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Broadband Conferences This Week in Three Time Zones to Consider National, Regional, State Initiatives

in Broadband's Impact by

June 8, 2015 – Broadband conference this week in three time zones will consider the next stages of nation-, region- and state-wide broadband initiatives.

The conferences, in the Mountain, Central and Eastern Time zones, begin on Monday and Tuesday in Vail, Colorado with the “Mountain Connect” program. The program includes keynote presentations by Connected Nation Exchange and Dave Zelenok, chief innovation officer for the city of Centennial.

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At Chicago’s McCormick Place, the web site Light Reading’s third annual Big Telecom Event on Tuesday and Wednesday includes an array of discussions about building Gigabit Networks across the country. On Tuesday, former National Broadband Plan Director Blair Levin participates in a panel discussion about “network services” for the Gigabit Age.

And on Thursday and Friday, in Albany, the New York State Broadband Program Office hosts its third annual broadband summit.  The summit this week will highly New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new $1 billion state broadband program designed to leverage public and private resources, and which the program office called “the largest and boldest state investment in universal broadband deployment in the country.”

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At the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains in Vail, Moutain Connect aims to “facilitate and accelerate the maturation of broadband infrastructure transforming technology innovation, policy and sustainable economic prosperity for communities in Colorado.”

In 2014, the program featured keynote addresses from Phil Halstead, then-Executive Director of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois, plus individuals associated with a Wi-Fi network in Vail.

This year, in addition to Centennial, the program includes individuals from communities in Colorado including Longmont, Montrose, Vail and others. Also addressing the audience will be a range of companies offering services to build public-private networks.

The Big Telecom Event in Chicago is a resurgent national telecom conference by up-and-coming web site lightreading.com, which calls it the “largest, best qualified gathering of service providers in North America.”

In addition to its focus on Gigabit Networks, the event includes tracks on the Internet of Things, the virtualization of networks including finding new revenue streams for high-capacity networks through tools including software-defined networks.

The New York State event includes awards for:

  • The Broadband Leadership Award
  • Most Innovative Broadband Project
  • Most Collaborative Broadband Project
  • Best Broadband Adoption Project
  • The Economic Leadership Award
  • Extraordinary Broadband Team Award
  • Most Collaborative Broadband Adoption Initiative/Program Award

 

Colorado Governor Emphasizes Broadband in State of the State Speech

in Broadband Stimulus by

DENVER, January 9, 2014 – Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper referred to the significant of high-speed internet, or broadband access, in his state of the state speech on the floor of the Colorado Capitol on Thursday, as reported by the Denver Post.

Moving forward, our priorities are clear: We are going to remain focused on jobs, education; and ensuring that we have a state that is as healthy as it is fiscally sound.

We are going to continue to improve Colorado’s customer service and efficiency; and support our military families.

Fourteen years into the 21st century is well past time to reform our telecommunications laws.

This session, we ask you to pass legislation that will accomplish this, but at the same time rural and other unserved parts of our state should have the same broadband internet access as urban areas.

 

NTIA Chief Larry Strickling Urges BTOP Rejects to Reapply, Reapply, Reapply!

in Broadband Stimulus/Broadband's Impact/NTIA by

DENVER, January 29, 2010 – Ditch the discouragement, review successful applications and reapply, reapply, reapply, was the message at the Denver workshop on Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grants.

“Don’t fret over round one, there’s more money in round two,” said Larry Strickling, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration at the Friday presentation. “I know folks are getting what you’re calling a rejection letter, but we’re looking at it as an ‘opportunity to reapply’ letter.”

Strickling stressed that it’s NTIA’s job to “make sure we don’t fund a bad project,” adding that the applications are “getting scrubbed top to bottom.”

His group spends at least 200 hours examining each application to ensure due diligence, and  Strickling said that some senators he recently spoke with about the broadband monies process were impressed with that statistic.

He said some of his private sector peers say if they’re thinking about funding a $30 to $50 million project, they may put a team of four people working on it for six weeks.

“If we award you money, we need to make sure you’re still operating this project in five years,” he said.

Strickling offered a few pointers for applicants. He said NTIA looks at project management experience and a reasonable budget.

He’s eyeing “middle mile” projects because “our sense is to have a truly successful broadband ecosystem you need a strong middle mile component and anchor institutions,” he said.

It’s important for communities to hook their schools and libraries to the Internet, which will make consumers want to bring that broadband to their home.

The middle mile projects pave the way for last mile projects, he said. “We’re priming the pump for private business to get out there and build the rest of the infrastructure that we need to have.”

He added that groups getting a priority are able to offer a 30 percent dollar match even though only 20 percent is required.

NTIA Announces Award for Six More Broadband Mapping Projects

in Broadband Data/Broadband Stimulus by

WASHINGTON, November 30, 2009 – The U.S. government announced Monday that it has awarded millions of dollars to five state entities and one nonprofit organization – Connected Nation – that proposed projects to help collect better data on broadband availability across the country.

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the government agency responsible for taking the lead on broadband data as part of the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus program, announced funding for broadband mapping and planning activities in Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri.

The awardees must contribute at least 20 percent of non-federal funds toward project costs. Each state has designated one entity that it believes should receive funds under the program.

According to Monday’s announcement, five states will receive grants, plus Connected Nation – for its efforts in the state of Kansas. NTIA said the “state of Kansas will direct and implement all planning activities” for the organization. It has been awarded approximately $2 million from the government.

NTIA has also awarded Alaska’s Denali Commission, an independent federal agency, approximately $1.4 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and nearly $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in Alaska.

Other state entities to receive funds for broadband data collection, mapping and planning activities include: Colorado’s Governor’s Office of Information Technology, the Delaware Department of Technology and Information, the Missouri Office of Administration, and Louisiana’s Office of Information Technology.

The grants are made possible under NTIA’s State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program, which was created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed by Congress and signed on February 17, 2009.

“The program will provide grants to assist states or their designees in gathering and verifying state-specific data on the availability, speed, location, and technology type of broadband services,” NTIA said in a statement.

“The data they collect and compile will also be used to develop publicly available state-wide broadband maps and to inform the comprehensive, interactive, and searchable national broadband map that NTIA is required by the Recovery Act to create and make publicly available by February 17, 2011.”

The data that comes out of the selected projects will also feed the agency’s national broadband map, a tool that is meant to inform policymakers and provide consumers with better information on the broadband Internet services available to them. The map will “display the geographic areas where broadband service is available; the technology used to provide the service; the speeds of the service; and broadband service availability at public schools, libraries, hospitals, colleges, universities, and public buildings,” NTIA states. “The national map will also be searchable by address and show the broadband providers offering service in the corresponding census block or street segment,” according to the agency.

NTIA has already announced fifteen grant recipients under the mapping program.

Should the Data in Broadband Maps Be Transparent and Public?

in Expert Opinion by

Blog Entries

WASHINGTON, February 18, 2009 – Art Brodsky, communications director at Public Knowledge, has just posted a new piece about Connected Nation. In it, he writes:

The new stimulus package just signed by President Obama has $350 million in it for broadband mapping, yet even before the bill was signed, the danger warnings for this program are glaringly obvious: Who will control the information on broadband deployment? If the program is done correctly, then the program may bring some benefits to the effort to include all Americans in the digital economy. If not, much of the money will be wasted.

Increasingly, it is beginning to look as if the program will be done at the mercy of the big telecommunications companies, who will seek to submit the information they want to submit, on the terms and conditions on which they want to submit it.

State governments, working months before the stimulus package was conceived, are ramping up their own programs to map deployment of broadband, and are finding they are already increasingly running into conflicts over the type of data they will receive. Some states want comprehensive, granular data. However, they are finding that the telecommunications industry, often represented by Connected Nation (CN), doesn’t want to give it to them. The result is a clash of policy objectives and politics that’s taking place across the country, in states ranging from North Carolina to Alabama, Colorado and Minnesota. Connected Nation’s board of directors is dominated by representatives of large telecom carriers, as CN positions itself as the best choice for states and the Federal government to spend millions of stimulus dollars on broadband mapping.

For more than a year, BroadbandCensus.com has been building an alternative to the proprietary-information model of Connected Nation.

I founded BroadbandCensus.com in January 2008 because I believe that data about local broadband speeds, prices, availability, reliability and competition should be publicly available. For more than a year, we have been collecting information from everyday citizens, through a process of “crowdsourcing” about their individual broadband connections. Individuals visiting BroadbandCensus.com are invited to Take the Broadband Census by answering a simple seven-question survey about their location, who provides them with broadband, their promised speed, and their level of satisfaction.

After Taking the Broadband Census, individuals may test their speed. We use the open source Network Diagnostic Tool of Internet2 to test their upload and download speeds, and the results are then publicly displayed and available for all, under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License.

Our biggest challenge to take has been to get the word out to more and more people, about the existence of BroadbandCensus.com, and about the need for more people to get involved in broadband mapping.

Last week, he had a breakthrough in receiving coverage from The New York Times, and in a guest Op-Ed that I wrote for ArsTechnica.

We have also begun to roll out our BroadbandCensus.com Broadband Wiki, which is designed to aggregate data about the state of broadband across the nation — by state, by county, by city and by ZIP code.

Individuals who want to learn more about BroadbandCensus.com may contact me via email, drew at broadbandcensus.com, or by phone at 202-580-8196.

Beset by Large Rural Areas, Arizona Aims to Blend Broadband Data Sources

in States by

Broadband Census Arizona

By Drew Bennett, Special Correspondent, BroadbandCensus.com; and William G. Korver, Reporter, BroadbandCensus.com

This is the 16th of a series of articles surveying the state of broadband, and broadband data, within each of the United States and its territories.

October 15 – “Reliable, affordable access to high-capacity telecommunications infrastructure has become as essential as water, sewer, transportation and electricity service in creating healthy and successful communities in the 21st century.”

So begins a 2007 report by the Arizona Department of Commerce, the “Arizona Broadband Initiative Framework.”

The report concludes: “the opportunity for states to use ubiquitous broadband deployment as a competitive differentiator is quickly passing.” Further, “the realization of broadband connectivity in parts of rural Arizona will not be accomplished by relying on normal market forces alone.” In sum, the report urges government officials and others to expand and enhance broadband networks in the southwestern state.

Arizona is now setting off on a path that a handful of other U.S. states are already on. Officials in the Grand Canyon State sought to learn what other states have done to expand broadband services beyond those provided by market forces.

The Arizona Telecommunications and Information Council (ATIC) is tasked with coordinating state, as well as public/private projects, to encourage wide-scale deployment and availability of broadband services.

Initiatives include telemedicine projects, grants seeking federal funds to improve broadband and employment in rural areas, improved digital infrastructure in Native American tribal lands, and efforts to establish a broadband authority that could focus state funds on filling existing gaps in broadband access.

One of the key infrastructure gaps that the state is seeking to fill arises in smaller, underserved communities in proximity to “middle-mile” fiber lines that connect larger cities.

The Arizona Broadband Connect Initiative, a project being developed by the Government Information Technology Agency (GITA) in cooperation with the state Department of Commerce, seeks to develop “off-ramps” for these communities that would be owned by the towns and managed by carriers seeking to deliver the last mile of access.

Members of ATIC estimate that 30 communities could benefit from such an approach. In order to pursue such an initiative, better and more complete information about the existing infrastructure is needed.

“We don’t think it’s enough just to know where the users are,” ATIC members have commented. “It will also be useful to policy makers to know where the middle-mile is, where the towers are, and where the rights of way are.”

GITA has undertaken a study of best practices in broadband data gathering and infrastructure mapping that looks both outward – to comparable efforts in other states –and inward: to diverse state agencies that could contribute to a full-scale broadband mapping project in Arizona.

For example, the report compared the broadband mapping approaches of Colorado, which established a statewide public service network; the forging of a “strong” executive through the establishment of a broadband authority in the Vermont Telecommunications Authority; and the creation of a “public-private partnership,” such as the approaches taken by the states of North Carolina (through its e-NC Authority) and Kentucky, through its funding of Connected Nation, Inc.

Through early results from the assessment study and a survey of officials in other states, GITA and members of ATIC have identified a number of sources that need to be part of any comprehensive data-gathering mission, including proprietary data that is commercially available for purchase, unique state resources, federal data, carrier-contributed information, and survey data focused on Arizona’s unique , geography and market.

ATIC members refer to this diversified strategy on broadband data gathering as the “blended approach” and believe that there is a great deal of information already at states’ fingertips that can contribute significantly to a more accurate picture of existing broadband infrastructure.

ATIC understands that resource constraints and restrictions on the distribution of information that is deemed proprietary or competitively-sensitive data will be just a few of the obstacles blocking the path toward accurate broadband data acquisition and information-sharing. Still,  they aim to develop creative solutions to these problems.

“Each and every data source is imperfect in its own wonderful and at times maddening ways,” says Mark Goldstein, an ATIC member and the project manager of GITA’s broadband assessment study group. “But my belief is that in the aggregate you can develop meaningful information.”

Mark also believes that “crowdsourcing” may be an important factor in this effort – “letting the public fact-check the data,” as he describes it, could help inform better policy that in turn delivers better broadband to the public.

ATIC sources summed up what would be required of the state: “in Arizona, the leadership and the will are needed…identifying key policies that have the backing of the legislature are major factors.”

Broadband Census in the States:

Broadband Census Resources:

Broadband Census State-by-State Articles on Broadband Deployment and Data

in Press Releases by

Broadband Census in the States

By Reporters and Correspondents for BroadbandCensus.com

Editor’s Note: Below is the complete list of articles in the “Broadband Census in the States” series on BroadbandCensus.com.

Colorado Innovation Council Seeks to Make Good on State's Promise of Better Broadband

in States by

Broadband Census Colorado

This is the ninth of a series of articles surveying the state of broadband, and broadband data, within each of the United States. Among the next profiles: Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah.

August 28 – The state of Colorado likes to see itself as an emerging technology hub.

The Rocky Mountain state, which is currently hosting the Democratic National Convention in Denver, placed ninth in a recent “New Economy Index” that sought to benchmark indices of a knowledge-based economy.

Many of the leading players in the cable and satellite industries hail from the state, which is home to its industry technology consortium CableLabs. Reinforced by its winter skiing and its cool summers, the state’s high quality of life makes it a natural locale for many of industry-leading telecommunications conferences by the Aspen Institute, the Progress and Freedom Foundation, and Silicon Flatirons.

If there is a dark cloud on the future of Colorado’s technological progress, however, it is the limitation of rural broadband access.

The same report that said Colorado was ninth for its tech economy ranked it 21st among states for its broadband telecommunications. (It was published by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and the Kauffman Foundation.) Another report, published in December 2005 by Broadband Properties Magazine, put Colorado in 20th place in broadband deployment, behind rural neighbors Nebraska and Kansas.

State officials now say they are determined to do something about these low broadband rankings.

Current Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat, ran for office in 2006 on a platform dubbed “The Colorado Promise,” and which was replete with references to innovation – and to broadband.

“For Colorado’s communities to thrive and compete for jobs in the information economy, it is critical that its government commit to spurring broadband deployment in all parts of the state,” read the document. It said the government can be engaged in three ways: better e-government utilization, removing obstacles to entrepreneurship and providing economic incentives for building out rural broadband.

Once in office, Ritter chartered the Governor’s Innovation Council with an agenda heavily focused on broadband. An October 2007 Executive Order created the council and charged its Broadband Working Group (one of three subgroups) to “develop and assist in the execution of a plan to facilitate broadband deployment throughout Colorado.”

This year, the state legislature and the task force are drilling into the subject with a heavy focus on acquiring better broadband data. Building off a report from a 2007 Aspen Institute conference (released in January 2008) authored by Phil Weiser, a telecommunications law professor at the University of Colorado, the task force decided that it needed better statewide broadband data.

Weiser was named co-chair of the Council’s Broadband Working Group, together with 14 others – including officials from telecommunications companies and local government. Of the task force, Ken Fellman, a local government attorney and the former mayor of Arvada, Co., said: “We have the big companies at the table, but they don’t have a majority voice.”

In a follow-up memo in February 2008, Weiser urged that the state go forward with a broadband mapping initiative. He highlighted the efforts of the non-profit groups Connect Kentucky and its parent, Connected Nation, Inc., as well as initiatives of other states.

“It is possible that the mapping project itself will spur additional broadband deployment, but there may well be unserved areas where a tax credit program or a universal service-type program could be effective,” Weiser wrote.

In April, the Colorado legislature passed Senate bill 215, which orders the creation of a statewide map “to help broadband providers and policymakers better understand the current availability of broadband service throughout the state.”

As with the data collected by Connect Kentucky, it appears as though the initiative in Colorado will not identify the service areas of a particular carrier. The bill designates that “any information designed by the provider entity as confidential or proprietary shall be treated as such.”

The Innovation Council and its task force were instrumental in drafting a request for bids to undertake the broadband mapping effort. The 33-page proposal has as its core objective the development of this statewide inventory, but also seeks to study actual broadband speeds, and to develop a web service that combines interactive maps and public broadband information.

“This is not going to be worth the time and money unless we get pretty granular and figure out what level of connectivity we have when we say broadband,” said Fellman. “We are not following the Connected Nation model, although the final direction has not been decided.”

In an e-mail, Weiser said that the task force’s goal was to “enable citizens to use this technology for an array of important applications, including ways to conserve energy, facilitate access to health care and education and to spur economic development.”

The state and the Innovation Council also plans to host a Broadband Summit, at the offices of communications provider Level 3 Communications in Broomfield, Colo., on November 14, 2008.

Editor’s Note:

BroadbandCensus.com seeks to provide information about broadband availability, competition, speeds and prices on a carrier-by-carrier basis across the country. BroadbandCensus.com Editor Drew Clark, then senior fellow and project manager for the Center for Public Integrity, participated in the May 2007 and August 2007 Aspen Institute forums in which Weiser was the rapporteur.

Broadband Census in the States:

Broadband Census Resources:

Aspen Review: Questions Posed by the Expanding Participation of a Many-to-Many Age

in Expert Opinion by

Blog Entries

August 21 – Looking back at three productive and engaging days at the Progress and Freedom Foundation’s Aspen Summit, it’s worthwhile to step back and examine the so-called digital revolution with an eye towards the future of innovation. What were the essential questions asked by the summit discussants? What are possible answers? I’d like to contextualize the issues that arose in regards to the mission of BroadbandCensus.com.

The stated goal of the Aspen Summit was to discover the contemporary keys to innovation. The market and policy issues addressed as a part of this discovery included online copyright enforcement, targeted web advertising, network traffic management, innovation and global economic competitiveness — and broadband connectivity in the US and around the world. While many of these issues have been around for a while, internet users, innovators and policy makers are confronting them today in substantively new ways.

The best way to sum up what’s new: internet communications have reached a new stage of maturity as a many to many medium. John Horrigan opened the Summit by reporting that 40% of internet users are also contributors to the medium. While the digital revolution may be old and champions of the web have always claimed it to be a democratizing technology, the emergence of the web as a true many-to-many medium is quite recent and still under development.

Discussants at Aspen from both the private and public sector were keenly aware of this profound evolution in the digital realm. Their analysis focused on two key characteristics of the many-to-many web: the renewed potential for monetization and the emerging scarcity of bandwidth.

There’s a sense in which both of these factors drive each other: profits are promised for those who can deliver bandwidth-intensive services, and bandwidth-intensive services offer new opportunities for profits through revenue streams like advertising. But I’d like to step-back and consider these factors separately, which is, in effect, what was undertaken at the Aspen Summit.

The first full day of the summit considered the following digital issues: protecting IP, liability and enforcement, and advertising and privacy. We can trace the emergence of all of these issues back to the potential for enhanced profits that now characterizes the many-to-many internet. Participants at Aspen were essentially asking what the new revenue streams will be in the many-to-many age, how can they be protected, and what are the political and legal boundaries that might restrain them? Further proof that we’ve only now entered the “many-to-many age”: In panel after panel, discussants focused on turning to the users for answers to these questions.

Cooperation, consensus, and communication were heralded repeatedly by both private-sector stakeholders and policy makers. Both groups also expressed interest in user-generated solutions to the many issues that will arise as new revenue streams are pursued online. As the many-to-many web matures and John Horrigan’s 40% turns into 60% and higher, these industry leaders will have no excuse for not following through on their promise to engage.

Day two at Aspen then considered the implications of a bandwidth-scarce digital age. If the monetization discussed on day one is to become a reality, then how can enhanced services in the digital medium be sustained and expanded?

Panelists focused on engaging with the global marketplace, fostering innovation in the US, and ensuring investment in expanded networks around the world. These, of course, are broad objectives and discussants offered many, and sometimes conflicted, answers to the question of how to achieve them.

For example, engaging with the Chinese marketplace offers a great opportunity to extend the many-to-many web and its profits. But that engagement will put further pressure on the necessary management of intellectual property. Many participants at the summit also agreed that network traffic management practices would be a larger part of the bandwidth-scarce many-to-many web, but there were unanswered questions regarding how “deep” these methods (e.g., “deep packet inspection”) should go before they encroach upon issues of privacy and competition. Everyone was interested in expanding networks to alleviate scarcity issues, there were also disagreements over how to achieve this expansion while preserving a competitive marketplace that will continue to facilitate innovation.

It’s no surprise that network expansion is also the core interest of BroadbandCensus.com, but the mission to develop better data on broadband connectivity is one that digs deeper than the current policy options. BroadbandCensus.com seeks accurate and transparent data to better inform the web and its users. It should also come as no surprise that in the age of many-to-many, the user is essential to this mission.

The defining information and communication policy debates for the forseeable future (and I don’t claim to see that far) will be over how to profit from and expand the many-to-many Internet. Some may argue that this is just the answer: “if the many-to-many internet is profitable, it will expand.” But I think at the heart of discussions at the Aspen Summit were concerns over the restraints on profit and expansion to which the market simply doesn’t offer a good answer.

Conflicts over privacy, property, competition and freedom of speech will expand just as the many-to-many web does. The summit engaged policy makers and industry leaders on these very issues. The issues remain, but strides were made towards more closely defining shared-interests, values, and policy objectives for the contemporary many-to-many web.

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