I’ll be speaking about the quest for data about broadband availability, competition, speeds and prices at a conference on “Information and the Information Economy,” co-sponsored by The Intellectual Property & Communication Law Program at the Michigan State University College of Law, theThe Donald McGannon Communication Research Center at Fordham University andThe Quello Center for Telecommunications Management and Law at Michigan State University. The conference will be held on Friday, May 2, and Saturday, May 3.
Here’s the abstract of my presentation:
Drew Clark will discuss his efforts to obtain information about local broadband availability and competition from the Federal Communications Commission, and from broadband providers. This is a story with multiple players at several institutions, and with several phases. It has overlays into the fields of transparency, broadband and telecommunications policy, and the freedom to access datasets that play a significant role in public policy.
Drew will begin the story by focusing on the lowly FCC Form 477: a requirement for all broadband providers. He will discuss the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that he initiated against the FCC to obtain Form 477 data, and of the intervention by the Bell companies, cable operators, mobile carriers and wireless companies. That lawsuit, unfortunately, ended in defeat. Next, he will discuss the origin of BroadbandCensus.com, a new FREE Web service that provides information about your local Internet options, including broadband availability, competition, speeds and prices. BroadbandCensus.com is an effort to go around the FCC and to collect data directly from Internet users through “crowdsourcing.” The content on BroadbandCensus.com is posted under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial License.
Next, Drew will speak about the various federal, state and private sector efforts to map out broadband, including the Broadband Census of America Act (H.R. 3919) by Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet. Drew will conclude by discussing and endorsing the importance of transparency in telecommunications and technology policy, namely: (1) that public policy should be made with publicly available data; and (2) that democracy is best served when the analyses that inform policymaking are transparent and widely accessible.