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Texas Agriculture Department and Public Utility Commission List 52 Picks for Broadband Grants

WASHINGTON, October 15, 2009 – The state of Texas on Thursday released its list of the 52 projects that should be prioritized in the broadband stimulus funding decision pending by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and the Rural Utilities Service.

Drew Clark

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WASHINGTON, October 15, 2009 – The state of Texas on Thursday released its list of the 52 projects that should be prioritized in the broadband stimulus funding decision pending by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and the Rural Utilities Service.

Through Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Donna Nelson, Commissioner of the Public Utilities Commission of Texas, the state provided a detailed itemization of its project priorities, as well as its recommendations for implementation of grant funding in Texas.

Even though Staples and Nelson said that its “extensive review process… was conducted in a very short period of time,” they said, “we are confident in the projects we have recommended.”

Although Staples and Nelson said that they had winnowed more than 150 applications potentially affecting Texas to 52, they also asked that the NTIA consider “all applications proposing Texas service for funding as well.”

Noting the vast landmass of the state, the officials said that the state’s highly rural nature meant that “the grants NTIA approves for Texas projects should be commensurate with the state’s size and the broadband needs of its unserved and underserved residents.”

In the portions of this story included below as premium content, BroadbandCensus.com provides links to uploaded copies of the October 14 letters of Commissioners Todd Staples and Donna Nelson, along with a complete list of the 52 projects recommended for selection by the NTIA and RUS.

[private_Premium Content][private_Free Trial]The October 14 letter to NTIA byTexas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Texas Commissioner of the Public Utilities Commission Donna Nelson (PDF): tda-puc-letterhead-final-2, also available at http://www.texasagriculture.gov/vgn/tda/files/1848/34517_TDA-PUC%20Letterhead%20-%20FINAL%202.pdf

The October 14 BTOP List (PDF): btop-list-final, also available at http://www.texasagriculture.gov/vgn/tda/files/1848/34503_BTOP%20List%20-%20FINAL.pdf

“Proposed projects,” wrote Staples and Nelson, “were screened for the ability to extend broadband service to unserved and underserved populations; the reasonableness of the proposed cost of service; sustainability; the level of service to be provided; and the ability to address the policy goals of BTOP and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”

“In addition to established NTIA program criteria, Texas prioritizes broadband expansion projects that support deployment in rural and remote areas, public safety connections and geographic diversity. We also included scalability as a criterion, recognizing that it may allow the strongest elements of a project to be funded, thereby achieving maximum deployment. We would prefer to see a large number of projects funded in many areas of the state, even if it means some proposals would not be fully funded in this grant cycle. We urge you to consider this preference for geographic diversity in evaluating projects that would provide broadband access in Texas.”

The officials also highlighted the challenges posed by the lack of a national broadband map. “In the absence of a broadband availability map, the state was also unable to confirm the proposals’ true abilities to reach unserved and underserved populations.”

Below is a list of the 52 projects included on the officials’ list:

Last Mile

  • City of Corpus Christi, Grant Number 3097
  • CYTEC Software Systems, Inc., Grant Number 2812
  • Ellis County Texas Internet Service Provider, Inc., Grant Number 1121
  • Floresville Electric Light and Power System, Grant Number 3027
  • Galaxie Communications Services, L.L.C., Grant Number 1797
  • IGN-LPG Enterprises LLC, Grant Number 1604
  • Internet America, Inc., Grant Number 2097
  • Leaco Rural Telephone Cooperative Inc., Grant Number 1314
  • N-1 Communications, LLC, Grant Number 2309
  • Spacenet Inc, Grant Number 704
  • The University of Texas at Austin, Grant Number 890
  • Valley Telephone Cooperative, Inc., Grant Number 1801
  • Voice Runner, Inc., Grant Number 2718
  • Worldcall Interconnect, Inc, Grant Number 1940
  • Worldcall Interconnect, Inc, Grant Number 1966
  • Worldcall Interconnect, Inc, Grant Number 1981
  • Yonder Media, Inc., Grant Number 3679
  • Yonder Media, Inc., Grant Number 3236
  • Yonder Media, Inc., Grant Number 2869

Middle Mile

  • ART Leasing, Inc. dba FiberTower Broadband Corp., Grant Number 2626
  • Brazos Valley Council of Governments, Grant Number 3347
  • City of Corpus Christi, Grant Number 1305
  • City of Houston, Grant Number 2864
  • City of McAllen, Grant Number 3064
  • City of San Antonio, Grant Number 1160
  • Government and Educational Broadband Services, Inc., Grant Number 3249
  • Government and Educational Broadband Services, Inc., Grant Number 3816
  • Level 3 EON, LLC, Grant Number 1973
  • TSBL, Grant Number 1780
  • TSBL, Grant Number 3034
  • The University of Texas at Austin, Grant Number 1843
  • Trillion Partners, Grant Number 1091


Multi-State

  • ERF Wireless, Inc., Grant Number 1286
  • Hughes Network Systems, LLC, Grant Number 2790

Public Computer Center

  • Bedford Public Library, City of Bedford, Texas, Grant Number 2439
  • CHRISTUS Health, Grant Number 3179
  • City of Alice, Texas, Grant Number 3348
  • City of Arlington – Library, Grant Number 1580
  • City of Brownsville/Brownsville Public Library System, Grant Number 3163
  • City of Dickinson, Grant Number 3355
  • City of Grapevine, Grant Number 2737
  • City of Houston, Grant Number 2691
  • City of Lancaster, Grant Number 1785
  • City of San Antonio, Grant Number 2107
  • Corsicana Public Library (City of Corsicana), Grant Number 3709
  • County of Webb, Grant Number 1750
  • Deaf Action Center of Louisiana, Grant Number 1523
  • Familiy Service Association of San Antonio, Inc., Grant Number 1867
  • Hall-Voyer Foundation, Grant Number 2890
  • Harris County (public library), Grant Number 3866
  • Houston Housing Authority, Grant Number 518
  • Mounting Horizons, Inc., Grant Number 1913

About BroadbandCensus.com

BroadbandCensus.com was launched in January 2008, and uses “crowdsourcing” to collect the Broadband SPARC: Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition. The news on BroadbandCensus.com is produced by Broadband Census News LLC, a subsidiary of Broadband Census LLC that was created in July 2009.

A recent split of operations helps to clarify the mission of BroadbandCensus.com. Broadband Census Data LLC offers commercial broadband verification services to cities, states, carriers and broadband users. Created in July 2009, Broadband Census Data LLC produced a joint application in the NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program with Virginia Tech’s eCorridors Program. In August 2009, BroadbandCensus.com released a beta map of Columbia, South Carolina, in partnership with Benedict-Allen Community Development Corporation.

Broadband Census News LLC offers daily and weekly reporting, as well as the Broadband Breakfast Club. The Broadband Breakfast Club has been inviting top experts and policy-makers to share breakfast and perspectives on broadband technology and internet policy since October 2008. Both Broadband Census News LLC and Broadband Census Data LLC are subsidiaries of Broadband Census LLC, and are organized in the Commonwealth of Virginia. About BroadbandCensus.com.[/private_Premium Content][/private_Free Trial]

Drew Clark is the Editor and Publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and a nationally-respected telecommunications attorney at The CommLaw Group. He has closely tracked the trends in and mechanics of digital infrastructure for 20 years, and has helped fiber-based and fixed wireless providers navigate coverage, identify markets, broker infrastructure, and operate in the public right of way. The articles and posts on Broadband Breakfast and affiliated social media, including the BroadbandCensus Twitter feed, are not legal advice or legal services, do not constitute the creation of an attorney-client privilege, and represent the views of their respective authors.

NTIA

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

Andrew Feinberg

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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.”

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NTIA

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

Adrienne Patton

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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.

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NTIA

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

Masha Abarinova

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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.

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