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Definition of Innovative Programs at Issue at NTIA Roundtable

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2009 – Broadband adoption is widely viewed as spurring innovation, but $7.2 billion had stakeholders gathered at Monday’s public meeting on broadband funding to offer comments on what sort of “innovative programs” could make best use of the funding.

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News | NTIA-RUS Forum | Day 1, Session 3

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2009 – Broadband adoption is widely viewed as spurring innovation, but $7.2 billion had stakeholders gathered at Monday’s public meeting on broadband funding to offer comments on what sort of “innovative programs” could make best use of the funding.

American Telemedicine Association CEO Jonathan Linkous said his organization was pleased that the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service were “taking the lead” on an issue he said had previously been spread between about a dozen federal agencies.

Telemedicine, which Linkous said could be “very broadly defined,” has potential to expand broadband services not just among health care facilities, but to homes of unserved and underserved populations as well. With the fiscal stimulus legislation providing money not just for broadband, but specifically for telemedicine, Linkous predicted a boon for his industry.

Telemedicine is traditionally associated with applications like remote links between rural clinics and major medical centers. But Linkous suggested that broadband should be brought to the home to enable better in-home care as a growing elderly population “ages-in-place.” That will require assistance that overwhelms current nursing facility capacity. “I suspect… you will see an even broader variety [of applications] than you have ever seen before.”

But those applications must coordinate with existing programs at the Health and Human Services Department and other agencies in order to be built into deployments, and not simply be “taped on,” he said. It’s important to not duplicate services or approve projects that “work against each other,” he urged, but to “bring all of them together.”

While Linkous argued for a diversity of connection endpoints for the network, American Library Association Executive Director Emily Shekatoff urged greater investment in public capacity at libaries, which she called “the premier public computer centers in America’s communities.”

Libaries are the sole source of free access in 73 percent of America, she said. And as librarians are among the most “highly trusted” groups in America, Shekatoff said they could effectively implement training programs.

Even with the access provided by the FCC’s e-Rate program, libraries still have too little bandwidth – despite needing far more than an average residence, she said. Of libraries, 60 percent report that their connections are too slow. Shekatoff said the lack of bandwidth deprives patrons of the “information hubs in [their] communities.”

The advantages of broadband to libraries only multiply with well-connected community colleges, said Jim Hermes, senior legislative analyst at the American Association for Community Colleges.

AACC agrees with most of ALA’s positions, he said. But community colleges are as much of a “crucial institution” as libraries, since they provide a link “back into the educational fold” for people during economic downturns. Also, distance learning programs for rural areas can create a “multiplier effect,” he said, as more people can take part and acquire new skills, allowing for entrepreneurship.

But OneEconomy Corporation CEO Rey Ramsey was skeptical of these claims. “It’s important to be intentional about what we’re trying to achieve,” he said. If America wants every citizen to have access to broadband, Ramsey offered a simple solution: bring it into their homes.

Americans in low income, “underserved” areas will readily adopt broadband if a deployment program focuses on “Access, Awareness and Affordability.” If Americans can access relevant content, are aware of the advantages of broadband and the services available to them, and they can afford access devices as well as service, Ramsey said there would be no question adoption would increase.

Ramsey took issue with the focus on schools and libraries. Many Americans work jobs and can’t make it to a library before closing time, he said. If the point of the stimulus program and programs like it are to get connectivity “to those who need it most,” the best way to “move the meter” on adoption is home deployment. “There’s no place like home in terms of making those connections,” he said.

When asked about the definition of an innovative program, Sheketoff cited distance learning applications, which she called “tremendous bandwidth suckers.” Schools and libraries need more bandwidth to handle the capacity, she said. “As a society, we need to make these resources available to everyone – no matter where you live or how wealthy you are.”

But Ramsey, who took care not to attack libraries in general, took issue with Sheketoff’s comments. “All studies show ‘moving the meter’ with adoption occurs at home,” he said. The two are not mutually exclusive, he conceded. But “we don’t want to create second-tier citizens [who only have access at libraries],” he cautioned. “Kids who have access at school need it at home.”

Andrew Feinberg was the White House Correspondent and Managing Editor for Breakfast Media. He rejoined BroadbandBreakfast.com in late 2016 after working as a staff writer at The Hill and as a freelance writer. He worked at BroadbandBreakfast.com from its founding in 2008 to 2010, first as a Reporter and then as Deputy Editor. He also covered the White House for Russia's Sputnik News from the beginning of the Trump Administration until he was let go for refusing to use White House press briefings to promote conspiracy theories, and later documented the experience in a story which set off a chain of events leading to Sputnik being forced to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Andrew's work has appeared in such publications as The Hill, Politico, Communications Daily, Washington Internet Daily, Washington Business Journal, The Sentinel Newspapers, FastCompany.TV, Mashable, and Silicon Angle.

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Funding

After FCC Map Release Date, NTIA Says Infrastructure Money to Be Allocated by June 2023

The NTIA urged eligible entities to submit challenges to the FCC’s broadband map by January 13, 2023.

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Photo of NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson, in January 2015 used with permission

WASHINGTON, November 10, 2022 – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration said Thursday its intention to announce allocations from the $42.5-billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program by June 30, 2023.

The announcement comes on the heels of the FCC announcing Thursday that a preliminary draft of the commission’s national broadband map will be released and available for public challenge on November 18, which was required for the NTIA to begin moving the broadband infrastructure money out of the door to the states. The challenge process is the primary mechanism to correct for errors in the map’s data.

Don’t miss the discussion about “What’s the State of IIJA?” at Digital Infrastructure Investment–Washington on November 17, 2022: Nearly one year into the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, what is its state of implementation? How are state broadband offices feeling about the pace of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration? What are they doing to prepare for it? How big of a jolt to the broadband industry will the IIJA be?

“The next eight weeks are critical for our federal efforts to connect the unconnected,” said NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson. “The FCC’s upcoming challenge process is one of the best chances to ensure that we have accurate maps guiding us as we allocate major…awards in 2023. I urge every state and community that believes it can offer improvements to be part of this process so that we can deliver on the promise of affordable, reliable high-speed internet service for everyone in America.”

To ensure public input is considered in the allocation process, the NTIA urged eligible entities Thursday to submit challenges to the FCC’s national broadband map – the dataset that will shape the distribution of BEAD grants – by January 13, 2023.

To promote a robust challenge process, the NTIA said it will offer technical assistance to state governments, informational webinars to the public, and regular engagement with state officials to identify and resolve issues.

Clarification: A previous headline said the NTIA would “finalize” money by June 2023. In actuality, the NTIA will initially announce BEAD “allocations” by June 2023, then eligible entities must submit proposals to the NTIA for approval before the money is fully disbursed, which could be sometime after June 2023. 

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NTIA

Speaking at AnchorNets, NTIA’s Alan Davidson Touts Role of Anchor Institutions

‘Community-anchor institutions have been and are the connective tissue that make delivering high-speed internet access possible,’ he said.

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John Windhausen and Alan Davidson (right) at AnchorNets 2022.

CRYSTAL CITY, Va., October 14, 2022 – States will be required to work with local communities on broadband programs as unprecedented funding initiatives roll out from the federal government, said Alan Davidson, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

“It’s critical that the states are being guided by as many local voices as possible,” said Davidson, addressing the AnchorNets 2022 conference Friday morning. The NTIA, an arm of the U.S. Commerce Department, will ensure state broadband plans are informed by community input, he added.

Davidson also emphasized the role local institutions can play in boosting connectivity and the importance of federal adoption and affordability initiatives, such as the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Project.

“Community-anchor institutions have been and are the connective tissue that make delivering high-speed internet access possible,” Davidson said.

The NTIA’s broadband policies are “about more than just a connection, more than just access,” Davidson argued. “A wire to somebody’s home… doesn’t help them if they can’t afford to get online.”

The NTIA will administer the rollout of tens of billions of dollars in broadband funding, the majority of which – $42.45 billion – is from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program. BEAD funding will be granted to each state government based on relative need, and the states will distribute sub-grants to contractors.

John Windhausen, executive director of the SHLB Coalition – the host of AnchorNets 2022 – praised Davidson’s remarks.

“Alan Davidson’s comments really recognized that the anchor institutions can play a role in several different aspects of solving the digital divide,” Windhausen told Broadband Breakfast.

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Funding

State Broadband Offices Need to Increase Their Capacity, Improve Data, and Communicate Well

NTIA’s Evan Feinman spoke about what states need to keep in mind as they prepare for BEAD funds.

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Photo of Evan Feinman from AEI

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2022 – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration webinar event on Tuesday focused on the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Notice of Funding Opportunity. The webinar highlighted three important items to keep in mind as states begin to receive money for broadband planning.

The first, according to Evan Feinman, deputy associate administrator for BEAD, was for states to consider your office’s capacity. Each state will receive a minimum of $100 million. Very few states have the human resources required to adequately run a program of this magnitude, he said.

The second is to build up research and data collections of broadband coverage at a state level. The Federal Communications Commission will soon release a new mapping system. It will be necessary, said Feinman, to “engage meaningfully” with these maps using state’s own research and data. Furthermore, states should have the necessary data to engage with internet service providers and the NTIA as they determine who is served and unserved.

Third, states should develop a clear-cut plan for outreach and communication support with stakeholders. Stakeholders include telecom providers, tribal governments, local governments, and community organizations.

The planning step is a great point for stakeholders to become involved in the process, said Feinman. “There is an expectation that lives throughout this program that folks are going to engage really thoroughly and in an outgoing way with their stakeholders.”

See other articles on the NTIA webinars issues in the wake of the Notices of Funding Opportunity on the Broadband.Money community:

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