WASHINGTON, October 1, 2009 – Libraries could serve as platforms for successful use of stimulus funds if existing broadband infrastructure is upgraded to next-generation standards, the Fiber to the Library initiative said Wednesday.
The project said that it had received endorsements from Google, the Fiber to the Home project and the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors.
Using BTOP grant funds to bring fiber to each of America’s public libraries could give the country the best bang for the stimulus buck by allowing them to act as a platform for technological experimentation, said FTTL founder Don Means in an interview.
“We see libraries as early adopters of technologies,” he said. “A lot of people had their first experience with first-generation broadband at a library,” he added. “We think libraries are demand drivers for emerging technologies.”
Libraries already serve an important role in increasing broadband availability by providing open wireless access points, Means said. He described a recent experience during which he used a Wi-Fi access point in a library parking lot to work when he found his hotel did not provide internet access.
But many libraries operate with inadequate connectivity to accommodate today’s bandwidth-heavy internet applications, Means said.
Replacing current connections with next-generation fiber will allow libraries to serve as test-beds for a wide variety of community technology projects, he suggested.”[Libraries] are very useful in answering a whole lot of technology and public policy questions,” he said.
“Let’s treat these…as demonstration sites,” he suggested, or “community laboratories for all kinds of technologies.” Improving the public infrastructure already extant at libraries “provides the biggest bang for the stimulus buck” by connecting every community in the country to next-generation broadband he said.
FTTL is the type of broadband project Google can strongly support, said Richard Whitt, the company’s Washington-based telecommunications and media counsel.
“Public libraries provide a place for all citizens to gather and utilize advanced technologies,” he said. Upgrading libraries capability will “help transform those institutions into future technology hubs, local community nodes, and the essential information centers for the 21st Century,” he said.
Even Fiber to the Home advocates support expanding capacity to libraries as a stimulus priority. “Providing next-generation broadband access via optical fiber to America’s libraries assures our library system will be able to meet the information needs of the 21st century,” said FTTH Council President Joe Savage.
NATOA President Mary Beth Henry was similarly enthusiastic about her organization’s endorsement of FTTL “Countless local governments have worked with public libraries for more than a decade to offer high-capacity Internet access over fiber optics, much as we do to other key anchor institutions,” she said. “Libraries serve the essential function in any community of offering connectivity to the unconnected, and as the public space where all can experience the value of next generation online applications.”
But the greatest value of Fiber to the Library as a stimulus project could be found in its quantifiable nature, Means told us. While many are questioning the efficacy of stimulus projects, FTTL would be a “measurable, doable project within the existing BTOP funds,” he said. “When the last red light turns to green…we’ll know all 16,500 libraries are connected,” he said.”
By comparison, Means invoked NASA’s successful repair of the Hubble Space Telescope as another quantifiable accomplishment America could be proud of. “The country needs a win,” he said.
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Sunne McPeak: Achieving True Digital Equity Requires Strong Leadership and Sincere Collaboration
Collaboration between community leaders will be essential in ensuring success of the Biden infrastructure bill in California.
This week, President Joe Biden signed the infrastructure bill, which includes $65 billion for expanding broadband deployment and access for all Americans.
The national plan is described as the most significant infrastructure upgrade in the three decades since the Cold War. “This is an opportunity to create an Eisenhower national highway system for the information age,” says a former White House National Security Council senior director.
For California – the nation’s largest state – it means a minimum $100 million for broadband infrastructure that is designed to expand high-speed internet access for at least 545,000 residents, particularly in unserved and underserved communities, according to the White House. The federal funding will support California’s $6 billion broadband infrastructure plan.
Closing the digital divide and achieving true digital equity requires strong leadership and sincere collaboration among public agencies, internet service providers and civic leaders to seize this unique opportunity to achieve strategic priorities in education, telehealth, transportation and economic development. The 2021 USC-CETF Statewide Survey on Broadband Adoption highlighted that a significant number of Californians will be left behind because they are unable to access the internet and other digital functionality needed for vital activities.
Now, the question is how to ensure the public’s funds will be used as effectively and efficiently as possible. California must implement a thoughtful, aggressive strategy that will maximize immediate impact and optimize return on investment. Separately, for several years, CETF has been calling for broadband deployment as a green strategy for sustainability; that urgency only grows in the wake of the COP26 climate meetings. As leaders begin to make historic investments, they should embrace these key principles for action:
- Prioritize and drive infrastructure construction to the hardest-to-reach residents — rural unserved areas, tribal lands, and poor urban neighborhoods — and then connect all locations, especially anchor institutions (schools, libraries and health care facilities), along the path of deployment.
- Require open-access fiber middle-mile infrastructure with end-user internet speeds sufficient to support distance learning and telehealth.
- Strive to achieve ubiquitous deployment in each region to avoid cherry picking for more lucrative areas.
- Encourage coordination among local governments and regional agencies to streamline permitting and achieve economies of scale.
- Develop an open competitive process to achieve the most cost-effective investment of new dollars by optimizing use of existing infrastructure that ratepayers and taxpayers already have built.
To learn more, please contact Sunne Wright McPeak at email@example.com
Sunne Wright McPeak is President and CEO of California Emerging Technology Fund, a statewide non-profit foundation with 15 years of experience addressing broadband issues to close the Digital Divide in California. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.
Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to firstname.lastname@example.org. The views reflected in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.
Bigger Investment Needed for Next Generation 9-1-1 Services, Experts Say
Former head of NTIA said it could cost $12 billion.
WASHINGTON, November 15, 2021–– Experts at a Federal Communications Bar Association event earlier this month said the current funding allocation for next-generation 911 services is inadequate.
Currently, under the Joe Biden administration’s Build Back Better Act, the new 911 services – which will allow people to share videos, images and texts with 911 call centers – is allocated $500 million.
“It’s not enough to fully fund 911,” David Redl, CEO of consulting group Salt Point Strategies, said on the FCBA’s “What Comes Next in 911” panel on November 4. Redl was formerly the head of the Commerce Department’s telecom agency National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
Redl said the number could be “about 12 billion.” For Redl, the challenge is to address the funding gap for NG911 “when there’s skepticism in Washington and the [Federal Communications Commission and] when states have different ideas about the best way to allocate funding and best technology to use.”
Dan Henry, director of government affairs at the National Emergency Number Association, agreed.
While Henry said he’s excited about the national-level interoperability tools for call centers that will allow the ability to transfer emergency calls across states with the call’s incident file intact, the failure to get sufficient funding for NG911 puts health and safety at risk. “We’re not near what we need to get [NG911] across the finish line,” he said.
The technology to deploy NG911 is ready, added Chandy Ghosh, chief operating officer and general manager of emergency services at communications company Inteliquent. “It’s not a tech issue,” she said. Wireless clients have been testing NG911 with successful results.
Stakeholders need to communicate with government
Chris Moore, principal at consulting firm Brooks Bawden Moore, said a federal investment is required to deploy NG911. He suggested that industry stakeholders should convene to tell government what they need.
“For now we’ll get what we get, we’re going to continue to push for more funding, but it’s not going to be this round,” he said.
On October 26, the National Association of State 911 Administrators Association asked the FCC to initiate a rulemaking to assist with the implementation of NG911 by clarifying the agency’s authority to regulate the delivery of 911 services through internet protocol-based emergency networks and shift cost-bearing to service providers.
Another $700 Million for 26 States Through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund
Over 400,000 locations across the U.S. will get broadband in this funding wave.
WASHINGTON, November 12, 2021 – The Federal Communications Commission announced Wednesday that it will authorize $709,060,159 for 26 states through its Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.
These are disbursements of the $9.2 billion that were announced in round one of the RDOF reverse auction that took place in the fall of 2020.
The rural fund supports new broadband deployment efforts for 50 broadband providers in 400,000 locations across the U.S. Much of the funding will go to nonprofit rural electric cooperatives to deploy broadband in their service areas.
But others awarded funding under the auction have already defaulted on coverage that they said they would provide as part of their winning bids.
The 26 states ready to receive Wednesday’s funding include Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said that the announcement “highlights the agency’s commitment to supporting even more opportunities to connect hundreds of thousands of Americans to high-speed, reliable broadband service while doing our due diligence to ensure the applicants can deliver to these unserved communities as promised.”
The Commission’s announcement comes after the FCC launched the second round of its COVID-19 Telehealth Program on Tuesday, granting $42.5 million for health care providers. This telehealth program and exceeds the FCC’s $150 million goal by reaching $166.13 million for telehealth funding.
These funding programs provide reimbursements for telecommunication and information services and connected devices the providers have purchased to continue their telehealth services. The Commission also announced $421 million on Monday to keep over 10 million students connected across the U.S. as part of the Emergency Connectivity Fund.
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