herkko Hietanen points out in Community Created Content, “The [Creative Archive] was in line with BBC’s goal ‘ to turn the BBC into an open cultural and creative resource for the nation’.” The Creative Archive was indeed a significant step for public interest and one of the BBC’s most applauded initiatives. And so, although the Creative Archive is not longer in active use, the philosophy of open licensing has continued to grow within the BBC.
Today several departments in the BBC publish content under Creative Commons licenses: album reviews (for example) and a partnership with MusicBrainz, a community music metadatabase that uses CC licenses. Furthermore, under other licensing conditions, the BBC has opened up its website to developers at backstage.bbc.co.uk. It also offers television and radio programs to stream or download through its iPlayer, although the player’s format has been the source of some criticism. —>
February 2nd: Community Media Coming Together
by Gordon Smith (1 comment)
Mountain Area Information Network (including WPVM) and BlogAsheville are coming together on February 2nd at the Rocket Club in west Asheville for the chance to put our heads together and get our community media on. This get together is long overdue.
Wally Bowen is the founder and leader of MAIN. He’s working on a lot of different angles and planes, and when we got together for a cup of coffee last month, the ideas started flying fast. When we were running out of time, having only just scraped the surface of our common interests, I realized that we’ve really got to get all the bloggers’ brains in on the conversation. Then it occurred to me that MAIN and WPVM would be really fun to party with. Let’s get even more motivated, intelligent, witty, media-savvy folks with common interests in the same room together. —>
Cable TV rates on the rise
by Todd Wallack
Boston Globe (MA)
The price of watching CNN, ESPN and other pay-television networks is going up — again. Comcast, RCN, Verizon and satellite providers are all increasing their rates. Comcast Corp., the state’s largest cable TV provider with about 1.6 million customers in Massachusetts, plans to raise rates an average of 4 percent next month. —>
Wasn’t Competition Supposed To Bring Lower TV Prices?
Everybody raising prices in Northeast…
by Karl (158 comments)
Remember all of the talk about how when the phone company got into the TV business, you’d see lower prices? Apparently they were just kidding. The Boston Globe notes that RCN, Comcast and Verizon are all raising prices in the region. Comcast will raise rates by an average of four percent next month. RCN is raising their standard TV rates by five percent. Verizon will be raising rates for FiOS TV customers by as much as twelve percent. Comcast explains the rate hikes to the paper: —>
Broadband – Open up those highways
Rapid internet services are a boon. But not all regulators understand them
In eras past, economic success depended on creating networks that could shift people, merchandise and electric power as efficiently and as widely as possible. Today’s equivalent is broadband: the high-speed internet service that has become as vital a tool for producers and distributors of goods as it is for people plugging into all the social and cultural opportunities offered by the web.
Easy access to cheap, fast internet services has become a facilitator of economic growth and a measure of economic performance. No wonder, then, that statistics show a surge in broadband use, especially in places that are already prosperous. The OECD, a rich-country club, says the number of subscribers in its 30 members was 221m last June—a 24% leap over a year earlier. But it is not always the most powerful economies that are most wired. In Denmark, the Netherlands and Switzerland, over 30% of inhabitants have broadband. In America, by contrast, the proportion is 22%, only slightly above the OECD average of just under 20%.
In terms of speed, Japan leads the world. Its average advertised download speed is 95 megabits per second. France and Korea are ranked second and third, but are less than half as fast, and the median among OECD countries is not much more than a tenth. America’s average speed is supposed to be a bit above the median, but most users find that it isn’t, or that the faster speeds are vastly more expensive. A New Yorker who wants the same quality of broadband as a Parisian has to pay around $150 more per month.
What accounts for the differences among rich countries? Two or three years ago demography was often cited: small, densely populated countries were easier to wire up than big, sparsely inhabited ones. But the leaders in broadband usage include Canada, where a tiny population is spread over a vast area. The best explanation, in fact, is that broadband thrives on a mix of competition and active regulation, to ensure an open contest. —>
‘Roll Call’s’ roles for real
by Frank Mulligan (1 comment)
Taunton Call (MA)
“Roll Call” fans will never have to worry about a writers’ strike. That’s because much of the material is culled from police reports by the local cable TV access show’s co-hosts, Community Police Officers Steve Crowninshield and Mike Bonenfant, who logged their 90th episode on Jan. 16. That 30-minute show featured the veteran officers’ usual banter, community-safety information and police stories right from the source – the cops themselves. —>
Winter Concert – EHS – Easthampton, and
Demolition Derby – Franklin County Fair – Greenfield
Easthampton Community Access Television (MA)
compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media