WASHINGTON, June 23, 2011 – National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Program Director, Anne Neville, offered the keynote address Tuesday morning at the Broadband Breakfast Club’s June event, ” The National Broadband Map: Policy, Consumer and Economic Development Implications.”
Neville, who oversees the development of the National Broadband Map, kicked off the event with an overview of the program, including how the NTIA obtained data, how the data have been used, and the future of the mapping efforts.
Among the highlights of the program, Neville pointed out the availability of the collected data to research institutions to use and share.
“We wanted to get information to stakeholders quickly and efficiently and we wanted to make the data usable and sharable,” said Neville. “In only four months [since the map was released] we’re already having a huge use of the data and a lot of feedback about the data and how we can continue improving the data set.
Nicol Turner-Lee, Vice President and Director of the Media and Technology Institute at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, explained how her organization, which focuses on issues pertaining to African Americans and other people of color, used the data to help its research. While the National Broadband Map was helpful to the think tank, she said, refinement of the data could push research even further.
“What we saw is that there’s still work to be done on ubiquitous mobile access, particularly in communities of color, where people are heavily dependent on mobile use,” said Turner-Lee. “We would have liked to have seen [the mobile access data] variable cleaned up a little bit more to really make the argument for communities of color to get fair access and a chance to actually use it.”
William Johnson, Deputy Director, Office of CyberSecurity at the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES), praised the map for its ingenuity and the cooperation that brought it together.
“I’ve been doing mapping work for 26 years and I can tell you I have never seen an effort reap a seamless nationwide comprehensive coverage done to a common standard so quickly,” said Johnson. “It’s really breathtaking.”
David Don, Senior Director for Public Policy at Comcast Corporation, expressed that due to the NTIA’s efforts and the publication of the National Broadband Map, a more comprehensive story of broadband in the U.S. is now being told. Moreover, he said, that story indicated success in the effort to provide a great majority with access to broadband. While there need to be continuing efforts to “bridge the gap” to accomplish near-100 percent availability, however, the focus ought to shift to adoption.
“As Comcast has been saying for a couple of years now,” said Don, “in the U.S., our broadband issues are not about availability, but about adoption.”
Cary Hinton, Policy Advisor to the Chief of the DC Public Service Commission, noted that as the mapping effort has progressed from the initial data collection to post-publication collection, the Public Service Commission has noted more ready cooperation from Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to provide information requested in the first round of collection, as well as additional data to help District as well as national mapping refinements.
“One of the major differences we’ve found from our initial undertaking… to now,” said Hinton, “our standard practice is that we ask for a copy of Form 477 data as well as a questionnaire to please fill out. What we found is that there has been an increase in companies providing us this data.”
FCC Form 477 includes data requested by federal agencies in connection with broadband mapping.
Adam Elliot, President and Founder of ID InSights, a company that provides data and analytics services. For his company, he says, the data provided by the National Broadband Map is integral.
“For where we’re at, it’s all about going forward,” said Elliot. “We’ve made phenomenal progress on the broadband map… What are the changes we’re making and how fast? We can [evaluate] at six month increments and say ‘we’re this far and are we getting to our goal or not?’ If not, why not and how do we get there faster?”