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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.

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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