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NTIA Database on Federal Projects Released, FCC’s Carr Visits Montana and Wyoming, and New Broadband Study

Emily McPhie

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The National Telecommunications and Information Administration released a comprehensive database of federal broadband programs on Monday. (See also this PDF for the 109-page guide of programs.) The database was created under the American Broadband Initiative’s mandate to expand connectivity for all Americans.

The database includes information about billions of dollars in potential grants and loans from several federal agencies, making funding more accessible. Users looking for broadband funding can search the database by agency, program purpose, and eligibility.

Acting Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information Diane Rinaldo said that “Consolidating these critical resources into a one-stop, easy-to-use resource provides an important tool in spurring efforts to expand our nation’s broadband infrastructure projects.”

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr to Montana and Wyoming

Last week, Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr visited Montana and Wyoming to discuss rural broadband issues including smart agriculture and telehealth, reported the Powell Tribune. According to Carr, 5G infrastructure could bring more broadband to rural homes and businesses.

Although 5G has been widely-discussed as a solution for rural broadband, skeptical voices are beginning to speak more loudly. At a New America Foundation panel on Monday, experts projected that carriers would ultimately be unwilling to penetrate rural areas because of the low return on investment.

Carr highlighted the importance of broadband for individuals with health problems living in isolated rural areas, such as a woman who uses an iPad app to upload her blood sugar and other information to be remotely reviewed by her doctors.

Broadband study from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Oklahoma State

A study released this month by researchers at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Oklahoma State University emphasized the connection between broadband access and lower unemployment rates.

“Having access to high speed broadband, which is propelled by fiber deployment, is the great equalizer for many communities throughout America, especially those in rural areas,” Fiber Broadband Association CEO Lisa Youngers said according to Telecompetitor. “This study shows that high speed broadband can jumpstart local economies by lowering unemployment rates and creating new opportunities.”

According to the study’s abstract, unemployment rates in counties with high speed connections are about 0.26 percentage points lower than those in counties with low speeds. Additionally, the quality of broadband “appears to have a disproportionately greater effect in rural areas.”

(Photo of Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr from his Twitter feed.)

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