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Partnership for a Connected Illinois Announces Drew Clark as Executive Director; Founder of BroadbandCensus.com to Lead State Broadband Data and Deployment Effort

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois, and WASHINGTON, February 25, 2010 – The Partnership for a Connected Illinois, a non-profit organization that includes partnerships with Southern Illinois University, Man-Tra-Con, and Connected Nation, on Thursday announced Drew Clark as its new Executive Director.

On Wednesday, PCI also unveiled BroadbandStat, a new interactive mapping tool for viewing and analyzing broadband data.

Clark, the founder of BroadbandCensus.com and an experienced, independent telecom industry analyst, brings a unique public interest perspective to broadband data collection, which is vital to the effective deployment of high-speed internet networks throughout the United States.

“I’m glad that our team of broadband experts is moving forward to help achieve the ambitious vision for a public, transparent map of technology infrastructure that President Obama and I share,” said Governor Pat Quinn. A long-time advocate of improving broadband access in Illinois, Governor Quinn has worked with public and private partners over many years to ensure connectivity in all areas.

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SPRINGFIELD, Illinois, and WASHINGTON, February 25, 2010 – The Partnership for a Connected Illinois, a non-profit organization that includes partnerships with Southern Illinois University, Man-Tra-Con, and Connected Nation, on Thursday announced Drew Clark as its new Executive Director.

On Wednesday, PCI also unveiled BroadbandStat, a new interactive mapping tool for viewing and analyzing broadband data.

Clark, the founder of BroadbandCensus.com and an experienced, independent telecom industry analyst, brings a unique public interest perspective to broadband data collection, which is vital to the effective deployment of high-speed internet networks throughout the United States.

“I’m glad that our team of broadband experts is moving forward to help achieve the ambitious vision for a public, transparent map of technology infrastructure that President Obama and I share,” said Governor Pat Quinn. A long-time advocate of improving broadband access in Illinois, Governor Quinn has worked with public and private partners over many years to ensure connectivity in all areas.

As the state’s designated entity to perform broadband mapping, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois (PCI) recently received $1.8 million in funding from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration for broadband data collection, mapping and planning activities. In 2009, led by Southern Illinois University, PCI received a start-up grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

“The Partnership for a Connected Illinois is a direct outgrowth of the highly successful endeavor in southern Illinois to use broadband deployment as the foundation to a broader economic development strategy,” said Dr. Glenn Poshard, President of Southern Illinois University.

“This undertaking has been an all-in commitment by the region’s leaders in health care, education and business, working together to unleash the job creation potential of high speed Internet access,” he said. “We have every expectation that the accomplishments achieved by this unique public-private partnership in southern Illinois can be recreated throughout the state. Southern Illinois University welcomes Mr. Clark on board and we look forward to participating in this exciting phase of the project.”

Clark will be based in Springfield, Illinois, and will work throughout the state to ensure every community in Illinois is connected to world-class, high-speed information and communication networks. The broadband mapping efforts to be undertaken by PCI will help identify and drive both broadband supply and demand.

“The enthusiasm for broadband is palpable in Illinois,” said Clark. “The Partnership for a Connected Illinois has the opportunity to lead the nation by building a common-sense approach to data collection and deployment that maximizes broadband’s benefit for citizens, business, schools, libraries and health care providers.”

BroadbandStat is a user-friendly, web-based tool for local leaders, policymakers, consumers and technology providers to plan for the expansion and adoption of broadband. On Wednesday, Connected Nation hosted a webinar introducing BroadbandStat to all interested parties, free of charge.

“We are extremely pleased with the selection of Drew Clark as the Executive Director of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois,” said Ron Duncan, President of the Board of Directors of PCI. “He has a unique set of experiences and capabilities that make him extremely well suited for this leadership role.”

Continuing Work of Broadband Census LLC

Clark founded Broadband Census LLC in December 2007 as a means of providing the public with an objective and independent measure of broadband speeds, prices, availability, reliability and competition. Both the data and journalistic activities of Broadband Census LLC will continue.

As BroadbandBreakfast.com, Broadband Census News publishes reports on broadband stimulus, wireless broadband, and the national broadband plan. Heading up the editorial team at BroadbandBreakfast.com is Sharon McLoone.

McLoone has been a journalist for 20 years, with most of her work focusing on technology, business and politics. Her work has appeared in CNN Money, The New York Times, The Washington Post and Science, as well as smaller, more specialized publications. Just prior to beginning with BroadbandBreakfast.com, She worked as a business reporter at WashingtonPost.com and as an editor at a National Journal publication covering politics and policy of interest to the high-tech and media communities.

Also assuming a leadership role at the company is Sylvia Syracuse, Director of Marketing and Sponsorship. Syracuse manages the Broadband Breakfast Club, the popular Washington discussion group that now meets on the third Tuesday of each month at Clyde’s of Gallery Place in Washington.

Syracuse has had a long career in non-profit development and administration, and has raised funds for technology and science education, and managed a project on health information exchange by the State of New York. Her experience in community education and development also allows her to understand the community needs and infrastructure required to make broadband access effective.

On the data side, Broadband Census Data conducts independent validation at the Census block level (or smaller, if desired) of carrier-submitted broadband data. The broadband availability maps created by BroadbandCensus.com use no fewer than two and as many as five independent sources for validation.

Sources include: wireline footprints from publicly-citable sources, wireless footprints from radio-frequency propagation tools, carrier data, market survey data, and user-generated data. Various lists are used to validate data for speed, price, availability, technology and provider information to specific areas.

Working in collaboration with our partner Brian Webster Consulting, BroadbandCensus.com can perform an inclusive broadband availability study and prepare broadband availability coverage maps that can be released under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License. The data is provided in all the popular GIS file formats.

Current broadband availability maps include wireless and wireline provider (cable and telco) footprints. Members of our team conducted the data and mapping services used to complete the grant application process for American Recovery and Reinventment Act Round 1 grant winners Rivada Sea Lion in Alaska, and the North Florida Broadband Authority.

In addition to maps, the data can be used to show and tabulate the availability, speed and adoption for specific areas. This is provided in electronic report form. This information can be used to support Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and Broadband Infrastructure Program applications.

Drew Clark is the Executive Director of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois, or broadbandillinois.org, which is the designated entity under the State Broadband Data and Development grant program based in Springfield, Illinois. Through convening stakeholders, the creation of local eTeams, and other activities, broadbandillinois.org has the mission to build a statewide effort to make the case that Better Broadband Leads to Better Lives. Additionally, Drew is the founder of BroadbandCensus.com and BroadbandBreakfast.com.

Broadband Data

TPRC Conference to Discuss Definition of Section 230, Broadband, Spectrum and China

Broadband Breakfast briefly breaks down the topics to be discussed at the TPRC conference.

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Photo collage of experts from TPRC

WASHINGTON, September 17, 2021 – The TPRC research conference on communication, information, and internet policy is right around the corner and it is set to address some of the most pressing issues facing Big Tech, the telecom industry, and society at large. We cover some topics you can expect to see covered during the conference on September 22 to 24.

If the recent election cycle and the Covid-19 pandemic have taught us anything, it is that the threat of misinformation and disinformation pose a greater threat than most people could have imagined. Many social media platforms have attempted to provide their own unique content moderation solutions to combat such efforts, but thus far, none of these attempts have satisfied consumers or legislators.

While the left criticizes these companies for not going far enough to curtail harmful speech, the right argues the opposite— that social media has gone too far and censored conservative voices.

All this dissent has landed Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996—once a staple in the digital landscape—in the crosshairs of both Democrats and Republicans, as companies still scramble to strike a compromise to placate both sides of the aisle.

Definition of broadband

The future of broadband classifications is another topic that will also be touched on during the conference. This topic quickly became relevant at the outset of the pandemic, as people around the country began to attend school and work virtually.

It became immediately clear that for many Americans, our infrastructure was simply insufficient to handle such stresses. Suddenly, legislators were rushing to reclassify broadband. Efforts in Washington, championed primarily by Democrats, called for broadband standards to be raised.

The Federal Communications Commission’s standing definition of 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload appeared to become unpopular overnight, as calls for symmetrical service, like 100 x 100 Mbps speeds, and even gigabit speeds became a part of the conversation.

Many experts were quick to strike back, particularly those operating in the wireless community, arguing that the average consumer does not need 100 Mbps symmetrical speeds, let alone one gigabit, and such efforts only amounted to fearmongering that would hurt the deployment of broadband infrastructure to unserved communities.

These experts contend that shifting the standards would diminish the utility and viability of any technology other than fiber, as well as delaying when unserved communities (as they are currently defined) can expect to be served. Broader topics surrounding rural broadband and tech-equity will also be prominently featured—addressing many of the questions raised by Covid-19 across the last year and a half.

Future of spectrum

Finally, the quest for spectrum will be discussed at the conference.

As ubiquitous 5G technology continues to be promised by many companies in the near future, the hunt is on to secure more bandwidth to allow their devices and services to function. Of course, spectrum is a finite resource, so finding room is not always easy.

Indeed, spectrum sharing efforts have been underway for years, where incumbent users either incentivized or are compelled to make room for others in their band—just like we saw the military in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service band, and more recently between the Department of Defense and Ligado in the L band.

Even though these efforts are ongoing, there is still disagreement in the community about how, if at all, sharing spectrum will impact users in the band. While some argue that spectrum can be shared with little, if any, interference to incumbent services, others firmly reject this stance, maintaining that sharing bandwidth would be catastrophic to the services they provide.

On China

China is also going to be a significant topic at the conference. Due to the competitive nature of the U.S.-China relationship, many regard the race to 5G as a zero-sum game, whereby China’s success is our failure.

Furthermore, security and competition concerns have led the U.S. government to institute a “rip and replace” policy across the country, through which Chinese components—particularly those from companies such as Huawei—are torn out of existing infrastructure and substituted with components from the U.S. or countries we have closer economic ties with. The conference will feature several sessions discussing these topics and more.

Register for TPRC 2021

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Broadband Breakfast on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 — A ‘Consumer Confidence’ Survey for Broadband

BroadbandNow launches a “consumer confidence” survey.

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Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place every Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. You can watch the September 15, 2021, event on this page. You can also PARTICIPATE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event. REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021, 12 Noon ET — BroadbandNow Presents a ‘Consumer Confidence’ Survey for Broadband

As part of its efforts to provide the latest research on the social, economic and political issues contributing to the digital impact and the impact of broadband on everyday life, BroadbandNow is launching a new survey among broadband leaders enthusiasts. Think of this as a “consumer confidence” survey for broadband.

Recently, there have been many changes regarding broadband at the federal, state, local and industry levels. BroadbandNow and Broadband Breakfast aim to launch the survey at a presentation during Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021, a mini-conference at the Broadband Community Summit in Houston, Texas, from September 27-30, 2021.

Join us on September 15, 2021, for this special Broadband Breakfast Live Online preview of the survey with John Busby, Managing Director of BroadbandNow, and Drew Clark, Editor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast.

Panelists for the event:

  • John Busby, Managing Director of BroadbandNow
  • John B. Horrigan, Senior Fellow, Benton Institute on Broadband & Society
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast

Panelist resources:

  • John Busby is the Managing Director of BroadbandNow.com, where millions of consumers find and compare local internet options and independent research is published about the digital divide. Prior to BroadbandNow, John held senior leadership positions at Amazon and Marchex. John holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Northwestern University.
  • John B. Horrigan, Ph.D., is Senior Fellow at the Benton Institute on Broadband & Society, with a focus on technology adoption and digital inclusion. Horrigan has served as an Associate Director for Research at the Pew Research Center and Senior Fellow at the Technology Policy Institute. During the Obama Administration, Horrigan was part the leadership team at the Federal Communications Commission for the development of the National Broadband Plan (NBP).
  • Drew Clark, Editor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast, also serves as Of Counsel to The CommLaw Group. He has helped fiber-based and fixed wireless providers negotiate telecom leases and fiber IRUs, litigate to operate in the public right of way, and argue regulatory classifications before federal and state authorities. He has also worked with cities on structuring Public-Private Partnerships for better broadband access for their communities. As a journalist, Drew brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband, and – building off his work with Broadband Census – was appointed Executive Director of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois under Gov. Pat Quinn. He is also the President of the Rural Telecommunications Congress.

BroadbandNow is a data aggregation company helping millions of consumers find and compare local internet options. BroadbandNow’s database of providers, the largest in the U.S., delivers the highest-value guides consisting of comprehensive plans, prices and ratings for thousands of internet service providers. BroadbandNow relentlessly collects and analyzes internet providers’ coverage and availability to provide the most accurate zip code search for consumers.

See also:

WATCH HERE, or on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.

SUBSCRIBE to the Broadband Breakfast YouTube channel. That way, you will be notified when events go live. Watch on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

See a complete list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.

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Broadband Data

New Broadband Mapping Fabric Will Help Unify Geocoding Across the Broadband Industry, Experts Say

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Photo of Lynn Follansbee from October 2019 by Drew Clark

March 11, 2021 – The Federal Communications Commission’s new “fabric” for mapping broadband service across America will not only help collect more accurate data, but also unify geocoding across the broadband industry, industry experts said during a Federal Communications Bar Association webinar Thursday.

Broadband service providers are not geocoding experts, said Lynn Follansbee of US Telecom, and they don’t know where all the people are.

The new fabric dataset is going to be very useful to get a granular look at what is and what is not served and to harmonize geocoding, she said.

AT&T’s Mary Henze agreed. “We’re a broadband provider, we’re not a GIS company,” she said. Unified geocode across the whole field will help a lot to find missing spots in our service area, she said.

The new Digital Opportunity Data Collection fabric is a major shift from the current Form 477 data that the FCC collects, which has been notoriously inaccurate for years. The effort to improve broadband mapping has been ongoing for years, and in 2019 US Telecom in partnership with CostQuest and other industry partners created the fabric pilot program.

That has been instrumental in lead to the new FCC system, panelists said. It is called a “fabric” dataset because it is made up of other datasets that interlace like fabric, Follansbee explained.

The fabric brings new challenges, especially for mobile providers, said Chris Wieczorek of T-Mobile. With a whole new set of reporting criteria to fill out the fabric, it will lead to confusion for consumers, and lots of work for the new task force, he said.

Henze said that without the fabric, closing the digital divide between those with broadband internet and those without has been impossible.

Digital Opportunity Data Collection expected to help better map rural areas

The new mapping can help in rural areas where the current geolocation for a resident may be a mailbox that is several hundred feet or farther away from the actual house that needs service, Follansbee said.

Rural areas aren’t the only places that will benefit, though. It can also help in dense urban areas where vertical location in a residential building is important to getting a good connection, said Wieczorek.

The fabric will also help from a financial perspective, because of the large amount of funding going around, said Charter Communications’ Christine Sanquist. The improved mapping can help identify where best to spend that funding for federal agencies, providers, and local governments, she said.

There is now more than $10 billion in new federal funding for broadband-related projects, with the recent $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit program as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act in December 2020 and the new $7.6 Emergency Connectivity Fund part of the American Rescue Plan that President Joe Biden signed into law Thursday.

The new FCC task force for implementing the new mapping system was created in February 2021, and is being led by , led by Jean Kiddoo at the FCC. No specific dates have been set yet for getting the system operational.

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