Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
January 20, 2006, 8:00 AM ET, Alert No. 1,293.
Home Page | Calendar | Subscribe | Back Issues | Reference
President Bush Addresses Municipal Broadband

1/19. President Bush gave a speech and answered questions at an event in Sterling, Virginia. He was asked about legislation that would limit the ability of state and local governments to provide broadband services. Bush said that "I need to check and see what you're talking about". See, transcript.

The subject of Bush's speech was the economy. Bush did not discuss municipal broadband during his speech. However, during the question and answer portion of the program he was asked the following question: "But Congress is contemplating revisions to the Telecommunication Act of '96 that would essentially shut down the options that states and localities are exploring to give broadband to every business and every home. So what is your thought on, as we are falling behind in the world on delivering broadband to businesses and homes and residences -- what will you do to --"

Bush's response suggests that he is unfamiliar with the issue. He said, "Yes, I need to find out -- it's interesting you said that because I laid out the opposite vision, which was that broadband ought to be available and accessible all throughout the country by a set period of time. I need to make sure I understand what you mean, Congress is trying to unwind that vision, because it sounds like you and I share -- I believe you. Thank you for the heads-up. I'll take a look."

He continued, "You're very smart to -- part of the role of government is to create an environment in which people are willing to risk capital. Broadband expansion is part of creating an environment in which it will make it easier for people to be competitive in this part of the world. It's a brilliant idea. People are able to do so much more from their home, particularly if you've got the technology capable of carrying information."

Bush added that "You're right -- want to make sure -- you mentioned that other nations are ahead of us. True, we're catching up -- and we'll do better, by the way. But if part of making sure that America is competitive, is to make sure that we've got broadband available and accessible. One of the interesting questions we're going to have is the last mile issue, and a lot of that, hopefully, will be changed, or at least options -- more options will be available with the development of a dish that is capable of passing broadband over the air, as opposed to cable."

Bush concluded, "Good question. I need to check and see what you're talking about, and will. Thanks for bringing it up."

There are currently numerous federal legislative proposals that would either limit and protect municipal broadband offerings. The questioner did not identity any specific proposal.

See for example, S 1504, the "Broadband Investment and Consumer Choice Act ", introduced by Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)on July 27, 2005. It would provide, in part, as follows:

"(a) Protection Against Undue Government Competition With Private Sector --- Any State or local government seeking to provide communications service shall ---
  (1) provide conspicuous notice of the proposed scope of the communications service to be provided, including --- (A) cost; (B) services to be provided; (C) coverage area; (D) terms; and (E) architecture; and
  (2) give a detailed accounting of all proposed accommodations that such government owned communications service would enjoy, including --- (A) any free or below cost rights-of-way; (B) any beneficial or preferential tax treatment; (C) bonds, grants, or other source of funding unavailable to non-governmental entities; and (D) land, space in buildings, or other considerations."

It would further provide that "(b) ... Not later than 90 days after posting of the notice required under subsection (a)(1), a non-governmental entity shall have the option of participating in an open bidding process conducted by a neutral third party to provide such communications service on the same terms, conditions, financing, rights-of- way, land, space, and accommodations as secured by the State or local government." Also, it would provide that "If a State or local government wins the bid under subsection (b), a non-governmental entity shall have the ability to place facilities in the same conduit, trenches, and locations as the State or local government for concurrent or future use under the same conditions secured by the State or local government.

See also, the September 15, 2005, House Commerce Committee (HCC) discussion draft [77 pages in PDF]. It would provide, in part, that "Any State or political subdivision thereof, or any agency, authority, or instrumentality of a State or political subdivision thereof, that is, owns, controls, or is otherwise affiliated with a public provider of BITS, VOIP services, or broadband video services shall not grant any preference or advantage to any such provider. Such entity shall apply its ordinances, rules, and policies, including those relating to the use of public rights-of-way, permitting, performance bonding, and reporting without discrimination in favor of any such provider as compared to other providers of such services." (BITS is an acronym for broadband internet transmission service.)

In contrast, there is, S 1294, the "Community Broadband Act of 2005", which was introduced on June 23, 2005, by Sen. McCain and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). It would, in part, provide that "No State statute, regulation, or other State legal requirement may prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting any public provider from providing, to any person or any public or private entity, advanced telecommunications capability or any service that utilizes the advanced telecommunications capability provided by such provider."

See also, story titled "US Chamber Hosts Panel on Municipal Broadband" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,160, June 23, 2005.

Bush's speech addressed a wide range of economic issues. He did discuss health care. He advocated tort reform and adoption of information technologies by the health care sector. He also discusses free trade.

U.S. and Oman Sign FTA

1/19. U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Rob Portman and Omani Minister of Commerce and Industry Maqbool bin Ali Sultan signed the U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement. See, USTR release.

Portman stated that "the agreement will provide new opportunities for U.S. companies that provide ... services in telecommunication ..." He also said the "This agreement will ensure a secure and predictable legal and regulatory environment in Oman that foreign investors want to see in 21st century commerce", including enforcement of intellectual property laws. See, Portman statement [PDF].

See also, the proposed text of the U.S. Oman FTA, and especially, its sections pertaining to e-commerce [3 pages in PDF], intellectual property rights [31 pages in PDF], and telecommunications [17 pages in PDF].

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, stated in a release that "This agreement is positive for the United States. It will give new market access opportunities to American farmers, manufacturers, and service providers, including those in Iowa. Maybe most important, the U.S.-Oman agreement marks yet another major step in fulfilling the Presidentís goal of completing a Middle East Free Trade Area by 2013. A comprehensive free trade area in the Middle East would create significantly improved market opportunities for U.S. exporters in a part of the world with a fast-growing population. It also would cement ties between our nations and would help build increased economic opportunity and respect for the rule of law in the region. I look forward to working with the President to achieve this goal."

President gave a speech in Sterling, Virginia, on numerous economic issues on January 19. He discussed free trade generally. He said that "I believe it's important to open up markets. I think it's a mistake for this country to go isolationist when it comes to economic policy. Do you realize we're 5 percent of the world's population, which means 95 percent of the rest of them could be customers, so long as we've got a level playing field. My job is to make sure that if you're producing a product, that it has fair access to markets."

People and Appointments

1/19. President Bush announced his intent to nominate Randall Tobias to be Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). He is currently the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator. He was previously Ch/P/CEO of Eli Lilly and Company. Before that, he worked for AT&T for over 25 years. See, White House release.

1/19. Clarence Otis was elected to the Verizon Communications' Board of Directors. He is the Ch/CEO of Darden Restaurants, which owns and operates Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, Smokey Bones Barbeque & Grill and Seasons 52 restaurants.

About Tech Law Journal

Tech Law Journal publishes a free access web site and subscription e-mail alert. The basic rate for a subscription to the TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert is $250 per year. However, there are discounts for subscribers with multiple recipients. Free one month trial subscriptions are available. Also, free subscriptions are available for journalists, federal elected officials, and employees of the Congress, courts, and executive branch. The TLJ web site is free access. However, copies of the TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert are not published in the web site until one month after writing. See, subscription information page.

Contact: 202-364-8882.
P.O. Box 4851, Washington DC, 20008.

Privacy Policy
Notices & Disclaimers
Copyright 1998 - 2005 David Carney, dba Tech Law Journal. All rights reserved.

Washington Tech Calendar
New items are highlighted in red.
Friday, January 20

The House will not meet. It will convene for the 2nd Session of the 109th Congress on Tuesday, January 31, 2006. See, Majority Whip's calendar.

The Senate will meet at 10:00 AM in pro forma session only.

9:30 AM. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will hold a meeting. The event will be webcast by the FCC. Location: FCC, 445 12th Street, SW, Room TW-C05 (Commission Meeting Room).

9:30 - 11:00 AM. The Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) will host an event titled "Investing in Innovation -- The UK Model". The speaker will be Jonathan Kestenbaum, CEO of the U.K.'s National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA). For more information, contact Austin Bonner at 202 547-0001 or abonner at dlc dot org. Location: PPI, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, Suite 400.

11:45 AM - 1:30 PM. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and TeleConsensus will host an event titled "Revitalizing the Telecommunications Industry: What it Means for America". The speakers will include John Rutledge (Rutledge Capital), Tim McKone (AT&T Services), Tom Sugrue (T-Mobile USA), Alice Tornquist (Qualcomm), and Jeff Campbell (Cisco Systems). For more information, contact press at uschamber dot com or 202 463-5682. The U.S. Chamber notice states that "Credentialed members of the media are invited to attend." Location: Gold Room, Rayburn Building, Capitol Hill.

12:00 NOON. The Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA) will host an luncheon titled "70th Anniversary Luncheon: Looking Forward, Looking Back". The speakers will be former Chairmen of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), including William Kennard, Michael Powell, James Quello, Alfred Sikes, and Richard Wiley. Location: J.W. Marriott Hotel.

Advanced effective date of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) rule requiring certain new television receivers and other TV receiving devices such as VCRs and digital video recorders to be capable of receiving digital television signals. See, FCC's Second Report and Order adopted on November 3, 2005, and released on November 8, 2005. It is FCC 05-190 in ET Docket No. 05-24. See also, notice in the Federal Register, December 21, 2005, Vol. 70, No. 244, at Pages 75739 - 75743.

Tuesday, January 24

9:30 AM. The Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) has scheduled an executive business meeting. The sole item on the agenda is consideration of the nomination of Judge Sam Alito to be a Justice of the Supreme Court. See, notice. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Building.

9:30 AM. The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) North American Numbering Council (NANC) will hold a meeting. See, notice in the Federal Register, December 29, 2005, Vol. 70, No. 249, at Pages 77156 - 77157. Location: FCC, 445 12th St., SW., Suite 5-A420.

RESCHEDULED FROM JANUARY 31. 10:00 AM. The Senate Commerce Committee (SCC) will hold a hearing titled "Broadcast and Audio Flag". See, notice. Press contact: Melanie Alvord (Stevens) at 202 224-8456, Aaron Saunders (Stevens) at 202 224-3991, or Andy Davis (Inouye) at 202 224-4546. The hearing will be webcast by the SCC. Location: Room 562, Dirksen Building.

RESCHEDULED FOR JANUARY 31. 10:00 AM. The Senate Commerce Committee (SCC) will hold a hearing titled "Video Franchising". Press contact: Melanie Alvord (Stevens) at 202 224-8456, Aaron Saunders (Stevens) at 202 224-3991, or Andy Davis (Inouye) at 202 224-4546. The hearing will be webcast by the SCC. Location: Room 562, Dirksen Building.

TIME? The High Tech DTV Coalition will host an event titled "Informal Press Lunch". Janice Obuchowski will speak. The Coalition's notice states that this event is for "beat reporters who have been covering DTV legislation", and that persons planning to attend should RSVP by 4:00 PM on Monday, January 23, to Mary Greczyn at 202 371-2997 or mg at ftidc dot com, or John Alden at 202 371-6793 or ja at ftidc dot com. Location: Freedom Technologies, 1317 F St., NW, Fourth Floor.

12:15 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association's (FCBA) Common Carrier Practice Committee will host a brown bag lunch titled "Meet the Wireline Competition Bureau". The speakers will include Tom Navin, Chief of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Wireline Competition Bureau. RSVP to Wendy Parish wendy at fcba dot org. Location: __.

RESCHEDULED FOR JANUARY 31. 2:30 PM. The Senate Commerce Committee (SCC) will hold a hearing titled "Video Content". Press contact: Melanie Alvord (Stevens) at 202 224-8456, Aaron Saunders (Stevens) at 202 224-3991, or Andy Davis (Inouye) at 202 224-4546. The hearing will be webcast by the SCC. Room 562, Dirksen Building.

Deadline to submit initial comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding the rules for expanding the scope of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) to cover certain digital services. The FCC adopted a report and order (R&O) and further NPRM on November 3, 2005. The R&O expanded the categories of service providers that are subject to the FCC's EAS mandates to include providers of digital broadcast and cable TV, digital audio broadcasting, satellite radio, and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) services. The NPRM asks for comments how the FCC should plan this "next-generation alert and warning system". See, story titled "FCC Requires DBS, Satellite Radio, Digital Broadcasters, and Others to Carry AES Communications" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,247, November 4, 2005. The R&O and NPRM is FCC 05-191 in EB Docket No. 04-296. It was released on November 10, 2005. See, notice in the November 25, 2005, Vol. 70, No. 226, at Pages 71072 - 71077.

Wednesday, January 25

The Senate may begin its debate on the nomination of Judge Sam Alito to be a Justice of the Supreme Court.

11:00 AM - 12:00 NOON. The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Advisory Committee for the 2007 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-07 Advisory Committee) will meet. See, notice in the Federal Register, December 14, 2005, Vol. 70, No. 239, at Page 74016. Location: Room TW-C305, FCC, 445 12th St., SW.

2:00 - 4:00 PM. The Department of State's International Telecommunication Advisory Committee (ITAC) will hold the third in a series of weekly meetings to prepare for the International Telecommunications Union's (ITU) 2006 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, to be held November 6-24, 2006, in Antalya, Turkey. See, notice in the Federal Register, December 21, 2005, Vol. 70, No. 244, at Page 75854. This notice incorrectly states that these meetings will be held on Tuesdays; they are on Wednesdays. For more information, contact Julian Minard at 202 647-2593 or minardje at state dot gov. Location: AT&T, 1120 20th St., NW.

Thursday, January 26

10:00 AM. The Senate Commerce Committee (SCC) will hold a hearing titled "Competition and Convergence". See, notice. Press contact: Melanie Alvord (Stevens) at 202 224-8456, Aaron Saunders (Stevens) at 202 224-3991, or Andy Davis (Inouye) at 202 224-4546. The hearing will be webcast by the SCC. Location: Room 562, Dirksen Building.

12:00 NOON. The Federal Communications Bar Association's (FCBA) Young Lawyers' Committee will host a brown bag lunch. This will be planning and informational meeting. For more information, contact Jason Friedrich at jason dot friedrich at dbr dot com or 202 354-1340 or Natalie Roisman at natalie dot roisman at fcc dot gov or 202 418-1655. Location: Drinker Biddle & Reath, 1500 K Street, NW, 11th Floor.

1:00 - 4:00 PM. The National Archives and Records Administration's (NARA) Advisory Committee on Presidential Libraries will meet. See, notice in the Federal Register, January 9, 2006, Vol. 71, No. 5, at Page 1455. Location: Archivist's Board Room, National Archives Building, 700 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.

Friday, January 27

9:30 AM - 1:00 PM The DC Bar Association will host a continuing legal education (CLE) seminar titled "Essential Checklist for Electronic Discovery". The speakers will include Kenneth Withers (The Sedona Conference), Judith Kinney (Legal Technologies Consulting, Kroll Ontrack), Robert Eisenberg (DOAR Litigation Consulting), Magistrate Judge John Facciola (U.S. District Court, DC), and Jonathan Redgrave (Redgrave Daley Ragan & Wagner). The price to attend ranges from $70-$125. For more information, call 202 626-3488. See, notice. Location: D.C. Bar Conference Center, 1250 H Street NW, B-1 Level.