Connect with us


Broadband and Economic Development: How Deep is the Alliance?

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2009 – The final session of the NTIA/RUS public forums on implementing broadband stimulus legislation focused on the role that broadband deployment can play in economic development



News | NTIA-RUS Forums | Day 6, Sessions 3

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2009 – The final session of the NTIA/RUS public forums on implementing broadband stimulus legislation focused on the role that broadband deployment can play in economic development

Bob Atkinson of the Columbia University Institute for Tele-Information, and the moderator for most of the sessions in a marathon six days of public meetings by the Commerce and Agriculture Departments, set the session in motion by asking the panelists and public to “provide the NTIA and RUS with good ideas about how we promote community economic development through the broadband stimulus program.”

Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and Agriculture’s Department’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) co-sponsored the six days’ worth of joint meetings. Of the total, four days’ sessions were held in the Commerce Department’s auditorium, and two day’s worth were held in Las Vegas and Flagstaff, Ariz.

The topic of community economic development on Tuesday brought the jobs creation provision of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) under the spotlight. It also brought out a diverse contingent of eight panelists.

The panelists were the U.S. Pan-Asian-American Chamber of Commerce, the National Rural Health Association, the National Emergency Number Association, Ronson Network Services Corp., the National Association of Development Organizations, the Rural Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the Communications Workers Of America and Argent Associates.

Much of the ideas offered by the panelists were long recitations of existing programs that might be leveraged. No good cause was left unheralded.

As was evident in the prior panels, panelists and questioners made passionate pleas to use contract law and administrative rule-making procedures to further their proposed interests in the allocation process.

Given the enormity of the topic and broad constituent base of the panelists, the public and participants struggled to make sense of the implications of ubiquitous broadband for community economic development.

No one advocated the phrase “build it and they will come,” but everyone agreed that a health care, emergency services and education were essential to attracting businesses to a community. Everyone agreed that broadband was essential. In other words, building-out broadband does not create certainty, it is merely necessary to be a viable economic contender.

Individuals familiar with implementing federally community economic development said that process and political inertia would establish reporting terms whose efforts would be judged by the number of jobs created.

The panelists offered several examples of existing models that could be used to make estimates.

No one asked if measuring the number of jobs created by broadband stimulus was a good idea. No one asked if existing jobs estimating models were even relevant to the new paradigm offered by ubiquitous broadband. It was taken as a given.

Small business concerns were vocal, especially disadvantaged small businesses. Their appeals for codifying small business participation in the grant and loan process appeared to include an assumption that standard procurement practices would govern the NTIA/RUS grants.

Additionally, no one addressed the schedule impact of sorting out North American Industrial Classification Codes (NAICs) and associated size standards. No one questioned whether the 8a certification for disadvantaged small businesses imposed constraints upon an owner’s net worth that would affect the ability of such a firm to draw the required capital.

The panel and audience were uncomfortable with the tension between quick economic job creation and careful community business development, which can take years to accomplish.

Success in community development is measured on a scale of two to ten years, and not 10 months to two years. Susan Au Allen, the national president of the U.S. Pan Asian American chamber of commerce summed it up well:

“Because long-term, to achieve community economic development in many of the communities across a very diverse rural America, this is going to be a patient process, and it takes a lot of time, and as the people at USDA know, since they have an active rural development program, you know, this is not something you can achieve overnight.”

The frenzied pace of stimulus leaves many concerned that “things will happen so fast that we will be left out,” said Allen.


Senate Advances Legislation Creating Office of Internet Connectivity Within Commerce Department’s NTIA



Photo of Sen. Maria Cantwell by Lance Cheung of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

WASHINGTON, March 12, 2020 – The Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday voted to advance a version of legislation creating a new office with the Commerce Department, and  re-authorizing the Federal Trade Commission’s authority to protect consumers from deceptive internet marketing.

One bill would establish an Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth within the National Telecommunications and Infrastructure Administration of the Commerce Department.

While senators approved both the reauthorization of the US SAFEWEB Act and the Advancing Critical Connectivity Expands Service, Small Business Resources, Opportunities, Access, and Data Based on Assessed Need and Demand Act by voice vote.

The ACCESS BROADBAND Act requires the administrator of NTIA to establish a new Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth within 180 days of the bill’s enacting date, with the aim of coordinating and streamlining the process of applying for various federal broadband support programs.

However, the amended version of the bill includes language authored by Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., which specifically excludes the Universal Service Fund’s programs from the office’s mandate.

The bill would also require the new office to create a single application for the various federal programs under its auspices, as well as a website which would be a one-stop shop for individuals and institutions seeking to learn more about federal programs for expanding broadband access.

In her opening remarks before the committee began consideration of the bill, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., the committee’s ranking member, praised the “good bipartisan work” that went into drafting it.

“Closing the digital divide that so many communities particularly in our rural communities face is a priority for many members on this committee, and this bill is an important step in addressing that challenge,” she said.

“And I would I would say that this coronavirus is also a very strong learning lesson for us, as it relates to the gaps in broadband because you certainly need it as it relates to so many aspects of delivering on education and healthcare during this time period.”

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., later added that the bill, which she co-sponsored, will be helpful to Arizonans living in rural areas who may need help accessing better broadband services.

“Nearly 25 million Arizonans living in rural areas do not have access to high speed internet, so it’s crucial for Arizona that rural communities are afforded the same opportunity to stay connected as our urban areas, and the ACCESS BROADBAND Act moves us in the right direction,” she said. “It’s an essential step to help us close the digital divide and ensure everyone in my state and across our country can access quality, high speed internet and the opportunities that come with it.”

Continue Reading


Panelists on NTIA Broadband Webinar Say Smart Buildings Boost Civic Resiliency and Public Health



Photo of London skyline by PXhere used with permission

WASHINGTON, January 16, 2020 – Speakers advocated civic resiliency and better public health through smart building infrastructure in a webinar discussion hosted by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration on Wednesday.

Limor Schafman, senior director of Smart Buildings Programs at the Telecommunications Industry Association, said as buildings digitize, human experience will improve.

“A smart building uses an interoperable set of technology, systems and infrastructure to optimize building performance and occupant experience,” said Schafman. Smart buildings are not just for megacities. Rather, everyone shares resiliency and wellness concerns, and smart buildings are the answer, she said.

The purpose of a broadband-focused smart building is to digitize the infrastructure while maintaining occupants’ needs at the forefront of the innovation. Smart building infrastructure includes a focus on basic infrastructure, connectivity, power and energy, data, interoperable systems, and intelligence and cognition, said Schafman.

Smart buildings function through wireless or fiber connection and streamline data sharing across departments, combating or inter-departmental stagnation.

Wireless infrastructure also solves the problem of spaghetti wiring, said Benny Lee, Councilman and Director of San Mateo County Public Wi-Fi, in Northern California.

While wired building need dozens of switches on every floor, wireless buildings only need one or two.

Most 5G deployments using higher radio frequencies pose problems because such signals cannot travel through walls, said Lee. The “FCC has been discussing adding 6 [GigaHertz] spectrum to Wi-Fi, which promises connectivity speeds upwards of 5 [Gigabits per second]s,” he said.

Jiri Skopek, of a group called 2030 District Networks, argued that smart buildings save money while improving occupants’ quality of life. Speaking of smart buildings, he said, “we expect them now to respond to our needs, and even our wishes.”

Productivity increases, he said, because users can control the environment: lighting, air quality, temperature, occupancy sensing, shade control, white noise control, etc. These factors foster health and convenience.

Because smart buildings operate through microgrids, Skopek said, they run on direct current, which can integrate renewable energy.

In the case of natural disasters or emergencies, first responders can arrive quicker and know where the exact danger area is.

Schafman said municipalities can view the status of the building’s infrastructure because it has a virtual image. The buildings can also be run remotely, added Skopek.

Continue Reading


Speaking at Commerce Department Symposium, Federal Agencies Doubt Benefits of Spectrum Plan



Photo of NTIA event by Masha Abarinova

WASHINGTON, September 10, 2019- Federal agencies speaking at radiofrequency symposium hosted on Tuesday by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Symposium expressed doubts that any kind of a national spectrum strategy would be useful.

Addressing speculation that the Commerce Department’s NTIA might unveil such a national spectrum strategy, the officials each seemed focused on their doubts that such a strategy would be beneficial for their respective agencies.

Spectrum management needs to meet constantly changing demands, said R. J. Balanga, senior regulatory and policy adviser at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Increased spectrum usage and higher data-rate transmissions are required for human and robotic operations in space.

NASA’s main objective, he said, is to enhance interoperability by further cooperation with the commercial space industry and its international partners.

The Department of Defense occupies a great number of spectrum bands, said Colonel Frederick Williams, director of spectrum policy and programs at the Pentagon. He said spectrum has becoming increasingly congested.

Agencies must work together to combat spectrum issues, he said. The Citizens Broadband Radio Service, for instance, was established by the Federal Communications Commission as a way for shared wireless broadband use of the 3.5 GHz band.

Karen Van Dyke, principal technical adviser for Global Positioning Systems at the Department of Transportation, said that spectrum affects all modes of transportation. Therefore, it’s important that GPS are protected from harmful radio-frequency interference.

Furthermore, she said, close cooperation with private industries is required to best utilize spectrum innovation.

The government has so many layers of spectrum management that it’s difficult to determine the exact process, said Ian Atkins, director of the Federal Aviation Administration spectrum strategy and policy.

The FAA is committed to utilizing the least amount of spectrum possible, he said. However, what the agency is looking for is a return of investment to make sure that valuable spectrum programs are enacted.

With 5G approaching mass deployment, efficient spectrum management is key.

Dynamic spectrum sharing as well as extended range millimeter waves are going to dramatically increase 5G deployment, said Dean Brenner, senior vice president for spectrum strategy and technology policy at Qualcomm.

The hype surrounding the deployment of wireless 5G technology demonstrates that the public often gravitates its focus on a single set of technologies, said Christopher Szymanski, director of product marketing and government affairs at Broadcom. But there needs to be focus on the backhaul and wireless aspects of spectrum as well.

Cisco has projected increased usage of unlicensed spectrum in the coming years, said Szymanski. However, the U.S. lacks enough channels of spectrum to keep up with demand.

Hence why spectrum and infrastructure policies are necessary on both the state and federal level, said Hank Hultquist, vice president of federal regulatory for AT&T.

Continue Reading


Signup for Broadband Breakfast

Get twice-weekly Breakfast Media news alerts.
* = required field