Tales of the Sausage Factory

Very Interesting Map Of Comments In BB Stimulus Proceeding

In my capacity of consulting with the Benton Foundation, I have been doing work with Kate Williams, a professor of informatix at University of Illinois. Williams has been doing some (IMO) critical work around broadband sustainability. In particular, Kate has been studying the old Technologies Opportunity Program to determine which projects had lasting impact and which didn’t — a rather important consideration for the new and improved BTOP program.

But what caught my attention recently is this very interesting map that Williams compiled based on the comments submitted to BTOP. It places the comments filed on a geographic map, with links to the actual comments themselves. The map includes the 58% of comments filed by the April 13, 2009 deadline which contained reliable information on the location of the commentor. The remaining 42% either gave no location or included location in an attachment which Williams considered insufficiently reliable to determine location.

Why do I find this interesting? Because it potentially provides a very interesting cross check on the state of broadband geographically, as well as who follows these proceedings. I have long lamented that the FCC (and other federal agencies) make so little use of the data they actually collect. At best, an agency may note submission by a class of commentors (e.g., broadcasters, MVPDs, ISPs) in the specific proceeding at issue. But no one tries to take the multiple data sets collected as comments in each proceeding, or in multiple proceedings, and tries to determine patterns and what they might suggest. williams grouping by geography is intriguing, and I cannot help but wonder what would happen if we applied a similar analysis to multiple FCC proceedings — including for comments generated by mass “comment engines” that have become common in some high profile proceedings. It would be very interesting to know, for example, if the people feeling passionate enough about media consolidation or network neutrality cluster geographically and, if so, do we see patterns of geographic interest which might tell us about the actual situation on the ground.

Of course the sampling from comments is not a pure scientific data set in that to comment, a commentor must (a) know about the proceeding, and (b) feel strongly enough to file comments. But the fact that the information has a particular set of biases does not render it meaningless, especially if one controls for this.

I hope researchers use Williams’ map, both to analyze the BTOP comments and as a model going forward for analysis of other proceedings.

Stay tuned . . . .

Posted in Tales of the Sausage Factory, The Stimulus Package (ARRA) | Also tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

MAP Brings DC To The Valley

Time for a shameless plug for my employer, the Media Access Project (MAP).

As long-time readers know, one of my frequent complaints is why don’t folks whose lives depend on the rules made in DC bestir themselves and get active on the policy front. All it takes is a web browser and a docket number, after all. Why don’t we see more Silicon Valley folks, VCs, and others show up at FCC proceedings.

Answer, they live as much in their own isolated bubbles as the DC folks do. If you are out in Silicon Valley, odds are good you rarely think of DC as having any relevance to your life and there is not going to be anyone or anything around you to tell you otherwise.

Well rejoice, lucky Silicon Valley people (and whoever else wants to make the trip out)! Media Access Project is sponsoring a series of policy forums (fora?) in Silicon Valley, wherein we will bring the D.C. policy world to you. And, lest you think this is some sort of socialist cult-like retreat wherein we will brainwash you with our public interest ways, we are working with big corporate partners like AT&T and eBay to assemble panels that present a wide variety of views. The primary purpose here is to get folks actually thinking about policy and why it is important for everyone to participate in the process. Think of it as a kind of “Rock the Vote” for Silicon Valley.

In any event, details below.

Stay tuned . . . .

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Posted in General, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , | 3 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

The last wireless believer has left the Federal Building

Michael Gallagher, the Assistant Secretary in charge of the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) is leaving. It looks like a bleak year for those who believe that more spectrum made available to the public will bring greater economic propserity and freedom of speech for all.

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Posted in General, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , | Comments closed

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Tales of the Sausage Factory: MAP Summer Fun Kit

Whose up for a summer of social activism on media and telecom policy? A show of hands please? What if I told you it would only take about 15 minutes using the equipment you are using to read this webpage?

I’ve pegged four FCC proceedings that will benefit enormously from an injection of real world information. My pitch letter for why you should care, along with links to summaries of the proceedings and instructions on how to file, given below.

Stay tuned . . .

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Posted in General, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Tales of the Sausage Factory: When Good FCC Proceedings Go Bad

I’m getting rather worried as I gear up for two major FCC proceedings that are supposed to be good proceedings for unlicensed spectrum access. Et Docket No. 04-151 proposes opening the 3650–3700 MHz band to unlicensed spectrum (proposed rules in pdf here). The other, ET Docket No. 04-186 proposes opening the broadcast bands to unlicensed spectrum access (proposed rules in pdf here). What could be wrong? See below. I sure hope someone other than me shows up to comment . . .

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Posted in General, Spectrum, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)
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