Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Katrina Disaster - Here's How You Can Help 

Dear Friends,

Tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Houston's religious and community leaders will be meeting in an emergency meeting to prepare for the 25,000 persons who will be relocating to their new home at the Astrodome in the next 18-24 hours. I will be there representing Technology For All and Houston Hope who are working together to assist in this effort. We don't yet fully know what that means. But in the short term, we are already working with several corporate partners to initially provide 40 computers and Internet connectivity for those who will be living at the dome. We hope to provide many more. This will be one of their connections to the outside world.

You can assist with donations of Pentium 4 or faster computers that you have replaced. With our corporate partners CompuCycle (www.compucyle.net ) and SimDesk (www.simdesk.com ), we are working together to get these computers into place to provide a connective lifeline for the victims of this horrible natural disaster. We have 40 computers ready to go. We anticipate we will need many more. Our office at 2220 Broadway will be open from 8-6:30 p.m. tomorrow to receive computers and other donations that can be utilized for the set-up at the dome. For larger donations please call me directly at 713.454.6411.

Community Technology Center volunteers and others will be mobilized by TFA's Pam Gardner to assist in this effort. If you are willing to volunteer, please Pam know at 713.454.6415 or by email at Pam.Gardner@techforall.org . There are a number of useful BLOGs related to Katrina relief efforts. See them below.

Let's work together to create hope in the hearts of our neighbors from Louisiana!



William S. ReedTECHNOLOGY FOR ALLĀ®/Technology For All-Houston2220 Broadway Houston, TX 77012 Tel: 713.454.6400 Direct: 713.454.6411 Fax: 713.454.6454 e-mail: Will.Reed@techforall.org website: http://www.techforall.org BLOG: http://texasctcs.blogspot.com/ TFA-Wireless http://www.techforall.org/tfa_wireless.html "We Empower Communities"
HOUSTON HOPEĀ® - "Working Together to Create Hope for Houston's Neighborhoods"2220 Broadway Houston, TX 77012Tel: 713.454.6444 Direct: 713.454.6411 Fax: 713.454.6454e-mail: Will.Reed@houstonhope.org website: www.houstonhope.org BLOG: http://houstonhope.blogspot.com/

Katrina Aftermath - http://katrina05.blogspot.com/
Craigs List, Katrina assistance - http://neworleans.craigslist.org/about/help/katrina_cl.html
SciGuy - http://blogs.chron.com/sciguy/
Harris County Citizen's Corps - http://www.harriscountycitizencorps.com/
Katrina Missing Persons Feed - http://katrina05.blogspot.com/2005/08/missing-persons-photo-feed.html

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Support Spectrum for Community Wireless 

The following information was posted by Steve Ronan on the Digital Divide Network listserv. Technology For All has posted a comment on the FCC decision per his suggestion.

"In March 2005, the FCC made an an innovative and helpful decision to open up a new band of spectrum for community wireless folks and others to use: the 3650 to 3700 MHz band. The plan was for there to be an unlimited number of licensees throughout the country, with an easy online application process, no eligibility restrictions to speak of, and with all licensees having a mutual obligation to cooperate and avoid harmful interference to each other. That band is currently used for Fixed Satellite Stations and they would continue to use it in and near their facilities which are mostly on the East and West Coasts, and exclusion zones around those facilities would prevent much of any usage nearby. For that reason, some coastal cities, such as New York, Philadelphia and the Bay Area would not benefit much if at all from the new rules, but the great majority of the geographic area of the country including rural areas would benefit and many major metropolitan areas such as Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Oklahoma CIty, Phoenix, San Antonio, and Tucson.

A map on page 66 of the FCC's Order clarifies the areas that are outside of the FSS exclusion areas.

The power limits and other aspects of that FCC decision would make it much easier for free and low-cost networks to be deployed that could reach greater distances, with radio signals carrying broadband Internet access through walls and ceilings and other obstacles more effectively than low-power WiFi devices. More detail here: http://makeashorterlink.com/?N13563D8B
Unfortunately, after the decision was issued, there was a time period for those opposing the decision to file a Request for Reconsideration and nine parties have done so including some, such as Intel and Motorola, who are asking for there to be severe restrictions on who can use the spectrum. Rather than opening it up for anyone to use, Motorola is requesting that the 50 MHz of spectrum be divided into two 25 MHz blocks with each auctioned off to the highest bidder. Intel and a couple of others signed another petition calling for all that spectrum also to be divided among two exclusive licensees in most major metropolitan areas such as the ones listed in the first paragraph above. And the Wireless Communications Association called for half the 50 MHz of spectrum to be made available to just one exclusive licensee in each rural and urban area that isn't already excluded by the presence of Fixed Satellite Stations.

The filing of the Petitions for Reconsideration and their availability for review was published in the Federal Register last week, setting off a fifteen day period for opposition to the Petitions for Reconsideration to be filed. Those comments are due by August 11 (there still may be an opportunity to file comments "ex parte" after that but it's better for them to arrive before the deadline if possible).

Please consider filing at least a brief comment thanking the FCC for their original decision to open up the spectrum for nonprofit community groups and all others to share while committing to not interfere with each other's networks, and in your comment opposing the attempt to instead have much or all of the spectrum auctioned off to the highest bidder.

You can review previous comments that have been filed, including the Petitions for Reconsideration at the FCC web site by entering 04-151 in the search bar in the top left corner at www.fcc.gov.

See how easy it is to file a comment...
just enter 04-151 in the proceeding number here:
complete the brief form, selecting Reply to Petition for Reconsideration in the drop down box at the bottom, and then either upload your comment or type it into the text entry box...
Just a couple of paragraphs identifying your and/or your organization's interest in equitable access to technology, thanking the FCC for opening up the spectrum for uses that can bridge the digital divide, and then opposing the idea that the rights to the spectrum would instead be auctioned to the highest bidder would be a huge help."

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