Earlier this month, Senator Herb Kohl, Chairman of the Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee sent a letter to the FCC and the Department of Justice sharing his concerns about lack of competition in the wireless market. His letter covered a number of important issues affecting Latino consumers including roaming requirements, text messaging fees and early termination fees. The letter states that he is concerned about “emerging barriers to competition”. From a consumer and advocacy perspective we are also concerned about barriers to a speedy economic recovery.
In our view, consumers have benefited from current wireless marketplace dynamics. Americans, particularly Hispanics, have continued to enthusiastically embrace innovative new wireless devices, despite the economic downturn. Because of this we would be concerned about calling for federal actions that would stifle one of the few vibrant sectors of our economy – the wireless industry.
Wireless devices have become a gateway through which members of our community take their first steps into a world enhanced by Internet access. I have seen, in our community and even in my own family, how handheld devices have motivated families to adopt broadband at home. We have a lot of work to do in closing the digital divide, so we must be cautious about policymaking that threatens affordable access to innovative devices that introduce people to the benefits of Internet access.
For this reason, HTTP will hold a member briefing in the coming weeks to explore the facts behind the issues raised by the Senator’s letter. More details to come.
The Federal government has released a Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) for the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) and Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Nonprofit organizations are eligible for funding and encouraged to apply. Proposals are due August 14, 2009.
The National League of Cities is holding a free webcast on Thursday, July 9 at 2pm to educate prospective grant applicants about the process and requirements of the NOFA. Register using this link: Live Webcast