Networking and Telecommunications

EDUCAUSE Policy Topic: Networking and Telecommunications

Public and corporate policies related to networked information and telecommunications have a direct impact on campus networks that support instruction and research.

The major issues for this policy portfolio—including highlights and resources—are found below.

Focus Areas

Broadband Deployment and Adoption / Universal Service / National Broadband Plan

In the fall of 2011, through the SHLB Coalition, EDUCAUSE Policy helped to convince the FCC to require Federal Universal Service Fund (USF) recipients to work with Community Anchor Institutions when the recipients deploy broadband infrastructure in local communities.

Currently this office is tracking the spring 2012 FCC USF Contribution Methodology proceeding (WC Docket No. 06-122), which could have a negative fiscal impact on universities. The FCC could assess USF fees on new broadband revenues, active telephone numbers, or the number of/capacity of wired and wireless connections. We are analyzing the results of a recent member survey and will conduct outreach in the spring of 2012 with industry players who are pursuing an industry consensus plan.

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Network Management / Network Neutrality

In the fall of 2011, EDUCAUSE Policy met with a number of U.S. Senate offices to provide information that helped encourage the Senate defeat a Resolution of Disapproval about the FCC Open Internet Order regarding new network neutrality rules. The defeat of this resolution helped to preserve the free flow of information on the Internet, which is especially important for students who live off campus needing to connect with their universities or colleges.

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Spectrum falls into two main categories:
  • Licensed – Public Safety, Educational Broadband Service, TV, Radio, Fixed Wireless
  • Unlicensed – WiFi, WiMAX, TV White Spaces

Increasingly, campus networks rely on spectrum resources to function efficiently. EDUCAUSE Policy monitors FCC and NTIA actions in order to understand when more licensed spectrum will be released for commercial services and when more unlicensed spectrum will be released to foster innovative wireless broadband uses.

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 delivered important spectrum policy changes, such as providing TV stations with monetary incentives to voluntarily relinquish their licenses and authorizing mobile wireless auctions for any reclaimed TV spectrum.

EDUCAUSE Policy continues to track the FCC as it conducts a rulemaking on wireless signal boosters as well as monitors FCC regulation regarding the placement of towers and antennas.

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Emergency Communications / Next Generation 911 / Wireless Location

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 established the First Responder Network Authority (FRNA) to oversee a new $7 billion nationwide public safety network. FRNA will become an independent agency within NTIA. In addition, the FCC will serve in an advisory capacity regarding the development of minimum technical requirements for interoperability.

There is also a new grant program funded at $135 million for local and states governments to coordinate efforts for implementing the national public safety network. States could also opt out of the national public safety network if they build their own network subject to certain minimum requirements and FCC approval.

Congress also decided to facilitate the advancement of the E-911 system with a grant program with a budget of $115 million that will be administered by NTIA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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.edu and Internet Domain Policy / Internet Governance

Currently, only US-based, accredited higher-education institutions can get new .edu domains. Some critics perceive the inclusion of nationally accredited trade schools in .edu to be a problem given the very different natures of traditional and trade institutions. Eligibility does not extend to US-aligned institutions in other countries, or to academic programs not associated with colleges or universities (for example, hospital-based nursing programs). The grandfathering of some earlier exceptional domain assignments creates inequities among otherwise similar (and in some cases competing) institutions.

ICANN started accepting new gTLD applications on January 1, 2012, and many trademark holders are concerned about having to file defensive applications in order to protect their current websites.

On March 10, 2012, the NTIA canceled the RFP for a new Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions contract because it "received no proposals that met the requirements requested by the global community." The NTIA announced that it intends to reissue the RFP at a later date. However, the NTIA also said that it extended ICANN's authority to handle the IANA functions until September 30, 2012. The contract was set to expire on March 31, 2012.

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SmartGrid / Sustainable IT / Energy Management

SmartGrid services provide universities and colleges the opportunity to save money via power management technologies by integrating broadband technologies into their energy networks. We are discovering which Federal Grant programs are located on member campuses and we will put together a list of "best practices" later this year.

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FCC USF Contribution Methodology Reform
A federal program called the Universal Service Fund (USF) collects money by “taxing” interstate and international telephone bills. Expected changes to USF fees could significantly increase the costs for colleges and universities.

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