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Connected Nation Wins Huge Chunk Of Taxpayer Money
And will likely use that money to fight against your interests...
by Karl Bode 03:10PM Wednesday Dec 23 2009
Uncle Sam has set aside $350 million in taxpayer dollars to help map broadband availability in the country, given we've never comprehensively tried to do so (though we've been good at pretending we have). The National Telecommunications & Information Administration today awarded fifteen more grants for broadband mapping and planning. Unlike previous grant announcements, this time the NTIA did award significant funds to controversial mapping agency Connected Nation, which has been under fire from consumer advocates for being a lobbying and policy vehicle for the baby bells.

Consumer advocate Art Brodsky of Public Knowledge has specifically spent the last few years examining the organization, which got its start in Tennessee as the brain child of former BellSouth executives. Brodsky has extensively documented how the organization, with a board of directors that reads like a who's who of incumbent ISP lobbyists, is actually designed to gloss over broadband coverage shortcomings, beat back smaller mapping operations, and prevent independent inspection of mapping data -- all while lobbying government for the nation's telcos.

The cable industry has voiced concern about Connected Nation's close ties to the baby bells. Even the Wall Street Journal started asking questions about the group last June, questioning the group's ties to AT&T and Verizon -- and specifically its claims that they managed to bring almost 100% broadband availability to Kentucky (something Kentucky locals in our forums laugh at).

Apparently nobody at the NTIA was paying attention to this controversy, or they chose to simply ignore it. Connected Nation scored $1.8 million for mapping and planning in Tennessee, $1.7 million in North Carolina, $1.4 million in Nevada, $1.8 million in Michigan, and $1.7 million in Minnesota. If you recall, Connected Nation was fighting against the University Of Minnesota for the mapping money in Minnesota, but managed to get an inside political track that bypassed any real competition or input from taxpayers. A former BellSouth executive turned funding Judge also gave them the inside track in Florida.

In short, the government just used your taxpayer money to fund an organization that smaller ISPs, who've had run ins with it in places like Kentucky, call "a sales force and front group for AT&T paid for by the telecommunications industry." Given the recent underwhelming first glimpse at the FCC's national broadband plan, the NTIA's decision to wimp out on getting carrier penetration data, and now their decision to heavily fund Connected Nation -- it's increasingly looking like the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Duramax08
To The Moon
Premium
join:2008-08-03
San Antonio, TX

I

could have done it at half of the cost. Just hire some people in some states and tell them do go around and see who and who doesnt have broadband. Might been much more work then that but thats alot of money to go "map" out broadband.
--
High speed internet is on my road thanks to Clear 4G! F$*% you AT&T and TWC!
hoyleysox
Premium
join:2003-11-07
Long Beach, CA

Why over a million $

Seems like any Joe Schmoe could do the mapping from home with telco-provided data. I'll do the mapping for $20k.

Mike
Premium,Mod
join:2000-09-17
Pittsburgh, PA
kudos:1

Re: Why over a million $

You're not friends with the chairman of the NTIA so you don't get a multi-million dollar contract.
qworster

join:2001-11-25
Bryn Mawr, PA
Reviews:
·Comcast
·Verizon FiOS

Re: Why over a million $

said by Mike:

You're not friends with the chairman of the NTIA so you don't get a multi-million dollar contract.
Yep.
6.6 million to be exact!
All given so the baby bells can get richer by shoving out the smaller ISPs!

Let's just face it-there IS no justice!
hoyleysox
Premium
join:2003-11-07
Long Beach, CA

Re: Why over a million $

said by qworster:

said by Mike:

You're not friends with the chairman of the NTIA so you don't get a multi-million dollar contract.
Yep.
6.6 million to be exact!
All given so the baby bells can get richer by shoving out the smaller ISPs!

Let's just face it-there IS no justice!
Lets say 600,000 to count the rent, overhead, papers, pencils and workstations.
That leaves $6 million in salaries to pay out. Lets say everyone is paid $50 an hour, that means 120,000 hours of work. I could do that all myself AND make the map look really, really pretty.

FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Re: Why over a million $

said by hoyleysox:

that means 120,000 hours of work. I could do that all myself AND make the map look really, really pretty.
Let's be generous and say you'll work really hard and put in 80 hrs/week on the project. That comes to 1,500 weeks or 28 years. The maps might just be out of date by then.
hoyleysox
Premium
join:2003-11-07
Long Beach, CA

Re: Why over a million $

said by FFH:

said by hoyleysox:

that means 120,000 hours of work. I could do that all myself AND make the map look really, really pretty.
Let's be generous and say you'll work really hard and put in 80 hrs/week on the project. That comes to 1,500 weeks or 28 years. The maps might just be out of date by then.
I wouldn't even need telco data. I could write a script to apply for service online on every address using the appropriate provider various states' providers, then record the results on a google maps page.

I wonder if connected nation is hiring. I would charge them $200 /hr to babysit my script.
nevtxjustin

join:2006-04-18
Dallas, TX
said by FFH:

The maps might just be out of date by then.
Not really....Broadband *STILL* wont' be deployed by then.

gatorkram
Need for Speed
Premium
join:2002-07-22
Winterville, NC
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Suddenlink

Force self-reporting

Why doesn't the FCC or other government agent force the providers to report their own data. That would be free.

The only cost, would be to spot check that the data is correct.

This information shouldn't be secret.
--
Give me bandwidth or give me death!
»/testhistory/661871/4f240

batageek
Slave To The Duopoly
Premium
join:2003-01-25

1 recommendation

Re: Force self-reporting

Heck...make it even less likely to be corrupted.

Have FCC pair with Census Bureau (pipe dream I know)

Add questions to the national census and ask:

1. Do you have broadband at home? - yes no
2. Who's your provider? - pic from list or other
3. What speed do you think you're paying for? select closest speed from list below or "don't know".
--
»www.tricitybroadband.com
nasadude

join:2001-10-05
Rockville, MD
said by gatorkram:

Why doesn't the FCC or other government agent force the providers to report their own data. .....
hahahahahaha. good one, gatorkram.

our govt doesn't force business to do anything - it's the other way around.
old_wiz_60

join:2005-06-03
Bedford, MA

Most of the money..

will go to the Connected nation executives. Broadband users/taxpayers will see no benefits. It's totally to line the pockets of the telcos.
Automate

join:2001-06-26
Atlanta, GA

1 recommendation

The change we can believe in


DaveDude
No Fear

join:1999-09-01
New Jersey
kudos:1

Re: The change we can believe in

Zero surprise at this, transparency ?

FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

1 edit

1 recommendation

Brodsky long time hate of Connected Nation colors opinion

Let's face it. Depending on Brodsky to give an impartial opinion of Connected Nation is like looking for Glenn Beck to give an impartial opinion on Obama. There is way too much bad blood there to give his opinion any real weight.

Brodsky may get some facts right; some of the time; but he starts from a position that CN can do no right.

Here is a sampling on how often Public Knowledge has commented on Connected Nation:
»www.google.com/search?q=%22conne···=0&tbo=1
hoyleysox
Premium
join:2003-11-07
Long Beach, CA

Re: Brodsky long time hate of Connected Nation colors opinion

said by FFH:

Let's face it. Depending on Brodsky to give an impartial opinion of Connected Nation is like looking for Glenn Beck to give an impartial opinion on Obama. There is way too much bad blood there to give his opinion any real weight.

Brodsky may get some facts right; some of the time; but he starts from a position that CN can do no right.

Here is a sampling on how often Public Knowledge has commented on Connected Nation:
»www.google.com/search?q=%22conne···=0&tbo=1
Thanks for pointing out the source. While I don't have an opinion of Brodsky, it is good to recognize an advocate.
SuperWISP

join:2007-04-17
Laramie, WY

Re: Brodsky long time hate of Connected Nation colors opinion

Brodsky is an "advocate" for one thing: Google, which contributes to his organization and pays a healthy chunk of his salary. Google (itself a large, fundamentally evil monopolist) doesn't like Connected Nation, because it paints an accurate picture of broadband coverage rather than finding fault with ISPs (which Google has designated as its enemies). So, Brodsky has taken up the battle on Google's behalf.
WhatNow
Premium
join:2009-05-06
Charlotte, NC

Re: Brodsky long time hate of Connected Nation colors opinion

I figure Google could make a map of broadband by just reading search request headers and streams for a month.

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK
Google does donate money to his organization. That doesn't mean it owns him. He was around before Google, after all.

Personally, It's very good to see an advocate on the Consumer side of the equation, for once.
--
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini
Expand your moderator at work

Bill Dollar

join:2009-02-20
New York, NY
Questions Brett. How much is a "chunk"? 55 percent? 90 percent? What is Brodsky's salary, and how much of it is paid by Google versus other funders listed in their annual report, like the Ford Foundation? And why is it that Brodsky was writing on this issue and other issues before Google began to fund him?

We all of course are suspicious of corporate influence (the theme of this thread), but your obsession with Google is really hysterical. I mean, "designated (ISPs) as enemies"? Google, the same company that is walking hand-in-hand with Verizon right now?
sonicmerlin

join:2009-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:1
said by FFH:

Let's face it. Depending on Brodsky to give an impartial opinion of Connected Nation is like looking for Glenn Beck to give an impartial opinion on Obama. There is way too much bad blood there to give his opinion any real weight.

Brodsky may get some facts right; some of the time; but he starts from a position that CN can do no right.

Here is a sampling on how often Public Knowledge has commented on Connected Nation:
»www.google.com/search?q=%22conne···=0&tbo=1
I`ve read many of his comments and analyses. He is quite impartial. Connected Nation is the essence of corruption tied to our government. The fact that it continues to thrive even to this day speaks volumes about the problems in our government.

Bill Dollar

join:2009-02-20
New York, NY

Not NTIA's Fault; Congress' Fault

NTIA's hands were tied here. The way the BDIA was set up, each state was allowed to submit one application for the funds. So the state's that went with CN for the public-private partnership deal were guaranteed to get funding.

This is Congress' fault for structuring the legislation this way. The truth is the original Markey Data bill was good, then the Bell's lobbied to get the Senate to introduce a CN/Bell bill, and that's the one that became law. This was the lay of the land in late 2007/early 2008; The Bell's Lobby Army gave Congress explicit instructions that no telecom legislation could pass except for this p.o.s. bill.

The worst part about is is the $350 million sticker price. I know of several marketing data firms that have Census Block level broadband data, and will sell it to anyone for $30,000. And the NTIA or the FCC could have compelled the reporting of the data for no cost to taxpayers. NTIA in part recognized this by shrinking the pool of funds down to $100 million.

But yeah, a fleecing of the taxpayers thanks to the Bells; Congress, and a lazy and captured FCC unwilling to do the job right themselves.

FreedomBuild
Well done is better than well said
Premium
join:2004-10-08
Rockford, IL

Re: Not NTIA's Fault; Congress' Fault

said by Bill Dollar:

This is Congress' fault for structuring the legislation this way. The truth is the original Markey Data bill was good, then the Bell's lobbied to get the Senate to introduce a CN/Bell bill, and that's the one that became law. This was the lay of the land in late 2007/early 2008; The Bell's Lobby Army gave Congress explicit instructions that no telecom legislation could pass except for this p.o.s. bill.
And to think some of us voted for the idiots that helped to pass this...
--
»www.freedombuild.net »www.freedom-builders.biz
iansltx

join:2007-02-19
Austin, TX
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·Verizon Online DSL
·Comcast

Look at the Connected Nation website...

Specifically, Connect Colorado...»connectcolorado.org.

Go to the speedtest. My Comcast connection, which registers 22/5+ elsewhere, didn't show advertised speeds here.

More subtle, look at the broadband reporting form. Prices are skewed toward the low end...DSL territory. $60 and above is lumped into one tier. So if I'm paying $75 for 22/5 Comcast I'm simply in the $60 and above tier.

The speed selector is even worse. The tiers are in kiloBYTES per second (emphasis mine) though the numbers associated with the drop-down are verbatim AT&T's DSL tiers (768, 1.5, 3, 6, 6+). Since most people don't know the difference between a bit and a byte, they'll likely rate their 3M DSL at 8x what it should be. Additionally, the lowest tier is effectively "up to six megabits per second." 99% of rural folks will fall into this territory...if they know the diffeence between KB/s and kbps.

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK

Take from the Working man, give to the Corporations.

The American Way.

What sucks really bad is they'll use our money to "prove" that everything is fine and competition is not needed.

So it's like paying for the rope used to hang you with.
--
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

Tomek
Premium
join:2002-01-30
Valley Stream, NY

No Keyboard?

Then I stick with my G1
--
Semper Fi
nitzan
Premium,VIP
join:2008-02-27
kudos:8

WTF?!

What a huge waste of our tax dollars.

And to add insult to injury - this money won't be going to "map broadband" - it'll be going straight into the pockets of the executives. grrr...