Blog Archive 2015
December 10, 2015
Permanent Extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act
Since being enacted in 1998 under President Clinton, the Internet Tax Freedom Act has kept a moratorium on taxation of the Internet, and with each extension, has protected consumers from state and local taxes on email and Internet access.
HTTP welcomes the inclusion of a permanent extension of the internet tax moratorium in the customs bill that is currently moving through congress and urge its immediate passage.
Martin Chavez, Senior Advisor for HTTP stated, “The last 17 years have proven the positive effects of a tax-free internet and the economic benefits that come with it. It is more important than ever to make sure that we avoid regressive taxes when we are working hard to encourage lower income Americans to adopt the Internet.”
“One of the top priorities of the League of United Latin Americans Citizens (LULAC) is to increase internet adoption in Latinos communities. We believe that extending the Internet Tax Freedom Act is essential to keeping internet access affordable and closing the digital divide in Latino communities,” said Brent Wilkes, LULAC Executive Director and HTTP coalition member.
Passage of this bi-partisan measure will ensure a bright future for the internet economy and is a great win for American consumers and taxpayers. HTTP and its coalition members applaud the work of the bipartisan conference committee and support the final bill’s immediate passage.
December 4, 2015
The Latino community leads the way in adopting mobile broadband and enjoys the countless benefits of an open Internet because of the investments made by providers across the country, despite lagging behind in high speed Internet access at home. As the initial arguments are presented in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, HTTP wants to emphasize that the Federal Communications Commission’s Internet Order will stifle further investment in the industry and slow the adoption and use of both fixed and mobile broadband.
Martin Chavez, Senior Advisor for HTTP stated, “HTTP has always strongly supported an open Internet and believes that all consumers, particularly Latinos who are underserved, should have equal access to broadband.” If anything is to be taken away from the FCC’s latest round of reclassification rules, it should be that mobile broadband ought to be dealt with separately from wired broadband in the hopes of keeping minorities in this country online. Regardless of its outcome, this court case – now the third of its kind – demonstrates that this issue will forever be litigated unless Congress intervenes.
“HTTP urges Congress to solve this issue once and for all by enacting bipartisan legislation that will preserve an open Internet while encouraging investment and innovation spurring greater broadband adoption within the Latino community”, said Rosa Mendoza, Executive Director of HTTP.
November 20, 2015
By Rosa Mendoza, Hispanic Technology & Telecommunications Partnership, Executive Director
Earlier this week, all five FCC commissioners appeared at a hearing held by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, giving Congress an opportunity to examine whether the FCC’s recent actions best serve the American people. The hearing highlighted the need for the FCC to move away from burdensome regulations and return to light-touch policies that have proven to grow the economy help businesses provide a better consumer experience.
One issue discussed during the hearing has a huge impact on Latino programmers and the Latino community. Several Congressional members expressed concern about the FCC’s Downloadable Security Technical Advisory Committee (DSTAC), which is considering a proposal similar to ‘AllVid’, which would impact the rules around your set top box. This proposal would allow the FCC to require telecommunications, satellite and cable companies to provide television programming rights ‘for free’ to the TiVo’s of the world. In essence, “opening up” the set top box for third parties to poach the programs they selectively choose, without regard to legal protections in place. Those members warned against expansion of the scope of DSTAC beyond the Congressional directive, stating that FCC overreach could harm consumer prices, protections, and preferences.
Consumers already benefit from a vibrant, dynamic market that has operated smoothly for many years. New services have hit the marketplace delivering all kinds of application-driven content for consumers. Programmers stream an abundance of news, entertainment, and sports to their viewers. The AllVid, or set top box proposal, if implemented, would create a roadblock for Latino programmers who are looking to broadcast their shows through pay-TV, as special interests “raid” the programming that everyone enjoys today and likely leaves smaller, independent and diverse networks behind. If the FCC were to interfere in this arena, it would be counterproductive. The reality is that competition is thriving in the television industry as access to high-speed Internet expands and viewers have access to plenty of high-quality, thoughtful, and entertaining content.
Expanding regulations over the video programming market through AllVid-like proposal would allow special interests to pick and choose which of the programming terms they want. Such a policy would undermine innovation as it tilts the playing field toward its preferred winners, dampening the private sector investment and jobs which drive our economy. The government already struggles to modernize regulations so that they keep up with advances in technology. Adding more heavy-handed regulations will do nothing to improve companies’ ability to meet a changing consumer demand.
By contrast, consumers are better served with an FCC implementing policies that encourage innovation and private investment so all competitors can provide high quality service to consumers. By concentrating on fulfilling the goals set out in its National Broadband Plan, the FCC can move out of the regulatory silos of the past and promote a convergent, competitive future.
Congress needs to make certain the FCC is accountable for its actions and ensure that the agency fosters an innovative and competitive climate in which diverse programmers get a fair shot at viewership. A light touch policy reflects the new business realities in the TV market and benefits everyone, especially minority programmers. Moreover, as a Latina tech-savvy consumer, I’m not looking for another box to enter my living room, I am depending more and more on apps and other innovative options for consuming my diverse video preferences.
November 6, 2015
By Meredith Attwell Baker, CTIA
Imagine a future where nearly everything in the physical world is connected to ubiquitous, ultra high-speed wireless networks. Imagine cars that safely drive themselves, doctors that monitor patients’ vital signs remotely in real-time and communities that are smarter and more connected. Entire industries, from agriculture to transportation, will be transformed to be more capable, efficient and intelligent.
Wireless connectivity already touches every aspect of daily life, but we are just scratching the surface. Sensors in smart cities will determine optimum traffic routing, easing congestion and helping protect the environment. Intelligent lighting will illuminate evacuation routes in buildings. Connected wheelchairs will increase users’ independence. This is the promise of the next generation of mobile networks, known as 5G.
November 6, 2015
By: Bob Quinn, AT&T
UPDATE: November 4, 2015 at 11: 55 – FCC Chairman Wheeler’s Special Counsel contacted us this morning to object to the use of the word “exhort” in characterizing the Light Reading article which described her remarks at the Incompas conference in San Francisco last month. Out of respect to Ms. Sohn’s concerns, we removed the word “exhort” from the blog. It doesn’t change any of the analysis, however. We’re still not rocket scientists, and we still see where this is headed. And it’s not good for private investment.
This has been an interesting couple of weeks in the area of private fiber infrastructure investment policies in the United States. It started with news that the FCC is sending out “SWAT” teams of FCC employees to preach the use of Universal Service Fund (USF) and E-Rate dollars to build government-owned and operated broadband infrastructure in rural and non-rural areas. For a flavor of the message, take a look at the speech given by the head of the FCC’s Office of Strategic Planning at the North Carolina Rural Center’s broadband conference. Similar presentations and meetings are purportedly occurring across the country.
October 21, 2015
By Antonio Tijerino, Contributor, Fox News Latino
Bayonia Quiera Marshall grew up in the rugged Seat Pleasant area of Prince George’s County in Maryland as a life-long “gamer,” or video game player as well as a socially-conscious youth who witnessed a large percentage of her high school friends get pregnant and subsequently derailed in their plans for the future.
As a college student at Iona College in New York last year, Bayonia continued to be haunted with the thought of friends from her neighborhood who could have joined her in higher learning if they didn’t get pregnant as teens. So she combined her gaming and problem-solving skills with real-world experiences to make an impact on her peers and near-peers through a video game she developed called Baby Rush: Addressing Teen Pregnancy and Single Parenting.
October 19, 2015
What do college students want in today’s digital age? They want what every American consumer wants – fast and reliable access to the wireless world. Access to mobile broadband means more to college students than just the ability to play video games and stay active on social media. Minority students, especially Hispanics, rely on smartphones and other wireless devices daily to enhance their overall quality of life.
Did you know more than half (55%) of Latino and African American smartphone owners used their phone for job-related activities? That is significantly higher than the rate for whites (37%).
Mobile broadband is also increasingly important to monitor personal health and communicate with healthcare providers. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Latino smartphone owners used their phone in the past year to research a health condition.
Smartphones also serve as a vital tool for educational purposes because access to technology has a significant impact on educational achievement. From using homework mobile apps to checking grades and sign up for classes, to participating in an interactive online class, forty-five percent of Latinos use wireless as a gateway to academic opportunities.
As demand for spectrum, the invisible infrastructure that powers our wireless devices, continues to grow, mobile broadband providers face the reality of a rapidly approaching spectrum shortage. Tell Congress to free up more spectrum to fuel our mobile classroom, because a phone is more than a phone – it’s our life.
For more information on the basics of spectrum and its relation to mobile broadband, see:
Coleman Bazelon and Giulia McHenry, “Substantial Licensed Spectrum Deficit (2015-2019): Updating the FCC’s Mobile Data Demand Projections,” The Brattle Group, 6/23/15
Thomas K. Sawanobori and Dr. Robert Roche, “Mobile Data Demand: Growth Forecasts Met,” CTIA, 6/22/15
September 17, 2015
BY JOHN B. HORRIGAN, PewResearchCenter
Libraries are in great flux as information is shifting from the analog age to the digital age, as people’s need to acquire knowledge shifts, and as Americans’ interests in personal enrichment and entertainment are reshaped.
The findings from a new survey by Pew Research Center highlight how this is a crossroads moment for libraries. The data paint a complex portrait of disruption and aspiration. There are relatively active constituents who hope libraries will maintain valuable legacy functions such as lending printed books. At the same time, there are those who support the idea that libraries should adapt to a world where more and more information lives in digital form, accessible anytime and anywhere.
Despite the ferment, Americans remain steady in their beliefs that libraries are important to their community, their family and themselves. Two-thirds (65%) of all of those 16 and older say that closing their local public library would have a major impact on their community, similar to the 63% figure recorded in 2013. One-third (32%) say closing their local public library would have a major impact on them or their family – roughly the same as the 29% who said this in 2013.
August 18, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 7, 2015): On August 6, 2015, the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) filed an amicus curiae brief asking the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to vacate the FCC’s Open Internet Order reclassifying broadband Internet access service as a Title II public utility service. MMTC challenged the Commission’s disregard for the adverse consequences that Title II reclassification will have on accelerating broadband opportunities for unserved and underserved communities.
“MMTC supports the FCC’s actions to protect and promote an open Internet. We, along with more than 45 national civil rights, social service, and professional organizations, as part of the proceedings, outlined our concern about the consequences of imposing antiquated rules on 21st century opportunities for disadvantaged communities,” stated Kim M. Keenan, MMTC’s President and CEO. “Our brief speaks for those communities that are on the wrong or unconnected side of the digital divide. Broadband access is tantamount to the creation of net equality for historically disadvantaged populations. America cannot afford to leave any community behind.”
August 12, 2015
By Rosa Mendoza, HTTP Executive Director
How can parents help their children be wise stewards of the technology in the Internet age? Get involved.
How can organizations enact programs that will reach the Latino Community on this topic? Understand the community and the barriers they face.
The Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP) advocates on behalf of the Latino community for increased access to, and adoption of, the technological tools that allow users to take advantage of the many benefits they offer and the telecommunications infrastructure that brings these tools together. Some of the benefits that come with increased access to technology are greater ability to find and apply for jobs and access to educational materials for children and adults alike, just to name a couple.
August 11, 2015
By Denise Lisi DeRosa Good Digital Parenting Program Manager, Family Online Safety Institute
Remember when a cell phone was a luxury? Not any more. It seems as if everyone has a cell phone. So is it any wonder your kids want one? We know your kids are ready to get their hands on a phone. But are you ready?
Use these 5 tips to get prepared for your next adventure in parenting.
Research the best cellular plans. Many cellular providers offer family plans and additional phone lines for a discount. You should explore your options and determine which plan is best for you and your needs. Verizon’s FamilyBase plan helps parents manage and control their kids phone usage. AT&T and Sprint offer great family value plans as well. A word of advice however, be sure you have a robust texting plan. Even with smartphones, which kids can use to access all kinds of social networking and communication apps, texting is far and away the number one way kids stay in touch with one another.
Understand parental controls options. There are several kid-friendly phones on the market that offer varying degrees of parental control and limited features. You may want to give your child a simple cell phone to start rather than an Internet-connected smartphone. Either way, find out what features are available to help you manage your child’s usage, privacy, and safety. You may also want to have the phone be GPS enabled so you know where your child is but note that several popular apps may give away your child’s location. Keep this in mind and learn to adjust the settings accordingly.
Know your child. You need to consider how responsible your child is. If your son/daughter is allowed to go places with friends unsupervised then you might want to give him/her a phone as a way to keep in touch. Then set the rules. For example, you may insist that they will answer when a parent or sibling calls and/or reply to texts from parents promptly. Be clear that this is expected and non-negotiable.
Agree to terms. Discuss limits on texting, App purchases, In-App purchases and time limits. Many schools require students to turn off their cell phones during the school day so make sure your child follows school rules as well. At home, agree to a turn off time in the evening. And remind your child to put the phone away during face-to-face conversations and family meal times. Use our Smartphone Safety Contract as a way to get the conversation started.
Monitor or Mentor? Once you’ve determined that your child is responsible enough to have a phone, guide them on how to use it responsibly and then trust them to do so. You may be tempted to spy on your child, but that could end up backfiring. You need to have some boundaries and mutual respect. Think about it this way, you do not have access to every conversation your child has at school, so don’t be tempted by technological abilities to spy when it is not necessary. Tell your child that you will be checking in periodically to make sure that they are using their phone responsibly. But be upfront about it, you don’t want to violate your child’s trust.
Getting your child a phone is a big step for both of you. Talk to them about your expectations for proper use of the phone. Then let them prove to you how responsible they can be. They will appreciate your confidence in them, and may just surprise you in the process.
June 19, 2015
By Jason Llorenz, Contributor, The Hill
I agree that the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules are not yet out of the woods (“Week in tech: Internet rules slated to take effect,” June 8) but The Hill’s article grossly understates the risk that these important new regulations could be eliminated or overturned. The FCC rules already face seven federal lawsuits, and many legal experts predict they will be struck down, just like the FCC’s last two efforts to regulate Internet traffic standards.
Fortunately, Congress can fix this problem, by enacting compromise net neutrality legislation to make the gains won in the long fight over net neutrality the permanent law of the land.
June 18, 2015
By Clayola Brown, The Clarion-Ledger
Internet freedom or “net neutrality” — the idea that network providers such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast should not be able to block or degrade Internet sites, apps, content or services — is critical to ensure the unimpeded flow of information to all Internet users and to ensure Internet providers cannot abuse their control over networks to stifle debate or discriminate online. We need a strong and open Internet to continue driving economic opportunity, producing quality broadband jobs, and to quickly close the digital divide.
Unsurprisingly, this powerful pro-consumer idea has widespread support, including from network providers themselves.
But the FCC’s approach to net neutrality — regulating broadband as a “common carrier” utility the way the “Ma Bell” phone system was regulated decades ago — is a serious mistake. Numerous economists have said these anachronistic rules could kill the goose that laid the golden egg and dramatically cut back the new investments needed for the next phase of the Internet economy. Legal experts also think the courts are likely to invalidate them, leaving us with no open Internet rules whatsoever. That hurts consumers coming and going — less investment in new networks to give them faster service and no net neutrality protection at all.
June 18, 2015
By David McCabe, The Hill
Washington is nudging Silicon Valley to diversify its workforce.
Major tech firms have released breakdowns on the demographics of their employees for the first time in recent years, revealing that some of the industry’s largest companies are overwhelmingly male, and largely white and Asian, especially in technical jobs.
Companies say they want that to change, raising hopes among advocates that the industry is on the verge of sweeping change.
“I really do believe it is at a tipping point,” said Kimberly Bryant, who founded Black Girls CODE, an educational group, after a career in biotechnology.
June 16, 2015
By Rosa Mendoza, HTTP Executive Director
Without deliberate action to facilitate fair and open spectrum auctions, the U.S. faces the real possibility of not maximizing its potential for innovation and keeping pace in the globally connected world as well as delivering critically important services. The education, health care, and public safety sectors are all becoming more reliant on the use of broadband networks and given that spectrum is a finite resource, it is essential that it be used to the fullest extent possible. The Latino community is increasingly mobile onlyand it is extremely important to us that spectrum be utilized efficiently and to its full potential. Because of what is at stake, it is crucial that the upcoming FCC 600 MHz broadcast TV spectrum incentive auction, set for early 2016, is successful.
First, it is important to answer the question, “What is a spectrum auction?”
A spectrum auction is an auction in the traditional sense in that a commodity is bid on and the winner receives that commodity. In this case, the commodity is a block of spectrum to be used by wireless companies to provide consumer mobile broadband services. The broadcast incentive spectrum auction will take place in three parts. First, in a “reverse auction,” over-the-air television broadcasters may voluntarily make available their spectrum in exchange for profitable proceeds. Next the FCC will facilitate, and fund, “repacking” of those television channels who wish to stay broadcasting into other channel frequencies in order to pull together a single, hopefully large, band of spectrum for consumer use. Broadcasters who choose not to participate in the auction may continue their full business, or perhaps work out a deal with another broadcaster to continue streaming by ‘sharing’ one entity’s spectrum. The third part is a “forward auction” where the (hopefully large) spectrum band that is freed up is then auctioned to mobile broadband providers.
What follows is a discussion of the barriers to a fair and open auction and why it is important for the FCC to ensure these auctions are carried out in a successful way, without these barriers.
One of the main factors making this auction vitally important is that it will continue to allow significant growth in the smartphone and tablet-led wireless environment by increasing the speed, reliability and omnipresence of necessary wireless networks. All carriers face the same spectrum limitations. With that in mind, it is vital to allow fair and open bidding to ensure that all carriers are able to serve their customer base as the market dictates. As previously mentioned, Latinos tend to use smartphones to access the mobile web more than other groups and ensuring that the spectrum auctions take place fairly, and with the market dictating equal participation rather than legislation, will help to ensure Latinos are able to access all possible mobile services. To be clear, we are simply advocating for equal access and participation for all, with no favoritism.
Another factor to consider when restricting access to the upcoming spectrum auctions is who will lose outside of the corporate world. At the end of the day, John (and Juan) Q. Taxpayer will suffer if there is not a fully fair and open bidding process for spectrum licenses. As in any auction, the FCC will try to get the best price possible for the spectrum the carriers want to buy. In the end, as a country, why would we not want to maximize the revenue back to all American people from multi-billion dollar international corporations?
Instead of working on finding ways to set aside spectrum for big companies, the FCC should work on reforming the Designated Entities program in order to better ensure the participation of minority-owned businesses in future auctions and avoid fraud and abuse. And by “Designated Entity” I do not mean multi-billion companies trying to masquerade as a small DE. The true intent of the congressionally mandated Designated Entities Program is to facilitate increased participation of minority- and women-owned business as well as businesses that simply hire more minorities.
The broadcast television spectrum auctions are a first-of-its-kind model for transition of broadcast spectrum license ownership to wireless providers. Given the uniqueness and value that these auctions present, it is paramount that all companies are able to compete equally for spectrum licenses on a level playing field, dictated by the market. Without equal access to spectrum licenses, we run the risk of not keeping pace with the rest of the world in delivering innovation and necessary services to the American public and especially the mobile-dependent Latino community.
June 16, 2015
By Martin Chavez, HTTP Senior Advisor
The Hispanic Technology and Telecommunication Partnership (HTTP) and all Americans concerned about Internet adoption have a vested interest in keeping the cost of access to the Internet low. Affordability is a significant barrier to Internet adoption by Latinos and lower income communities. Hence, any policy that might increase the cost of Internet access has to be analyzed carefully to see if the downside of any increase is outweighed by some beneficent purpose such as making the Internet available to communities that currently lack access. HTTP strongly supports the Internet Tax Freedom Act recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and which is currently pending in the United States Senate. It essentially makes the existing Internet Tax Freedom Act permanent.
The United States has had a policy of prohibiting federal, state and local government taxation of the Internet since President Clinton signed the Internet Tax Freedom Act into law in 1998. The Law has had grandfather clauses that have simply been extended at the end of their natural duration. To the consternation of some national retailers, the Act has never prohibited local governments from imposing gross receipts taxes on some of the sales that take place via the Internet (e-commerce). There are, however, legitimate reasons for allowing local governments to recoup from retailers some of their lost revenue that naturally occurs when someone buys on line as opposed to a local store. Such practices don’t increase the cost of accessing the Internet – they simply keep the cost of a commodity purchased on the Internet the same as if purchased locally.
It should be noted that if the Senate passes the Act, a handful of States that had been taxing the Internet and which had been included in the grandfather clauses will lose that revenue. Again, they will still be able to tax e-commerce. For better or for worse, there is no comprehensive national policy on taxation of e-commerce.
The bottom line for Latino and other consumers is that general taxation of the Internet by federal, state and local governments will be permanently banned. One more threat to increasing the cost of the Internet and accordingly one more threat to making the Internet unaffordable to lower income Americans will be eliminated. The Senate passed on an opportunity last year to make the Internet Tax Freedom Act permanent. Let’s hope they don’t pass this time around. Americans who are concerned about the increasing cost of Internet access, especially lower income Latino families, are counting on them.
June 3, 2015
By EV EHRLICH, Salon
The world is rapidly moving to mobile broadband — mobile telephony, apps that hail taxis and show movies, the burgeoning Internet of things that will one day give us self-driving cars and appliances that order groceries. It’s all about mobile broadband, which means it’s all about the electromagnetic spectrum, the real estate on which all of this activity is built. So if something’s screwy about the way we give out this incredibly valuable asset, it’s worth our attention. And something is wrong — over $3 billion worth of wrong — and it should be of concern to people who care about the future of mobile broadband.
Spectrum is a public resource — it’s simply the various frequencies on which electromagnetic waves can travel through the air; and, like the air, it implicitly belongs to all of us. Congress has authorized the FCC to auction some of this spectrum, which was being used by government and by over-the-air broadcasters, to mobile broadband providers to expand the rapidly-growing service. In the most recent such auction, the FCC sold a record-breaking $45 billion worth of it.
There’s only one problem: The spectrum, which is valued at around $45 billion, was only sold for $41.3 billion — and the difference was largely pocketed by one company, instead of going where it belonged, the public purse.
June 2, 2015
Jose Antonio Tijerino, Contributor, The Huffington Post
“Hey, that’s my story!” my mentee Adan Gonzalez blurted out as I read him some of the preliminary findings from a study the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, myCollegeOptions and the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) conducted called Taking the Pulse of the High School Student in America.
When Adan Gonzalez was a high school student in the rough-and-tumble Oak Cliff neighborhood in Dallas, TX, he had dreams of going to college, being a boxer and launching a national effort to support disenfranchised youth through education, empowerment and networking. But first he needed to get through high school. Then he needed to apply for college. And for college grants. The easy part, he thought, would be actually going to college.
At one time, Adan shared one bedroom with six others while his father worked long hours as a custodian and mother held odd jobs to help feed the family. Unlike many other students in America there was no internet in his apartment or complex, and too often no electricity. To complete homework requiring online access, he would walk late at night, after sports practices, to a McDonalds or Starbucks and lean up against the building to catch enough of the sporadic Wi-Fi signals to finish his assignments on a borrowed laptop. When he had to research and apply for colleges, he literally hit the streets in search of a signal that didn’t have a password attached to it. College grants were accessed the same way, through this maddening process akin to finding water with a divining rod over a hundred years ago.
May 26, 2015
By Rosa Mendoza
Sometime later this year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will finalize rules for one of the most complex events in agency history. For mobile Internet users, the stakes are high.
The Commission calls the event an “incentive auction.” In plain terms, it involves a complicated series of auctions scheduled for early next year to transition spectrum currently used for over-the-air TV to mobile broadband providers.
But some companies are pressuring the FCC to approve rules that would significantly limit the participation of a few competing companies in the incentive auction. By their proposal, these companies are urging the FCC to limit the amount of spectrum on which some competitors can bid. Creating limits on the principals and goals of the auction will essentially cap what would otherwise be a fair and open competition.
Such a move would be deeply unfair to tens of millions of mobile users, set off a vicious round of lobbying, and undercut the roll-out of better, faster wireless service for consumers.
The FCC’s goal for the auction is to expand available spectrum to meet our growing demand for mobile services such as video, music streaming and other wireless data exchange. As a recent Pew survey documents, this wireless love affair shows no signs of waning. Nearly two-thirds of Americans have smartphones. For seven percent (and growing), their smartphone is their only link to the Internet.
Among communities of color, this reliance on the mobile web is especially noticeable. About 13% of Latinos and 12% of African Americans are what Pew calls “smartphone-dependent,” meaning they do not have wired broadband at home and access the Internet from their smartphone.
For these communities, the smartphone is especially important for employment. More than half (55%) of Latino and African American smartphone owners used their phone for job-related activities – that is significantly higher than the rate for whites (37%).
Mobile broadband is also increasingly important for healthcare. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Latino smartphone owners used their phone in the past year to research a health condition, which is similar to the usage rate of African Americans.
It is also important to examine smartphone use for educational purposes because access to technology has a significant impact on educational achievement. Forty-five percent of Latinos using smartphones use them for educational purposes compared to only twenty-six percent of whites.
These results should weigh on the FCC as it finalizes the auction rules. Many years ago, the Commission held a spectrum auction with “closed” rules akin to what is currently being proposed, with significantly negative results. Many companies could not pay the amount they bid and lawsuits quickly followed.
The FCC must learn from the past auction. An open auction in which all participants are allowed to bid equally is the best solution to keep the United States’ wireless broadband industry at the forefront of innovation and infrastructure creation. Choosing who should and should not have access to spectrum is not the government’s role. The FCC should ensure that the proper rules are put in place to allow all consumers to benefit from a fully open auction and their chosen provider being able to acquire the spectrum they need. This is the only fair and reasonable approach, and we hope the FCC listens.
May 19, 2015
By Hal Singer, Progressive Policy Institute
The Federal Communication Commission’s 2015 Open Internet order threatens innovation in three distinct ways. First, by barring paid priority arrangements, the order undermines innovation in the nascent market for real-time applications like telemedicine and HD voice. Second, because sponsored-data plans (including zero-rating plans) may run afoul of its “general conduct” standard, the order could discourage procompetitive offerings that would subsidize Internet access for low income Americans. Third, by reclassifying Internet service providers (“ISPs”) as telecommunications providers under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, the order will likely slow the flow of investment dollars by ISPs, which will adversely affect innovation. Read the full article here
April 27, 2015
By Rick Miranda, Contributor, El Diario
The Federal Communications Commission’s new “net neutrality” order is a bad deal for Latinos, small-business owners, tech entrepreneurs and anyone else who relies on an open and innovative Internet. It needs to be changed before it causes lasting damage to the U.S. economy and our global competitiveness.
Hispanic-owned businesses are critically important not only to minority communities in the city, but to the entire New York economy. Latinos now own approximately one in seven New York businesses. Hampering their ability to compete by driving up broadband costs, and reducing investment in new and improved online services could have serious consequences for our city, particularly in areas that have historically have low broadband adoption rates. The last thing these communities need is less access to broadband. That is what the FCC’s “net neutrality” policy will do.
The principle of what is commonly called “net neutrality” is sound. It holds that everyone on the Internet should be treated equally. That means Internet Service Providers should not prioritize some customers over others, create “slow lanes” for certain customers or content, or block lawful content. But some ways of enforcing that equal treatment are better than others.
April 9, 2015
By Scott Bergmann, CTIA
Last week, we showed the fallacy of the FCC’s argument that the mobile voice “case study” proves that Title II regulation won’t harm wireless investment. Unfortunately, that was not the only errant investment-related claim in the Open Internet Order.
In an all-too-perfect illustration that “correlation does not imply causation,” the Commission argued that the bidding in its AWS-3 auction demonstrates that “robust investment is not inconsistent with a light-touch Title II regime.” The relevant auction to evaluate the chilling impact of net neutrality is the 700 MHz auction, not the AWS-3 auction. Regardless, the FCC completely misses the mark on the lessons of the AWS-3 story.
The 700 MHz auction is the best illustration of the uncertainty created by net neutrality. If the Commission is looking for evidence of the impact of Open Internet regulations on spectrum auction proceeds, it need look no further than its last multi-band auction, the 700 MHz auction (Auction 73). In that auction, the FCC subjected the Upper C Block and only that 22 megahertz of spectrum, to open Internet requirements, specifically that 700 MHz C Block licensees “allow customers, device manufacturers, third-party application developers and others to use or develop the devices and applications of their choosing in C Block networks,” subject to reasonable network management.
April 1, 2015
By Martin Chavez, Contributor, Florida Sun-Sentinel
When it comes to enshrining sensible and permanent public policy in regard to the Internet, Senator Bill Nelson, D-Fla., says there is “magic in the making,” and that by working with his colleagues in the U.S. Senate, Americans could soon enjoy a law that ensures an open yet flexible Internet.
The Federal Communications Commission enacted new “net neutrality” regulations in February predicated on utility-style phone regulations. But by now, most people paying attention to the issue — including Florida’s senior senator — know that applying this outdated regime to the Internet is a high-risk strategy driven by politics instead of smart policy making.
Designed for rotary phones and essentially one monopolistic company in 1934, the basis of these rules has nothing to do with an Internet invented several decades after this legal structure was introduced eons ago.
March 25, 2015
By Rosa Mendoza, contributor, The Hill
In consumer technology, many things improve with age. Compare broadband speeds, tablets and 4G service from five years ago with what’s available today. They’re all better, faster and more powerful.
But a few things, unfortunately, become worse – and nothing declined more sharply than the foresight of U.S. Internet policy. That became obvious on February 26 when the FCC voted 3-2 to place the Internet under “Title II” public utility regulations. Although billed as the FCC’s next attempt to install rules to protect an open Internet, these rules, written in 1934, were designed for the Depression-era rotary telephone and other long-gone services. These rules are unsuited for today’s complex digital technologies. And these rules were not the rules a prior Court decision regarding the open Internet suggested that the FCC follow.
There was an unsettling irony to the FCC’s decision as it took place so close to the fifth anniversary of the Commission’s seminal National Broadband Plan. That document was a roadmap meant to help communities – especially traditionally underserved areas – connect and participate in the equalizing medium that is the Internet. At great cost of both time and money, the FCC wrote this plan to “ensure every American has access to broadband capability.”
February 26, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Rosa Mendoza
The Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP)
Disappointed with the FCC Vote on Open Internet Rules
WASHINGTON, D.C. – February 26, 2015 – The Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP), a coalition of 19 of the largest national Hispanic organizations, issued a statement today expressing its disappointment with the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to impose an onerous and outdated regulatory regimen, over 300 pages of new regulations, on broadband Internet access service, by reclassifying it as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1934. (http://www.httponline.org)
“HTTP has always strongly supported an open Internet. We believe that all consumers, particularly Hispanics who are still underserved, should have equal access to broadband and to all legal content and applications on the Internet” said Martin Chavez, Senior Advisor to HTTP.
The HTTP statement goes on to point out that the vote by the FCC today imposing strict and antiquated regulations on the Internet totally disregards the fact that the Internet has thrived, and that there has been unparalleled innovation and investment in broadband infrastructure without the heavy regulation, which has benefitted the Hispanic community enormously.
“The Hispanic community is leading the way in adopting mobile broadband and enjoys the endless benefits of an open Internet because of the investments made by providers across the country. Imposing these new regulations, which will certainly be challenged in court creating further uncertainty, will be a blow to investment and innovation that has driven significant economic activity and jobs, and will stifle further adoption by Hispanics, who are most underserved.” added Mr. Chavez.
In its statement, HTTP urged Congress to act quickly on what has traditionally been a bi-partisan issue, to overturn these harmful regulations, and set forth a modern legal and regulatory framework that will include strong consumer protections, but at the same time will encourage investment and innovation, and will promote further adoption by the Hispanic community.
For more information on this topic, please email Rosa Mendoza at email@example.com
HTTP is the leading national Latino think tank and advocacy organization on Internet, telecommunications and technology policy issues to promote access and adoption of broadband in the Latino community. It is a nonpartisan coalition of 19 national Latino organizations working to ensure that the full array of technological and telecommunications advancements are available to all Latinos in the United States. Learn more about HTTP. http://www.httponline.org
February 26, 2015
The Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP), a coalition of 19 of the largest national Hispanic organizations, strongly supports an open Internet but is disappointed that in pursuit of net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) acted to impose an onerous and outdated regulatory regimen, over 300 pages of new regulations that will hinder adoption among Latinos.
Today, the Hispanic community leads the way in adopting mobile broadband but lags behind in high speed Internet access at home. Without pointing to any specific problems with the current state of the Internet, the FCC has voted to increase the cost of access to the Internet by utilization of outdated Title II regulations, which will not only inject legal ambiguity but also cause decreased investment in our broadband infrastructure. We believe that all consumers, particularly underserved minority communities, should have equal access to broadband and to all legal content and applications on the Internet. If the United States is to maintain its global lead in All Things Internet, it is incumbent upon Congress to act and ensure these services are easily available and affordable to all consumers by overturning these harmful regulations.
February 16, 2015
By Martin Chavez, HTTP Senior Advisor
It’s common sense that if something is regulated excessively, investment will fall as regulatory uncertainty clouds the picture for potential investors. A new Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA) report from former FCC official, Fred Campbell, comparing the lightly regulated U.S. broadband market with highly-regulated Europe, shows that this unsurprisingly holds true for broadband.
In an attempt to take on entrenched telephone monopolies and help competitors, Europe adopted wholesale access regulations in 2002 – intrusive regulations that are like the Title II model that some now propose for the U.S. broadband market. At the same time, the U.S. adopted a light-touch regulatory model to spur broadband deployment and adoption.
What happened? Quite simply, Europe fell behind. It didn’t even achieve its goal of greater telephone competition, as U.S. competitive providers hold a larger share of the telephone market than European competitors do (65% to 45%). And US consumers benefit from more competition among facilities-based providers of broadband.
In fact, the IIA study finds that U.S. wireline broadband providers have invested four times as much as their European counterparts; U.S. mobile providers invested twice as much.
In a word, Europe stagnated. Heavy-handed regulation pushed the needle a bit but not far enough. And then, because regulation is by definition inflexible, Europe was not ready for the latest innovations and could not take advantage of them. They had an early lead in slower broadband, but have now dramatically fallen behind the U.S. in faster broadband. Consider this: in 2012, 79% of American households had access to LTE next-generation broadband with speeds at least 50 Mbps; only 30% of European households had access to LTE at speeds of at least 30 Mbps.
It’s not hard to see why. Too much regulation deters investment, delays or inhibits innovation, and ultimately hurts consumers. The European Commission itself has now recommended to the Member States that they adopt investment-friendly policies on broadband, so that Europe does not fall behind even further.
Looking at the broadband market in Europe, the vision is of a scene from a familiar European novel: European consumers, and now even the European Commission, are like Oliver Twist saying to Mr. Bumble, “Please, sir, I want some more.”
Let’s be careful that doesn’t happen here.
February 9, 2015
By Martin Chavez, contributor, Republic 3.0
In a disappointing move, Federal Communications Chairman (FCC) Tom Wheeler recently announced his decision to circulate proposed new rules on “net neutrality” that will revive an antiquated regulatory regime from 1934 and dramatically expand the FCC’s regulatory authority over the Internet. In particular, Wheeler announced his intention to propose that the FCC use its authority under Title II to regulate the Internet as a public utility.
While reclassification will be good news for lawyers, it’s bad news for investment and will result in regressive rate increases that will hit lower income and minority Americans the hardest. And at a time when our nation is working to encourage broadband adoption and access to the Internet, particularly in minority households, the FCC’s move could be especially damaging.
Ongoing efforts to transition all of our country’s communications networks to Internet-based technology (called the “Internet Protocol Transition,” or simply “IP Transition”) hold great promise for minority communities.
January 29, 2015
By Martin Chavez
Last week, a Congressional subcommittee took testimony on how the federal government should address the issue of “protecting” the Internet moving forward. This is an immediate concern since the FCC is scheduled to vote next month on whether to use antiquated regulations from 1934 to dramatically expand its regulatory authority and federal government control over the Internet.
This is a critical legal and policy issue facing the economy’s most dynamic industry, particularly at a time when we are working as a community to encourage broadband adoption and access to the Internet. This time in our transition to Internet technologies calls for insights based on facts and above all, an understanding of the Internet’s sprawling technological complexity.
So it was disappointing to hear proponents of reclassification offer an important fact about the Internet’s openness but then arrive at precisely the wrong conclusion.
In written testimony, one of the minor organizations noted that 408 days had passed since a Federal appeals court’s decision held that the FCC’s effort to regulate the Internet was unconstitutional, in effect, claiming that the Internet has been unprotected. What’s happened in those 408 days is instructive: The Internet has continued to flourish as an open, vibrant and welcoming medium, just as it has since its inception.
In fact, ongoing efforts to transition all of our country’s communications networks to Internet-based technology (called the “Internet Protocol Transition”, or simply “IP Transition”) hold great promise for our communities. The more connected we are to the Internet, the more opportunities we have better our lives. While Selma and the grape and wine boycotts of the 60’s and 70’s occurred in analog, the issues of access and adoption are fundamentally about digital social justice.
Most indications are that the FCC will likely adopt some form of reclassification. It will be good news for lawyers, bad news for investment and resulting regressive rate increases will hit lower income Americans the hardest. Whether Congress can rescue the FCC from such a result is unknown. At HTTP, we’ll be advocating for smart policies centered around adoption, IP Transition and modernization of the Telecommunications Act. Title II may have been smart in 1934, but it’s an analog tool ill-conceived for our digital future.
It should be kept in mind that many of those supporting the imposition of Title II have aligned themselves directly with major corporate interests in the Silicon Valley. These are the same companies with the worst records of hiring Latinos and other communities of color. And while we all hope they will do better in the future, their advocacy of policies that will raise the cost of All Things Internet to Latinos and lower income Americans at the same time that they fail to meaningfully employ communities of color borders on outrageous.
Latinos continue to adopt wireless Internet at high rates. On average, we now own more mobile gadgets, spend more time using those devices and use more wireless data than the rest of the population. And the benefits of online access to healthcare, education, and work training continue to expand. Yet incredibly, without a single example of a problem and in the midst of overwhelming evidence of the wonders of today’s free and open Internet that continues to better consumers’ lives, proponents of reclassification advocated for unprecedented and expensive “Title II” regulations. Imposing Title II onto the Internet ecosystem would result in years of legal and business uncertainty, delaying investment decisions that would bring these high-speed IP networks and services to more Americans, as well as potentially stifling the creative and innovative spirit that has come to embody the Internet.
Although our community leads the way in adoption of the mobile Internet, not all of our community yet has access to the benefits of the Internet. Last fall, Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcelcommented, “our regulatory frameworks often have their origin in laws that predate the Internet.” This is the time that we as a community should be advocating for protections under a rules framework that allow for the proliferation of high-speed IP networks to all Americans and for the opportunity for innovators to bring us the next great Internet wonder.
As the United States moves towards this great technological Internet-based communications network revolution, it’s important to remember what brought us the Internet in the first place – rational regulations begun under President Clinton’s administration has historically been furthered in a bipartisan manner by other administrations since. Now, as we face the specter of onerous regulations, we should remain focused on our goals – ensuring that our community has access to high-speed networks and ensuring that any new regulations are grounded in the digital economy, not the past. The right rules will drive the build out of broadband networks and infrastructure we need to keep our economy driving forward in a 21st century IP age. It’s a matter of digital social justice.
Martin Chavez is a Senior Advisor to Hispanic Telecommunications & Technology Partnership (HTTP). HTTP is an umbrella organization, representing 19 national Latino civil rights and social mobilization organizations.
January 27, 2015
By Jamal Simmons, contributor, Forbes
Congress is diving into the Open Internet debate with hearings last week on new net neutrality bills in the House and the Senate. Intense controversy over the benefits and downsides of turning broadband service into a public utility drags on, underscoring the need for a legislative solution. Many people advance claims on the impact of net neutrality to consumers, but now there are real numbers to discuss—numbers that make it clear that the President’s plan of imposing public utility-like Title II regulation on the Internet would lead to holes in family budgets.
A recent study by Progressive Policy Institute economists Robert Litan and Hal Singer is the first significant effort to quantify how much it could potentially cost consumers if broadband services are reclassified as “telecommunications services” under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. By regulating broadband service under Title II, the Federal Communications Commission would essentially be required to treat this service under the same rules as the old telephone monopoly from decades ago. By switching from the current light-touch regime to Title II, broadband Internet services would be subjected to a panoply of requirements, such as for entry and exit. That also means broadband would likely become burdened with a host of new state and local taxes and fees, the kind we pay on our monthly home and/or wireless phone bills. These taxes and fees are normally passed on to consumers; when they rise, consumers end up paying more. Expect the same with broadband.
According to Litan and Singer, these new state and local fees will increase by $15 billion, impacting consumers to varying degrees. The average American household with a fixed broadband connection would pay in the range of an additional $51 to $83 per year, and those with one smartphone or other wireless broadband device (tablet) would pay $72 more annually. For many working American families, that’s money that could be used to help cover necessities like food, gas or rent.
January 6, 2015
BY SCOTT BERGMANN
While CTIA and its members strongly believe in an open Internet, any new rules need to rest on a solid legal foundation. With reports that the FCC will take action next month, it is important to highlight once again that the legal path the Commission takes matters.
As we explained in an in-depth legal analysis submitted to the FCC just before the holidays, the Congressional framework for regulating wireless services – specifically Section 332 of the Communications Act – prohibits the application of Title II common carrier regulation to mobile broadband. Yet again, when it comes to Net Neutrality, wireless is different.
Our legal white paper, Section 332’s Bar Against Common Carrier Treatment of Mobile Broadband: A Legal Analysis, makes clear that Section 332 forbids the Commission from subjecting services that are not Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS), or the functional equivalent, to the common carrier mandates of Title II. As the white paper explains, mobile broadband is neither CMRS nor its functional equivalent. Rather, mobile broadband is Private Mobile Radio Service (PMRS), and thus immune by law from common carrier regulation. In layman’s terms, Congress created different categories of mobile wireless services, and mobile broadband falls squarely within the PMRS category, a class that Congress explicitly exempted from Title II regulation.