Articles by Drew Clark

Drew Clark is Editor/Executive Director of BroadbandCensus.com, a FREE web service with news and information about competition, speeds and prices offered by high-speed internet providers. He also hosts DrewClark.com -- The Politics of Telecom, Media and Technology. Previously, he was Senior Writer with National Journal Group, reporting on free speech, intellectual property, privacy, telecommunications and media for Technology Daily, a leading publication on information technology and public policy. He also ran the Center for Public Integrity's telecom and media project, and was Assistant Director of the Information Economy Project at George Mason University School of Law from January 2008 to January 2009. More detailed bio. He has been blogging on TLF since December 2006.


Here’s something that may appeal to transparency enthusiasts, as well as to environmental skeptics…

WASHINGTON, November 9, 2009 – BroadbandCensus.com has been investigating broadband stimulus projects and focusing on the preferred projects from the states. We still lack letters to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration – or notices that states are demanding confidentiality for their letters – from 13 states and territories.

The first person to send any letters from the following states will get a complimentary seat at the November 10 Broadband Breakfast Club at Clyde’s of Gallery Place at 707 7th Street NW, Washington, DC. The breakfast runs from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., and the topic is “Setting the Table for the National Broadband Plan: The Environment.” Information about the event, and registration, is available at http://broadbandbreakfast.eventbrite.com.

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Blogger’s Note: I posted this blog entry over at BroadbandCensus.com earlier in the day. It’s the first of series this week — One Web Week — in which I’m taking a step back to look at the issue of broadband data and broadband transparency from a bit of a longer time frame. And today couldn’t be a more timely day to do so, with Genachowski’s speech highlighting a new sixth principle of Network Neutrality: broadband transparency! -Drew Clark

WASHINGTON, September 21, 2009 – Broadband data is important for the future of our country – and public and transparent broadband data is even more important.

Today, at this moment, new Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski is making a speech in which he is highlighting the vital principle of public and transparent broadband data.

For three years now, this principle has been the core belief animating my efforts as a journalist, and as the entrepreneur founding BroadbandCensus.com. Now, as we enter the fourth year since this saga began, it’s time to take stock and reflect on what BroadbandCensus.com has accomplished.

And with One Web Week having arrived, I’d like to lay out this history from a personal perspective. In this series of blog posts, I’m going to speak about what we’ve been through, who we have worked with to advance the principles of public and transparent broadband data, and what we ultimately aim to achieve at BroadbandCensus.com.

  • Today’s topic: The debate begins, with the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in 2006.
  • Tomorrow’s topic, on One Web Day: The founding of BroadbandCensus.com in the fall of 2007.
  • Wednesday topic: The Broadband Census for America Conference in September 2008, and our work with the academic community to foster public and transparent broadband data-collection efforts.
  • Thursday’s topic, in advance of the U.S. Broadband Coalition’s report to the Federal Communications Commission: BroadbandCensus.com’s involvement with the National Broadband Plan in 2009.
  • The concluding topic, on Friday morning: The role BroadbandCensus.com and broadband users have to play in the creation of a robust and reliable National Broadband Data Warehouse.

The Beginnings: Why I Sued Kevin Martin’s Federal Communications Commission

BroadbandCensus.com was founded in October 2007 after I spent nearly a year and a half with the Center for Public Integrity, a non-profit investigative journalism organization based here in Washington. But the quest for public and transparent broadband data goes back further.

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The next several days feature a variety of upcoming events, both on broadband stimulus legislation, and on some of the broader issues associated with the Internet and its architecture.

On Friday, January 30, the Technology Policy Institute features a debate, “Broadband, Economic Growth, and the Financial Crisis: Informing the Stimulus Package,”  from 12 noon – 2 p.m., at the Rayburn House Office Building, Room B369.

Moderated by my friend Scott Wallsten, senior fellow and vice president for research at the Technology Policy Institute, the event features James Assey, Executive Vice President for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association; Robert Crandall, Senior Fellow in Economic Studies, The Brookings Institution; Chris King, Principal/Senior Telecom Services Analyst, Stifel Nicolaus Telecom Equity Research; and Shane Greenstein, Elinor and Wendell Hobbs Professor of Management and Strategy at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

The language promoting the event notes, “How best to include broadband in an economic stimulus package depends, in part, on understanding two critical issues: how broadband affects economic growth, and how the credit crisis has affected broadband investment.  In particular, one might favor aggressive government intervention if broadband stimulates growth and investment is now lagging.  Alternatively, money might be better spent elsewhere if the effects on growth are smaller than commonly believed or private investment is continuing despite the crisis.”

And then, on Tuesday,  MIT Professor David Clark, one of the pioneers of the Internet and a distinguished scientist whose work on “end-to-end” connectivity is widely cited as the architectural blueprint of the Internet, looks to the future.  Focusing on the dynamics of advanced communications – the role of social networking, problems security and broadband access, and the industrial implications of network virtualization and overlays – Clark here tackles new forces shifting regulation and market structure.

David Clark is Senior Research Scientist at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. In the forefront of Internet development since the early 1970s, Dr. Clark was Chief Protocol Architect in 1981-1989, and then chaired the Internet Activities Board. A past chairman of the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Academies, Dr. Clark is co-director of the MIT Communications Futures Program.

I’m no longer affiliated with the Information Economy Project at George Mason University, but I urge all interested in the architecture of the Internet to register and attend More information about the lecture, and about the Information Economy Project, is available at http://iep.gmu.edu/davidclark.

It will take place at the George Mason University School of Law, Room 120, 3301 Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22201 (Orange Line: Virginia Square-GMU Metro), on Tuesday, February 3, from 4 – 5:30 p.m., with a reception to follow. The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are requested. To reserve a spot, please e-mail iep.gmu@gmail.com

I just posted information about David Clark’s pending lecture on “The Internet Today and Tomorrow” on my blog, DrewClark.com, and further information is also avaiDavid Clark Lecturelable at the Information Economy Project web site at George Mason University School of Law.  (I’m the Assistant Director at the Information Economy Project, which aims to bring the rigor of law & economics to issues of telecommunications and technology policy.)

The lecture, by Computer Science Professor David Clark, is the latest in the Information Economy Project’s “Big Ideas About Information” lecture series.

The Internet is now sufficiently embedded in society that it is regularly triggering social, economic and regulatory issues. The hot topics of today are network neutrality, network management, and the question of imposing regulatory limits on Internet service providers. However, those are just today’s hot topics. What will happen tomorrow? Can we speculate and perhaps get a bit ahead of the curve?

In this talk, Professor Clark will start with a perspective on today’s issue of network neutrality and the role of the Internet service provider, and will then look further into the future to look at some emerging issues, such as the role of the social network as a platform, the problems of building a more secure and available Internet, the emerging requirement for identity mechanisms, and the industrial implications of network virtualization and overlays. This talk will describe some new ideas from the technical community that might shift the landscape of regulation and industrial structure.

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My piece about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce event last Friday on U.S. intellectual property attachés giving a report, and taking a hard line, on the enforcement of U.S. intellectual property, overseas, is now live on ip-watch.org.

Here’s the first couple of paragraphs:

WASHINGTON, DC – Nations ranging from Brazil to Brunei to Russia are failing to properly protect the intellectual property assets of US companies and others, and international organisations are not doing enough to stop it, seven IP attachés to the US Foreign and Commercial Service lamented recently.

Meanwhile, an industry group issued detailed recommendations for the incoming Obama administration’s changes to the US Patent and Trademark Office.

The problems in other nations extend from Brazil’s failure to issue patents for commercially significant inventions by US inventors, to an almost-complete piracy-based economy in Brunei, to an only-modest drop in the rate of Russian piracy from 65 percent to 58 percent.

The attachés, speaking at an event organised by the US Chamber of Commerce and its recently beefed-up Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC), blasted the record of familiar intellectual property trouble zones like Brunei, Thailand and Russia.

But the problems extend to the attitudes and omissions of major trading partners like Brazil, India and even well-developed European nations, said the attachés.

[more at http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/index.php?p=1387....]

I attended the Federal Trade Commission hearing about the state of intellectual property on Friday, and wrote a piece about the event, “With US Patent Overhaul Dead, Agencies Ponder Changes As Industry Debates Role Of ‘Trolls’.”

The piece appeared in ip-watch.org, the excellent Geneva-based publication run by my friend and former colleague William New. Those of you who aren’t familiar yet with ip-watch.org should definitely begin following it: it’s a must-read for practitioners, advocates and activists concerned about all forms of intellectual property.

What’s the right way to allocate the airwaves? For years and years and years, the governing policy of federal communications was that the electro-magnetic spectrum was too “scarce” to be left to the devices of the marketplace. This kind of reasoning has always lacked substance. As I wrote in a piece occoccasioned by the rise of indecency enforcement:

Congress began regulating broadcasters in 1927 on the grounds of scarcity. In return for free and exclusive use of a given wavelength, broadcasters agreed to serve the “public interest, convenience, and necessity” — or at least to do what Congress and the FCC ordered. One element of this agreement was a ban on obscene, indecent and profane language.

This scarcity theory has always lacked substance. Nobel Prize-winning economist Ronald Coase’s reputation is based, in part, on a notable paper he wrote in 1959 that criticized the rationale behind the FCC’s command and control regime of licensing broadcasters. “It is a commonplace of economics that almost all resources in the economic system (and not simply radio and television frequencies) are limited in amount and scarce, in that people would like to use more than exists,” Coase argued in his seminal essay.

From Shouldn’t FCC Rules Over Indecency Just Grow Up? Reflections on Free Speech and Converging Media

The FCC eventually came to realize that it could endow electromagnetic frequencies with property rights-like characteristics. In 1993, under Bill Clinton and a Democratic congress, the United States finally moved to such a system — at least in those frequencies used by cell-phone operators. As in so many other ways, broadcasters have remained immune from historical trends.

This backdrop is important to understand our current moment in wireless policy. Tomorrow, on Wednesday, November 12, at 4 p.m., those near Washington will be able to gain insight into how other nations have approached radio frequency regulation. The Information Economy Project at the George Mason University School of Law (Disclosure: I’m the Assistant Director at the Information Economy Project, a part-time position that I currently hold) will host its next “Big Ideas About Information Lecture” featuring an address by Dr. William Webb, a top policy maker at OFCOM, the U.K. telecommunications regulator.

OFCOM’s ambitious liberalization strategy, announced in 2004, permits the large majority of valuable frequencies to be used freely by competitive licensees, offering an exciting and informative experiment in public policy.  Dr. Webb’s lecture, “Spectrum Reform: A U.K. Regulator’s Perspective,” will offer a timely progress report for the American audience.

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SAN JOSE, Nov. 7 – This morning I’ve posted two articles on BroadbandCensus.com about the Wireless Communications Association’s conference here.

Net Neutrality Advocates: Wireless Carriers’ Network Management Must be ‘Reasonable’

SAN JOSE, November 7 – Emboldened by their summertime victory against Comcast, advocates of network neutrality said Thursday that the next front in battle for the principle would be against wireless carriers who make “unreasonable” network management decisions. read more

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s Incredible Silicon Valley Wi-Fi Adventure

SAN JOSE, November 6 – It was Kevin Martin’s day to suck up praise from Silicon Valley. The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission – for about two more months – came to the Wireless Communications Association’s annual conference here on Thursday to be feted by many Googlers, including company co-founder Larry Page. read more

With the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to allow “white spaces” devices at its open meeting on Election Day, it may make sense to ask: how are other nations approaching the issue of “white spaces”? Do other countries that make use of flexible and transferable spectrum licensing find that taking the approach that the FCC took on Tuesday — allowing unlicensed wireless devices to share vacant television frequencies — helps or hinders in getting more spectrum available for the “highest and best use”?

As readers of this blog are probably aware, I work part-time at the Information Economy Project at George Mason University School of Law, which sits at the intersection of academic research and telecommunications policy.

IEP is pleased to sponsor one of its “Big Ideas About Information” Lecture next Wednesday, November 12, at the law school in Arlington. The school is conveniently located at the Virginia Square/GMU Metro station, and is a short ride away from downtown Washington.

At 4 p.m. on November 12, William Webb, the head of research and development and the senior technologist at OFCOM, the British telecommunications regulator, will be speaking about this and other subjects. The title of his remarks is: “The Theory, Practice, Politics and Problems of Spectrum Reform: A U.K. Regulator’s Perspective,” and you can learn more about it here, or by clicking on the badge below.

Admission is free, but seating is limited. To reserve your spot, please email me, Drew Clark, at this address: iep.gmu@gmail.com

WASHINGTON, November 4 – When I heard yesterday that the Supreme Court had declined C-SPAN’s request for immediate release of the audio tapes from today’s oral argument in Federal Communications Commission v. Fox Television Stations, I thought I would have to wait for months.

I will have to wait months for the audio-tape, of course, but the other part of the story is the Supreme Court now releases the transcript of oral arguments on the same day. It has already done so on the SCOTUS site. And (surprise-of-surprises), the transcript identifies the individual justices who are asking questions!

This is probably old hat to those who follow the high court on a day-in-and-day-out basis. It’s been a few years (I think Brand X was the last case) since I’ve heard one live. But this is a true revolution in transparency, and very helpful for those who want to follow what goes on at the Supreme Court.