FirstNet Developments Examined in Upcoming Webcast

The development of FirstNet, the federal authority within NTIA tasked with building a nationwide wireless public safety broadband network, remains a key concern for industry stakeholders and first responders over a year after its creation under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. With its first meetings already completed, FirstNet’s board has begun consulting with state, local, and tribal entities regarding the requirements and priorities for the design of the nationwide network. FirstNet’s board continues to address unresolved issues related to deployment strategy, procurement approach, and leveraging resources from state and local governments and carriers. In addition, FirstNet has faced recent controversy regarding allegations by one board member that, among other things, public safety authorities have not been fully consulted regarding network deployment, and regarding potential conflicts of interest. There have also been concerns raised regarding the ability of the FirstNet broadband network to support “mission critical” voice communications.

These issues and others with be examined in a live webcast carried on Broadband US TV from 11:30-12:30 pm (ET) on May 16, 2013, entitled “FirstNet: Understanding the $7 Billion Opportunity . . . and Challenges.” Co-hosts Marty Stern of K&L Gates and Jim Baller of the Baller Herbst Law Group will be joined by Jeff Cohen, Chief Counsel, Law and Policy, APCO International; Dan Draughn, Principal, Plexus Broadband, LLC; Mitch Herckis, Director of Government Relations, National Association of State Chief Information Officers; Kevin Krufky, Vice President, Public Affairs – Americas Region, Alcatel-Lucent; and Laura Waxman, Director of Public Safety, United States Conference of Mayors. The webcast will be carried live from the floor of the FOSE Government Technology IT Expo 2013 in Washington, D.C., and is the second in a series of conversations regarding FirstNet’s opportunities and challenges for state and local governments, carriers, infrastructure owners, and equipment manufacturers. The webcast will include an update on developments since BroadbandUS.TV's first program on FirstNet and provide insights on what lies ahead for FirstNet.

You can access the webcast here (free registration required).

FirstNet Challenges and Opportunities Examined in Upcoming Live Webcast

It has been a year since Congress created FirstNet, a federal authority within NTIA tasked with building a $7 billion nationwide wireless public safety broadband network. With its board already appointed, FirstNet has begun planning, designing, and developing the public safety network, supported by a $121.5 million grant program to staff and implement state and local government planning and coordination activities. However, important issues remain involving FirstNet’s deployment strategy, potential network partners, procurement approach, and the complex task of leveraging resources and facilities from state and local governments, wireless carriers, utilities, and others. In addition, the availability of future funding for FirstNet’s $7 billion price tag is tied to the success of the FCC’s recapture and repacking of television broadcast spectrum and sufficient proceeds from the auction of broadcast spectrum for wireless broadband use. 

These issues and others will be examined in a live webcast carried on Broadband US TV from 1:00-2:30 pm (ET) on March 1, 2013, entitled “FirstNet:A Year Later - Understanding the $7 Billion Opportunity . . . and Challenges.” Co-hosts Marty Stern of K&L Gates and Jim Baller of the Baller Herbst Law Group will be joined by Laura Pettus, Program Manager, NTIA Public Safety Interoperable Communications Grant Program, and an expert panel featuring Dr. Andrew Afflerbach, CEO/Director of Engineering - CTC Technology & Energy; Jeff Cohen, Chief Counsel, Law and Policy, APCO International; Martha Duggan, Senior Principal, Regulatory Affairs, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association; and Michael Hardiman, Director, Mission Critical Broadband Solutions, Alcatel-Lucent.

You can access the webcast here (free registration required).

Broadband US TV Webcast: Year in Review and Forecasts for 2013

By Nick Milonas and Marty Stern

With 2012 coming to a close, Internet TV channel Broadband US TV recently featured a live, year-end review of key developments in the sector over the last year, with guests making various predictions on what 2013 will bring. The webcast archive is available here (free registration required).

In addition to Broadband US TV co-hosts Marty Stern of K&L Gates and Jim Baller of the Baller Herbst Law Group, the webcast featured special guests Gigi Sohn, President and CEO of Public Knowledge, Scott Cleland, President of The Precursor Group and Chairman of advocacy group NetCompetition, Jeffrey Silva, Senior Policy Director at Medley Global Advisors, and Paul Gallant, Telecom Policy Analyst at Guggenheim Securities, LLC.

Panelists engaged in a lively and robust hour and a half discussion, with numerous exchanges between public interest advocate Gigi Sohn and Scott Cleland, whose NetCompetition group promotes a free market, deregulatory broadband agenda and is a prolific critic of the Federal Communications Commission. The discussion also featured commentary from analysts Jeff Silva and Paul Gallant. Among other issues, the wide-ranging discussion covered:

Spectrum —­ Numerous developments on the spectrum front, including conflicting predictions on the likely outcome of the broadcast spectrum auctions, the FCC’s recent decision on AWS-4 spectrum held by Dish Network, and thoughts on the deployment by Dish of a new, commercial wireless service.

Net Neutrality — The state of net neutrality, predictions on the likely outcome of the pending DC Circuit challenge to the FCC’s Open Internet Order, and the range of potential responses from the FCC.

Network Transitions — The IP transition from a circuit-switched voice network to an IP-based network, the recent petition filed at the FCC by AT&T, and a discussion of the key issues that need to be resolved.

ITU Internet Governance — The recently-concluded International Telecommunications Union (ITU) World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12) and ITU Internet governance efforts, which according to panelists, will continue to play out over the next couple of years.

Copyright Reform — Copyright reform, including panelists’ discussions of the continued importance of the retransmission consent regime between broadcasters and cable/satellite providers, with updates and predictions on the pending court challenge to the Aereo service, which retransmits broadcast signals to subscribers using individual subscriber antennas at a headend location.

Gigabit Fiber Initiatives — Updates on new community broadband gigabit networks, with differing views on claimed subsidies provided by local governments for new networks and impacts vis-à-vis competition from commercial providers.

Telecom Legislation — Potential for telecom and broadband legislation in 2013 and key topics to be addressed, including potential rebalancing of rules governing relationships between broadcasters and cable/satellite providers.

FCC Leadership — Speculation on the potential departure of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, his potential replacement, and impacts on various pending broadband issues.

The show concluded with the guests’ boldest predictions for 2013, including the prospects for a Telecom Act rewrite, key issues to be faced by a new FCC Chair, likely court action on the FCC’s Open Internet rules, and the predicted outcome of a pending Supreme Court case (City of Arlington v. FCC), involving the “shot clock” adopted by the FCC for local wireless siting decisions and a unique twist on the deference owed to the FCC in matters of statutory interpretation under the Chevron doctrine.

You can access the webcast archive here (free registration required).

FTC Chairman and Experts to Examine Mobile and Online Privacy in Upcoming Webcast

A live webcast program entitled Privacy Untangled, featuring Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz and an expert panel will be carried on Broadband US TV on Friday, October 26, 2012, from 1:00-2:30 p.m. ET.

Balancing privacy with commercial interests has become increasingly complex and contentious, as businesses and government organizations rely on the collection, storage, and sharing of online and mobile consumer data. Recent regulatory initiatives, including the White House’s proposed Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights and related workshops, and the privacy enforcement actions and best practices reports of the FTC have placed evolving privacy practices in the spotlight. In addition, privacy watchdog groups continue to criticize the government’s privacy initiatives as insufficient, while service providers complain of the government over-reaching in its regulatory approach towards industry privacy practices.

An in-depth examination of these issues will be provided in a live webcast with co-hosts Marty Stern of K&L Gates and Jim Baller of the Baller Herbst Law Group. In addition to special guest FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, the program will feature an expert panel with Sue Kelley, American Public Power Association General Counsel; Deborah J. Matties, Attorney Advisor to FTC Chairman Leibowitz; Emily Mossberg, Principal at Deloitte & Touche LLP; Ross Shulman, Public Policy and Regulatory Counsel at the Computer and Communications Industry Association; Bernin Szoka, President at TechFreedom, and Peter Swire, former Chief Counsel for Privacy under President Clinton and current professor at the Ohio State University.

The panel will engage in a lively discussion regarding privacy issues and the government’s recent initiatives to adjust privacy regulations for an evolving online and mobile marketplace.

You can register for the webcast here (free registration required).

US Ignite Broadband Initiative to be Examined in Live Webcast

As a part of its recent push to encourage high-speed broadband deployment nationwide, the White House recently announced the creation of the public-private “U.S. Ignite” initiative aimed at providing next-generation broadband networks to support education, manufacturing, health, transportation, public safety, and clean energy systems. Consisting of nearly 100 corporations, municipalities, and non-profit organizations, the initiative hopes to interconnect communities with advanced fiber networks in order to facilitate sharing of knowledge, skill, and applications in critical public service areas.

An in-depth review of the US Ignite initiative and the opportunities it presents for communities, broadband providers, application developers, and other stakeholders will be provided in a live webcast carried on Broadband US TV on Wednesday, July 25, 2012, from 1:00-3:00 p.m. (EST). Co-hosts Marty Stern of K&L Gates and Jim Baller of the Baller Herbst Law Group will be joined by an expert panel featuring Sue Spradley, Executive Director of US Ignite; William Wallace, Project Director of US Ignite; Link Hoewing, Vice President of Internet and Technology Policy at Verizon; Suzi Iacono, Senior Science Advisor at the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering of the National Science Foundation; Will Barkis, Gigabit Developer Evangelist at the Mozilla Foundation; Scot Rourke, CEO of OneCommunity; Tegene Baharu, Deputy Chief Technology Officer for the District of Columbia; and Jim Ingraham, Vice President of Strategic Planning for Chattanooga EPB.

The panel will engage in a lively discussion of the goals of the US Ignite initiative, potential challenges, and opportunities for cities, broadband providers, application developers, and others.

You can register for the webcast here (free registration required).

Broadband and Economic Development Explored in Two-Day Webcast Beginning Tomorrow

The importance of broadband deployment for economic development will be explored in a special, two-day webcast carried on Broadband US TV live from the Broadband Communities Summit in Dallas, Texas beginning tomorrow, April 24, 2012. The Summit will feature leaders from federal and local governments, public policy groups, and the broadband industry. The webcast will include discussions on the construction of advanced broadband systems, government incentives and support, innovative financing methods, and regional deployment challenges.

You can access the webcast here (free registration required).

Tax Relief Act Spectrum Provisions Examined in Upcoming Live Webcast

The spectrum title of the recently enacted Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 includes sweeping provisions on public safety broadband, freeing up broadcast spectrum for wireless broadband, and the future of television white spaces. Yet significant questions remain over the meaning of the Act’s key provisions and its implementation.

These issues and others will be examined in a special two-hour live webcast carried on Broadband US TV from 1:00-3:00 pm (ET) on April 4th. Co-hosts Marty Stern of K&L Gates and Jim Baller of the Baller Herbst Law Group will be joined by two expert panels to discuss the Act’s meaning, impact, and implementation. The first panel, covering implications for public safety and other governmental entities, will feature Stephen Traylor, Executive Director of NATOA; Brett Kilbourne, Deputy General Counsel of the Utilities Telecom Council; Brett S. Haan of Deloitte Consulting; and Roger Wespe, Government Relations Manager at APCO International. The second panel, covering impacts on broadcasters, wireless carriers, and the tech community, will feature Michael Calabrese of the New America Foundation; Lawrence Krevor, Vice President at Sprint Nextel; Kevin Krufky, Vice President of Public Affairs at Alcatel-Lucent; and Peter Tannenwald, Member of Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth.

You can access the webcast here (free registration required).

Broadband Competition to be Examined in Live Webcast Featuring Interview with Susan Crawford, Distinguished Panel

Susan Crawford, former science and technology advisor to President Obama and current visiting professor at the Kennedy School and Harvard Law School, recently warned of a “crisis” in American broadband competition, positing the growing dominance of cable operators over broadband access, as well as a "new digital divide" between those who have access to high-capacity broadband networks and those who do not. Ms. Crawford discusses her views on the state and future of broadband competition in an interview with co-hosts Marty Stern of K&L Gates and Jim Baller to be carried on Broadband US TV on February 28th, in a live webcast from 1:00-2:30 pm (ET). Ms. Crawford’s interview will be followed by an expert panel, featuring Larry Krevor, Vice President of Government Relations for Sprint Nextel; Dr. Lev Gonick, CIO of Case Western Reserve University; and Everett M. Ehrlich, President and business economist at ESC Company. The panel will debate Ms. Crawford’s recent articles, the battles among wireline broadband providers, the role of wireless in broadband competition, and the future of broadband competition in America.

You can register for the free live webcast by clicking here

Retransmission Consent Issues Examined in Upcoming Live Webcast

As the latest cycle of retransmission consent negotiations draws to a close, battles between local broadcast stations and programming distributors continue unabated. These disputes have resulted in retransmission rate hikes, requests for FCC intervention in disputes, proposals to eliminate the retransmission consent rules entirely, and regional blackouts of major sporting events and other channels. Meanwhile, the FCC has yet to act on proposed reforms to its retransmission consent rules proposed in March 2011.

These issues will be examined by an expert panel in a webcast carried on Broadband TV US on Thursday, January 26, 2012, from 1:00-2:30 p.m. (EST). Co-hosts Marty Stern of K&L Gates and Jim Baller of the Baller Herbst Law Group will be joined by John Bergmayer of Public Knowledge; Toni Bush of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; John Hane of Winthrop, Shaw, Pittman; Ross Lieberman of the American Cable Association; Cristina Pauze of Time Warner Cable; and Richard Waysdorf of Starz. The webcast will examine all sides of the debate over whether the rules governing retransmission consent for local broadcast stations should be reformed.

You can access the webcast here (free registration required).

Year in Review Webcast Examines Key TMT Developments in 2011

With an exciting year filled with major TMT developments drawing to a close, Broadband TV US will feature a live year in review webcast on December 16, 2011, from 12:30-2:00 p.m. (EST). You can access the free webcast by clicking here (free registration required).

Co-hosts Marty Stern of K&L Gates and Jim Baller of the Baller Herbst Law Group will be joined by an expert panel including Harold Feld, Legal Director for Public Knowledge; Scott Cleland, President of The Precursor Group; Jeffery Silva, Senior Policy Director at Medley Global Advisors; and Eliza Krigman, Technology Reporter for Politico. The panel will engage in a spirited review of the major events of 2011 and make bold predictions for the year ahead.

Some of the topics up for discussion include:

  • AT&T/T-Mobile and newly announced industry transactions
  • Spectrum reform, White Spaces and the latest from the Hill
  • FCC Open Internet and Universal Service Fund/Intercarrier Compensation reform orders
  • Google and Gig-U gigabit initiatives
  • National Broadband Plan and the Broadband Stimulus program
  • Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act

PBS President Discusses Future of Public Media on Broadband US TV

Last week Paula Kerger, President and CEO of the Public Broadcasting Service, discussed the future of public broadcasting and PBS in the current, fractured, media environment where broadcast spectrum reallocation is under serious consideration. Ms. Kerger appeared on a Broadband US TV webcast live from the floor of FOSE, the government information technology conference and expo in Washington, D.C.  Kerger, who was interviewed by Broadband US TV co-hosts Marty Stern of K&L Gates and Jim Baller of the Baller Herbst Law Group, discussed the importance of widespread and affordable broadband access as well as the significance of over-the-air broadcasting for, according to Kerger, the 45 million Americans who continue to rely on broadcast reception to receive local TV stations.

Touching upon the current funding crunch faced by many public media sources following the recent economic downturn (Kerger said that about 15% of PBS funding comes from the Federal government), the conversation moved the contentious issue of spectrum reallocation. Ms. Kerger noted PBS member stations’ early use of spectrum for multicasting as well as public safety and indicated that her organization would continue to watch the Congressional spectrum debate closely. When asked to discuss the future of public broadcasting over the next decade, Ms. Kerger emphasized the increased use of multiple platforms by viewers to access PBS programming, in particular mobile applications, and the need for public media to adapt to new technologies and opportunities. 

The full interview may be seen here (Registration required).

Live Webcast Examines Controversial Pole Attachment Rules and Right-of-Way Access [UPDATED 6/21/11]

Last week’s “Poles and Holes” webcast, carried live on Broadband US TV, sparked a lively debate among panelists representing the telecom sector on the one hand, and utility and local governmental interests on the other. The program featured FCC Wireline Competition Bureau Chief Sharon Gillett who talked with co-hosts Marty Stern of K&L Gates and Jim Baller of The Baller Herbst Law Group about the scope and application of the FCC's new pole attachment rules, including the rules’ controversial new telecom rate formula and the first-time requirement that incumbent telephone companies get the benefit of regulated pole attachment rates.

The panel discussion highlighted the strong disagreement between telecom industry interests and utilities over the Commission’s new telecom rate formula, new deadlines on completing attachments, and whether revised rules were needed at all. On rights-of-way access and facilities siting matters involving local governments, there was also significant disagreement over the extent to which particular local governments have been a hindrance to deployment. One industry panelist suggested, particularly as to wireless deployments, that “it’s a real fight” in too many cases. Joanne Hovis, President-elect of NATOA, bristled at that notion, stressing the interest of governments in working cooperatively and collaboratively with providers to facilitate broadband deployment, and argued that the industry is trying to “short-circuit localism” and asking the FCC for relief. Hovis, instead, offered that industry should “come to us and we will work with you. If you have a problem with one of our members, we will work with them as well.”

The webcast may be viewed here (registration required).

-----------------------------------

FCC Wireline Competition Bureau Chief Sharon Gillett will be featured on an upcoming live webcast on “Poles and Holes” being carried on Internet TV channel Broadband US TV on June 17 at 1 p.m. ET. The program, co-hosted by K&L Gates partner Marty Stern and Jim Baller of the Baller Herbst Law Group, will examine the FCC’s recently issued pole attachment rules and how to improve rights-of-way access and facility siting. Also featured on the program will be Joanne Hovis, incoming president of the NATOA; Brett Kilbourne of the Utilities Telecom Council; Tracey Steiner of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association; Charles Stockdale, General Counsel of FiberTech; Scott Thompson of Davis Wright Tremaine; and Jeb Benedict of CenturyLink.

The program will feature a spirited “point-counterpoint” discussion among participants on all sides of these issues. Among the topics to be examined are the controversial new pole attachment rules, which we recently blogged on, including new access timelines and pole attachment complaint procedures, as well as the FCC’s recent Notice of Inquiry requesting comments on multiple points of contention between industry and government affecting broadband buildout.

If You Want Broadband, You've Got To Get It Built

With expanding broadband as its defining priority, the FCC is taking a number of steps to facilitate the deployment of broadband facilities. We recently wrote on the FCC’s new pole attachment order, intended to expedite and lower the cost of access to utility poles. In a companion Notice of Inquiry, published today in the Federal Register, the Commission will be exploring ways that local governments and other authorities can help improve rights-of-way access and facility siting, both of which are key to mobile broadband deployment. Comments on the NOI are due by July 18 and Replies are due August 30. 

To give the FCC’s action some context, it has been estimated that the wireless industry has deployed some 250,000 cell sites in the U.S. in the last 25 years. With 4G deployments, which require sites deeper into the network, one analyst estimated that the country will need 2.4 million sites by 2020 to support the expected level of mobile broadband traffic. For those who remember the battles a few years back between the telecom industry and local governments, as well as agencies managing federal lands, a real question exists as to how that all gets done.

Enter the FCC and the facilities deployment NOI, which has identified and seeks comment on various points of contention between industry and government affecting broadband buildout, in an effort to identify a comprehensive solution. These include timeliness and ease of the permitting process; reasonableness of rights-of-way and other charges; outdated ordinances and statutes, including the treatment of small antenna systems on existing facilities (known as Distributed Antenna Systems or DAS); differing regulation between rights-of-way access, including traditional pole attachments versus wireless facilities siting; and opportunities for FCC intervention and best practices.

Joanne Hovis, incoming president of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA), recently struck a conciliatory tone on these issues in a live webcast conversation with K&L Gates Partner Marty Stern at the Broadband Properties Summit Economic Development Conference in Dallas, carried on Broadband US TV. Ms. Hovis stressed local governments’ interest in helping to facilitate broadband deployment, and that she hoped the FCC’s discussion would focus on collaboration between local government and industry, rather than preemption, litigation and antagonistic processes.

Striking a similar chord, in an earlier letter to Chairman Genachowski, local government groups stressed that the NOI focused too much on past practices as well as right-of-way compensation issues, with insufficient attention on how local governments, the FCC and industry can work cooperatively on these issues. In contrast, wireless industry groups such as CTIA largely praised the NOI after its release, stating the proposals will help “unlock greater efficiencies in rights-of-way and wireless facilities siting policies to speed broadband deployment.”

It remains to be seen what the ultimate tenor of the proceeding will be, and whether the FCC will seek to broker common ground between industry and local governments, or if the agency will examine areas where it might take more aggressive actions that local governments will undoubtedly resist. An additional wild card with this issue is how to deal with local community opposition to wireless projects, that have stopped projects cold, even where the projects may have had the support of local officials. As to telecom access to federal and tribal lands, perhaps the Administration should examine reenergizing the Federal Rights of Way Working Group, an interagency group led by the NTIA, which did a report in 2004 on best practices at the federal agencies for facilitating the deployment of telecom infrastructure, but has not been heard from since.