Strickling to Head NTIA

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Strickling to Head NTIA

The Obama Administration has nominated Larry Strickling to head the NTIA. Right now former Sprint exec, Anna Gomez, is running that department as it gets ready to disperse $4.7B in broadband stimulus money. We don't have a set plan or any procedures in place yet, but picking Larry Strickling should help. Or will it?

Granted picking someone from Sprint probably was a great choice either. (Sprint isn't exactly knocking any socks off). Larry was on Obama's team as a tech advisor. He's a Harvard grad and worked at the FCC up till 2000. According to BroadcastingCable, "Strickling's resume includes Ameritech (now AT&T), Allegiance Telecom (now XO), CoreExpress (sold to Williams, which was bought by Level3), Network Plus, and he was a partner in the firm of Kirkland and Ellis." He also was Chief Compliance Officer at Broadwing Communications for three years also. Am I missing something? He's an attorney. We need more than that.

The head of the NTIA has to interface with the FCC and the USDA/RUS. And by August 1, 2009, start disbursing one-third of the funds under the Broadband Stimulus Plan. There needs to be policies and procedures and guidelines put into place so that (a) the money will actually go to broadband deployment soon; (b) the money can be tracked to ensure that it actually goes for broadband deployment.

The ILEC's have a long history of taking money (and rate hikes) for promises they do not keep. These same companies bought up spectrum and did NOTHING with it. (I hear that Sprint and/or Clearwire are actually looking to sell some spectrum, as is NextWave and Nextlink). So why would we expect these companies to actually deploy broadband in a timely manner now?

Also, this is supposed to be a Stimulus package. Not a help out your Corporate buddy deal. We have had enough of those already. And these companies have laid off by the thousands (Layoff Tracker).

What America needs is for small businesses to get this money.

I don't see how picking another pal of Obama is going to do that. One of the most disappointing things about this new Administration is the lack of creative choices for positions. If people have been there, they have done that. And we don't need THAT. We need a new THIS. Got it? (The people who brought you here, won't get you there).  Where are the round tables of experts to come up with the best plan? We did see the FCC/RUS/NTIA take to the road, but those meetings certainly centered on one or two niche markets. 

Here's my take on the companies that CAN do deploy Broadband across America: Independent ISP's. Guidelines to include:
  • ISP's that are already supplying broadband to rural and non-urban areas.
  • ISP's that have filled out the FCC Form 477.
  • ISP's with at least 8 employees
  • ISP's that are Incorporated.
  • ISP's with a credit line or extensive credit history.
  • ISP's that have a CPA firm.
Why? Because tracking is this money will be a full time job and if you haven't got at least 8 employees and a CPA firm, you probably will fall behind. (And I don't visit clients in jail). The 20% match means you have to have a credit line or be cash flow positive.  This also means that your ISP is a business, not a hobby, that you have been working it as a business for a while and likely will be successful in this new endeavor.

BTW, the Chicago Sun-Times describes Larry's job as Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information at the Department of Commerce. Turns out that is the NTIA. Oops.

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1 Comment

Wouldn't it make sense to call Larry Stricking and interview him about your points of issue and then write an informed article? He's a decent approachable guy, give him a call and challenge him.

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