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This is a guest post from the National Hispanic Media Coalition's Jessica Gonzalez on the importance of a program called Lifeline. This FCC program ensures that even those in poverty, the disabled, and the elderly have access to essential communication.
Much has been made in the media over the Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline program, which helps make telephone service more affordable for poor families. Most of the media coverage, however, has been slanted and misleading.
Last month I testified at a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce’s subcommittee on Communications and Technology titled “The Lifeline Fund: Money Well Spent?” My testimony provided a factual account of the history of the Lifeline program and the ways in which it is bettering lives today.
Lifeline has an important goal: to ensure that all people have access to affordable communications. Lifeline is a treasured tool that achieves broad societal objectives such as upward mobility. It positively and directly affects our economy, employment, healthcare, public safety, strong families, civic participation and education.
ISPs should put the cork back in their champagne bottles. Public Knowledge still thinks Title II is the best way to reinstate the FCC’s authority over broadband Internet access, though other means of providing that authority would be acceptable too.
This past Tuesday I appeared on a Free State Foundation panel entitled “If I were the FCC Chairman….” For 2 hours representatives from Verizon, Time Warner Cable and I had the opportunity to “live the dream,” and set out what we would do if we commanded that big office on the 8th floor for the next several years.
It is certainly hard for a reporter to condense 2 hours of non-stop opinionating and prognosticating into 400 words; sometimes nuances get lost. Such was the case with a Communications Daily story on the panel, which screamed “FCC Will Lose Open Internet Case, Should Not Go Back to Title II, Say TWC, Public Knowledge Officials.” Champagne bottles could be heard popping in big ISP’s offices all over Washington, DC.
A new wave of creators care about innovating. They care about building things. And they mostly see patents as getting in the way.
If you are a practicing patent attorney, it might be a good idea to call up that one copyright attorney you know and invite them out for some coffee. Because it’s starting to look like patents are about to have a copyright-like moment where they get pulled from an esoteric corner of law and thrust into popular culture.
And this isn’t a post about software patents, or about the portable patent thicket that is a modern mobile phone. No, this is a post about what happens when an entire chunk of society runs into an area of law and gets really, really annoyed with what they find.
Verizon’s new revelations about the limits of its Voice Link service in hurricane-damaged Fire Island show how important a consumer-focused framework will be for the phone network transition.
Months after Hurricane Sandy damaged Verizon’s traditional copper phone network in Fire Island, NY, Verizon has made it clear that it does not intend to repair its infrastructure in the recovering community. Instead, Verizon has announced plans to replace its wireline service in Fire Island and other hurricane-ravaged communities with an untested fixed wireless service called Voice Link.
Verizon has been eager to tell subscribers that Voice Link offers “the same 911 support” and “many of the same voice features and functions” as their old landline phones did. In New Jersey, Verizon even sent around a mailer saying “Our technicians connect Voice Link into the telephone lines in your home, allowing you to use your home telephones to make and receive calls just like you did before.”
In a few weeks, the nations of the world will gather in Morocco to finalize a treaty that could help the millions of blind and visually impaired have affordable access to books, but lobbyists from Hollywood and the publishing industry are making a last minute push to fatally weaken the Treaty – despite getting all their previous demands.
In a few weeks, the 186 governments that are members of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) will gather in Morocco with the goal of crafting a Treaty For The Blind. The agreement would facilitate global production and lending of audio books, Braille translations, and otherwise enable the visually impaired and those with certain learning disabilities to have affordable access to books.
This will most benefit the millions of blind people in the developing world who live in poverty, by adopting many of the rights to translate works into braille or other forms accessible to the visually impaired that are already law in the United States.
But last minute lobbying by Hollywood and publishing interests in the U.S. and Europe have threatened to derail the Treaty for the Blind at the last minute.
We are asking everyone to please sign this We The People Petition telling the Obama Administration to side with the blind, not Hollywood.
If data caps are like 1-800 numbers, the same consumer protections that apply to phone numbers must also apply to data.
Recently we have seen stories about wireless carriers “offering” content creators the opportunity to pay to exempt their content from data caps. We pointed out that this type of arrangement is exactly the type of thing that net neutrality is supposed to prevent. However, some wireless carriers have defended it as merely a modern day 1-800 number. What they forget is that 1-800 numbers did not exist in a vacuum.
Yes, 1-800 numbers allowed businesses to make incoming calls free to customers by picking up the charge. In that sense, they superficially resemble a scheme where certain content is exempted from data caps. But stopping there kind of misses the point.
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