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Policy Update: Ex-Im Bank Reauthorized until June 30th

Posted By Wendy Nkomo, Colorado Technology Association (CTA), Friday, September 26, 2014

Ex-Im Bank Reauthorized until June 30th
On Thursday, the Senate passed the Continuing Resolution (H.J. Res. 124) 78-22 which includes the extension of the Export-Import Bank's (Ex-Im Bank’s) charter until June 30th, 2015. Unfortunately, considering that this is a short term extension, the Bank still faces an uphill battle next year for a long term reauthorization. TechAmerica is continuing to work with Congressman Fincher (R-TN) on his Ex-Im Bank reauthorization bill.  Considering the short-term extension and the risks associated with a standalone bill for the bank’s reauthorization, we will be continuing our work and advocacy efforts to ensure that a long-term reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank. Considering how challenging it will be to reauthorize the Bank's charter before the June deadline, we  ask that member companies continue to add a talking-point or two on the importance of their Bank when engaging with Members of Congress on the Hill and back in their respective districts. For your reference, you can find a copy of an Ex-Im Bank 101 document here

Contact Nissa Szabo to learn more about CTA's support of Ex-Im Bank, nissa@coloradotechnology.org

Tags:  public policy 

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Involvement = Opportunities

Posted By Erik Mitisek, CEO, Tuesday, June 3, 2014
With summer upon us, now is a good time to think about ways to get more involved in organizations and engage in those you have not been involved with. Summer is a great time to reset. In speaking with members I often get the question, how can I get the most out of being a member of CTA?

My answer, find something of interest to you and get more involved.

With all the components of CTA – community, workforce, policy and economic development – there are many ways to get more involved in helping build a better Colorado technology community.

Why involvement?
Relationships matter. The members and community leaders you meet and get involved in programs with may lead to that next great idea or innovation, a new business deal, or your next career. The more you are involved, the higher the likelihood of opportunities coming your way.

Here are 5 easy ways to get involved in CTA:
1) Attend an Event: CTA hosts over 40 events per year. Find the events you like and attend. Better yet, attend an event that is outside of your area of expertise to expand your network.

2) Volunteer: Working alongside fellow community members to build the community is a great way to meet fellow members and give back. Added benefit - some of the best relationships and partnerships in CTA have come from our volunteers.

3) Support Tech Policy: Technology issues facing our elected officials have never been more complicated. With complication, there is opportunity. Work with and support the CTA advocacy team to build a better business climate for companies in Colorado.

4) Meet with the Staff: CTA staff love to meet with members, learn about your companies and most of all, about you. Feel free to reach out to any of the staff to spark up a discussion and talk tech!

5) Promote Tech Community Activity: Being an active community member on social media uncovers others who share your views, interests and engagement. Promote the Colorado tech community through your social channels and look for ways to connect with those who do the same.

We look forward to helping you get more involved in building the best tech hub between the Coasts. The more you are involved, the more opportunities will come your way – both personally and professionally.

Get involved. Get the best of CTA.

All the best,
Erik

Tags:  involvement  member benefit  public policy  volunteer 

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Modern Regs, Networks, Deliver Innovation and Improved Voice Service

Posted By Michael Price, Mighty Strong Media, Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The '80s has officially made a comeback, making its mark on today's culture in ways that are both amusing and unexpected.  But even as some of these old trends enjoy some new popularity today, it's clear that this resurgence is limited: After all, who could truly long for dial-up Internet after experiencing our current digital age? 

The 1980s brought us a number of technological advancements that paved the way for many of the current innovations we now enjoy.  Along the way, consumers switched in favor of more advanced devices and technologies, which developed at ever-increasing speeds.  Today's consumers can choose between advanced technologies that offer more benefits than ever before including a strong, basic voice connection from which people of all generations rely. 

Here in Colorado, the regulations that govern telecommunications have not changed since 1987.  Consider how so much has changed and yet these old rules remain stubbornly in place - seemingly light years away from where consumers are today and how we connect with one another.  

Right now, our state legislators are debating a package of telecom bills that are designed to update regulations while still ensuring consumer protections, increasing consumer choice and encouraging continued innovation and expanded access to modern broadband services.  Passing these bills would mean that Coloradans could continue to benefit from a thriving tech industry, empowered by forward-thinking legislation that would pave the way to an all-broadband future.  Advanced broadband networks will help meet the requirements of today’s consumers – which have evolved since the ‘80s – and deliver the products and services that are in increasing demand and that rely on the lightning-fast capabilities of modern, Internet-based (IP) infrastructure. 

For many tech-savvy consumers, this is an exciting proposition.  After all, most of us have willingly ditched old technologies in favor of a service or device with capabilities that add convenience and flexibility to our lives.  For consumers who haven’t yet moved forward, beta testing trials have been proposed where a collaboration between consumers in specific geographic areas and the telecommunications industry are working together under the watchful eyes of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ensure no one will be left behind.  The trials illustrate what’s at stake because they acknowledge the benefits of modern broadband connectivity and the critical importance of keeping everyone connected, no matter what technology is used.   

Updating telecommunications policy and moving forward doesn’t mean forgoing the basic connections of which people of all generations depend and of which they are most familiar.  Strong, reliable voice service is one of the most essential capabilities of modern networks, just as it was for the networks of yesterday.  In addition to the voice connection, Internet-based networks enable products and services that promote health and wellness and new choices that help secure a person’s safety and independence. 

But if the voice connection is the only priority, then today’s voice connections – which are HD-quality – eliminate background noise and make it easier for people to distinguish between different voices and sounds.  For people with hearing difficulties or hearing loss, HD voice opens up new possibilities.  In fact, individuals who currently struggle with today's voice service will gain a more reliable, higher quality connection from IP-based networks.  Many people who are hard of hearing or who have experienced partial hearing loss—about 48 million Americans, and approximately 1 in 3 seniors—will discover that HD voice makes it possible for them to talk on the phone once again. 

The shift to modern connectivity is not about the fastest and the flashiest: It's about more choices for the connections on which we have always relied, but that are now capable of delivering innovations and possibilities that improve our lives and strengthen our communities.  Dial-up gave way to broadband, our clunky desktop computers have mostly been replaced with sleek laptops and smart mobile devices.  Yesterday's landlines with standard voice service can't cut it anymore.  No '80s nostalgia here: It's time those obsolete rules go the way of the Walkman and cassette tapes, so we can all move forward into the future with modern regulations and 21st century services and capabilities.    

Tags:  public policy 

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The Digital Migration Marches On

Posted By Michael Price, Mighty Strong Media, Thursday, February 27, 2014

Recently, I joined the Silicon Flatirons Digital Broadband Migration event via a live-stream using wireless Internet access while sitting comfortably at Starbucks. Eighteen years ago, when Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, this now-everyday experience was unimaginable. Those who did have Internet access were most likely connecting at home through a dial-up modem (remember this sound?) and waiting for several minutes for a website to load. In technology timing, eighteen years is a few lifetimes – for context, Google, not Netscape, became mainstream in 1999, Facebook came online in 2004, hashtags were just the random mystery button on the kitchen phone (aka the "pound” sign).  The integration of innovation into our daily lives has happened with increasing velocity over recent years, but if you were born in or after 1996 you have never known a world without the Internet! 

According to Pew Internet, the number of Americans using the Internet went from 14 percent in 1995 to 86 percent in 2013.  While Internet usage is interesting, it’s more amazing to think about how people are accessing the Internet and what they’re doing online. There has been a proliferation of many devices other than computers, which can network and communicate across the Internet. These include televisions, DVRs, medical devices, and of course our mobile phones. In fact, according to Internet Retailer, last year, for the first time ever, "mobile devices surpass[ed] PCs in online retail.”  Citing statistics from comScore, the article went on to say that "55% of all time spent with online retail in June 2013 occurred on a mobile device.” 

This is a massive shift in how people not only shop but interact with the Internet. Mobile Internet access is only expected to rise as new trends, like wearable tech, become more sophisticated. At the conference, Brad Feld offered an even more radical vision for the future, "In the next ten years, all of us will be able to be physically connected to the digital universe.” If that’s true, the impact it will have on our lives is profound. It’s likely that in the next ten years the Internet and how it’s used will change at a more rapid pace than it did in the last 18 years when the Telecommunications Act was passed. 

Technology will continue its drive, generating more and more innovation. But to maximize the potential of the Internet and meet consumer demand for more access, we need to transition to the most advanced technologies available. That’s why the recent decision from the FCC to start IP transition trials is so important.  Approximately 40% of households in the US are now mobile-only households.  People are leaving plain-old-telephone-service (POTS) in droves, but federal regulations still require some networks to spend an estimated $13.5 billion a year to maintain outdated technology, money that could be used to increase access to high-speed Internet or develop new innovations in our communications infrastructure.

At the Digital Broadband Migration event, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler quoted Abraham Lincoln, "As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew."  This is an important point and a thoughtful principle to follow as it relates to technology.  When policies become outdated, it can hinder growth, innovation and private investment in much-needed advanced technologies. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was an important step for its time and today’s policies should acknowledge how much technology has changed in the last 18 years, while preparing us for even greater connectivity in the future.  Fortunately, Congress is starting to consider how our laws can be modernized with recent hearings at the Capitol. In considering new policies at the state and federal levels, leaders should take into account that innovation is occurring at exponential rate, but it’s not guaranteed to continue that way.  Our laws should be flexible enough to encourage rather than inhibit innovation and keep us moving forward.

Tags:  public policy 

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Voice your support for Immigration Reform Today

Posted By Wendy Nkomo, Colorado Technology Association (CTA), Monday, June 24, 2013

Click here to send a letter of support for Immigration Reform.

Here is a sample portion of the letter...

Dear Leader Reid and Leader McConnell:

As representatives of the leading technology innovators, designers, manufacturers, entrepreneurs, and job creators in the United States, we write to request your support for S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. This critically important legislation would help ensure that America continues to be the location of the world’s most innovative and fastest growing industries—those that rely on intellectual property and highly educated talent. Your support for S. 744 will allow America to better realize opportunities for innovation and job creation today, as well as secure our economic strength in the future.

America is the most prosperous country in the world. The U.S. technology sector employs over 6 million Americans and contributes $1 trillion to our country’s Gross Domestic Product. Our success stems from our historic diversity, and the constant infusion of new and innovative ideas fostered by our democratic system of education and innovation.

We applaud the Gang of Eight, the bipartisan sponsors of S. 744, as well as the bill’s bipartisan supporters in the Senate Judiciary Committee, who have collaboratively crafted and refined a comprehensive bill that would truly modernize a broken and outdated immigration system. We strongly believe the many reforms in S. 744 that impact high skilled immigration – including key improvements in the availability of both green cards and H-1B visas – will help address the national talent shortage in the near-term, while also creating a long-term pipeline of American workers through establishing a much-needed new fund for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, including computer science education. The bill will also protect and better prepare American workers, and enable employers and entrepreneurs of all sizes in every state to recruit and retain the world’s best talent.

Senate approval of S. 744 is essential if our economy will continue to foster innovation and invigorate many U.S. business sectors through an educated and highly skilled workforce of domestic and foreign-born talent. Absent reform, if every American graduate receiving an advanced STEM degree gets a job, the U.S. is estimated to face at least 200,000 unfilled advanced-degree STEM jobs by 2018. These unfilled jobs represent lost opportunities for our country, but with S. 744, we can fill these jobs, create new ones and invest in a future of economic growth.

...




Tags:  public policy 

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Please oppose SB 287

Posted By Administration, Sunday, May 5, 2013

Have you seen the story in Saturday's Denver Post?

Colorado wants to regulate Internet access? Wow, are we going in the WRONG direction!

Senate Bill 287 is still pending in the State Senate. Will you join the growing voices in OPPOSITION to SB 287?

Contact your state legislators in OPPOSITION to SB 287.

Sign and share this online petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/colorado-state-senate-oppose-sb-287-3

Follow the Colorado Technology Association’s Twitter feed for updates: @ColoTechAsn

Bill Soards

President-AT&T Colorado

william.soards@att.com

********************************************************

Business

Colorado looks to regulate broadband like phone service in rural areas

By Andy Vuong
The Denver Post

Colorado lawmakers want to regulate high-speed Internet service in rural and underserved communities much like telephone service, pushing a last-minute broadband-subsidy measure that faces overwhelming opposition from the state's telecom, technology and cable companies.

Sponsors of Senate Bill 287, introduced Monday, say the goal is to "connect rural Colorado to broadband Internet service."

The bill proposes to divert a portion of the ratepayer-funded High Cost Support Mechanism — which collects more than $50 million annually to subsidize phone service in rural areas — toward broadband expansion in unserved and underserved communities.

The measure includes a backdoor provision that gives the Colorado Public Utilities Commission regulatory authority over Voice over Internet Protocol and other IP-enabled services, such as home broadband and next-generation 911 services.

Sen. Jeanne Nicholson, D-Gilpin County, said regulation of broadband and other IP services would be limited to areas that don't have "effective competition."

"That's the purpose of the Public Utilities Commission — to provide some oversight to assure that the service is affordable if we have determined as citizens in our state that a particular service is something we want to have available to everybody, kind of like electricity or phone service in the past," said Nicholson, a lead co-sponsor of the bill.

The PUC would determine which areas don't have effective competition, which Nicholson said would represent "a very small percentage of the state."

More than 50 companies and organizations have banded together to fight a bill they say could have a "chilling effect" on innovation in Colorado.

"It's actually an expansion of the PUC authority over VoIP, wireless and other IP-enabled services," said AT&T's Colorado president, Bill Soards. "This is a regulatory reach that no state in the country has done."

Colorado's telecom statutes don't address VoIP and IP-enabled services, and the PUC has never asserted authority over VoIP.

SB 287 would stamp into law that those services are exempt from regulation, but with exceptions, essentially creating the opposite effect, opponents say.

"Consumers suffer when cutting-edge technologies are saddled with inappropriate regulations," Michael Price, executive director of Coalition for a Connected West, said in a letter opposing SB 287.

Others fighting SB 287 include Verizon Wireless, CenturyLink, the Colorado Technology Association, the Colorado Telecommunications Association and the Colorado Cable Telecommunications Association.

One carrier, rural provider Viaero Wireless, supports the bill. Viaero is the only wireless company that receives support from the high-cost fund.

Download File (PDF)

Tags:  advocacy  public policy 

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Marketplace Fairness Act Moves toward Final Vote

Posted By Julie Chiron, University of Denver, Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Marketplace Fairness Act Clears Cloture Vote by 74-20; Final Vote Expected this Week

We reported several weeks ago that the US Senate approved the Marketplace Fairness Act in concept during an amendment vote for the 2014 Budget. At the time Senate Finance Committee Chairman Baucus (D-MT) expressed his opposition to the bill and his frustration that the amendment had bypassed his Finance Committee and regular order. Legislation on this issue has been in the Senate for many years, so many have argued that the Finance Committee has not been without opportunity to review the bill. We can now follow up that report to say that the bill has been renumbered as S. 743 in an attempt to circumvent the Chairman’s opposition and bring the bill directly to the Senate floor. Majority Leader Reid (D) filed a cloture motion last Friday, which matured at 5:30 pm on Monday. Cloture was invoked by a vote of 74-20. ("Cloture” is a procedural vote that allows Senators to short-circuit a filibuster and set a time certain for debate. As explained by the Congressional Research Service: "Cloture enables Senators to end a filibuster on any debatable matter the Senate is considering. Sixteen Senators initiate this process by presenting a motion to end the debate… Then, for most matters, it requires the votes of at least three-fifths of all Senators (normally 60 votes) to invoke cloture. The primary effect of invoking cloture on a question is to impose a maximum of 30 additional hours for considering that question…. During this 30-hour period, in general, no Senator may speak for more than one hour, [and] amendments must be either pre-approved prior to the cloture vote, or be ruled germane to the bill.”) Thus, debate on the legislation will likely continue the rest of the week, and a final vote is expected sometime on Thursday. We will be watching the debate and vote very closely this week.

Tags:  Industry  legislation  public policy 

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Easily Monitor Legislation in Process through BillTrack50

Posted By Wendy Nkomo, Colorado Technology Association, Tuesday, March 5, 2013

At CTA, we monitor legislation relevant to Colorado's technology industry.  To make it easy for members to track what's happening, we've partnered with Legination to use a tool called BillTrack50 (created by Colorado entrepreneur Karen Suhaka!). 

Click here to see the dashboard for the current 2013 legislative session.

We invite you to create your own personal account on BillTrack50 if you are interested in building a custom dashboard.

We also cover hot public policy issues at the monthly Industry Briefing (the 1st Wed of every month at 7:30am) and invite you to join us.


 


Tags:  advocacy  public policy 

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Think Ahead Colorado: Our Connected Future

Posted By Michael Price, Mighty Strong Media, Friday, February 15, 2013

You're invited to a panel discussion hosted by Coalition for a Connected West in partnership with Built In Denver at the Colorado State Capitol onFebruary 28thto talk about the future of technology in Colorado. We'll be covering broadband policy and how we can make Colorado a great place for tech businesses to grow and thrive. We have an excellent panel consisting of national and local policy experts.

[Click to RSVP]

Panel of Experts

Larry Irving, President & CEO, Irving Group

Larry Irving was one of the principal architects and advocates of President Clinton’s Telecommunications and Internet policies, which resulted in passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Irving alsoserved as the Vice President for Global Government Affairs for the Hewlett-Packard Company.

Erik Mitisek, Chairman, Built In Denver

Erik Mitisek is an entrepreneur and strong believer in the powerof innovation. With a passion for building companies he is activelyinvolved in the Denver startup community. He is also theCo-Founder of Next Great Place.

State Representative Angela Williams (D-7)

Rep. Williams has been serving Northeast Denver in thelegislature since 2010. She is also the principal of the AngelaWilliams Insurance Agency and chairwoman of theBusiness, Labor, Economic andWorkforce Committee.

State Senator Mark Scheffel (R-4)

Senator Scheffel, first elected in 2008, is the Assistant SenateMinority Leader, and is a practicing business and tax attorney forhis firm, Reid and Scheffel. He serves on the Senate EducationCommittee andthe Legislative Council.

Event Details

Title: Think Ahead Colorado - Our Connected Future

Location: Colorado State Capitol, Rm 356

Date/Time: Thursday, Feb. 28th, 7:30-9:00am

Breakfast will be served

I hope you can attend. Please feel free to share this with your friends and colleagues.

Click to RSVP


Tags:  public policy 

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