Local News

FCC Approves Insight Sale, Time Warner Purchase Could Close Soon

The Federal Communications Commission has approved Time Warner Cable’s purchase of Insight Communications.

In an order issued this week, the FCC declared that the potential benefits to service under the sale outweigh any possible public harm. The three billion dollar deal has already earned approval from the Federal Trade Commission, and an Insight spokesman says this puts the sale on track to close soon.

Even with the federal permissions, Insight’s exact status with Louisville Metro Government remains unclear. Insight and the mayor’s office have been negotiating a new contract for over a year. The city wants Insight to keep its call center in Louisville, preserve free service for government buildings and continue giving free cable boxes to elderly and disabled customers. Neither side is sharing details, but they say there’s progress. Insight officials won’t say whether they’ll go through with the deal without a contract with the city.

Local News Politics

FCC Chair Discusses Broadband Access, Affordability

This week, a coalition of call center operators promised to create 100,000 new American customer service jobs, many of which could be done from home. But unless Internet access is improved, those jobs will be off-limits to one third of the country.

There are two hindrances to broadband. For 20 million Americans, there are no service providers in their area. Another 80 million Americans have access, but either can’t afford it or don’t want it.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski says more Americans need access to multiple providers, and the FCC has initiatives to encourage cable and wireless providers to expand their services and make them more affordable. But at the same time, many providers are merging, meaning more coverage could be offered by fewer companies.

Most recently, AT&T and T-Mobile have announced a merger. Genachowski can’t comment on pending deals, but he says the FCC must ensure that access and affordability aren’t hurt.

“Competition is just essential to generate innovation, private investment in the U.S., and so, along with the Justice Department, where we have jurisdiction to review mergers, we take that very seriously,” says Genachowski.

Many Louisvillians only have one option for wired broadband access. The necessity of access has led many advocates to say broadband should be treated as a utility, like electricity or water. In parts of rural Kentucky, there are small co-ops or municipal service providers.

“Is broadband essentialy for participation in our economy and our democracy? Yes. Would we prefer to see universal broadband achieved through competition, multiple providers, rather than a monopoly utility? Absolutely,” says Genachowski, adding that co-ops and other small providers still have a role in national broadband deployment.

The full interview is available here:

Audio MP3

Local News

Call Center Operators Promise 100,000 New Jobs, But Access Is A Concern for Potential Applicants

A coalition of call center operators is hoping to bring back some of the jobs that have been outsourced over the last decade.

The Jobs4America group has promised to create 100,000 customer service jobs in the United States. About 200 of the new jobs will be in Jeffersonville, where Jobs4America member Accent Marketing Services is building a new call center. Hundreds more jobs could require no office at all.

“Every single thing that a customer service agent can do in this facility they can do at home as long as they have a broadband-connected screen and a company that’s willing to provide those opportunities for people at home,” said Federal Communications Commission Chair Julius Genachowski at a ceremony at the call center today.

But telecommuting jobs will be off limits to the one hundred million Americans–one third of the country–who do not have broadband internet access. Of those, twenty million of those people do not live in areas where broadband is available. Further, the demand for wireless broadband access is pushing providers to the limit. Genachowski says those are all issues the FCC is hoping to resolve, partially through federal support for improved and expanded infrastructure.

The jobs are expected to stimulate small cities’ economies, but will not likely make a dent in the nationwide 9.2 percent unemployment rate. Hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost every month during the peak of the recession.

Local News Politics

FCC Chair to Visit Jeffersonville

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission will visit Jeffersonville, Indiana tomorrow to launch a new jobs program.

Julius Genachowski will announce the details of the Jobs for America–a coalition of call center operators that will highlight the opportunities for call center and telecommuting work.

Details of the program have not yet been released, but coalition members have reportedly pledged to create a specific number of jobs. The coalition will be managed by the American Teleservices Association, a nonprofit call center trade organization based in Indianapolis. The event is in Jeffersonville at the future site of a new call center. Genachowski is expected to highlight the role broadband internet access has played in the growth of call center and telecommuting jobs.