SourceWatch:Collaboration on national broadband policy

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This article is part of Congresspedia's Communications, Science and Intellectual Property Policy (U.S.) Portal.
Help out by joining the working group.

Managing editor's note: On July 22, 2007, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) announced an online, open effort to write legislation for a national broadband strategy. He started the project by live-blogging and taking suggestions on two community sites - on July 24 - 27 and on July 31. Following the blogging session, Durbin will draft legislation that he will post online for feedback and comments before filing it as a bill.

Sen. Durbin explaining his project in a YouTube video

With the encouragement of OpenLeft and Sen. Durbin's staff, the Congresspedia staff set up this project to create an open knowledge base of the available research and data on the subjects of Sen. Durbin's project: broadband availability, broadband data, spectrum (wireless broadband) and network neutrality policy. It is our hope that this project will enable both Sen. Durbin's staff to write a better bill and citizens, wonks and bloggers to evaluate it. Congresspedia already has many telecom articles through the Telecom, Media and Intellectual Property Policy Portal, where the reporters at the Center for Public Integrity's Well Connected Project serve as the lead volunteer editors.

You can participate - you don't need to be a telecom expert to participate in this project; even a little time spent on the Internet can yield some information that will be useful to others. Check out the list of things you can do below. Make sure to register so you can make additions (registration is required to deter spammers and vandals).

Things you can do

Current tasks

  • Collect the arguments: One of our first tasks is to collect the arguments made by activists on all sides of these issues so we know what information needs to be collected. Each of the articles listed below has a "arguments" section. Add links to any blog posts, press releases or op-eds you can find and then help out in summarizing the arguments.
  • Collect the data: Each of the articles listed below has sections that need to be filled out on the issues comprising a national broadband policy. Throw in some external links or go through the external links and find information to add to the articles.

General things to do

  • Read and add to the articles covering topics in this project (listed below).
  • Join the project by registering with the wiki and adding your name to the list below.
  • Questions or comments? Join the discussion by checking out the discussion page. If you have a question, leave it there and someone should get back to you soon. You can also always email the managing editor at Conoremail.png

Articles in this project

These articles could benefit from additional information in order to inform important questions about broadband policy:

  • Broadband availability (penetration): How available is broadband in the U.S. and how do we compare with other countries? What are the benefits of increasing broadband penetration? How much does it cost? Would it be better for the private sector or the government to expand broadband? Should community broadband be protected?
  • Broadband data: There is little publicly available data on broadband penetration. Should this be changed? The Federal Communications Commission collects broadband data by ZIP code, but the FCC considers it proprietary. Would a government mandate or study program be effective?
  • Spectrum (wireless Internet): What should be done with the radio spectrum being vacated by the switch of television signals from digital to analog? Should it be reserved for broadband Internet? Should the spectrum be under control of the government or should it be auctioned off to the highest bidder? Should there be any strings attached to the sale of this spectrum?
  • Network neutrality policy: Should network neutrality be required? Are there any known violations of network neutrality already? What are the dangers of not having network neutrality?


  • Drew Clark, Center for Public Integrity Well Connected Project
  • Andrew MacRae, Center for Public Integrity Well Connected Project
  • Brendan McGarry, Center for Public Integrity Well Connected Project
  • Stokely Baksh, formerly with the the Center for Public Integrity's Well Connected Project, now at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
  • Sagecast (Tim Karr), FreePress
  • Conor Kenny, managing editor, Congresspedia
  • Art Brodsky, Public Knowledge.

Live sessions on and

The live blogging sessions are over for now but here are the previous sessions:

General research resources

These external resources may provide good information to be added to the articles:

  •'s blog, the blog of the pro-network neutrality coalition.
  • FreePress, an organization working on media and telecom policy.
  • Public Knowledge, an organization working on copyright and digital knowledge policy.
  • Electronic Privacy Information Center, an organization working on emerging civil liberties issues and to protect privacy, the First Amendment, and constitutional values.
  • Media Access Project, a a "non-profit, public interest law firm which promotes the public's First Amendment right to hear and be heard on the electronic media of today and tomorrow."
  • The New America Foundation's Telecom and Technology website. New America is a non-profit, non-partisan policy institute that promotes "new voices and new ideas."
  • Open Internet Coalition, a coalition backed by Google comprised of both non-profits and for-profits.