Vermont Media & Democracy Conference – 6/18/04

Attended the June 18th Vermont Media & Democracy Conference in Burlington, VT a couple of weeks ago. Jeff Chester from the Center for Digital Democracy gave the keynote. These are my notes from his comments:

the cable / telecomm industry is pushing forward with aggressive, commercialized strategies and community communication folks should be aware of this

There is still space for grassroots communities to define new methods especially with broadband and wifi, but the space is closing down. VT is clearly leading others in their statewide telecomm polices. Important to follow the development of the architecture of new communication services, infrastructure, etc – make sure we control capacity, have access, and challenge the commercial / business plan model of these industries. We need to advocate for public space.

These entities are defining the architecture. Some commercial sites to check out (they are defining next wave of cable technology use): (Rupert Murdoch Interactive)

Should be aware that FCC has regulated cable in such a manner that they are not obliged to be common carriers. Once telcos get fiber in the ground, they too have had this obligation waived. This means that broadband content will be controlled by those who own the pipes and they can manipulate access to content and services in ways that meet their commercial needs. They will control and manage the traffic.

So when communities go up for refranchise, they should demand open access to all resources (video servers, bandwidth, Electronic Program Guide, software that controls operations, etc.). And communities should fight any technology that consolidates control and denies public services. San Jose, CA is doing just this – Fiber For Our Future ( )

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