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Extending Broadband Well Worth Investments, Say Industry and Nonprofits

WASHINGTON, July 18, 2009 – The possible benefits of extending broadband to anchor institution, rural areas, and individual homes is well worth the effort and financial investment, a panel of industry experts and non-profit representatives agreed during a Friday panel discussion.

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WASHINGTON, July 18, 2009 – The possible benefits of extending broadband to anchor institution, rural areas, and individual homes is well worth the effort and financial investment, a panel of industry experts and non-profit representatives agreed during a Friday panel discussion.

“We are beginning to see some really promising applications” of technology for bridging broadband divides, such as software which is “approaching the effectiveness of an actually tutor” students, said Thomas Kalil, associate director for policy at the White House Office of Science and Technology.

Kalil spoke in a keynote address at “Broadband Stimulus and The National Broadband Plan: What They Mean for Communications, Technology, and Innovation,” sponsored by the Media Access Project.

Kalil focused on the benefits and applications of broadband technology in a variety of areas, including educational training.

Additionally, technology can also be used to help transition to a low carbon economy and create green jobs, Kalil said.

In order to develop this technology effectively, it is important to get multiple perspectives on whether or not a policy will work in a multi-stakeholder forum, he said.

One way the government can use its fund for broadband technology efficiently is by establishing “ambitious” and concrete goals for technology projects and by offering generous rewards for the teams that reach the goal first.

The government would only pay those teams which successfully meet the goals, he said.

Kalil gave an example from the University of Berkeley, where he started a program providing students with funding and support for technology projects. One student was able to generate $7.1 million in savings by identifying the environmental impact of the campus.

“That was not a bad return of investment for $3,000,” he said.

Lisa Zaina, chief of staff at the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service, referred to the $2.4 billion in grants and loans from the broadband stimulus in the round of funding for which applications are due on August 14.

From taxpayer resources of $2.5 billion allocated to RUS, the agency will be able to award up to $9 billion in grants and loans, she said.

John Windhausen, coordinator of the Schools, Health, and Libraries Broadband Coalition, said that anchor institutions such as libraries are an important way to spend the broadband stimulus funds.

These institutions, said Windhausen, serve millions of people. By getting a high-enough capacity broadband link, such an application can be a “jumping off point” for community broadband – if it is an open connection.

“You can get a fiber connection into every single library for less than $1 billion,” and Sweden has already made the equivalent of a $30 billion investment in broadband, he said.

Joanne Hovis, president of Columbia Telecommunications Corporation, agreed with Windhausen on the importance of anchor institutions. She added that some of the stimulus money should go to big bandwidth projects in rural areas.

Fiber to the home in poor areas, said Hovis, could improve the quality of life in those communities. It could also save people money by providing high quality video for health care and high quality video conferencing, she said. By contrast, lower-speed technologies, such as digital subscriber lines, might not be enough to keep the U.S. competitive in the global economy.

In order to reach the goal of getting fiber to every home and small business in the United States, “we are going to need every potential provider,” including new ones, “to be part of the solution,” she said.

The problem with many private sector providers, said Hovis, is that they are going to “the most desirable of the rural areas,” while many of the less desirable ones are being left out.

“A wide range of different communities will need government solutions,” and the local governments of these areas understand what their constituents want and need, she said.

Ken Eisner, managing director of One Economy Ventures, spoke of the need to create a national digital literacy program. He said that public housing should be rewired with broadband connections.

Ted Hearn, vice president of communications at the American Cable Association, agreed with Eisner on the need for such a program, but added that funding “should be set up in a separate program.”

Eisner said that the government should not “step in and provide resources,” but should recognize needs and promote partnerships between companies that can meet those needs.

Hearn also emphasized the important of the so-called “middle mile” as the link between last-mile broadband systems – like cable networks – and the Internet’s backbone. Many middle mile connections are still slow and expensive T-1 lines.

Broadband stimulus funding should be doled out to improve middle mile connections, and “we don’t care who gets the funding for it,” he said.

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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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FCC

Treasury Department Joins FCC, USDA and NTIA in Collaborating on Broadband Funding

Agency leaders sign pact to formalize information-sharing on broadband deployment projects.

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Photo of Janet Yellen from January 2018 by the European Central Bank

WASHINGTON, May 13, 2022—Just in advance of the deadline for the release of the funding requirements under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs act, the four principal federal agencies responsible for broadband funding released an interagency agreement to share information about and collaborate regarding the collection and reporting of certain data and metrics relating to broadband deployment.

The agencies are the Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the Commerce Department, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The Memorandum of Understanding is the latest development in federal efforts to coordinate high-speed internet spending, and the Treasury Department is the new addition to agreement.

The other three agencies signed a prior memorandum in June 2021 to coordinate the distribution of federal high-speed internet funds. That June 2021 Memorandum of Understanding remains in effect.

The respective Cabinet and Agency leaders announced that their agencies will consult with one another and share information on data collected from programs administered by the FCC, the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service, programs administered or coordinated by NTIA, and Treasury’s Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund and State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund.

“No matter who you are or where you live in this country, you need access to high-speed internet to have a fair shot at 21st century success. The FCC, NTIA, USDA and Treasury are working together like never before to meet this shared goal,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “Our new interagency agreement will allow us to collaborate more efficiently and deepen our current data sharing relationships[and] get everyone, everywhere connected to the high-speed internet they need.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “When we invest in rural infrastructure, we invest in the livelihoods and health of people in rural America. High-speed internet is the new electricity.  It is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, to have access to health care and to stay connected.”

“USDA remains committed to being a strong partner with rural communities and our state, Tribal and federal partners in building ‘future-proof’ broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas so that we finally reach 100 percent high-speed broadband coverage across the country.”

“Our whole-of-government effort to expand broadband adoption must be coordinated and efficient if we are going to achieve our mission,” said Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and head of the NTIA, the agency responsible for administering the vast bulk of the broadband funding.

“This MOU will allow us to build the tools we need for even better data-sharing and transparency in the future,” he said.

“Treasury is proud to work with our federal agency partners to achieve President Biden’s goal of closing the nation’s digital divide,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen.  “Access to affordable, high-speed internet is critical to the continued strength of our economy and a necessity for every American household, school, and business.”

As part of the signed agreement, each federal agency partner will share information about projects that have received or will receive funding from the previously mentioned federal funding sources.  More information on what the interagency Memorandum of Understanding entails can be found on the FCC’s website.  The agreement is effective at the date of its signing, May 11, 2022.

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FCC

FCC and NTIA Chiefs Name Jessica Quinley, Douglas Brake and Timothy May to Advisory Committees

NTIA representatives to join FCC technology and security committees, FCC rep on spectrum committee

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Photo of Doug Brake from Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

WASHINGTON, March 18, 2022—Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and Assistant Secretary of Commerce Alan Davidson on Friday named staff representatives to participate on each other’s advisory committees. The effort is a component of the Spectrum Coordination Initiative of the FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the Commerce Department.

As part of the initiative, the agencies are working with each other and the private sector.

“To succeed as spectrum partners, the FCC and NTIA must hear from and listen to each other in both formal and informal ways,” said Rosenworcel.

“A common understanding of spectrum engineering and market conditions is essential for the success of our efforts at the FCC and NTIA to manage the country’s spectrum resources,” said Davidson.

Rosenworcel named Jessica Quinley of the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau to participate as an observer in NTIA’s Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory Committee. Quinley currently serves as an Acting Legal Advisor in the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. She was an attorney at NTIA for more than four years.

Davidson named Douglas Brake, a Spectrum Policy Specialist, and Timothy May, a Senior Advisor, to participate in the FCC’s Technological Advisory Council and its Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council, respectively.

Brake, a Spectrum Policy Specialist with NTIA, previously directed the broadband and spectrum policy work at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.  May currently serves as a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Assistant Secretary where he has worked for four years.  Before joining NTIA, he was a Policy Analyst in the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.

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