September 10, 2012
Closing America's digital divide is essential both for the nation's economy and for its civic life, Mignon Clyburn, a commissioner with the Federal Communications Commission said Friday.
Clyburn was in her native Charleston joining state and local officials as Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen presented a foundation grant to help close the divide in the city. The digital divide refers to the gulf between those who have access to computers and broadband internet service and those who don't. Many of those who don't are in rural areas or in families with lower incomes. Clyburn said that 18 million Americans have no physical access to broadband while a third of Americans lack internet connections even where the service is available. Many of them, she said, say they can't afford it. "Children, parents, grandparents and the community as a whole are significantly disadvantaged without high speed internet access whether you are in an urban or a rural area," she said. native and daughter of U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C. For many jobs, you have to apply on line, she said. "It's hard to find a job, complete a job application, operate a small business or even finish your homework without broadband," she said. "Shrinking that divide is essential not only for individuals economically but it's also important to a robust civic environment," Clyburn added. She said that news and information available on the internet helps ensure that the public is informed about national issues.
Cohen presented a $25,000 check to the Carolina Youth Development Center for technology programs. The nonprofit helps children who have been abandoned or experienced abuse or neglect.
Comcast is also starting the second year of its Internet Essentials program in Charleston that works to help low-income families meet the costs of acquiring computers and broadband. Families with students who qualify for free or reduced price lunches can get broadband for $10 a month, get training with computers and, if they want, buy a computer for $150. Nearly 400,000 people nationwide, including 1,800 in the Charleston area, are enrolled.
"We've just come off two conventions and there was a lot of talk about how hard it is," Cohen said, noting that while unemployment is at 8 percent, the United States is still the most powerful and richest nation on earth. "The notion that a nation that has those characteristics can find remotely acceptable that a third of its population - the vast majority of which are poor and people of color - would not have access to an essential facility like the internet in their homes is absolutely unthinkable," he said. Associated Press
Federal regulators will kick off an effort to set rules for future auctions of television airwaves later this month as part of a push to free up more airwaves for mobile broadband use.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski circulated proposed rules for the airwaves auctions Friday so the agency's other four members can vote on them at a Sept. 28 meeting. The agency wants guidance from TV station owners and potential airwaves license buyers about how to set up the auctions, which FCC officials say they want to schedule in 2014. The proposal circulated Friday asks questions about issues such as how to compensate TV station owners so that they'll be encouraged to sell some or all of their airwaves and how much geographic territory the new airwaves licenses will cover. The agency wants to finalize rules for the auctions by next summer, an FCC official said.
The auctions will free up spectrum for wireless broadband and "drive faster speeds, greater capacity, and ubiquitous mobile coverage," Mr. Genachowski said a statement. Unlike previously, the FCC is planning to hold simultaneous auctions, where broadcasters would sell back their airwaves to the agency while potential buyers are placing bids. Until the agency sets final rules next year, it may not be clear how many TV stations will take part in the auctions. The National Association of Broadcasters has offered tepid support for the idea and raised concerns about how the auctions will affect TV stations that don't take part, since many will likely have to move to new airwaves.
Separately, the FCC will look at what caps, if any, should be placed on wireless giants like Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone PLC, and AT&T Inc. to ensure they don't gobble up too many prime airwaves and stifle competition. On a J.P. Morgan conference call Friday morning, Verizon Communications chief executive Lowell McAdam said that regulators in future spectrum auctions need to put in place more aggressive build-out requirements that force companies to put the airwaves to use more quickly. He said that such requirements would stop the stockpiling of spectrum. "We need to look at who is using it efficiently," he said. "That needs to be part of the discussion on spectrum caps."
Meanwhile, public-interest groups and technology companies including Google Inc. have raised concerns the auctions could torpedo an effort to ensure there are more free, unlicensed TV airwaves available for new wireless gadgets. In the proposal circulated Friday, the FCC suggests setting aside some bands of airwaves to protect TV stations from interference which could also serve the unlicensed uses. Under legislation passed by Congress earlier this year, TV station owners would receive a portion of the auction proceeds, with the rest going to the U.S. Treasury to fund a new national wireless-data network for first responders. Wall Street Journal
Former U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, who has already survived two bouts of Hodgkin's disease, is now battling non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, according to his son's law firm. A statement released Friday said Mr. Specter had been released from a Philadelphia hospital but was expected to return there for additional treatment. Mr. Specter said in a statement last week that he was again fighting cancer. "It's another battle I intend to win," Mr. Specter wrote. "I'm grateful for all the well wishes I've received."
Mr. Specter, who was Pennsylvania's longest-serving senator before losing a primary in 2010, has overcome two bouts with Hodgkin's disease, a cancer of the lymphatic system, since 2005. He also has survived a brain tumor and cardiac arrest after bypass surgery. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is broad description for a number of blood cancers primarily affecting white blood cells in the lymph tissue. It can be treated with radiation or chemotherapy. Ms. Specter's 30-year Senate career ended after he switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party and lost the subsequent primary. Later that year, Pennsylvania voters elected conservative Republican Pat Toomey, then a congressman, to replace him. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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