California Taps Telecom Panel

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Executives from Verizon Communications, AT&T and Cox Communications are among 21 industry leaders who will craft California’s future telecommunications policy as part of a task force named by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

His appointees include Tim McCallion, the West region president of Verizon; Bill Geppert, region vice president and general manager of Cox San Diego; and William Huber, senior vice president of network services for AT&T.

The panel also includes Milo Medin, founder of @Home Network (the pioneering data-over-cable service provider) and current co-founder of M2Z Networks; Cisco Systems’ senior vice president and chief development officer Charles Giancarlo; Bryan Martin, CEO, director and chairman of voice-over-Internet Protocol provider 8X8 Inc. and Peter Pardee, vice president of business development for Hughes Network Systems.

Other members are academicians, state officials and legislators such as Assemblyman Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys), who helped draft the 2006 legislation that enables statewide cable franchising. His AB 2987, the Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act, was signed into law on Sept. 29.

When he announced his intent to form the state Broadband Task Force a month ago, the governor said, “If we want to stay No. 1 in technology, we need action.”

He noted that users in Japan and South Korea have access to great technology, and for lower cost than what is available in California.

According to Schwarzenegger’s executive order, the task force will create a database within the state Business, Transportation and Housing Agency that will link private broadband companies with state transportation agencies in order to better coordinate fiber optic installation.

The board will also establish pricing policy for the use of rights-of-way, based on how much it actually costs the state when providers access its roads. Currently, those charges vary widely.

The panel will also create streamlined rights-of-way permitting procedures.

The new agency will use information gathered by the bipartisan panel to map the state’s current broadband resources. The governor wants more public meetings available via broadband to the state’s citizens and training available to state staff, so the BTH will work with the General Services agency to reach that goal.

All state buildings should also be equipped as wireless hot spots, according to Schwarzenegger’s executive order. The governor also wants state agencies to enable VoIP technologies and include broadband conduit in all infrastructure planning.

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