WASHINGTON, December 1, 2009 – The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said Tuesday it will provide close to $3.4 million in grants to improve Internet connections for libraries in five states. The foundation is also partnering with 14 other states to assist efforts by libraries to secure some of the $7.2 billion in federal stimulus funds allotted by Congress in January to expand broadband deployment and adoption.
“When libraries have access to broadband, they can effectively deliver critical educational, employment, and government services for residents that lack Internet access elsewhere. As community anchor institutions, libraries can also help drive local broadband adoption,” said Jill Nishi, deputy director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s U.S. Libraries program, in a statement.
The five states receiving Gates Foundation grants to implement local broadband improvement plans have partnered with the foundation since early 2009 to develop strategies for improving Internet connections for their libraries.
These states include: Arkansas, which received $735,207 from the foundation this week; Kansas, which received $363,099; Massachusetts, which received $367,789; New York, which received $947,517; and Virginia, which received $977,468. The Gates Foundation said the state libraries of California and Texas participated in the program and will be eligible for grants in early 2010. It also added that it has “invested $350 million in grants and support to install and sustain computers in libraries and train thousands of library staff in all 50 states and U.S. territories.”
In late 2008 the Gates Foundation said it would provide Connected Nation and the American Library Association with a $7 million grant meant to improve internet connections in public libraries. Broadband Census news reported that the goal at the time was to ensure that all public libraries within seven states – Arkansas, California, Kansas, Massachusetts, New York, Texas and Virginia – have broadband connectivity of at least 1.5 Megabits per second. The foundation picked the states because they had large populations with individuals living below the poverty line.
Connected Nation, a Kentucky-based non-profit organization that is funded by Bell and cable companies and by state appropriations, was not mentioned in the Gates Foundation release Tuesday. “Today’s grant announcement is for the five states to implement the plans that they developed with the grant that you referenced from last year. While Connected Nation and [ALA] supported the states as they were developing these plans, the phase of the work that will be funded by today’s announcement is for the states to implement their plans for improving and sustaining high-speed Internet access,” a person familiar with the work of the foundation told Broadband Census News.
The NTIA announced Monday that Connected Nation is being awarded approximately $2 million from the government for its broadband mapping and planning efforts in the state of Kansas.
The Gates Foundation said Tuesday that states who are participating in the group’s new Opportunity Online broadband grant program will receive technical and consulting assistance to develop competitive funding proposals for available government funds. The foundation said it will match the federally-required private funds if a library is chosen. These states include: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.
The foundation said it chose “to support states that articulated the most compelling and feasible projects aligned with the objectives of the [Broadband Technology Opportunities Program] program” and “considered a state’s need for assistance in developing a competitive BTOP proposal.”
The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service are administering the federal broadband stimulus funds to selected grant applicants. The American Library Association said Monday it would like the agencies to simplify the application and review process and prioritize funding for “community anchor institutions.”
“Libraries are uniquely positioned to deliver on the promise and objectives of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the Broadband Initiatives Program,” said Carrie McGuire, director for the program on networks for the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy, in a statement. “We strongly encourage the NTIA and RUS to make changes to the program prior to Round 2 to ensure that libraries can take maximum advantage of this opportunity,” she said.
The Gates Foundation said nationally libraries are not able to offer high-speed Internet access to match patron demand. A recent American Library Association study found 60 percent of all libraries said their current Internet speed is insufficient. In 70 percent of U.S. communities “the public library is the only provider of free Internet access available to residents,” according to the foundation.
Ookla Has Verizon as Fastest Q1 Fixed Provider, T-Mobile Takes Top Spot for Mobile
T-Mobile was also named the most consistent mobile operator and topped 5G download speeds.
WASHINGTON, April 18, 2022 – A market report released Friday by performance metrics web service Ookla named Verizon the fastest fixed broadband provider in the U.S. during the first quarter of 2022, and T-Mobile as the fastest mobile operator during the same period.
Verizon had a median download speed of 184.36 Mbps, edging out Comcast Xfinity’s speed of 179.12 Mbps. T-Mobile’s median mobile speed was 117.83 Mbps.
Verizon had the lowest latency of all providers, according to Ookla, well ahead of Xfinity’s fourth place ranking, yet sat at third for consistency behind both Xfinity and Spectrum.
T-Mobile was also the most consistent mobile operator during the first quarter, achieving an Ookla consistency score of 88.3 percent, which along with median download speed represented an increase from the fourth quarter of 2021.
The company also achieved the fastest median 5G download speed, coming in at 191.12 Mbps.
Verizon also notably increased its 5G download speed from its Q4 metric, attributed in part to the turning on of new C-band spectrum in January following deployment delays and protest from airlines. For mobile speeds, it stood in second behind T-Mobile, bumping AT&T to a standing of third. These rankings were the same for mobile measures of latency and consistency.
Yet on 5G availability, AT&T remains ahead of Verizon.
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra came in as the fastest popular device in the country, running at 116.33 Mbps.
Ookla is a sponsor of Broadband Breakfast.
FCC’s Rosenworcel: Broadband Nutrition Labels Will Create New Generation of Informed Buyers
The FCC hopes companies will make it easier for consumers to choose a broadband plan that fits their needs.
WASHINGTON, March 11, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission’s broadband nutrition labels will usher in a new era where buyers have simple information about what they’re buying, agency Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said Friday.
Consumers should know what they’re signing up for when they spend hundreds “or even thousands” of dollars per year for internet service. She was speaking at Friday’s commission hearing on its so-called broadband nutrition label initiative.
The hearing comes on top of a public comment period on the initiative. Many providers are pushing for more flexible regulations on compliance.
When consumers choose a broadband provider for their household, Rosenworcel said may people make decisions with “sometimes incomplete and inaccurate information.”
“The problem for broadband consumers isn’t a total lack of information, but there’s loads of fine print,” Rosenworcel said. “It can be difficult to know exactly what we are paying for and these disclosures are not consistent from carrier to carrier,” which makes comparing prices and services harder and more time-consuming for consumers.
The comments built on other recent speeches by Rosenworcel promoting the initiative, encouraging state attorneys general’s ability to enforce companies’ commitments through their states’ consumer protection statutes.
The FCC began a plan in 2015 for broadband labels that was voluntary. The new initiative directed by last year’s bipartisan infrastructure law makes this effort mandatory for broadband providers.
Matt Sayre, managing director of cross sector economic development firm Onward Eugene, said residents in rural Oregon would benefit from simple information when considering broadband providers. During a time where dial-up and satellite-based offerings were primarily available, Sayre said his neighbors “never used terms like latency or packet loss.”
“These are important aspects of good internet service, but not easily understood by most people,” Sayre said. “Citizens understood they needed better service but were uncertain about what tier of service they needed. This is where broadband labels can be very helpful.”
The hearing was the agency’s first on the initiative.
Small ISP Organizations Push FCC for Flexibility on Broadband Label Compliance
Advocates say strict compliance requirements may economically harm small providers.
WASHINGTON, March 11, 2022 – In comments submitted to the Federal Communications Commission Wednesday, organizations representing small internet providers are pushing for flexible regulations on compliance with a measure that requires clear reporting of broadband service aspects to consumers.
The measure was adopted at a late January meeting by the commission, mandating that providers list their pricing and speed information about services in the format of a “broadband nutrition label” that mimics a food nutrition label. Congress’ bipartisan infrastructure bill enacted in the fall required that the FCC adopt such policy.
The organizations that submitted comments Wednesday say that strict compliance requirements for the new measure may economically harm small providers.
Among those leading the charge are trade associations Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association and America’s Communications Association as well as provider Lumen Technologies.
In comments, limited resources of smaller providers were cited as factors which could disadvantage them in terms of complying with the measure to the FCC’s standards and several organizations asked for small providers to be given extra time to comply.
In separate comments, internet provider Lumen said that the FCC must make multiple changes to its approach if it is to “avoid imposing new obligations that arbitrarily impose excessive costs on providers and undermine other policy goals.”
Last month, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said that she looks forward to increased coordination between the FCC and state attorneys general for the enforcement of the measure.
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